Wednesday, November 14, 2018


Anyone who has sent a quilt out to be longarmed or done the quilting themselves on a longarm machine knows that four to six inches of overage in the backing fabric is a must. This allows your longarmer room to load the quilt onto the machine, gives space to clamp the sides of the quilt, and allows for some wiggle room if the quilt isn't quite square. Totally understandable! But, when you trim your quilt, that overage results in a good bit of fabric waste. And we all know quilters don't like fabric waste! Here are some ideas to use these leftover bits that most of us have sitting in our scrap bins.

First, quilt binding! The leftover bits cut from your quilt are long strips of fabric that are perfect for binding a future project. Cut the strips into 2 1/2" wide pieces, taking a moment to remove any seams and re-sew the pieces at a 45-degree angle, and you'll have binding strips ready for your next lap quilt or baby quilt. If you have a generous amount of backing, you might be able to get two strips of binding from each piece. You can piece strips from several projects for a fun, scrappy binding. An added bonus is that it's always great to have binding pre-made and ready to go when you finish a quilt! Trust me--you'll feel accomplished and on the ball!

Many smaller projects, such as project bags and pouches, require only small bits of fabric. Be on the lookout for patterns that utilize small widths of fabric. This gathered clutch by Noodlehead is darling, and the pattern calls for pieces only 5 1/2" tall. It would be ideal for some larger backing scraps.

You can also trim your backing scraps down to a uniform size of squares (say, four or five inches, depending on how much overage you have) and make a simple patchwork baby quilt with the leftover bits. The trimmings from the backing for a twin sized quilt would yield roughly 60 to 70 4" squares. This super simple baby quilt uses 61 4" squares of the focus fabric and 60 4" squares of background fabric along with a 1" border for a quick and each project using up those scraps. It finishes at 40 1/2" square. You can even strip piece the blocks to make the project even quicker!

I'll often choose quilt backs with future projects in mind. Think of how your quilt back will look as a pouch or as a binding. It's great to have a plan for those long bits of fabric rather than tossing them in the scrap bin. It's often quite a bit of beautiful fabric that deserves a second life!

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