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Scrap Bag Challenge

Simply Quilts challenges three talented quilt designers to make a quilt using 103 five-inch squares of fabric from the scrap bag!

Simply Quilts challenges three talented quilt designers to make a quilt using 103 five-inch squares of fabric from the scrap bag! The fabric selection includes three novelty fabrics thrown into a mix of reproductions, stripes, lights, mediums, darks and more. These quilters rose to the challenge with three great quilts and hardly any fabric to spare!

Carolyn Reese's Scrappy Shaded 9-Patch
Instructions provided courtesy of designer Carolyn Reece.

This quilt teaches a lesson about value of fabric. The smaller the square, the less important the design and color become and the more important the value becomes.

Since the fabrics from the scrap bag didn't have enough light value in the pack, I turned some of the medium colors "wrong" side up to render a lighter value.

Materials and Tools:

103, 5" squares of fabrics
1/2 yard of two fabrics for borders and bindings (P&B Textiles)
backing fabric
rotary cutter
small rotary mat
6 or 6-1/2" square ruler
6" x 24" ruler
sewing machine
thread, scissors, seam ripper


1. Divide fabric into three piles using value — dark, medium and light.

2. Cut each of the five-inch squares into 2-1/4-inch squares and
rendering four stacks each of dark, medium and light.

3. Sew these into shaded 9-Patch blocks with five dark blocks and four light blocks. It's not necessary to match colors — just take care not to sew the same fabric together. Arrange blocks in a 9-Patch configuration to make the quilt top.

4. Add borders, batting, backing and binding and quilt as desired. Finished size is approximately 39 inches square with borders.

Tom Russell's Scrap Bag Bouquet
Instructions provided courtesy of designer Tom Russell.

Materials and Tools:

103, 5" squares
lightweight fusible web
black embroidery floss
assorted black beads and buttons


1. Create the background using 36 dark and medium-dark five-inch squares. Arrange them in a pleasing manner of six across and six down. Do not include black in this group of colors.

2. Sew the 16 blocks in the center of the panel together to create a unit that is four blocks across and four blocks down. Set this unit aside.

3. Cut four, five-inch squares into one-inch strips. Join four of these one-inch units end to end. If using different fabrics, alternate the patterns. Create four of these units. After units are joined together, fold in half and press to create a 1/2-inch wide strip that will be attached to the center unit as a flange (before the outer border is applied).

4. Place the raw-edge of the flange to raw-edge of center unit and sew 1/8 inch from the outside edge of flange to secure it to panel. Sew flange in this order: top, bottom, left and right. Panel center is now complete.

5. Join remaining blocks into strips. Attach strips to center unit using 1/4-inch seam allowance.

1. To create the flowers, use a compass, or dishes/glassware (or anything round to trace) to make circle templates. For the quilt seen here, you will need the following sizes:
- 1''
- 1 1/4''
- 1 1/2''
- 2''
- 3''
- 5''
- 6''
- 7 1/4''
- 10 1/2''

2. Group the remaining fabric squares by color, sorting reds, yellows, blues, purples, pinks, etc. To create large scrappy flowers, cut seven squares from the same color group into 3/4-, one-, 1-1/2-, and two-inch width strips. After cutting, rejoin strips to create a string-pieced unit that measures roughly 12 inches square. To create the other larger string flowers, join four fabrics in the same color family into units and set aside for bases for the larger flower rings. If you want to create a more string-pieced look, cut the fabrics up in random sizes, and join them together again until you create units that are roughly eight inches square. This is an improvisational style of appliqué quilt, so you make as many flowers as you’d like. Keep in mind as you are making the larger flower units that you will be working toward creating a flower, so think about color placement as you go along. Once you have the larger units together, it is time to start making flowers.

3. On a piece of lightweight fusible draw a series of circles in a variety of sizes. Theses circles will become the rings of the flowers. Following the diagram for reference, place the ring templates on the paper side of the fusible going from largest to smallest then draw three or four circles on the fusible in descending size based on the outside circle. To give the flowers more energy, and to make them look like they are turning in different directions, don’t center the smaller circles. Once you are pleased with the circle arrangement fuse the webbing to the backside of the appropriate fabric unit.

4. Using a small pair of scissors, cut out the circles following the drawn lines exactly.

5. Once all flower units have been made and cut apart, reassemble by mixing and matching the cut units into new flower units.

6. From all remaining fabric squares, apply fusible and cut circles ranging in size from two inches to one inch using all the leftover fabrics, except for the greens. Save the green fabrics for the leaves.

1. Join all bright green fabrics together in a strip in random order. Using the diagram as a guide, draw a large leaf pattern onto the paper side of fusible webbing several times. Cut out webbing leaves, leaving a small amount of paper around each leaf to trim to size later. Place the points of the leaves on the center seam between the joined blocks and press.

2. Cut leaves out on the drawn line rendering a center-seamed, two-sided leaf. Join the remaining fabric again and repeat the process to make more large and small leaves as desired.

Completing the Quilt
1. Arrange all the flowers and leaves into a scrappy bouquet on the pieced background then fuse into position. Using a buttonhole stitch, sew down all the appliqué elements of the wall hanging.

2. After all appliqué is complete, quilt as desired.

3. Once quilted and bound, embellish with beads and buttons for more dimension and sparkle.

Kelly Gallagher-Abbott's Scrappy Floral Quilt
Instructions provided courtesy of quilt designer Kelly Gallagher Abbot.

Designer Kelly Gallagher Abbot created this scrappy quilt using Sharon Shamber’s "Pieceleque" technique and a computer-drafted pattern. To mute the tones of some of the brighter fabrics in the scrap bag, Kelly soaked selected squares in all-purpose ink.

Materials and Tools:

103, five-inch fabric squares
freezer paper
spray starch
stencil brush
hot iron
pressing mat
pattern - see resources
sewing machine
piecing thread


1. Pre-shrink freezer paper by heating it. Create a pattern then trace onto freezer paper to make template.

3. Cut out freezer paper templates then press to the wrong side of the fabric.

4. Cut out fabric appliqué pieces leaving at least 1/4-inch allowance of fabric around the perimeter of the template.

5. Clip only the inside curves of the appliqué pieces.

6. Apply starch and press back desired seams.

7. Pull off template.

8. Apply glue.

9. Place center flower fabric in position on background block.

10. Using layout pattern for proper positioning, heat-set the unit then sew down on the fold line using a short stitch (1.75).

11. Sew blocks together, then finish and quilt as desired.


    • Kelly Gallagher Abbott's quilt pattern and video from JukeboxQuilts
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