Scrappy AND Happy? An Introduction to Scrap Theory

Confession time – I am a recovered scrap-quilt-phobic.  (Hanging my head in shame.)  And this is my journey from scrap-hater to scrap-lover. Blocks Day 10

I DID NOT understand the passion some folks had for these things! I think it started with a question to my quilting friend.

“Patty, how do people make scrap quilts?”

“It’s easy.  Cut a bunch of scraps to the size of patch you need.  Then toss them in a paper bag.  Without looking in the bag, pull out the first piece you grab and use it.  Keep going until the bag is empty or your quit is done.”Scraps Day 6

WHAT?!? I was horrified.   No carefully selected colors or planning lights and darks?  What if it doesn’t match?  This is MADNESS and I refuse to participate in scrap quilts, period!

I wanted to make sublime quilts.  Quilts where the color almost beckons you to come closer. Quilts like Jinny Beyer’s makes, one of my personal color heroes.

Moon Glow Quilt

Jinny Beyer’s Moon Glow Quilt Kit

Her quilt, Moon Glow has been in reprinted and re-kitted continuously for almost 20 years! A very rare accomplishment.

So what changed my mind?  My other color hero, Gai Perry, who is known for her watercolor quilts in the 1990s.  Now, I LOVE color, obviously, and all that color can do in a quilt. So I picked up Perry’s book, “Color from the Heart”.

Color from the Heart 2

The first project?  Brace yourself!  A scrap quilt, with scraps…in…a…bag. Quelle horror! I could hardly read over the ringing in my ears.

Before she gave instructions for the first project, Perry’s explained her rule for scrap quilts.

“Most fabrics will blend in a pleasing manner if the size of the individual pattern pieces are small (two inches of less).”  (I have added to this rule, but more on that later.)

She is right.  Here is the quilt I made after the first exercise.

Scrap Quilt - Perry.jpg

My version of Postage Stamp Quilt from Gia Perry’s book – Color From the Heart.

This simple project was a revelation to me. It offered new freedom and creativity previously unknown.  I realized I could make a scrappy quilt AND be happy with the outcome.

Side-note – This is also a project I have students work on in my color classes. Look how happy they are! Thanks, ladies!


I tried many other scrap quilts, some great, some meh.  But EVERY quilt is a learning quilt.  EVERY project has something to teach me!

Here is what I learned about being scrappy AND happy.

  1. Trial and error – you just have to try.  That is how I solidified my techniques, how I clarified what I like and don’t like.  Make it work for YOU!
Don't Weep for Me, Bonnie Hunter.

“Don’t Weep for Me, Bonnie Hunter.” Christmas Lights Mystery quilt

I call this quilt “Don’t Weep for me, Bonnie Hunter”.  I ripped outScrappy AND Happy more stitches in this quilt, than any other project.  See, I didn’t know how this mystery quilt would look, so I foolishly selected a fuchsia for the “pink-red” color. Disaster! Hubby said it looked like the Muppet’s Christmas Massacre. I traded all the fuchsia for a strong Christmas red.  Much better.  I also learned mystery quilts don’t work for me.  And I am fine with that.

2.  Divide and conquer with lights/darks.  In True Blue (a Miss Rosie pattern) I used a light and dark in every block and then arranged the darks to create a nice layout.

True Blue 1

True Blue (pattern from Miss Rosie). Make the most of lights and darks.

3. Chose a color theme.  For example, in my pattern Gecko Chase, my color theme was purple and green.  I used green for the lines and purples for the triangles.  By limited the uses of the colors, I kept the design clear.  I am very pleased with the outcome.

Gecko Chase

Gecko Chase with Purple/Green theme

Ok, quick recap.

My rules for Scrappy and Happy

  1. Fabrics will blend in a pleasing manner if they are similar in size and amounts.
  2. Trial and Error – just sew it!  It is the only way to learn, seriously.
  3. Divide and conquer with lights/darks.
  4. Choose a color theme.

There is SO much more I want to say about color and scrappyness, like how to organize for random and techniques to use when selecting fabrics and…and…and.  We have barely gotten started but it is enough to get you started. 🙂

So, go get started.  And share how you are Scrappy AND Happy.

Thanks for reading, I hope it is a blessing.

See you next time

Jenny Kae


P.S. Check out these video links for more about Scrappy AND Happy or Color Courage.

P.S.  Thanks to Timeless Treasures for the lovely fabrics used in Gecko Chase. Y’all are awesome! 🙂





6 thoughts on “Scrappy AND Happy? An Introduction to Scrap Theory

  1. thanks for sharing, from NO to YES, is a great journey. maybe you have a good idea how to “tame” the monster of scraps threatening to take over my house, i started quilting about 3 years ago, and just saved them all without having any idea what i was doing, and now, when i CAN, do something, it’s just overwhelming how to start!!!
    thanks,your patterns, and blog are a great inspiration!

    • Thanks, Shoshana! I appreciate your comments. Yep, it is a universal struggle. And an excellent idea for a blog post! Until then, you can check out my video, The Taming of the Scrap Monster, for a few ideas of how I handle mine. Good luck, ya fabric sorter!

  2. Scrap quilts have become my happiest quilts I realized. Love seeing them used around my house. Great post and I love seeing ideas for scraps. Thank you for a nice post and would love to see more on using what we have so we can buy more!!

  3. Thanks for helping me with scrappy quilts – I think embracing randomness is definitely possible. I still love scraps, mine and anyone else’s – they are treasures and surprises!

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