Schnibblework Scrap Quilts

This past weekend I taught for a lovely group of quilters in Morris, IL. During our lunch break in the Saturday workshop we got into an interesting discussion about scrap quilts. My definition of a scrap quilt is a quilt made from leftover scraps. Some may argue this point, but buying a lot of different fabrics to make a scrap quilt, when I have so many leftover pieces from previous projects, just seems silly for me.

A few years after I began quilting (we’re talking early 90’s), the frugal part of me was really struggling with all of the leftover strip pieces, chunks and partial blocks that had begun to take over my sewing room. What do you do with them when a project is completed? The pieces aren’t big enough to put back into the stash, but they’re too large to just throw away. I chose to put the small schnibbles into a fish bowl, and I threw the larger ones into a covered bin, but these containers were filling up – and driving me crazy! Something had to be done!

I decided to sort the small schnibbles into lights and darks, and simply piece them together rather willy-nilly. When the chunks were large enough I cut them into 4″ squares and ended up making a small quilt I called Confetti (26″ x 30″).

As you can see, I had a great time embellishing it with machine stitching, buttons, beads and ribbon.  I decided it was fun, but it didn’t make much of a dent in my schnibble pile. So I pulled out the bigger pieces, sorted by value once again, and sewed them into larger squares in my scrappy fashion.

This time I sorted the schnibbles into lights, darks and mediums – sewing them into 6″ squares. Four light squares were then sewn together to make a 12″ light block and the same was done with the darks. I had enough red strips in my scraps to border a checkerboard set of the light and dark blocks, and the outer border was made up of all the 6″ medium squares. This did make a dent in my schnibble pile – as well as a lovely lap quilt 🙂 .

I did more of this type of piecing here and there over the years, but never seemed to be able to keep up with my leftovers. A few years ago my friend Lori, who makes amazing scrap quilts, accepted a large plastic bag full of my scraps. Whew! But since then I’ve filled up my fishbowl once again – and it’s flowed into another glass jar – YIKES!

It was time to do something again. Three weeks ago I started sewing anything to everything (no value sorting this time) and, after about an hour of “chunk making”, I laid the chunks on the floor and attempted to take a picture. Trey plays nicely with toys in the sewing room while I’m quilting, just like Sommer did before she headed off to kindergarten. But when I laid them out he couldn’t resist the temptation to jump into the picture.

and then he gave them the snuggle test. I think he approves.

When the chunks got big enough I cut them into large diamonds. I then sewed the diamonds into a large star and found a fun fabric to use for the background:


Can you say bright? It really makes me smile and I’m thinking it needs to grow into something bigger and even more fun. Stay tuned.

For step-by-steps on how I piece the schnibbles, please join me for next week’s post. The following week I’ll cover “diamond cutting”. There’s a good possibility this could grow into a multi, multi-week series of posts – I have a lot of scraps!

12 Opinions

  • Patti A said:

    I will be waiting to see how to make these into diamonds.

  • Wilma Shimkus said:

    Love this idea

  • Lynn Stephens said:

    I have used this technique for pinwheels and butterflies.
    Lynn Stephens

  • Valerie admin

    I absolutely love this!
    Thanks a million for all your posts!
    You truly are an inspiration!

  • Cheryl Parker said:

    I like the star block.

  • patgi said:

    Chris, I love this post. I’ve been thinking about some quilt tops hanging in my closet, one being a scrap quilt top I created at a retreat up north many years ago. The instructions for my class were to put all our scraps into a paper bag, and without looking at them, reach in and pull one out, sew it to another and another. When it was big enough we were to cut them at an angle. Then we sewed one, one way and another the other way. Now I should get it layered and quilted, don’t you think? You have inspired me once again.

    • clkquilt admin

      Your quilt sounds very interesting. Could you send me a picture? I absolutely think it’s time to get it layered, quilted and enjoyed. Thanks for your encouraging words!

  • Linda said:

    Love it. Scrap quilting is the essence of quilting. Looking forward to more on this.

  • Joyce Egle said:

    I love that scrap star block. Diamonds are difficult for me to work with. However, I, too, save all my scraps and make strip quilt blocks never mind the width nor color and have made many such quilts. They usually end up in 10″ blocks. Maybe I’ll give that star a try!

  • Jane Carhart said:

    Now I want to go dig into my scraps again!

  • Ruth O'Gara said:

    Hi this is for your grand daughter Hanna. Thanks for sharing your duct tape wallet picture. My daughter also made lots of projects out of duct tape. This year she made her PROM dress out of Duck Tape. If you would like to see it you can go to and look for Emily and Ethan. It helped to have good quilting rulers and mats to cut out all that tape. Keep up the good work Hanna.


Share opinions



You may use these HTML tags and attributes to empatize your opinion:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>