Tiny Scraps: Magic Trick Number One

1 small pile of tiny scrapsWe all have them, bins or bags of little fabric scraps we simply cannot bear to part with. Some of the scraps are small, perhaps enough to squeeze a 2″ charm out of. Some are funky, like little strips that run 5-10 inches by less than 3/4 inches. But there are some that are just plain tiny. Those little snippets trimmed from flying geese. That last little bit of a favorite fabric, now no bigger than a quarter, or less. If you are like me, sometimes you wonder just why you are holding on to these!

And I know that there are lots of quilters who are somewhat afraid of sewing small or tiny pieces together. When the postage stamp quilt charm swaps are going on, someone always comments that they will only do 2.5″ charms, because they simply could not sew with smaller bits.

Well, I want to invite you to use your tiny scraps. I want you to let go of the fear, and dive in and PLAY! While you are gaining confidence with these little pieces, I need you to let your sewing be imperfect, just as it was the first time you sewed anything. I am sure you will build confidence as you go, and get lots of ideas of your own for ways to use your own stash of tiny scraps.

So I am going to do a series of posts with demos or tutorials. I am calling this my Magic Tricks for Tiny Scraps series.

Magic Trick Number One
b5 Two Finished coastersThis particular magic act is being demonstrated on coaster-making project. They are a bit rustic on purpose, to keep it simple and “scrappy”! You could easily make something larger, like mugrugs, or placements. I have a few other suggestions for using this trick at the end of this post. If you need a closer look at one of the photos, just click on it.

This project requires a pair of slightly larger scraps as the base for the coaster. Two 5″ charms would be great. I selected solid colors for my coasters, since my tiny scraps are so colorful. You can use anything, as long as you have enough contract between the base and the scraps to make your design pop!

Every magician needs props, and this is what you will need to use for each coaster:

  • a1 assembled parts tfor coastersTwo fabric pieces for the coaster base. About 5″ square works well, but if your pieces are 4.5″ and not so square, they will work too!
  • A fabric glue stick, or a washable school glue stick.
  • A scrap of double-sided fusible craft batting, the same size as your base pieces. I use the kind that works well for placemats and wall hangings.
  • A selection of little tiny scraps. This will become clear as you go through the demo, but I suggest sticking to a color oor shape these to create your design. You can see I used little triangles in warm colors for the first coaster.
  • And the usual sewing staples: thread, scissors, iron, sewing machine.

Assemble your coaster base:
Photo 1: Trim the batting piece so it is 1/8 inch smaller than your two fabric pieces, and sandwich it between the two base fabrics. Photo 2: Fuse both sides, following batting manufacturer’s directions. If you aren’t sure, a medium hot iron with no steam will probably do the trick. Press on each side for about 10 seconds. Photo 3: Once the sandwich is cool, run a row of stitching around the entire outside of the base, close to the edge, but catching all layers. If it isn’t a perfect square it is quite alright! Use any thread you want, for the demo I used a high-contract color.

a2 fubible batting sandwich

Photo 1.

a3 securing batting

Photo 2.

a4 stitched outer edge

Photo 3.

Add your scrappy design:
Think abstract. Think shapes. I used triangles on the purple coaster, and tiny strips on the green one, but little circles, or random shapes would be great too. Sticking to a color theme can tie random things together very nicely. Abstract flowers to give to a gardener? Team color collage for a sports nut? There is no right or wrong, just pick and play. Feel free to trim scraps to fit your layout.

Photo 4: After settling on the design, use the glue stick to “baste” the scraps in place for sewing. Using one continuous stitching run, secure all sides of each piece. Stitch close to the edge of the scraps. Photo 5: Stitching in progress, I just went right across the middle to keep it rustic and continuous. Photo 6: all stitched!

a5 scraps glued in place

Photo 4.

a6 stitching to secure

Photo 5.

a7 stitched and ready for finishing

Photo 6.

Voila! The Finishing Act:
Photo 7: This is what the back of the stitching looks like. Notice the little bit of magic, in that stitching on the scraps also quilts the coaster? Photo 8: Run a second row of stitching around the outside edge of coaster, juts inside the first one. Hey, you could make it a round coaster if you want! Of course, with only a couple of inches to go, I ran out of bobbin thread. Photo 9: Bobbin refueled, merge point back-stitched, and the second row is done.

a8 Back of coaster

Photo 7.

a9 out of bobbin thread

Photo 8.

b1 bobbin solved

Photo 9.

Photo 10: Trim away the excess edges close to the first row of stitching. It is quite alright if the batting shows a bit! This is a rustic little magic trick. You could use a pinking shears if you like, but I strongly suggest stitching your edge rows not quite as close to the edge the, so the shears don’t cut the thread. Photo 11: I made a second one in green, with little scrap stripes. My green base fabric was smaller than the purple, but I think it works just fine. Photo 12: This is the back of the green one. Notice the continuous stitching that serves to attach the scraps, and quilt the coaster.

b2 Trimming purple coaster

Photo 10.

b3 green coaster

Photo 11.

b4 Back of green coaster

Photo 12.

This is a technique that can be used in countless ways. Besides the coasters or placemats, consider skipping the base sandwich and simply attaching your design to a blank quilt block. The glue basting will work just fine, and the free-form stitching can be contrasting or blend in. Alternate these blocks with pretty prints and create a masterpiece of scrappy goodness.

How about a zipper bag? Make bases in sizes to fit your favorite little bag pattern. They could be done with the batting, or not, depending on your preference.

What ever you make, the little scraps will wash up just fine if you secured their edges. I would dry them flat, and press as needed.

Watch for the next Tiny Scraps Magic trick! Oh, so many ideas . .
Needle and thread line copyright The Curious Quilter at WordPress dot com Tiny Scraps: Magic Trick Number One © 2014 by The Curious Quilter, thecuriousquilter.net, maryeoriginals.com. All rights reserved.


About thecuriousquilter

Quilter, sewer, writer, gardener, mother, sister, friend, always learning, always curious.
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8 Responses to Tiny Scraps: Magic Trick Number One

  1. Jenny Doyle says:

    Thanks for this! Looking forward to the next installment – I have lots of bags full of beautiful scraps that I let my kids make collages with, and I also use to create gift cards with, but this is a great idea that I will hope to try soon!

  2. Angele says:

    Thank you for sharing this information. I will probably try it as a mug rug to use downstairs in my sewing room…for the first one.

  3. joan says:

    Ohhhh your singing my song! I have had a vision in the back of my head to make some fun 8″x10″ blocks of something wild and wacky just to use up scraps. I was thinking a basket of these goodies to flip thru when I need a shot of eye candy, would be fun. Also give me a chance to play with new techniques. Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

  4. djmat says:

    Thinking about using my scraps to make a color wash framed picture of one of the kids but don’t have enough yet. I saw something like it in a Quilter’s Mag recently.

  5. Jean says:

    You are right, I have the scraps, just needed the idea. Thanks

  6. Sharon Camp says:

    Now I can dig into my scraps that have been sitting on the pile and I have my idea for today. Thanks

  7. Shar says:

    It’s nice to see another quilter that keeps scraps that small too. When I tell people I see with pieces that small they can’t believe it.

  8. Liane says:

    Thank you for the inspiration. I have been doing something else with these: making tiny patchwork sachets. Cutting 2″ charms has left me with a lot of 2″ x anywhere from 1/2 to 1″, and these little beauties make wonderful 4 square rail fence designs. Or tiny 9 patches, or pinwheels with anything triangular. I often have both the front and back pieced since I don’t quilt them, I just make little pillows filled with dried lavender and rosebuds from my health food store.

    Just sharing another idea. I’m glad I am not the only one who keeps these tiny bits!

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