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One-patch Random Scrap Quilts

This is the kind of quilt that comes to mind when I hear “patchwork quilt.” It’s also my favorite kind to look at in books and shops, and it is my favorite kind to make. The wonderful jumble of patterns and colors made into something useful and beautiful is so intriguing.

I made patchwork quilts for years until I had the nerve to sew one of these together. I fooled around with layouts, but none of the combinations had that carefree yet somehow meant-to-be vibe that I got from others’ work. Cozy and fun – that’s what I wanted to make. Turns out there are rules for making one of these that keeps the eye moving without jarring the brain.

I like to try new things; this is an early random scrap and my first rag quilt. I threw in some test machine embroidery squares and a leftover four-patch block for extra whimsey.

RULE #1, which I did not follow here, is: not too many squares of any one fabric. Usually 3-5 each, depending upon the size of the quilt. The fewer, the better.

Once you have your squares cut out, put them in a paper bag and shake it well. This isn’t a great method, because cotton fabric sticks together, so you might want to mix them up manually as well. Now, like you were playing Scrabble, reach into the bag and start pulling out squares and putting them on your design space. No peeking. You can go by row or column, but you have to lay the patches down in exactly the order you took them from the bag.

Rule #2 is that there cannot be two squares of the same fabric right next to each other. One square away is okay. Diagonal is okay. Same color is okay. Same print but different color is really cool!

That’s it! Except for me, because I’m never comfortable without a pattern. Also, I have so many scraps that I need a plan for choosing the fabrics.

I made this quilt in primary colors and green for my husband, and it turned out really well. He likes to tinker with cars, so I used this darling thrifted car sheet in the same colors for the backing – really brightens up his basement den.

After that I started using just one color and one solid, in a checkerboard layout, and now I can’t seem to stop! I love gifting someone a quilt in their favorite color while using up all kinds of fun odds and ends. They go together pretty quickly if you chain-piece and quilt-in-the-ditch with a wavy stitch. Diagonal quilting adds an extra dimension, and they also work well for free-motion quilting. Enjoy!