6 Tips For Scatterbrained Quilters

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Name: Scatterbrain Quilt No. 4
Size: 38 x 39"
Fabric: Totally scrappy.
Pattern: None except for mix tape block (from issue 10 of Love Patchwork & Quilting)
Quilting: QAYG
Completed: July 26, 2014

Last week I completed my fourth Scatterbrain Quilt. I get a lot of questions from friends and family about my Scatterbrain Quilts. Not so many specific questions, but often broad ones like, "The hell is that?" Just kidding! ...Sorta.

I came up with the idea of Scatterbrain Quilting, because I always have a million ideas floating around in my head. There's a new quilt block I want to try, a cool print I want to feature, and bin full of scraps that I need to use up! With Scatterbrain Quilting, I can knock out a lot of these goals with a single project! I wanted to share a some of my favorite tips to help you put your own Scatterbrained head to use.

1. One and Done - I often come across one-block projects that look so fun and unique, like this cool mix tape from Love Patchwork & Quilting magazine. Sadly, I lack the patience to make the same block over and over. Instead, I like to make a single block, and stick it in a Scatterbrain Quilt. I get the satisfaction of making the block while avoiding the monotony. 

My lone mix tape

2. Framing Fussy Cuts - I love fussy cuts, mostly in the form of scraps. I enjoy finding ways to make them pop by framing them with other fabrics. Using them in Scatterbrain Quilts makes it easier to use them, because I don't have to worry about size or a color palette. 

Make your scraps bloom!
3. Play With the Rejects - I save scraps that most people would toss. I toss everything larger than 1" square into a bin. Oddly-shaped scraps can be exciting to work with, because they force you to get creative! Try pulling scraps out of your bin (no peeking!) and use whatever you grab. Sew scraps together to make an amorphous blob, trimming your seams as needed. Once you have a large enough blob, trim it down to a clean rectangle. 

4. Use All Your Colors - I'm a graphic designer with a BA in art. I can tell you all about color theory...but I won't, because following the rules is boring. Use any colors you want, no matter how badly you think they will clash. This is not the time to be prim and proper. 
    Embrace color!
5. You Won't Even Know He's There - I occasionally find myself with fabric that is just...fugly. Rather than tossing it or trying to make it someone else's problem, sneak that ugly piece into your project. Use it in a disappearing nine patch, or to fill in an empty space. If you keep the pieces relatively small and space them out, you won't even notice them in the finished quit. 

6. Just Keep Swimming Sewing - When I'm making a Scatterbrain Quilt, I find that it's best to keep moving. I keep a scrap bin with small squares and rectangles next to my sewing machine. I grab pieces that have a similar sized edges and chain piece them together. Then I start piecing those pieces together, trimming as needed until I have a more substantial block. Even if you have no idea what you're doing, you're still being productive.

Don't stop sewing!


  1. Love this. I was just looking at some orphan blocks and wondering what to do with them. Now I know.

    1. It's a great way to use them! I never have to worry about what I'm going to do with test blocks anymore...or anything leftover fabric for that matter!

  2. Wow! I love this! It is so colorful!

    1. It's so exciting to use the entire rainbow when I'm sewing. I used to think quilts without a color palette were too busy, but now I enjoy the freedom.

  3. This is a fabulous approach! Your process sounds fun and the results are delightful to look at!!