Using What You Have from 100 Days of Modern Quilting

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This week during 100 Days of Modern Quilting we will look at quilts made “Using What You Have”. As the name implies Modern Quilts that are made from “Using What You Have” generally fall into one of two categories. First there are quilts that use scraps leftover from other quilts or sewing projects.

Scrap Pile that will become a new quilt (Ashley at

Second, there are quilts that are made at least in part from re-purposed or re-claimed fabric. This is fabric that was once a piece of clothing or maybe even a vintage sheet. It will be cut up and the fabric will be given a new life in the form of a quilt.

Vintage Linen Scrappy Quilt by Janice Ryan made using a combination of vintage sheets and linen. (

This week is fun in that in many way, it ties “Modern Quilts” back to its roots. Many early quiltmakers were very good at “Using What They Had” to make their quilts regardless if it were scraps from sewing a work shirt or if it was a dress that had seen better days.

We hope that this week you will enjoy looking at different ways modern quilters use what they have to create beautiful functional quilts!

Featured Quilt 1

The first quilt during the Week of Using What You Have is called “Skirting the Circle” by none other than Beth Copeland who shows us how she connects her family in this quilt by using fabric from a skirt that both she and her mother wore. Beth blogs at and you can also find her work on flickr under the flickr name “smazoochie”. She is a proud member of the Houston Modern Quilt Guild. Read more as Beth explains a little more about this quilt and her love of using re-purposed fabric.

Skirting the Circle by Beth Copeland

Tell Us About Your Quilt
The heart and soul of this quilt is an old circle skirt from the 1950’s. It belonged to my Mom. I was always a fan of vintage clothing and in high school and college, I used to wear this skirt. Long after I was thin enough to wear it, I carried it around with me, for what reason, I don’t know. A few years ago, I was cleaning out my sewing room closet and was this close to passing the skirt along to someone else who loved vintage clothes, when I stopped and decided to cut it up. I had some solids on hand that went well with the mustard, gray and blue in the print and I guess the fact that it was a circle skirt suggested using the quarter circle block. Once the blocks were assembled, the large, plain circles, looked, well, large and plain. So I used some 1/8 inch satin ribbon to extend some of the lines in the print. Quilting my quilts has never been my strength, but I feel I sort of jumped a stumbling block with this quilt; using my walking foot, the inner circles are densely quilted.

Detail of Skirting the Circle by Beth Copeland

What do you love about using scraps or re-purposed fabrics?
I had not really thought about it, but I am getting sort of a ‘rep’ for using old clothing in quilts. At the Modern Quilt Guild Meet-up at last year’s Quilt Market and Festival, several people commented on this. I have always been a thrift shopper and often would buy garments just for the fabric. Recently, as I empty out childhood home, my fabric shelves have been filling up with old family clothing. I like the thrift of using clothing in quilts — though you need to be careful, I have used fabrics that were not good quality and they have ripped or shredded later in the quilt’s life. I’ve even blogged about the use of clothing fabrics in quilts. I especially like using family clothing; it is an excellent way to wrap yourself up with your loved ones. This is even more meaningful when a loved one is no longer able to wrap themselves around you.

The skirt that was re-purposed as fabric for the "Skirting the Circle" quilt by Beth Copeland.

Tell Us About Yourself and About You as a Quilter
I am an older Modern Quilter. I’ve been seriously quilting since the mid-1980s. Over the years, my personal style of quilting had become less about elaborate and fussy piecing, applique and quilting and more about simple shapes that highlight the fabrics. When I found the Modern Quilters, I felt I had found my home. I love the youth, enthusiasm and inter-connectedness of the Modern movement and so happy to be a part of it.


Featured Quilt 2

The second quilt being featured in the Week of Using What You Have is called Scrap Rainbow and it features the best of modern quilting. Not only does Alexandra Ledgerwood effectively use scraps but, this is a quilt that was inspired by a quilt that was inspired by even another quilt! Alexandra is the Vice President of the Kansas City Modern Quilt Guild (KCMQG) and blogs at You can also see a lot more of her work under the flickr name teaginny. Read on as Alexandra shares more about her quilt and the freedom that quilting with scraps gives her.

Scrap Rainbow by Alexandra Ledgerwood


Tell Us About Your Quilt

I was inspired by this gorgeous quilt by Jolene of Blue Elephant Stitches.  I changed the orientation of the color progression to move in vertical stripes.  I used improvisation to create each stripe of color.  The different shapes that emerge from this technique fascinate me every time.  I continued the rainbow theme on the back of my quilt with a log cabin block that radiates Roy G. Biv.  The grass green solid on the back is a surprising favorite of mine.  I love how this saturated color balances out everything that’s happening on the front of the quilt, as well as frames the log cabin on the back.

A glimpse of the back of Scrap Rainbow by Alexandra Ledgerwood

What Do You Love About Using Scraps or Re-Purposed Fabric?

Scraps are so much fun to use.  I feel free to experiment with them, since they’re just scraps, right?  I don’t have any anxiety about chopping them up and trying something that might not work out.  Scraps also make me feel I’m being frugal and resourceful, using every last piece of what I have.  Sewing with scraps is actually the way I prefer to sew, as opposed to cutting into yardage.  Although, you have to do that sometimes, or you wouldn’t have more scraps!

Scrap Rainbow by Alexandra Ledgerwood folded

Tell Us About Yourself and About You as a Quilter

I’m a mom of two little boys.  They don’t leave me as much time for quilting as I ‘d like, but when I do get a chunk of time, I’m focused and ready to sew!  I love sewing and quilting, and I really enjoy being a part of the KCMQG.  The modern quilt movement inspires me tremendously.  I’m excited to be able to participate in it!

Featured Quilt 3

Today’s featured quilt Urban Garden is from none other than Jacquie Geringfrom Tallgrass Prairie Studio. This quilt is scrappiness and improvisation at its best. Read on as Jacquie describes in her own words about this quilt, why she loves working with scraps and about how she let the scraps themselves guide the creation of this beauty.

Urban Garden by Jacquie Gering


Tell Us About Your Quilt
The Urban Garden quilt was a personal scrap challenge.  I pulled down my orange, green and brown scrap baskets. I grabbed a generous handful of scraps from each. I told myself I had to make something from what I pulled. The colors were earthy and I started thinking about land and how farm fields look from the window of a plane. I grabbed some natural osnaburg (it has that nubby earthy feeling too) and started piecing. The piece evolved into more of a community garden, you know those communal gardens where a bunch of folks share a plot of land to plant gardens. There are those well-tended plots and those more hap-hazard ones and plenty of land left to plant. I chose to quilt it with a serpentine stitch which reminds me of furrowed ground and was a nice fit with the idea behind the quilt.  My favorite part of the quilt is the piece of pink fabric that found its way into the quilt.  It was ‘misfiled’ in the orange scrap box and became a strawberry patch in the garden.  Urban Garden is a favorite and is one of the quilts in my book, Quilting Modern.
Scraps on Jacquie's design wall as she works on Urban Garden
What do you love about using scraps or repurposed fabrics?
I make a lot of scraps with all the experimenting I do in the studio and I hate to see things go to waste, so I save everything.  It’s a great feeling to use something that could be classified as trash and turn it into something beautiful and functional.
Close up shot of Urban Garden by Jacquie Gering
Tell us about yourself and you as a quilter?
I’m an educator, a mom, and now a quilter and author.  I learned to sew in 4-H as a kid, but I didn’t start quilting until 4 years ago.  As a quilter, I try to push myself to stretch the definition of a “modern quilt” and at the same time maintain a connection with tradition.  I’m a member of both the Kansas City and Chicago Modern Quilt Guilds. I live in Chicago with my hubby and my quilting companion, my black lab, Bruno.
Another detail picture of Jacquie Gering's Urban Garden

Featured Quilt 4

One of the first things that may come to mind when you think about creating a quilt from re-purposed fabric is using fabric from vintage sheets. A quick search on the internet and you will pull up many quilts made from vintage sheets. Today we will feature two very different quilts that both feature this fun and versatile re-purposed fabric. Read below as Jeni Baker and Jodie Bissig tell us more about using vintage sheets to create these quilts.

Quilts made with vintage sheets by Jeni Baker (left) and Jodie Bissig (right).


Featured Quilt 4a: Giant Vintage Star

The first of the two quilts is by Jeni Baker and it’s called the Giant Vintage Star Quilt. Jeni blogs at In Color Order and you can find her on Flickr as well. She is a member of the Madison Modern Quilt Guild. Read on as Jeni answered a few question about this quilt.

Giant Vintage Star by Jeni Baker


Tell Us About Your Quilt

One night, I was poking around on Pinterest and was led to an article featuring barn quilts located in Adams County, Ohio. I had seen a barn quilt before in Holmes County, Ohio, but hadn’t thought much about it. I was immediately inspired by these barn quilts, and started thinking about translating the concept into a quilt. I realize this is sort of backwards, as barn quilts are generally inspired by real quilts, so I suppose making this quilt completed the circle!  This quilt is made up entirely of one giant quilt block. The block is generally known as the Starflower block, a block I was already familiar with and fond of. This seemed a perfect opportunity to dig into my vintage sheet stash. I ended up choosing a rainbow of colors in addition to a fun white patterned sheet for the background. It finishes off as a healthy throw quilt at 68″ square.

What Do You Love About Using Scraps or Re-purposed Fabrics?

It’s a great feeling to create something beautiful from something that has been discarded.  I definitely get that feeling working with vintage sheets. You’re giving them a second chance to shine and become something useful.  Plus, it’s Eco-friendly!

Detail of Giant Vintage Star by Jeni Baker


Tell Us About Yourself and About You as a Quilter

I grew up in Ohio and am currently living in Wisconsin with my boyfriend and pet bunny George.  I graduated with a degree in Marketing and Studio Art and am currently teaching sewing classes at a sewing lounge part time.  Creating has always been an important part of my life, whether it be through sewing, photography or other crafts. I learned to sew about 10 years ago through trial and error and a bit of help from my Mom. I started quilting in late 2009 after moving into my first apartment, and have been hooked ever since. My favorite part of the quilting process is choosing the fabrics and colors.

Featured Quilt 4b: Vintage Neighborhood

The second quilt featured today is called Vintage Neighborhood by Jodie Bissig. Jodie blogs at Sew Handmade and you can find her on Flickr too. She is a member of her local quilt guild where last year she was the proud librarian. There isn’t a local Modern Quilt Guild in her area, YET! Do we see President/Founder Jodie in her future? Read on as Jodie talks about making Vintage Neighborhood and her love of quilting.

Vintage Neighborhood by Jodie Bissig


Tell Us About Your Quilt

This 36″ square quilt was made using blocks from an online quilting bee with members from all over the U.S. This was the first time I ever participated in a group like this and I loved it. I requested “wonky house blocks” for my month and encouraged the ladies to be creative. This quilt includes three blocks I made myself and 6 blocks made by others in the group.

What Do You Love About Using Scraps or Re-purposed Fabrics?

I love vintage sheets for many reasons – first, the patterns and colors are so beautiful – I especially love the florals and prints that look like watercolors. I love how soft and well-worn the fabrics feel, without being ‘worn out.” And, lastly, I love the cost! A large vintage sheet costs only a few dollars at a thrift store and provides yards and yards of beautiful fabric.

Detail of Vintage Neighborhood by Jodie Bissig


Tell Us About Yourself and About You as a Quilter

I started quilting in 2007- I completed my first quilt just in time for my daughter’s first birthday. Since then, I’ve made 49 quilts in between raising my babies and running a photography business. My husband and I are currently building a house and our plans definitely include a sewing room! I love to sew and there’s nothing better that seeing my children peacefully sleeping under a quilt I have made for them.

Thanks Jeni and Jodie for sharing your beautiful vintage sheet quilts with us!

Featured Quilt 5

What’s a better name for this scrap quilt than Scrap-TasticEmily Carreffectively uses all types of scraps and re-purposed fabrics including ‘new’ scraps, vintage sheets and shirts from grandma! Emily blogs with her two sisters at Creative Chicks. Read on as she talks about her inspiration and how she gave herself the freedom to even use the “ugly” scraps!

ScrapTastic Quilt by Emily Carr


Tell Us About Your Quilt

I am always looking for new/fun ways to use my scraps.  When I came across the scrap vomit quilt I knew it would be my next big scrap project.  When I started cutting my squares I thought I might only use my “pretty” scraps, but soon realized that it didn’t matter what I used.  In the words of Josef Albers “Any fabric can ‘go’ with any others in the right proportions.”  So I started cutting up any and every fabric I had.  This quilt includes some reclaimed sheets (vintage and otherwise), upcycled shirts from my grandma, lots of “ugly” prints, and many scraps from previous projects.  It was fun to use up everything in my scrap bin and make something pretty out of all that ugliness!

ScrapTastic Quilt by Emily Carr

I would probably consider myself primarily a scrap quilter.  Sometimes I find it hard to cut into my bigger pieces of fabrics.  Scraps tend to be less intimidating for me because they are already “cut”.  Besides, I think there is great beauty in scrapiness.  I mean, isn’t that how quilters past lived?  By making beautiful creations out of leftovers? I love using re-purposed fabrics for the eco-friendly and thrift aspects.  I find great satisfaction in searching out bargains at my local thrift stores.  I enjoy the thrill of the hunt!

ScrapTastic Quilt by Emily Carr


Tell Us About Yourself and About You as a Quilter

I am a SAHM (stay at home mom) of 4 kids, and have been quilting for about 3 1/2 years.  I started sewing at around 8 yrs old.  My mom made all of our clothes growing up, so she was thrilled when we were old enough to sew for ourselves.  My love for quilts started somewhere in high school.  I can’t really pinpoint exactly what is was that I loved, it was pretty much everything!  Quilting let’s me express my creativity, try new things, and improve my sewing skills.

Featured Quilt 6

Lindsey Rhodes proves with her quilt Sewing Circle that scrap quilts can be fresh, clean and not look scrappy at all! Lindsey blogs at LR Stitched and is a proud member of the Atlanta Modern Quilt Guild. You can see more of her work on Flickr. Read on as Lindsey talks about her inspiration and how sometimes the second time is the charm.

Sewing Circle by Lindsey Rhodes


Tell Us About Your Quilt

This quilt was inspired by a Joseph’s Coat quilt pattern that I saw in 2009.   I was absolutely smitten with the random pops of color in this design and couldn’t stop thinking about it.

I had only completed one quilt and wasn’t even sure I liked quilting.  The first quilt I’d made was a gift and I decided I really wanted one for our family.   I figured I’d try one more and used the Joseph’s Coat quilt as my inspiration.

I was sewing clothing at that time and since I wasn’t committed to quilting I didn’t want to cut into my yardage.   I sketched a petal shape and began to cut the circles from my scrap bin.  I knew I would need a couple of yards for the background so I used some of the muslin that I had for trial runs of new clothing patterns and the backing is a vintage sheet.    It is truly a ‘make it do’ kind of quilt!

I can not describe how exciting it was to have this quilt come together and as the process went along I realized I didn’t want to stop at one more quilt!

Detail of Sewing Circle by Lindsey Rhodes


What Do You Love About Using Scraps or Re-purposed Fabrics?

I love using scraps because I have the hardest time throwing away pieces of fabric.   I found myself holding on to more and more small pieces after several occasions where I’d used up a favorite print and then discovered it was no longer available for purchase.

Quilting is the only method I’ve found that can take such tiny pieces of fabric and turn it into something that’s not only beautiful, but useful.  I find that so fulfilling.

Scrap quilting is also a great opportunity to put all of my favorite fabrics in one place and have them look amazing together!

Sewing Circle by Lindsey Rhodes


Tell Us About Yourself and About You as a Quilter

I started sewing clothing and handbags when I was 16, but definitely feel I’ve found my niche in quilting.    I’m coming up on my 4th year in August.   I hope to continue challenging myself as a quilter and am thankful for my branch of the MQG here in Atlanta and the online sewing community.    They both provide so much inspiration and encouragement.   I have many quilters in my family tree and I love that I’m adding to our quilting history in my own way.

Sewing Circle by Lindsey Rhodes

Featured Quilt 7

This last quilt in the Week of Using What You Have is Climbing the Walls by Lynne Miller-Deist. At first glance this quilt just looks like a blue string quilt but, on close inspection you can see that it is pretty amazingly made out of old denim jeans! Denim + string quilt = a lot of love and patience. Lynne blogs at Miss Stash Would and you can find her on flickr under the name Miss_Stash_Would. She is a proud member of the St. Louis Modern Quilt Guild. Read on as she shares more about making Climbing the Walls.

Climbing the Walls by Lynne Miller-Deist


Tell Us About Your Quilt
A good friend asked for a lap quilt made from her son’s denim jeans.  All I could think was, “Partridge Family!  How do I make denim patchwork modern?!?”  Her son is a free-runner, which means he climbs walls and jumps stairwells for fun, so I wanted something geometric and bold reminiscent of scaffolds and sky scrapers, which is where the name “Climbing the Walls” originated.  (That, and the devil of a time I had manipulating denim cut on the bias).  I based my design on a pair of beautiful string quilts made by two talented ladies from the St. Louis Modern Quilt Guild, as well as Elizabeth Hartman’s version in the “Modern Guide to Patchwork.”
What Do You Love About Using Scraps or Re-Purposed Fabrics?
I love the idea that these fabrics will outlive their original intent and take on a brand-new life of their own.  My grandmother created intricately-pieced quilt tops from scrap muslin and feed sacks.  My great-grandmother patched together snippets of wool blankets to keep the family warm.  These talented ladies took the textiles of their everyday lives and turned them into heirlooms still used today.  Their resourcefulness and craftsmanship make it possible for me to tuck my kids in at night under the very same blanket that warmed my Dad as a child.  That’s pretty remarkable when you think about it.
I have an entire bin dedicated to “thrifty” finds I’ve stashed over the years.  I have hoards of linen salvaged from an old bed skirt, a fun flowery print I snipped from a pair of wacky maternity pants, and a stack of flannel jammies from my kiddos.  The aesthetic of the original items may not appeal to me in 2012, but that’s part of the fun:  finding a fresh new way to interpret these raw materials into something beautiful and lasting for the people I love (especially when a trip to the quilt shop costs $12/yard).  They say it isn’t what you have, but what you do with what you have that counts.  I like living in a world where it’s never too late for a fresh start.  Guess that goes for my fabrics, too. 
Climbing the Walls by Lynne Miller-Deist
Tell Us About Yourself
In addition to being a proud member of the St. Louis Modern Quilt Guild, I’m also a chemistry professor, wife and mother of two hilarious offspring that definitely keep me hopping.  When I do manage to find time to sit down and quilt, I love to work with solids and bold, geometric prints.  I like a lot of contrast in my quilts, and prefer to let the piecing and variations in hue tell more of the story than any particular piece or line of fabric.  Some of my favorite quilts are some of the simplest:  clean lines and a minimal, modern aesthetic.  I am constantly inspired by the amazing quilters whose work I admire via the Modern Quilt Guild, particularly the fantastic ladies in our local St. Louis chapter.  So many ideas, so little time!