Scrappy Quilt Conundrum

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"...with all the purpose and intent, is that really scrappy?"

It's a thinking thing!

I had a bit of a thinking session the other day. While working on a quilt that my client asked to be scrappy, but with particular fabrics. I kept asking myself if this was a truly scrappy quilt? I mean, with all the purpose and intent, is that really scrappy? So I decided to take a look around the internet. This is some of what I came up with.

Terminology - of a sorts

There appear to be a few ways to connect with the term 'scrappy quilts'. One is SCRAPPY, of course! Don't mind me - I'm a little out of it these days! Another term is COUNTRY and SCRAPPY COUNTRY. Then there is OLD TIMEY and/or RETRO.


Most quilters seem to have a love for color that exceeds anything else. To me, that's the way to think! Scrappy quilters go above and beyond. And don't get me wrong, I love scrappy. (more often than not, I prefer when someone else is doing them) Personally, I tend to prefer some kind of order. That's just who I am. Perhaps even some OCD in there along with my all-time favorite OQC (Obsessive Quilting Compulsion). Not to mention, my perfectionism.

When everything is thrown together - which is supposed to eliminate the thinking part, RIGHT? - I compulsively want to put colors together that blend. I want to pull similarly themed fabrics into the same places.

(Personal Opinion - I don't consider this SCRAPPY - MODERN Perhaps?)


For the first 10 minutes or so it's actual work to just pick up one and add it to the next one in hand. I work at not thinking about it. Just sew!

Pretty soon, it comes to me and my brain lets go! Whew! It's a workout. But, I can do it! I have a funny story that goes with this 'letting go'. Keep reading - I'll get there.
Let's talk a little about Country Quilts

I grew up sleeping under quilts that my grandmother made. Out of the 9 kids in my family, I was the only one that didn't get a quilt made by our grandmother. We had many quilts of hers in the house and one on every bed. (No, we didn't all live in the house at the same time - there were 20 years between me, the baby, and the oldest) Our grandmother had all the pieces cut out for my quilt, but she died before making it. My sister took the pieces and made me a quilt for a wedding present (over 30 years ago).

So to me, those were country quilts. They all had whatever fabrics were available to her at the time, but strangely enough, they also had a pattern. She made double wedding ring, Dresden plates, flowers, etc. I never saw one of her quilts that didn't have a pattern of some kind.

I don't doubt that is how some people made their quilts. Just not my grandma. And, I'm guessing, I followed in her footsteps. Well, apart from the hand quilting. I can't do that! Takes way too long!

Perhaps it had something to do with income? If you had enough money to buy a background fabric, then you did and that's what you used. Maybe it wasn't that at all. Maybe that background fabric was just one of the sheets that needed to be used elsewhere.

Scrappy Country

When I'm asked to make a scrappy country quilt. I get a little confused. Is that just me or do these terms not seem quite right?

"...not necessarily "scrappy". Some scrappy? Is that a thing?"

Often when I dig a little deeper into my client's thoughts, it's either specific colors or specific layout or something else that's specific that changes the whole thought process. With this information, it could be a country style quilt with a pattern. But not necessarily "scrappy". Some scrappy? Is that a thing?

In many of the descriptions I've seen out on the wide internet, I don't see scrappy and country quilts meaning quite the same thing. Where a scrappy quilt is SO MANY different fabrics and that's mostly all it is. A country quilt appears to have many different fabrics, but a coordinated background and/or specific pattern.

I have seen quilts that have many, MANY different fabrics yet the colors are coordinated to make a specific pattern. Great way to use up scraps and fulfill that need for organization! Yes... I'm talking about myself.

Old-Timey or Retro

Now, this terminology seems to just be a repeat of the above thought process. Except that I had a person ask for a Retro quilt and they actually meant RETRO. They were talking about Reproduction fabrics used in a quilt!

OH MY! I was in heaven. I love 30's reproduction fabrics. I have a slew of them that need to be used. They are just so too pretty to look at right now.

That could be termed Retro. And it could be considered Old Timey, too.

RIGHT BRAIN - LEFT BRAIN - My funny story

Yes! I do hear Trace Adkins in my head!

With this whole scrappy thing going on, my brain feels like two magnets pushing against each other.

So I found a way to bypass my weirdness about piecing scrappy quilts. I ask someone else to do it!!

I have a helper that gets to come by every once in a while. We sew and talk and cut and talk and...well...have fun! Reid has become my cohort in quilting! He's funny and he eases my burdens. He is also a pastry chef and he often works very long hours. So I can't fault him when the funny things happen.

Reid came over and I...what was I working on? ...I don't remember. Anyway, I thought to myself - here's a way to get the piecing done on this scrappy quilt and not fight with myself. I had Reid do it! This should be the easiest way! He would have the pairs pieced and I could go back and piece the pairs together later! I wouldn't have to look too hard at them...RIGHT?

Ried pieced over 600 2-1/2" squares. 600!

I sat down after he left and mentally prepared to piece the pairs together. I do mean MENTALLY prepared. I was focusing on not looking at them until they were 16 patches. I even read somewhere to throw them into a paper bag and pick them out and sew. So I went to get a paper bag.

I start to throw these pieces into a paper bag and...oh my...this can't be!


Every. One. Of. The. 600. Pieced. Pairs. Are. Stitched. At. 3/8".

I hung my head and cried. I cried for Reid and all his hard work. I cried for all the stitches I would be removing. UGH!

About that time my husband walked in, asked what was going on, and held me for a bit.

I sent a picture to Reid and he cried.


But there is always a sunny side

Finally, it dawned on me that there is an upside to this. Really?



Image by Victor Garcia - Unsplash


I can restitch these pieces and never take them apart. Not apart...apart! I can pull out the stitches, realign the edges, and stitch them back together. I never have to really look at the pieces.

But is that what I did? That's a story for another time...

Do you have a thinking thing on scrappy quilting?

Leave a comment below! I would love to hear your thoughts!

Thanks so much for reading

Much love,





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