Making Crumb Blocks - Scrap Management Series

For today's scrap management post, I'd like to introduce you to Leanne of Devoted Quilter. Leanne is a quilter and quilt pattern designer. She has been quilting for almost 25 years and has a had her patterns published in magazines like Make Modern, Modern Patchwork and Quilty, and also in the Quilter's Planner.

She's also a big fan of scrappy quilts and is sharing about her scrap management as well as a tutorial for how to make crumb quilts with us.

If you'd like to hear more from Leanne, click the button below to join her email list!

Click here to join Devoted Quilter's mailing list

Hello! I’m Leanne from Devoted Quilter and I’m excited to be here today to talk about managing and using scrap fabric! You can find me on my blog, on Instagram (@devotedquilter) and on Facebook (@devotedquilterdesigns).

I love scrap quilts! I also hate throwing away fabric, so I save anything that’s at least 1" square. Not everyone wants to keep pieces that small, but that’s one of the great things about quilting – you get to decide what works for you! Think about the smallest pieces you’d really be happy to work with and then discard (or donate to another scrap quilter) anything smaller than that.

Pile of scrap fabrics in pink, turquoise and black

I’ve been quilting for over 20 years, and I’ve tried a few different ways of managing my scraps in that time. My first method was the simplest – a plastic grocery bag into which I stuffed all my scraps. And by stuffed, I mean stuffed. That bag was so full the plastic stretched to the point of ripping in places, and it was nearly impossible to take anything out without having a scrap explosion. I don’t recommend this method! I did stick with it for a long, long time, though.

For a long time, I wanted to separate my scraps by colour, but I didn’t have pretty bins to put them all in. Finally I made a blue basket out of scraps and separated my blue scraps into it.

basket for storing fabric scraps, made of various blue fabric scraps

It was a great project that let me use scraps and sort my scraps. The plan was to make more baskets in all the colours so I could get rid of the scrap bag, but that never happened.

One day I got so frustrated with the scrap explosion that I decided to let go of my desire for a Pinterest-worthy row of baskets or pretty bins. We happened to have a few shoeboxes lying around, so I grabbed them and started sorting my scraps into them and stacked them in the laundry room. It definitely wasn’t Pinterest-worthy, and some colours had to share a box (yellow and orange were together, and pink and purple), but it was sooooo much easier to find what I needed! (FYI, shoeboxes make good project boxes, too).

stack of shoe boxes in front of a quilted wall hanging

A little over a month ago, I finally got a sewing room of my own! I moved the scrap boxes out of the laundry room and put them on a bookshelf in the sewing room. Now that I was seeing them all the time, though, they felt really messy looking, so I decided to paint the boxes white. I’m still working my way through the painting, but I like how they’re looking so far.

Stack of shoe boxes painted white with black labels

With my scraps sorted by colour, it’s super easy to actually use them. That’s the ultimate goal, right? To use even my smallest scraps, I love crumb blocks. Making crumb blocks is the perfect mindless sewing for when you want to make something, but you don’t want to have to be precise and have all your points match up.

How to make crumb quilt blocks

To start making a crumb block, you just pick two pieces and stitch them together. 

how to make crumb blocks, tutorial

Use scissors to trim the pieces so you have another straight edge. I also use my scissors to cut my scraps to fit. I don’t bother with my rotary cutter when I am sewing the scraps together.

how to make crumb blocks, tutorial

Then pick another piece and stitch it on. I use scissors to straighten up edges as needed or to cut my scraps to fit. I like to work on a couple of chunks at a time and then join the chunks together when they get big enough. That keeps me from just making a log cabin or rail fence style piece, since I keep starting over with small bits.

how to make crumb blocks, tutorial

Once the chunk I’m sewing is as big as I need, I use my rotary cutter and ruler to square up the sides. And those bits that get cut off? If they’re big enough, I just stitch them to the next chunk I’m making! Doing that means I sometimes end up with really teeny pieces in the finished crumb block, which I love.

how to make crumb blocks, tutorial

I use my Clover mini iron to press the seams open as I go. Crumb blocks end up with a lot of seams, so pressing them open helps to make the block lie flat. You could finger press as you go, if you prefer, and just give the finished block a good press.

My Marbles quilt blocks are a great example of crumb blocks. I have a full tutorial for making the Marbles block on my blog, which you can find here.

Marbles quilt top, crumb quilt

I hope you’ll give crumb piecing a try!

If you'd like to hear more from Leanne, click the button below to sign up for her newsletter.

sign up for devoted quilter newsletter


  • You are right about Crumb Blocks. SEW much fun!! I’m like you when it comes to scraps. I like to use my fabric down to the very last inch! Unlike you, I continued making Quilted Scrap Baskets until I had one in every color of the rainbow. There’s a tutorial on my blog for the technique I use. (Oops! I forgot that I still need to make an orange one for the full ROYGBIV.)

    The Joyful Quilter
  • Love the idea of crumb quilts. I seem to hord every scrap.

  • This post is very timely for me – I’ve been quilting for nearly 49 years, so you can imagine the scraps I’ve accumulated….although I cut up my leftover pieces into pre cut sizes and store that way. Still, I manage to have scraps from making quilts, bindings, and I teach seniors to sew and quilt, so I get their scraps, too. This post will be put to good use! Thanks so much Deb E / Northern California


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published