the start of the flying farfalle quilt


This one is named as such because Morgan thinks it looks like flying pieces of bowtie pasta. I think that makes it sound a bit circus-like, but so be it. I like the circus, and I really like this quilt, so I guess all’s well.

The small colored fabric triangles are the scraps from my Anna Maria Horner voile string quilt. I couldn’t bear to throw them out, and you all had great suggestions about what I could do with them. Many of you voted for Amanda Jean’s ticker tape quilt, which is definitely on my list, but not for these scraps. Instead, I went with this design, which I spotted in Gwen Marston’s Liberated Quiltmaking II book. The book simply shows a photo of a finished quilt, though I’m led to believe that there’s more information about the block (called the Exquisite block) in her first book, Liberated Quiltmaking (which unfortunately no longer seems to be available for a decent price…).

I love this design for its simplicity, for the way it uses up scraps I can’t bear to throw away, and also for the speed in which it all comes together!


The solid white fabric in this one is an Ikea twin sheet. Amanda Jean posted about this idea here, and one very lovely reader offered to pick me up a sheet when she last visited Ikea (no Ikeas in VT… ) (Lisa, you’re the best!) I really loved using the sheet as the white solid. As Amanda Jean says, you get about 4.5 yards of fabric for under $5, which makes it the cheapest white I’ve used yet. It’s a nice creamy white color and after washing, it has a bit of texture, which I kind of like. I’ve read lots of places that you shouldn’t use sheets for quilting, but I thought it worked out quite well. I guess it’s a matter of personal preference! So if you’re looking for white fabric, you just might want to try this out and see what you think!


A huge thank you to everyone who commented with great suggestions on things to do and see around San Diego! I’ve never been, so I really appreciate all the suggestions – thank you, thank you!!

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60 Responses to the start of the flying farfalle quilt

  1. 1
    Karen says:

    Beautiful. It’s funny, I just moved back to the US after 4 years in Italy. Farfalle are butterflies (not bowties) and this quilt looks like colorful butterflies taking flight- I love it!

  2. 2
    aseemlylife says:

    It turned out so nice. I look forward to seeing how you will back it and how you will quilt it. It’s such a smart use for the tiny pieces we don’t want to throw out.

  3. 3

    What a great use for those precious scraps of fabric. I’ve been saving small pieces for a ticker tape quilt, but this is a great use of triangles. Very pretty quilt!

  4. 4
    Aunt LoLo says:

    I love the idea of using the IKEA sheet for the white!!!!! So cheap! Our IKEA here, in CT (out in New Haven) seems to put one line of fabric on sale each May for $.99 a yard. Last year, it was a duck (duc?)/canvas line – I picked up 30 yards. LOL The year before, it was a thick, gorgeous cotton line, that I used to make drapes for our (then new to us) rental. We’re moving soon, and will be MUCH closer to another IKEA location. Yea! I’ll definitely be picking up a few sheets…and checking to see if they put a line of fabric on sale in May!

  5. 5
    Aunt LoLo says:

    Oh, and I’d love to know how you made those blocks!!! I hate throwing away scraps. *grin*

  6. 6

    That is such a cute and colorful quilt. And a great use of those little scraps.

  7. 7
    Raven says:

    Get down!! I too refuse to throw any of the voile away…….I’ve started carrying scraps in my purse to touch when I’m out and about….isn’t that disturbing!! I think I really have a problem!

    I love love love the quilt, but with small kids, I would be too afraid to use so much white. Kids are always under foot with dirty hands and faces!

  8. 8
    rene says:

    Beautiful, would love to see how you made the block.

  9. 9
    Charlotte says:

    i am new to your’s so lovely & full of inspiration. i ♥ the design of this latest quilt..can’t wait to see her all finished!

  10. 10
    Eeva says:

    How joyful quilt. Such a great way to use scraps. I save also even the smallest pieces of scraps and hope that someday they will turn to quilts..

  11. 11
    BirthdayGinny says:

    Every time I check the blog, I find something fabulous! I have a terrible time chucking even the tiniest bits of prints I love and this idea will give me a way to use them. (If the white is too risky with little kids around, I can picture the white replaced with a chambray blue or even a bright red.) Thanks for the reference to the book. And thanks for doing all the research and innovation that results in sunny inspiration. These February days need bright ideas!

  12. 12
    qsogirl says:

    Oh! fantastic idea to use a sheet for solid white! I have always admired the fresh look of your quilts with their bright colors and broad expanses of crisp white.
    This idea definitely gets me thinking…
    I have at least two white sheets from Salvation Army that I’ve bought to make muslins for clothing patterns. But I could also use them to make a quilt! Oooooh, the possibilities!!

  13. 13
    erin says:

    ooh… i’d love to hear more about how you put this together. if you sewed them together a certain way and then cut them up, or if you just assembled each block seperately. this is totally cute! i must pick up a couple sheets while at ikea next time. you know, since you don’t have an ikea close, target has their home brand sheets that are sold seperately (250 thread count). a flat twin is about $7.99, and they go up to king, which is about $14.99 (i think). i’ve used it on a couple quilts and it really turned out wonderfully! it didn’t have that “sheet” feel. it felt like the quilting cottons did after washing.

  14. 14
    Louise says:

    This is beautiful. I made one like this for my son about a year ago, and it’s one of his favorite quilts!

  15. 15

    I too just recently used the Ikea sheet for a quilt…for my FMF queen size. I was pleasantly surprised too…lovely little quilt you made with all those tiny pieces!

  16. 16
    Rebecca Ball says:

    Welcome to the world of triangles! I’ve been following your progress for about a year, and wondered when you would step-up triangles. I’ve enjoyed your other quilts as well. Regarding using sheets – for economy they’re great, and they usually quilt okay on a DSM, but please don’t take them to a long-armer to quilt, they really are hard on many of those machines. Please keep posting and growing in your quilting

  17. 17
    Leigh says:

    I LOVE this! I saw this pattern (but not wonky) several years ago in a catalog (maybe the company store?) and tore it out. I made a quilt with this pattern using HR goldfish, beach, and stripes but the contrast wasn’t as good as these bright colors with the white. Also – love the wonky. What a great way to use those lovely scraps!

  18. 18
    Meg in CT says:

    Ashley, this is just too cute for words! And the name makes me giggle. 😀

  19. 19
    Rebecca says:

    Do you know what the reasoning is for not using sheets? I’ve used quite a few sheets for quilting and other projects as well!

    I love all your quilts! I can’t believe how fast you whip them out!

  20. 20
    Audrie says:

    I love quilts that use up scraps and this is too cute! I’ve used flat sheets for most of my queen / twin quilts and they’ve worked well. Haven’t used it for the quilt top though.

  21. 21
    Tracey J says:

    flying farfalle is hilarious!

    Beautiful quilt… I think this would be stunning with all solids, and even solids of different colors. Hmmmm…

  22. 22

    what a fantastic name for a quilt, and it’ just perfect for this honey. I think people tend to freak out about using sheets b/c of the high thread count, they can be difficult to quilt through. I don’t think that is an issue with IKEA sheets as they are a far cry from 400 count Egyptian cotton but soften up very nicely in the wash. Let us know how the quilting goes!

  23. 23
    ana says:

    Wow! What a great idea. In fact, it’s a kind of so-simple-you’d-never-think-of-it idea, but it looks really good. I shall definitely put one on my to-do list.

  24. 24
    Crystal says:

    I love it!! I have been saving my triangle scraps to make a quilt just like this! I can’t wait to try it! I have used sheets before in quilts and I really like it. I haven’t used Ikea sheets but I might go pick up some here soon to try. I love the quilt! GOOD JOB!

  25. 25

    This is so funny! I used the same pattern, though my triangles were all the same size, with an IKEA sheet! Mine was a duvet cover with red on it, which was on sale. I made it into a sewing machine mat. I still have the cream side left for exactly the kind of quilt you are making now!

  26. 26

    And now… the Flying Farfalle! That name makes me giggle. This looks so cool!

  27. 27
    Felicity says:

    Great choice of pattern for your little triangles!

    @Rebecca #19: I think the IKEA sheets work better than others because the weave isn’t too tight, so it’s not hard for the needle to pass through like it is in tightly-woven sheets.

  28. 28
    Suzanne says:

    This is just lovely. With your and Amanda Jean’s endorsements, I sense an increased demand for the IKEA sheets. I had read her suggestion and purchased a few of the IKEA sheets too. She made a quilt similar to your farfalle using the triangles she cut off of her binding strips. It’s here: Thanks for sharing your talent with us!

  29. 29
  30. 30
    Kyla says:

    I have to agree with Morgan it does look like flying bowties and though the name is unique people will remember it and it explains the quilt. Using sheets to quilt was a great idea!!! It is also a great way to get rid of all the scraps that i know oyu have pies of. I realy like this you could even use the same triangles and make new patters that are just as simple. Its good that your finding new ways tog et rid of the scraps.

  31. 31
    Amber Lee says:

    Just lovely! I went to put a border on quilt today and realized I don’t have any white. I’m not sure why I have such trouble buying it, as I don’t seem to have a problem getting lots of prints! I might have to try the sheet. I’m finally digging into the stash I got last October when I was visitig in your area. Thanks again for your shop recommendations, I can’t wait to give my bff the quilt with fabric she helped pick out!

  32. 32
  33. 33
    Mam says:

    Beautiful! Please post a tutorial

  34. 34
    kate says:

    A fantastic quilt and what’s better is that it is a serious scrap buster!

  35. 35

    I love the look of this new quilt! I just finished a quilt top with lots of white fabric that came from a Ralph Lauren thrifted sheet. I wish we had IKEAs near where I live, I just looked at a local discount store for plain white sheets and they wanted $14 for a flat full sheet.

    I look forward to reading your blog and seeing your creations!

  36. 36
    Jennifer says:

    Love this! It’s gorgeous. And I’ve got a couple.of those IKEA sheets stashed away for future quilts myself, I think it’s a great economical way to quilt. Can’t wait to see this one finished.

  37. 37
    Susan McKey says:

    I swear by Ikea sheets for a white solid. I even have other colors in my stash for projects to come. What is the trepidation about using sheets for quilting? it is such an economical and practical (and beautiful) way to go.

    A great use of triangular scraps… may have to share that idea 🙂 As always, beautiful, inspiring work.

  38. 38
    Tif says:

    it’s just gorgeous! so understated and beautiful!

  39. 39
    Becky Merry says:

    I am SOOO a fan of using sheets. My mom has always used sheets for a solid backing to her quilts. You can even find them in some really cute patterns, and nothing feels better to snuggle against! It’s also a great way to save/reuse vintage sheets.

  40. 40
    Pam M. says:

    Wow, wow, wow!
    Now I know what to do with all my little scraps that I can’t seem to throw away.
    You did a beautiful job!

  41. 41
    whatupduck says:

    LOVE the IKEA sheet idea. I’m visiting one in the next few weeks and will definitely pick up one or two. Always like what you can do with white, beautiful quilt!

  42. 42
    Holly says:

    AAARGH!!! I KNEW I forgot something yesterday when my Mom did an IKEA run for me!!! I had the sheets on my mental list but not written down!! I live in OK, so when she visits from OH, she always makes a trip to the Cincinnati IKEA before she comes to see us. Or we plan entire vacations around IKEA locations. I know. We’re pathetic.

    Doggone it! I’ll have to wait for the next visit before I get the sheets now! I love the quilt, though! 🙂

  43. 43
    EricaB. says:

    I just used old sheets to make a sashed nine patch quilt top. It is so much softer than I could have gotten (and the sheets were free, from a friend). I learned to use sheets as backing for quilts from my mom, because they are already one continuous piece (if you want a solid back). Though, I’ve only done ties to bind, I haven’t actually quilted yet.

  44. 44
    Kathy says:

    I’ve also heard the prohibitions about using sheets. Can’t say that it has totally stopped me, but I did have trouble when making some doll clothes out of an old sheet. The weave was just too tight, and my machine kept skipping stitches until I switched to a sharper needle. All that to say, we’re actually probably better off using lower thread count sheets than fancy schmancy ones. Yay for cheap occasionally being better for some things!

  45. 45
    Andrea says:

    What a great design! It really reminds me of spring!!! I love buying sheeting fabric from my local discount fabric store. I’ve even had great success using higher thread count with a sharp needle (as Kathy did).

  46. 46
    jacquie says:

    i had a little trouble quilting my monet’s flower garden quilt…took a little fussing with needle and thread, but it worked out fine in the end. good use of scraps in this one!

  47. 47
    Donna Raagas says:

    I’m VERY impressed with your full use of tiny scraps! I have a reputation for never throwing anything away, to my husband’s chagrin. I was so proud of myself for learning to throw away small pieces of fabric and only saving substantial leftovers from sewing projects. Now I’m kicking myself for wasting potential quilt components!

  48. 48
    Stephanie says:

    such a great idea – and use – for those hard to discard scraps! thanks for the inspiration – and adding to my ever growing “some day” list 😉

  49. 49
    Sarah says:

    I regularly use sheets for quilt backs when I quilt them myself. I had a longarm quilter quilt a queen-sized quilt for my parents, and the back of that was from a duvet cover. Come to think of it, I’ve had a king-sized quilt done on a longarm too, and its back was made from another duvet cover. Same type of material as sheets, and neither longarm quilter said anything. The one I warned in advance said it was no problem — she gushed over the gorgeous pattern on the fabric. I find vintage sheets have wonderful patterns that fit right in with the modern patterns being made these days. I’ve also cut up sheets and pillow covers to make picnic quilts (with backs made of recycled jeans and other denim clothing — the unpicked seams and darts leave fascinating designs on the denim fabric), and never had a problem quilting those on my rinky-dink sewing machine. I wonder if the no-sheet warnings come from the makers of pricey quilting fabric. Up here in Canada, I’ve seen stuff priced at $18.99 a metre that you Americans pay $8 per yard for. Our metre is only a bit bigger than a yard.

  50. 50
    Trish says:

    I use sheets for quilting and backing.With all the fabric shops out there of course they don’t want you useing sheets.I also use older flannel sheets for my batting or old blankets in some of my quilts that are made for family.

  51. 51
    Jane Sparrell says:

    I just discovered your site today and love it! Can you tell me if you used a pattern for the flea market star quilt that it looks like you gave away a few months ago. I would love to make one for a new grandchild.

    Thank you,


  52. 52
    patyz from mexico says:

    What a wonderful idea!!! I never throw away all my scraps, I can´t do it. Now a found a way to use them.

  53. 53

    LOVE this and love the name! That is exactly what it looks like…kudos to Morgan!
    So sorry about your grandfather. It is so hard to say goodbye, even when a life has been well-lived. He has the kindest face.

  54. 54
    jaybird says:

    love the name.. and the quilt!!

  55. 55

    Oh I I’ve always loved that pattern and even more so that book. Thank you for letting me know that there is a II out there.

    Also, I’m very sorry to hear about your grandfather.

  56. 56
    Sonja says:

    I love your flying “farfalle” quilt!!!

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  59. 57
    Marieke says:

    This is awesome. I now know what I might do with the little snippets of Terrain I have left over from making a mug rug. Yay!

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