a ‘use what you have’ personal challenge quilt


This quilt got its start because I was really feeling the urge to sew with my Nani Iro stash. Periodically I take the fabrics out, admire them, and then end up stumped as to what to make.


I took a peek at my Quilts of Gee’s Bend book to look for inspiration, and came across this quilt, made by Annie Mae Young. Inspired by it, as well as the idea of using what you have, I decided to try my hand at a little something similar.

So the Nani Iro stash went back, and instead I grabbed some scrap Nani Iro pieces left over from a Washi top I made (and I guess never blogged about!). I tend to have trouble using up the scraps left over from making clothing. I hate that they’re always weirdly shaped, and washed while the rest of my fabrics are not, and consequently they tend to sit. So I decided to issue myself a little personal challenge – to use up some scraps left over from recent clothing projects. These aren’t necessarily fabrics I would select to go together – I had the dark purple Nani Iro pieces, plus a few small pieces of new Nani Iro gingham in pink left over from a pair of baby pants I made recently, and some aqua voile, which I used for a shirt (which ended up not fitting, and looking far too much like scrubs for my liking!). I allowed myself to add in some extra aqua solids in order to have enough for the background, and I added in a few small pieces of an orange Oakshott solid for some accent pieces.

(apologies for the poor iphone photos – I need to remember to get out the real camera for progress photos!)

I had the most of the purple Nani Iro, so those became my main squares. I decided to cut it all with scissors without a ruler. As I cut the squares I put them up randomly on the design wall and then started to fill in with the aqua background.


I sewed them into columns and then sewed those columns together.


And here it is as a completed top! It’s fairly small – definitely baby sized – but certainly a fun little experiment. It was interesting to see what I could make out of these clothing scraps. I’ve even decided to go all out and hand quilt it. This will be the first quilt I’ve hand quilted, so we’ll see how that goes!

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12 Responses to a ‘use what you have’ personal challenge quilt

  1. 1
    Jessica says:

    I love the idea behind this quilt. And the finished product came out so great, it’s really gorgeous. I definitely want to try the scissors and no ruler method.

  2. 2
    Marisa says:

    I love everything about this.

  3. 3
    Jessica says:

    I feel you about the iPhone progress photos! Always seems like such a hassle to go find my “big” camera when my phone is right at hand, but I’m always disappointed with the final pictures. I’m starting to think I need something right in between… Have you seen those little handheld digital cameras with the add-on lenses? They look like a great compromise.

  4. 4
    Sheryl says:

    As a Gee’s Bend fan, I like it!

  5. 5
    Camilla says:

    I love it and isn’t it satisfying to use up those pesky shaped scraps! Love the aqua and burnt orange with the purple.

  6. 6
    Nova says:

    gorgeous! just my kind of quilting 🙂

  7. 7
    cinzia says:

    i think this is gorgeous! I love this kind of approach to quilting. Can’t wait to see it quilted. Hand quilting is so much fun!

  8. 8
    Ramona says:

    What a fun idea…and a great use of scraps. I really hate it when I have an awesome fabric that I’m afraid to cut into. I have way too many of those right now.

  9. 9
    Caroline says:

    What a great way to use fabric. Bits of fabric from shirts I have made my spouse find their way into my quilted pillow tops.

  10. 10

    It’s so artistic and dreamy. Well done! I’m glad you’re going to try hand quilting. It can be such a pleasure!

  11. 11
    Frances says:

    Wow, this is lovely, Ashley!

  12. Pingback: FITF: nani iro baby improv quilt | Film in the Fridge

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