upcycling: a patchwork blanket from scraps

i used to have a moving box under my cutting table to throw all the scraps and remnants in, pieces that would be too small to use for a garment. that’s where it all started with this blanket. once this box started overflowing with fabric remnants – anticipate: real quick! – i felt i had to do something about it. honestly, what keeps me interested in sewing is certainly not home deco, like pillows, blankets, curtains.. however, sometimes you do need those things and sometimes you happen to have the material right before you. in this case, both was true. and it was january, a time of year where it’s nice to have it warm, and that is what a blanket does: keeps you warm!

wrapped up

as you can see, i did not finish this blanket during wintertime. spring passed by and then, the prospect of summer was not incentive. at least, i had the pieces cut out and sewn together in february. just to give you an idea what i used, besides project scraps: a skirt from my boyfriends’ grandma, old jeans and pants, a plaid flannel shirt that never got worn, corduroy from an old skirt, a scarf from ukraine (interfaced for  a bit more stability), a corny tablecloth, a vintage pillow case (also used for this project), duvet covers, a polka-dot shirt from the thrift store, wool remnants from a skirt… and so the list goes on. i’m telling you about this in detail because i love that you can use basically everything. if it’s too lightweight – just interface it (you could even interface knits, so they won’t stretch)! upcycling is easy, you just have to get started. i’ve read a tip somewhere to sew together a bunch of scraps in every sewing session, it’s not as overwhelming as setting the goal to sew a big blanket in a handful of neverending sessions (which is what i did eventually) – on the contrary, it’s magically done at some point.

now for the details:

i cut 15x15cm (6×6″) squares and sewed them together in rows with a 1/4″ SA (using my presser foot as a guide). for warmth and structure, i used 100% cotton batting which i bought from ‘frau tulpe’ at 11,50€/m (volumenvlies 277). that’s the only thing i spend money on! it’s just right for a blanket and a bit sticky so sandwiching becomes much easier because the layers don’t shift around. you still have to pin or baste all layers together, though. i decided to pin, much faster! i’m not all about speed in general, but why would i want to crawl around on the floor for longer than necessary? i certainly thought this was a smart move… however, i cannot recommed that. the pins took vengeance on me as i quilted the layers in rows. next time i’ll be hand basting the layers together. for quilting i set the stitch length to 3,0.


for the backing i used plain muslin of which i had bought about 6 metres (6 1/2 yard) at the scandinavian ages ago to use for, guess what, making muslins. it was a bit softer than i’d remembered and when i looked through my stash i was happy to find it. i cut 2,5 m and prewashed it. then i remembered a mispurchase of mine: textile color which you can use in your washing machine, in a 60°C easy-care programm. it was a mispurchase because i do never wash my cotton garments at 60°C…  NO! to shrinked pants. anyway, the color (navy) was perfect for the backing cotton. now, although the color was said to suffice for up to 600g and my fabric actually weigh lighter (around 550g), the outcome is a soft blue that is very similar to light blue denim. or heaven. i’m not complaining, i like it. but navy is a bit far fetched.

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for the binding i used a quilting cotton from my stash, it’s an art gallery fabric and was an impulse-purchase last year. seriously, why would i buy quilting cotton, i never had any endeavour to sew a quilt before. my buying habits have changed a lot in a short time, meaning i’m much more considerate about what i buy and what i plan to make with it. as of late, i really cannot justify to buy fabric if there’s no specific project in the back of my mind. i like that development! by the way, have you heard of #slowfashionoctober? maybe you take part in it already. i’d like to pay tribute to the idea with this project. it’s clear that you do not always have to buy something new and shiny to create something new that – as in case of this blanket – will be used for ages. all the time and effort that went into making it make it even more precious to me. something i could never buy in a store. something i would never buy in a store just because of that!

back to topic: i cut seven strips along the widthwise grain, 6cm (approx. 2 3/8″) wide. i sewed them together diagonally, folded and pressed the loooong strip in half and sewed it on at a 1/4″. then, i folded it around the edges and sewed the binding on by hand. that took forever (4 -5 hours?).  i do enjoy handstitching because i can sit wherever i want (armchair, anyone?). if you want to save time this is not the way to go. if you find hand sewing relaxing or even rewarding, like me, go ahead!



there it is, a patchwork blanket from scraps, from old garments and duvets. i added some appliqué and embroidery stitches where it called for some spice. this barely cost me anything and it is now worth so much to me! upcycling rules.