Monday, November 15, 2010

De-Stashing by the yard

A pile of blankets ready to donate, which took at least 10 metres out of my stash.

Hi:  This is Brenda from Scraps and Strings posting today about how to use up  three to four metres (or yards) of your quilting cottons in a quick two hours. Every year, I try to sew several donation quilts for an international relief organization which distributes blankets and comforters measuring 60" by 80" to people in need. These blankets are a good way to destash the oldies and uglies and no-longer-my taste fabrics. They are utilitarian blankets which don't have to be beautiful, but they have to be sturdy and well sewn.

Here’s the simple steps to making a 60 by 80 donation blanket that will keep someone warm and a way to use up several metres (I’m Canadian) of fabric at the same time.
A blanket we made last winter for Haiti relief after the earthquake.

  1.   Start looking: Go through your stash and get out several pieces of fabric, including fat quarters. You need about 3.5 yards or roughly 3 metres for the top.
  2.   Start backing: For the back, take your fashion fabrics, corduroy, wool, or a big piece of sheeting that measures about 62 by 82 or sew pieces together until you get that size. If you have quilting cottons that measure 3.5 yards or more, cut that fabric in half across the width and sew the long seams together for a backing so it measures about 84 by 64.
  3.   Start cutting: For pieces a half yard or bigger, cut them 8.5 inches width of fabric. You will need 15 strips WOF.

4.      Start sewing: For this blanket pictured here, I had two different blues and several coral fabrics. Some of the corals were fat quarters. I cut the corals strips in half to measure 8.5 by 20" (or whatever half of WOF is) and sewed the coral to the blue. I sewed the long blue/coral strips together, alternating the coral from left to right. 10 strips makes a top 80 by about 60.
The square knots front and back of a donation blanket.
5.      Start layering: Layer your backing, batting and top on the floor or on large tables, centering the top on the backing,and tie in a square knot every four to six inches with crochet cotton or perle cotton. This is where you get the kids and husband to help.
6.      Stitch a bit more: When the tieing is complete, take the whole thing back to your sewing machine and bind it by bringing back to front and stitching it down securely. The goal here is a well-constructed blanket that can be used for shelter and warmth.
7.      And a few more thoughts: This is a small commitment of time and fabric for people like us who have lots of both. I've cut and sewed a strippy top like that in less than an hour, and with three or four people, can tie it in another hour. Give yourself another hour for finishing it and sweeping up the scraps and you've kept someone in need warm for another night with three hours of your time and materials you already have at home. Happy blanket making!
Thanks for having me post to you all and to Stash Manicure and
 Madame Samm, what a great way to get the message out to our quilting community


  1. Im getting ready to move this week and was almost dreading going thru my sewing closet and having to go thru and pack hundreds of pund of fabric.I think as I pack I will sort into packages each with enough to whip up one of these quilts to pass out at our local homeless shelter at christmas!thanks for the inspiring ideas!love your blog!

  2. A fantastic quilt for a cause! Our Tues. class, mom, and self have made "cot" quilts to send to Irag. Our local doctor is stationed at triage center and we send a box full each month to him to hand out to whom he desires - most are given to wounded children.

  3. What a timely message as we move into the coldest months of the year. I'm off to check my stash.

  4. Such a simple idea...sometimes we forget about tieing as an alternate to quilting

  5. Good Morning Brenda.
    First downright inspiring you are in your efforts to rid of stash. I can only imagine how many recipients of your kindness were kept warm last night... I know this morning I am warmed at just the thought of your very kind gesture. YOU rock girlfriend.

  6. What a great idea!! I have made some of these big humanitarian quilts before but I love how your pattern is easy to make but still beautiful!

  7. Great reminder of how we can use our gifts to help others. Thank you! And great instructions!

  8. thanks for all your comments. contact me at strings [at] mts [dot] net if you have questions.

  9. You just continue the tradition of the generosity of quilters. Who else but quilters who buy stuff and give it mostly away!
    Love the idea of the strips. For variety you could strip at different widths. A great activity for youth groups to do. In an afternoon they could see alot being accomplished and then actually deliver to a shelter or agency who would donate. Hummm I think I see an opportunity for our youth group....
    Thanks for sharing.

  10. Nice, quick idea for charity quilts...thanks!

    In stitches,
    Teresa :o)

  11. Wonderful post and so timely with the temperatures dropping in time for Christmas! I grew up under tied quilts, so I can attest that if cared for, they are quite warm and will last.

    This is a great idea to use up stash (and quite a bit of it)! Love it!

  12. Thanks for the great post! If you have a quilting machine, these things quilt faster than tying too. Great reminder to get that stash used up instead of just sitting on a shelf doing nobody any good.

  13. Great idea for charity blankets and they work up so quickly.

  14. What a lovely post! thanks so much for what you do, Brenda, for people in need!

  15. Compassion is often a lost art in today's world but thankfully, quilters like you remind us that such a simple but necessary act of kindness can warm the heart, soul, and body of a person in need as well as our own! Wonderful idea and good instructions! I could do this!
    GMAMA Jane
    Come visit me at:

  16. Your quilt reminds me a lot of the ones my mother made when I was a little girl...with four children and her in-laws (along with Daddy of course) living in that house we needed lots of quilts and they needed to be warm. There was barely enough money for food so she made them of whatever she could get and she often tied them for speed's sake. Many of them survive today..I'm not sure double knit will ever wear out. :) What a great idea for us to continue that tradition. blessings, marlene

  17. What a great looking quilt. And for a wonderful cause.

  18. great post on a great idea, I'll suggest it to my craft group on Thurs,doing it by tieing would make it a real group effort.
    you can do the same but pillowcase sized for the animal shelters too.
    Pretty Thrifty's Blog

  19. I'm still in the process of trying to amass a 'stash'! I will remember this post when I have a stash problem. Thank you for the information.

  20. Hi Brenda thanks so much for the incentive to "give back" and thanks for the step by step instructions...I might have to try this :)


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