How Not to Waste a Scrap

I recently found a set of twelve unfinished patchwork pieces in the Dresden Plate pattern. I scooped these up from the bottom of a bin at the Goodwill Dig, knowing I had absolutely no use for them. But the thought of these Depression Era fabrics ending up in a ragger’s bundle made me so sad I had to rescue them.

All the fabrics are 1930s dress fabrics or feedsack fabrics. Some of the fabrics are the same but in different colors, like the blue and green examples above. Maybe a mother made matching dresses for her little girls – blue for one girl and green for the other. And since that same design is also present in red and in purple, maybe there were four daughters.

What really impressed me the most is that some of the pieces are actually pieced from even smaller scraps. The center piece above is made from five tiny scraps, some of them much smaller than an inch in width and length. The maker really knew how to use up every tiny bit of the precious material.

Amazingly, these designs were all pieced by hand. Do you see why I just had to rescue these?

In my own sewing, one of the things I hate facing is the large amount of unusable scrap fabric left over from the cutting. I’m not a quilter, and for the most part, don’t indulge in fiddly crafts that use tiny scraps of fabric. I do make lots of pillows, and all my scraps are cut even smaller to make filling. After reading about how much textile waste ends up in the trash dumps of the world, I can’t bear to add to the problem.

I know that in some areas there is textile recycling. And if worst comes to worst, scraps can be donated to Goodwill where they end up in the ragger’s bundles.  Are there any other ideas?

So now I have twelve pieces of Dresden plate, which I don’t need. I’d love to pass them on to someone who will actually use them, and that person has been located. Thanks, Joni, for taking these off my hands!

A few of the pieces have stains. This is the worst one I have noted.





Filed under Shopping, Textiles, Uncategorized

10 responses to “How Not to Waste a Scrap


    Thanks for sharing these. They are lovely and such a lesson in thriftiness!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks to you and to Joni for rescuing these beauties. I too love it when I find the ultimate in “thrift” piecing. Cotton manufacturers would offer “petals” for Dresden Plate blocks for a meager amount which is why we see many of them in the same pattern but different colorways. Obviously, with such a thrifty piecer, this was not likely in this case. As for your scraps, I would try a local quilt group. We have a clothing manufacturer nearby that offers her scraps for free to anyone who will pick them up and it has been a true “win win”.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I was going to refer you to a friend of mine who relishes these things, but you’ve already re-homed the pieces, Excellent./


  4. Of course you had to rescue them! Lovely pieces of history, and I’m sure a treasure to their new owner.
    bonnie in provence


  5. Maybe you should start offering tours to your local Goodwill dig. I give my scraps to the local preschool. I’m sure they eventually make their way into the trash, but not before a phase as toddler art.


  6. 30s prints are my favorites! I have crazy quilts made of them that my Mother made. Thanks for rescuing this!


  7. Bless your sharp eyes for seeing that tiny piecing! I recently tried to read An American Quilt, by Rachel May, who found (in a collection) an unfinished pieced quilt with the hexagonal paper pieces still intact, and covered with writing and print that revealed the history of the families — free and enslaved — who made the quilt. ( I gave up because I’m uncomfortable with historians who tell me what people were thinking when they didn’t record those thoughts.) I should finish it…. Good review here :


  8. On behalf of that long-ago quilt maker, thanks for the rescue, Lizzie!


  9. I have seen the classic Dresden Plate many times in lovely quilts at fairs, but your post challenged my imagination regarding recycling fabric. Now when I see a Dresden Plate pattern, I envision it made out of unwanted men’s ties! There are often rows of men’s ties at so many thrift stores. And, in a way, they come already pre padded!


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