Thursday, April 23, 2020

Rainbow Snippet Blocks {Scrap Busting Tutorial}

Today I am making good on the promise I made last week to share an easy tutorial on how I make my Rainbow Snippet Blocks. These are relatively free-wheeling, choose-your-own-adventure type blocks that can be adapted to any sized finished block.

What you need:

Scraps -- Separated into "strings" and "snippets" (see notes below)
Paper foundation -- I have an old phone book

What are my definitions of "strings" and "snippets"?

For me (and for making these blocks), a "string" is any scrap at least an inch wide and at least 7" long. Since I am trimming my blocks down to 6.5" unfinished, I like to have a little overhang on each side of the block. A "snippet" is anything smaller than 7" -- ie, too short to use as a complete string on its own -- however, the bulk of my snippets are smaller than 3" on both sides.

I'm working with a kind of small local phone book, so my block size was determined by the size of the paper.

To start, you'll sew together your snippets into a row at least 7" long. I have found that for a 6.5." block, I use between 3-5 snippets per pieced snippet row, so I usually start sewing pairs together, and then gauging how many additional snippets are necessary to reach a 7" length. I make two snippet rows per block, so I often start with 8 snippet pieces, sew those into two rows of 4 snippets each, and then see if either row needs an extra piece.

Once sewn and pressed, I trim the edges straight -- as perpendicular as possible to the snippet seams, but not overly worried about a little wonky piecing in the blocks. (Note: if you want wonk, go for it!) I simply trim the row as wide as I can based on 1/8th inch measurements.

My blocks typically have 5 rows -- two snippet rows and three string rows. For the first seam, I align one of my snippet rows on my paper and layer a string scrap on top, right sides together. I sew these together -- snippet row, string scrap, and paper -- using a quarter inch seam and press towards the string scrap. I repeat this process until I have alternating string and snippet rows.

Here are the strips atop my foundation with the first snippet/snip pair sewn to the foundation:

Here's my finished sewn piece prior to trimming:

An aside: "What if my block doesn't end up being long enough?!?"

I've had this happen once or twice. I just add another string scrap to one end. Or use two string scraps in the middle of a block if I have particularly skinny strings.

Once your sewing is finished, use your rulers to trim the block to 6.5" square (or the size of your choosing). Again, I try to keep the seams relatively parallel across the block, but if you'd like your blocks to be more wonky, you can trim the block askew in addition to using wonky strips.

Until I use the blocks, I will leave the paper on. Before sewing blocks together, I will remove the phone book paper.

I hope that this tutorial is helpful to you! This has helped me use up a lot of scraps in the last month and hopefully I will have enough blocks for a quilt before too long!


  1. Great tutorial and a really good use for old phone books.

  2. Love this! It is a great tutorial on a fun little block. If you want I host a tips and tutorials every month (22nd to the end of the month), love to have you link up!


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