Saturday Studio: From Scrap to Nap

Megan True, Summer Intern

Today in the studio we’ll be taking inspiration from quilts! A quilt is a blanket made of different layers of fabric held together by stitching. Quilts are used for sleeping but also to create maps, remember a loved one, celebrate a milestone, and tell stories. It has the added bonus of using up scraps of old fabric from worn-out clothes or old sewing projects; a great way to get the most out of everything your family had.

Right now, we are showcasing an exhibition titled Handstitched Worlds: The Cartography of Quilts. Most of the quilts on display were created by unknown artists, most likely because people used these quilts. Their initial intent was not to make art but to make useable, functional items; passed down from parent to child for generations, they are now on display at FWMoA!

The quilt below was signed by a person named “Ella”. The squares of the quilt are filled with stitches that outline a map. The squares are all lined up and stitched together using thread.

Unknown Artist (signed “Ella”), American. “Ella” Crazy Quilt. United States. Suiting woolens with cotton embroidery, 922. Collection of the American Folk Art Museum, New York; Gift of Frances S. Martinson, 2006.4.1. Image courtesy of the American Folk Art Museum.

Another quilt, titled “Charm Quilt”, below, truly uses scraps of fabric. Over 2,000 patchwork squares make up this quilt, many of which are the only pattern of their kind (no repeats!). You truly can use any fabric for a quilt!

Unknown Artist, American. Charm Quilt. United States. Cotton, c. 1880-1920. Collection of the American Folk Art Museum, New York; Gift of Freyda Rothstein, 1998.8.5. Image courtesy of the American Folk Art Museum.

Our quilt will be made out of felt, and instead of sewing pieces together are taking a simpler approach and tying knots. Grab some left over fabric–we used felt–and follow these instructions to make a quilt for yourself, a friend, or to donate. Let’s get started!


  1. Choose some sheets of felt. The more colorful the better!

2. Measure out a 10 inch by 10 inch square of felt and cut it out.

3. Cut about 2 inches into the middle of one side of the square.

4. Cut each half of the felt into thirds, still going only about 2 inches into the square.

5. Cut each third into three strips (the thinner the strips are, the easier it is to tie them later!).

6. Repeat steps 3-5 on every side until the whole square has 2-inch indents. Not every side has to be exactly the same, but the parallel sides (top and bottom, left and right) have to have the same amount of strips.

7. Repeat steps 2-6 to create another square.

8. Line up the sides of the squares- make sure they have the same amount of strips!

9. Start tying your strips together! I put mine in a double knot, so they don’t come loose.

10. If you want to make more squares and tie them together, go ahead! The more squares you add, the bigger your quilt will be!

11. Once you finished adding squares, it’s time to tie off the sides. Start by making sure each side has an even amount of strips. If they aren’t even, cut one in half!

12. Tie the strips into knots all around your quilt. By the time you’re done, it should look something like this:

Gather a group of friends and/or family and have them all bring scraps to create a unique, community quilt! Will your quilt take the shape of a map or will it be an abstract assortment of shapes and textures?

Need ideas? Visit FWMoA now through September 11, 2022 to see Handstitched Worlds: The Cartography of Quilts.

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