fall project ideas, sew a scrap quilt on a foundation plus a spooky read

Happy National Sewing Month to those who celebrate. I’m not even making that up, it’s a real thing since 1982. My big fall project is a scrap quilt. I’ve never gotten a quilt across the official finish line. I’ve made a couple tops that ended up as duvet covers which doesn’t really count.

lovely old quilt

This is one of those past efforts (in 2016 Brooklyn).

This time there is a do-able plan and a legit quilt is gonna happen. The kind you run into at flea markets, soft, homespun and scrappy but sturdy enough to really use.

quilt blocks made with vintage scraps

sew a scrap quilt on a foundation

It’s going to be sewn one block at a time to foundation fabric (lightweight muslin).

What I love about this plan:

  • The square muslin “container” inspires me.
  • The one block at a time thing makes it feel doable. I can babystep my way through it.
  • The foundation gives the very scrappy  scraps extra stability and makes the blocks easy to deal with.

There will eventually be a schedule for how many blocks per week but I’m messing with the process for a while to experiment my way towards what I want.

The muslin blocks are 10 inch squares. I don’t know exactly what the finish size is yet – I’ll figure that out after I have 50 or so blocks to play with. I will keep you updated on all the scrap quilt developments as they happen.

The foundation method is stitching scraps to the muslin. I’m using an improv process, no planning ahead, just grabbing scraps and stitching them on. That’s the kind of “make do” utilitarian and vintage feeling quilt I’m looking for. I think the quilting will be super simple and oldschool too, I’m leaning in the direction of yarn knots.

If your’e into a more organized process and result you can find a great tutorial for sewing a string quilt on a foundation here.

Before beginning I washed the muslin and scraps. To start, cut your foundation squares and pin a scrap, place another over it (right sides together) and stitch a seam (¼ inch seam allowance)

Fold the fabric over and press. Place another scrap over it and repeat until your muslin block is covered.

Flip the square over and trim the edges. This step is weirdly satisfying. Put the cut offs back in the scrap pile if they’re big enough.

The first couple squares I made over the weekend are sewn by hand but the plan is to mostly machine sew. I already like it.

table with vintage paper back and patchwork pouches

the spooky read

My friend Katy and I read a spooky vintage book every year. This years selection is “The Other” Thomas Tryon. We both love a scary novel, preferably written in the 70’s and preferably made into a film in the same decade and preferably a vintage copy with old book smell. Previous titles include Burnt Offerings and Rosemary’s Baby. This one is a winner on all counts.  I got it on Ebay for 6 bucks.

4 fall project ideas

It’s the perfect time to make a crow! This beautifully stitched example  was made from the crow sewing pattern by super talented stitch club member Kari M. If your crow needs a hat find a free template and diy for a paper hat here.

making sharp applique points

Bat Applique –  or “batlique” Get the free template and diy instructions here. They are especially cool stitched to vintage linens. And you’ll learn how to make super pointy applique points.

owl ornaments made from scraps

Owl Ornaments – these little owls are a perfect fall scrap project

Mini Tetra Sachet’s – Make little sachet’s with the tetra tutorial. I’m using all sorts of herbs from the garden and throwing in some cloves too. I’m all about a seasonal smell.

little hand stitched squirrel

Forest Folk Sewing Pattern – it’s time to make the squirrels! I sure do love to put a scarf on somebody little…

colorful handmade pirate birds with fancy bicorne hats (you should make one)

this is why we can’t have nice things – beware of scammers

Important note regarding pirates! Not the fun kind. I sell patterns here, ann wood handmade, and also on Etsy. Nowhere else. Shady websites steal images from me and other small pattern designers. One of those sites is currently pumping out lots of Facebook and Instagram ads for sewing patterns. It’s a bait and switch scam – anyone who purchases from them gets nothing or close to nothing. I and other designers have reported them to their webhost and Meta (facebook and instagram). So far there has been no action taken by the host. Meta has removed the ads but not deactivated the ad account so be aware.

Incidentally International “Talk Like A Pirate Day” also lands in September – the 19th.  Find the template for the little bicornes here.

What’s your national sewing month project? Will you join me in making a scrap quilt? Are you in the mood for a scary book? Let us know in the comments. Happy National sewing Month to you!


  1. oh my goodness” “The Other” – I remember watching this movie when it finally made it to TV, and didn’t know anything about it. I think the hair actually stood up on my neck and arms, and got a huge shiver through my entire body, when the identity of ‘the other’ was revealed — I won’t spoil it here for anyone else!

    I’m not sure I have read the book, but the visuals throughout the movie were SO powerful which just added to my reaction at the end!

  2. Heather Smith

    Funny, I’ve been feeling the urge to do some string piecing lately. It’s such a meditative process and so satisfying. I got through a breakup and move once by spending long evenings piecing blocks that way. Ended up with a baby blanket for a gift. Better than therapy. I’m also a fan of the tie method for quilting, a curved needle was my best friend in that endeavor.

  3. Hi, Ann! I love looking at your projects! Thanks for a peek into your world!
    In case you didn’t know about it, the John Campbell Folk School in NC is a great place to do fun crafty things of all sorts, and occasionally they have a UFO quilt class! I was able to finish my two quilts I’d started in a class I took a couple of years ago. It’s great fun to go there; like camp for adults! Only the food is good too.

  4. oh-suzanna

    I saw the scam you’re speaking off. It upset me. I’m glad you’re aware and shared that with your loyal customers.
    Ps. I love spooky books!

  5. Christi Ann

    The Other, such a scary book! Thomas Tryon, an actor some of you might remember, has written several scary novels…Harvest Home would be apropos as well! I think (hope, pray) that I can start a scrap quilt on muslin foundation pieces. My actual harvest here in Sonoma County, California is keeping me very busy, I am grateful.

  6. Oh, the book is equally creepy.
    Did NOT see that coming…

    Loved the old post on “The Box”. I am also a big fan of that book
    and used the concept all the time when costuming back in the day.
    Thanks for the happy memory.

  7. So loving the old quilt on the couch. So lovely.
    I make crumb quilt tops, and scrappy quilt backs for just that homey hugging effect.

    • That’s exactly what I’m looking for – love a scrappy quilt back.

  8. Angela McElroy

    I’d love to try making a quilt on muslin but, as usual for me, I’m not sure I totally understand the instructions. I’m always better sitting next to someone and watching exactly what they do.
    I really hope something is done about the scammers; it must be very upsetting to have such a thing happen. Thank you for sharing all your lovely ideas with us. I always really look forward to your emails.

    • Hi Angela – Checkout the link in the post to s very detailed tutrial of how it works.

  9. Angela Webb

    I always your enjoy your posts – love to see your work! The first time I saw your Scrappy Trees, I stopped what I was doing and pulled out some fabrics that I thought were appropriate and made some little trees! Very satisfying.
    I love your bags that are sitting on your table. Is one a rice bag? Would love to know what pattern you used for both of them.

    • Hi Angela – There is a pattern in the works for those little bags – just the right sixe for spools of thread. Stay tuned!

  10. Alicia Quintano

    We suffered a loss in August and to try to get through the fall I started making small improv blocks, new for me. Synchronicity. I’ll enjoy following your project.

  11. I must say your pirates are much cuter and nicer than the &$@!s who stole your goods. ARGH!‍☠️

  12. Doris Marie

    About those horrible internet pirates – Facebook got rid of a group I belonged to that was educating people on how these nasty creatures harm designers.
    I used to design needlework before internet, was seriously thinking about starting a page to sell my designs, then saw all the illegal sharing. I now design for myself.

    • I’m sorry to hear it. The depth of the problem is astounding.

  13. Alice Moline

    do you have a pattern for those little drawstring bags that are on your table???

    • Hi Alice – it is in the finishing stages and will be available soon.

  14. Lisa Phillips

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I have daily joy because of you and your inspiring weeklyish newsletters. I no longer pack up my sewing stuff, I found all kinds of containers, baskets etc to pop the scraps, cottons, buttons, etc in.
    Anne, you have breathed new life into a lost ‘scrapy’ girl.
    Eternally grateful
    Lisa Phillips, Kyneton, Australia.

  15. Ah, Ann, you are wonderful! I become so inspired when reading your fantastic posts!! I just want to dive in and start sewing something with my few scraps. Years ago, my husband and I moved Provinces, and I gave my scraps collection and my beloved packed full of floss embroidery & container and lots of other crafty things away ☹️. We got rid of a lot of stuff then. I’m trying v hard to let it go but seeing your delightful projects makes me wish I still had it all. I love you and your huge creativity ❤️

  16. I had no idea this was sewing month but I have been gathering up some projects myself and I think I have just added a quilt to the mix. Like you I have started but never finished. The technique you mentioned feels doable and the style I think I would love the most so thank you for the inspiration-and the additions to my fall TBR list 🙂

  17. Phoebe Diamond

    My current Autumn crafting project is making Wish Fish from your pattern. I want to make one for each of my 3rd grade students so I started last weekend. Four down, 19 more to go.

  18. Linda Landine

    This post from you is very timely. A scrappy quilt was next on my list. I will join you but my thoughts are running to a coverlet, no batting. I have to work out in my head how to hide the join on the back without it being too bulky. A couple of other projects to finish before I start this one.

  19. Suzanne Manning

    Dang, I miss your old Brooklyn apartment. Just seeing old photos of it makes me want to sip some tea and hand sew tiny things with old-timey scraps (and I’m not even a tea drinker). Love the muslin-as-anchor method for scrap quilting and aim to give it a go. Such a glorious way to use up odd size pieces of fabric that I can’t stand to part with but that seem to procreate on their own within drawers and cupboards to the point of completely taking over my living space. And I am so in the mood for a spooky book — the more vintage the better. Thanks for the recommend!

  20. Peggy Lison

    I am also interested in the little square drawstring bags -esp. the one on the page of book and asters with little bag. Thanks so much. I make lots of scrap toddler quilts for Project Linus – It gives focus to my life. Happy sewing month:)))

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