This post is part of a 4-series of posts dedicated to the topic of fabric scraps.
Find all the posts in this series here.
Find all my scrappy quilts here.
We are at the second part of this series and the focus today is cutting and storing. I feel like the way you handle your scraps is very personal. You will be the one using them after all, so only you know how they need to be stored and what way to do that best works for you. However, if you are sitting there with all your scraps in one giant pail and you never use any of them and are starting to feel overwhelmed, then maybe this post is just what you need.
So a while back I polled my readers to see how they stored their scraps. What I found was that many of you are partial to certain size scraps. You had specific sizes you wanted and that is all that you kept. Many of you placed all your scraps in one single basket and then when the basket was full you’d spend the day cutting down your scraps to the sizes you wanted and storing them away. That is apparently a very common way quilters handle their scraps.
Many of you also referenced Lori Holt, who just so happens to be a queen at scrap storing. You can read about Lori here.
I feel like the kind of quilts you want to make will determine what scrap sizes you save or vice versa. If you notice I make MULTITUDES of quilts that involves strips of scraps. And guess what? That is exactly the way I’m storing my scraps and what I have the most of.
My Personal Way
I don’t like to discriminate with scraps. I want them all. The thought of spending an entire day sorting scraps just does not work for me. If I was left to that (which I know works perfectly well for some), I would just end up never getting to them. Plus, I am a “do everything as I go” kinda girl. I clean my kitchen as I cook, I sort my scraps as I cut them the first time. I don’t enjoy extra work.
If I’m doing laundry and the husband has clothing inside out, you can bet I’m going to start politely nagging him. We take our clothing off the correct way and then we don’t have to fix it when we fold them. It just cuts down on the time involved by doing it right the first time. Now that we’ve established how anal I can be…..
I have two methods of scrap storing: by strips or odd sizes and by squares.
By Strips and Odd Sizes
These are definitely my favorite scraps. More times than not they are width of fabric strips leftover from yards or half yards. Once I get a half yard down to 6″ in width it’s become a scrap to me and gets tossed into strip basket based on its color. I’ve got a basket for: low volumes, red and pinks, oranges, yellows, greens, aquas, blues, purples, and blacks and grays. This is probably why I always end up making so many monochromatic quilts. I love this method and have found this works well for me.
Odd shaped scraps also end up in here such as partial fat quarters, anything resembling a fat eighth, stuff like that.
This storing method is extremely helpful. I store scraps in squares based on the following sizes: 2.5″, 3 and 3.5″, 4 and 4.5″, 5 and 5.5″, 6.5″, 7″ and I also have a box for 6.5″ coins and a box for leftover Dresden blades.
Here’s where the anal retentiveness comes in. If I’ve got to cut a 3.5″ strip and I only need some of that strip for whatever I’m making, I cut what I need and then I keep cutting up 3.5″ squares that I could still get from that strip. Then those extra 3.5″ squares get put into its coordinating box. After a while the squares will pile up and I’ll make a scrappy quilt from them or just use them as I need them for this and that.
One box (a plastic shoebox) holds two sizes each. I’ve put a cardstock divider into the center of all the boxes and taped it down to keep the sizes separated. One side would say 3″ and the other side says 3.5″. It’s not a perfect setup, but I prefer it to having a gazillion plastic shoe boxes.
Fabric Scrap Bundles for Sale
The benefits of organizing your scraps is that it may help you actually use them. Plus, having them organized always makes me feel a little less overwhelmed. Before I ever organized them, they were all tossed together in a large basket unused and unloved and of course staring at me and making me feel guilty.
When I begin making a quilt, I always head to my scraps first and make sure I look to see if there is anything I can use there. I take what I can and then head to my regular stash. I do this particularly on quilts that I feel using a large amount of different fabrics works best on such as Dresden quilts, tiny square quilts, anything resembling a trip around the world, and all quilts kind of similar.
The Great BIG Scrap Discussion
- Part 1 – What is a Scrap Fabric?
- Part 2 – Cutting and Sorting Scraps
- Part 3 – Tips and Patterns
Customized Quilt Labels
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the ways you store and sort your scrap fabrics in the comments below. If you have suggestions or helpful comments, please don’t hesitate to share them. I’m always interested.
Next week we’ll be discussing scrappy quilt patterns.0
I store my scraps by color in wire rake bins. However, once they get to less than 1/8 of a yard roughly or odd shaped I put them into a bag and give them to my friend Michelle. Michelle has a zero quilting budget and anything that is bigger than 2.5 inches square she wants. Anything smaller than that goes into a kitchen trash bag that is clipped to the side of my table and when full I give it to Michelle. She passes it on to a lady that makes dog and cat beds for the animal shelter. They are used for filling the bed. Some times I have a scrap I just do not like and it doesn’t matter how big or small it is it goes to Michelle.
That’s so sweet!!
Katherine G. says
To Donnalee: I would really like to know how I could either give your friend Michelle ALL my scraps, none of which are really small, plus some very nice fabric from my stash (or I could give you the scraps and the fabric (mostly fat quarters) so you could pass it on to Michelle). This would do me a great favor and help me fulfill one of my new years resolutions to seriously start using my stash and stop hoarding it, and to rid myself of the dreadful psychological burden of these scraps! And maybe bring some good cheer to another quilter who has less fabric and scraps than I do……Do you think this is possible or just a crackpot idea?
And thank you Melanie for all your lovely and interesting blog posts, and especially this scraps project. I am an avid fan and hope you will have a new quilt pattern someday that will be a dresden. I hope I am not rudely kidnapping your blog invitation to comment, but I just loved Donnalee’s comment and couldn’t help myself from responding.
No, no. This perfectly fine. If donnalees friend doesn’t want them you might try donating them on Instagram. I have new quilters contact me often there wanting to know where they can get scraps.
Katherine G. says
I forgot to say that I have been sorting my scraps sort of by color family forever by dropping them immediately after cutting into plastic bins no matter what size they are, so long as they are smaller than a fat quarter.. This is not working for me. I am never motivated to dig through the various bins to use the scraps, and I can’t make myself sit down for hours and cut them into something more useful. Now I just try to avoid looking in the direction of the bins because all those scraps make me feel hopeless, and feeling hopeless is not the reason I like sewing! Sometimes I feel like it is not acceptable to just say that I don’t want to use my scraps, because it seems like everybody except me loves their scraps and loves using them.
I’m not sure that you can force yourself to get joy from it if you simply don’t. I think donating them to someone who does would be the thing for you to do. But I understand the hopeless feeling when they pile up. I’ve felt that. If you don’t hear from Donnalee feel free to send them to me. I can get them to quilters who want them.