This post is part of a 4-series of posts dedicated to the topic of fabric scraps.
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
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.