Every once in awhile I have to make a committed effort to tame the scrap monster. No matter how many scrap quilts I make it seems like I end up with more scraps than I started with. I’ve had this stack in my sewing room for quite some time so I brought them upstairs to do a little cutting whenever I have a few spare minutes.
It took many years for me to find a scrap system that works for me. In 2000 Debbie Caffrey came and taught at our shop and she recommended cutting scraps into 2-1/2” strips. This was around the time she published the book Open A Can of Worms (still one of my favorite scrap quilt books). So that’s how I started cutting scraps into usable pieces. This was long before jelly rolls and the myriad patterns developed for 2-1/2” strips. This worked for quite awhile especially since I led a Strip Club for several years and was making a quilt using those strips every month. Eventually I wanted to branch out so I started cutting several different sizes of strips and some squares. Now I strips 5”, 3-1/2”, 2-1/2”, 2” and 1-1/2” wide. I cut the same size squares: 5”, 3-1/2”, 2-1/2”., 2” and 1-1/2”. Here’s what I’ve cut so far from that big stack of scraps.
I store them in rolling plastic drawers. When a drawer get full I start looking for a pattern to use that particular size. When I’m making any quilt I start my fabric search with strips or squares that are already cut. My Sunny Side Up quilt is cut from the scrap drawers. I wanted to make mine a little bigger so I’m making 12” blocks instead of the 9” blocks that Judy made for her quilt. The bonus was that I was able to use 2” strips and 5” strips that were all ready to go. Win-win!
This system doesn’t work for everyone. It may seem like a lot of work to cut all these strips that may never be used. Several of my quilting friends just keep bags of scraps and root through the bags when they need small pieces of fabric. I’m all for anything that works as long as those beautiful scrap quilts keep coming?
How do you organize your scraps?
I’m one of those that throw them in containers or bags. I’ve been trying to organize by color but the thing is I make so many scrappy quilts that it gets all jumbled up in no time. It scares me to cut into strips or squares because I always think what if I need it to be a bigger piece.
Mary Ann says
I have 2 very large plastic bag full of scraps. I keep saying I am going to go thru them and put them in some kind of order but then a new quilting project comes along and the scraps stay where they are! I like your method with the different sizes.
Quilty Conscience says
I sort my flat fold by color “about” one yard or larger are flat folds at my house. Smaller pieces are sorted by color. My “scraps” are immediately cut into sizes ranging from 2 1/2 inches to 5 inches, whichever is the largest square I can cut out of leftover fabric. Those are not sorted by color. Strips are cut from any widths of at least 1 1/2 inches by 6 inches. Again, not sorted by color. And let’s not forget left over triangles! HST are made, and squared, at 2 inches, 2 1/4 inches, on up to 4 inches. I give away the 2 and 2 1/4 inch ones. I’m not accurate enought to deal with those smaller sizes! Now, I was given a bag of scraps on Thursday night. I had better get to cutting! Toni
Good system. Mostly, I cut 2.5″ squares.