Saturday, March 5, 2011

How Do You Organize Your Scraps?

There are so very many ways in which to organize, or not organize your scraps of fabric. There are many methods, containers, and philosophies. I’m curious, what method do you use?

  • Do you keep your scraps in a grocery bag or a plastic tub?
  • Do you consider only sizes smaller than fat quarter a scrap?
  • Do you only keep scraps larger than a certain size?
  • Do you keep the selvedges? (or do you prefer the alternate spelling: selvage?)
  • Do you sort your scraps by size or by color or both?
  • Do you cut them up as soon as you’re done with a project into desirable sizes?
  • Did your method evolve according to your needs, or were you influenced by someone in the quilting industry?

When at the end of a project, I will keep anything larger than a fat quarter complete. But if my scraps are smaller than a fat quarter, I’ll cut it up into useful sizes. I know there are many ideas about what sizes should be kept. But over the years I figured that only squares and strips are useful to me. I never cut my scraps into bricks (2 x 4, etc.) Bricks aren’t flexible enough for me. Strips are easily cut down into the size brick I might need.

I cut strips as large as 4 ½” and as small as 1”. I’ve found 4 ½” and 3 ½” strips are particularly useful when I use my Accuquilt cutting system. Those sizes fit perfectly across some of my longer dies. I have the Studio cutter, so my dies are a bit larger and I can cut numerous layers at once.

I was keep my scraps sorted by size in plastic tubs, then by color in zip-lock baggies. But that is more time consuming than I have time for. So for now I just have everything sorted by size alone. Mostly I use plastic shoe boxes for storage, one for each size more or less. But I keep my wee little crumbs and my strings in two clear canisters.

I try very hard to stay on top of my scraps and cut them up as I go, or at the very least as each project is finished. But because I always have overlapping projects and multiple commitments to my family, work and elsewhere - as we all do, I get behind sometimes. When that happens I leave my scraps in a pile on my cutting table. I work on that pile as often as I can, but when it gets overwhelming, I sweep it off my cutting table into a plastic bin under my cutting table. That bin is getting rather full, I haven’t looked at it for quite some time, but I know that eventually I will have to pull it out and tackle that bad boy!

So, what about you? How do you organize your scraps? What sizes do you find most useful?

Oh, and here are the scraptacular quilt blocks I made today.




Sewing Junkie said...

I am a scrap quilter and an appliquer so I use all sizes. Anything smaller than a quarter is pitched. I have started cutting them in strips for the different sizes I use most of the time.In the past I kept scraps in wicker laundry baskets. Slowely but surely I am getting it all whittled down. Chris

Scrappy quilter said...

I use all sizes too because like Sewing Junkie, I'm a scrap quilter. I have very few scraps though. Once I get a bit in my plastic container, I use them up. Before I started doing that I was so overwhelmed with scraps that I ended up not using them. Now it's much easier doing it this way. Anything under a fat quarter size is considered scraps to me. I'm doing the Rainbow challenge and just yesterday used up all my 2 inch green scraps. Great questions.

YankeeQuilter said...

I have bins for squares and strips. (I also do not do bricks..) Mostly I try and follow the sizes Bonnie Hunter outlines. I cut down when the piece gets to less than 1/4 yard unless it is applique fabric (the tone on tone stuff.) That is stored in yet more containers! The tiny bits go into grocery bags and I take them to guild where a group uses it to stuff pillows for the dogs at the pound.

Country Log Cabin Quilter said...

I have a strip basket under my sewing table and anything that is a strip that I probably will not use in something else (other than strip piecing) goes in there. I also cut a lot of 2 1/2" squares for donation quilts. My strip quilts are also for donation. I love them and it puts a lot of fabric to use. I have a basket for 1 1/2" 30's & reproductions to use in doll quilts. Another basket of HSTs. Also, a couple drawers of other cut size squares & strips to use as bindings, etc. I'm not organized enough, though.

Nanette Merrill and daughters said...

You have a way better method than we do. Love your blocks!

Miri said...

I use a set of those plaster drawers on wheels. I sort by size-so there's a drawer for smaller than a quarter (usually about a fat eighth) and then a drawer for smaller than that. There's a drawer for leftover strips and a catch all drawer for while I'm working where I can just throw stuff in-I sort that out when it gets full.

I used to use plastic bags but found the fabric got a smell.

ForestJane said...

How Do You Organize Your Scraps?

OMG, do you mean I'm supposed to organize them?

Sharon said...

Forest Jane just cracked me up!!

Where do I start?? I got a cutting table @ IKEA that has 12 drawers in it. It's meant to be a kitchen counter, but was perfect for a cutting table. I use the top drawers for tools and templates and stuff. The other drawers I put my cut-up scraps in. I have a drawer for 2 1/2" strips that are WOF, and one for strips less than WOF. Then there's a drawer for 2" strips for a some-day log cabin. Then there's a drawer for 2 1/2" squares, and then some other sizes of strips and squares in the rest of the drawers.

I have a plastic shoebox for strings, another for crumbs, and then a bunch of under-bed plastic bins full of scraps that are smaller than FQ's. I'm trying to decide what to do with those, cuz I'm tired of tripping over them! I have 2 armoires full of FQ's (it's a sickness with me).

I'm "kind of" doing Bonnie Hunter's recommendations. I try to cut 2 1/2" strips from every piece of yardage or big enough scrap. I find those very useful.

I'm fairly organized, and I make scrap quilts, but I'm still feeling a tad overwhelmed! I try to purge out the old & ugly scraps every so often. Sometimes I'm just sick of seeing them!

I think perhaps I'm not sewing fast enough!

p.s. Love the robot quilt for your son!