Scraps happen. The more we cut, the more we sew. The more we cut and sew, the more scraps we have. While this may not be the pressing issue that organizing our fabric stash can be, those scraps can and will get out of control quickly. Read on for more tips on organizing your own collection!
Non-quilters won’t understand what an emotional issue this really is. Scraps? “Don’t you just throw them away?” The question is like nails on a chalkboard. What kind of crazy logic is that? As quilters, we love our fabric! It’s the foundation of our art, and we don’t want one bit of it to go to waste, right? So as we start a new year and look at various ways to organize our creative space, let’s talk scraps.
Personally, I find myself dealing with scraps on different levels. First, the small pieces left over when I cut a project out. This may be partial strips of varying widths, odds and ends really, and fairly small for the most part. I’m certainly not going to toss them away, so I tuck them into a large glass jar to think about another day. These are the little darlings that get out of control in my quilting life.
The next level of scraps are the larger pieces left from a project. Usually these are at least 10” x 10”, the size of a layer cake square. Since I tend to live in fear of not having enough fabric for my projects, I generally purchase at least ¼ yard extra. After all, I’m sure to find “something” to do with it at some point, right? These stay with a project until it is completed, but afterwards, I’ll divide these into clear boxes by color.
The final layer of scraps really cross the line over to stash. These are the piece of fabric that we got for specific projects, but then changed our minds and didn’t use them. These can range from fat quarters up to several yards. Again, I will keep this with a project until it is completed, then it will join the collection at large! Here's some great organizing inspiration from Kimberly Bennefield of NW Pepper Designs.
While this is a good start, eventually the scrap jar is full and the projects are finished, so what then? This is where it gets “real” for quilters. We want to save and organize that fabric by making sure that it is in the most usable form. Here are some great ideas gathered from clever quilters to help you on your scrap management journey!
Lori Miller's Studio from Lori Miller Designs
Pick A Die – Any Die
Pick a die that will work for scrappy projects and cut up those scraps as soon as your project is done. Maybe it’s a tumbler shape – AccuQuilt has 3 different sizes of tumblers to choose from. Other great choices are the GO! Clamshell-4” Finished (55435), or the GO! Apple Core (55036). I’ve started using my scraps for paper piecing with the GO! Qube English Paper Piecing 1” Finished Sides (55825) and love being able to use my tiny scraps.
AccuQuilt Cutting Expert Pam Heller uses her GO! Log Cabin (55349) to cut fabric left from each of her projects for future blocks, while our CMO Lynn Gibney recently completed a quilt top with the GO! Morning Star (55556) that included scraps from every quilt she’s ever made!
Picking your favorite size of GO! Qube Mix & Match block and cutting your scraps into the various 8 shapes inside means you will always have pieces that will work together to create a wide variety of blocks. Storing the cut pieces in separate bags by shape number will keep them organized and ready to roll. Expand your creative possibilities by including the GO! Qube Companion Angles and Corners shapes as well!
With so many patterns written to take advantage of standard pre-cuts, cutting your scraps into your own 2 ½”, 5” or 10” squares and 2 ½” strips is a great way to go. Thankfully, AccuQuilt has dies in all these standard sizes to make the cutting quick, easy and accurate.
GO! strip cutter dies are so versatile! Use the 1 ½”, 2 ½” and 3 ½” widths to cut your scraps into strips and squares. You can store the cut pieces in clear boxes by size and you’ll always have these useful pieces ready for your next project.
Make a Rainbow
If cutting up your scraps is more of a chore or commitment than you are ready to handle, think about simply dividing them up by color. You can use jars, bags, baskets, boxes – what ever works for you. Even an over the door shoe organizer with clear pockets will work to keep those great pieces sorted out and ready to use.
Make It Your Own
Whatever method you choose to use, the key is picking a method that’s comfortable and easy to maintain. The greatest scrap management system in the world will do you no good at all unless you are using it!
So, what’s your favorite method? We hope you’ll share your organizing methods and pictures to keep us all inspired!