Scrap “System”

After the previous post on Cleaning Up, a number of you asked about my scraps and the system I use to keep them organized and usable.

So, here I am with a very realistic (but not necessarily pretty) guided tour of my sewing space and the ways and means used to keep those scraps usable and used.


We start to the immediate right of my sewing machine.  Here you see a little basket with scraps to cut and organize.  Usually these are small pieces created by trimming quilts when I bind them, or small batches of inherited scraps from friends.  When it gets full, it is time to address it.  You can see this is nearly ready for a workover.

Also shown is my current leader-ender project:  Sweet Sixteen.  It is going to be a simple checkerboard quilt of alternating colored and background 2″ squares in 16-patch blocks.  I have 73 blocks finished.  It will take at least 144 to create a good-size quilt (72″ x 72″).  If I needs to be larger than that, I can always keep going.

Having a leader-ender quilt constantly running along with a primary project is one of the most important ways I use scraps and create quilts out of so many small pieces.  I don’t think I could stand to just do the tedious and repetitive day after day.


If you keep going to the right you go past the shelf of big pieces of fabric sorted by color.  Nope, it isn’t very glamorous.  The shelf was $15 at a surplus store and the fabric bins came from a number of different places–garage sales, second hand stores, etc.  You can tell.  But, they do hold fabric.  The top shelf is larger pieces that could be backs.  The bottom shelf you can see is background fabrics in various sizes and planned projects or works-in-progress that are not actually making progress at the moment.


Next is the “scraps cut to size”.  I have shoe boxes with 5″ squares (which I hardly use any more and probably need to get rid of, cut down or reconsider), 2-1/2″ strips and 1-1/2″ strips.


We continue the “cut to size” theme with 1-1/2″, 2″ and 2-1/2″ squares.  Yep, one size in a shoebox, one in a vintage metal tin and the babies in a decorative paper box.


There is also this cardboard shoebox with small strings and strips, meaning smaller than 1-1/2″ wide but more than 3/4″. I use them occasionally but also share them with people who love string quilts.


Now for the part that I hate to admit to, but this is the box of scraps waiting to be cut.  If you want to know where to get scraps, I’ll tell you:  Let people know you use them and they will give them to you.  This is a 10-ream paper case stuffed full.  I do get into it regularly.  Just two days ago I dumped it and sorted out all the black and grey to cut for the Sweet Sixteen quilt.  I needed some black and grey fabric and was all out in the “cut to size” 2″ bin.  Today I  picked out two pieces for background fabric on the newest blocks of the Circa 2016 quilt along.  This box will probably never be empty and I am not sure I would really want it to be.  But, it isn’t a museum or a hoard.  Fabric is happiest used.

So, there it is!  Any questions?  I’ll try to answer them, maybe in future posts.

ps–If any of you love strings or would really like a bunch of 5″ squares (NOTE:  ALL SCRAPS HAVE BEEN CLAIMED.  SORRY!) , let me know.  I would share them with you for the cost of postage.  A small Priority Mail box is $6.80 in the USA.  It would come stuffed!




16 thoughts on “Scrap “System”

  1. great encouraging post today. I have a few boxes just like your last picture
    I did give away a lot of pieces of fabric that I just did not like anymore, not ugly, I just did not like it, so I gave that to a local sewing school run by a sweet Christian lady. I liked her and told her I would offer more later as I try to downsize
    I like your filing process

  2. Sure, I could use 5″ squares. I have my own box of strings like that. LOL I use a lot of actual shoeboxes, but I have plastic ones, too. It was fun to see your space. You are very efficient!

  3. Love your post of honesty in the fabric storage. It’s so encouraging to see how other quilters use and store their fabric and projects. I have a huge mess and have been looking for ways to clean up. Your post came at just the right time. Thank you

  4. I would love some squares and strings if you have enough. I make a lot of charity quilts and am teaching beginning quilting classes at the grange. No money involved, just a couple people that wanted to learn to sew/quilt. Kids included. We’ve been cutting 5″ charms from my fabric stash, but if there were some already cut, we could go faster. Let me know if there is enough!

  5. I do pretty much the same thing. I cut from 2″ to 5″ and give anything smaller to a friend who loves small postage size pieces. I have a leftover binding bin for a truly scrappy binding some day. I have orphan blocks bin with everything from trial blocks to those leftover after a project. I do the Jenny Doan method of cutting HST’s and sewing a 1/2″ away from first line and save those blocks for another project. I almost have enough for a small size quilt. After that the material is arranged by color and sometimes by theme, like patriotic, Christmas and so on. I bought my shelving from Menard’s and everything is organized on one side of my basment sewing room. Thanks for your suggestions.

  6. Thanks for sharing! You are organized! I enjoy making nickel quilts from 5″ squares. I do t know how many you have available, but I would live to pay postage for an envelope full. I am trying to have more time to make charity quilts. I have made some nice ones, and love giving them away! There is always someone or organization in need. Let me know how to pay you. Thanks! Darlene

  7. Okay, how do you want that $6.80? Money order or cash? Either is fine with me. I love 5″ sqs. Just shoot me an email & I’ll take some of those off your hands. Thx much, Barbara Black

Thanks for taking the time to comment. It is nice to hear from you.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s