Scrap Management Blog Series
Welcome to the Scrap Management Series!
Are your scrap bins overflowing? Do you collect your scraps but don't really know what to make with them, so you just keep using fresh fabric for your projects? Do you try to use them, but find that they're inevitably the wrong size and you just spend an hour sorting fabrics only to realize your plan won't work?
Don't worry, help is on the way! There are as many ways to deal with scraps as there are quilters out there, so I've asked a few fellow quilt designers to let us in on their secrets and give us a sneak peek into their scrap baskets.
Quilty Scrap Management Series
This is a loose series of blog posts to give you tips and ideas on how to organize your scraps and what to use them for. We all have our own ways, so hopefully between all the posts, you'll be able to find a system that works for you and for the type of quilts you like to make.
So, grab a cup of your favourite beverage and check out all the scrappy goodness.
Click the links below to go to the individual blog posts. I will link them here as they go live on the blog, so bookmark this page and check back every week or so.
- Making your own precuts - by Yours Truly (Monika Henry of Penny Spool Quilts)
- How to make crumb blocks - Leanne Parsons of Devoted Quilter
- A use for strings - Patti Laird of Sleeping Cat Creations
- Quick gifts to make with scraps - Kate Muter Starcher of Katie Mae Quilts
- Saving orphan blocks from the landfill - Carole Lyles Shaw
- Improv with scraps - Heather Valentine of The Sewing Loft
Before we dive in, though, let's talk about a few things that might help you find, or streamline, your own scrap organizing system.
The perfect system doesn't exist
There is no perfect system, or "the" system that will magically make all your scrap woes disappear, but I'm sure you knew that already. As you'll see in the blog posts in this series, we all have our own ways to organize scraps, and while we may do some things similarly, there are plenty of ways we differ because of how we use our scraps. Just like any organizing system, this one needs to work for you, which means it needs to work for the kind of (scrappy) quilts you like to make.
First up, an important disclaimer. You don't have to save scraps, or make scrappy quilts. This may be the origins of the craft, but that doesn't mean you're bound to it. If you don't actually like making scrappy quilts, or you simply have way too many scraps and they're giving you hives, there's no point in organizing them. Collect them and donate them to your local quilt guild, or maybe a youth center or school that has a home ec program. They will be put to good use there, and you will have room to breathe, and create in the way that works best for you.
But if you want to use your scraps and are just overwhelmed by your scrap bins, let's start with some questions you can ask yourself. Consider it a quilty personality quiz that will help point you to the best-for-you approach to scrap stash organization. These questions will make you think about your quilty habits, likes, and dislikes, and get the wheels turning before you dive into the rest of the series.
So, let's get started!
The Scrap Management Personality Quiz
What sort of scrappy quilts do you like? Is it the totally scrappy ones where prints and colours don't matter? Think postage stamps quilts, or random strips stacked together.
Or do you prefer to use a more coordinated colour scheme so it would help if your scraps were sorted by colour? Or maybe by value?
Do you like to keep your solids and prints separate because you don't mix them in quilts? Do you like to keep collections together, or are you happy to throw any print in with others as long as their colours work together?
Do you tend to use standard shapes in most of your quilts? Squares for example, strips, or HSTs? You could look into making your own precuts in your preferred sizes so your scraps are ready to go whenever you have an idea or a pattern you'd like to use.
Or do you work with all sorts of pieces and patterns so it's important to not cut anything before you know what you're doing with it? Sorting by "large" and "small" scraps could help tame the stash.
And on a similar vein, what size do you consider too small to keep? Be honest with yourself! Don't keep what you know you will never use. But you don't have to throw the bits that are too small into the garbage, either. Donate them if they're big enough for others, just not for your own tastes. And really tiny bits can be used for pillow stuffing for example (I know some people make animal beds for shelters that way), or even be composted as long as they are 100% cotton.
I hope those questions got the wheels turning and you're excited to tackle those scraps!