Saturday, February 22, 2014

Scrap Management

Scraps... we all have them! Whether you love them, give them away or toss them is a different story. I am currently defining a scrap as anything less than a fat quarter.  Fat quarters in my system are stash and will be part of tomorrow's post.
Event #9: Scrap Management
For years I followed a version of Bonnie Hunter's Scrap User's System and that worked really well for me. I love working with pre cuts and I was doing a lot of fabric swaps so it made sense to take a little extra time to "finish off" scraps into sizes I used often.

2.5" strips and 5" squares are my favorites going back before charm packs and jelly rolls were on the market. I belonged to an active Yahoo! Group that was inspired by Pat Speth's Nickel Quilts series and we swapped multiple themes each month. 2.5" strips were added later to our monthly swap list. I also hosted monthly swaps on HGTV's Quilting Forum for a couple of years.

I store my 5" charms in these Sterilite ShowOff containers - here is a peek inside my Thimbleberries bin. When I run out of room length wise I fill in on the side. Some bins are themed and others are by color. These bins were a happy accident when I noticed that the charms fit so nicely. I keep these bins stacked on both sides of my dresser - I think I have 10.
When I was looking for a storage solution for 2.5" strips I chose a drawer unit with 3" high drawers and basically folded the strips to fit as many I could which ended up being in quarters (folded in half and then again in half). Here is a peek at my blue & purple drawer.
The drawer unit lives in my quilting room closet and the strips are sorted by color. When this unit became full I started buying the scrapbooking cases by Iris because they are 3" deep. I use 6 of them for themed strips (fall, Christmas, florals, etc.)
I used to store UFOs in the drawer unit on the left but as of last summer it became the home for most of my strings and not so pretty fabrics to cut up for string blocks. Maybe this summer I'll be able to repurpose the drawers above it too!

If I couldn't get a 2.5" strip I'd cut 2" strips... and if I couldn't get a 5" square I'd cut 2.5" then 2" squares. They are kept in these white plastic trays underneath my cutting table.
The bright bin has 3.5" x 6.5" bricks from recent swaps so there are a few other sizes for specific patterns kept here as well. I also have started a tray of Moda's Mini Charm packs. Now that my Dollar Store carries these types of trays in red I use white for storage and red for projects.

I guess if there is a recurring theme it would be find a container that fits what you need to store and then buy several! And, yes I do use these fabrics. Many of my go-to patterns and books are designed for these sizes. Cutting isn't my favorite part of quilting and as my hands get older (unlike the rest of me LOL!) I figure I'll be ahead of the game for happy scrappy quilt making.

When I started quilting again in late September 2012 I decided to focus on UFOs and not deal with scraps. I kept a basket near my cutting table and everything went in there. When I moved into my quilting room last May I started using bins under my cutting table to sweep all the leftovers into.
I had two bins jammed full and now they both have been emptied and sorted. Most of these scraps are now sorted by color in this over the door organizer. The outer pockets store binding remnants coiled up and the inner pockets hold folded up scraps.
This system is really growing on me! Since I have plenty of pre cuts this will be nice for paper piecing or applique as I move forward. And now that I've started doing Angela's RSC Sampler blocks it's great for that too. I like that they are out of the way yet easily accessible. If or when they overflow I'll change things up again.

I have also started keeping snippets for crumb blocks and selvages (when I remember to cut them!) and they are stored in a basket. Since I keep everything else what's a few more small pieces right?
Event #10: Batting Management
Last but not least is batting. I've decided to keep the larger scraps of batting under my cutting table where I keep my rolls and packaged battings. It's kind of messy but it's empty space that is hidden unless you really look for it and I might as well use it!
Smaller scraps and strips are now in a box in my craft closet which I'll show you tomorrow. Going forward I'm going to measure my larger pieces and pin a note to them... but I've decided I don't have the patience to back and do this now. I am committed to piecing these leftovers and using them however.

Whew! That wraps up 2 more events in my Olympics Organizathon and gives you an idea of my scrap management system has evolved over the years. I find that keeping on top of scraps is a ongoing process and the solution is pretty unique to each of us. How do you feel about scraps?


  1. Looks like you are going to win that Gold Medal!

  2. When I am looking for a piece of batting the right size for a project I measure and label any pieces that weren't already labeled as I'm looking. That keeps me caught up on all of the labeling. I'm glad to see you have a lot of precuts too. I have been doing that for 10 years and knew on a day that I wasn't able to cut (like now after slipping on ice) that I would have pieces ready to work with.

  3. My goodness you have a lot of scraps! I sort by color - I have about a shoe box full of each color. I tend not to precut my scraps, because I don't have a go-to size. I just tackled my pink box, since it wouldn't close anymore, and used 3.5" and 4" squares. I know I still have a lot of 2.5" strips in there (binding and jelly roll remnants) so I might do something with those. And then I have a bin that I shovel the scraps into as I finish a project and I'm too lazy to get out the color bins right then. ;)

  4. For your batting scraps, here is what I do. I cut them into squares for future rag quilts. You can cut the standard size or smaller for kid sized quilts. I do the same with leftover flannel backings too. Of course those are cut bigger but soon enough you will have a pile to turn into a quilt.

  5. Wow! I love how you have your special rulers hanging under your table too. I have the same bars and hooks, ready to use. I tend to separate salvages, and I cut 2.5 squares from whatever small scraps fit. I also cut 2.5 strips and tend to keep a running supply by cutting double. I like stackable boxes. And I use the smallest scraps to fill cat and dog beds, which I periodically refill.

  6. I am so impressed with your Olympic events! Great ideas!

  7. I think Lesley has said it for me - what you have done is impressive! I love your storage system and in March I intend to have a major clean upon my studio and your ideas will be a great help - thank you.

  8. wow, super organized i'd say...nice to see someone with more stash than me...esp after a buying trip thursday....keep up the good work!

  9. I love how you stored the 2.5 inch strips. I may have to do that. I have not been cutting 5 inch squares but think that would be handy to have on hand.

  10. Super job on organizing your scraps. I've learned a few things that I hope to incorporate into my own scrap storage system. Thanks for sharing.

  11. You are making wonderful progress Deb! Looking forward to your "closing ceremony"

  12. Delurking to say I'm really enjoying watching your progress, and I've helped myself to several of your ideas. Thanks!

  13. Holy Moly Batman.....I mean Scrap Girl! You're doing a wonderful job on your Olympic quest and it's really quite beautiful looking at the various "venues" in your quilt room. I, too, "Bonnie Hunter" my scraps, cutting to various sizes. Over the years I have changed up what sizes I keep based on what I usually work with. I currently keep 3.5" strips, 2.5" strips, 2.0" strips and 1.5" strips each in their own little drawer in a stackable cabinet I have. I also keep 2.5" square, 2.0" their own spaces. And I have "bricks" of 2.5 x 4.5" and 1.5 x 2.5". Then...because there is always more, isn't there?....I have a selection of various cut squares which have come from other people's scraps, and various triangles, also gleaned from others. You already know I keep batting scraps and use them all the time. I only have one small Rubbermaid container for those. Since I have no option to expand on my storage the rule for all of these scraps is they HAVE to be used when the container(s) get filled. It works for me.

  14. I've decided to confine my scraps to 2.5, 2, 1.5, and 1 in strips and squares, as well as misc. triangles all together. Any more, and I think I'd be getting too exotic for my own uses. I love seeing people with so many different scrap sizes, but I find I don't have enough scraps to make anything usable if I kept up with so much variety. So far, these sizes have been perfect for me, except for needing the occasional 3.5, which I piece from 2 - 2" pieces!

  15. Many junk services will also have the facilities to dispose of plastics and harmful electronic parts safely, so if you require the removal of these types of items, it is beneficial to inquire about this before agreeing to the use the service in question. Junk removal Thousand Oaks


I really enjoy reading comments! Thanks for taking the time to leave me one. I try to respond to all comments except during big giveaways.

I have had to turn off anonymous comments for now due to a sudden increase in spam. Please send me an email instead and I will respond to you.