Sewing Organization – Scrap Organization

Organize Your Scraps

I had a pretty bad system for scraps for a long time.  It was just a jumbled up mess in a plastic tub.  Then it got worse… my daughter started to play in my scraps so I created a second smaller scrap bin for her.

Scrap Playground

Good idea, right?  Except that then I started adding my scraps to her bin and that bin got bigger than the original stack.  She also quit playing with it once there were so many scraps.

Scrap Storage

Something had to be done about my scrap problem.  There are many very smart ways to deal with scraps that I researched as I looked for the solution to my problem.  The main methods I found for scrap organization are by color or by size.

I find that scrap management works best for me if I make it easy… spending a day cutting scraps from a bin into something useable is not my idea of fun.  So, the scraps stay in the bin.

Easy for me: I cut my scraps down to a useable size as soon as I finish cutting what I am working on.  Sometimes that means I cut them out the minute I am finished with the fabric, sometimes that means setting it aside and doing it at the end of the day.  If I am cutting out a complete quilt, I may wait until I am finished if I am on a roll, but I cut them down before I can start another project.

I do admit to letting the cut squares sit for awhile before I sort them into the ziplock bags I store them in.  I would probably claim that sorting goes faster when you have multiple of each size, but I am sometimes just mentally done with those scraps after cutting and need to build up the energy to face them another day.

Organizing Scraps

How do I cut my scraps down?  I arrange by size.

  • 2″ squares
  • 2.5″ squares
  • 3″ squares
  • 5″ squares
  • 10″ squares
  • strings

I started originally with only 2.5″ and 5″ squares, but found that these other categories were meeting the size demands of my scraps.  I arrange them by size with no regard for color.  I don’t have enough scraps for a scrappy quilt yet, but I try to draw from these if I have a Stash Bee block that requires anything that fits into these categories.  For my stash bee block last month, I had to cut a couple squares that were 1.5″ so I just grabbed a 2″ square and cut it down.

Keeping scraps for paper piecing? Even though I love paper piecing, and those odd little shapes were part of what originally motivated me to start keeping scraps, I’ve found I just don’t use scraps to paper piece.  The odds of finding the color I want in the size I need from my scraps was just too unlikely and slow of a process for me.  Thus, cutting the scraps down into useable shapes makes me more likely to use them.

Scraps Sorted

I keep the cut and sorted scraps in a green scrapbooking square tote.  They sell these at every crafting store, but if you get them seasonally at Costco they come in a 5 pack that is an amazing price.  I like the green color because it reminds me to recycle the fabric within my own projects.

There are so many methods to deal with scraps, and this is what I have found works for me after a lot of trial and error.  What are your favorite ways to control scraps?

-Heather

Linking to: Scraptastic Tuesday @ She Can QuiltTips and Tutorials Tuesdays @ Late Night QuilterWiP Wednesday @ Freshly PiecedLet’s Bee Social Wednesday @ SewFreshQuiltsNeedle and Thread Thursday @ My Quilt InfatuationWhoop Whoop Fridays @ Confessions of a Quilt AddictFabric Frenzy Friday @ Ft. Worth Fabric

10 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing your method. I have a shoebox for each colour, it’s been like that for a few years now and it was fascinating as it reflects the amount of each colour in my stash, e.g. I have very little purple fabric but lots of blue! Occasionally I have sorted and cut similar to your method, that has been handy for some teaching I did last year and also for a quick fix scrappy project without having to sort.

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  2. I do a lot of reading about scrap organization and do very little scrap organization. One day it will happen!

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  3. Great minds think alike! 🙂 I do the exact same thing: cut them in squares (i do a few more sizes than you do) and then store them in plastic bins. The squares, sewn together either randomly or in pleasing color arrangements, make great charity quilts!

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  4. I organize by color, but I really like your tidy little size based packages!

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  5. I have a post coming up on this very subject. I spent a whole day just cutting scraps into the sizes I’ll use most, and ones for the scrappy mystery quilt for next year. They are all in ziploc bags too.

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  6. I have one main scrap bin that contains the biggish bits – small enough to call scrap but big enough to use in a block. I am always diving into that. Like you, I cut smaller offcuts into three sizes: 2.5 inch squares, 1.5 inch squares and triangular bits that if sewn to another triangular bit might yield a respectable HST pair (the last is eyeballed and not measured). They live in zippie bags in another box that contains the strings as well. I also have a few little bundles tied, pinned or bagged together in my main scrap box – scraps that work together and could become something.

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  7. I try to cut my scraps into useable sizes as soon as I finish cutting, but then I sometimes find it a challenge to figure out how to use them! Somehow they seem to multiply when I am not looking!

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  8. I keep hot, cool and neutral bins for my scraps. But I also have spells of cutting sizes I need for my scrap projects – not so organised that I do it after finishing a project though! Hope you get enough for that scrap quilt soon. Thanks for linking up to #Scraptastictuesday!

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  9. Wow you are organised – mine are all together in a tub and I use them for bee blocks. It amazes me how many blocks I can make without making that much of a dent in my scrap pile. i really do need to get a system though if I want to really do something else with them!

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  10. Wow, enjoyed this post! I keep a very tiny scrap basket on my cutting table and cut my scraps when it can’t hold any more(every two or three quilts). I guess I have a lot of scraps, because I’m way past bags, and keep my scraps in a set of vintage gym lockers… I’m working on using them!

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