Scrap Happens!!

Having some downtime in December gives me the opportunity to catch up and clean up!  As I was tidying up my studio, I quickly realized how many fabric scraps I had squirreled away in various bins and containers.  It started out innocently enough with just a few scraps here and there, assuring myself I would cut them down into useable sizes and organize accordingly.  Well, soon one container carried over into 3 plastic bins and a small tub of scraps, plus the 7-8 chinese food leftover containers I use in Slice of Improv workshops!  It was time to finally figure out how to get my scraps under control.

Step 1:  Assess my scraps.  
I started by pulling out all my scraps and laying them fairly flat into piles roughly by width.  Up until now, I usually cut down my scraps into useable sizes:  2.5" strips, 5" charms, 2.5" charms and 1" strips and "schnibbles" used in Slice of Improv.  Over the course of sorting my scraps, I came to a few realizations:
1.  I rarely if ever get around to cutting my scraps into precut sizes (hence the 3-4 bins of scraps)
2.  I rarely if ever use these precut sizes
3.  My improvisational designs do not require precut sizes
Piles of Fabric Scraps and Schnibbles

Step 2:  Rethink My Scrap Organization
Most of my improvisational designs involve color washes, so it was more helpful for me to have my scraps organized by color instead of size.  I began researching containers and carts and chose this Rainbow Rolling Cart from Michael's based on the number and size of colorful drawers, casters to move around as needed, being on sale, and finally a more sturdy build to hold lots of scraps!!

Step 3: Sort by Color
Excited with my new purchase, I returned home and got to work sorting all my scraps by color.  Not only did I enjoy going reminiscing on past projects as I went on this archeological dig, but this step gave me a quick snapshot of which colors I tend to use more or less.  I tend to use a lot of neutrals (black, white, grey, black & white prints) so I dedicated the pink drawer to this collection.  While I had a lot of teal scraps, I opted to use the teal bin for my multicolored scraps that couldn't fit neatly into one of the remaining 6 colors.  My yellow bin is woefully sparse--something to mull over as I start new projects in 2019!

Step 4:  Organize and Sort my Batting Scraps
Next up was pulling out a tub of batting scraps, trimmed away from quilted tops prior to binding.  When I layer my quilt sandwich, I tend to use larger quilt backs and batting, so I have something to grip as I quilt along the edges, which also allows for any shrinkage.  So once my quilted top is trimmed up, there is quite a bit of usable fabric and batting remaining!  I spent an hour or so organizing the remaining fabric scraps and cutting batting bits into smaller units for participant use in my quilting workshops.  Now that my new system was up and running, I immediately sorted my fabric scraps by color and into their respective drawers they went!

Step 5:  Maintain
Now that I have a new system for organizing my scraps, it is up to me to maintain this system.  I was able to rearrange a few things to position my new Scrap bin adjacent to my cutting table.  This will allow me to quickly sort scraps in the moment.  Plus this is very close to my fabric stash and sewing machine, so I can easily roll the cart over to where I am sewing and/or take out the colored drawers that are needed for a particular project.  

Next up is to actually start using these scraps!  I have a few design ideas in mind, so stay tuned for some scraptastic quilts and projects!!!


  1. What a great idea to use that colorful rolling cart. This is the first system I've seen that might work for me although I've always limited myself to one small bag - unsorted. Hmmm.

    1. I am really excited about this new system. I've been working on improv piecing blocks using just the red scraps and have almost 30 blocks all from my scraps! I can't wait to move onto the other colors!


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