Weekend Scrap Control

It is time to deal with scraps instead of talking about it.  One motivation is that my sewing machine is in the shop (only routine maintenance, nothing dire).  So since I am a one-machine gal, I need to do something other than sew. I opened one box of scraps, the oldest box.


Believe me this is less than 1/10 of the total. I’ve been collecting for a long time. This batch comes from when I was dressmaking. So the shapes, being odd, require individual attention. Nothing streamlined here.

I pressed a bunch that now looks like this.

Scraps pressed

Luckily I did the pressing on a cool day because today is in the high 90s without a breeze. The small blue pile will go into the crumb jar.  Everything less than 1 1/4 inch-square but bigger than 3/4 inch goes into the crumb jar. I have some extremely small pieces from early days before it occurred to me that I needed to allow for 1/4 inch seams and then to still have fabric visible. Those I do discard.

Crumb jar

I think it is a gallon jar.  When it gets full I’ll sort by color and proceed to make improv fabric for some future project.

So far I have two piles.

This one for immediate projects.

For immediate use

Here I have 3 1/2-inch squares, 2-inch squares and 1 1/2-inch squares. These are for Variable star blocks, the four-patch block, Sunny Lanes, and small 9-patch blocks for cornerstones. The latter will be my leaders and enders when the current L & E project becomes a primary project (which is soon). There are also 2 x 3 1/2 rectangles to accumulate for a pattern I recently saw on DesertSky’s blog. it will take a long time to have enough of these to work with, so it will be ongoing for a long time.

My approach to scraps is this:  If a piece is smaller than a 10-inch square, I start with the largest useful square I can get from it. Six and a half inch squares are the largest I usually use, so I start there if I can.  And I keep making squares smaller as I am able–and some rectangles too in sizes other than the above mentioned.  I once made a list of sizes I needed for various patterns I like to make, and it seems I can use most any size.

As I cut, if they are not the sizes for immediate use, I toss them on a heap to be sorted later.

Miscellaneous sizes

I started out sorting as I cut, but it was too cumbersome and took up too much space. This works much better. The tray s right under my cutting table. When the pile begins to topple over, I’ll sort by size and by light/medium/dark.  That allows for making a pattern and paying attention to value but not the color. If I choose to design by color, I’ll sort further at at that point.

I’ll try to keep going with this even after getting my sewing machine back. A little time each day, I’m told, adds up to a lot.  Meanwhile it is a good thing to do without a sewing machine since I haven’t gotten into EPP or other hand work.

Tomorrow I’ll like with Oh Scrap! (button in sidebar).


Filed under quilting

13 responses to “Weekend Scrap Control

  1. The “Crumb Jar” – love it. I love all posts about scraps and scrap management!

  2. I so badly need to do this myself, but it’ll have to wait for the sewing machine to get serviced as I have several handwork projects on the go as well… I like 6″, 4″ and 2″ plus seam allowance, because those sizes are so versatile. Happy sorting!

  3. Scrap sorting is, as you demonstrated, good for the soul and a great way to stimulate new projects. Enjoy!

  4. I have a ‘crumb box’ which is on the floor by my cutting table. I toss things in its general direction when they’re too small to get one of my stock sizes out of. (I need to get down on the floor and pick some things up. Like I said, general direction…)
    I’m trying to accumulate 1.5″ and 2.5″ squares at them moment, since that’s what I’m using in my main projects. Isn’t it handy having precut pieces when ideas start flowing?

  5. Vera

    You are doing well with your scraps! Have fun!

  6. One day I’ll do something like this, currently the only system I have is that I’ve been cutting 4-1/2″ and 5″ squares for a rainbow Quilt every time I have fabric out for something else. It feels less daunting than getting out my whole stash at once 🙂

  7. I admire people who pre-cut but I can’t seem to do it myself. Maybe I’m too new to quilting but when I’ve tired it in the past, the pre-cut pieces languish as I pull out other fabric and cut it exactly as I need it. I do have a crumb box and a string basket, though. I use the strings but the crumbs are piling up. One of these days….

    I come from a background of sewing clothes, too, so some of the fabric I began (and still) quilt with are cottons I used for my daughters’ and my dresses years ago. They’re quilt-worthy but different than today’s quilting fabrics, for sure.

  8. I just throw all my scraps into bins based on color. I realized while reading your post that cutting them into standard sizes is something I haven’t tried. Great tips!

  9. Karen Thurn

    I am using up some of my scraps for a postage stamp quilt with 1.5″ pieces with some 2.5″ pieces sprinkled in for interest. I enjoyed reading your thought process about sorting scraps and determining sizes to cut since I’ve been at a loss of where to start on the remaining scraps.

  10. dezertsuz

    Good plan. I used to do that largest to smallest, too, but I found I really only use 2.5, 3.5 and 4 about 90% of the time. Right now, I’m also saving batiks and batik-like fabrics in 2.5 x 12″ or longer for another project. I hope I don’t forget what it is by the time I have enough scraps. =)

  11. That is a great tip to cut the largest first and then go smaller. Thanks for sharing your scrap management ideas with Oh Scrap!

  12. Cher

    great use of your time with the sewing machine away. I admire your sticking with it!

  13. I think just about every quilter is trying to get a better handle on their scraps, I know I am. If you get anything to the quilt top stage, know that Fabric ‘N Quilts has an annual Scrap Quilt Challenge. Of the course the only problem is if you win, you may get more fabric which ultimately makes more scraps! Details are here: http://www.fabricsnquilts.com/scrapquiltchallenge/

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