So… I’ve taken a bit of a break from blogging (bit, five years, same same) and in the interim I’ve moved, switched jobs, lived through a pandemic, lost two cats, bought a new sewing machine, and made a couple of quilts, but enough about me, let’s talk about scraps.

At a recent quilt retreat I kept fishing shockingly large scraps from the garbage bin that my retreat mates considered unusable. Then I saw a post on Insta lamenting a laundry basket full of scraps and suggesting it would be easier to just set them on fire. There was enough fabric there to make at last two quilts. My idea of scraps is clearly different from others’ and I thought I’d talk about how I organize my fabric.

My idea of fabric waste.

Yardage and fat quarters

Years ago I found this gorgeous glass-fronted shop cabinet on ebay and thought it would be perfect for my fabric, notions, and thread. I keep my yardage (rolled around comic book backs folded in half lengthwise) and fat quarters in it, and a few other bits and bobs. It sadly faces the wall these days, because my sewing space is much smaller than the one I had back in the village.

Scraps

Broadly, I think of scraps as anything smaller than a fat quarter, but I have a number of sub-categories.

My larger scraps are stored under my sewing table, in these Lennart drawer units from Ikea. I have a drawer for each of the main rainbow colours, as well as drawers for white/low-volume, grey, and black.

I also have drawers for pre-cuts, strings, and selvages. Occasionally, fat quarters infiltrate my scrap drawers, but they don’t usually stay fat quarters for long.

Pre-cuts

I rarely buy pre-cuts, but when the scrap drawers begin to overflow, I return the fat quarters to their rightful place and cut down the scraps to squares (5″, 4.5″, and 2.5″), or triangles (4.5″ or 2.5″) using my Accuquilt die cutter. Whatever is left over gets sorted into strings, selvages, or crumbs.

Cutting an overflowing drawer down to size
5″ and 4.5″ squares
2.5″ squares and triangles

Strings

Any strip 2.5″ or thinner goes into the string drawer. There are lots of string-quilt patterns out there and I’ve made a couple that I’ll share soon.

Selvages

I started collecting selvages a few years ago, having seen a few really cool selvage quilts. I’ve yet to do more than sew a couple of blocks with these to see what they look like, and what they looked like was great, so that’s a work in progress, I guess.

Crumbs

Crumbs are anything between 1.5″ and 2.5″. My old machine used to chew these up, but the new one (a Juki TL-2010Q) can sew tiny pieces together beautifully, so I’ve recently started work on a  scrap vortex quilt and am able to use even the smallest of pieces. Anything smaller than a crumb usually gets tossed, and even that pains me, so not much gets tossed. I store my crumbs by colour in glass jars.

Snippets in preserving jars

I also use the glass jars to store HST cutoffs. Not sure I’ll ever use them, but a friend made a scrappy HST quilt a couple of years ago so I was happy to be able to give her a box full of tiny HSTs.

No HST left behind

In the next few posts, I’ll share some of the quilts I’ve made since I was last here, and you’ll see how I put the scraps into action.

Comments (2)

  1. Reply

    Love your way of sorting your scraps! I cut my scraps down to 4,5” and 2,5” and have a bag for strings and crumbs. When I feel particularly uninspired I grab the bags and sew bigger blocks of the small pieces in similar colors. I don’t have enough if them yet to create a quilt from, but some day I will 🤣

    • Carmit

      Reply

      I’ve already made one quilt top from mostly small scraps (I’ll post about it soon) and as you probably saw on Insta, I’m working on another. I’ve got about 1×1.5 meters from just the small scraps, and that’s just with four colours.

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