13 August 2019

Taming the Scrap Baskets!

I mentioned in a previous post that I really wanted to start making more use of my scraps, I love scrap quilts and while I am really good at saving all my leftovers, I am rubbish at actually using them.  Things came to a head last week when I decided to trawl through my baskets to find pieces to make this quilt.

I started with my neutrals basket and gave up after 5 minutes as I couldn't face trying to find anything among the jumble wrinkled mess; the basket was filled to overflowing and wouldn't fit back into its space :(

Time for drastic action! I trawled the internet and watched numerous Youtube tutorials on storing scraps and cutting them into usable sizes, I ended up more confused than ever! There are so many conflicting options on what you should do.  Then I read a quote which said that there's no point storing it  if you're not going use it - of course! the idea is not to rush out and buy more storage for my scraps but to find a way of using them. If you are a regular reader you will know that I love small pieces and multi fabric quilts - why use one green when you can you can use 40!!

I very rarely buy anything larger than a FQ, I store these and anything larger than about a fat eighth in baskets neatly folded; I sorted those baskets 2 years ago and it is still working for me, I shared how I did this here, it basically involves folding everything into a uniform size so they sit nicely together.

With the exception of Liberty and Batik fabrics which I keep in a different box, I only keep largish 6" + scraps. I use smaller ones for thread catchers on my machine, and while I really admire string quilts and postage stamp quilts they are not for me.  My basket was really made up of leftover FQ's either squarish pieces or strips about 20" long.  Thinking about what I like to use, I realised that I often buy 10" layer cakes to get some variety, I find a 10" square a really useful size for appliqué or cutting a few pieces for EPP etc. I decided to cut the squarish scraps into 10" squares first. I relaxed the rules slightly to anything over 9"

This worked really well with very little waste. I then decided to cut the strips into 2 1/2" by whatever length they were, I can always cut them down later. Again this worked well leaving one two strips per piece with again very little waste.

Looking through all my templates, EPP quilts I want to make etc this size seemed to be the most useful. There are also hundreds of jelly roll patterns available, many of them free. It's very easy to make a quick charity or gift quilt if you have the strips ready to go!  Very few patterns need full width of fabric strips, most have you cut them down so I can just use 2-3 of my strips.

The full to overflowing basket ended like this :) I already had the Really Useful Boxes, I just need to think of an idea for storing  the squares so they remain nice and neat.

I will see how this works for me, but cutting scraps down into two useable sizes means I don't need elaborate storage and I will easily stick to it.  I might save smaller squares say 6"in future also, but for now I am actually inspired to start using these.  I really like the idea of an antique inspired log cabin.

How do you store/use your scraps?


  1. I have a couple of those Marti Michell bags of templates and I have never used them!! I won them some years ago and keep forgetting about them and Just now I looked to see what I have sets B & D I like the sunburst one you show. I have noticed that the jelly roll strips are perfect for the hexies - I will check those bags of templates that I have and see what sizes of strips would be needed for them.

  2. Love the idea of an antique inspired log cabin quilt!
    I have some bags and boxes filled with tiny scraps from all sorts of fabrics. Then I have bags with the tiny scraps from fabric collections like Moda Grunge, Kaffe Fassett, Tula Pink, etc. etc. Everything bigger than a 4" square is sitting in the boxes of fabrics filled with my fabrics to the maximum size of a FQ or a half metre. Today I was able to cut fabrics from my tiny scraps bag to make small houses for the Coming Home quilt. I felt so satisfied! Organizing quilt fabrics is a neverending story... ;-)

  3. I agree with the comment 'dutchcomfort' made above above that "Organizing quilt fabrics is a neverending story". I have new scraps that I frequently use and old scraps that just get stored. I need to find a project for the old scraps. I also have scraps stored according to designer; Blackbird Designs, Minick & Simpson, Jan Patek etc. That's really not working for me - I need to come up with a plan. My first project is organizing the neutral scraps so they are more user friendly. Right now I am continually digging for just the right beige and I mess everything up. Your post has me thinking I need to get organized too.

  4. Everyone comes up with some means to tame those baskets. It appears you're off to a good start.

  5. I cleaned up a few little boxes of scraps last year, but never use them! I need to gift them because I am just not a scrappy quilter. I love your quilts and the vintage log cabin idea made with scraps will be beautiful! Have a great week!

  6. I'm hoping to be organised about fabric some time in my future...!

  7. From one scrap lover to another, that is a gorgeous pattern that you've chosen.