I love fabric scraps. I think most of us quilters, sewing and crafty people love scraps because we see so much potential in them. (And because we also recognize the investment in all of that fabric!) As anyone with experience with cutting and using fabric scraps (or breeding small animals) knows, they can quickly multiply and get out of control! In my opinion some of the most beautiful quilts are made from scraps, so here are some tips and inspiration to help you sort and organize, and USE those fabric scraps.
Sorting, Saving, and Storing Scraps:
First of all, lets talk about sorting scraps. My best tip: find a simple solution that you’ll actually do. If you’re just getting started, then definitely go simple because it’s more likely to be effective.
Sorting Scraps by Color
When I finally decided to start getting organized I took everything smaller than a fat eighth out of my regular stash and sorted my scraps by colors only. I still use clear plastic bins from Target/Walmart/etc. and just automatically add my scraps to the right bin.
The other benefits to storing scraps by color is it’s easier to find something I need AND they look prettier, they inspire me to make something with them and therefore I’m a whole lot more likely to actually do something with them!
Here’s an example where I used a bunch of my red scraps to make a wonky log cabin quilt! It’s such a fun, mindless project. I’m ready to make another in a different color – I should probably just tackle which ever scrap drawer is the fullest!
Sorting by Size:
I have often been asked what size scraps I save. I save anything bigger than about 2″ x 2″ and smaller than a 10″ x 10″ square in my scrap bins. Anything bigger than that I put them with my yardage (which I also sort by color).
More on sorting scraps by size below.
Uses for Fabric Scrap Strips
Another common size we end up with is long, strips or “strings”. One of my favorite quilts for strips and strings are this string quilt using paper foundations to create the blocks.
Another classic and personal favorite for strips are traditional log cabin quilts. It’s easy to trim down your scraps to the right sizes for these blocks. You can see the start of this vintage inspired version – and learn about how to make a log cabin quilt here.
Here’s another variation on a traditional log cabin block (this one is a Courthouse Steps variation) that is part of the wonderful Scraps Inc pattern book. That book is full of other gorgeous scrap quilt inspiration.
One of my very favorite quilts for using leftover strips is my Scrap Happy Rainbow Connection quit pattern. It’s also a great quilt for cleaning out those scraps-sorted-by-colors bins!
Sorting scraps by size:
In recent years, I also started sorting scraps a little bit by size as well. A while back I read a post by Lori Holt about organizing and saving fabric scraps. She’s a genius.
I’m not quite as well organized, but I have started saving two sizes of “precuts” when I’m cutting fabric or have left over jelly-roll strips, etc. I save 2 ½” squares and 2 ½” strips. Both are useful in lots of patterns, and they’ve come in handy. I still keep them sorted by color so they look pretty are I’m more inspired to use them.
I recently designed a really fun scrap quilt with my box of 2 ½″ x 2 ½″ squares in mind. As you can see, I’ve still got a bunch, so I could easily make another quilt. lol
2 ½″ squares are really useful – and easy to collect from leftover 2 ½″ Jelly Roll strips or 5″ charm squares.
Here’s the finished quilt made with my box of 2 ½″ scraps. It’s called County Fair and it’s found in the wonderful book, Scrap School – a collection of 12 inspiring quilts made entirely from scraps. Scrap School also has some excellent tips for choosing color palettes as well as alternate color/fabric examples for many of the quilts – to give you lots more inspiration and ideas for using your scraps with confidence. You can see more of the projects in Scrap School here.
Kitchen Table Quilting has some great ideas for using specific scrap sizes to make some beautiful scrappy quilts.
My last Scrap Management tip: purge!
Routinely go through your scrap bins and pull out scraps that just don’t inspire you any more and let them go. Give them to a friend, a quilt guild, or a charity and let someone else create with them. I guarantee that you will be more inspired to use your scraps after you’ve got rid of the ones you don’t like anymore.
These are just a couple of suggestions that have worked for me. There are loads of great ideas out there for organizing and using scraps. Most importantly, do what works for YOU! Saving and organizing scraps is only worth doing if they’re something you’ll use, not because they’re something you feel guilty about.
Here are a few other helpful posts with ideas for sorting, saving and using scraps:
Ideas for Using Fabric Scraps
Here is a fun little project for using scraps. Bev has organized a series of tutorials for busting your scraps – and they’re more than just fabric scraps – there’s paper, trims, etc. involved as well!
I’m sharing mini-quilt tutorial perfect for using up fabric scraps – and it would be really easy to adapt this tutorial to make a larger version. You can find the full tutorial HERE.
If you’re looking for other ideas for using up scraps, this post is full of over 20 more ideas for using your fabric scraps including pillows, pincushions, great gifts, quilt blocks and even Christmas decorations!
I’ve also started a Scraps pinboard that I update regularly, if you want to follow it for the latest projects and ideas:
What are some of your favorite tips for sorting, storing, and using fabric scraps?