Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Taming those Scraps - Part One

 I was recently asked if I would talk a bit about how I store my scraps.  It has been years since I shared any information around scrap management so I thought I would write a few posts over the next couple weeks.

First, I think it is important to give some thought as to how you use your scraps.  In other words, are you someone who always uses patterns that call for standard sizes like mini charms, charm squares or  strips.  If so, you may want look at how Bonnie Hunter stores her scraps.  She pre-cuts all of her scraps to standard sizes.

I will admit, I tried this system in the beginning but it just did not work for me.  Whenever I wanted to make a quilt, it seemed all the scraps I wanted to use were cut to the wrong size.

One of the first thing I realized about myself, is that I like all of my fabric sorted by color - including my scraps!  I tend to work in color combinations - so I just need to pull the relevant color bins when I start on a quilt.

I also think it is important to sort your scraps immediately once they are identified as scraps. So right above my cutting table, I have a shelf with some color coded buckets that I drop scraps into every time I clean off my cutting table.  You may not have this luxury but you should be able to come up with some bags, shoeboxes or even glass jars to store your scraps in.

The nice thing about having these scraps so handy is I can usually dig through them and find a scrap that will work when I need some little bit for a project. 

 If your scraps are easy to use, you will use them!

Sometimes, when I finish cutting a project that I really like the fabric combinations I used, I don't want to break up the leftovers back into their respective colors.  A good example is the leftover fabric and scraps from my All that Jazz quilt I recently finished.  I really want to take these leftovers and add a few more scraps and make another quilt in these colors.  In this case, I simply bag up all the leftovers/scraps and store them together in a drawer.

Here are a few other projects that reside in the drawer from years ago.  Note that I don't put a lot of "universal" fabric in these bags.  They are usually genre specific (30's, holiday, flannel, cross weaves) or they are odd color combinations.

When I want to start something new, I will dig through these bags and see if I get inspired by any of them.  They give me a starting point.  Now I just need to pull from my color bins of scraps to enhance the fabric that is already pulled.

Anyone who has followed my blog for any amount of time knows that this is not my entire scrap storage.  But I am going to stop here for today because I believe that this is a good starting point if you want to get started on managing your own scraps.  For some, this may be all the storage you need.

Hopefully next week I will share a bit more of my scrap system.  I will try and explain what I have found works best for me and maybe they will work for you too!

Wishing you a Happy Scrapppy week!


  1. That's a great starting point!! Love that basket system - it looks pretty too! Thanks for sharing your first step!!

  2. What a handy and practical way to sort and store scraps as they happen!

  3. One of the key takeaways I'm seeing from today is that being able to see into your storage is also a key part of your storage (it matters a lot to me, too).

  4. I love your baskets - they are a really appealing way to store scraps. I have color sorted plastic bins that work well for their purpose, but definitely aren't as pretty! I tried the BH method with pre-cutting scraps, too, but that is too much work! I'd rather cut for a specific project.

  5. Great post,Cynthia. I am always wrestling with how to use to organize and store my scraps too. Being able to see them and making them easily accessible is key. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Cutting up my scraps to specific sizes hasn't worked for me either. It seems I am always cutting them up to a different size when I need to use them.

  7. I tried the BH method and it didn't work for me, I like to store by color in clear tubs that stack well. I will use your idea for the inspiration bags by genre. Excellent series to inspire me to wander in to the quilt studio. I just brought home a beautiful tag sale hutch with glass shelves...I may have to build some baskets to stack on the shelves.

  8. I save strips ala BH which works well for me. I also save scraps by color. You make such amazing scrap quilts. Thanks for sharing a peek into your process!

  9. Great ideas. I will keep them in mind when I get back to creating scraps. Have been on hiatus with having had surgery and helping hubby after his surgery 2 months later.

  10. I seem to work in a similar way to yourself with the scrap situation. I do have stacks of boxes above my cutting table all labelled by colour but sadly I used to just toss my scrap pieces into large cube containers and now they are overflowing with goodness knows how many years worth of scraps which all need sorting - and ironing!!!

  11. That's the same way I work, Cynthia. Love, love, LOVE my scrap baskets and bags of "special: scraps!!

  12. I'm glad you are sharing your tricks of the trade. I'm sure I will learn a thing or two ... or ten! I store by colours too, but I also cut by size. I'm slowly realizing that it might not be the best system for me. So I stopped squaring off the yardage to fill up the scrap bins. I keep the entire thing in the scrap bin so I have more option for next time. Looking forward to the next post. Thanks for doing this. ;^)

  13. Thank you for sharing the beginnings of your scrap storage system. I’m late reading this but find it helpful. I’ve done the Bonnie system for years. Much goes in little comes out. I am trying to convince myself not to spend too much time whacking up fabric. Wait, I just reread some thing — we're suppose to clean off our cutting table after every quilt? Hahahaha. So it maybe that my cutting table is too big so I can just push stuff aside to deal with later! One question before I head off to the studio… when is a scrap too small? I have a lot of 1.5” squares — I plowed through them to gather pieces for a long term project but I’m pretty much planning to give up on them soon.


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