I keep a lot of scraps. It just feels wrong to throw this lovely (and not cheap) stuff away. However, my scrap bins overfloweth. Recently, I’ve started throwing away more, simply because it feels like I have nowhere to put it. Worst of all, with the exception of Triangle Madness, I seldom seem to actually USE my scraps.
What it comes down to is that I’m relatively impatient when working on a sewing project. I don’t want to dig through the mess of my scrap bins to find something that might work, only to find that the piece I have isn’t quite big enough, anyways. And I’m too addicted to efficiency – I love to stack up three fat quarters and cut them all at once, I love to chain piece. Scraps don’t lend themselves to such things.
I had read about people who organize their scraps by size, rather than color. Or who cut all of their scraps into uniform sizes. For a long time, that sounded too restricting to me. What if I wanted a long strip instead of a square? Oh, the “what-ifs” can paralyze you. But the truth is that the scraps simply aren’t getting used in their current state. So I decided to undertake a rather ridiculous project.
I am chopping up all of my scraps.
I have my own list of sizes that I want. I cut the biggest pieces I can get from any given piece of fabric, and then work my way down. The very biggest pieces get cut into 10×10″ squares. After that is 5×5″, both of those because at least then I don’t have to cut down any leftover pieces of charm packs or layer cakes. I then move to 3.5″ squares, which is a little random. But when I sew hexagons, I most often use 1.5″ hexie templates, which work well with 3.5″ squares, so there you have it. After that are 2.5″ squares, at least in part because those are good for remaining pieces of binding or jelly rolls. Really, I think 2.5″ squares are always useful. A last-minute addition to the list is that I will cut a 2″ strip if there’s a long-but-narrow piece that seems like too much to throw away. But mostly it’s all squares, since I’m more of a patchwork person than a log-cabin lover, so these seem more useful to me than long strips.
But that’s as small as I go. Anything smaller, and I just… throw it away. I know! Gasp! Alright, I’ve made a couple of exceptions, mainly for Heather Ross fabrics. I’ve kept a few itty-bitty pieces of those. I’m not made of stone, people.
The yellow-and-orange bin was the first one I grabbed, and certainly isn’t the most full of my scrap bins. I set up my cutting mat and box of fabric on the kitchen table or in front of the TV. Working off and on while watching the DNC, I’d say this moderately-full box took me four or five days of cutting. It’s really tedious, as it’s nearly all done one little piece at a time. But I’m hoping the end payoff will be that it’s much easier to make scrappy quilts without having to dig around. And, ultimately, it felt almost liberating. The what-ifs still threaten to creep in, but I really think this is going to be a better way for me. And the end result is so nice and neat, I really do feel like I could just pick a color, grab a stack, and start sewing. Ahhh.
Only five more boxes to go.
Anyone else organize their scraps this way? What are, or would be, your go-to sizes to cut? Have I inspired you to take the plunge and bust out the rotary cutter?