As time went on, I had more and more actual scraps to work with. And let me tell you, it is true what they say. If you proclaim yourself to be a scrap quilter, you will get lots of free fabric from people who do not want to deal with their scraps, and who will give you theirs because "I know you will use it".
After much trial and error, I feel like I have finally found a system for sorting, storing, and using my scraps that is working pretty well for me. I used to try to sort by color, or at least types of prints, such as neutrals, batiks, traditional prints. I gave all that up because it was the more types of fabrics I was collecting, the more complex this system got. Now I only sort by size. I start with this large basket.
There it is, living underneath my cutting table. As an aside, before I saw everyone buying risers to raise the height of their cutting table, I nailed a piece of plywood to a couple of pieces of 2 by 4, and set that on top of this re-purposed desk. It is not very fancy carpentry, but I like the resulting nook underneath for setting rulers out of the way. That drawer is also handy for holding rulers, extra blades, cutters, etc.
Back to the original subject. As you may have already guessed, as I cut my pieces, I throw the useable scraps in that basket under the desk. For me, it has to measure at least an inch to be considered a useable scrap. Everyone has their limits. If I am not going to end up with at least as much showing on the surface of the quilt, as is going to wind up on the back of the quilt in seam allowance, I'm not interested in keeping it.
Next, I have one of those reusable grocery bags that lives in my car. It contains a Ziploc bag for each of the following categories:
*Small bits- 2 1/2" or less
*Medium bits- over 2 1/2" to 6"
*Large pieces- anything that is too big for medium bits, but smaller than a fat quarter
*Small triangles-roughly the same size as small bits
*Large triangles-the rest
*Small sewn together-small pieces that are already sewn together, either because they are small, leftover units, or because they are leftover from strip piecing
*Large sewn together-This is usually from a strip set that I didn't entirely cut up. These previously sewn together units are very useful for improvisational piecing. I find they do so much to help me make my potholders interesting.
And then we have the strips. I have a separate bin for each of the following:
*Smaller than an 1 1/2"
*1 1/2"-I have a separate bin for these because I have made several quilts just from 1 1/2" strips. I do separate these into color families.
*1 3/4"- 2"
*2 1/4"-2 1/2"
*Larger than 2/12"
I load the grocery bag with scraps from the basket, these Ziploc bags, and a small measuring device, and leave all of this in the car at all times. There are certain places that I go, that I find it convenient to pull out this bag, and using the measuring tool, sort some of the scraps into the proper Ziploc. One such place is when I work my volunteer shifts at the town library. After I have swept, dusted, and put away books, I bring out my fabric bag. Another place is at free concerts in the park. When I go to a friends house to sew, if I get frustrated with the project I am working on, or maybe even go as far as I can on it, I pull out this bag.You get the idea. As the bag empties, I refill it from the basket, which is always getting filled as I cut out various projects. As the Ziploc bags fill, I dump them into bins of that respective category.
When I am getting ready to start a project, I go to the bin that holds the size of pieces that I need, and pull out pieces that are the colors that I want. I finished putting this system together a couple of summers ago. Since then I have gotten fabrics from these bins for several projects that are in process, but here are 2 quilts near completion, that came all, or mostly from these scrap bins.
Last weekend, I had the pleasure of going to a quilting retreat. I got the center of this quilt put together there. I just have to figure out what to do with the corners. I think I know what the borders will be. I bought the focus fabric, and the stripe, but everything else came from the scrap bin.
It is such a feeling of getting something for nothing to make quilts from what I have on hand. And, for those who like going scrappy, it really broadens your fabric choices!
I have many lovely photos that I took while at the retreat, I want to share with you, but I will save that for the next post.
Thanks for stopping by!