13 Days!

Saving Scraps

Summary by Linda Schiffer

Originally given as a demo at Faithful Circle Quilters guild

*There is an excellent discussion of this entire issue on a blog I read regularly - check it out

Why Keep Scraps?
    Do I want to use scraps?  If not, find a friend* to gift them to

        (*’friend’ could be literal or freebie table at guild or student/seniors group, etc.)

    If so, what will you make with scraps? experiments? utility quilts? gifts? charity?

What is a SCRAP to me?
    What size is ‘too small’ for regular stash for YOU?

    Do I need an organized system? Do you use your scraps immediately - maybe you don't need a 'system.'

    The key to any system you choose is that it must be EASY for you to use when you want to use it. It must be EASY for you to maintain.

    Starting a new-to-you system can be a burden (Queen of Procrastinators speaking!:). Try to take advantage of your own daily rhythms and play habits to make it more fun.

    Ideas for FUN: get a buddy to work with (work on each one’s mess together via Zoom or in person; you cut mine, I’ll cut yours exchange, etc).

MY PERSONAL SYSTEM - your mileage will likely vary.

    For years I gave my scraps away - to friends in the guild and later to my Aunt Jean.

    MY personal definition of ‘scrap’ is smaller than most makers’ - smaller than about 10” square. (Really tiny trimmings and such go         into a cloth tote bag for recycling.)

    After retirement, with more time to sew, my scraps started piling up and annoyed me. I decided to dedicate my scraps to making charity quilts.

    Here is my highly evolved (chuckle) current method, built around my own slap-dash personality:

    This is a common wicker laundry basket. It sits to the left of my sewing table and I toss ‘scraps’ into it as I make them, in whatever shape. My goal is to never allow the basket to fill (Scrap Overload!!).

    When I am between projects or just not up to thinking very hard, I take an afternoon to cut up the scraps I’ve put in the basket. My cutting guidelines are, depending on the size of my fabric bits:

2.5” wide strips or squares
1.5” wide strips or squares
Sometimes* 2” strips or squares

*but I try to minimize

    I keep the cut up scraps sorted by size in ziplock bags in my basket (to separate them from new ‘scraps’). When I sew with my scraps, I further sort them by value NOT color, generally.

    This ‘system’ is simple - easy for my brain and organizational challenges to create and maintain - easy to sew into quilts. YES, this limits my quilt design choices but the ‘system’ works for ME.

    When I choose to use my cut up scraps, I can create simple quilts that satisfy my need to sew without taxing my brain or patience. I save experimenting with new designs for non-scrap sewing, usually. I use my scraps to sew for charity - usually baby quilt sizes:




    *Some quilters like to make nice colored baskets or bins to sort their scraps by color (use some scraps to make these!).

      Complete set of boxes

    *Others sort them by size like my friend Barbara Bennett - into baskets/bins with fabric bits in sizes “strip,” “crumb,” or “chunk.


    Bonnie Hunter’s Scrap User’s System: 

        Bonnie lectures and teaches with her methods regularly. She cuts her scraps into useful-to-her sizes and keeps them in drawers. She uses scraps in almost all her quilts. Many quilters swear by Bonnie’s method.

    Scrap Therapy by Joan Ford: 

    Joan also cuts her scraps into useful-to-her sizes. She has a number of books of designs using these sizes. I used to teach her method at Seminole Sampler. It works for most quilters.

    Quilter’s Lumberyard by Cheryl Coffman and Patty Bowers:

    These quilters travel/teach their system and how to use it. I found a good YouTube video by a devotee to explain the basics:

    Just Get It Done by Karen Brown:

    Karen has several Youtube videos about scrap saving and using. Here is a beginning. Here is one about starting a new system. Here is a video by her about using your crumb scraps. Here is a video featuring blocks that use up strips/strings.



    There is a group of scrap-using makers that meet via email called Stashbusters:  Participation is free and the group is moderated.

    Likely there are similar groups on Facebook, Instagram, etc.


Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)