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