Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Catching Up and Dealing with SCRAPS!

I haven't posted in a while, partly due to taking a bit of a break after working with Laura to complete her quilt, but also partly to try and get some things done here around the house. In the meanwhile, I also had to get a new computer (my guru-son told me my other one had some fatal illness!) and I've been learning to use a different keyboard and operating system.

Laura and I have visited a few quilt shops lately and at one of them I found this really cute pattern for a paper-pieced wall hanging. These are the blocks--I had to embroider the stems onto the cherries.

Here's the finished wall hanging! The colors aren't nearly as bright here as they are in real life. I was able to find some more of that yellow background fabric and I also found some in red. I'm going to use those to make some curtains for my kitchen. I also want to make a cover for my kitchenaid mixer and I'll probably put another one of the paper-pieced fruits on the front of it. I can't wait!

I had this piece that I had hand-appliqued as part of an online class that I took some years ago. I really didn't care much for it, but figured that I might as well do something with it. A pillow seemed like a good choice. Just as I was starting to work on it, I thought that I really ought to quilt it first. So I added batting and a piece of muslin and  did some free-motion quilting, sort of outlining all the pieces. But then it seemed to need something more.

 I've been watching some Craftsy classes on free-motion quilting and decided that I would add some feathers. Since I didn't really care that much about this piece, I went ahead and just winged it! I didn't draw any guidelines or anything, just looked at it and thought about what I should do and did it!

The quilting is far from perfect, but it's not bad. The end result is that now I have a finished pillow that I absolutely love! Who would have guessed?!

Now...about SCRAPS! We all have them and we seem to have sort of a love/hate relationship with them. I know I sure have! Well, I absolutely LOVE being organized and scrap control was my nemesis. Most of you probably know Bonnie Hunter. She has a "Scrap Users' System." When I first heard of her system, I got all excited and just knew this was the direction for me! All that organization; what wasn't there to love?!

So for several years, I would cut my scraps into strips and blocks. But the problem was, I didn't cut them ALL up. After a project was finished, I was ready for a break or to move on to the next project, not having to spend more time cutting up all the leftovers into little bitty pieces. Besides, some of those scraps were big...and what if I needed a BIG scrap? But I also wasn't really using them either.

This year I decided was the year I would finally get all my scraps cut into pieces and get them ORGANIZED. I thought that the best way to do that would be to go along with the colors for each month on ScrapHappy Saturday. I had taken a picture of MY scrap-saving system--a large laundry basket full of all my scraps--but it has disappeared. However, I'm sure you can probably look at your own pile of scraps and get an idea of what I was dealing with!

I think January's ScrapHappy color was pink and I had a drawer of 2.5-inch pink and red strips (this was NOT how it looked--this was AFTER all my cutting and organizing! I don't know where that orange came from!), so I figured I would work on pink and red at the same time. I pulled all the pink and red scraps from my laundry basket and then spent an entire day cutting them into the following sizes:

1.5-inch squares
2-inch squares
2.5-inch squares
2 x 3.5-inch bricks
2-inch strips less than 12 inches
2-inch strips greater than 12 inches
2.5-inch x 4.5-inch bricks
2.5-inch strips less than 12 inches
2.5-inch strips greater than 12 inches

Doesn't it wear you out, just looking at that list?! The bin in the previous picture was just for the 2.5-inch based strips. I had this other container for the 1.5 and 2-inch pieces. February was purple at ScrapHappy Saturday and I had just barely started on those.

Needless to say, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed and again, concerned about cutting up all the large scraps I had, that I might someday need...as large pieces, not tiny little scraps.

Then one day it occurred to me--I am NOT Bonnie Hunter (duh!) I don't use my fabrics like she does! Bonnie designs and makes quilts using lots of those pre-cut pieces and she makes most of her quilts very scrappy. I, on the other hand, am a very eclectic quilter, using a variety of techniques and styles. I don't usually go to my bins looking for a particular SIZE of fabric, but instead, I'm usually looking for a specific COLOR. And that's what I realized I should do--sort and store my scraps by COLOR.

I am now a happy quilter--and I have NO leftover scraps lying around, filling a container. This set of drawers contain blue/purple, green and black/gray scraps. On top is a somewhat larger bin for backgound/neutral scraps.

I buy muslin by the bolt and the leftover pieces have their own drawer. Then there's one for yellow/gold/orange/brown and one for reds/pinks.

I still have bins for 2.5-inch strips...but they're going to slowly integrate into my scrap bins.  I have a drawer for mixed colors (where there's no definite color that stands out) and one for 30's and themed fabrics. I also have a large drawer for batiks and one for reproduction fabrics--their scraps go right back in the drawer with the fabrics.

So there you have it--a scrap system that works for ME! Now the challenge is for you to come up with one that works for YOU! Because just as Bonnie Hunter's system didn't work for me, my system might not work for you. Look at the way you use your fabric and then store your scraps accordingly. Or, you can just throw them all in a laundry basket and dig through them whenever you need a specific piece of fabric! Whatever works!

My system is certainly not revolutionary (although it was for me!) and I'm sure many people simply store their scraps by color. But there are all kind of ways/systems for storing scraps. Please share how you store your scraps so we can all learn from each other.

Meanwhile, the day is still young and there's still time to Get More Done...Today!


  1. I store my scraps by color in bulk copy paper boxes and lids. I have played with my scraps in a Rainbow Scrap Challenge for 2 years now. This challenge makes me address my scraps. Most of all, it's fun because I like to make bright, colorful, scrappy rainbow blocks and quilts. The backs of my rainbow quilts are usually pieced from larger scrap pieces, scrap strips, 10" squares cut form scraps, parts of fat quarters and fabrics bought on sale and on the bargain table or shelf.

  2. I store my scraps in (!! washed)spinach containers from the grocery store, plastic shoe boxes (on sale at Ocean State Job Lot) etc...and sometimes in huge color coded piles on my table!!{ I am also not BH--tho' I love her quilts and organizing tips-- }I also have some big ol' plastic bins full of....well, I haven't looked in there for a while LOL
    ...Short Answer--not doin' all that pre-cutting here! I have shoulder/neck issues and rotary cutting has to be in brief stints--if at all (I admit I sometimes tear (yup!) strips or even use (gasp!!) scissors!! Have fun hugs, Julierose