Are your scraps taking over your sewing room?  Are they multiplying like rabbits every time you look away?  Scraps, scraps, everywhere a scrap.  Blockin’ out the scenery.  Breaking your mind. 

It may be time to organize.  Here are a few tips and tricks to get you on your way to a clean sewing room.

1.       Sort by size.  Group your scraps into piles by size.  Put fairly large pieces in a pile, medium pieces in a pile, small pieces in a pile, and little bitty pieces in a pile.  After everything is sorted, start cutting those scraps into sizes that you are likely to use.  One option is to cut your fairly large pieces into 10” squares, your medium pile into 5” squares, and your small pile into 2 ½” squares.  Consider cutting any longer pieces into 2 ½” strips.  Press all your fabric and voila, you now have your own collection of “precuts.” 

2.      Those little bitty pieces that are too small for cutting down are always good to save for a crumb quilt or for other scrappy projects.  Another popular idea is to use them as filler for pet beds that are then donated to the animal shelters.  Be sure to ask your local shelter if they accept these. 

3.      Buy small, clear containers to store the fabric in.  Keep each of your cut sizes in a different container.  For example:  one container for 5” squares, one for 2 ½” squares, etc.  Small clear containers allow you to see what it is there and keep you from digging to the bottom of a deep tub and making a big mess.  Label each container. There are clear boxes specifically made for each size of precut. They work great for organizing those scraps! Check them out here!

4.      Consider sorting and storing your fabrics by color.  This especially works well if you have a lot of scraps.  Cut them into your favorite sizes and store by color.  Put all reds together, blues together, etc.  This makes it very easy to pull from when you are reaching for fabric for that next project. 

Lori Holt from Bee in my Bonnet has an excellent way to store her fabric by color.

5.      If you have a large piece of ugly fabric and you can’t imagine ever using it.  Start cutting that ugly duckling up into small pieces.  No fabric is ugly if it’s cut up small enough.  Then, just store it in the appropriate container with the correct color family. 

6.      If you enjoy working with these precut sizes and rarely have a need for a large cut of fabric, you may consider cutting yardage directly into smaller sizes as soon as you bring it home from the quilt shop.  It makes it very easy to store and keeps your sewing room very organized.

7.      Plan to finish at least one scrap quilt a year.  This is the most efficient way to keep those scraps used up.  If you make many quilts a year, you may benefit from planning to finish at least two scrap quilts a year.  If you’re not continually using the scraps that you accumulate from other projects, you will be overran with scraps in a short amount of time.

8.      Have a scrap-swap with your quilting friends.  Set a lunch date or a sewing day and have everyone bring scraps (precut to your favorite size is even better!) and then swap.  This is a win/win for everyone. 

9.      Add a sticky note or label to the top of your containers with the date on it.  Whenever you use something from that tub, add that date as well.  Over time you will see what containers you use and what containers you don’t use.  Eventually, you may find a tub that you haven’t touched in years and can then decide about what to do with it. These labels are perfect for that, plus they’re super cute! Find them here.

10.   Remember, it is okay to throw scraps away.  You have permission.  Not every tiny piece has to be used up.  It is incredibly freeing to donate what you don’t think you will ever use or to simply toss it in the trash can.  You will free up space in your sewing room and that is a great feeling.

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