Sorting Scraps

I have been keeping my scraps in a large drawer of an antique buffet (cabinet).  This is probably my most single favorite piece of furniture.  Unlike modern day furniture, it is sturdy, HEAVY, and holds a lot of fabric scraps at the moment.  I have batting scraps in one drawer, things like duck canvas in another, and quilting cotton scraps in yet another drawer which brings me to my present quandary.

I recently signed up to participate in the Gypsy Wife quilt-a-long at Factotum of Arts.

gypsy wife

As you can see, the Gypsy Wife quilt pattern is rather scrappy looking.  So rather than buy fabric, or use the larger cuts of my stash, I decided that I would rather use my scraps for this quilt since it appears to use such small pieces of fabric.  And we are talking small scraps here.  Anything around a fat-eighth or larger I typically fold up and put in a shoe box (or 3) with my regular fabric stash.  So, what I would be pulling from this drawer is anything smaller than that.  Also, I am not organized enough to have already cut my scraps into standard sizes – i.e. 2-1/2″ squares, 2-1/2″ strips, etc.  So, how am I to sort through this crazy mound of fabric to arrange all this into some sort of usable concoction?

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Should I sort by color — all the blues in one pile, pink in another, yellow in yet another?  Should I sort by shape — all the strips in one pile, triangles in another, squares/rectangles in another?   Should I also sort by tone — warm colors in one pile, cool colors in another?  Hmmm….

After pondering my pile of scraps for a while, I decided to sort by size.   These scraps are all different sizes since they are such wonky cuts of fabric.  So to make it easier  I decided that if I could get a 4″ square or more out of a piece of fabric it went in one pile.  Somewhere between a 3″-4″ square went into a different pile.  2″ in another pile, and 1″ in yet another pile.  So, no matter if it was a triangle, square, strip, or just a wonky piece of fabric, I added it to the pile that would provide the largest cut square.

1" fabric pieces

1″ fabric pieces

2" fabric pieces

2″ fabric pieces

I’m pretty good at planning so that when I cut larger pieces of fabric for a quilt, I end up with as little scrap as possible, so I wasn’t too surprised when the 1″ and 2″ piles ended up being the largest piles.  I was surprised however to find some 5″ and larger pieces of fabrics in the pile.  I must have thrown those in before I decided to fold them up and keep them with my regular stash.

So far, the sorting has worked pretty well.  Once I opened the pattern I was a little surprised at how the designer has you cut the fabric.  She has you start with a larger, around 4″ square, and then cut into half or fourth’s diagonally to get the smaller triangles.  And like I said, I have much more 1″ & 2″ scraps, than I have 4″ scraps.  So that kinda put a damper on using my small scraps.  But, I was able to improvise and  have cut the fabric for the first 12 blocks and put each in a little baggie.  There is a mixture of cool, warm, print, solid, bright, and muted.  This quilt is a lot of work, so I sure hope when it’s done, it looks wonderfully scrappy and not like fabric vomit.  I might just have to find room for a design board so I can lay it out and get a feel for it before I start sewing everything together.

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Now that I’ve made it this far, I decided to search the internet to see how others sort their scraps.  As usual, I’m a little backwards and try to invent my own method before seeing what other great quilters have already determined to be the best method. Haha. One day I’ll learn to stop reinventing the wheel.

wheel

Bonnie Hunter has a great tutorial here.  I would say the method I came up with is similar but much more simplified.  She has 1″, 1-1/2″, 2″, 2-1/2″, 3″, 3-1/2″ piles, and then further sorts by strips, squares, or bricks.  Maybe I’ll follow this method once I get more scraps and more space to keep the different sizes.  I guess anything is better than the method I had last week, which was to jam them all in one large very stuffed and overflowing drawer.

And if you are one of those crazy people that just throw scraps away, grab yourself an empty cardboard box and place it near your cutting table and throw the scraps in there.  When it gets full, tape the top closed, put my name and address on it, and ship it to me.  It will be like Christmas morning when the postman gets here.  Oh, and then find yourself another empty cardboard box and start the process over…   (By the way, I am VERY serious about this!! LOL.  No really, I am!)  🙂

So, how do you sort your scraps?  I’d love to hear from you.  Maybe you have found an even better method.

Linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday.

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