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.

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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.

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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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Lego, Car, Truck Sack Tutorial

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My grandson turned 2 today.  He loves playing with cars and trucks.  To him, anything with wheels is a truck — a vacuum cleaner, a bus, a cart.  There is no difference.  Wheels = truck.  Period.

I made my nephew a Lego sack in December for Christmas and I thought it would be a great idea for a truck sack as well.  All you need is somewhat different fabric, and you have a cool sack for things with wheels.

Following is a tutorial for making your own sack whether it be for Legos, things with wheels, or little ponies.  I included a bunch of pictures, so this post is quite long.  But it’s easy peasy so you should be able to get through it quickly.  Feel free to let me know if you have questions, or if you run across problems with the tutuorial

Lego Sack or Car Sack Tutorial

Materials Needed:

1-1/4 yards interior fabric

1-1/4 yards exterior fabric

4-1/8 yards cording or rope, 3/8” – 1/2” wide

Scrap pieces of heavy duty interfacing or craft fuse

General Sewing Supplies – thread, scissors, pins, marking pen or chalk, measuring tape

Most fabric is 42”-44” wide.  You will want to start by cutting the length of your fabric to be the same as the width of the fabric.  So, if your fabric is 44” wide, the length should also be 44” so that you have a square.  There are a couple of ways you could do this as pictured below.  This is a small sample of fabric I am using just for demonstration.  This does not need to be perfect, close will work.

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Once you have your fabric length and width the same size, fold the interior fabric in half, and then in half again, such that a square is formed.   Then do the same for the exterior fabric.  Place one on top of the other, matching the corner fold and lining up the edges.

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Using your measuring tape, measure from the folded corner out to the raw edge, a distance of ½ of the width of your fabric.  My fabric was 44” wide and 44” long before I folded it into a square; therefore I am going to measure 22” from the folded corner and make a mark at that point.  If your fabric was 43” wide, you would be making a mark at the 21 ½” point.  (Note: from the last picture to this picture, I flipped my fabric over so the folded corner would be to my left, instead of my right.  I am right handed so I wanted to hold the tape at the folded corner with my left hand, and make the marks at 22″ with my right hand)

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Continue to move the tape measure across the square of fabric, starting at the folded corner each time and making a mark at the 22” point.  This will create an arc across your fabric.

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Once you have an arc marked across your fabric, cut along the dotted line.  (Note: You will be cutting through 8 layers of fabric, so if your scissors are not strong enough for this, you will need to cut the interior and the exterior fabric separately, in which case the other fabric will also need to be marked following the instructions above.)

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 Once you have cut along the arc you should have two nearly perfect circles that are 44” in diameter.

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At this point you will need to decide how you want to create the holes on the interior fabric for access to the cording.  I used buttonholes for mine, but you could also use extra large eyelets.  On the interior fabric, place pins marking where you would like to create the buttonholes.   I put 4 buttonholes on mine, spaced evenly around the circle.  Since the fabric had been folded it had created 4 equaled-distance fold lines.  So I used those fold lines as placement for the buttonholes.

At the placement for the first buttonhole, measure down ¾” from edge and make a mark, and then measure down ¾” from that mark and make another mark.   This is where I will create a ¾” buttonhole, with a ½” opening.  I used a flat ½” wide cording and it was a tight fit through the buttonholes.  If you have a larger diameter cord, you may want to make a larger buttonhole.

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Now that I know where the buttonhole will be, I like to stabilize the fabric by ironing some interfacing onto the wrong side of the fabric before actually sewing the buttonhole.  I used heavy-duty craft fuse.  Since it has a grain, I ironed on one small piece on the back of where the buttonhole will be, and then ironed on another small piece on top of that with the grain going the opposite direction.  This will strengthen the buttonhole and provide more stability to this area since this is where the weight of the sack will be held.   I would also suggest doing this if you were to use large eyelets instead of buttonholes.

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Do this for all four buttonholes around your circle.  And then sew and open each buttonhole.  The interior of your bag is now ready.

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 If you wanted to do anything special to the exterior of the bag, now would be the time.  I embroidered my grandson’s name onto this one. 

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Moving on…

With right sides together, pin the circles together.  You don’t need many pins, but 10-12 around will help hold it together as you sew.  Once pinned, sew a 3/8” seam around, leaving about 4” unsewn for turning.  Clip edges around, being sure not to clip any of your stitching.  This will help the circle lay flatter.  (I forgot to take a picture of this, but if you need help with it, let me know and I’ll take a picture of a sample and email it to you quickly.)

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Turn right side out and press seam flat.  You may need to roll the seam between your fingers before pressing in order to get the seam to the outer most edge.

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Once the seam has been pressed flat, sew around edge of the sack about ¼” from edge.  Then sew around the sack again about 1-¼” from edge.   (If you do not have a sewing guide for your machine, you may need to mark this second line all the way around.  I know I wouldn’t be able to eyeball that distance with any precision.) The buttonholes should be between the two lines of sewing you just made.  This will create a pocket around the sack for the cord.

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Thread your cord through the pocket, all the way around until you get to the beginning again.  I like to use a safety pin to do this, although you might have your own favorite method.   Tie a knot to join the two ends.  You may need to burn both ends of the cord so it doesn’t unravel.

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Pull up a loop of the cord from the buttonhole that is directly opposite that knot, and tie a knot on that side as well.  This will give you easy access to pull the cord from each side to close the sack.  At the moment, I am leaving the other two buttonholes unused, but you may find it easier to close the sack from all four corners, rather than just 2, especially as it gets full.

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Congratulations!  You have just made a lego sack.

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My grandson just turned two.  If you are making this for an older child, you may find that you need a larger circle.  To do this you would need to either buy 60” wide fabric or sew two widths of fabric together for both the exterior and interior.   You would also need a longer length of fabric.  However, the instructions for creating the sack would be the same.  You start with a square (the length and width of fabric being the same size) and go from there.