Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Storing Your Scraps

There's a brand new year looming and that means lots of new quilt projects. We're starting a new Mystery Quilt in January so I have to stay organized. Don't let disorganization keep you from creating. Often, it's just a matter of taking the time to do a little planning first. Some of you may have time now that the holidays are almost over to work on organizing your fabric and scraps and that's a good start.

I always hear quilters say they have waaaay too much fabric and they need to stop buying more. I've decided that, for me at least, buying fabric isn't the problem. It's finding a solution for storing it. Buying new fabric is a good thing if it makes your heart flutter and fills your mind with inspiration. Buying and collecting fabric is part of the reason we love to quilt. If you had only 10 fabrics, and were forced to use those same prints over and over and over, would you feel the same way about quilting? I'm guessing you would not. All of your quilts would begin to look the same. Color variety and new prints = inspiration. It's inspiration that jump starts our creative impulses.

So, if you find that you have an overabundance of fabric and that's driving you nuts, then think about some solutions to storing it all. Some quilters organize their fabric according to size - strips or squares. The most effective way for me to organize is by color, in drawers or bins. Larger cuts of fabric go in wire drawers.  Scraps or smaller cuts go into drawers or bins according to color. This means a separate place for each color if you have the space. If you usually work with many different types of fabric, such as batiks, reproductions or novelty prints, then this may not be practical. A better solution might be to sort them according to color in different containers, drawers or on separate shelves set aside for the various types of fabric. You should organize so that your fabric is fairly easy to access if you suddenly have the urge to begin a new project. 

The best method is the one you will keep up. Clutter makes it difficult for me to create and it can be a huge visual distraction as well. I try to clean up the fabric and scraps I use and put them away as soon as I finish a project. If my cutting table is clean and my scraps are already organized before I begin a new project, everything flows a little better.

Scraps and smaller cuts of fabric go here. 

Here are some other tips:

--  Get rid of unwanted fabric or unusable pieces. Just because someone gifted you with her old fabric, it doesn't mean you are obligated to keep it. Pick through and keep what you will use and then donate the rest to a school or charitable organization that may be able to put it to good use. Don't be afraid to "donate" some to your trash. Not all fabric is sacred. Except for the pieces you absolutely love, get rid of it. Don't kid yourself -  if there's any doubt in your mind, you'll probably never use it. 

--  Find a storage solution that allows you to simplify the sorting process and gives you access to it when you need it for a project. 

--  Be flexible and don't beat yourself up if you don't have time or can't get a handle on it all at once. If you know you work better and can be more productive if you're organized, then remind yourself of that from time to time. Taking even 15 minutes to organize a little bit or clean up your cutting or sewing table before you sew can make a big difference. It does not have to be perfect, just try to make a dent in it. I have a tendency to get bogged down by messes and I discovered that this is why I get stuck if I'm trying to create. It may work the same for you. If I find that I'm not eager to start something new I ask myself - what's holding me back? Usually it's the mess. I always make a mess when I create. Most of us do. But I find that if I hold onto that mess for too long, it holds me back and "messes" with my head. If I clean it up even just a little bit, my head clears and I find I have a fresher outlook.

If you're overwhelmed by your scraps, take a little bit of time to organize them. If all you can do is sort some by color and place into bags, do that for 15-20 minutes. Try sewing a little something from those scraps to begin the creative flow. Nine patches, whatever. Something happens when we do this. It's fun and relaxing and if you were feeling a little stuck, you'll be surprised at how sitting down to play with fabric encourages your creativity and motivates you to make something.

 Soon, I'll blog about making some little scrappy quilts with all of your organized fabric. 


Renate said...

Thank you for all the good ideas. And yes, it is nice to have many fabrics.
Renate from Germany

Nyla said...

Thanks Kathy, great inspiration to clean up and get organized. Will keep trying!

Sue Bennett said...

Thanks Kathy.

Judy said...

Thank you, that's great inspiration to get me organizing. I don't like the mess, either.

Susan Smith said...

Thank you for the tips, Kathy!

Kerry said...

I agree with mess = stifles creativity. I'm not quite that good at keeping it down though! I do try but it certainly does get overwhelming at a faster rate than I can create - shame on me! But I'm definitely giving it a half hour to an hour session on a daily basis until I'm sorted. That timing makes it doable without getting distracted. My main issue is I sort things out, rearrange and then that rearranging creates yet another mess because I'm still not entirely happy with my new system. So I'm slapping myself on the wrist and getting cracking - one section at a time. :D

Kathleen Tracy said...

Kerry - don't be too hard on yourself! It's hard for all of us to keep it up. My excuse is that if I am too disorganized I would never be able to make projects for my books. So I HAVE to be organized and it motivates me since I work on deadlines all the time. I would probably never get anything done if it weren't for that. But I'll tell you - it sure feels good to have a space cleared for sewing on my table and order in my room.

Linda said...

Thanks Kathy...yes, this resonates with me totally. I am the same in the kitchen...cannot start cooking til dishes are out of the sink and into the dishwasher. Then can concentrate on what to make for dinner. Makes sense it translates into sewing creativity. And your point about just getting started on a little something if you are stuck...just finished reading a book on creativity, and they said a similar thing - usually the creativity comes AS you are working and important to just sit down and start. I am trying to keep that in front of me in several areas.
Happy New year to you and everyone, and really looking forward to the 2018 Mystery! Best, Linda B

Rosa said...

Thanks you for these tips.
Wishing you a great New Year!

Donna said...

I’m on it! Thanks for the tips.

Anonymous said...

Love your ideas. Where did you get that organizer. Love that

QuiltGranma said...

Did you make your string scrap fabric basket? if so tell us how, please. You are so right about the need to clean up our spaces so our creativity can flow! Thanks for all you do to keep us on track and creating!

Kathleen Tracy said...

QuiltGranma - I did not make the fabric basket. I bought a couple of them at Home Goods a few years ago. I have made a few scrap string bowls, however. I need more practice : )

Also, Anonymous - I bought that drawer organizer a few years ago at a popular craft store but I no longer shop there anymore so will not mention the name.

Kerry said...

Awww thank you Kathleen. I've made a start this morning. I put all the mess into boxes just to keep it contained until I find homes for them. I then cut a few pieces that were scraps into useable sizes and anything larger was ironed, folded and put into another box for the time being. It didn't take that long - I did get rather absorbed and the prize for working at it for an hour meant a little sewing time and then back to the cleaning session. The work table is clear and I need to vacuum tomorrow. Just don't look under the craft table! LOL! It does lift the spirits just seeing a clear table to work on.
All good from me - I just need to keep it up now and it won't be long before I can remove those spare boxes I hijacked!

Wishing you all a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. :D

Kyrotime said...

Thank you for your ideas & I feel so relieved to know that this is not just my problem. I use the saying 'Creative minds are seldom tidy.' as I create the sewing room goes into a frenzy & with making my family & friends Christmas gifts, a tornado has gone through it! I'll be using your 15-20min idea, that way I'll not be overwhelmed & hopefully will be stayed focused on the task. Wishing you the very best in 2018 & looking forward to the mystery quilt!

Trying to Tidy,

Ellicemc said...

Brilliant piece of advice. 😉 Reading this has given me inspiration, although we all know the concept of organisation we all need a trigger to get it done. 😀

Cynthia@wabi-sabi-quilts said...

I store my scraps in two towers like yours. I agree with you... I may make a happy mess as I’m creating, but I find it important to clean up and make space both literally and in my head, for the next project ... Happy new year!

herky907 said...

oh my goodness, I could have written this. My sentiments exactly. I have too many bits and bobs lying about and it is distracting. For these cold days,I am gong to make myself finish some nearly complete items laying about!

Radka said...

Hello Kathleen,
I enjoyed your post as always, but specially the part about buying new fabrics. I quoted a couple of your sentences in my new post (with a link to you of course). I hope you don't mind, but if it is a problem, please let me know and I will delete it.


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