Friday, November 15, 2019

I Love My Scraps

Most of the quilts I make are scrappy. Often, they are made with scraps from my scrap basket, mixed with newer fabrics. The scrap pile seems to get bigger and bigger as time goes by. I try to organize it now and then and sort the scraps into small and large pieces by color. The larger ones go into a drawer unit. Then the smallest scraps usually go into several small clear bins where I can see them. It calms me to spend an afternoon sorting then organizing them. If I can see them, I'm more likely to use them up.



These small bins contain my smallest scraps of fabric, sorted by color. The white basket holds small scraps from my cutting table that still need to be sorted. Looks like I may not have room to shove much more in there. I need to get going and make more scrap quilts! 


This color-coded drawer unit houses my larger scraps. Yes, as you can see, my sewing room has a playful Kindergarten touch. Why not? After all, it's my "Play Area." I can easily see what drawer to pull from if I need to make some scrappy blocks in a particular color. These are mostly leftovers from fat quarters that have been cut into and some from larger pieces of fabric. I usually keep these drawers next to my cutting table but pulled it out just so you could see. The cutting table is going to be replaced soon with more storage underneath. Larger cuts of fabric are folded in the drawers of the dresser behind it. Sorted by color, of course. Small drawers on top hold pink, then gold, green and brown. Larger drawers below hold blue, red, tan and shirtings and miscellaneous prints. Black and purple don't need a whole drawer. Blue needs two! Shirtings are going to need more space soon . . . .

If I had a larger room I might be more motivated and creative about organizing my space. But it is what it is. We have a smallish house and I'm using what used to be the original baby room for my sewing room. (That baby is now 30 going on 31, LOL.)  The blue dresser is the old baby dresser that used to be painted white, recently brought up from the basement. I painted it last year with a teal blue chalk paint and bought some new drawer pulls. It's not perfect but it works for me right now. As I mentioned, I'm hoping to add some more storage soon.


Is it silly of me to hang onto scraps and have so many bins and drawers for them? I don't know -  I love my scraps and I needed to find some way to organize them so I don't go crazy when they take over. I'm surely not going to throw them out. When I make small blocks for my quilts, I dig into the drawer or bin and find the perfect scrap that fits with the others.


How can I possibly throw these away?? 

Some of my scraps are pretty old - not vintage, just little pieces of some of my favorite fabrics I've saved over the years that are left over from other projects.  I have a habit of hanging onto my favorite pieces (some of them are now pretty small) and lovingly spreading them throughout my scrap quilts. I never get tired of using some of them. Those of you who have my books and are pretty sharp may have noticed that I like to use some of the same scraps over and over in the quilts I make. You'll see that same lovely blue, pink or brown print everywhere you look. I've had some of them for years and they're almost gone so I feel lucky when I come across one again, years after it went out of print. Recently, I mentioned in an Instagram post that I felt sad that I ran out of a particular favorite. Someone who had more than she needed sent some to me. Can you believe it? Quilters are such generous people. 


I swoon over this brown and pink Judie Rothermel print.

Now, it's not that I don't have enough other fabric (goodness) or because I can't afford to buy NEW fabric. I've just formed attachments to some of these old ones. Somehow it feels very satisfying to use those scraps and place the ones I particularly love in several different quilts. Then, every time I look at one I have to smile because I feel a little tug at my heart. 



I'm still hanging onto scraps of some of these blues too. I think they're called cadet blues. Hard to find.


This simple little prairie quilt is so old. From one of my first books. Can you believe I still have some small pieces of these old fabrics too? I'm saving them for a rainy day, LOL.

*  *  *

Well, I hope I have inspired some of you to sort through and organize your scraps. Cleaning up a bit is always a feel-good thing for me. Try it. It takes time but it's worth it even if you only spend an hour or so at a time. Clears your head (and your space!) and makes you want to create something new. It's amazing what clarity of mind you get when the space is organized and everything is put back into place where you can access it. 

Last week I was inspired to start a new project just from tidying up my room and organizing my scraps. I'm going to love this quilt when it's finished. These are mostly scraps left over from a quilt I made for the new book that's coming out late next year. 




This is a fake sewing machine that's actually a sewing box. I store scissors and thread in it. (Lovely Country Lane Quilts pincushion was made by my dear friend Karen Schultz.)

Have a good weekend!






19 comments:

cityquilter grace said...

i believe you are preaching to the choir in this post...LOL....but it IS a wonderful sermone...LOL!

quiltgrannie said...

Kathy, I love my scraps too. I never throw them away. It just might be the perfect little piece I need in my next quilt. I love all your blue things, always so peaceful looking.

Kathleen Tracy said...

Thanks, Karen! My scraps just keep multiplying. When do you stop saving them?? Also, thanks for the sweet pincushion. I love it to pieces.

Ann said...

I love my scraps! I've been working on reorganizing my sewing room. I'm going to take some of your ideas to my civil war scraps. Currently they are in one large tote by color, so I have to go through the whole thing and then it's a mess.

dwortman said...

I know how you feel about your scraps, since I still have some whittled down pieces from the 1980's when I first started to quilt. I have fond memories of where they were purchased and with whom.

Sharon said...

I LOVE sorting thru and organizing my scraps. It sew therapeutic. Love your quilts and fabrics and blog.

sue bennett said...

I love my scraps also. I only throw away if I cant cut a 1 inch strip from them Or a 1.5 inch square. I may need that size for a small scrap quilt. I love collecting and using them. You are way more organized than me.

Sue McQ said...

You are always an inspiration, my dear!

Unknown said...

My niece is 35 years old. I still have a scrap of fabric used in her baby quilt and curtains. I love it and use it sparingly.

Jocelyn said...

I love how you use scraps. I'm always a little afraid about putting colors together. I've had some disastrous results :-)

Karen said...

I love seeing pictures of your scraps of fabric, Kathy! It's sew fun to look at each piece and see the details of the print. I just set aside a 1"x 3" piece while cutting into some fabric last night. I may want to use it somewhere else someday! When I first started making quilts some advice was to save the scraps that are at least an 1" square and larger, so that's what I've been doing. Now I just need to organize scraps so I can see what I have!

Granny's Button Box said...

Your scraps are beautiful, there is something about using every last scrap of your favourite fabric if you can, even if it takes ages to finally find a home for it!

Anonymous said...

I love scraps too and enjoy seeing how you are trying to corral them...your readers enjoy the look. And too small? I once made a queen quilt and the entire thing was 1.5" squares alternating each with a muslin one. Turned out GREAT...just took a few months...ha. We love scraps, you love scraps....QUILT ON!

marian said...

Ohh Kathy we are so like-minded, it's scary LOL!! I too can't bear to throw any fabric scraps out... anything over an inch, stays lol!! I too lament some of the older lines, and i am careful not to waste a skerrick... I make them stretch as far as physically possible!! Love the HST's you're playing with :))

Sandy said...

I know exactly what you are talking about, Kathy. I save the tiniest scraps because I can't bear to throw them away, and I have little bundles of what I call my "precious pieces" - the older bits I love so much that, well, when they're gone, they're gone. That's part of why I love scrap quilts and doll quilts so much. The tiniest pieces can go in, and I can "visit" them forever ... as long as I don't give them away!

Charlotte said...


Like so many of the others, I keep the tiniest pieces. I sort them by color like you and place them in ziplock bags. I think I need to change the size of some of the bags soon!! When making a small scrappy quilt, I try
to check out the scraps and see if I can incorporate them into the quilts . Such fun.

I know my children will wonder "what in the heck was mom thinking".

Charlotte

Cynthia@wabi-sabi-quilts said...

I just love this post and I can totally relate. My scraps make up my palette. I have certain fabrics from 20+ years ago that still show up in my quilts - a certain "glowy" blue , a conversational print I adore, a few novelties I never tire of, a green ditsy that was my great-grandma's... that kind of thing, and I love seeing these in multiple quilts. I'm picky about the backings I buy - I either have to *love* it, or it has to be a good beautiful solid, because there is always so much leftover that I know it will end up in my quilting life for a long long time!

Vickie Lewis said...

On organizing your scraps, do you have a special box for conversation prints separate from shirting? Trying to decide. Thanks

Linda B said...

Thanks for taking the time to explain your thought process, Kathy! I don’t like to get rid of small pieces either, but how to think about using them has been a challenge. I was trying to use up scraps in a “leaders-enders” method...but the pieces just going together willy nilly really does not appeal to me, and your explanation matches my desire/process much better! Now for some reorganizing!!! Appreciate your blog and facebook group SOOO much!! Happy Thanksgiving! Linda B

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