How do you solve a problem like….

Scraps…bits of left over fabrics?  As you can tell from my blocks and quilts I fully embrace scraps and scrap quilting.  I revel in fat quarters and 1/8th yard cuts…but sometimes it all gets a little too much.

I hit critical point about two weeks ago when I could not find a fat quarter of fabric, that I knew I had.  My scrap bins were over flowing and my fabric had invaded every room in the house.  This was the trigger point to start trying to get things under control…and my first step was to grab all the little bits and pieces of solid fabrics I had to try and wrangle them into a manageable form.

solid fabric scrapsI ironed them and then set about cutting the pieces into squares….

my block sizesI settled on 3, 4 and 5 inch squares.  For each scrap piece I start cutting 5 inch squares (if the piece is big enough) and cut as many as I can from the scrap.  I then cut what is left into either 3 or 4 inch squares.    At the end of my first round of cutting I had this nice stash of 5 inch squares…

my 5 inch block collectionThe little strips and bits I have left over I would usually just throw but I have been bagging them up and keeping them for another project that I am working.

small scrapsI selected the size of my blocks after much consideration.  I chose 5 inch blocks because I use this size regularly, particularly when I am doing quick wonky star quilts.  The 4 inch blocks I find handy for making half square triangles and the 3 inch blocks are a size that is called for all the time when making Bee blocks.

After all my good cutting work I put some of the 3 inch squares to use to make my husband this….

creeper pillowYep I made him a Creeper pillow.    I used Slightly Off Quilter’s free quilt pattern for this pillow… LINK.  This is actually the first in a series of Minecraft** pillows I will be making for my darling husband…all using the 3 inch solid fabric squares.

pillow detail The pillow finishes at 20 inches square and I used a cheap and cheerful IKEA pillow form.  I did use a high loft batting (extra plush) to quilt the top, to make up for the less puff pillow form.

Now it is back to ironing and cutting and cleaning.  I need to get some sort of order restored to the house… if you need me I will be in the spare room tackling my other scraps…

** Minecraft is a computer game that involves exploring, mining,  gathering resources, crafting, and combat. There are no goals as such and players are free to explore the world and do what they want.

25 thoughts on “How do you solve a problem like….

  1. The same thing happened to me recently. Must be the phases of the moon or something! I had fabric everywhere to the point I couldn’t find what I knew was lurking somewhere in the piles. It took me three days to get everything sorted (pre-cuts with a pattern, pre-cuts no pattern, kits, fabric I just had to have with no project in mind, etc) and placed into clear bins. Now, if the stash doesn’t grow too quickly, I should be able to keep it under some illusion of control! 🙂

  2. I always love hearing how other quilters manage their fabrics and scraps. Looks like you have everything under control…except maybe for those fabrics that have hidden themselves in spare rooms lol.

  3. Great work on the sorting. My boys are into Minecraft too so I think I’ve made a creeper quilt and at least 6 pillows with one more still to do. I love that the deisigns are pixelated and easy to make out of squares!

  4. Love your Minecraft cushion, I just made one for my nephews birthday. It had creeper on one side and endeman on the other. The cushion was a compromise instead of a creeper quilt!

  5. I used to cut mine into usable size pieces but found it too much work as I never end up going through my scrap bins anyway! I actually bagged a bunch of them up a while ago and destashed them to clear some space. But now I have more…!

  6. Yay creeper pillow!! That turned out awesome. 😀
    What I do with my scraps: color sort them and break them up into small & medium pieces. The small ones go in a mason jar and the medium ones go in a plastic shoe box. Then they sit there and I never use them because I am terrible about using scraps.
    It’s a system that could use some work.

  7. When you’ve finished, can you come over to my place…? My solution is to cut everything too small to make a 5″ square into 2.5″ squares. They then go into the hexie basket and when I’m feeling anxious or stressed, I take out a handful of squares and papers and churn out some hexies. One day, I’ll have enough to make something, but meanwhile it uses up the small stuff and is a great stress buster. The 5″ pieces go back into my colour coded baskets with the yardage and fat quarters. They’re big enough to be ‘real’ fabric, not scraps!

  8. Well I always enjoy getting scraps as “add on” in swaps … I think it’s always fun to add a piece of fabric that’s come from a friend to a project …
    One friend sent me lots of pinks because I don’t like them and since then I’ve been collecting pinks (1/8 ad FQs and smaller) and will keep doing so until I can do a quilt in my least favourite colour … you know sort of “face your fear” and tryo to get over it (unlikely, but worth a try)
    I have a bin with scraps bigger than 5″ but smaller than a FQ everything under gets cut into pieces like you did from 1,5 inch to 4,5 inch strips and everything bigger is stored in my fabric cupboard .. I don’t like to cut the in bewteen pieces down as you somtimes need odd shapes for paper piecing or appliquée …
    I also have a shoebox for HSTs that were too many for a project or are the “extra wings” of one at a time flying geese sewing …
    I’m not so much in favour of cutting squares than cutting strips as I want to keep the useable fabric piece as large as possible – you can always cut it smaller …

  9. Scraps! Try as we might, they multiply and take over! I started cutting 5″ squares when they over took my bins and 2 1/2″ with the smaller pieces! Funny…I still haven’t used any of them!

  10. Please will you come organize my scraps next!? I don’t even know what to call a “scrap” anymore. When buying fat quarters primarily, and using bits and pieces (scissor-cut, often *gasp*) for paper piecing, the leftovers get… unrecognizable. I need intervention! Is Maine too far from Australia for a little day trip? 🙂 (one can dream. And congrats on getting your scraps in line!)

    • Okay I must admit there are scissor cuts in most of my fabric, busily rely the result of paper piecing. The good news is I am in Portland Oregon. Bad news is it is probably to far away for a scrap organizing party.

  11. I think that finding a method that works to control scraps is such a necessary thing. I have been fortunate to have teacher friends willing to take fabric scraps off my hands in the past for classroom projects. 🙂

  12. I have the same problem as everyone. I have three bins of neutrals, warm colours and cool colours.
    Joan Ford’s books Cut the Scraps and others, have a useful system, and In Katie Pedersen and Jacquie Gearing’s book Quilting modern they have a similar system: i.e. pick sizes that will go together and add the seam allowance. So a square cut to 2-1/2 finishes at 2″, a square cut to 4-1/2 finishes at 4″, a square cut to 6-1/2 finishes to 6 inches.
    Some thrift stores will take tiny offcuts and threads and other clean fibre waste and they can sell it for industrial processing, recycling it into filling for pillows, etc.
    And there is always improv piecing into slab blocks, which are very effective if you restrict the palette.

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