Scraps. You either love them, or hate them. Personally, I LOVE working with scraps as they challenge my creativity and I hate seeing what I perceive as good things going to waste. As the saying goes, one man’s trash is one man’s treasure, so what you do with your scraps is definitely a personal preference.
With many of us sewing up a storm these last few months, you might be left with more scraps than usual, and the age ole question remains; do you throw them away or keep them? If you keep them, what do you do with them? Here’s a few tips which may give you some ideas how to tame your pile of scraps.
After I cut out the pieces of whatever project I’m working on, I take a few extra minutes to square off the edges of the fabric so they’re relatively straight, and not in odd shapes and angles from the pieces I just cut, as in the photo below.
I do this for whatever fabric I’m using; quilting cottons, or garment fabrics. What I trim off can be either thrown away or collected to be stuffed in a dog bed, etc.
If it’s garment fabric, I’ll then neatly fold the fabric to store in those plastic drawer towers readily available from the hardware and discount stores. The clear drawers let me see what’s in the there, and I sort my garment fabrics according to colour, and by fabric type; knits, denims, etc.
If the fabric I’m working with is a quilting cotton and not a really big piece, I’ll cut it up into strips and squares in sizes I commonly use, which again, is personal preference.
I cut strips 1.5″, 2″ and 2.5″ wide. I do the same for batting scraps. This way, I have strips ready to go whenever I want to make a Jelly-Roll rug, or Log Cabin quilt, for example. I keep the batting strips in a big plastic bag with a roll of fusible batting tape, which is a super quick and easy way to join pieces of batting together.
This is a great project to do a rainy Saturday, or later at night when you want to be productive, but don’t want to do anything big; don’t want to think too much. It’s amazing how much you can get done by spending a few extra minutes here and there.
Now, I know I’m a little fanatical about my scraps, so I save anything 1.5″ or over. It may sound obsessive, but I like making Postage Stamp quilts and Cross-Stitch quilts, as I made for my eldest sister’s birthday a few years ago. Pieces are cut 1.5″ square, then finish 1″.
Other sizes of squares I cut are 2″, 2.5″, 3″, 4″, 5″ and 6″, all using my 6″ square up ruler and rotary cutter. I cut batting squares 3″, 4″, 5″ and 6″ so they’re ready to go for mug rugs, rag quilts and for when I want to practice free-motion quilting, or ruler quilting, for example.
Storage is a big challenge for most of us, so I LOVE shallow drawers to keep everything tucked away, but easily accessible. Things get lost if the drawer is too deep! I have 7 of these fabulous red metal drawer units. The four which are under my sewing table house my presser feet, needles, bobbins; anything I need for the machine(s) (yes, I have a few, lol!) thread, etc.
The other 3 are devoted to the various sizes of scraps. Each drawer is labeled, so I can quickly grab what I need. For example, I have two drawers for 2.5″ dark strips and two drawers for 2.5″ light strips. Everything is neatly folded so it doesn’t need pressing, or maybe just a quick touch-up with the iron. I can whip up a scrappy Log-Cabin quilt in a day by having an organized head-start! The scraps in the photo below look much neater and more accessible; more usable than the scraps in the first photo, don’t you agree?
A fun little project to make with scraps is mug rugs using the Janome Beading Foot to couch yarns around the edge instead of binding them.
For more on the Beading Foot, and other fabulous Janome presser feet, check out our Janome HQ You Tube channel for our series “A to Z with Janome” and “Janome’s Awesome Accessories Countdown”
Click on the link HERE for a quick video I made about busting up scraps and staying organized. You’ll have far more room, too, with everything neatly tucked away and more room for more sewing goodies! (I hope you’ll forgive the state of my room in the video not being organized and full of clutter – we were under renovations at the time so everything literally piled up during the process!)
For information about upcoming Scrap-busting classes on-line and at the Janome Sewing And Learning Centre in Oakville, ON, please write me at Classes@Janome-Canada.Com.