A while ago I did a little blurb about how I was cutting up scraps. It was just something simple in the middle of a post about my sewing room. I was surprised when I got so many comments and questions about it. Today I’m expanding and writing more. Hopefully in the writing I will answer all the comments that came my way.
Before I get started I do want to say that I use Bonnie Hunter’s Scrap User’s System for keep my scraps. You can learn more about that here.
Here is the tote that needs to get trimmed into usable pieces.
In no real order I garb pieces and I stack them like this. The largest on the bottom, graduated smaller pieces on the tops. I layer about 6-8 to a cut.
For the example above the longer bottom pieces aren’t folded, the top two are.
I’ve been wanting to add to my 2″ bucket. For me, I use 2″ and 2 1/2″ strips most often. Today when given a choice, I plan to cut more 2″ strips than any other size.
I do an edge cut to start so all the edges are even.
Next I made the 2″ cut….
I reposition my ruler and make another 2″ cut.
Now, the top purple fabric is used up. I measure the top piece. It’s not 4″ so I can’t make two 2″ cuts.
I end up opting to take two 1 1/2″ cuts. It was the best use of the fabric as I only had less than 3 1/2″ I was working with…because remember, I only cut according to the top piece of fabric.
Now the top piece of fabric is gone. The best way to use up this last bit is to make a 2″ cut…and I do.
I’ll do another batch so you get the hang of it…
I have graduated layers ready to cut.
I square up the edge and start thinking about what the best cuts are. I start by measuring the top piece.
It’s looks to be about 4 1/2″. I take two 2″ cuts.
I pull the leftover scrap off.
Lucky me…I can squeeze a 1 1/2″ stip off next.
…and another 1 1/2″ cut. That made the best use of the fabric.Now hmmm. What do I want to do with this next cut. The top fabric is 3 1/2″ wide. I could make a 3 1/2″ cut or I could or I could make a 2″ cut and then an 1 1/2″ cut. It doesn’t matter.
The top piece is gone and I’m left with this…I ended up stripping this into 2″ pieces but I could have done anything with it. I opted for 2″ as remember, that was the size I was focusing on.
The next piece in the box was this…These are a little harder and only can be dealt with one at a time.
I like working with things that are squared. So this got cut up like this….
Bottom right is a 5″ charm square. Bottom left is a 3 1/2″ piece.
The curved pieces went straight to the garbage. Some people save for dog beds…I don’t. It’s so important to have a garbage close.
It’s also important to have a scrap bin close for usable bits. Mine is directly under my cutting station.
Pieces like this were in my bin….These, being they are thin, are easier to cut individually. The one on the left was tapered so I cut it to 1 1/2″ then cut again to the part that wasn’t 1 1/2″ went in the scrap bucket. The button fabric was trimmed and went to 2 1/2″ and the one on the right was already 2″.
Then there are goofy pieces like this. How do you deal with them?
Well let’s start with the bottom piece. I took off the selvage. I have a blog reader that I collect them for….Jean who made awesome bags for me and ones for my girls.
I keep a canister for those…see it in the back?Then I treated like any other piece. I squared the edge and cut it into strips.
I cut about this far…the stuff on the left really wouldn’t make long enough pieces to bother with. I used to square the ends of the pieces I cut but I don’t anymore. I use a easy angle and companion angle ruler so sometimes the angled edge can be useful.
I ended up with a nice stack of cut pieces from that odd strip.
Now the other “odd” piece….that one was harder. There was no “square to the grain” that was obvious to see. I ended up pulling threads and fraying it. After careful considering, it was really hard to get a decent cut that wasn’t biased so I didn’t keep that piece.
This is another hint I find helpful. If you come across a piece that is wrinkled and needs ironing. Don’t stop and iron it now.
Have a basket near by your cutting station and toss it in the basket.
I think stopping to iron breaks my momentum.
Later one of my kids will call me on the phone. I’ll put my phone on speaker and then iron the scraps while I talk. It’s a great way to multi-task as I can still totally keep up with the conversation.
Another tip…if you come across a fabric that you don’t think you’ll use…like this one for me….
Don’t waste the time cutting it or let it waste space in your scrap bit. For the most part, this isn’t a piece I would pick for a scrap quilt I’m making. I don’t have many other fabrics that would go with it.
In the short time I took cutting and snapping pictures for this post, this is my bounty….
I keep the cuts in stacks like this close to the cutting table. I put them there as I complete cuts. Left to rights there is some discards, 5″ squares, 1 1/2″ strips, 2″ strips, 2 1/2″ strips and 3 1/2″ strips. These are the sizes I cut for. Like I told you earlier, I was trying to focus and concentrate on having more 2″ strips…but my goal is always to use the fabric most efficiently so other sizes of cuts happen because of that.
I hope that answers your questions on how I cut and manage my scraps. I will put a link to this post in the tutorial section on the right hand column of the blog so you can access this at your leisure.
Happy cutting. I know it’s a pain to cut all the strips but seriously…it’s so nice to have it all when you want to make beautiful scrappy quilts like this.
I think a healthy scrap users system is the key to making awesome scrap quilts.
Check out the variety in the quilt…
I keep individual scrap users containers for bright fabrics, Civil War fabrics, Batiks and even recycled shirts. I don’t mix the different types of scraps together in one storage system.
When I go to make a quilt, I always start by looking through my scrap bins first. If I need more, I go to fat quarters and then onto yardage.
I adore scrap quilts…and make primarily only scrap quilts. Even if I use a fabric line, it still has to have a scrappy look to it for me.
My life in quilting completely changed once I heard of Bonnie Hunter’s Scrap User’s System and I started cutting my own scraps.
I know many of you aren’t into scraps and that’s perfectly okay…just note that there are those of us that are into scraps and we’d happily take them off your hands. For many, the scraps and managing them is overwhelming… However you are, scrappy or not scrappy…I just hope whatever you’re doing makes you happy.