Ask Jo: Scrap Size

Every so often questions and comments come from readers that I think others would like to hear my response to.  That’s when I feature them on the blog.  This is one of those days.

Vivian asked:
Hi Jo I’m watching your scrap video again (Piccadilly) and I was wondering what’s the smallest piece of scrap you save when sewing scraps?  Anything less than 1”??? 

Thank you very much for what you do for our community. What an inspiration you are!  

I’m so happy for you and what you are doing in and with your life As you are inspiring me and many many others. Thank you!

First off the quilt that Vivian is writing about, Piccadilly Circus, is this quilt…

You can find an outline for making the quilt HERE.

The quilt was published two different times in Quiltmaker magazine.

After the second publishing of the quilt in the magazine, I did a video series on how I made the quilt. Vivian was referring to those videos.

You can find them HERE. There are three videos in the series.

To make these quilts, I used all sorts of scraps. That inspired Vivian to ask about the sizes of scraps I keep. Well…I keep lots.

I have scrap baskets. I keep 1.5″, 2″, 2.5″, 3.5″ scraps and crumbs.

In the picture below you can see my Reproduction fabric scrap system on the left and my bright fabric scrap system on the right.

I have the same system for my batiks. I don’t have as many of them so the baskets are smaller.

I also have it for my recycled shirts.

In each of the buckets, there are both strips and squares of the designated sizes.

All of this is a little overwhelming if you are new to using scraps. It seems expensive to buy all the totes too…but it’s totally worth the time to set it up. I love the system and have used so many scraps in the process. I have saved so much money by using ALL of the yard of fabric that I buy.

Beyond these I also have crumb buckets. I have some odd strips and pieces in those buckets. I have them for the same sets of fabric types, batiks, reproduction, bright, and recycled fabrics. I use these for crumb quilts or string quilts.

If you are new to cutting scraps and setting up a scrap system, I recommend reading THIS BLOG POST I did on how I cut up scraps.

I also did a YouTube video on how I cut scraps.

I hope that helps and answers your question Vivian. Thanks so much for asking…If you have scrap user questions, feel free to ask them in the comment section.

14 thoughts on “Ask Jo: Scrap Size”

  1. Such organization! I sure wish I had learned about this system many, many years ago. I’m working on my scraps, but it doesn’t seem like I make much progress.

  2. Judith Fairchild

    Jo, I started organizing my fabric like you do back when I 1st. started reading your posts. I don’t have a lot of left over scraps but I do have them organized by size and color. It’s a whole lot easier than having to play hide and seek with them. Thank you for sharing your ideas again.

  3. It helps to find a few scrap quilts that you like and see the sizes you need for them. In addition to Jo’s sizes, I cut 3/4″, 1″ and 5″. You can keep them in plastic bags if you don’t have all that many, or plastic strawberry containers or whatever you have. 3/4″ strips make nice log cabin blocks for place mats, doll quilts or even borders. I also mark my containers with a piece of masking tape the length of the strip so it’s easy to put the cut strips away. There are many quilt patterns for 5″ strips.

  4. I keep my fabric in totes also, but when I open the tote, the fabric smells. Is it the brand of tote I am using perhaps? Any suggestions.

    1. I had that problem with one brand of totes I bought, so I drilled a couple of holes in them to let some air in. This seemed to solve the problem. Actually, I think I just made a hole with a screwdriver, in case you don’t have a drill. I keep my smaller scraps (sorted by color) in ziploc bags, and I snip off a little bit from each of the bottom corners to let air in. This works great for me.

  5. 5 pound blueberry boxes are a similar size and are uniform. They’re opaque, so you do have to label them, but they’re lidded, sturdy, and free.
    And a freezer full of blueberries for winter is nice, too.

  6. Cynthia from Nebraska

    I have been saving crumbs plus larger pieces I just don’t want but I know I won’t use them. So far I haven’t found a quilted who does. Anyone? Especially someone fairly close to Omaha.

    1. Diane Harris, Scrap Bandit, might take them. Google her as she’s well known in Nebraska. I’m across the river in SW Iowa.

  7. I sort my fabric scraps into clear plastic boxes from 1 lb. salad greens, then stack them two-high, in rainbow sequence, on the upper shelves of a small hutch cupboard I found on Craigslist. This makes it so easy to grab the colors I want, I’m actually using fabric scraps, rather than just collecting them!

  8. Oh, I love discussions about saving and using scraps! I am all about scrap quilts! Jo, I never get tired of hearing your thoughts on ways you save time when making quilts. Right now, I am making two pink baby quilts of pink and white fabrics. It is entirely made of half square triangles. (They will be arranged in a zig zag pattern,) I used Bonnie’s Essential Triangle Tool to cut them. I have squared several of the blocks up and they seem to all be fairly perfect and don’t need any trimming. I think I could just lightly tug one side if it’s off just a tiny bit. I am tempted to just not go through all the rest of them because I am really just trimming off a dog ear on most of them. What would you do? Just call it good enough or check them all to be sure they are square?

  9. I keep my leftovers in clear plastic shoeboxes sorted by color and not cut into any particular sizes. I think that gives me the flexibility to cut the size I need when I need it. Because I have had so many leftover strips lately, I have sorted them by color (not by width) into a long under-bed plastic tote. It does mean I don’t have a certain size instantly ready, but I keep the scraps in neat stacks in each container so I don’t have to do much pressing to get them ready to cut.

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