2019 Scraps Become 2020 Quilts

I decided January was a good time to make some scrappy quilts and use up these baskets of scraps.  I'm going to tell you how I'm planning to do that, but first I had some questions on my scrap storage method.

I have used this rack and method for years and it has served me well so thought I could share it with you.

The aqua rack is a hand-me-down Baker's Rack from my mom.  It was originally brown as many baker's racks tend to be.  (Keep your eyes open at the thrift store, you might find one!)  I spray painted it aqua, which is a quick and easy job on this type of furniture since there's so little solid surface to cover.  Any bookcase will do though!  It doesn't need to be a baker's rack.

The best secret are these metal baskets.  Now, I also bought these at least 10 years ago, so searching for something similar now, I was shocked at the price.  Since you would need 6 of them for the system I use, they can get pricey quite fast.  I won't link to any specific ones here, but rather give you an approximate size that I think works well.

Mine are 12"x13", and 8" high.  This size seems to work well for the amount of quilting I do.   They get filled to overflowing after about a years worth of sewing (although the blue fills faster than the rest) and then I have to do something with them!

Second in importance is that they are see through.  Actually this is not crucial to the function, but just nice to see at a glance which color is where and how full they are.

I divide all scraps only by color, not size.  I have 6 categories. 

White/Low Volume

As I said, Blue seems to fill extra fast for me, so I find myself making more blue scrappy quilts.  I find sorting by color to be the best method for me, but I'm trying to analyze why this is...Not sure, but curious if you relate to this, or would rather sort by size, value, or just stuff everything in one big container!

So here I am making stacks!  This is so enjoyable for me!  Too bad there are so many other more important things that come first for my time...

When deciding to completely clean out and use up these scraps, I find it works best to cut for a few quilts at once.  The two reason for this are the large variety in sizes of scraps, and also I know these scraps will make at least a few quilts, so I might as well have a nice variety in each quilt as I go.

Choosing the quilt designs to use is the most fun of all!  I try to think about the sizes of scraps I have most of, to be most efficient in my cutting and use of pieces.  I often have lots of 2 1/2 strips.  Actually lots of strips in general, with less squares that are larger than 3".  I also need to have a pattern that includes at least some small pieces to use up those itty bitty 1 1/2" squares. 

So here's what I'm cutting up this time.

* 2.5"x3.5" rectangles

I made one like this here already.  Am planning to use a different layout this time.  Inspired by @kitchentablequilting.

*A Jacob's ladder with 9 patches instead of 4 patches.  Called Tumelo Trail by Bonnie of Quiltville.  This makes use of 1.5" squares.

Here's my start to the Jacob's Ladder/Tumelo Trail quilt.  I wanted to make sure I was going to like it before I cut it all out!  This pattern is in Bonnie Hunter's book Scraps and Shirttails 11, except I'm not doing the sashing in between blocks.

*I'm also making a stack of 2.5" squares.  2.5" is a size that tends to be common in my scraps, so the pieces that aren't long enough for the 2.5"x 3.5" rectangles mentioned above, get put in this stack. 

Not sure what it will be, but there's endless uses for these squares!

*Finally I've got 'strips' which are just strips of any width or length that don't fit in any of the categories above.  For example, a looong 2" strip feels wasteful to cut into a bunch of small 1.5" squares.  Since they don't fit into any other category, I just put them on the pile of strips and I'll make some kind of strippy quilt with them.  (is this gonna be my favorite one in the end?!  It could sound like it!)

And since this cutting job is going to take me a while, and other projects are bound to come up in between... (not to mention the sheer volume of teetering stacks of cut squares and rectangles) I'm nicely stacking them into containers which can be put away in between.

I'm mentioning this because it is not in character for my haphazard usual way of working, but if feels good, so we'll see if this is a new addition to my process


  1. Your cuts look wonderful. I do the same - instead of cutting random sizes just for storage, I plan to make a quilt and cut my scraps for that size. And since the scraps are there on the cutting table and the wrong size for that quilt, I have to plan a second and a third as well. I look forward to seeing your progress. The Tumelo Trail is on my list of quilts to make.

  2. My 2020 Intention is to sort out my sewing nook.lol.
    Do you have a tutorial on matching your seams so perfectly? (No such 'luck' on my end!)

  3. Your scrap system is awesome! Will have to keep a lookout for a similar rack if I ever manage to get more room in my quilting space.:)

  4. I tend to cut sizes of my scraps ( 1.5", 2.5", 5") and I cut these sizes from any remnants or fabrics that happen to follow me home that are not project specific. Low volume scraps & charms are stored together, other colors comingled. I find if I don't cut my scraps in useable sizes, they get cast aside.;)

  5. Thank you for sharing how you approach the scraps. Originally I tried sorting by size, but then realised colour was the criteria when scrap hunting. And of course there is the container just for strips and another for confetti. A low volume category is an excellent idea ... I need more containers :)

  6. I split my scraps in to colour as well. I like the idea of cutting them in to useable sizes. I’ll try that!

  7. You are just SOOOOOO INSPIRING to me! Thank you for sharing your great tips and beautiful quilts!

  8. Nice job of processing all those scraps!! It sounds like you have a really good plan in place for using them up. LOVE the beginning of your Tumelo Trail quilt!

  9. Also, super glad to hear that you all made it through the self-isolation okay and fingers crossed for a swift final 2 days and nice summer break.