What is a Scrap? #scraphappyfebruary

Imagine you have just finished cutting fabric for a new project. You have a nice, neat stack of cut fabric shapes and then you have . . . everything else. Are they scraps? Do they go back in the stash? Are they something else?

There is no answer here - it is 100% up to you how you want to handle leftover fabric, but I am going to walk you through how I handle this situation and hopefully that might help you a little bit.


What is a scrap?

Scenario A

In this situation, the fabric is from a single collection (or sometimes from a single designer). I don't have much of each print leftover, but I have enough that I could potentially make a baby quilt or I could add basics/solids to the scraps to make another project. 


Leftover Scrap Pile - Kitchen Table Quilting


In my sewing room, I have a shelf for these stacks of fabrics. They aren't really stash, they aren't really scraps. I keep the fabrics together in hopes that they will be just what I need for a future project (and they frequently are)! I used leftovers from this project to make the version of the Julia Quilt shown below. 


The Julia Quilt - Kitchen Table Quiltingit

Scenario B

I have pulled fabrics for my stash to make a quilt. They are a mix of designers and collections. While I am going to use them for one project, I probably won't use them together again. In this situation, I put anything smaller than a fat eighth into my scrap bin and return everything else to my stash.


Exception: Sometimes there will be a print that I love, love, love, but I only have a small piece left. I will usually put this in my stash. 

Scenario C

The fabrics are from a collection, but the pieces are all small or I don't think I will make another project with that collection again. These go straight into the scrap bin.


bonnie lass quilt

Scenario D

Warning: you may not like this! You have a finished a project and by the time you are done, you hate the fabrics. Do not put these back in your stash. Do not put them in your scrap bin. Find someone else who will enjoy working with them or throw them away. If you don't like them at this point, you aren't going to enjoy working with them again (even if it's for a scrap quilt).


Exception: I will talk about this next week when we talk about patterns, but you could save them for an "ugly scrap quilt" in the future.


the ugly scrap quilt

Scenario E

All of your leftover pieces are really tiny. If you really think you will make something with these tiny pieces, go ahead and save them. You can also put a bunch of them into a mason jar for decoration in your sewing room or use them to stuff pillows. If the pieces are tinier than you will use, do not put them in your scrap bin or they will sit there forever. 


I think that covers most situations. We are all quilters because we love fabric and it is hard to know how to best handle those little leftover pieces. Today in my Instagram stories, I will do some videos about this topic and show you my (very full and messy!) shelf of leftover fabric collections. These will be saved to my story highlights.

6 comments

  1. This is very helpful, Erica! Thank you. I'm suddenly more productive than I've been in years, and I'm faced with a steadily growing mountain of scraps on my cutting table. I think I'll be able to use this post to help deal with those scraps, as well as others in various places around my sewing room. (They multiply every time I turn my back!)

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    1. Mine do too - it's amazing how quickly they pile up!

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  2. This is interesting because, although I never thought it out as thoroughly as you have, this is pretty much what I do, with my own variations, of course. I used to keep anything bigger than 1"x1" but now I'm much more discriminating. Exceptions (there's always exceptions, right?): if I've got perfect squares already cut, I save them even if they're small, or if it's a solid that can be used in piecing (yellow for a bird's beak, black for eyes, etc).

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    1. That is a good point - those tiny pieces can really come in handy sometimes.

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  3. Great ideas Erica.
    I do save some tiny pieces in gallon zip bags. some are thin strips half in wide, or some tiny triangle. Very small. My grand babies are small now,but I hope to let them try to make collages one day.
    Sometimes, if I am feeling especially ambitious, I make a card and glue or sew bits of fabric on, or I will embellish an already colored card. Just because. hmmm you never know what the receiver will think, like maybe you are getting a bit weird, but it is fun to make a little triangle banner across the inside for happy birthday or such
    Also, there are blogs of these genius people that make collages only with fabric scraps. Now I do not have the patience today to do that, but it looks so incredible. So, I would hope my grand girls will enjoy that. Maybe if I first draw a garden of flowers or butterflies, and let them do the collage. My grand girls are all still a little young but I do know they would love it
    Thank you dear Erica for sharing

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    1. That is great! My youngest likes to make things with my scraps. It's wonderful, but also messy - he leaves them everywhere!

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