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Help! My Scrap Bin Overfloweth

Help! My Scrap Bin Overfloweth post image

This is what my scrap bin looked like after a couple of busy months of quilting. I had reached the crisis point, where my scraps could no longer be jammed into the bin and were overflowing onto the floor.  Something had to be done. It’s time to make string quilts! And that means organizing my scraps so they are usable for making quilts.

Organizing Your Scraps so You Can Quilt with Them

A lot of quilters like Bonnie Hunter’s scrap user’s system, which is one of the many fabulous resources for scrap quilters on her website, Quiltville. My sewing room is not big enough for the kind of elaborate fabric storage system Bonnie uses, so I have to deal with my scraps in a simpler way. But any scrap user’s system starts with sorting the scraps into usable groups.

Before you start sorting, you will want to give a little thought to how you might like to use your scraps in quilts.

Some string quilters use the “kitchen sink” approach and just pull out scraps of  whatever color or pattern happen to be in the bin. Here’s a really good-looking example of this style by Heidi Elliott:

See how many different colors and patterns she uses for one block?

I’ve discovered that I like my string quilt blocks best if the scraps that go into them come from just a couple of related color families.  These four blocks from a quilt I made my daughter are primarily red/orange/brown, with a few brownish greens thrown in.

With that little bit of self-knowledge in hand, I decided to sort my scraps by color.

Here’s what the sorting process looked like in progress. Somewhere in the mess you can see my dog, sleeping peacefully.
It took me a couple of hours to sort through this one bin of scraps. But eventually I got through the whole bin. Here are the piles I ended up with:
  • White/off white
  • Green
  • Yellow
  • Pink
  • Red
  • Blue
  • Purple
  • Black/grey
  • Brown/orange
The scraps are now in garbage bags until I decide which color to use for my string quilt project.
For quite some time, I’ve had an Amish quilt pattern called Roman Stripes in the back of my mind. I’d like to try making a string version of this quilt with some of my scraps. I used my Electric Quilt software to try out several different color approaches. Here’s a blue-and-white version:

And a yellow-and-white version:

And even a black-and-yellow version. Old Amish quilts used a lot of solid black.

But since my largest bag of scraps happens to be green, maybe that’s where I’ll start.


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{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Jhon March 1, 2016, 4:14 pm

    I’m in the process of mankig a full size nine-patch quilt for my daughter. My sisters (I have five) quilt, too. We love getting together to work on a quilt. Quilting is addictive, plus it makes for some great times with the sisters. Lots of laughs and lots of ideas come out.

    • Felicity Walker March 1, 2016, 5:20 pm

      That sounds like so much fun! I wish I had five quilting sisters. Or even one! Creating things together is the best.

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