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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Gifted Scraps, Strips, Crumbs & Strings..What to Do??

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You may remember my “Please Don’t Feed the Quilter!!” post a few months ago.

If not, you can catch it HERE!

With a nice stretch of time at home, I had tackled the “DARK SIDE” of the quilting studio..the corner of the basement where things brought home from trips, and things that had arrived on my doorstep had been piled waiting for a chance to become something – to be made sense of, to be usable!


And when all was said and done, I was completely overwhelmed at the amount of little stuff…gifted stuff…that I had been….ahem…BLESSED with!

It’s always funny, when I show up to teach a class or give a lecture, to stand there while the guild members bring up a huge box with the exclamation “This is for YOU from all of US!”  And I smile…..and secretly think “Oh, my goodness, there is great stuff in here, but the sorting is going to take HOURS and DAYS!”

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SO much of a GOOD THING!

It’s hard to see what is in this clear tote….but it is heavy.  And full.  Tons of variety, great fabrics….but have mercy!  How could it get into this state in the first place?  I can see why quilters want to give up and unload their burdens by gifting them away. 

My plan on bringing this stuff up to the cabin was not only to get it under control, but I have a plan to use a good chunk of it right off the bat.  I have a quilt that wants a piano key border.  I also want to do some log cabins.

My 1.5” strips at home are not that plentiful because I have been using them.  So right away I have a plan to make a dent in these.  But it’s going to take a lot of work to get them into usable status.

Want to know how to quickly eliminate some scraps?  CHOOSE a quilt pattern and start cutting for that one!  Right off, you’ll get rid of find a place for these lovelies!

It starts like this:

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Put a handful of scraps on the ironing board.

Press.  And have 3 containers near your ironing board.  One for crumbs.  One for strings.  AND A BIG TRASH CAN!

This is why I like to tackle my scraps as they happen.  Deal with them as you make them…don’t wait until you have boxes and baskets and the task seems too daunting because you’d rather after all be actually piecing right?  

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If a scrap measures something I already use, set it aside in that pile.  This strip is 1.5” already.  Into the 1.5” pile it goes.

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Same with this one..it’s already 2.5”  I started a pile of these.

In this bag of stuff there were strips LESS than 3/4” wide!  You can’t sew 1/4” seams on a 1/2” strip.  That should have hit the trash before it hit this bag…discard stuff you will NOT sew with.  Fill a dog bed, whatever, get rid of it.

Big pieces are being set aside for cutting piano key strips.

But the small stuff.  Oy vey!  Why is all this little stuff shoved into a bag with the big stuff?


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Some for the crumb box, some for the strings…

What is the difference between a string and a crumb?

It’s an iffy answer, but it’s mostly like this.  Strings can be used as crumbs, but crumbs have a harder time being used as strings because they are too short, too fat and are better left in the crumbs box.

In this photo…the two middle pieces are designated for the string basket.  The cream one is narrow and longish, and so is the one under it, but the others?  Ehhhh….crumbs.

Left over triangles and such also go in my crumbs box.  Triangles are NOT technically strings, so they work better as crumbs, but if I am piecing string blocks on the diagonal and need triangles for corners, they jump from crumb status back to strings.  Get it? 

I do use crumbs A LOT, especially in my paper piecing of little scrap blocks.  I find paper piecing an easy way to use up little pieces without having to rotary cut them down to any size first...so these are going into the flying geese strips I showed LAST NIGHT.


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Pile of crumbs, and pile or strips waiting to be cut down.

((Oh, Canada!!))

Remember, NONE of this procedure would be necessary if things were dealt with as scraps happened.  All of these things left from other projects should have been cut down at the end of the day, or at the end of the project, not stuffed in a tote for “Some Day.”

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Laying scraps on the die.

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Rolling them through.

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Ready to sew!

If you have boxes and bins and totes and buckets and barrels of untamed scraps.  Start today.  Pull one handful.  Iron it.  Sort it.  Discard what you don’t want, cut down what you do want --- and pledge to yourself that from now on you will handle the scraps as they happen, not shove them back for later.

Because we’d ALL rather be really sewing than dealing with Scrap Management on an overwhelming level!

Wow, does this post sound like I’ve given you all a chewing out? LOL!  I hope not.  I want to make things easier for you.  I want you to be able to get as much out of your fabric as you can.  I want you to be able to SEW instead of spending days at the ironing board and cutting table trying to make sense out of years worth of scraps stuffed in a box.

For more info on getting your scrap stash under control, you’ll find my Scrap User’s System article under the Tips & Techniques tab at the top of the blog!  Have you re-read it lately?

IT WORKS!

Have a great Quilty Thursday, everyone!


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69 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks Bonnie for going over the cutting down process with us. I just started following your blog since you were on the Quilt Show and I love it! I am working on braids in blues and starting to work on my scraps.
Thanks again for being so generous with your time and knowledge!
Mary Kauffman

Aliceart said...

I don't know…maybe you fussed at us, but we needed it! Like a mom: we fuss because we care. You are absolutely right, and one handful at a time is where I'm going to start…thanks!

Donna Fisher said...

Hooray. Now I understand crumbs. And I will definitely start some kind of small, paper piecing product to use them. Thanks!

miscellanea said...

Even if it is hard work to deal with them, most quilters just love these scraps and pieces to pieces. And I love seeing You so deftly handling them.
Petra

Valerie said...

Best advice: "pledge to yourself that from now on you will handle the scraps as they happen..."
Best practical tip (for those of us getting started on the scrap user system): Just grab a handful and take care of that much.
Best quilting blogger every day: Bonnie!

HoosierKitty said...

I find it very satisfying to sit and cut fabric into useable sizes. I've made lots of quilts using this system but the drawers are always full. I feel so thrifty using every thread. Dog pillows take even the smallest bits!

elively said...

Thanks for the "motivational" post! Lol! We all need a kick in the butt from time to time! I know you'd rather see what WE can make with our scraps than giving them away.
Ellie

bidtl said...

I don't have a very large pile of scraps, but I have a bunch. I just started going through them, cutting and sorting for a "Bonnie quilt". I wish I had the discipline to cut as I create, I do have a rule about my scraps and that is I can't make more scraps from them. Scraps from scraps go in the recycle bin.

Mary said...

As I was reading the first part of your post my thought was, "Oh Boy, I hope Bonnie has her Accu-Quilt with her!"
Thank goodness great minds think alike and you did!!

Karen said...

Your post is so helpful.
Being a person who does applique, I don't always want my scraps cut up.
Also those small bits are great for ticker tape quilts. I sort my bits by color and use plastic Chinese take out containers.

Anonymous said...

I think it's wonderful that you are gifted scraps from your travels, BUT you are sooo busy I don't think it's fair that you have to cut them all up plus press them. IMHO, groups/guilds should just gift you with a stack of a certain size scraps, I.e. 1 1/2", or 2" and have the cutting done for you. That would be a much better "thank you". just my opinion, and can't wait for the mystery quilt to start!
Judy from Whitby, Ontario

pkquilter said...

Boy, oh boy! I am so glad to read this. I have too many boxes labeled "scraps" and have never had time to get at them. I've gone through and pulled the colors needed for a certain project but never gotten to the bottom. Thanks for the "flow chart" and the push!

SUES CUSTOM QUILTS said...

Hi Bonnie, Thanks for this article. I am a procratinator when it comes to sorting and organizing my scraps. I DO SO LOVE to work with scraps and "create" something unique. My family and friends really seem to like these quilts the best. I recently gifted a scrap quilt to my friend for her birthday and she just loved it!! I would love to send you a picture. Susanwhpp@gmail.com

Terri said...

I just started so I'm glad for the crumb vs string portion of this post, and the "instruction" to sort as I go. I have been spending 15 minute increments getting my old scraps in order and am cutting for 2 projects. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

After our recent move, I uncovered a weird bin full of fabric. Mostly crumbs, but also mostly a mess. This bin 'happened' before I had Quiltville in my life but I was able to sort through that mess with efficiency, based on your system! I have a favorite wonky star quilt pattern than uses up the oddball crumbs and chunks, as I call the larger bits, and keeps my hoard of small-ish pieces in check! Happy sewing!
Melissa in Texas

Anonymous said...

Thanks Bonnie for todays post. I've been confused about the what is a crumb and what isn't. I plan on getting my neutrals in order while I eagerly await the next mystery quilt. It will be my first. I also noticed today that the FREE patterns tab has been updated with pictures. LOVE IT. Thanks again for all your inspiration and information. You do make quilting more fun. Jean F, WI

quiltiferous said...

Thanks for showing us what the scrap users system looks like in real life! I don't usually have enough scraps to organize so well. I tend to love my scrap basket, and use it whenever I get the chance on improv blocks!

Myrna said...

Heehee...Thanks for the "scolding" Bonnie. I try to clean up after every project and I'm getting in the habit of cutting up the scraps then too. It is so much easier and doesn't take much time at all.

Nann said...

I got into the routine of cutting scraps into uniform shapes even before I met you, Bonnie -- and once I learned about your Scrap Users' system I felt affirmed! Right now I am saving scraps (untrimmed) for our guild show in October. We will have a big washtub filled with scraps -- people can fill a plastic bag for $2.00.
However, I admit that I do have a box with a miscellany of fabric that I MUST sort through. Maybe today is the day!

Angie said...

Bonnie, Is that a 2.5 inch die you are cutting with? and do you press all your strips and scraps and sort them by color and carefully store them away? I have used your scrap method, but I just throw them into the separate bins I have marked and press them before I use the strips or squares of fabric. Thank you for the motivation to organize our scraps!

Brenda Biffi Baldovino said...

Great lesson, even though I don't have stash or scraps, you make it so much fun to read, love the pictures too! That's why everybody loves you, happy stripping!

Judy D in WA said...

This is what I've been doing all week. Everyday when I go in to sew for a while, I spent at least 15 minutes cleaning up some scrap bags. Most of the time it turns into 30 or so but the bags have been reduced and it feels good.

Sewing Sue said...

I have a small bin for scraps and every once in a while, when I feel like being in my sewing room but not like sewing, I pull it out, cut things up and put them into the storage bins. I also keep a shoebox sized bin for my granddaughters to play with. Once either bin is full I force myself to deal with it because I know that feeling of overwhelmed-ness that can come with too much 'bounty'!!

Johanna Lovering said...

Thanks! It is great to see how you handle this scrappy dilemma. I have a bin of these scraps and I think if I just do a handful every once in a while it won't be so overwhelming.

Sue Straits said...

Thanks for a great post. I have a large laundry basket full of scraps that I'll be working on over the weekend.

GoGo said...

It DOES work!! I'm anxiously awaiting football season to make a large dent in my scraps. I love to watch football with my husband - he's played rugby all his life and is learning about 'that pansy game' - but can't JUST watch tv. I set up a small table & cutting mat in front of the tv and bring out a box of scraps. After the game I take all the bits I've cut to my studio & put them in their appropriate bins. I have enough 2 1/2" strips now that I will spend one game sorting them into colors & rolling them together the way you do. I am now addicted to scraps and infecting some of my fellow quilters!! Thanks Bonnie!

Constance Hendryx said...

I love your blog, Bonnie!! I have BAGS of small scraps (a lot that have been gifted to me at quilt retreats because I always state I am willing to take any extra fabric, no matter how small....!). I do save the smallest unusable stuff to make cat/dog beds for our local shelter, so I feel virtuous...I have been using up all my extra HST and making pinwheel blocks as leader/ender for the place-mats that I am making...they came out so well (and scrappy!). BUT I will take your advice, "Mom," and start with a handful of the loads of scraps that I have and deal with a bit each day....I love playing in fabric, so it won't be a chore!! Again, THANK YOU Bonnie for all the information you share with your readers!! I hope to meet you in person someday!

Carol Leak said...

Hi Bonnie - thanks for this reminder for using the scraps - been doing it this way for a long time, and like someone said, you help us to just do it~trouble is, I know lots of quilters who don't want to do the small scraps, so they "gift" them to our quilting group - so we deal with them as we make charity quilts and doggy pillows with the tiniest ones. We are having the County Fair right now, just finished having our 56 entries judged--my friend and I are in charge of the quilt division of the fair, and all the workers are EHC members, including getting judges from other counties. Long story, but wanted to "tattle" on one of our judges = she did not care for our scrappy quilts including four of Bonnie's patterns that we were so proud of! She went so far as to sniff the really scrappy ones (MINE!)to see if they smelled musty! She was more concerned with the age of the scraps than the workmanship, which is what the rules say you are to judge on! Between me and my partner helper, and the other judge who was good at it, we managed to get the judging done - but this one got so mad, she stormed out and didn't stay for the lunch which is the only pay they get for judging! All's well that ends well, as they say, our scrap quilts got fairly judged.and three of mine were up for Grand Champion, which I got, and Reserve, which I got, and then my hand quilted one got Best of Show. Wish I was as good with the photos and computer as you are, I'd love to send you a photo of it - it was a Mystery in the McCall's magazine several years ago. I've been having some computer problems anyway, and am on my laptop while the desktop is in the shop. I used to send pictures of projects to the Yahoo area and got updates when other quilters posted theirs, but can't seem to get back on it after they installed my new system. Anyway, wanted you to know we are trying to use our scraps and follow our favorite scrappy guru - keep on scrapping, we love it!

CarmWhite said...

What kind of cutting system are you using? Who makes it? I think I need one!

treadle said...

Oh my...for some strange reason I have an overwhelming urge to cut up some scraps right now!! LOL!!

Barbara said...

I don't know...sounds like a lot of work. I think the best solution is to stuff it all in a big box and send it to Bonnie....she does such a great jib!

LizA. said...

Thank you -- I needed this lecture. I'm definitely guilty of stuffing the scraps in a bin to deal with later. I won't tell you how big those bins have become......

l hoov said...

Speaking of Strips & Crumbs, I got my String Fling book in the mail yesterday...EXCITED! Wanted to immediately try the Pineapple Crazy block...thought, there must be a mistake, does this template have to be enlarged??!! No...it doesn't. Never thought I'd be digging thru my garbage can for crumbs, but I did, and it was fun! Thank you!!!

Catholic Bibliophagist said...

Amen! Preach it, Bonnie!

When I cut for a new project I always make sure that the leftovers are cut into usable sizes and neatly put into their own containers. It has made such a difference to my quilting lifestyle. Thank you, Bonnie.

--C.B.

NeverBored said...

Thanks for the "nagging" today, Bonnie. After I first started reading your blog, I tackled my boxes of scraps with a vengeance following your system but I confess, I fell off the wagon and have been building untamed piles for far too long. Your encouragement to daily take a pile, press and cut is a good reminder that big tasks are only accomplished when you take the first step. As a quilter I should know that devoting a little time each day gets a quilt made (or a job done). Thanks for the reminder. Time to go heat up the iron and tackle a daily dose of scraps!

Joann said...

I am guilty of stuffing the leftovers into a bag for latter. once or twice a year I will go through the bags and cut them into the scrap user system sizes. Just got finished doing so this summer and yes it was a daunting task...should start cutting them down as I go.

Karen said...

I place my scraps into a small bin and when it gets full (sometimes overflowing) I trim and place them into other boxes. I don't see how you do all you do!
God bless!

Penny said...

Now I get it ~ especially what a crumb is ~ thank you so much for being so direct today!!

Julie Vernon said...

LOL - I guess this means the ahhhhhh largish box I have been getting ready to mail to you should wait a bit?


Blessed with too much beautiful fabrics from folks that love you... nice position to be in Miss Bonnie.

Do you remember those "Life cereal commercials on TV? "Give it to Mikey... he'll eat it"!!! The newer version, is "Give it to Bonnie, she'll use it"!!!

smiling ear to ear
JUlieinTN

Leslie said...

What a timely post for me. Just yesterday I was sorting through scraps and thinking that I needed to read your article on scrap management. I especially like your advice to deal with scraps at the end of a project. It makes complete sense.

Lisa said...

Great post and reminder! But it is a rare sunny day here so outside I go...could you repeat this on a rainy day? Just kidding! :) I'm going to Pin this as a reminder to self for a rainy day. I cut the fabric from current projects into strips when the binding and label is done but have a tote of fabric from cotton dresses and shirts I made in college that I need to do this with. This will be the inspiration blog I need when school starts back up and the rain is upon us again. (I live in a rain forest. We treasure every sunny day.)

Nancy James said...

I forgot to say, I hope you have a good retreat with Tonya and Lisa. I love the sewing set up you made.

Cynthia Woodham said...

Thanks for reminding me that gifted bag of scraps is still waiting to be dealt with. I may need a couple extra boxes to sort some of the different width from each other and my collection grows.

lmno said...

That is a great size for the table the 301 sits in. Did it come with when you found the 301?

Joyce Carter said...

Great advice, Bonnie. I started doing this several years ago and it has helped tremendously. I now have containers with squares, strips and triangles for my projects when I need them.

Quiltingloulou said...

If only I had someone to send me their scraps, I would be in heaven. However, I know how you must feel as your gifters must run into hundreds if not thousands all added up. They mean well though. I am sure they are so appreciative of what you do for us all, they just think they are helping. Maybe you should have "goodwill seasons" so you only accept scraps at certain times of the year and not every time you do a class/lecture.
Linda

MamaDoc said...

I started using your scrap savers system this year after 25 years of guilt and hoarding!! I do not save crumbs unless they are a particular favorite fabric because I don't use them. It took me a few weeks to get through 25 years of scraps, but now it is usable and I'm on my second scrap quilt. I'm still having some difficulties with my stash. Much of it is old out of style fabric which I don't even want to use on a back of a quilt, but I have many 1/2 yd or more and have difficulty thinking of them as "scrap" and haven't cut them up.
I'm thinking of attacking that by making a color controlled quilt (all reds or blues or greens) then it would be easier to cut up the leftovers. My goal is to give my son his closet back before he realizes he doesn't have one. He's 3 now so I only have a year or two!!

pelujilla said...

I will gladly adopt scraps!
You may feed this quilter lol

anotefromjeanette@yahoo.com

Sue said...

Bonnie, you are sooo right!!! while we were on vacation, I went to the lqs by us in the northwoods of wi, and received 26 baggies of scraps, cleaned her out of all of the scraps. well the guys(boys(friend of son's) and husband went fishing, I stayed back and started going through the baggies. like a kid in a candy store, oh boy!!! you just never know what you get in scrap bags. well anyway, I sorted them and ironed them out. now they are sitting a piles to get to the drawers they belong to. some might think you are nagging us but hey, sometimes we need reminding, more then some but hey, love it!!!some time life gets in our way and we just throw it down and say to ourselves, I will get back to them another day, well when that day comes yes we are over whelmed due to we never did as you say. well, time to play with my scraps, enjoy and keep up the great job you do.

Marietta V Gartner said...

Bonnie- a nice short sentence: You have opened my eyes! I thought that YOU kept cutting lots of strips on purpose, and I should do that too! I did it 3 years ago when I first started..well, now I know- I HAVE to use them NOW!...(silly me!)Thanks again..xxxx
Marietta Gartner (in a cold Brisbane 19C)
mariettagk55@gmail.com

Marietta V Gartner said...

Bonnie- a nice short sentence: You have opened my eyes! I thought that YOU kept cutting lots of strips on purpose, and I should do that too! I did it 3 years ago when I first started..well, now I know- I HAVE to use them NOW!...(silly me!)Thanks again..xxxx
Marietta Gartner (in a cold Brisbane 19C)
mariettagk55@gmail.com

Mary Samaniego said...

Thanks for the tips on how to control scraps before they get out of hand. I love reading your blog just for that reason. Have fun quilting. Mary

Marie Atkinson said...

This is wonderful advice! Ever since you came "home" to speak at our guild meeting I have been doing just that, sorting my left over pieces while I'm cutting, right then, right there and my little boxes are filling up nicely, and have been put to use already.

Maria in Tucson said...

Thank you for the reminder! I am in the beginning blocks of another color-themed pieced background, and was able to go to a single place, pull all the 1 1/2" strips in blue & green, and just get started. No cutting required! I will confess that I have learned the hard way - cut down your leftovers after the quilt top is done, not after you think you are finished cutting! I actually had to buy more fabric for my brother's quilt even though I over-bought at the beginning, because I "systemed" too soon!

Anonymous said...

Bonnie, I would suggest to all of us "scrappers" to find a like friend and use a rainy day to cut scraps together. Have a wonderful "souper" lunch and make it a game!! Each person cutting up their scraps gets to win! Carolyn Barnett

colleen said...

Bonnie and all the good thing about "gifted" fabrics from quilters these days is the 100% cotton is a greater possiblity
I was thinking I should send you a pre addressed flat box with $ for postage so then "all" you'd have to do is tape up and fill the box and take it with you on your next post office trip.
Colleen in dry
California

Laura said...

I have been working on taming my scrap bags. It's a slow process, but it does work! And ok, fine, I won't bring you any of my scraps when I take your class in Mineola in October!

margaret said...

certainly lots of scraps here, being new to quilting I am trying to build up a satash

Becky said...

I have also been gifted "baggs" of someone else's scraps and it is not easy. Everythign has to be gone through. I subdivided my whole pile into 30 smaller grocery store sized bags and have dedicated my next month to finishing up one of those bags a day, until I am "scrap/leftovers" free as much as possible.

And while I've been the recipient of else's scraps, I can't imagine how much you are given. Yikes. It is a ton of work to go through these--and a lot are my own doing--so it is my own fault--!

Have fun sorting and pressing and cutting.

Gayle from MI said...

After listening you speak at my guild a few years ago, I went right home and tackled my three large bins of scraps. I started with the one that wasn't overflowing onto the floor yet. Sorted the whole thing by sizes and started pressing the smallest of pieces to be cut for for a specific quilt. Every Sunday I would press a new pile of scraps to be cot throughout the week. I would then just spent 10 or 15 minutes each day cutting them into usable pieces. Took a little over a year but it was painless. The best part was that it kept me in the sewing room more regularly and I wound up getting a lot of other stuff done as well. I now cut up my scraps as soon as I am finished with a project. Thanks for sharing your system with us.

Sheri in Iowa said...

I have done some of this over the years, but had bags of things by color.....that were odd shaped. After I heard you in Tucson, I couldn't wait to get back to Iowa and start cutting, which I did for hours at a time....I think it took me 3 months to cut all these bags up. I am doing your split 9 patch as my leader/ender quilt. I love this scrap system and the possibilities are endless! Thanks, Bonnie for ALL you do!

iris said...

Thank u for saying over and over you r really a good teacher
I got one box i can say big one with fat quarters and new fabrics could i cut them right away also ? I mean if you at my shoe? and what about cleaning first or testing the color fast? seems it does not bothering you?
Thank again I love to had this clear goals as you do.

BonnieE said...

I guess that guild felt they were helping to "keep you in business" since all your quilts are scrappy. I would LOVE it if that happened to me!
Maybe I'm one of the weird ones, but I love cutting even more than sewing, and a day spent organizing scraps is fun and satisfying to me. It's not the chore that it is to you....

Lois M. said...

As I was reading, I kept wanting to say,"but Mom,but Mom". I had years of not knowing of a plan but now that I do, I have separated my scraps into color families and then onto separate bags. I started pressing and cutting at least a year ago but then left my plan sit while I pulled out the colors for Celtic Solstice so I could cut that and still the rest sit today. I am fortunate to have been gifted a large Accucut. I did pull out more for a class I was taking for Pat Speth,too. So, you have guilted me into starting again. Since we are into a major heatwave, this is an ideal time to stay in the basement and press and cut. Thanks for the reminder because I can remember the relief I felt when I finished the first 2 bags. Oh, and I even have the phone book pages cut to size to start string piecing.

Ramona said...

Good tips! I really need to go through my scrap baskets. I have two that need to be thinned out and organized. Thanks for the push!

Annie said...

I'm not one to use the crumbs left after I cut my scraps into the sizes I use. So when I have a bagful of crumbs I put it in the "free" pile at our guild for someone else to love.

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JaneB said...

Thanks for another great "how to" post on scraps. Just finished my second wedding quilt of the summer and I WILL start taming those scraps. Both quilts were actually scrap quilts, so I am working on scraps of scraps.