Thursday, December 29, 2011

Fabric Herding :c)

Sometimes I feel like I’m nothing but a Fabric Herder.

I simply move fabric, from one area to another.  I try to keep it within boundaries.  If it threatens to over run the edges of its container, I shove it back in.

Occasionally I have to “Thin The Herd”!

But I’m also a Good Fabric Herder, I’ll go searching for the “One That Was Lost” and find use for the smallest obscure scrap to the point where I know I am bordering on ridiculous.  But if that one small scrap will do the job it needs to do --- if it will fill its purpose---then it has value, and therefore just as good as any NEW fabric that I could bring into the Herd.

There has been a LOT of herding going on during the entire month of December down in the basement.  It all started with the 2-1/2” strip bins.  Remember the BEFORE?

I’ve done it all ---ALL the sizes now have color families and containment enforcement!

studio 021

1-1/2” strips!  CHECK!!  You will notice that there are two big bags of neutrals?  Those were all pulled out of the amazing string package I was gifted by Alycia D in Marrietta, GA! There were lots of strips pre-cut to this width…BONUS!  In with the 1-1/2” strips they went!

studio 022

Next it was the 2” colors.  They are in there!  Can you believe that I now have ONE EMPTY DRAWER? This took up two drawers before I organized it.  And those rolls of strips are EASY to simply unroll on the table top, pull the strips I want out of it, and roll them back up and back in their bags they go.  This is going to save on ALL those ravelly edges!

studio 023

2” Neutrals.  I use these A LOT!  I do tend to use my 2” strips more than the 2-1/2” ones –it’s just the scale that I prefer in my patchwork.  There are not as many neutral 2” strips as there are other things because I get into these constantly.

studio 024

With that revelation clear to me…it explains why there are twice as many 2-1/2” strips than anything else!  These take up 2 drawers.  Remember my discovery of JUST HOW MUCH PINK there was??

studio 025

The wild pinks are now contained and ready for a project.  There are just more GUYS in my family than girls, and I don’t do a lot of pink quilts --- as an accent, yes, but quilts don’t often turn out predominantly pink in my world.  I may have to change that just to use some of these up!

studio 026

2-1/2” neutrals and there isn’t a whole lot of them either!  So when I’m making something, I’ll go to these bins first, pull what I can use, and then add to them with strips cut from Fat Quarters or yardage to make the mix more insteresting, and this gives me new fabrics to work with.  But these are right here ready at my finger tips.

studio 027

The 3-1/2” drawer doesn’t have much in it either!  I don’t tend to do big enough blocks that use this size a lot, but I have SOME.

This brings me to an email I got yesterday from my friend Nancy in PA --
Hey Miss Bonnie,

Hope you are doing well.  Sounds like you all had a great Christmas and have enjoyed your time in the basement :o)

I have a question for you regarding saving strips.  I know you said that you tend to save 1.5, 2, 2.5 and 3.5 inch strips.  However, the more I peruse the patterns, I see more 2-inch used than anything.  So I guess I'm asking what do you do with the other sizes?

I know if I set myself down I could probably convert some of them to using the 2.5 inch strips... but I'm just wondering if saving all of the sizes, especially the 3.5, is really 'worth it'.. if you know what I mean.

I guess I need some advice on this one.  Thanks for taking the time to answer.

Take care and hope to see you in February in Carlisle,

My answer to her was short and easy --- mostly because I was typing on my phone while DH was filling the car with gas on our return trip from Charlotte last night ---

My answer is simple. Save what YOU will use and don't worry about the others :)

It really IS just that easy.  Look at what you are sewing.  What sizes of blocks do you usually find yourself drawn to?  Look at the past several projects.  Look at ones you’ve set aside as “wannado’s” for the future.  What sizes are they going to use?  CUT THOSE.  Don’t worry about the others.  You can always cut the other sizes later.

As for me – I have learned where I need to fill in, and what NOT to cut!  Ahem…do NOT let me cut ANYMORE 2-1/2” PINKS!!

Now that this part of the fabric herding is taken care of….I have THIS to deal with:

studio 014

These are my boxes of crumbs.  And I admit this is not all of them.  THIS is what makes me feel like a hoarder instead of a herder ---and I am on the lookout to find another “extreme piecing” project that will put these to good use.  Probably something paper-piece-able so it would be an easy take a long project with little prep ahead of time needed. 

Whatever happens…do NOT let me break down and sort these by color family and iron each piece, okay?  Cuz if I do --- you will surely know that I have jumped into the deep end!!

If I get brave enough --- I may show you my strings and where they live too.  But just maybe!


  1. You have been one busy lady, getting all those pressed, sorted, and stored neatly. Way to go on using your downtime productively! Enjoy your last day at home!

  2. Rut-roh, Reorge! I have my crumbs sorted by color. Certainly not by size, but definitely by color. Most are in 2 or 3 gallon ziplocks ... then contained in larger containers.

    Good luck! :) Stay out of the deep end!

  3. would you like to come and do that to my yardages? I think that would be so much easier for you to play with! or better yet, I can work on cutting strips till you get here!! :-) *~*CAROLE*~*

  4. I though I had a lot of scraps to sort. Don't you pre-cut the scraps into 4", 3", 2.5" and 2" anymore? I have bins with those in too. It takes more time but it is fun to throw them up on the wall and make some fast 9-patches or a scrappy dolly quilt out of them. I have way too much time on my hands right now...but MY TOTES are staying closed until Next year. I'm glad you are organized. I don't like those fuzzy edges either.

  5. You have inspired me to sort my strips by color. That makes sense and will probably free up a drawer or two for me, too. I admit that I don't save crumbs or strings--yet. : )

  6. I am always inspired by your scrap savers system, it just seems to get better and better. Since i started organizing my scraps I have been able to use up old fabric and not waste it or throw it away. I even gather scraps from my Mother when I visit her. She throws it away and I have fun using it and remembering what was made from it. I haven't quite sorted by color yet, but can see it would help. Thanks for sharing your method.

  7. You've done a great herding job on your strip bins! I know it took time but you have such a "get-er-done" approach that it seems to have taken no time at all.

    Now, just between you and me (and I swanee I won't tell a soul) don't you have a twin, or did you go and clone yourself a few times??

  8. Anonymous9:57 AM EST

    Way to go Bonnie!! Great job, well done on that basement! I love the "herd" analogy. So appropo...
    And good grief! I have some of those fabrics! haha
    The zip lock system is so essential, best in the business, and the plastic storage bins, so easy to work with. I am still working on those 'crumb' things and agree, do not expect me to do much with them beyond saving them!!
    Have a great new year and safe travels.
    Faye abusyquilter@yahoo.com

  9. Anonymous10:07 AM EST

    Okay Bonnie a job well done herding all those scraps! I have several id4eas to toss out to you on the crumbs there is always a scrappy Pickle Dish you could paper piece. Or you could just "make" fabric out of them by just sewing them together. Then cut strips with your Accucut to use in string blocks or cut squares using the squares as centers of a star block. Ardis in TX who is also a herder!

  10. So now I know there is a name for what I did last night. I "herded" a lot of fabric back into bins after not putting it away for far too long. Not nearly as organized as yours, but at least I can move around much better in the sewing room.
    My suggestion to Nancy would be, save the 3.5" strips for triangles. If needed, she could always cut them into smaller strips later.

  11. When you mentioned those pinks and no use for them immediately I thought Breast Cancer Quilt! That would be a good use for them!

  12. Wow, Bonnie, and I thought I had a large amount of scraps! Hee hee!

    I have been going through my studio also, trying to get organized for the coming year. There are lots of scraps that don't seem to lend themselves to pre-cutting....what do you do with those? Try to fit them into a pre-cut size or leave them?

    Connie - Boise, ID

  13. Perhaps you could pop over to my house and herd my bins ingto shape. ;)
    Mine isa work in progress...sort of...on the progress part.

  14. You did more than herd...lots of branding going on...

    Today I am going to buy some more baggies and maybe do some sorting of my own...

  15. Bonnie, I love it! I too, feel like a fabric herder at times. I just move fabric from bin to bin. And just when I feel like I'm making progress, I too, have those bins of misc. that I just don't want to tackle (and maybe shouldn't). Keep up the good work..

  16. hilarious!, sure we don't need to call the hoarders show on you??lol
    you ARE organized though.... that's great :-) can't wait for another clue tomorrow

  17. Thanks for the new name. I prefer "herder" to "hoarder" any day.

  18. Anonymous11:25 AM EST

    Bonnie, you are a great at organizing. But I can't see where we need all those strips of sizes that you do.You are going so many different things whereas we are just trying to stay afloat with one or two or three quilts. At least, I am.
    Thanks for all the good things you do.
    Erma in Texas

  19. What a great project to have tackled during your holiday break from traveling! You'll reap the benefits for years to come - and in a way, so will we! So I'm excited for you, and excited to see what quilts will emerge from those lovely, tidy bins. :)

  20. Bonnie,
    There is a blog that is doing a leap year house quilt. http://buildinghousesfromscraps.blogspot.com/
    you could paperpiece that with your tiny crumbs.

  21. I tend to use my scaps to make donation quilts, so I generally cut 2 1/2", 3 1/2", and 4 1/2" strips/sqs from scraps. 1 1/2" and 2" pieces make the donation projects more labor-intensive than I'm willing to do.

  22. this is so funny, grandkids and two friends spent the night last night and 'herded' boxes and bins of scraps from room to room. Today they are working on moving things from upstairs to downstairs. After they leave the fun begins- lol

  23. Bonnie - great! Have been admiring of your strip cutting system for years, but never done it myself - all those ravelly edges were what put me off. A lot of the Moda materials do it badly, and our local Da Gama (South Africa) does it too, and that's just while you are working with it, sewing it into quilts! not only later when you are dipping into bins for it! So I'm really pleased you've decided on this method of storing - it makes such good sense - and I don't feel such a wimp in having been doing it that way myself - it seemed so pernickety, in the face of what I considered your lovely free and easy style of doing things. All strength to your cutting and sewing arm. Margaret.

  24. So cute. I definitely need to work on my herding skills. Sadly, I think I've mastered the hoarding part.


  25. Bonnie, since we are talking storage and organization ( and in my family, supposedly, I am uber-organized!! and a scecret herder /hoarder) how do you store your yardage pieces? Do you simply stack them in colorways or do you put them in drawers--or do you have another way? I do have a lot of scraps, crumbs and strings and I am working on getting those done. But mostly, I have scads of yardage....I admit, I haven't wanted to "CUT" into a lot of it.... Julierose

  26. oh my dear - I am serious awe of how you manage to get everything done - you are traveling constantly, taking care of your 'boys', writing books, making quilts for the books, and we see that you manage to both play and exercise.... and now you organize too???? Sometimes I say you are the 'Oprah" of quilting - you just say 'i like cheddar', and boom! it is sold out... Today you are the Martha Stewart of quilting - all organized... (don't get arrested for insider quilting) Bonnie, you are just a kick... Happy New Year

  27. Bonnie, you've just performed a public service. I'm sure I speak for a lot of us when I say, gee, I only have one bin of scraps. Time to get to work and acquire more. Hee, we may turn the entire economy around.

  28. I have some of those containers and LOVE them! I have all my scraps together in ONE of those containers. I thought it was too much as it is! hehe. I could probably make 3 quilts with the scraps within that one bin, but the organizing it part would put me over the edge, LOL.

  29. Per your advice to cut what I personally use...my choice would be 1 1/2". I have TONS of 2 1/2" strips that I barely use. I like smaller pieces. I do have a few 3 1/2" strips mostly in neutrals. But they are easily cut down to whatever size I need. I also keep containers of squares in your sizes. I also have two boxes of those 4" squares from Keepsake quilting. Each has over 2000 squares in them. I am using them for my "tumbler" quilt which will be ginormous when done. To compliment them I have cut a whole container of 4" neutral squares.
    Between you and I we should buy stock in plastic containers...
    XOXOXO Subee

  30. I thought I was the only person in the world to have a piece of that purple paisley in the second picture...but there it is. :)

    I've been saving crumbs, but I decided on Tuesday, as I was cutting pieces for Christmas Lights, that anything that won't make a 1 1/2" square is going to be given to DH to use as gun cleaning patches. So I'll be going through that drawer, cutting squares and GIFTING. I know what you mean by feeling like a hoarder because of those little pieces...so I'll let DH do the hoarding. It won't get them out of the house, but it gets them out of my sewing room.

  31. Bonnie, you constantly inspire me. Now, I want to sort my strips by color. And, you amuse me. Sewing a mile and a half without realizing you don't have thread in your bobbin. I laughed until I cried...cuz I've done that, too. Have a great trip to Dallas! Lane

  32. They may say that you are crazy and obsessive and they may be right -lol- but you are also very wonderful! Thanks for sharing and giving me such great ideas. Love your blog!

  33. So funny and timely to see your comment on herding/hoarding today. I got back from our local Home Depot with 6 plastic bins so I can start sorting my fabric stash into something that is more manageable than the bags and shoe boxes etc that I am currently using. Being organized is my holy grail!

  34. YOu know, Bonnie, I do a bit of fabric herding myself...I know where you are! I am considering downsizing the stash by a series of giveaways this year...

  35. You're so ORGANIZED!!! I even saw some fabric in your stash that I have in mine...well, except that UVA fabric! Nevah!!(You're my friend...I'll forgive you for that one. LOL! Go Hokies!)

  36. Anonymous1:44 PM EST

    Hey Bonnie,I don't think I will ever be that organised but I admire those that are! Thanks for visiting my blog, Bonnie, and yes we missed you last week too! But you have obviously been very productive! Happy New Year!
    Claire W.

  37. Anonymous1:48 PM EST

    Wow! I feel so much better after seeing your "crumb" bins. I have one gigantic drawer full and thought I was over the edge. I've gone to the ziploc system in drawers too and it sure does help keep things neater. Thanks for the inspiration! And inquiring minds want to know who's sitting in first class tomorrow? Joy in Wasilla, AK

  38. Here's a great extreme scrap project for 2012.


    Email Jantine (link on that blog) and she will send you the foundation pattern.

    I've made a test block and have been busy cutting house pieces out of my crumbs and squares bins and sorting them into a sectioned box. I'm especially having fun finding bits of novelty fabrics for the doors and windows.

    Join us! :-)

  39. Bonnie, Have you ever considered taking a quantity of scraps/crumbs to a workshop and letting the participants use some of those in their quilt? If the workshop is close enough for you to drive, you could take a plastic box of them. If you are flying, you could take a ziplock bag of scraps. That would help you deal with some of your overload....and many of us would be thrilled to have something from your stash in one of our quilts! Just a thought.....

  40. Hi Bonnie, I have a question about "crumbs". What exactly is a crumb? Is it anything smaller than 1 1/2 inches, or is it an odd-shaped piece of any size? Or something else?

  41. Hi Bonnie! Happy New Year!
    Are you familiar with Linda Hibbert? She does extraordinary paper piecing patterns and uses itsy bitsy teeny tiny pieces. Just a thought for your crumbs. If you sign up for her newsletter, you get the patterns free. Check it out!

  42. I think I have lots of fabric that is until I visit you blog! But sometimes I just don't have the right colour. I have been using your scrap saver system for a couple of years now and have found I haven't touched my 3.5" strips, other to cut to smaller strips. So maybe from now on when I'm cutting I will cut the smaller strips...makes sense.

  43. Your day looks a lot like mine. Seems like scraps keep breeding in the dark, but somehow quilts come out at the end from time to time. I do keep my crumbs sorted by color, but they are in decorative jars so it seems more like a collection than a hoarding issue. That's what I keep telling myself anyway.

  44. OMG!!!!! I'm in a post :o) and you're right. It is that simple. Kevin helped me press my 2-inch dark drawer yesterday and they are all in their little bundles. I didn't bag them - didn't have enough bags in the house LOL

    Only 7 more drawers to go :o)


  45. I've just been shoving fabric into boxes for my future move. I'm feeling way too much like a fabric HOARDER as well as a herder. d'oh! fun to see your stash! some of it...

  46. for your crumbs: make a diamond template. I made mine 9" tip-to-tip, but any size would do of course. I like fabric piecing (muslin) rather than paper because having to rip off the paper creates instant ufo's for me, heh-heh... - same as for my string quilts. Crumb Piece the diamonds in contrasting colors. I saw this idea in a magazine (I am not that brilliant!) - can't remember which one, though. Am working on it between other projects. makes a beautiful quilt.

  47. Oh Bonnie, you go girl with organizing! IA... Ironers Anonymous... calls me alllll the tiiiiime. Maybe my "crumbs" will make it into several half filled old pillow cases (sewn shut) to bring to the animal shelters. It isn't as if I won't have any more ever!
    ~Christina in Cleveland

  48. Funny I store my scraps the same way! I have containers with 2.5, 3.5, 4.5. 5, 6, 8, 10" squares. I have bins with 2.5" strips with all the color families sorted into baggies. I had several garbage bags filled with scraps that needed to be cut and taking over the garage. But during my remodel of one my rooms I decided to just get rid of all that in the bags. It can get overwhelming at times and I do not sew as much as you Bonnie. I have converted all of my big tubs down to smaller sterilite 32 oz containers as they are square vs odd shaped tubs. I now can stack two on top of one another and they are not so darn heavy. I am lucky to have two small rooms for quilting and a very small 2 car garage, that we added shelving on the sides for the overflows. I have so much stuff still after garage sale and I sold a lot....wholly cow...That this years goal is to sew stuff that are in containers such as flannels which I am not too fond of and get them out of here, kits I have acquired and clear those out. See my video on Stitchin Heaven you tube channel for my sewing room tour. I only had 6 minutes to make a video and was a little camera shy. Bonnie I do not know how you have time to do the things you do and still have so much to write. It takes me an hour a day to read all that you have to say and things I have not seen in your blog before. Love your systems and your quilts and I was glad I was lucky enough to meet you in Phoenix when you came. Maybe someday I can come see your Inn.


If you are commenting as "anonymous" please leave your name at the end of your comment.

Did you know that ad space on this blog provides for all of the free patterns and free mysteries and challenges at no cost to you? Without ads, this blog would not be possible.

Thank you for understanding the many hours that go into this blog 6 days a week, 52 weeks a year. :)