Saturday, December 03, 2011

Gone Viral!

The Cleaning Epidemic has pushed its way down into the basement studio!

I honestly don’t know:

1. How it got so out of control in the first place?!

2. Just what it was that tipped me over the edge?!

3. How long this virus is going to STICK AROUND?!

I always thought I was semi-organized. I mean, ask me where something is and I can tell you….but pretty much lived by the philosophy that if it was IN the drawer and the drawer could shut, that was fine with me.

I honestly think it was working on this baby quilt that tipped the scales. I had THREE big drawers of 2.5” strips. And they all looked like the picture at the top of this page ---- two drawers with colored strips, one with neutrals. And they are OUT of control.

As long as there was one drawer for each, it didn’t bother me so much, but when you get to the point where both colored drawers are a mix of everything under the sun and you can’t find anything and you have to dig….it only seems logical ((Wait, did I just say LOGICAL!? Where does that word belong in fabric hoarding stashing?!?)) to want to sort things a bit better.

But what to do? I had no clue! But something had to be done. So I put on a Netfix movie and just started ironing. And sorting by color. And draping these strips by color family over the rail of my longarm…because it was the closest workable surface to do so.

WildChild 004

Did it occur to me that I wouldn’t be able to load a quilt on the machine until I finished ironing EVERY DANG STRIP IN THE STRIP STASH!? It started pretty simply. Looking good…but those drawers are deceiving --- they have more in them than you think!

stash 047

Strips began to pile on top of strips and some things became VERY evident!

stash 045

HOLY. MOLY. How did I get so much PINK!?? I thought I’d have more red than anything..but you know what? My reds are nearly non-existent because I’ve been sewing with them quite a bit! I thought I’d have more blue too…but I’ve attacked the blue strips quite a bit this year with the Jamestown Landing quilt, and some others. Blues were not much of a space taker upper…but THOSE PINKS?!? LOL!

Do I see a pink challenge in my future? Hmmmm…MAYBE!

For those asking, YES -- Jamestown Landing will be featured in the next book...stay tuned and look for it in July, 2012!

And this is where I reached a crossroad. What to do now? I had 2 empty drawers with all the strings now ironed and lined up on the quilting machine rail --- HOW am I going to store these so they don’t get all messed up again? I thought of bundling them with a rubber band, but that won’t stop the thready fraying happening at the edges.

I remembered traveling with a ziplock bag of red ironed strips when I kitted stuff up to travel before. In fact, some of those red strips were still perfectly contained in that bag IN the mess of un-ironed strips. Dare I? Bag them?

I know plastic is not good for fabric, but I don’t have to zip them all closed air tight. It would just be a way to contain them by color family and keep them from needing to be re-ironed as much.

If it works for Bali-Pops to come all shrink-wrapped to minimize fraying – it will work for these!

stash 048

This just might work for now. I’ll try it and see. It has to be at least a bit better than it was!

stash 051

I took a bundle of strips, folded one end over, and rolled it into a long rectangle to fit the bag.

stash 052

The gallon sized bags will hold 3 of these bundles….and I don’t have to zip it more than 1/2 way to allow air to circulate. Frankly? At this point, I really don’t care about the plastic..I just want the mess to not be so messy!

stash 053

Jeeze-Louise! I can’t believe the difference! I never thought in a million years I would find it necessary to do this, or have the patience to start --- but you know what? Now that I’ve started? I know it’s going to take some time to get the other strip sizes under control too, but it’s worth it!

How do YOU store your strips? Do you have any ideas for me that might work better than this? I thought of putting each color in a plastic shoe box, but some of these colors would require several shoe boxes, and I wanted to keep using my drawers.


This afternoon we’ve got a fun excursion planned! DH has some visiting co-workers here from other areas, and we are all heading over to Raleigh for the Hurricane’s Hockey Game! It’s the Pittsburgh Penguins vs the Carolina Hurricanes!

I actually like Hockey – it’s easier to understand than football.. ;c)

And if I ride shot-gun in the van, I might be able to get some binding done on the 2 hour drive to Raleigh before it gets too dark.

Whatever you get up to on your Saturday, ENJOY EVERY LITTLE THING!


  1. I knew cedar chests were a dangerous place to store quilts, but I had not heard that plastic was also bad. You are doing a great job getting your stash in order. Want to come visit my house?

  2. A few years ago I had a conversation with the gal who introduced me to your blog. I aksed her if she used your scrap system. She said she didn't because she couldn't bring herself to Iron strips before using them, but when she does cut extra strips she rolls them jelly roll style. I've been using that method, but I still don't cut all of my scraps up. Usually I'll cut an extra strip of a few sizes off my yardage while cutting for the current project. I have accumulated enough strips to work with when I start a new project and I love it. I think I like the bag system you are using. Rerolling the strips I don't use takes time.
    Since when (above comment) are cedar chests bad for quilts. My grandma kept all of her quilts in her cedar chest and they are fine. Would love more info on this.

  3. What a funny story you wrote, I almost could see you ironing. I don't have strips. But my cupboard with my stash can hardley get closed.... I don't dare to sort it all out yet. But maybe soon, and then I will think of the great result you achieved! Well done Bonny!

  4. I know you are trying to make me feel guilt cause I am still lying in bed and it is 10 am ... I need to tackle my bins of scraps... I promised some for a friend. I was just going to throw them in a box but I can see I can send her more if I iron them first.....

    BIG SIGH... guess it is off to work I go.



  5. I have a drawer that all my strips go into. When it gets full I separate the colors, load as many as I can onto a large safety pin and hang them up. I like the bag idea better though...heading to the store lol!

  6. Oh dear......will my scraps ever get cut and organized? I have them everywhere!
    yours looks so wonderful all laid out in their bags by color.......oh now I am dreaming I could do that too.........but when?

    Enjoy the hockey game....it should be an awesome game with those two teams!

    Happy binding on the way.....over the river and through the woods....la la la :0)

  7. I guess there will be more scrap quilts coming from you in near future :o) Thanks for sharing your great tips!
    Have a lovely weekend,

  8. I have strip envy! I wish mine were so lovely and ready to use. Your idea of bags is good. They'll get used up in no time anyway. I know you have sizes listed in your scrap users system, but I always worry if I cut up too much fabric, it may be the wrong size for the project when I need it. So I guess I'll just keep to the offcuts from other projects for now.

  9. Well, I do what you have done there only without the bags. Strips folded and stacked in my drawers, colors on one end and whites/creams on the other. Of course my strips aren't as plentiful as yours. Any of my strips that are shorter than 12" goes into a ziploc bag, cut up squares in a ziploc too, stored in the same drawer. So far, not much fraying going on. I have notice one drawer I have messed up and need to straighten a bit!!
    I'm tellin' ya, when that organizing bug hits you...you just gotta go with it!!!

  10. My strips, although not as prevalent as yours, are stored in drawers, and I just fold them to fit the width of the drawer and stack. I only have two "colored" drawers and one "nuetral" drawer.
    The cedar chest thing is two fold, while the cedar detracts from moths and chewing insects, wood is acidic and harmful to fabric. However, if you fold each quilt in a clean white sheet, they will be fine. My mother's wedding dress is stored in mine, as is a lace peticoat belonging to a great aunt. They are both fine, although yellowed with age.

  11. I have been trying to reorganize into the Scrap User's system, so far it is just a scrap storage system. My question is do you ever sew strip to strip and cut down or is it always cut into smaller pieces to sew. I need to remember the 15 minutes of cutting and reward yourself. I need to find a good pattern for my scraps and start using them and develop the good leader and ender habits.

  12. Yay! Another hockey-loving quilter! I thought I was the only one. I'll be hand quilting tonight while watching my Blues face off against arch-rival Black Hawks! Now, if it would just snow ... that would be a perfect evening!

  13. Anonymous11:22 AM EST

    For a few years now I have been storing my big enough scrap pieces and bits in a large plastic bags divided with each color group with the bag and not shut air tight. The tiny pieces I have stored in a tin can, is that dangerous to the fabric?

  14. If you want to keep storing the strips in drawers and sorted by color, then yes, I think you have got the solution. I store my batik strips in drawers by size and my other strips are either in stackable plastic storage containers for photo boxes.

    My precut strips are always stored pressed and ready to go. I thought I was being a bit anal about that until a) I pulled out a bag of bright batik strings to sew this week and had to press them all before I could even get started, and then b) I saw your post this morning lol. So I think I will stick with my system even if it is a bit anal. I am a CPA after all :-).

  15. Your strips look great Bonnie- It would be so inviting to pick up a bag of your organized strips. I don't have that many strips cut- I have your class bags of scraps from other quilts stored in a pail under a desk- it is the one part of my stash that is truly disorganized. The rest I have in plastic boxes of yardage - not the best organization but usually I can find what I am looking for. The boxes are protected from sunlight too.
    Those strips of yours looked pretty hanging on your long arm..
    Enjoy the hockey game...
    Warmest regards,

  16. I might just have to try this method--my strings are overflowing also. But I never seem to have enough of whatever color it is that I need at the time.....

    You need to get one of tose beam & read lights so you can sew in the car in the dark. I won one last year and it's great! I can sew or knit while we watch movies or when we are travelling in the car and it doesn't bother dh. Put it on your Christams list--I don't think you will be disappointed.

  17. Nancy James12:26 PM EST

    Wow, Bonnie!!! What a great pile of strips you have! I hope to one day have a system set up like yours. I'm thinking that as I'm just getting started, if I cut strips and squares as I go it should be an easy way to do this. I'd love to come play and shop your stash!! That would be amazing. I will gladly take any that won't fit in your drawers.
    I look forward to each blog post. Thanks for sharing all that you do with us.

  18. I definitely see a PINK quilt coming!! Your strips bundled into bags in the drawers look very tidy. I can just see all your fans ironing strips and putting them in bags....maybe should buy stock in Ziplock bags. Just think, you could be a boost to the economy with just this one simple idea. :)

  19. Anonymous1:04 PM EST

    I sort my strings by color in drawers, I some of those roller drawer things, that might work for your strings.

  20. Okay. NOW you're scaring me!

  21. Who has as many scraps as you do? Not me...Since you have started with the bag system, stay with it. Looks like you are not crowding the fabric and will not be disturbing it too much when you look through it..colors are easy to see also.

    That being said, I read Shelley's idea about hanging the strips, and wonder about draping strips over plastic hangers and then using either large clips or quilter's clips (the ones that look like barrettes) to secure them at one side so they will stay.

  22. Argh! I wish I had known you were going to the game! We have season tix and I gave my seat up so hubby could have a "guy's" nite. The crazy guy in the Canes jersey waving at you from the club ledge is my DH (I showed him your picture and told him to look for you). Have a great time!

  23. Anonymous1:50 PM EST

    Have been using a storage drawer unit where my strips are stored neatly out of the way. They go in fresh from a project so no ironing is needed. However, when going to quilt class, I use the zip bags for my project fabrics. First they go as strips; once blocks are made, they take up the same space in the bags. That way, they are always neat, do not get anything spilled on them and "grow" as the project gets finished.
    Loved the look of the long arm "dressed" for the day. Color is so provocative!!
    Enjoy the hockey game.

  24. I roll my strips like a jelly roll and they are in a small Tote. They are not sorted by color right now. I have a lot of the pre-cut squares in another tote. These totes fit nice on the shelf under my Sewing Desk. I see bigger totes and Boxes full of scraps that need cutting. If/when I get in the cleaning mood I can cut them and sort by color then re-use those big totes for something else instead of fabric. Can't wait to do the Pink Strip Quilt along with you.

  25. Holy cow, what a busy lady you have been. Just think, as long as you have this big, you won't have nearly as much cleaning and organizing in your future....you're doing it all now! I think it is great, keep on organizing!

    My strips are stored ironed and folded to fit my plastic drawer thingy, sorted by meduim, dark, neutral (I know, you don't do the medium thing, but I can't bring myself not to, yet!). I like storing them ironed because I can grab and sew and never stop at the iron. It is also easier to see what is there. I will be curious to see how you like your system as you work with them more. Will it be hard to add to the colors with them stored that way?

    Back to binding I go....

  26. I guess if you had the room a cupboard with the hangers that have clips/pegs at each end (used for skirts and trousers here in New Zealand) you could hang them all up. thinking about it. just the 'hanging' type hangers would work too?Just drape the strips over the hanger and.....well hang!I thought I had a lot of fabric until you show what you have!! LOL!

  27. Montreal vs LA tonight, too! Should be a good game too.

    I keep my strips in bags in my drawers. They're separated by size: 2.5, 2 and 1.5. LOL, I don't have nearly as many as you! Your pinks are beautiful. Can't wait to see what you come up with for those.

  28. Anonymous3:46 PM EST

    Looks like you have a pretty good system started with the bags. You could use plastic storage bins or baskets with or without lids to store your strips...but that would depend on the size of your drawers and the bins. Personally, I think you're on to something useable....so when the cleaning or organizing bug bites me, I'll give your system a try!


  29. You are the most fabric organizing woman I know! I did a major clean-up in my sewing room a couple weeks ago and feel organized. But never as much as you.

  30. Have fun at the Hurricane's game. Both my sons know some the players personally, since both live in Raleigh and sell them cars - Beamers and Mercedes. My oldest has taken me several times to the games when visiting.

    Enjoyed reading your gotta get organized adventure. Feels sooo good - doesn't it?

  31. Anonymous4:47 PM EST

    You're making me feel GUILTY about my stash ... might have to pull a few "all nighters" over the Holidays! Sorry ... Pittsburgh resident ... GO PENGUINS!!

    Flatlander (Linda)

  32. wow I'm in awe of those organised strips! i have plastic boxes full of stuff to get through, sometimes i dont want to open them in fear of what might be lurking in there!

  33. Anymore my 4 drawers under the cutting table hold 2", 2 1/2", 3 1/2" and strings.
    I periodically then move the strips to their own color 16 qt. plastic box.
    I am now color coding/saving my strings.
    Thanks for all the great ideas and photos.
    XOOXXO Subee

  34. I bought a couple of plastic storage boxes that are 19" long by 13" wide. I'm hoping to store my strips flat in them so that they won't get frayed or wrinkled. (Obviously, I have far fewer strips than you do.)


  35. With all that pink... I see a Breast Cancer quilt in your future :P

  36. When I started cutting strips using your system, they were already washed/ironed, so I just put them in a plastic bin or holder with a handle, all together for all the usual sizes.

    I really need some of that turquoise to go in my mystery quilt....please. It would be SO exciting to have a Bonnie fab in my quilt!!! Need my addy? LMAO'

  37. Mmmm....interesting blog. I'm looking forward to the upcoming pink quilt. Maybe someone will have a baby girl!?! I see if I organize my strips I can finally close the drawers...or I can work on yet another UFO and Christmas cards...what choices!

  38. Repeat after me....."snap lock bags are my friend".

  39. I'm so jealous of your strip stash! I think you might have more strips than I have regular fabric in my puny little stash. You're also way more organized than I am, although at this point I haven't started using your scrap users' system yet...I'm a scrap quilter by nature (it's what I think of when I think of quilts!) who sorts by color, and uses fabrics based on their colors, not the fabric line/designer it's supposed to go with. Guess we have that much in common, hehehe. Seriously, I want to go to your house for Christmas. I'll just go down into the quilty room, you won't have to see me much! And I'll behave...maybe bring pumpkin pie cake or cranberry dessert bars as a bribe/payment/rent? I'd LOVE to have as much fabric to choose from for scrappy lovely quilts as you have. Maybe someday...

  40. I use the plastic drawers also, but I use pieces of cardboard to separate my stips into rows within each drawer. It seems to keep them neater and if one row is a little higher it doesn't topple into the other rows. I quilt with a small group weekly and my friends keep giving me their scraps. I separate those asap by color and add to my current bags. So, I have my cut strip drawers and I have my color bags to go to. Works for now.

  41. Kay Hannah1:08 PM EST

    Any time I use a plastic bag for fabric storage and organizing I punch two holes in the bag using a single hole punch. (the dollar store variety) The holes allow the excess air to squeeze out and it can still breath.

  42. I really worked to get my strips folded, all organized by color, and into a Rubbermaid container. Then I needed to select some for a project. The box is now back to one big turmoil! Oh, well. Maybe I'll try the bagging approach next time.

  43. I store my strips in empty tissue boxes by color, then store them all in a long under the bed storage container. After I have emptied a tissue box, I completely cut off the top section where the hole is to make a completely open top. (does that make sense?) I then take and fold each strip to fit the box along the short site. I can usually get about 60 strips per box. Easy to pull the container out and have all the strips available to see all at once. Within each tissue box, it is easy to see all the fabrics and pick through them. Hope this made sense. It has worked for me quite well.

  44. I store my strips in empty tissue boxes by color, then store them all in a long under the bed storage container. After I have emptied a tissue box, I completely cut off the top section where the hole is to make a completely open top. (does that make sense?) I then take and fold each strip to fit the box along the short site. I can usually get about 60 strips per box. Easy to pull the container out and have all the strips available to see all at once. Within each tissue box, it is easy to see all the fabrics and pick through them. Hope this made sense. It has worked for me quite well.


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