Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Scrap User’s Storage and Life in the Studio!

Good Morning, everyone ---

Rain is gently falling here in north central North Carolina.  It started last night and hasn’t stopped.

I had been hoping for an opportunity to get some photos of my red & white antique pineapple quilt to link up into the Red & White quilt show at SewCalGal, the deck and deck rail make a great place to photograph a quilt, but as it is soggy cold and wet out there –it’s going to have to wait until things clear up.

I’ve had quite a few emails lately asking how I store my strips, squares and bricks for easy access – and since the studio was "*mostly* clean ((A minor miracle, only attributed to the fact that I have not been home much!)) I’ve taken a few photos to share with you.

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Strips ready to roll!

The basics are pretty simple, and you can read more in my Scrap User’s System article HERE.

I cut scraps into strips in the sizes that I use THE MOST.  This may change a bit for everyone, but the most useful sizes for me are 1.5”,  2”,  2.5”,  and 3.5”.  This works for the sizes of piecing that I like to do – and these strips can combine easily with each other to give me the unit sizes I use the most in traditional piecing.  The stack you see here are purple 2” strips ready for the 2” drawer.

A strip to me is generally anything that is LONGER than 10”….see that purple short stack above the pile of purple strips?  These are candidates for cutting down into squares or bricks – because really, they are too small to use as anything else and are just clogging the drawer.  They are on my cut-down list!

I do separate my strips by size AND color family because that is what works for me.  What’s really nice is that stacking them up this way, and rolling them to store them keeps them from being crumpled and tangled, and also keeps the unraveling edges to a minimum.

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Give it a roll!

While “Jelly Rolls” are round, this is more of an oval/rectangle.  It stacks in my drawers better making better use of space.  I fold it over and roll it so that it will fit in a gallon sized zip lock bag like this:

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2” Purples contained!

No, I do not CLOSE the bag..the end is left open to breathe, but this makes it easy for me to grab which colors I need in which strip size and I am ready to go without messing up all of the other color families in the drawer.

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2” strips in their drawer…color for quilts ready to play!

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I store my drawers under the table side of my long arm quilting machine.

The first column of drawers holds notions and machine quilting supplies.  The second column starts my strip storage with a drawer for 1.5” 2 drawers for 2”, 2 drawers for 2.5” and one drawer for 3.5”.  There is a drawer for extra large squares for backings (mostly 10.5”) and the smaller 3 drawer carts are each designated for 1.5” squares, 1.5” X 2.5” bricks, 2” squares, 2” X 3.5” bricks, 2.5” squares, 2.5” X 4.5” bricks and 3.5” squares. 

Further on down the line are bins of crumbs, UFOs and a bin of solid strings in rainbow colors that I wanted kept together.  It’s a great use of space that would otherwise be wasted.  I store my batting in the other room.

Every scrap quilt starts HERE.  I start with the pre-cut strips, squares and bricks in the sizes I need for the quilt I want to make.

For instance, for this quilt:

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Split 9-Patch Top Done!

If you are new to Quiltville, this quilt was our 2013 Leader & Ender Challenge.  My blocks were made beginning in July as pieces sewn together at the end of lines of chain piecing instead of using a folded over throw away scrap to keep my piecing continuous.  It's amazing how quickly these blocks grow when not even thinking about them!  Click HERE for more info on the challenge.

I didn’t have to cut a single square for this quilt at all…they all came from the 2.5” squares drawer. ((Which is still half full!  I need another project!))

I used 2.5” strips of color and neutral and my easy angle ruler to cut the triangle pairs for the blocks –I focused on using up the weird strips that I really wanted to “GO AWAY”.  Maybe they were shortish, or old, or just plain ugly or definitely weird – but I used them.

I also keep leftover units from other quilts labeled in baggies – and several of the 2” finished half-square triangle units came from other projects and found a home in this one.

But let’s say I’m making a Red & White Quilt ((Yes, still thinking about the SewcCalGal Challenge) and I’ve chosen my design and it uses 1.5” red strips to start with.  I’ll grab that bag of 1.5”red  strips from the pre-cut 1.5” strip drawer….and use what I can there, and if I need more, if the variety isn’t enough, or I run short or whatever – THEN I go to my fat-quarters and then onto yardage from there.  But I try to use what is already pre-cut and ready to go in the drawer first.

And then if I AM cutting more – I will cut EXTRA at the same time so I can replenish the color that I have depleted from the drawer so I  always have strips in that size and in that color to work with.

This keeps the older always going OUT and leaves room for the NEWER to come in.

When taming the scraps –my rule for myself is:  Anything LESS than half a fat-quarter is what I will cut up and distribute amongst my strip drawers in my sizes.  If it is bigger than  half a fat-quarter, it isn’t a scrap and needs to stay whole.

You can tailor it to how it works best for you, but I KNOW this works.

Now that there are THREE unquilted tops on the rail of my quilting machine – it’s time to start thinking of some BACKINGS!

Have a great Wednesday, everyone!

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  1. Your Perkiomen split nine patch really turned out lovely. I also appreciate the few extra tips/details for using your scrap users system. Knowing when to cut and when to save is the step I am finding my way through. Thank you Bonnie!

  2. That quilt turned out really awesome! I love it! Thanks for the peek into your storage solutions...helps so much and your take on sizing scraps etc. It really helps! Twice I've had my entire stash out on the floor and bed and anywhere I could make another pile to try to make some kind of organization only to get overwhelmed unsure of just how to do that and end up with it all back in the closet. Even so at least color families got put together...sort of...LOL! The cutting to size is going to help tremendously. Thanks.
    I enjoy your blog with my morning cuppa jo and throughout the day. Have a good one. :)

  3. Well another thing that I have found myself doing since starting this leader / ender challenge, is if I have a scrap or a weird cut on a piece but i can still get a half square triangle cut out of it I will. So most of my leader ender HST where already cut i just needed to match them up. and sew on.. Thanks Bonnie for all your great pointers

  4. Old quilter10:17 AM EST

    Impressive organization ! Wish I had the room for a long arm - not a machine quilter, but to get that space for storage !!

  5. Thanks for the tips on your scrap users system. I have finally started cutting those few "extra" strips from yardage if I have to go there for a particular color.

  6. Thanks, Bonnie this helps! I need to get some ziplock bags for my strips. I like organizing them by color. Thanks for sharing@

  7. This is very helpful, having just started the process of cutting up my scraps. I haven't been sure what constitutes a scrap even, so thanks much!

  8. I have been cutting strips and squares using your system for years, but whoa---I've been storing them wrong! I have them in plastic drawers, but not wound them into an oval, or put them in plastic bags. I need to reorganize the plastic drawers again. I wish you would talk more about your long arm and your quilting sometime. How you decide on quilting motifs, what threads you use. We never seem to hear about the long arm, just the sewing machines.

  9. Thank you so much for sharing your system!
    You've really inspired me to make a split nine patch using leaders/enders!

  10. Bonnie, since 'finding you and your method" scrap quilt has been made so much easier - as well as a lot more fun!

    If there were a prize for saving a quilter's sanity -- you have won it 1000s of times over.

    New folks... get into the method Bonnie has explain. AND NO! You don't need huge amounts of scrap fabrics...start now! Trust us, you will be thrilled.


  11. What a great system.Can tell that you are constantly working away.

  12. When re-organizing my Quilt Zone I sorted scraps for a week. I think we should all own stock in plastic containers! My strips and squares are in shoe box size and easy to find under my cutting table. Ther isn't room under my machine for the drawers. I have fat colors in the drawers that I need to organize BADLY. I might have to move my Fat quarters out and use the drawers like you, if I grow out of the smaller totes again. Thanks for sharing as always! I know it's nice to look and see ONE part of my quilting life that IS organized.

  13. Anonymous11:30 AM EST

    Do you store your recycled thrift store shirt fabric with your quilt fabrics?

  14. Anonymous11:38 AM EST

    I love to keep things in order and once again you have given me a great idea to get my sewing room better organized. Thanks Bonnie

    southern Md

  15. Thanks for the organizational update. As I spent yesterday cutting up all the parts of shirts except the backs, this was right on.

  16. Thank you, Bonnie! I am working on a Blue Ridge Beauty at the moment and still putting together my scrap system. I was able to pull from what I had put together so far. I appreciate this further explanation of how you do it. This is all starting to come together for me and it is motivating and inspiring :-)

  17. Bonnie, finding your Scrap Users System a few years ago completely changed the way I quilt forever, as did your Leaders/Enders. I'm so glad I found both fairly early in my quilting life, rather than later.

    I always enjoy these long posts looking into the inner workings of your studio - even though we all do things slightly differently to suit our own needs, I always come away from these posts with at least one new tip or idea.

  18. I have been making my split nine patch blocks using 2" squares since I had already made some in that size awhile back. I have over 100 by now but will need LOTS more to make a quilt larger than a wall hanging.
    When watercolor quilts were popular, I made a couple and have many, many 2" squares left. So for my trianges, I found that you can put 2 squares together and sew across the diagonal to get one half square triangle block. It is a good way to use some of those many squares.

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  20. Today I'm stitching through some of my scraps. These aren't the carefully organized scraps you have, but my bins of what you would likely consider strings too small or crumbs no one wants. I do save 2.5" strips for my collection of those, but otherwise, any strip over about 1" gets put into a bin (about shoebox size) to be added to my growing collection of wonky log cabin blocks. I also have a smallish stack of 2.5" squares, some 5" charms and larger 6.5" squares. I have a stack of over 40 12.5" squares waiting to become a quilt. I just want to empty one small bin by making blocks first. Today, I've already finished and trimmed 40 4.5" squares. This is never-ending, but fun!

  21. I use an over-the-door shoe storage that I bought at Target to store my fat quarters and 1/2 fat quarters. It has 24 pockets. I roll the fabric and stand it upright in the pocket by color. I keep it behind the door to protect the fabric from light and it's so handy when I need just a small amount of a color for a project. My sewing room is small, so I can only have a few of the drawer units. I do love Bonnie's 2 1/2" strip storage--I seem to use that size most.

  22. Did you hear me hitting my head - rolling the strips ... of course duh !!! .. so I have some fun work to do now to prevent all the scrunching that happens to my strips. Thank you Bonnie xx

  23. Hello hello, I think I missed the call in July last year. Now with Celtic Solstice my small leftovers are growing and this project looks very appealing I went back to the original post but I can not figure out the b/w drawings how I can make those designs with this block??????
    The quilt looks great. No none will ever know there are unloved fabric in there.

  24. Bonnie,
    When you statred quilting, I assume you didn't have a great stash, did you purchase fabric for a specific project and then develop this method for your scraps or have you always been a scrap quilter?
    I am awed by you and your ability to create such beauty out of your scraps. Thanks for sharing with us all.

  25. Bonnie, I sat on the floor yesterday and started sorting through my scraps. While I was out earlier today I bought several three drawer plastic containers. What a timely post for me...you couldn't have pleased me more with your information and it makes me even more eager to get this system going! Thank you!! It is always so nice when you share pictures of your studio!!

  26. Anonymous7:21 PM EST

    I am so excited about a new leader/ender project using red and white.
    I have started digging out my neutrals for this already, trying to find the ones without other colours, just whites creams etc.
    Will the red be a constant solid like the cheddar bow ties?
    I was born in Denmark, and I have always wanted to make a "danish" quilt.
    Thanks so much Bonnie.
    Inger Jensen

  27. I have wondered what size you leave whole and not cut into strips or squares, so that is helpful information. I am just getting my space organized, and torn between upstairs and downstairs. I have a room downstairs, but seem to prefer sewing upstairs. In either.case, I bought an adjustable table to put drawers under, and have a few scraps to start sorting, so I love reading how you do things.

  28. congrats on using what you have "on hand"

  29. Sue Gordon9:40 PM EST

    What is the secret of scrappy? Your quilts look so nice and I find when I do scrappy I over think it. I move colors around based on neighboring colors or what looks good together. Wears me out!
    Kudos to you....I aspire to tackle scrappy!

  30. Love the scrappy quilts! Great design and use of color! Only wish this beginner quilter had the room for storage bins like yours and a long arm to boot! 😊

  31. What is the secret of scrappy? Your quilts look so nice and I find when I do scrappy I over think it. I move colors around based on neighboring colors or what looks good together. Wears me out!
    Kudos to you....I aspire to tackle scrappy!rkhen

  32. I really enjoyed your blog about organizing your scraps! What a collection! I especially like how you put strips in their own baggies!!
    I learn something new from you almost every day, like how to take a shirt apart.
    Thanks for everything you do for us! I am hoping to tune in, Thursday, for quilt cam!


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