Tips for Storing and Organizing Fabric Scraps

Welcome to the next-to-last stop on our National Craft Month blog hop. Be sure to see our giveaway at the end of this post.

Ed note: Betty @bellsouth is the winner!

I swear, fabric scraps from my quilt projects seem to multiply at night in my sewing room. And what isn’t home grown, I’ve adopted: I’m a sucker for a fabric scrap bag found at a yard sale or thrift shop—especially if it’s vintage fabric. Those ‘30s and ‘40s novelty prints and tiny florals just call to me.

Fabric scrap quilt
This quilt is for those who can’t throw away even the tiniest scraps of fabric. You know who you are!

I used to keep all my scraps in one big bin. It was fun to poke around and find just the right pieces for a fabric collage or pillow project. But as I’ve moved on to bigger quilts, the scrap piles have grown, too. So I devised a storage system.

First, I purchased some storage baskets and sorted the scraps by color. Reds and pinks; blues (I have a ton of those); yellows and browns; oranges; greens; black and gray; white and other light neutrals.

That worked for a while, but I realized I needed to break it down further. So I separated solids from prints and vintage from new, because the hand of each is different and they don’t always play well together.

I also got myself a fancy scrap caddy. That makes it easy to contain the scraps as I work on a project, and I’m more inclined to quickly sort them into the bins when the caddy is full.

Now I just have to find the perfect scrap quilt pattern to use them in.

Here are a few more tips on organizing and storing your scraps:

Sort the fabrics by size and shape. Make separate piles of thin, strip-like pieces, chunky pieces, and smaller bits. Sorting the fabric by shape is helpful when you try to match a pattern to your scrap stash.

Hunter scrap quilt
Bonnie Hunter shows you how to make scrap quilts like this one.

If you’re working on a quilt that requires small squares or triangles, start with the small-piece pile and move to the larger pieces next. Going through the small pieces first ensures that you’ll use more of your scraps and keeps the scrap bin from getting too out of control.

If you use mostly solids in your quilts, you will have a large bin of solid fabrics. If you want a lot of color control, you may want to separate all the fabrics that read as a color by creating a bin for greens, one for reds, one for purples, and so on.

Separating fabric scraps (or your stash) by color allows you to see what you have a lot of and what colors you need more of.  It also makes it easier to see if your fabrics contain a wide variety of values, or if you need more darks, lights, etc.

Clear or translucent bins allow you to see what you have inside and help keep pests out of your stash. However, some people prefer fabric-lined baskets, wire bins, or even open laundry baskets for easy access.

Fabric scrap bag
Leave a comment for a chance to win a bag of fat quarters.

The best way to keep your scraps under control is to make them into scrap quilts! Famed quilter and teacher Bonnie Hunter is a pro at showing you how to save, store, and use your fabric scraps to their fullest potential.

And now, for our giveaway! Leave a comment below with your best fabric scrap tip. On Friday, April 1, we’ll choose a winner to receive one of our Fat Quarter Grab Bag Surprise packs.

This giveaway is now closed.

Did you miss any of the other blog hop stops? Check them out now:

Monday March 7,  – Sew News
Thursday, March 10 – Beading Daily
Monday, March 14  – Fons & Porter
Tuesday March 15 – Quiltmaker
Thursday March 17 – Sew Daily
Monday, March. 21 – Crochet Me
Wednesday  March,23 – Knitting Daily
Thursday March 24, – Martha Pullen
Tuesday, March 29 –  Creative Machine Embroidery
Wednesday March 30 – Keepsake Quilting
Thursday, March 31 – McCalls Quilting

Good luck and Happy Quilting!

Other topics you may enjoy:

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Quilting Fabric
kqstaff

About kqstaff

We here at Keepsake Quilting are dedicated to bringing you all the fabrics, notions, tools, and kits you love—plus expert advice on how to use them to make beautiful quilts, table toppers, wall hangings, accessories, and more. We enjoy quilting just as much as you do, so we’re always up for fun contests, events, and ways to live the quilting lifestyle. As we observe our 30th anniversary, we hope you will join the discussion and celebrate with us!

41 thoughts on “Tips for Storing and Organizing Fabric Scraps

  1. If you take your scraps and just start sewing them together and trimming when necessary it will turn out to look like a stained window. It takes a little time but the result is beautiful.

  2. I also have 4 scrap bins. They are organized by size of scrap and whether they are strips or blocks. I have too many favorite scrap quilts that I want to tackle. I also have gallon size bags that are sorted by color which hold sliver of fabric from squaring up and the too small to sew pieces. I have several crafting projects that I want to use them for.

  3. I sort all my material and scraps by color into clear bins for larger pieces and clear shoe boxes for smaller pieces. Love doing this as I can go to the shelves and find what color I need. Love my quilting time!

  4. I have to deliberately set time aside to do something with my scraps. I now cut them into different sizes and put them into containers that are labeled with what size the pieces are. I have 2-1/2″ squares, 3-1/2″ squares, rectangles, etc.

  5. I sort my scrap fabric pieces by size. I then start with the biggest pieces and create quilts using them, they are typically considered charm square quilts, usually the quickest quilts to get through. Then I continue from there. I have finished 3 scrap fabric quilts already this year. Yeah me! I hope this helps others to get through their fabric scraps.

  6. My scraps are OUT OF CONTROL!! Someday I’d like to try to get them organized, but I’d rather just sew 🙂 Thanks for the chance to win!

  7. Sew small chunks and narrow strips together until they are big enough to cut your desired size and shape. This is great for days when you want to sew but don’t have a project that you want to work on.

  8. We cute all the leftover fabrics into squares or strips our true fabric scraps we use to make pet beds to donate to the paws for a cause here in Va.

  9. I sort my scraps by color and store them in plastic bins so I can see the color easily.
    Thanks for the giveaway!

  10. My hint is to save only the size you will use! I know it sounds silly but I won’t make a scrap quilt with anything smaller than 2″, bc I want it to go together fast!
    I also sort by light and dark – will make it easier later.

  11. I cut all my scraps into strips and squares,different sizes, depending on the scraps, then sort them into clear shoe box size totes labeled with what is in each. I also cut leftovers into parts for the blocks I am making, then use them for a scrappy version. Waste not, want not…lol.

  12. Scrap quilts are my favorite to make, as evidenced by the large scrap bins in the sewing room. The best tip I can offer is that there aren’t any rules when making scrap quilts. Scrap quilts can have reproduction prints with batiks next to them with novelty prints next to them. No rules, anything goes. They’re the best quilts!

  13. I save my scraps for my granddaughters to use for lil’ projects as they learn to quilt. Sew many great tips in article plus in the comments too! Thanks.

  14. I’ve always been attracted to scrap quilts and most of my quilts have been scrappy to one degree or another. I love them.

  15. I can’t bear to part with any scraps and use three plastic tubs to store them . They are all mixed up and I love digging through them to find the right color and size for my project .

  16. As you clean up from a project, go through the left over lovelies and determine if you need to cut some into a more useful shape. 2 1/2 inches strips, a charm square, or maybe you can put together some half square triangles? The idea is to make the scraps more readily usable – so you get more done!

  17. I save my scraps after I finish each quilt. Once the binding on a quilt is done, I then take all the scraps and cut them into strips if they are at least 10″ long. Shorter scraps are cut into squares. All my scraps are sorted by size and type and placed into plastic shoe boxes or larger containers. Larger pieces (those that are larger than a fat quarter) are sorted by color and I staple a post-it to an edge showing the yardage.

  18. I’ve not been successful in storing my scraps. I usually throw usable sizes in a box which I dig through when I need something small. But when I’m doing some stitch & flips and have the small left over triangles, I try to stitch them together right then which results in a boxful of half-square triangle blocks. Anything too small to use gets thrown into plastic bags and used to stuff dog beds.

  19. If you like making certain types of quilts, for example log cabin, take some time to cut your larger scraps into strips that are the same width. Next time you’re ready to make a log cabin quilt, you’ll already have some pieces ready to be sewn into the block.

  20. I took several classes and instead of buying new fabric for the quilts we made, I used scraps and LOVED the outcome.

  21. By surprise some of my neater quilts have been Scrappy Ones! Love to create a rainbow with my scraps>try it !
    Thanks for sharing!

  22. I love using scraps from quilts to make matching pillow cases or smaller dolly/stuffed animal quilts. They turn out as “crazy quilts”, but still have all the colours of the parent project. Great way to use up scraps of the same colour pattern!

  23. My tip would be not to wait months to sort your scraps. Smaller batches are easier to deal with. So take 15 mi ute each week to sort or do it each time you finish a project……now to follow my own tip.

  24. My “large” scraps are put on plastic clothes hangers and hung in color groups. My small and tiny scraps are kept in shoebox size transparent boxes. The shoeboxes are stacked on an eight foot long shelf on the wall. The hangers are on a metal clothes closet rod suspended from underneath the shelf. Being able to glance for what I need has saved me so much time and energy. The hangers are usually inexpensive bought from charity thrift stores.

  25. I love the grab bag approach. I just cram all of my scraps into a couple of totes and rummage for colors when I need them. My yardage is neat and sorted, but there’s something about a big pile of scraps that is just so satisfying to dig through.

  26. I’m a scrapper! I regularly use scraps to make “whole cloth” with, sewing them randomly and trimming and adding and keep going until I have pieces large enough to make items with. Blocks, purses, pockets, zipper bags etc. But I have 4 main scrap keepers.

    One is for the tiniest pieces that cannot be sewn together, I call those schnibbles and place them on a foundation piece of muslin, cover with a wash away and stitch the living daylights out of it with variegated thread. Then when I’ve rinsed off the wash away, I have “whole cloth” from basically ‘un-useable’ pieces of fabric.

    Another is for pieces big enough to sew together to make “whole cloth” as described above.

    Yet another is strips of fabric 1-2″ wide that I use to make fabric twine, twisted together and then used to embellish items or use it to make mug mats, table toppers or even baskets.

    Other scraps big enough to cut down into 2″ squares or something a little larger. Of course when I cut those down, any scraps generated find their way into one of the other options!

    I don’t sort by color as it would require too many bins. But when I’m tired but still want to sew, I grab a keeper and start making whole cloth to be used in the future for a variety of projects.

  27. I use Bonnie Hunter’s scrap saver system and STILL have a problem using fabric. I need to sew more and save less.

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