Storing scraps, even small ones, can be a big problem if you don't have a method to organize them. Lindsay walks you through a quiz, below, meant to reveal your ideal scrap-saving philosophy. She then offers organization methods that coordinate with the different approaches to scraps.

Sort by Size

If you organize scraps by size, it allows you to choose patterns that use many of the same-size pieces over and over, such as those with triangle-square, Flying Geese, or Four-Patch units. Quilters who sort by size like to play with contrast (light and dark fabrics) but aren't overly concerned about the color schemes of their quilts. They tend to love the sparkle that comes with using a variety of fabrics and colors in repeated units.

When sorting by size, ask yourself:

  • Do you love making quilts that use precuts? If so, cut your scraps into the largest usable precut size, such as 10", 5", or 2-1/2" squares or 2-1/2"-wide strips.
  • What are your favorite blocks to make? If you find yourself piecing a lot of Flying Geese units, for example, you may want to cut background fabrics such as whites or creams into rectangles and darker fabrics into squares.
  • Do you like strip piecing or string piecing? In that case, you may want to cut leftover fabrics into strips of different widths (1-1/2", 2", 2-1/2", and 3").

Sort by Color

If you organize scraps by color, it allows you to choose seasonal or holiday quilts or projects that use color placement to highlight a design. Quilters who organize by color tend to like limited color palettes.

When sorting by color, ask yourself:

  • How do you define a background color? You may be able to store all your whites, creams, light grays, and low-volume scraps together. But if you like to be more specific with your background colors, that may not be your best option.
  • How detailed do you want to get? For example, how do you define blue? Is it dark and light blues, teals, and aquas? Do you want to separate by shade?
  • What colors do you use most in your quilts? Store scraps of those colors in your largest bins and save your smaller storage containers for colors you rarely use.

Donate Scraps

Not everyone makes quilts suited for scraps. If you prefer to make quilts with larger blocks and a planned color palette, you won't be able to incorporate small bits of fabric. In that case, collect all your scraps in one container and donate them to a local organization in need. Here are some suggestions:

  • 4-H or FFA chapters
  • Animal shelters (Or make pet beds to donate by filling a pillowcase with scraps and sewing the opening closed.)
  • Church groups
  • Home-school groups
  • Prison inmate sewing programs
  • Quilt guild charity projects
  • Quilt shop community or charity quilt projects
  • Recycling programs that accept textiles
  • School art classes or sewing programs
  • Scouting groups
  • Thrift stores

Editor's Tip

To start collecting scraps, choose a simple storage system to avoid getting overwhelmed. As you get more comfortable, expand your system or mix and match the ideas here according to your needs and storage space.