Getting a Jump on the New Year: Organizing My Fabric Scraps

Happy Almost New Year everyone!

What is it about the New Year that causes us to suddenly start organizing? Maybe it’s about reflection: a new year represents a new start, so why not have that new start be as clean and as organized as possible so you can take advantage of the clean slate?

In my case, I’d been thinking about organizing my fabric scraps for a long time. Too long in fact. Also, I had a project come up that required scraps. More about that project in a future post, but basically the project and the New Year simply provided the push I needed to tackle the long put off job of organizing my scraps.

Organizing my scraps is part of an overall plan I have to redo my sewing room which I've been working on for some time now. (No, my sewing room no longer looks like the photo show here--thank goodness!) I'll show you what it does looks like in an upcoming post.

Right now let's just say that my sewing room is a much more usable work in progress.

Back to my scraps. At first, I was thinking I’d go through my scraps and organize them into workable groups such as 1”, 1-1/2”, 2-1/2” and so on. But that quickly proved way too tedious for me. Then I hit on a plan that was easy and doable. As a result, I organized my fabric scraps in just a few hours. And I had boxes of them, believe me. But let me also clarify that last statement: my fabric scraps are organized now, but they aren’t in their final stage yet. I’ll revisit them in a later post where I’ll discuss Stage 2 of my "organize my scraps" plan.

But first, why go to all this trouble? I mean, why are organized scraps so important?

My lady of scraps, Bonnie Hunter, is probably the one you should seek for an answer to that question but I’ll try: having my scraps organized will let me use them more easily to make scrap quilts. I’ll also be able to easily use my scraps to make small projects, such as the ones I featured in my recent 12 Days of Christmas Gifts series. I also be able to use scraps for paper-piecing projects and for making BOMs and similar one-block donation events.

Organizing my scraps will also release me from the burden of having kept them in the first place. You see, fabric is expensive so I can't just throw away the leftovers after a project is done. So I collect them in boxes and bags to keep them from getting underfoot. Once my scraps are organized, I will start to use them more regularly. And as I start to use them, I’ll feel good about knowing I'm a frugal, thrifty, clever quilter. In other words, having them organized after so many years of thinking about it will make me feel real good about myself. And although I’ve only completed Stage 1, I’m happy to report that it’s already working—I feel great right now.

So what is Stage 1? Well, I decided that for me, I wanted my scraps organized into useful sizes and not colors. The goal, I decided, was to end up with strips and squares that I could quickly grab for any new project. Rather than bog myself down with the need to get directly to my end product, I decided to break it up into stages that I could easily complete. So I decided that for Stage 1 of my plan, I would sort my fabric stash into three groups: 2-1/2” and under, 2-1/2” to 5”, and over 5”. To help me sort, I created a measuring guide.

After a while, I found that I didn’t even need to look at the guide to be able to sort my strips into my three piles. I finished sorting in just a few hours, and now my scraps are organized into my three groups. Sure, there are bags and bags of scraps, but they are sorted.

Stage 2 will involve cutting the scraps into useful-sized strips and squares. Granted, that will take a lot more time. But I know now that it’s totally doable as long as I break it up into small jobs.

So I'm curious. What are your plans for the New Year? How will you make 2016 a better year for quilting?

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