Monday, November 7, 2011

Big Scrap Bin...trimming update

Since posting about my big scrap bin on wheels on Oct.17, I have been dutifully trimming my scraps with a daily discipline that can only be described as rather unusual for someone as distracted as me.  It's not that hard really.  I do it first thing in the morning while waiting with a half-functioning brain for coffee.  It takes 15 minutes for my coffee machine to dribble out a pot of fresh coffee (I never figured out how to set the timer on the darn thing), and my cutting mat is set up on my kitchen counter (it's the perfect height).

The first pile of ironed scraps looked like this three weeks ago....

It's been reduced by at least half....

The cutting on small bits is a little slow and tedious as I often have to turn the scrap and line up my ruler four times to get a useful brick or square from it.  And the finished piles were really slow to build in the first week.  But in the last couple of days, I've hit the motherlode of this pile - I've gotten to some rather large chunks.  I wouldn't describe them as scraps, even though they did come from another quilter's discards.  My own definition of scrap doesn't include 6" strips the entire width of 45" wide fabrics. Or squares the size of a fat eighth. These get the rough edges trimmed off and folded into corresponding colours in my yardage stash.  So the trimming is going really quickly these days.

And the amassed strips, squares and bricks has really piled up, enough that I've begun to worry that if  Lucas jumps up on them to investigate, I'll be restacking for hours.  So, these are getting tucked away in the strip bins today.

I'll cut strips as narrow as 1.5" (because I will use them), but if I can't get at least a 2" square or 2" x 3.5" brick from a small scrap, it gets chucked into the crumb bin.

I'm not quite sure what to do with quilt blocks or partial blocks... (presumably these were left-overs of numerous quilter's projects) I've been tossing these into the orphan block box for future consideration.  If nothing else, they would make an eclectic pieced backing fabric strip.

Scraps tend to be under-estimated.  A plastic grocery bag full of wrinkled jumbled scraps seems insubstantial - but it could weigh 2 - 3 lbs and that translates into 8 - 12 yards worth of fabric.  I just won't use them if I have to dig through a rumpled mass of irregular sized wrinkled bits of fabric.  I used to say I don't have much purple in my stash, but I have trimmed enough purples now to make an entire quilt.

I estimate that I have been gifted with 200 yards worth of scraps and discards over the last five years by quilters who couldn't face dealing with their scrap baskets.  It didn't seem like that much at the time, a small baggie here, another baggie there.  But in reviewing the strip bins (since my reorganization in August), I could probably make 4 queen size quilts (front and back) from the 2.5" strip bin alone!

15 minutes a day is going to eventually go through that big scrap bin, one coffee pot at a time.


  1. Thanks for the update! You are really doing well. I am nearly done qulting the one quilt. Still need to finish the other one's basting (Yeh, I know). So this side it is going good as well.

  2. So how did you become the recipient of all these scraps?
    That's great that you've done so much. Do you have a specific quilt in mind to make with these cut up scraps?
    I still need to attack my scraps. They only fill a shopping bag but they still need to be made useful. I see a 16-patch made with the 2 1/2 strips and squares in my future.

  3. I admire your commitment to this process, and you really can see the fruits of it now.
    I'd be moving the piles out of cat range if I were you, as well.
    I get my Mom's scraps when she finishes a quilt--she doesn't keep them in her stash, but it will never measure up to what you have acquired.

  4. Michele, I like your idea of 15 minutes a day...I could easily start to do this...I find fabric gets "dated" in larger pieces,but smaller strips in a more modern design will make that "dated" fabric very "to do" list is to bring up a box of scraps and you say, even while the coffee is perking! Thanks for the great idea! How do you store them? Plastic see-through bins, or well marked boxes or another way?

  5. i had a large tote of scraps once, took me 3 days to get through it; now i do it as i go. i keep anything i can get a 1.5" square out of, smaller than that gets tossed. it's a worthwhile effort, especially as yardage gets pricier

  6. make me want to go upstairs and tackle mine! But wait, the tote I have is bigger than me, what if I fall in, will I ever be found? Maybe I better trick one of my girls to come over and start this project with me, yea that's the ticket!

    Good job, keep up the good work and thanks for the kick in the pants!

    your friend in stitches

  7. Awesome! Aren't scraps a blessing?! If you ever get tired of them....well, let's just say I could find them a happy home.

    I know what you mean, too, about getting new colors. A purple quilt would be lovely, I'm sure.