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Tuesday Tutorial~ Managing Scraps

If you’ve been a quilter for very long you know that scraps tend to accumulate. I think they have wild parties when you leave and turn the lights out. These parties result in their multiplying like bunnies. There are lots of methods for managing scraps. Bonnie Hunter, the queen of scrap quilting, has a good one. I tried it but because I see cutting as a necessary evil in quilting. It never worked for me. Instead I found if I sort my scraps according to color I’m more likely to use them. 

So anything smaller than a fat quarter but larger than a charm square goes in my color coordinated scrap bins. When a bin gets full I make a quilt designed around that color. You can see a few here, here, and here. I also have a bin that I throw anything in that is smaller than a charm square.

I use these to make fabric to use in quilts like my double wedding ring.

and the roses in my Wonky Rose Garden

This is the method that works for me. I’d love to hear what works for you. Leave us a comment sharing how you’ve been successful in managing your scraps.


  • Needled Mom says:

    I think I have tried every method in the books and none work perfectly for me. I always seem to have too many scraps.

  • Karen - Quilts...etc. says:

    I have some that are cut up in squares of numerous sizes and stored in boxes and I use them for patchwork of various types – most though are pieces that are fat quarter size or smaller and I keep them in open boxes on the shelf folded so I can see what I have. Anything over a half yard+ I try to fold and keep in stacks or wrapped on comic book boards so I can see them.

  • Sherry VF says:

    I like your idea to sort by color. However, I tend to sort by size…2" strips, 2.5" strips, 4 1/2" sq., 6 1/2" sq. It can be a pain if I need the same color from different bins but, generally, patterns call for standard size cuts. When that happens, I'm all set.

  • Ariane says:

    I like your method. I use more than one method. I do like you, I sort my scraps by color into bins. But sometimes I cut them up in strips too so that I have some ready to go. Usually what happens, is that when I'm using up scraps of a certain color, I continue cutting them into usuable strips and squares. These are 2.5 inches, 2 inches and 1.5 inches. I also have my crumbs bin. I do fall behind on my sorting though. So, I have one bin that is my catch all when I don't have time to sort. But, I always seem to have plenty of scraps at the ready, since they seem to just keep multiplying! Haha!!

  • Cynthia Brunz Designs says:

    I don't precut my scraps either. But I do like to sort mine by color with the exception of 2.5" strips, they all go into a bin of their own. It makes grabbing the specific scraps you want so easy.

  • julieQ says:

    I do sort by Bonnie's method, and addition sort by color. I love scraps more than new fabric!!

  • Terri says:

    I just showed off my bags and boxes of scraps. That didn't work, except to keep my scraps with me. I'm in the process of sorting into color all the scraps I could use for paper piecing, etc. into a set of rolling plastic drawers. (I'm looking for a bit of light blue to finish off one of my little houses.)
    I use anything that will hold 2 quarter inch seam allowances. If it won't I save it for stuffing into faux animal furs for grandkid floor pillows. I don't throw anything away. (Can you say 'Hoarder'?) LOL

  • Janie says:

    Beautiful quilts, double wedding ring and wonky rose, thanks for sharing your scrap 'method'.

  • Kleine Vingers says:

    Every small piece of fabric goes in a big box, my scrap box. Every piece I can fold goes in color boxes. It works for me. I've never tried to make a quilt in one color like you have done. Maybe i should give it a go. Greetings

  • Material Girl says:

    I sort by color. I would hate to have my scraps cut into strips to find out that I need squares of a larger size. Anything smaller than a FQ goes in a 2 gallon zip bag of that color. I make lots and lots of scrappy quilts but my scraps still multiply. I plan to try making controlled scrappiest to utilize some of my really full bangs. I like blues and greens together for example. I just finished a red and white quilt.
    Love your double wedding ring. The gray is a lovely background.

  • Julierose says:

    Oh my favorite is "Dream, when you're feelin' Blue.." Great quilt…I like that pink fabric with the flowers on it in your scraps picture–very pretty…
    I sort by color, too and will be purchasing many boxes for them as they are bursting out of my zip lock baggies…
    hugs, Julierose.

  • rubyslipperz1052 says:

    Your method is very similar to mine. I try to keep the scraps that are sorted by color in a clear 3 drawer plastic cabinet that I bought from Walmart. It’s in my sewing room very near to my cutting area. As soon as I finish cutting certain blocks/pieces, I make a strong effort to put them into those sorted-by-color scrap drawers. I also keep my flannel scraps separate from the regular cotton. If I have “decent” sized strips, like left over borders or bindings, I put those into a different drawer…these are not sorted by color. =)k

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