Quilting

The Best Way to Organize Fabric Scraps

I have been quilting for over thirty years, so you can imagine that I have collected a lot of fabric scraps.

Until recently, I would just throw them all into a three-tiered plastic storage bin, shoving more and more in until scraps would pop out when I opened the drawers.

The last time I opened it, the whole thing toppled over and it took forever to clean up. Of course, that might have been because I would get sidetracked by some of the fabrics, and reminisce about them before putting them away.

As a result of the chaos, I came up with what I think is the best way to organize fabric scraps.

Not only does my sewing space look better, but this method has inspired me to use up many of those scraps creating some fun new projects.

So if you want to get all of your scraps in order, just follow this easy method.

Supplies You Will Need

  • Resealable plastic bags in various sizes
  • Rotary cutting mat
  • Rotary cutter
  • Quilter’s ruler
  • Iron
  • Ironing board

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Set Up A Work Station

Best way to organize scrap fabric - createwithclaudia.com - #quilting #sewing
My work space, ready for a day of scrap trimming!

If you have a lot of scraps, this process is going to take some time, so you want to have an efficient work layout.

I put my fabric bin to the right of my chair and cutting surface. To the left of my cutting surface, I put my ironing board. I set the height of the ironing board to be the same as the cutting table.

Close by is a table that I can use to sort and organize the prepared scraps.

Trimming Scraps

You may find that many of your scraps are leftovers from previous projects, so they will already be cut to a particular size. Those are the easy ones, and can be pressed and sorted.

Note: I only sort by size, not color. I found that if I sorted by size and color, I had some bags that only had one or two pieces of fabric in them. If you have enough scraps to sort by size and color, then I would sort by color too. For the amount of scraps I have, it was not worth it.

Sizes To Cut

Squares:

  • 1 1/2”
  • 2 1/2”
  • 3 1/2”
  • 4 1/2”
  • 5 1/2”
  • 6 1/2”

Strip Sizes

1 1/2” X 2 1/2”

1 1/2” X 3 1/2”

1 1/2” X 4 1/2”

1 1/2” X 5 1/2”

1 1/2” X 6 1/2”

1 1/2” X 7 1/2”

1 1/2” X 8 1/2”

2” X 4 1/2”

2” X 5 1/2”

2” X 6 1/2”

2” X 7 1/2”

2” X 8 1/2”

2 1/2” X 4 1/2”

2 1/2” X 5 1/2”

2 1/2” X 6 1/2”

2 1/2” X 7 1/2”

2 1/2” X 8 1/2”

I know this is a lot of sizes, but they are perfect for string quilts, and, if you cut them ahead of time, you can whip up an easy block in no time.

Best way to organize scrap fabric - createwithclaudia.com - #quilting #sewing
Scraps just waiting to be trimmed up.

When everything is set up, start cutting.

  1. First, take out a scrap and press it.
  2. Then measure it to see if it is already cut into one of the sizes you want. If it is, put it aside, starting a pile of that size and color.
  3. If it needs to be cut, figure out what size, or sizes, you can get out of the piece, and trim. Place in the appropriate stack.
  4. Repeat until you are finished.
Best way to organize scrap fabric - createwithclaudia.com - #quilting #sewing
Stack similar sized scraps before trimming to save time.

Tips to make the cutting easier:

  • Cut the largest size possible from the scrap, and then try to get a smaller piece if there is enough of the scrap left.
  • Turn on your favorite playlist and crank it up. Good tunes make any project easier.
  • Take lots of breaks. Your body will thank you.

Timesaver Tip: If you have a number of scraps that are similar in size, stack up to 3 or 4, and cut them. As a result, the process will go much faster.

Storing Scraps

Best way to organize scrap fabric - createwithclaudia.com - #quilting #sewing
Scraps ready to be put into bags.

Label the resealable plastic bags with the various sizes, and then place the cut pieces into their respective bags. Lastly, store the bags in a container of your choice.

Timesaver Tip: Lay the bags flat so you don’t have to press the scraps again.

By the time you have finished, you will have significantly decluttered your scrap fabric storage space. Your scraps will be easier to sort through, making them much more usable.

Best way to organize scrap fabric - createwithclaudia.com - #quilting #sewing

In my humble opinion, it really is the best way to organize fabric scraps.

Who knows, you may even be inspired to create a new quilt in the process! I know I was. I made a king sized quilt (close up photo below) entirely of fabric from my scrap bin. I did not use anything off of my shelves.

Best way to organize scrap fabric - createwithclaudia.com - #quilting #sewing

24 Comments

  1. Anne Dunkley

    March 26, 2019 at 8:54 AM

    Great ideas – Quilt is beautiful. Can’t wait to start into my scrap bin. Thanks for the inspiration.

    1. createwithclaudia_7j76hs

      March 26, 2019 at 10:43 AM

      Thanks Anne. Have fun!

  2. Jerilyn

    March 27, 2019 at 6:51 AM

    I love your dedication to this plan! But there’s no way I could follow through with it 🤣. I know myself well enough to know that sorting that much would make me batty.
    You keep having your fun and making beautiful quilts!

    1. createwithclaudia_7j76hs

      March 29, 2019 at 5:24 AM

      It definitely is a lot of work, but worth it. Thanks for stopping by!

    2. Dorothy Callaway

      October 5, 2019 at 6:35 PM

      I finally started doing this with my scraps, though in fewer sizes, and it really isn’t much of a chore once you get through your existing pile of scraps. Every time I finish a project, I cut the scraps from that project….then they don’t pile up!

    3. Susie

      July 24, 2020 at 8:46 AM

      Neither could I. I just do not keep scraps. When I am finished with a quilt the scraps go . I do have some fellow quilters are glad to get them!

  3. Karen FLynn

    March 31, 2019 at 1:00 AM

    I have been doing the same. Glad to hear I am not alone. However, I go one step further. I purchase craft boxes when they are on sale. My bags are labled with with the sizes and same sizes are stored together in the box. This makes it easier when I need a specific size for a project.
    Happy quilting and crafting! Hope this is helpful. KAREN

    1. FrandmaSue12

      July 9, 2020 at 3:17 PM

      Karen and Dorothy, you are my idols. I read and read about stuff, but seldom get around to it. I do wash as I go when I cook (seldom) but “cut and save” What a concept. Right now I am making 1″ borders around block made on my embroidery machine, and they even recommend using the scraps from sewing the brightly colored squares. So I will have very little to save after it is done.

  4. Karen flynn

    March 31, 2019 at 1:11 AM

    I have been doing the same thing. Glad to hear I am not alone. However, I took it one step further. I purchase craft boxes when they are on sale and sort my bags, which are labled with sizes, into boxes. This makes it easy to find the right sizes I need for my project. This saves additional time. Hope this is helpful. Happy quilting. KAREN

    1. createwithclaudia_7j76hs

      March 31, 2019 at 4:46 PM

      Good suggestions Karen. Thanks!

      1. Kim Conover

        April 1, 2019 at 12:46 AM

        I had been storing scraps similarly- sorted by color and I had started cutting them. It got overwhelming when I got busy with wedding planning and 2 major quilt projects- my scrap bin was out of control. I came close to chucking it- it was that bad. With perfect timing, I saw an ad about a not for profit group that makes quilts for homeless families and veterans and they were looking for donations- any size quilt cotton scraps. I ended up giving them a huge bag of scraps- clearing much needed space and at the same time, giving it to a group with a good cause.

        1. createwithclaudia_7j76hs

          April 1, 2019 at 6:29 AM

          That is a terrific idea. I’m sure there are many places that could use it. Thanks!

  5. Anita Riley

    April 7, 2019 at 5:31 PM

    I have alot of fleece, blue Jean, calico, different weights of fabric. Since you sort by size do you also sort by weight of the fabric? I love your ideas I am hoping to soon finish the project I am working on, then my next project will be working on my scraps.

    1. createwithclaudia_7j76hs

      April 8, 2019 at 6:57 AM

      Hi Anita – I keep anything that isn’t cotton quilting fabric in a different container. I mostly have quilting cottons so I just need the one container. I keep my denim scraps in another container. Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Granny G.

    October 13, 2019 at 10:34 PM

    Oh gosh, you are incredibly disciplined! I’m a “Messy Bessy” (as my mother used to call me) and don’t mind a certain amount of clutter, plus I think I might be psychologically unable to do this as well as you ; – } so I just have large dollar store bins on shelves in my fabric closet. They’re sorted by colors: blues, reds & pinks, greens, neutrals, etc. When I need some bits, I grab handfuls by color, run the iron over them and cut. I DO have a well-organized sewing room set up in a “U” shape that allows me to roll around in my sewing chair, quickly moving back & forth from sewing machines to cutting table to ironing board. But once I’ve cut all the pieces for my project, I simply can’t bear to stop for pressing and cutting scraps, I’ve gotta get at that piecing!
    Wish I COULD be like you – you have a great system and I’m sure LOTS of quilters will love and use it. But mine works for me, even if nobody else. To each her (or his!) own I guess, and thanks for sharing your expertise.

    1. createwithclaudia_7j76hs

      October 16, 2019 at 8:31 AM

      Thanks. I’m definitely not that organized, only with my scraps. Most times I can’t see the floor of my sewing space. And I always agree that whatever works for each individual is the best way. Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Judy

    October 17, 2019 at 2:55 AM

    I have purchased clear bins with lids from the dollar store. I have 3 bins for each cotton, flannel and denim and each one is labeled with 2 1/2, 3 1/2, and 4 1/2 inch squares . Once I have finished each project any left overs are cut into these size of squares and put into the bins. When the bins start getting full I will take a bin and make a scrappy quilt from it. I find it to be a great way the keep a handle on this and always end up with a cool quilt.

    1. createwithclaudia_7j76hs

      October 17, 2019 at 7:39 AM

      That’s a great idea! Thanks for sharing.

  8. Bev Neuenschwander

    February 19, 2020 at 2:53 AM

    Love the quilt pattern. Is there a pattern name? Trying to figure out best way for managing scraps that definitely need organized. Thanks for the suggestions.

    1. createwithclaudia_7j76hs

      February 19, 2020 at 4:58 AM

      Thanks for stopping by. No I don’t have a name for that pattern. It’s kind of like a french braid pattern.

  9. Hopper Carol

    July 31, 2020 at 3:46 PM

    I am not a quilter so I do not want to cut up my scraps. What suggestions do you have for me?

    1. createwithclaudia_7j76hs

      August 1, 2020 at 6:51 AM

      Well I think that depends on what kinds of fabrics you have. Maybe if you have a variety you could store them by fabric type and color. Or maybe by color only. Almost all of my fabrics are for quilting so that makes it easy. Thanks for reading.

  10. Bev

    August 5, 2020 at 7:14 AM

    Is there a pattern for your scrappy star?

    1. createwithclaudia_7j76hs

      August 7, 2020 at 6:37 AM

      Sorry no. It is a take french braid quilt I saw once.

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