A reader asked me to share my method of saving and organizing scraps. Bonnie Hunter is the scrap queen! She has a wonderful method for saving and organizing scraps.
I’m a stash quilter. I’m not much of a scrap quilter. There’s a difference in my mind, though no one else may understand it but me.
Most everything in my stash starts out as at least a 3 yard piece. When I get to the end of that piece, when there’s maybe 2 or 3 or 4 inches remaining, I’ll either cut it into strips or squares. I have boxes for 2″, 2-1/2″, 3″ and on up to 5″ squares. I also have a box for 2″, 2-1/2″ and 3″ strips. Truthfully, I find that the squares/strips go into their appropriate boxes but they rarely find their way into my quilts. And, as much as I hate to say it, I probably throw away some scraps that others would keep. Often, I save them for ages and then in a fit of cleaning, I toss them or donate them.
Becoming a stash quilter hasn’t been an easy process for me. There was a time when, if I needed 3 yards of a yellow, it had to be 3 yards of one fabric. Or 5-1/2 yards of background meant 5-1/2 yards of one fabric. Now I’m able to combine yellows . . 2 or 3 or 4 . . whatever I need to come up with a total of 3 yards. Same with background fabrics. That’s helping a lot with using the stash. There are times when I think it matters that I use the same fabric. For example, if I’m using several borders (when do I not use several borders?), and I want them all to blend into one, I try to use one fabric for the background.
Here’s the drawing of Dad’s quilt with all one fabric:
Same design with several different fabrics for the background:
See how the different fabrics kinda chop up the flow of the design? In the poinsettia quilt you can see an example of where I used various backgrounds within the blocks but used one background for the border.
But, in the Bears in the Farmhouse quilt, the various backgrounds added to the “scrappiness” of the quilt.
There’s no right, no wrong . . it all depends on the look you want to achieve. And, while we’re talking about right and wrong, don’t worry so much about making wrong choices that you can’t enjoy quilting. When teaching, I see quilters who struggle so much with their fabric decisions. I know . . some arre thinking I might should spend a bit more time with my choices! But I tell them, this isn’t brain surgery. If you do something and it doesn’t work out the way you think it should (1) no one is injured; (2) you may find that you like somethng you wouldn’t have done if you’d know how it would turn out. The only time I feel like I’ve really made a mistake is when the colors blend to the point that the piecing doesn’t show at all. Blending is good sometimes but not when you actually want the piecing to show.
An example was when I asked about which green to use. Several suggested I use the bottom green for the “light” instead of the one on the left. I did. I cut all the pieces before we left for Spring Break. I made the first block and those two greens were blending way too much. But, I had no option so I finished it and I actually like it! Had I made a test block, I would not have continued with that fabric but my mistake turned out great!
If you find you’re struggling too much with color/fabric choices, you may want to stop being so hard on yourself and . . just do it! 🙂