Monday, February 01, 2016

Organizing Scraps

You do realize that you pay JUST AS MUCH (as in yardage) for your scraps as for the yardage they came from?  Kinda puts a new perspective on all the scraps you generate as you are creating your main project, doesn't it?

At the side of my sewing machine, I have 3 receptacles.

The main box is for "scraps" ... almost anything that is even vaguely useful for future use, whatever that use might be.  I just toss the scrap into the box.  At a later date, when the box is overflowing :-)  , I will sort all the different fabrics.

Small pieces, i.e. "crumbs", are something that I would have normally thrown away.  BUT, my quilting buddy, Sharon, creates "fabric" from crumbs by sewing them all together willy-nilly.  As long as there's a seam allowance with some fabric left over, she'll use it!  So, now, I save all those much smaller pieces as "Crumbs for Sharon"!  The crumb bag is behind the scrap box.

The last receptacle is the garbage/trash bag.  That's for everything else.

So, when the scrap box is completely overflowing and threatens to over take my sewing room, I sort through everything.  The first pass is strictly by the main color.  I'll confess that I do have problems when it's a multi-color print or stripe .. what IS the main color?  Sometimes I don't have an answer.

Once I have my color piles, I dumped them into a Sterlite, 3-drawer small tower.  Now, I do have more than 3 color families of scraps, but the 3-drawer tower is what I had.  (I try to use what I have on hand first, just to minimize the cost.)  So, I put 2 colors into each drawer.

This worked for a while, but as I continued to work on new projects, generate more scraps and sort the scraps into their color families, these poor little drawers rapidly became overcrowded.

It got to the point where I really couldn't stuff anything else into those drawers and even opening them was difficult.

At this point, it really was time for a new system.

As I usually do when pondering a new solution, I think about what is NOT working with the current setup and what (ideally) I'd like the new system to be like.  For scraps, I'd truly like to have one drawer/cubby/box for each color family and obviously bigger than the drawers I currently have.

I remembered seeing a shelf/cubby unit that had 6 spaces (to put fabric drawers in or to leave empty), which would work ideally for my scrap fabric storage system.  Target had such a unit; it's knock-down so you need to assemble it at home.  And the manufacturer also had lots of fabric cubbies to coordinate with the shelving unit.

But when I got to my Target, they were all out of the 6-space unit.  AAARRGGGHH!!!  I just HATE being thwarted!  Well, Mr. Pirate simply declared to "get the 9-space unit, it's only marginally more expensive."    SOLD.  :-)

As for the fabric cubbies to put into the spaces, I was immensely gratified to be able to find cubbies in the colors that I needed!  I was quite prepared to buy neutral cubbies and recover them with appropriate fabric, but since the colors were already available, I didn't need to do that extra step.  :-)

Back on the home front, I assembled the shelving unit (about 45-60 minutes .. very easy), put all the cubbies into the spaces and promptly filled them with appropriate colored scraps.  WOWSERS!  It looks so clean and tidy! 

Over the years, I've been collecting various organizational items .. boxes and totes, etc ... and I was able to dig out 3 fabric trays and one fabric box, which I put on top of the shelving unit.  I haven't put anything into them yet, but it won't be long until I discover what needs to go in them. :-)

So ... here is my "Before" picture:  the scrap tower is on the lower left.   Stacked on top of the tower is a pile of green fabric that was given to me and a blue tote of needlework supplies.  To the right side are two BIG boxes of more donation fabric and more needlework supplies. 

The needlework supplies don't really belong in my *sewing* room, but the room where I've been (temporarily ... for a few years) storing my needlework supplies really doesn't have any extra space either.  So, there these items have been sitting for a while.

But, circumstances have changed; that room now *does* have space in it, so off the needlework supplies have gone to their new home.

The two big boxes of donation fabric have been shuffled off to another room.  I'm not thrilled to do that because I tend to be "out of sight/out of mind" but until I get some of my UFOs finished, I won't have the space in my sewing room to house those two boxes.

That left this entire wall space available for my new fabric scrap storage unit!

Here is my "After" picture.  WOWSERS!  Even I am impressed!  :-)  :-)

I have fabric boxes for red/pink, yellow/orange, blue, green, purple, tan/brown/ecru, black/gray/white. 

That left 2 spaces leftover, so I put the green & red donation fabric in one space ... just so I wouldn't forget about them.  I do have an immediate project planned for them and wanted them to be staring me in the face as a "nag".

The one remaining space is still emtpy.  I have a fabric cubby for it but haven't opened it up yet, as I'm not entirely certain that I want to keep it.  Nor have I decided what I want to put into that space.

But, having empty space is really quite wonderful at this point. :-)

I briefly considered just stacking the two boxes of donation fabric on top of the shelving unit, precisely so they would remain in the sewing room, but as you know, fabric is HEAVY.  This self-assembled, knock-down unit is not a piece of fine furniture (cough, cough) and while it is perfectly suitable for the purpose that I need it, I'm NOT entirely certain that it would hold up the two *heavy* boxes of fabric. 

I'd really rather not stack the boxes on top of the shelving unit, only to find at some future time, the entire unit collapsed on the floor under the weight of the fabric.  That may not ever happen, but I'm too chicken to try it. :-)

The 3-drawer tower that formerly held my scraps is going to be recycled in the room where my longarm machine lives.  *That* room is not organized efficiently at all, but may never be, as it is also the family room, which houses a sofa bed for overnight guests, when we have them.  But, having extra storage capability is always a good thing and I'll figure out what to do with the tower.  :-)


  1. What a nice storage scraps are just stuffed into two oversized bins and those are getting quite is time to make some more scrappy quilts!!!

  2. Nice storage! and to think you even have an empty cubbie! Not long I'm sure! But for the moment it feels good.

  3. I'm amazed that the area is *still* neat and tidy! It pleases my eyeballs every time I walk in the room. :-)