Wednesday, January 23, 2019

The Evolution of a Scrap Busting System

Maybe you've heard how you can't find your voice as an artist unless you make a lot of art. The same applies to quilt making. You try a lot of techniques, play with a lot of different types of prints, and - at least if you're like me - eventually settle into a style and/or rhythm that works for you. Having said that, I've discovered what I enjoy most is the challenge of taking a bunch of uncoordinated prints and making them into a pleasing composition. The more prints the merrier! 

A year or two ago I set a loose goal for myself to make a dent in the stash I'd built up over two decades. To that end I followed someone else's example and cut a bunch of prints up into strips of varying widths, from 3.5" down to 1.5." What I've learned since then is that I don't naturally gravitate to using strips in my quit making. Or at least not in the way some people do. I'll make the occasional log cabin block for example, but I get bored going around the same central patch over and over again. What I seem to enjoy the most is building blocks out of squares and triangles. Some of those strips can be cut into patches to use in blocks but I had an awful backlog of strips in my closet.

My solution for storing the strips was to clip color families together and then hang them from what was meant to hold ties or belts or something.

One thing I have discovered is that I do enjoy using 3" strips to make Scrappy Trip blocks. But you need at least 19" in length to make a 15" block so I separated those strips by length as well as width.

Two inch strips have proven to be very useful for making 12" Lego blocks and the hulls of 6" boats. Other than that I would only occasionally get into the closet for strips. So in the back of my mind I've been on the lookout for a way to utilize those strips that have been languishing. Cue Confessions of a Fabric Addict!

Sarah makes a ton of quilts and therefore generates a lot of scraps. She recently posted about how she put some of them to good use with minimal fuss. The lightbulb went off in my head as I read that post. Since then I've thinned out my collection of strips significantly. 😀

Now I have a box overfull with strips 8.5" long in varying widths.

These will provide for some wonderful mindless sewing. The trick is going to be finding a way to use the wider strips that are at the bottom of the box as well as the narrower ones on top. I want to keep them handy and I'd like to keep them from wrinkling as much as possible. It may just be a matter of finding a little bit bigger container for them. I had no idea I would fill's A1 box past it's capacity when I began!

Sarah is also working on the plans for this year's Hands2Help effort. There will be tutorials for quilts featuring rectangles (which I suppose are just large strips) along with guest bloggers and door prizes. I'm curious to see which organizations will be the beneficiaries of this year's quilts. 😊


  1. Great idea! I'm visualising a fabulous 'subway tile' quilt built from this new mini-parts department.

  2. I tried the system of precutting to standard sizes - it was a dismal fail for me since I don't work that way. Your 8.5" pieces could create a marvelously scrappy coins quilt (mindless sewing personified) - hard to be scrappy when you aren't starting with scraps! You can also use the longer strips sewn together along their longer sides to create strata from which to cut scrappy block pieces and parts (or die cut snowballs, tumblers, and the like). Good luck!! and enjoy the neater look in the meantime.

  3. Good idea to tame all those strips! And it looks like some good, happy mindless sewing in your future will yield some great quilts! Have fun!

    I have my strips in drawers in my cutting table, but haven't been too good about actually using them. I may need to re-think that!


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