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How to Tame Scrap Mountain

How to Tame Scrap Mountain

By Janelle Cahoon, Quiltcentric

We all know there’s no way to buy “just the right amount” of fabric.  Even if you’re working with a published pattern and buy the exact amount specified, you’re likely to have extra since many designers add in a bit for shrinkage, mis-cuts, etc.  But the only thing worse than having extra is to run short, so a lot of us buy extra “just in case” – so we end up with even more leftovers!

I’ve been quilting for many  years and even with what I’ve always thought was diligent attention and frequent scrap quilts I still have 3 huge bins of tightly-packed, oddly-shaped, sometimes wrinkly, ugly or miniscule, but certainly useable fabric leftovers.

I call this overage Scrap Mountain, and admit to feelings of dismay and slight dread whenever I think about digging into it to pull fabrics for another scrap quilt.

Recently, I’ve become determined to finally face Scrap Mountain and conquer it once and for all.

Here’s my strategy:

Empty it all out and begin sorting into the following categories:

  • The “Before I Knew Better” Fabrics:  The poor quality and cotton-poly fabrics will be posted on Freecycle or Craigslist to give away.
  • The “What Was I thinking?” Fabrics:  These are the uglies.  I need to decide whether to use these somehow or find them a new owner who might appreciate them better
  • The “Irreconcilable Differences” Fabrics:  These are the scraps that I don’t love anymore and those that aren’t compatible with my current stash or the other scraps I’ll be keeping.  These will be donated to a suitable charity or a needy quilter.
  • The “Micro-Mini” Fabrics:  Why am I saving these?  There’s so small I’ll never use them.  These are going in the trash.
  • The “Second Honeymoon” Fabrics:  The ones that make me say “I still love you after all these years.”  These will be the basis for a series of new scrap quilts.

Sort the “Second Honeymoon” Fabrics into groups according to color, style and some other categories that seem right after I know what I’m dealing with.  I’ll probably put them together in smaller bins.

Choose a pattern (or a few patterns), pull the scrap categories to use for it, press the scraps and start cutting and sewing.

I need to rediscover the fabrics I love and look forward to using again.  I hope this initial sorting will allow me to do that.  And when I can face the scrap bins without that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach I know I can finally tame Scrap Mountain.


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