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How To Sort Your Fabric Scraps (So You'll Actually Use Them!)

Scraps can either be a blessing or the bane of productivity, depending on how your brain works. I've had so many people email me to say they either LOVE scraps, or they throw them all away because they're overwhelming. Honestly, I've been in both of those mindsets before.

But once I learned to tame the scrap pile, it changed how I make quilts. There's something extra cozy about a quilt that's maximalist-yet-cohesive. That's what this blog series is about: using ALL the scraps, and making quilts that are a wild and beautiful representation of you.

Are you ready to turn your scraps into heirlooms? In this seven-part series, we're making three (!) different quilts that will help you clean out your scraps and make beautiful quilts that your family will be fighting over for the rest of their lives.

But they can't have them, because scrap quilts are for KEEPS.

I have a tradition of making myself a scrap quilt every year on my birthday. It's the ultimate crafter's self-care, since you get TWO gifts: a clean scrap basket (eek!) and a beautiful quilt (or three). I could never part with my scrap quilts; they're full of the memories of the quilts I made before.

And let's face it, we probably make a lot of quilts for OTHER people. Which is amazing, because now the scraps from those quilts get to come together into the story of all the things we celebrated: the babies and weddings and birthdays and maybe even the lives of someone we lost.

Keep reading to get the 411 on my sorting method, or watch the video below (or both!).

Fabric Sorting Step One: Separate Out The Orphan Blocks

You know what orphan blocks are: they're the leftover finished blocks from other quilts. We're going to make them into their own quilt! Take all the orphan blocks and put them in their own bin. We'll use them for something very cool later.

Orphan Quilt Blocks: Various brightly-colored quilt blocks leftover from other quilts, tossed on a white wood background. One block is large and includes linen, pinks, and greens, one block is made from Jennifer Paganelli's West Palm. There are two smaller scrappy blocks that include Ruby Star Society, Tula Pink, and Heather Ross prints, and a few half square triangles

Fabric Sorting Step Two: Sort The Remaining Fabrics By Color

This seems simple enough, but there's a lot more to it than just Roy B. Giv-ing the heck out of your stash. You need to really do some soul-searching about what you truly love, and be willing to let the rest go.

The biggest lesson I learned in the sorting process is that I don't like mixing bright and muted colors. In fact, I've donated most of my muted fabrics. I love working with bright, vibrant prints, and the muted colors make my quilts look a bit muddy. It's ok to throw the baby out with the bathwater in this case, because fabric isn't a baby and you won't go to jail for throwing it out.

Scrap quilt challenge: Sorting fabric scraps by color. six clear shoe boxes, one each for white, pink, blue, orange, yellow, green, and assorted orphan blocks

Fabric Sorting Step Three: Be Ruthless In What You Get Rid Of

Making a scrap quilt is like making fridge cleanout soup: you don't put EVERYTHING in your fridge in the soup, right? No! That chocolate cake was good by itself, but it would ruin your soup. And moldy zucchini? Adding it to your soup won't make the zucchini better, it will make your soup inedible.

The same goes for scrap quilts. Some scraps are like the chocolate cake: really great, but just don't fit with the rest. Save those for their own little project. Other scraps are like the moldy zucchini: you paid good money for them and don't want them to go to waste, but also they're kinda ugly, and they'll ruin your whole quilt. These can be donated to someone who might like them, or if they're super ugly, they can be recycled for composted.

If you need permission to get rid of ugly fabrics, this is it.

While you're sorting, keep a mental (or digital!) note of the fabrics you chose to get rid of, and reference it next time you're shopping. You don't want to be looking at more ugly fabric in a year and thinking "how can I make this work?"

Life hack: don't buy things if you have to say "I can make this work." It's better to have less, but love every bit of what you have. This doesn't just go for fabric, either! It applies to everything. Quality > quantity, ladies!

But what if I really do love ALL the fabrics?

That's fine! You should do what makes you happy.

When you're sorting scraps, instead of sorting by color like I did, you can sort by style: florals, primatives, baby-themed, batiks, etc. Then each style of scraps can become its own quilt (even if it's a mini quilt!). The cutting and piecing method we use in parts two and three will work for any size stash, organized any way you want.

OK, that's all the steps for sorting. I know it seems like a lot, but it'll be worth it, I promise! The next blog post will give you the exciting part: how to cut your scraps to make this quilt:

A blonde lady in all black clothing standing in front of a very large gradient quilt made entirely from scraps

Don't forget to tag me on Instagram @amylollisdesign with photos of your clean scrap bin and your beautifully organized fabric stash!

Talk soon, my creative friend

5 comentários

Debbie W
Debbie W
05 de fev.

Love your ideas. I find your text color VERY hard to read. Is there anyway to change it for more contrast?


Holly S Allen
Holly S Allen
22 de jan.

Where did you purchase these clear bins with covers?

Amy Lollis
Amy Lollis
02 de fev.
Respondendo a

I got mine from the laundry aisle at Walmart, but others have found them at craft stores and Amazon.

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