Monday, January 16, 2012


My blog header admits that my stash is out of control, although I do sew nearly every weekend, and some weekdays.  I have stacks of projects, my room is moderately organized, and I have an inkling of what I own as far as fabric is concerned.  I say inkling because I'm not sure.  Sometimes I open a tub or move something and rediscover something I bought a while back and think WOW, I found a treasure!

I try not to overbuy, but I have a problem... well not just one but that's for another post.  I wrote previously about Goodwill shopping as a young person, that being my source for fabrics when nothing or very little else was available to me.  And all these years later I can still, in a weak moment, remember how it felt to have to make do with what I had when the girls in my class were buying poorboy sweaters in a dozen colors and wool plaid skirts to match.  So now that I can afford to buy nice things (OK not Armani or the like but nice things) I can get a little crazy on a shopping spree.  There, I admit that!

That is why it was so much fun to come across Scrap Therapy the book, and why I'm a fan of Bonnie Hunter at  In 2009 Bonnie wrote a blog post titled Scrap Insanity.  She gets it!!  And she has a method for people like me, who can't bear to throw something out, to deal with and USE the scraps.

Now here's the thing about finding cool fabric -- you have it, but if you use it, you could use it up and you wouldn't have any anymore.  So you can use SOME of it, but you have to keep some.  And those little pieces? Well they could be used somewhere, like for paper piecing, or a small project, or doll clothes.  But you can't just toss them.

So here I was with two LARGE and several small cardboard boxes full of things I was saving.  Some pieces were big enough for projects, some were the remains of a project, and some were very small.   I've seen lovely jackets made with the strips you cut off of the selvedge edge, so how could I justify tossing perfectly good chunks of fabric?  I had boxes labeled "Barbie pieces" -- probably pieces under 4 inches wide, and boxes for Cabbage Patch and boxes labeled "cut into usable pieces".  This was becoming a problem!

I happened to be in a quilt shop that is now closed and saw a class advertised -- "We're having Scrap Therapy".  Hey, for $15 I'll try it, plus you get a bin and a ruler.  I turned up on time and listened to the teacher talk about this scrap theory.  You cut the scraps into standard sizes, and YOU TOSS THE BITS.  Ahhhhh, can I do this?  I'm a saver by nature.  My grandmother saved the papers from the inside of peanut cans, cleaned them and cut them into curlicue decorations for her Christmas tree.  She taught me how to unwrap a gift without tearing the paper so you could reuse it.

For an hour and a half I cut up the pieces I'd carried to class in my brown paper bag.  I pressed and cut and arranged things in my bin.  When I was done, I had lovely 2 inch, 3.5 inch, and 5 inch squares.  About a shoebox full.  And three patterns that called for a quantity of those sizes of square plus some background fabric. 

Later I discovered Bonnie Hunter, the woman who rarely tosses anything!  She's got a plan for everything, and she loves to make scrappy quilts.  She saves pieces that are oddly shaped and very small called crumbs.  And she uses them!  Well, now we're on to something.  A reason to save those pieces, permission to do so, and no guilt!

I'd like to report that I have fewer scraps now.  But no.  What I DO have is more organized scraps.  And I don't limit myself to those three sizes of square, although that's the majority of what I've cut.  I have a box of six and a half inch squares, which make lovely applique backgrounds.  I've made three small quilts with those squares with hearts appliqued on some of them.  My youngest granddaughter's favorite quilt is a 'checkerboard' of cool prints and white squares.  

Any piece that's width of fabric I cut into 2 inch, 2.5 and 3 inch strips, depending on the size of the chunk.  I have a small box of 2.5 inch squares, and a tub with strips in it that are any size less than an inch wide.  Those make good ribbons and ties for packages and for bundles of other things, and for the garden.  Or you could knit with the narrower ones.  On and on it goes.

But I do have at least four quilt tops made from various sized pieces.  There's one made entirely of nine-patches consisting of 2 inch squares combined with five inch squares.  There are a couple made with just five inch squares, and one that used the two inch squares sewn diagonally on the five inch squares' opposite corners. 

... to those ladies like Bonnie (at who made me realize a crumb could be useful, a big THANKS!  And some day I hope to make some of those wacky pieces she makes, using the small drawer of crumbs I'm saving.

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