Fabrics 1/4yd and above are folded arranged on the shelves – one section for knits, one for apparel, one for fleece, one for flannel, and the quilting cottons are separated further – one set of shelves for more novelty type prints and one for the rest. Within those shelves, they are then organized into color piles (blacks, greys, whites, browns, multi, reds, pinks, oranges, yellows, greens, blues, purples) . The problem after that was what to do with the smaller pieces. I will readily admit to being a bit of scrap hoarder. The smaller pieces are great for applique, patchwork, quilting, and stuffies. I don’t have a smallest size that I think is “worth” keeping, but in general, for larger scale prints I only keep pieces that have a full image on them that I can use, and smaller scale prints need to be big enough for a fussy cut applique. For knits I keep all sorts of sizes and strips because they work for bindings and upcycles. I used to keep every scrap, but I found my scrap bins overflowing and it just got to be too much so it was time to scale down.
I used to keep my scraps in two 3-drawer bins. They were mostly just stuffed in there and it was always frustrating to find what I needed. So after some browsing around I went with a 9-cube storage cabinet ($30-$35 at Walmart or Big Lots type stores). I decided against using the cloth bins made for the cabinet because they were too deep for what I wanted. I ended up going with these shallower plastic bins ($2.50ea at Walmart) that had a great dry erase label slot on the front of them so I could sort by colors how I wanted. The nice part of this was also that it opened up the 3-drawer containers I had to store other types of scraps. One became the knit storage bin, with the top drawer for knits good for bindings (cotton/lycras and ribbings), the middle drawer for regular cotton jersey and interlock, and the bottom drawer for specialty knits (swimsuit and apparel blends). The second set of three drawers I kept for flannel in the bottom drawer, and my “in progress” projects (you know those ones you work on when you have free time or nothing else is piquing your interest) in the top drawer.
Here is where the shallow bins are important. I wanted to be able to see all the different patterns I have in the scrap pile. It’s great to save all your scraps for future use, but if you can’t find what you need, or have to spend tons of time digging through a mess, it becomes more of a hassle then it is worth. So in order to make the most of the organization system, it’s worth it to take some time to fold all of the larger pieces into nice squares and stand them on end in the box. With the smaller pieces, I found it better to use the remaining space in the bin to tuck them into.
It may seem a little overboard to sort everything so specifically, but the time it saves when you need to grab some smaller pieces, and the ease you will have comparing patterns to choose the perfect one make it all totally worth it. For someone like me that feels comfortable in organized systems, it is the perfect set up to make my little haven just that much more perfect.
The last part of this system that I find so useful is that it can easily be done on a strict budget. I don’t generally have a ton of disposable income for these projects, so I planned ahead and saved the money while silently crying over the state of my scraps. You can go to the local thrift store and get any type of cabinet, and if you get plastic bins with lids they can be stacked on top of each other so you don’t need to have the separate space for each bin. Plus, it is actually a great project to tackle with your kids. I lined up the bins on the floor and put a couple scraps of each color in the bins to start and then had my two little ones help sort the rest of the scraps into the correct bins. They had a ball doing it, and it was fun to watch them argue over whether something was more blue or green and to see how frustrated my daughter would get when my little man would purposefully put something in the wrong bin and declare it some random color. Plus, I sort of hope that maybe it will help instill in them at a young age the importance of keeping things organized, though maybe they don’t need to be quite as compulsive about it as I am!
Thanks for reading my post and I hope that it helps some of you other scrap hoarders to find a system where you can keep things nicely organized and easy to access. Chelsea, thank you so much for allowing me the opportunity to show off my organization methods, and the great chance to share my thoughts on your blog!