So who has scraps? I do. I have been saving scraps for so long it seems. I originally had two bulk food bins with lids from the grocery store, one for lights, the other for not lights. I made a Queen Bedspread quilt by just sewing a chunk on and making a straight edge, sewing on another chunk and sew on..... everyone loved it but I didn't seem to be emptying the scrap bin. The most effective way to get rid of scraps was to just give them to someone else! Shirley used to take a bunch and come back with a quilt in a few weeks.... she was good at it.

Now that I don't have ready access to someone taking my scraps (I would have to pack them up and take them to someone), my bins are full. So are a few bags and a box or two. I have made a few quilts out of my scrap bins, On Ringo Lake by Bonnie Hunter, and The Gypsy Wife by Jen Kingwell. I also was able to coax my retreat ladies into making the scraps into a quilt top for our Guild's Community Quilt program..... but I still have more!

I had a special bag for batik only scraps and I have two batik scrappy quilts in progress at the moment..... so today (because I keep thinking about them) I dumped out the bag of scraps on my ironing board.

Then I just picked them up little by little and pressed them.... I just put the next piece on top of the last piece that I had ironed and kept going. I did a preliminary sort at this time. Any piece that was less than 1 1/2" wide by more than 6" long went into the String Bag.

My "String Bag" contains strips that are just shy of 1 1/2" wide, some of them aren't straight but that's ok, they can be used in a 'String' quilt where they are sewn together to make up a block, often on a foundation to keep the skinny pieces manageable. My favourite foundation is a piece of batting and backing that are a bit bigger than my intended block and starting on the centre diagonal, put two longer strips, right sides together on top of the batting and backing and sew down the long edges through all of the layers. Then you flip open the seam and add another strip to each raw edge.... the shorter pieces can be utilized out towards the corner and then, when the whole surface is covered, you trim the block to the size it needs to be. These Quilt as you go blocks are then put together with a sashing and then you have a finished quilt. Using paper or muslin instead of the backing and batting allows you to use the quilt blocks to build a top just like you would any other time.

The bits that are just too small do anything with went into the recycle/pillow stuffing/dog bed bin. The unusual shapes that were just too big to toss but not big enough to get a 2" square out of go into the bowl. I also put things in the bowl that are already attached together. They will become a large piece of fabric that may be turned into something or cut into blocks one day. I sew together some bits, press, cut a straight edge and then sew some more on.

This picture is how I press, bits on top of other bits......

Here's what I ended up with, the Bowl, the stringy bits up on the top left and the tray is holding the freshly pressed pieces that I will cut up.

How do I know what to cut them into? The best advice I have heard lately is to start with a pattern in mind. I did this with my Gypsy Wife, I cut out each block individually and just picked a piece out of the pile that looked large enough to get what I needed. Today I was working on my Trail Mix Quilt..... I have been taking this to Retreats for a few years now and tend to spend a few hours cutting bits before I go and sewing up all I have cut while I'm there. Today, I actually read through the pattern and I'm not at all as close to being done as I thought. So I made a cutting list, noting what is needed for each block and what I have done already.

I kept track of the shapes/strips, most were 2" or 3 1/2" for this project, and if there were leftover bits of the scrap I cut them to 1 1/2" if I could. If I couldn't they went in the string pile. If there were odd shapes left, they went into the bowl too.

I cut my 2 x 3 1/2" rectangles and 3 1/2" squares when I could because they were the biggest pieces I needed. Then 2" squares and leftovers went into the bowl or the recycle bin.....

As I got 20 or 30 pieces, I put them in the ziploc bag for each block and marked down the number I needed by that amount.... I have strips to make strata and make blocks from them and those will be marked off at that point too. I have lots of 2" squares, so I may just use those up first before I break into the strips.....

The tray doesn't look any emptier but it, I just need to find a nice level surface to keep the tray on until I have the urge to cut scraps again. This is only the beginning! I have two more shoe boxes full of batiks and the fat quarter and larger pieces are stored with my yardage... far too much to ever use. Maybe I'll pack up the bowl and pass those bits on at least.... Once my quilt is cut out, I'll clear off the tray according to the Bonnie Hunter Scrap Management system, here's a link. It's great for when you need a handful of 2 1/2" blue strips.... you can open that container and get going...


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Finally! A new Episode

I have finally filmed a new vlog/podcast, here's the link.... Episode 8 I've been busily quilting up a storm, I've posted some pictures on Debra Quilts Lots Facebook page and there's lots yet to do!

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