By Adrianne Ove
My scrap bucket is overflowing, but that has not stopped me from buying other peoples’ scraps.
When this scrap bundle popped up on my Instagram feed, my heart started pounding. It was so good. The colors were different from what I have been using lately, which I really liked. Goodbye, color rut. There were several prints that had interesting details, and the pieces were a good size. I knew that if I didn’t buy the bundle, I would regret it. I pictured myself weeks later scouring the Internet, trying to match fabric listings to the scraps. It sounds obsessive and ridiculous, unless you are a fellow fabric lover. Then you would understand.
I bought the scrap bundle and squealed with delight when it arrived.
This week, I found myself between a couple of big projects, and I needed to sit down and sew just for fun. I pulled out these new-to-me scraps and made a patchwork tote. The best part was choosing which scrap went next.
Looking for other short but oh-so-satisfying projects you can make with scraps? My favorites are mug rugs, placemats and pincushions.
If you are new to scrappy projects, here are some tips to get you started:
Scrap packs are sold in a variety of places. Most brick-and-mortar quilt shops have a remnant bin you can look through. Online quilt shops list scrap bundles for sale. Fellow quilters also sell their scraps, usually in their Etsy shop or through their Instagram account.
Bundles vary from a prepaid postage box full of random pieces to color-coordinated stacks or scraps organized by designer and fabric line. Be sure to read the listings carefully, so you know what you are getting. For example, some sellers show a photo as a representation of possible scraps, not the items you will receive.
It is important to consider the style of scraps in the bundles you are buying. You will only use the scraps you really like. Scraps represent the style of the quilter or the quilt shop because they are the leftover pieces from their projects or their inventory.
Look to buy scraps from sellers whose general style is similar to your own. If there is a quilter who uses red in every quilt and you don’t like red, their scraps might not fit your style. On the other hand, if you can’t get enough red in your life, or you need red scraps to finish a quilt, this would be the perfect source for you.
I really like bold saturated colors, monochromatic prints and small, fun details. The bundle that I bought (pictured at the top of this post) represented my style well, and I knew it was for me. When you buy a random bundle from a quilt shop, make sure you like most of the fabric they sell. If you only like a portion of their inventory, chances are you will only like a portion of their scraps. Remember, the goal is to add fun little pieces to your projects.
You should know the approximate size of the scraps you are buying. The term “scrap” can mean different things to different people. I have known some quilters who consider anything smaller than a fat quarter a scrap and others who save anything larger than a 2-inch square. Don’t be afraid to ask the seller about the size, if that information is not in the description.
Sometimes, scrap packs are listed by weight. One pound of quilting cotton equals about 2 1/2 yards of fabric. Sellers will charge a premium for hard-to-find or collectible scraps.
Consider swapping a zipper storage bag of scraps with a sewing or quilting friend. It will help clear out your bin and give you some fresh new pieces to play with.
If your scraps are heaped into a single container (like mine are), try sorting them by color and you will rediscover pieces you forgot you had.
Last year, my guild had a scrap challenge. We blindly swapped scraps and made each other presents with the scraps we received. My friend Jen made this pillow for me using my scraps, and I just love it.
Adrianne Ove is a freelance writer who lives in Pleasanton, Calif. She writes every Friday. Visit her at her at Little Bluebell.