Taming Your Scrap Pile Monster


In quilting and sewing we create a mountain of fabrics scraps, Quilting Contessa covers a fun tip to tame the scrap pile monster. Read and share.

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Taming Your Scrap Pile Monster

For every quilt block we create, we add to an ever growing pile of scraps made from selvages, adored fabrics, and fluffy battings. We fussy cut and trim until we think we can do no more with the mountain of tiny material fragments and then we shovel them into a bag, box, or bin telling ourselves that "one day, I am going to make something with those".

Taming Your Scrap Pile Monster


Well, for a long time my scrap pile monster grew and grew until my cat made use of it for a bed. I looked down from the whirr of my sewing machine and there he was all curled up and comfortable making friends with the scrap pile monster. I just sat there, and I gazed at them for a long time as if I couldn't believe what I was witnessing, but then the gears in my quilters mind started turning until I had that "Aha!" moment. The moment I knew how I was going to tame my scrap pile monster.


Today, I am going to share with you a tip to keep the monster under control with a few ideas of what to do with all those fabulous and wonderful tiny little scraps you just can't bring yourself to toss.

Mr. Garfield by Shannon Robeson


Before you can conquer your monster, you will need to get him under control and make him start working for you. Fabric scraps and batting piles can quickly get out of control, so I like to practice what I call the "Tame as You Go" method to keep the monster in its place.


As I quilt and sew just about any project these days, I cut and trim my scraps to more manageable sizes as I make them. To cut them I use the same ruler, cutting mat, and rotary cutter I am using on my current project, but I also have a few homemade plexiglass templates to help make the job fast and efficient. I cut the largest pieces into triangles, squares, and rectangles. I don't make them smaller than 2" X 2" as a personal preference. I separate them out by size, and they are ready to go for a quick project. All those fantastically cut shapes can then be sewn together to make larger scrappy blocks for your next project.



Now that you have your scrap pile monster under control it should be reduced to a collection of long strips too small to sew and odd shapes of batting and fabrics. These are perfect for adding as embellishments to scrappy projects. They can be sewn directly on top of your project using a decorative stitch or a simple zigzag. The batting can be placed under the fabric to add dimension or left showing for a more artistic look. I sew mine together and use them for fun handbags.



Now that we have tamed the scrap pile monster let us look at a few other uses for all those wonderful scraps.

  1. If you want a quick way to just reduce your scrap pile monster, they make a great filler for pet pillows. Just collect them into a pillowcase and when you have enough, sew the end of the pillowcase closed. They make a great donation gift for pet shelters. If you don't have a local shelter you can whip up a quick pillow for yourself. I use mine for kneeling in the garden.
  2. Sew squares of various sizes to make pillows, quilts, and handbags. These are a perfect size to sew together when making other quilts. Before you know it, you will have sewn together two quilt tops.
  3. A quick and fun project for the kids. This requires buying a few round plastic holiday ornaments. Simply have the kids glue the scraps onto the ornament. You can adapt this idea for any holiday or special event by using fabrics or colors for the festive event.
  4. DIY fabric Mache projects can add a colorful twist when you replace newspaper with fabric. Projects can be used to decorate around the house or make a 3d model of the earth and orbiting planets for a science project.

There are so many other fantastic things you can do with even the tiniest scraps. I look forward to hearing how you tamed your scrap pile monster. Happy Quilting.


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The layer in the middle of a quilt sandwich between the Top and Backing layers consisting of wool, polyester, blends, silk, or cotton.

Same As: Stuffing, Filling, Wadding, Filler
The basic unit of a quilt top, usually square but can be rectangular or other shapes. Blocks can be pieced, appliqued or plain.
Cutting Mat
Surface used for cutting with a rotary cutter. The mat protects your tabletop and can serve as a measuring tool when you use the gridlines on the mat to line up your fabric. Many mats are self-healing which means that the blade of the rotary cutter will not create permanent grooves in the mat.
The layer in the middle of a quilt sandwich between the Top and Backing layers consisting of wool, polyester, blends, silk, or cotton.

Same As: Stuffing, Batting, Filling, Wadding
Fussy Cut
The cutting out of specific areas of a fabric to use the image or motif on the fabric. Often used to isolate animals, flowers, etc from a Conversation Print or Novelty Print fabric. A template may be used to cut out many images to be the same size for use in a block. Because the remaining fabric then looks like Swiss cheese, it is wasteful of fabric.
Rotary Cutter
A very sharp tool that looks like a pizza wheel which is capable of cutting through multiple layers of fabric.
A heavy plastic measuring guide that can come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
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