Shoebox Scrappies

Date Published: 31st March 2021






Shoebox Scrappies

This series came about from a house move. Having lived in the same house for over 25years and being an avid stitcher and needlework designer who hates to waste fabric and threads, I had to decide what to do with my vast collection of fabrics. Some were tiny pieces. Did I get rid of most or do something with them? Whenever I cut up fabric I put all the waste pieces into a plastic container then tipped them into a large cardboard box. Out of sight, out of mind and a clear conscience! When that box was full I stored it away and got another box.

Well, I took them all with me to the new house, but I didn’t put them away in the loft out of sight. I left the boxes in my sewing room (spare bedroom) so I had to do something if I wasn’t to trip over them. I gradually worked out a system.

Open one large box, take out a handful (you couldn’t tell!) pick off all the small bits and iron them ready to cut up. (The bits in the box get creased up, twisted together and shed threads all over which doesn’t encourage their use, but once they are cut and stored by size it is easy to make them into quilts). Pick up the top piece to trim. I decided my magic number was 6½” square (I had a 6½” square ruler). Anything bigger than that was kept as a large piece in a colour – coded banana box. Blue/purple, red/yellow/orange/brown, greens and floral/mixtures. Cream and black had individual boxes.

Using a small square ruler and small portable mat, rotary cut the largest square possible, then the next until only tiny bits remain. Anything less than 1” square was binned or used for felting. Cut out 6½”, 6”, 5½”, 5” etc. down to 1”. Start on the next piece. I had small plastic food boxes labelled by size. Put all squares of one size carefully on top of each other. I kept a small ruler and mat ready with a few ironed pieces in the kitchen and could cut up one scrap while the kettle boiled or I waited for the scones to cook!

 A warning! It becomes quite addictive and very satisfying as the pile goes down. You will have more of 2½”, 2”, 1½” and 1”.  Of course, I soon needed more boxes. That is when I had the brainwave! Shoeboxes were the answer. They will store, stack easily and are readily available. Everybody seemed to have empty or spare shoeboxes and were glad to get rid of them. Even the shoe shop had spare boxes.

As the piles mounted up I put strips of card down the length of the box to keep them straight. 

An interesting fact – in an average-sized shoebox you can store 5000 two inch squares. That is approximately 21yards of fabric !  I made a king-size quilt using one boxful.

After eight months, all but one small bagful was sorted. Now I organise the scraps from each project as I complete it. More or less!!

To my surprise my scraps equated to well over fifty metres of fabric. Fabric that would have been binned! My conscience was now clear so I could buy more fabric!…..and have fun making free  quilts with fabric I have chosen, already pre-cut into squares. Like having dozens of charm packs in different sizes. Bliss! I will regularly put a quilt on the site using specific sizes of squares, so start cutting up your scraps ready to begin.