Friday, May 17, 2024

Reining in My Stash and Scraps / Beauties Pageant 251


Years ago, I was at my parents house, and my mom, who also quilts, was looking for a particular cut of fabric. I remember following her around as she looked in drawers in various bedrooms. She pulled some storage bins out from under a bed or two. She consulted the stash residing in the guest room. Truly, that woman had squirreled away fabric all over the place!

I realized this past week: I have become my mother. The stash that once lived in three drawers in my guest room is now throughout my house.

There are so many problems with storing things here and there. Despite my best attempts at labeling the bins and bags I store fabric in, I dont know what I have, and its easy to think that I should go buy a particular print when a perfectly acceptable substitute resides somewhere in my home already.

So Im centralizing everything in some yet-to-be-purchased furniture in our finished basement. Eventually, once our house is free of teenage boys, Ill take over that space entirely. For now, one wall of it will serve as the home to my fabric. 

Compiling all my stash hasnt proved to be problematic. Organizing the scraps, however, is sucking the life force from me. 

Here are my best words of advice on that front:

1. Come up with a plan that works for you. 

I consider anything much less than a quarter yard as a scrap, and I press those pieces and organize them by color in a single drawer. Ill be moving the contents of that drawer to the basement during this reorg.

Weirdly shapes bits get cut into 2.5- or 2-inch squares, and solid scraps get chopped into 2.5-inch strips. Storing those scraps in neat piles (as opposed to chaotic jumbles in plastic bags, as I once did) makes my heart happy and means I’m more likely to actually use them.

2. Be smart about cutting. 

If you choose to cut down your scraps, it is always easier to prevent quilting-related injuries than it is to recover from them, so set up a cutting station at a comfortable height. I recently did some trimming at my dining room table, and I paid the price. NSAIDs, rest, and ice resolved the rotator cuff discomfort, but I wont be making that mistake again anytime soon. The kitchen island is, for me, a better place to cut.

I also make use of the strip dies with my Accuquilt Go. One pass through the machine can save my body multiple swipes with a rotary blade. Over time, that makes a difference.

3. Embrace maintenance.

It is so much easier to deal with a small pile of scraps when you’ve finished a project instead of dealing with a mountain later on, which is the predicament I am in now. I just hadnt had the time to organize consistently as I went about my projects over the past few years. So I’m doing a lot of cutting (over the course of days, to be kind to my body). The situation is not pretty, but the time investment will be worth it in the end.

Do you have any words of wisdom about stash storage or scrap management? Please share them with the rest of us in the comments!

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