Tips for Organizing and Storing Fabric Scraps

Friday, May 29, 2020


Happy Friday! Time for another sewing room organization post. If you've missed any of the previous posts in this series, you can find them all here: Sewing Room Organization Series. This week we're going to focus on tips for organizing and storing fabric scraps!

Scraps were the #1 topic that you guys submitted on my instagram post kicking off this series. It makes sense, most of us are constantly making new scraps! Left unorganized, they can get out of control really fast! So having a good system that works for you and your needs is an important part of having an organized sewing space. Let's get started!

Evaluate Your Needs

Before diving into reorganizing your scraps, I'd like you to ask yourself a few questions about your scrap situation:

- What types of scraps do you use most? (strips, 2.5" squares, 5" squares etc.)

- What kind of scrap projects do you make? (completely scrappy or more curated color scheme)

- What is your current scrap storage solution? What about it is or isn't working for you?

Now that you have a bit of a feel for your specific situation, let's get to organizing!

What Size Scraps to Keep

It's important to start by defining what a scrap means to you. This is very specific to each individual, depending on what types of projects you sew and what kind of piecing you enjoy. Also, how much space you have to store scraps! If you often find yourself working with little pieces and doing small scale piecework, you'll probably want to hold onto even the smallest scraps. If you're not interested in doing that, only save scraps the size that you think you'll actually use. Holding onto super small scraps you won't sew with will only clutter up your space!

For larger pieces, if a piece is around a fat eighth (9"x21"), I usually keep it folded in my stash. If it's a scrap that I still have yardage of, I'll often tuck it into the middle of the yardage. Or you could designate a storage bin for super tiny scraps and also for larger pieces that could be big enough for a zip pouch or other small project.

There isn't a right or wrong size to keep or toss. Figure out what works best for you!

What to Do with Scraps You Don't Want

There are a lot of things you can do with unwanted scraps, aside from throwing them away. Here are a few ideas:
- Use as stuffing for a pillow, pincushion or softie
- Give to a friend (or trade!)
- Sell them (I find a gallon ziploc bags full go fast!)
- Donate to your local library/school/community group/neighbors
- Bring to a retreat or your local quilt guild to share

Organizing Scraps

Here are just a few of the many different ways you could choose to keep your scraps organized. I'd recommend considering how you use your scraps when deciding how to organize them.

By Color
Keep scraps separated into color groups.

By Print
Keep scraps organized by print type. Ex: stripes, dots, blenders, solids, focal prints, novelty, holiday, etc.

By Size
Keep scraps organized by size. Ex: strips, small squares, large squares, etc.

By Designer/Collection
Keep scraps from specific designers or collections separated.

By Project
Keep scraps from individual projects organized together

By Fabric Type
Keep scraps organized by fabric type. Ex: Quilting cotton, linen, canvas, garment fabric, etc.


Personally, I use a combination of these organizing styles. First, I have my scraps separated by type. So all my linen/canvas scraps are together, garment fabric scraps and then quilting cotton scraps. Within my quilting cotton scraps, I have those organized by color. I also have two other small collections of scraps separated: Liberty Lawn scraps and extra special novelty fabric scraps. I don't often work with all the colors or fabrics at once, so for me it makes the most sense to have my scraps organized by color.

Scrap Storage Ideas

Just like for WIPs, I'm a huge fan of drawer units for scrap storage too. Basically anything that has separate compartments for the different scrap groups will work! The number of compartments you need will depend on how many scraps you have and how you've decided to organize them. Most of my scraps are organized in these drawers from The Container Store (Tall Opaque Modular Stackable Drawer). They were an investment, but they've held up really well over the last four years and survived a thousand mile move unscathed.


Previously I used these inexpensive drawer units that you can find at Target or Walmart, they worked great too!


Bins, boxes, and baskets work great for storing scraps too, and can easily be stored on a bookshelf or other storage unit. something opaque would be nice and hidden in a shared space!


If you don't have a lot of room for drawers or baskets, you could keep your scraps separated with ziploc bags. I organized and stored my scraps this way for many years when I was in a smaller space! I found it to work well and the bags lasted a really long time so you don't have too feel too guilty about the extra plastic. You could also use paper envelopes for a plastic-free option.

Scrap Processing

As I mentioned in the post on keeping your tabletop clutter free, I keep a big bin on the floor near my machine for tossing scraps as I cut. This really helps keep my sewing room cleaner, and it means I can tackle that bin all at once instead of constantly needing to put scraps away. I highly recommend using some kind of temporary storage location for scraps you're making. It's especially handy if you process your scraps before storing them. This will depend on how you use scraps and how you have them organized. If you are storing your scraps by size, you may choose to cut your scraps into those specific sizes before putting them away. So if you have a running stash of 2.5" strips or 5" squares, you can process your scraps into those sizes first.

I don't currently do much to my scraps before putting them away. I'll sometimes trim off little werid cuts from cutting curves or something, but not too much beyond that. I'd love to implement a bit of this into my process though. I love the idea of slowly cutting out a whole quilt worth of strips or squares from my scraps as I create them!

Scrap Project Ideas

I thought it would be fun to end by sharing a few scrap friendly projects:

Long Scrappy Pincushion Tutorial


Tiny Foundation Pieced Lined Drawstring Bag ( LDB Expansion Pattern)


HST Zipper Pouch + FOB Tutorial


Snack Size Pincushion Pattern


Warm Cool Quilt Tutorial


I hope this post has been helpful! I'd love to hear your your tips and tricks for keeping your scraps organized. Or your favorite ways to use up scraps! Don't forget, there is no wrong way! We all have different needs and preferences, these are just a few of the methods I've used to stay more organized.

Happy Sewing!

8 comments :

  1. I always love looking at your phtos -- such great colors and modern fabrics. My scraps usually look like 1980 is still here.

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  2. I used to sort my scraps by shape and size - 2 1/2 inch strips, 5 inch squares, etc. But I have recently switched to sorting by color and it works much better for me. Like everything else in quilting, a little trial-and-error is inevitable.

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  3. I keep my scraps sorted by color in 12 plastic bins from the Container Store that happen to fit perfectly in two deep Elfa drawers. Unfortunately, they don't carry those bins anymore.

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  4. I really LOVE having TONS of fabric scraps to play with!! I usually work on one color at a time with Rainbow Scrap Challenge each month. Thanks for sharing some organizing tips, as the mountain of zip bags on the floor beside my sewing machine isn't really working anymore!

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  5. I love reading your blog, Jeni! These organizing ideas are always sew fun to read! Take care and have a good weekend!

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  6. I'm so glad I read this article today! I keep my scraps in plastic tubs. You inspired me to go through 2 tubs considering the SIZE of each scrap. Many were WAY too small to be of any use. I have so much room in my formerly crammed full tubs that I may have to buy more fabric!

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  7. Is that a vintage breadbox you're using for fabric storage? I haven't seen one of those in years, but WHOOSH! the memories swooped in when I saw that picture! Your scrap projects are fabulous, especially the little drawstring bag with the wooden tassels. Your details are what put your makes over the top!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! Yes, it is a vintage bread box!! I love them. Ironically I have two and they both are used in the craft room, I don't use one for actual bread :)

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