Wondering how you can start organizing your fabric scraps?

Is your scrap basket overflowing and overwhelming you?

How do you deal with leftover scraps from a finished project?

While sometimes I may have the idea for a coordinating project like this pillow here for my quilt,  most of the times, I don’t feel the desire to work with a bundle of used fabrics. So, where do these fabrics end up?

They either; 1. get further cut into smaller pieces or; 2. be left as they already are to be used in smaller projects. 

In this post, I’ll share with you the process of how I organize my fabric scraps starting from the moment they leave the first finished project.

The fabrics that I use are mostly designer-cotton-quilting fabrics. Simply because I just can’t resist them and they are part of the joy of my quilting journey.

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Organizing fabric scraps

Step 1: Trim, Trim, Trim.

Before I throw(well, decently place) them in piles, I make sure that each piece has all straight edges.

I cut away all funny tangles and appendages that simply create bigger messes and would rarely be useful.

It may feel like you shouldn’t do that – you know that feeling when you say to yourself ,

“hm, I might need this extra bit attached, if I cut it out, I’ll probably regret it later. I might just need this extra 2 inch ”

In reality, that rarely happens. What happens is a mess of tangle and weird-shaped scraps that I’d hate to start using.

So I do this now. Everytime. Ruthlessly. and it makes the whole system works so much better.

Always trim away you scrap fabric to have straight edges - make it simpler for next project

Now, I do still keep those tiny pieces of scraps, except the strings. You know, I may need to use them for small scrappy projects or for that maybe “someday” ticker tape quilt.

At least that is what I say to myself. Whether it’ll be a reality or not, I am happy to let it be this way, for the moment.

I would keep all of them in one box, momentarily, as I usually do this step while cleaning up after completing a quilting project. Sorting, is itself another project on its own.

Step 2: Sorting level 1

Once my first box is filled up, which usually occurs after a couple of projects and fabric pulling,

I would take the box and re-sort them into more division.


First the larger ones. I would decide whether to chop them up into common sizes or to leave it as is.

If I chop them, that means they are likely to be in a scrappy projects, so they no longer can be the main feature fabric.

If I don’t chop them, it is either because I love the fabric so much and that I feel like they deserve a better fate. I’d prefer them to be fussy cut or used as a one-piece in small projects like pouches and all.

Usually, larger pieces that I do chop, they get chopped as 2.5″ strips.

And since I am in love with the Stripology Ruler, this is a fun part for me.

I talked about my love for Stripology Ruler back here in this post.

cutting scraps into strips of fabric

All 2.5″ strips go in one designated box, while any smaller than 2.5″ strips goes into another box. Boxes of various strips. 

The key is to keep them laying flat or upright, not all scrunched up – because you are going to hate pressing all the little pieces when you’d like to use them. I know I do.


Sorting scraps and strips of fabrics

I am placing these strips upright on their sides, just so it’ll be easy for me to pick them up without having to ruin the tidy stacks.

Sorting scraps and strips of fabrics

Sorting scraps and strips of fabrics: Best organising tips ever!

Step 3: Sorting level 2

Now I move onto all squares and rectangles.

Sometimes I take the time to cut certain sizes of squares like 2.5″, 3.5″ and 5″ squares and I sort them accordingly,


But lately, I have enough of those in stock that I decide to keep them in a range of sizes instead.

Besides, I love using these in paper piecing or improv piecing.

organizing fabrics scraps for easy use

Again, the idea is to keep them laying flat or upright, not all scrunched up. You don’t want to use them when they’re all scrunched up.

We want our system to work so we’ll use these scraps in the future.

In fact, by keeping them flat like this, even some of those scrunched-up ones are going to be flattened with time. 

fabric scraps organizing tips


I love love love these scrapbooking boxes.

They stack up really well and occupy space efficiently.

O yes, another thing I like to separate the selvedges. In case I want to make more selvedge projects like this one.

Well, I guess that’s about it on how I organize my scraps before they get to be used in another scrappy project.

After each fabric scrap pulls, just make sure you maintain the system. 

By keeping the fabric upright, I find it a lot easier to work with. 

Keeping it this way has worked well for me in terms of re-using my fabric scraps and knowing exactly where to find them.


How about you? Do you have a way of sorting your fabric scraps?

Let me know in the comments, I love hearing your side of the story too.

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Pin this for future reference:

Organizing fabric scraps sorting fabric scraps

Sorting Fabric Scraps for scrappy quilt organizing fabric scraps


    • Susanne Reinig Reply

      This Sees a very useful was, that could for me .Till now I ‘ve been collecting the fabric rests in different boxes for each colour. And all the small scraps I collect in a basket. But the more I am sewing, the more I geh into trouble with that
      system. And it costs me a lot of time to find matching colour for a project. And Hause I can t leave fabrics I like, I musst buy them, I will get deeper into trouble. So, let me find such boxes to reorganize my fabrics ans thanks äfor the advice

  1. sherry Creech Reply

    I actually sort my scraps very similar to the way you do. I think they are like rabbits…they multiply when left alone. However, I am freaky about saving anything useful. Anythibg that I would throw away goes to the dog bed lady so not one string goes into a landfill.

  2. I used to sort and cut my scraps the way that you show. But that system got to be too time consuming, almost like cutting fabric to make a quilt, then having no quilt results! So I went to the two bin system. One bin for warm colors and one bin for cool colors. I just threw them in, sort f flat and folded. And that has evolved into 3 large baskets where the fabric is divided into color groups (think Rainbow) and separated by small partitions. I keep the baskets out in the open in my sewing studio so I can pull from the baskets anytime. Works for me.

  3. Mireille L Reply

    I just came across your post via Pinterest. I’m trying to organize my house using the KonMari method and I think your approach to fabric scraps will actually help me a lot in this specific area. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Charlot Gold Reply

    Funny I too sort scraps in pretty much the same way you do. I have a terrible time throwing away scraps and to add to my dilemma my daughter, who is also a quilter gives me all of her scraps.

    I make lots of table mats, trivets, zippered bags and mug rugs but the scraps are endless so one thing I have started doing is making dog beds.

    I take a fabric I am not crazy about or some large scraps and make a large pillow case and as I work I throw in all the odd pieces and batting scraps. I just donated five beds to our local shelter. Periodically I go through my scrap stash and weed out the odd fabrics I don’t think I will use and add them to the dog beds or take them to my dealer. He uses small pieces to test the machines when servicing them.

    • littlemushroomcap@gmail.com Reply

      I love the idea of using all the scraps. I wish I could sew more of my scraps, so many projects to work on. Looks like you hve done a wonderful job with your scraps and to have quilts for donation too. Definitely worth sorting through those fabric scraps! Thank you for sharing some ideas for these scraps..

  5. I also use this method to use scraps. I have plastic shoe boxes of strips 1 1/2 and strips 2 1/2. Then I have cut 2 1/2 inch squares, 3 inch squares, and 5 inch squares. I have found most patterns will use these shapes in making quilt tops. Lots of fun to have strips already cut and ready to sew.

  6. I tried this and it still fustrated me. The big piecesI fold by color. The strips I do put together. The tiny pieces I have bin just throw them in for stuffing pillows and bears. I dont go back threw them.

  7. Beth Bennett Reply

    I have tried to save this several times, on “P” but it wont let me. I have written down lots of notes. This is very helpful for me. I have bags and bags of scraps wondering what I was going to do with them. After reading this, and learning about “jelly rolls” and what not, I now know what to do. Thank you so much for posting this. It is really going to help me out and get me a little more organized, and get rid of my stacks of plastic bags!!!

  8. Valerie Freund Reply

    I just completed a big move of my sewing area from the “rec. room” to a spare bedroom on our main floor. I went through all my scraps, straightened them, pressed them, sorted them into colors, and put them into drawers and containers. Just LOVE my new sewing room! I just turned 75, and am having trouble with my knee, so am happy that I don’t have to do stairs. Love being organized at last. Thank you for your article – helps a lot!. Happy New Year, and Happy Sewing!

  9. Don’t you just love learning what other sewers/quilters do? I always get ideas from others. I saw the picture where you’ve hung fabric on hangers – way cool – I’ve been doing that for a long time (great minds think alike?). It makes it very easy to find a favorite piece.
    Last year I finally got around to reorganizing my scraps. I bought a dozen or so Dollar Store bins, labeled them by color and just lay scraps in them as I go. Easy! Plus I have a bin just for holiday scraps and one for strings. My strings all go together in one bin but I use binder clips to organize them in groups by color. Also very easy.
    Lastly, I have a bin for what I call “littles”, those bits at least 2″x2″. Every now and then when I want a break from a current project (helps my focus when making something big or involved) I pull it out and start piecing them together on long strips of 2″ wide paper. The resulting multicolor strips are great for quilt bindings, edging placemats, hot pads and potholders. They also can be sewn together to make a very cute scrappy quilt (Maybe I’ll even get around to that someday!).
    As always, thanks for sharing your great ideas.

    • littlemushroomcap@gmail.com Reply

      Thank you for so much more awesome ideas!! O I love the idea of piecing 2 inches onto a strip paper. Surely will make a great binding. And to use binder clips- another awesome new thing to me. Thanks for sharing! Will surely try them out too.

      • You’re very welcome Amira. I’m with you – sharing tips and ideas helps us all. And I forgot to mention, when piecing onto the strips, I use a very small stitch, 1.8 or 2 mm. This makes it much easier to remove the paper, but trim them first! The paper makes a great guide for trimming accuracy.

  10. I just started to cut and sort my scraps. I have been cutting them into 1.5″, 2″, 2.5″, 3″, 4″, 5″, and some strips. I’ve sorted them into ziplock bags by color and size, then I put them into plastic drawer containers according to size. The only problem I have found is that my creative juices flowing and gets me distracted.

  11. Kathy Vale Reply

    Basically, I do it this way…However, I have a bag that I use for smaller scraps, odd sizes, dibs and dabs, etc. that I use for making crumb blocks.I have taught a friend to make these blocks, so I share with her. She is also an art teacher, and her small children love to create pictures with these crumbs…So find a primary grade teacher, and she would love this extra resource!

    • I love making crumb blocks! That is the most stress free sewing I’ve ever done.

  12. Loving all these ideas, hoping to get Hubble to make me a proper craft room and all these ideas are gold thank you. I’ve such a stash but a lot of it is out of sight in plastic drawers, this sounds a great way to sort.

  13. Hi. Thanks for the tips. I, too cut my scraps into straight edges. But I save the odds and ends and cut them into large confetti—1/4th inch to 1/2 inch or so. I then use the confetti as stuffing in the catnip toys I make for a cat rescue I volunteer for.

  14. Cindy L Masek Reply

    Great timing! I am just finishing up cutting up 15+ years of accumulated scraps before moving into my new sewing area. It is amazing how much less room the strips and squares take. I will never let it sit this long again either. I pretty much did the same thing but was stumped how best to store. This is where your post was really helpful. I do have a question about your strip ruler. I have something similar (different brand) but I am frustrated how the cutting slots flex to the side creating less than straight edges. Does your tool keep a firm enough structure to prevent this? Thanks again for all your great ideas. I love reading your blog.

  15. Shelly Holt Reply

    I recently spent 3 DAYS cutting and organizing my scraps that were tossed into a large plastic bin. I made strips of varying lengths, but “standard” widths of 1”, 2”, etc.; squares of 2-1/2 “, 3”, 3-1/2”, 4”, 5”, 6”. Then I placed them in ziplock gallon and quart bags and labeled them with their sizes. Then I placed them sitting upright or laying flat back into the plastic bin. I had a lot of residue that I put in a fabric only trash can that I stuffed a couple of pillows with. That is full again, so I guess a dog bed or pillow is the works soon. I plan on using some scraps for my bookshelf quilt with titles of my favorite books on them. I have been quilting for just one year. I am working on Quilt of Valor quilts right now. Happy quilting.

  16. I’m moving in 6 months and my huge 8 big boxes of random pieces, yardage and scraps are well deserving of being organised so I can set things up to get going with creating. For now it’s just time to organise. Reading the various cutting suggestions, I like the ideas and will find what works in the end for me. I’m thinking 2 gallon Ziploc bags and the big boxes since that would be the least further outlay of money as we save to move. I haven’t quilted in a couple years and was still very much a novice when I did, so I’m looking forward to it and joining a quilting club in my new town as well. I especially liked that for some the sorting meant saving the very least of fabric to be repurposed as stuffing for other projects. I’m very much a believer of the “re-use, repurpose, recycle” motto.

  17. I love making scrap quilts so saving all my scraps is important to me. I tried a system of cutting to specific sizes as you do and it just didn’t seem to work for me. Instead, I find a scrappy quilt pattern that I like and cut my leftovers in the sizes that are needed for that pattern. I place the pattern and the cut pieces in a zip lock bag and store them in an under bed bin I currently have three bags that I have been adding to, depending on the size of leftover pieces I have. In addition, (and this has been very difficult for me), I have placed a moratorium on my self regarding any ne fabric purchases. When I need a fabric fix, I take one of my bags with me and purchase only what I need for background, sashing, borders or backing for that particular project.

  18. Janice Christopherson Reply

    Your article about how to save & eventually use your scraps was very
    well written. Thank you very much.

  19. Love your post. I have just completed my first scrappy quilt from my two inch square blocks. I also organize my scraps in strips and blocks. Just keep scrapping.

  20. hi thank you for your advices I am italian i do not speak english but i understand a little. I see the pictures..
    My problem is how to begin separate all my scraps if i have not any project…so i start with the same color .. have you any advices for me?

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