Patchwork fabrics – this is how you organize leftovers aka scraps

Patchwork fabrics - this is how you organize leftovers aka scraps

I love the creative preparation, choosing patchwork fabrics, collecting initial design ideas for a quilt, drawing, planning, calculating – but only when there is order around me and I have an overview of everything. I consider something like creative chaos to be a myth. But like everyone who loves to sew, I’ve accumulated a fair amount of leftover fabric over time. More and more boxes were filled with crumpled scraps of fabric, so that fabrics that I once carefully selected for quilts, table runners and cushions became more of a burden than a reason to be happy.

Quilt and patchwork fabrics – irresistible

Especially in the area of patchwork and quilting there are so many great fabric collections that you often can’t resist. And if you’re on Instagram and Facebook, you’ve already lost anyway, because there are tempting posts of new fabrics every day. But I decided early on not to accumulate more and more fabrics… So what to do with all the leftovers? If you have larger pieces of fabric or even entire meters left over, you can sort them out neatly and neatly folded and later even implement entire projects with them, but what do you do with small pieces?

From scraps to precuts

At some point I picked up that it is helpful for the further use of the patchwork fabrics if you trim your leftovers to certain dimensions. Sorting by color isn’t very helpful because you never know for sure if there’s enough fabric for a particular project. An exception to this is Foundation Paper Piecing (linked here: Prym tutorial), because this technique allows you to use bulky leftovers. But after recently being gifted a large batch of leftover fabrics and not wanting to fill more plastic boxes with them, I pulled myself together and got started!

And this is how the processing of fabric remnants works

During my research on the net, I came across numerous instructions that were more or less similar in content. I then stayed at (name partner :-)), which dealt a lot with fabric leftovers. She has written various articles on this, all of which are worth reading. But I was particularly impressed by the list of the dimensions she recommends. First, I folded and sorted out any large pieces of fabric larger than a fat quarter. I cut the next size down to fat quarter size. I then trimmed the leftovers to these dimensions (all in inches) :


1½ | 2½ | 3½ | 4½ | 5½ | 6½


1½ x 2½ | 1½ x 3½ | 1½ x 4½ | 1½ x 5½ | 1½ x 6½ | 1½ x 7½ | 1½ x 8½

2 x 4½ | 2 x 5½ | 2 x 6½ | 2 x 7½ | 2 x 8½

2½ x 4½ | 2½ x 5½ | 2½ x 6½ | 2½ x 7½ | 2½ x 8½

Good to know: patchwork fabrics are particularly densely woven and can therefore be easily cut and sewn even as small pieces of fabric.

What looks so easy in this photo actually took a week and resulted in a sore wrist! I praise myself Precuts! After that, however, I realized that I have very little of some measurements and do not want to keep them.

Patchwork fabrics sorted by size
Which measure makes sense, which doesn’t?

I then further trimmed all the small stacks to smaller dimensions and completely dissolved the 2″ strips. I definitely want to keep the 2.5″ strips because they’re great for use with Creative Grids’ Log Cabin trim tool . And this is what my result looks like:

Sorted patchwork fabrics
Final overview of my offcuts: left squares from 1.5 to 6.5 inches, 1.5 inch wide strips in the middle and 2.5 inch wide strips on the right.

I’m sure you’re wondering. whether the hard work was worth it. He has! After that I already sewed some small projects, like mini quilts, bags etc. and I always had the right scraps of fabric together quite quickly! I now have a system made to measure and can trim my leftovers to these dimensions and sort them out after each project.

How to further process scraps

There are many books about the processing of precuts or scraps, because the subject has of course been present since quilting has started at all. I’ve already got my eye on a project and could see at a glance if I even have enough scraps for it. Between the big projects, it’s just really good for me to occupy myself with small jobs – a bit of quilt as you go, a small scissor bag… that clears my head! An example of this is my Scrappy Placemats , which I sewed using leftovers using the quilt as you go technique.

Collection of links for small projects