Organizing Scraps for Improv

Organizing Scraps for Improv

Posted by Cindy Grisdela on Sep 7th 2017

Organizing your scraps for improv is a little different than organizing them for more precise piecing.

Improv scraps don’t have to be any particular size, and sometimes those awkward cuts are just what you need to add a spark to an improv block.

I keep small, colorful baskets at the back of my cutting table, organized roughly by color. Any scraps from cutting other projects that are larger than about an inch go into the appropriate basket. Of course, you don’t have to keep scraps that small if you don’t want to—it’s up to you to decide how small is too small to keep.

Often I’ll sew the smaller scraps together into units so they are less likely to get lost in the basket.

When I’m working on a new quilt—maybe with warm, summer colors—I dump out the basket of reds and let the scraps lead the way.

I have a second basket for my leftovers. I often make more blocks or units than I need for a particular project so I’ll have choices when creating my designs. Or because I’m an improv artist, I’ll put a unit together to see how the colors and shapes work together and—um, they don’t. Or at least they don’t for that particular design.

All those extras and leftovers live in their own basket. I never throw them away, even if I hate them!

Sometimes those abandoned units or blocks are perfect to jumpstart my next design or to add interest to a current project.

Time Travel, above, was made almost entirely from scraps and leftovers—the only part that I made from new fabric was the curved red and green borders.

In Lime Medley, above, I challenged myself to make a quilt using a variety of lime green scraps I had for the background. Many of the improv units were created using leftovers from my basket.

The important thing about using scraps for improv is that you devise a way to keep your scraps so you can get to them easily and use them often.

You can find more ideas for handling your scraps and more in my book,  Artful Improv: Explore Color Recipes, Building Blocks & Free Motion Quilting. You can enter to win a free copy of my book right here: a Rafflecopter giveaway. Giveaway ends 9/15.

What's your favorite way to keep track of your scraps? 

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