I'm Starting a New Quilt to Tidy Up My Fabric Stash!

Actually, make that two quilts! It's been my goal for a while to make a scrappy collection of quilts from my Hexie Handbook. And, a scrappy quilt or two is the perfect opportunity to for a big fabric stash sorting operation. Read on to see how I use a scrap quilt to tidy up my fabric stash!

fabric stash in drawers

Make a scrappy quilt, and by the time you've finished it, your scraps and fabric stash are tidy and sorted!

scrap stash in bins

Look at these lovely, tidy scraps!

You'll have to forgive me for forgetting to take ‘before’ photos. I've been too engrossed in tidying it all up!

Every so often, as I'm sure you can relate, my stash drawers become messy, random piles of fabrics, waiting for me to put them back in colour order some other time. My scrap tubs, I'm much happier to report, slowly become emptier and less useful. When these two issues arise together, I know it's time to make a ‘tidy-up’ quilt!

basting paper pieces from scraps

Choosing a Good Tidy-up Quilt

My favourite quilts to use for tidying up my stash are what I call ‘random scrappy’. They're quilts where you don't need multiple shapes in one fabric for a block, or that you need to make in rounds. They are mostly or completely made from one shape, and you can sew the shapes together into blocks at random. I like these quilts for tidying up my stash because I can cut one or two shapes per print and move on. 

I've chosen Macadamia and Cinnamon from my Hexie Handbook for this project. One is made from large crowns, and the other from kites. Usually I would just make one quilt from a tidy up, but because I had both of these in mind for my near future, and they required the same process, I've cut both at the same time. 

basting paper pieces from scraps

Tidying My Fabric Stash as I Go

I go through my fabric stash and scraps by colour. First I take a scrap basket, and then I choose prints of a similar colour from my stash drawers. I cut one or two pieces from each print (with scissors, cutting a rough 3/8" allowance around the paper shape), and then sort them as I go. (As I'm cutting, I also pick out any prints I don't like and know I won't use and set them aside for destash or donating.)

Scraps that are now too small to use are put in a rubbish pile (I generally throw out anything that won't fit a 1" hexagon, unless they are a strip, which I keep if it's bigger than an inch wide.) Scraps that are still big enough to use go back in the basket. From my stash, I sort prints that are now ‘scrap’ size into the basket (for me, that's anything smaller than a fat 8th), and after cutting, I refold and tidy the rest into a neat pile, ready to go back into the drawer. 

scrap stash and basted paper pieces

A Fabric Stash That's Ready to Use

This whole project has taken much of my work time for the last few days, and there have been times when I've been bored or over it, so I'm not making any promises like ‘sort your stash in half a day!’ BUT! It's not that much more work than starting a new quilt, which is why I love it so much. I use the energy and buzz of starting something new to carry me through the job of giving my stash a good overhaul. And, now that it's done, I have 2 quilts' worth of shapes ready to baste and stitch, and a tidy fabric stash ready to use. And, there's nothing I find more useful and inviting in my creative life than an organised stash. 

Going through my stash this way is always a wonderful exercise in contentment and gratitude. It draws my eyes away from all the beautiful, shiny, new prints out there that I'd love and back to all the beautiful prints I already have. And believe me, two quilts' worth of cutting didn't even make a dent!

Willoughby quilt
Eden quilt

My Favourite Tidy-up Quilts

I went through the same process with my Willoughby Quilt (photo above, left). It's a great quilt for tidying up your stash, and so beautiful when it comes together.

I also recommend Eden, above right, which I used a couple of years ago to go through my low volume stash at the same time. Often my low volume stash gets forgotten until I make a low volume quilt, but this quilt uses both high and low volume scraps if you colour it as I have.

Are you ready to tidy up your fabric stash with a new quilt?

Browse my favourite scrappy EPP quilts below!

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