When I am cutting out a project and I have left over yardage that is less than 1/8 of a yard, I like to cut strips to save for other uses. My favorite size of strips to keep are 1 1/2″ and 2 1/2″. Those are sizes I use the most in my scrap quilting and also for bindings. Because of this strip saving habit I have a lot of strips in all colors! In this post, I will talk about storage to keep them organized and what I use these strips for. Maybe it will inspire you to start a strip collection of your own.
Storing the Strips
When I started quilting, I used to just throw strips and scraps into a big bin and rifle through it when I needed one. Let me tell you …. big mistake! Over time, that pile of strips became a giant jumbled mess. The fabric was fraying and the strips were getting so tangled together they became unusable. My first attempt at organization was Ziploc bags of strips.
As you can see, this was OK at first, but looking closer you can see the strips starting to jumble together. Plus I didn’t separate them by color. My newest solution is the Sterilite tubs you can find at any big box store. Here’s what some of my bins looks like:
I made dividers from acid free cardboard cut to fit. Then I organized strips by color and size. Now, when I am looking for a strip of a certain width and color it’s easier to find it. And since they are carefully folded and stacked, they are less likely to get tangled or jumbled up.
Using the Strips
Binding: So, what can be done with strips? So many things! As I mentioned above, by having this stash of strips I always have fabric for binding! I like scrappy binding on my scrap quilts so this is an ideal use. I use the 1 1/2″ strips for single-fold binding and the 2 1/2″ strips for double-fold binding. Here’s some of my projects with scrappy binding.
Borders: Have you ever completed a quilt and thought it was not big enough or that it was missing something? Strips can help you with that! One of the easiest borders to do with strips is a checkerboard border.
Another easy one is a piano key border:
You can even use your strips just randomly like in this quilt border:
Making Quilt Blocks: Finally, these strips can be used to make all kinds of quilt blocks. One of the easiest is a four-patch or nine-patch block. Using 1 1/2″ strips you can make tiny 2 1/2″ four-patch blocks or 3 1/2″ nine-patch blocks. 2 1/2″ strips will make 4 1/2″ four-patch blocks or 6 1/2″ nine-patch blocks.
Bonus! you can make a lot of these blocks by using a strip piecing method I talked about in a blog post from last year: Strip Piecing Tips and Techniques.
Another type of unit used a lot in blocks that you can make from strips is a flying geese. Simply cut a 1 1/2 x 2 1/2″ rectangle from one fabric strip and then cut two 1 1/2″ squares from another fabric strip. Use the traditional stitch and flip method to make a geese unit that measures 1 1/2 x 2 1/2″!
If you use 2 1/2″ strips for your flying geese pieces, you need to cut a rectangle 2 1/2 x 4 1/2″ and two squares 2 1/2 x 2 1/2″. Then you will get geese that measure 2 1/2 x 4 1/2″. You can use these in all kinds of blocks like Evening Star and Dutchman’s Puzzle blocks. I’m sure you can think of others.
And then there’s my favorite block: the Log Cabin. Use the 2 1/2″ strips to cut your center square and the 1 1/2″ strips to cut your logs.
As you can tell… there’s a little applique I did on this quilt that shows in the right hand corner, but you get the idea! There’s also other versions of the log cabin block that can be made from strips like the courthouse steps (with or without cornerstones), a traditional log cabin with cornerstones and a star in the middle (also made with scrap strips!) and even a pineapple style.
So many blocks can be made from just strips that there’s too many to list here. What are some you can think of? Share in the comments and you will be entered in the ongoing drawing for my pattern Season of Joy!
The drawing will be on Monday, February 10th!
Happy Quilting & Strippin’
Karen H says
Deanne- thanks for all your tips- I enjoy reading them
Very informative article. Appreciate someone who appreciates scraps!!! My quilting gals think I am too frugal!
Sherry Finegan says
I too love scrappy quilts & most all of my quilts are scrappy. Currently I am piecing Tavern Blues – a civil war quilt. Enjoy reading your tips.
Mary Ellen A says
Thank you fir the tips for strips. I purchase jelly rolls sometimes because I love the fabric line but don’t want to make a major investment.
ann GRENFELL says
Do I collect strips? I think I might be the queen of scraps, I just love them.. I do my best to pack them in colours and then in strips and squares in that same colour group… I have found little sealed sandwich bags make a great asset in keeping them all separate, before putting them into one big sealed bag, then into a see through box for storage..
Angelia Ulrich says
I collect strips 1.5, 2, 2.5, & 3. I like tho make scrappy quilts so these give me great variety. Love your tips. Thanks.
Linda dixon says
I have a lot of scrap small pcs; will start makings strips thanks to your idea! Strips could be used for a pineapple block maybe. I myself do a lot of 4 and 9 patch block quilts; and cut to give different looks!
Ann Liebner says
Thank you for the wonderful tips on storing fabrics. I use a lot of fat quarters because I love scrappy quilts, so there are always strips leftover
Teresa Romzick says
I like the variety that keeping scrap strips or squares gives for future projects.
I keep strips 1 1/2, 2 1/2, and 3 1/2 longer than 18″. Shorter strips are stitched in pairs, cut into two-sies, then stitched into 4 patches which can be left as is or added to for 6 or 9 patches. Leftovers over 5″ are kept and made into piano keys. I like your idea of the cardboard dividers!
Judy Davis says
Yes, I do keep strips and selvages and have lots of them. Thanks for the great information on how to organize and make use of them. I need to get busy organizing my scraps now.
Nichola Spoerl says
Love reading all of the tips. I learn a lot of ideas I can use.
Love getting your emails with news of your latest patterns and so many good tips. I also cut and save strips and store by color and size in see-through small bins.
JEAN Hannis says
Love all your tips! Thanks.
PINEAPPLE IS MY FAVORITE SCAPPY TOO.
Maureen Latta says
Thank you for such an interesting article. I take my random width strips and using the flip and sew method I stitch them to leftover wadding. These pieces can then be sized to make bags or little zippered pouches. The uses are endless. I love your new pattern, it is very fresh.
Rebecca Moore says
Great tip on keeping strips. I do have strips and use them from time to time however I need to be reminded of the use for them to use them more.
Cindy Dahlgren says
I love to cut my leftover fabrics into strips too. I tend to cut 2.5″and 5″ strips mainly. I love jelly roll quilts and charm square projects. I cut 1.5″ strips whenever possible for the 6″ blocks that are so popular now. I store mine in shoe boxes by color family. I’m going to try some of your ideas too. Jadahlgr at yahoo dot com
Nancy Austin says
Saving strips for a log cabin. Thanks for these tips.
Linda Dennison says
I love the challenge of using scraps to make donation baby quilts. It almost makes the quilts free as well as giving me an incentive to keep sewing!
Beverly Wood says
Thanks for the great ideas. I too have all my strips in plastic bags. I thought I was doing good just labeling the bags by size. I am now gonna put them in storage contains by color. Looks easier to stack and store .
Judith McCaulley says
I also save strips – but so far have not separated them into colors – I fold them into their respective size. Also, cut squares from leftovers that are too small for strips.
Linda Warning says
I started saving my leftover strips a few projects ago. Right now, they are all jumbled in a ziploc bag. I love your organizational idea. Great and useful ideas for my strips. Thank you!