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’