Running a Zero Waste Studio

Saving every single fibre piece, that includes thread, batting, and fabric. It means storage and reuse are key.

I was lucky to find joy in scrap work early on my quilting and fibre journey. I don’t like the thought of scraps landing in the landfill, our lives already let so much end up in landfills. So here I am figuring out how to reduce my footprint. Seems crazy that I save everything, but I have a few ways to continuously use scraps and process to ensure everything has a home.

Storage is KEY!

Scrap saving isn’t for everyone since it takes up so much space, both physically and mentally. If scrap use doesn’t get you excited or you have a limited amount of space to keep your stash then find a good home for the scraps.

I have found the best way to “process scraps” is determining your storage style. Below you can see I have 6 bins so I can organize by colour. Some folks will organize by size and colour, but for me I try so many different techniques that the best use of my space is doing it by colour. At my cutting table I have a 2 bins, one for all useable scraps and the other to catch all the too small to use bits.

A way I used scraps and created a fun way to store my scraps was to make fabric bins using the technique of crumb quilting and franken-batting. I even practiced my free motion quilting and tested out different quilting designs. Be sure to check back for that blog post!

Kodiak’s Scrap Storage bins created from scraps!

What is a scrap?

You get to decide what a scrap is. Your space will sometimes determine it for you, but also consider what types of quilts you like to make. Crazy as it sounds I will use a fabric until it is smaller than an inch and a half square, after that is goes in the fibre waste bucket that will eventually find a home in a project. Lots of quilters have different definitions of a scrap. My fabric will land in the scrap bins I have made once it is smaller than a fat eighth. It is an experiment and an ever changing system that you get to create. When I was trying different ways of scrap organization I figured out really quickly I don’t like cutting all my scrap pieces into 2.5” squares because what if I wanted to make log cabins or string quilts? So I leave all my scraps the size they are until I have a scrap project I have in mind. Hint: there will be a scrappy quilt idea coming your way soon!

An explosion of the yellow scrap bin, Kodiak’s studio.

Fabric Purchases

No stash guilt here! Building a stash is a lot of fun! Having the basics in my stash has saved my butt on many occasions of midnight sewing. My most used fabrics from my own stash are blenders and basics. It doesn’t have to be a solid, but anything that isn’t directional or novelty can be purchased at a good price and can be tossed into a lot of different patterns.

Reflect on how you buy fabric and think critically of your consumption. How much fabric and supplies do you bring into your studio vs. how many projects are you making? If you were to stop buying fabric and focus on sewing through your stash how long could you go? i.e.) you go a year making 3 quilts and you have 12 kits or bundles set aside for that project. It will take 4 years to make those 12 quilts if you keep that 3 quilts a year pace. This is not to tell you to stop buying fabric all together, just to have that moment with yourself. Again, here with absolutely no stash guilt or quilt police.

To eliminate a lot of extra fabric buy for a specific pattern, this will save you money and probably some storage space. Just like your wardrobe your quilting style changes, techniques you use and even the colours that bring you joy!

Kodiak’s latest purchase, Nelson Stitch Lab (Nelson, BC) + Sugar Town Quilt Company (Cranbrook, BC) + Nuts for Bolts (Red Deer, AB)


Zero waste is a lot of effort, and I get it if it does not bring you joy! There are still ways to dispose of your scraps that are more responsible then simply throwing them in the garbage.

Places to look for disposal of your scraps try contacting:

  • Local guilds
    • Edmonton Modern Quilt Guild
    • Edmonton District Quilt Guild
  • Quilty friends
    • I have found Instagram has been an awesome way to build quilty friendships
  • Textile waste companies
  • Some schools with sewing programs will accept fabric

My favourite way to use all my fibre waste is to make ~20” cubes! I stuff it full of those bits that usually end up in the trash. I separate my batting and fabrics so the cube doesn’t get too lumpy with the batting. I use my scrap batting to make franken-batting to use in small projects and will chop up useless pieces to make pillow forms.

What is the smallest size of fabric do you use?

Do you have a go to place to take your fabric scraps or unwanted yardage?

Keep following along for more ideas for scrap management and projects!

:) Kodiak


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