Zip It. Zip It Good!

Bags of Scrap Fusible Pieces

Going With The Flow To be honest, I hate hunting for things. I have found that during my creative process, the sooner I can get my hands on the things that I’m looking for—the better. When I’m in the creative zone I can work nonstop for hours on end. I don’t need to eat or drink, and I usually don’t stop until I can no longer see straight. I mean that literally. When I can no longer see clearly, I think it’s time to stop.

Land Of The Lost I have also learned that if I have to stop what I’m doing and start searching for something—that I know I have—the creative flow is brought to a complete stop. Once the search begins, all my creative energy becomes focused on the search. The search becomes the day’s challenge and not the project. For me, this is a total waste of time, money and effort.

Methods or Madness Since I know this about myself, I try to organize everything based on the way I work. This applies to fabric, tools, thread, scraps, you name it. My most successful organizing methods follow the paths of least resistance. When I am trying to get organized, I ask myself, what is the least amount of effort I need to exert to keep these things together in a useful way? Once I have that answer, that’s what I do.

Pile of Fusible Scrap Pieces

The beautiful pile of scraps ready to go for my project. This pile is about 1-ft. wide and almost 4-ft. long.

The Dump Method This is one of my favorite ways to organize. It is the perfect method to use when I am only wanting to control items in a general way. I use this method a lot, especially at the beginning of a project. For this project, I took a plastic shoebox and dumped all my pieces into it. This was a perfect solution—until I actually came up with an idea and tried to find something specific.

You see, by the time I had finished cutting up all the pieces, I started to develop a clearer vision of what I could make with them. With this vision in mind, I started pulling out a few pieces to see if my idea would work.

Peace Or Piles This process was a lot of fun in the beginning, but it didn’t take me long to realize that I was spending way too much time searching, and not enough time creating. I found that each time I needed a certain piece, I had to dump the whole box out on the table before I could find it. This method of working was becoming too frustrating, and far too time consuming. I realized that I needed a slightly more organized approach for handling my scraps if I was going to make any real progress on this quilt.

Zip-Loc bags full of fusible scrap pieces.

Fusible scraps are separated by shape for easy access and storage.

The Zip-Loc Method When the dump method doesn’t work, the next step in my organizing protocol is the Zip-loc method. I love this method for SO many reasons, but the main reasons are because they are cheap, I can see my pieces clearly and they come in every size imaginable. Oh, and did I mention . . . they are cheap?

Resealable Love I love them so much, I actually asked for Zip-loc bags—in every size—for Christmas. I got them, and it was the best Christmas EVER! I know. I know. It’s very sad, and kinda pathetic, but you can also see that it takes very little to make me happy.

Resistance is Futile Since I’m all about least resistance, I organized my pieces by shape only. I could have gone all crazy by dividing them further, by shape, by color, by size, but that would be silly and really not worth the effort. All I needed was for them to be loosely divided by shape. These divisions gave me the framework I needed for the next step in the process.

Swatches of background fabric

A sampling of background fabric.

I Have a Diverse Background Now that I had a plan for this quilt, I needed to find a background. Since most of my fusible leftovers are light and bright, I decided to go dark to really make everything pop.

I briefly considered using only one piece of fabric for the background, but quickly discarded that idea. I’m a scrap quilter after all—the more fabric the merrier. Besides, I could use up more scraps if I went with this diverse approach.

Once the background fabrics were chosen, it was time to start designing my quilt. I had so much fun working on it. The first decision I had to make was . . . 

You know I have to stop here. I know it makes you sad, but I really have to. I’m not doing this for me. I’m doing it for you. Get some rest. I’ll be back soon.

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8 Responses to “Zip It. Zip It Good!”

  1. Patricia Eaton Says:

    Tom…missed you much at AWOL…but feel as if we are sitting talking ‘quilting’ as I read this blog post…you KNOW I love all kinds of ‘organizing.’ Of course, I’ll ‘stay tuned’ for the results of ALL your good ideas. Love all the color on your posts too. take care, pat

    • Tom Russell Says:

      I don’t know how I did it, but I missed responding to your post. Shame on me. I missed seeing you and everyone else at AWOL. Jim’s photos and stories were great, but they are not like being there. I hope to attend sometime in the future. Until then, thank goodness for blogs.

      LOVE organizing. LOVE colors. LOVE YOU!

  2. Linda Teddlie Minton Says:

    Tom, I’m a Zip-It girl too, and am having so much fun reading your adventures in scrapping! You’re a wordsmith too, and that makes it even better. ;^)

    • Tom Russell Says:

      HI Linda, Thanks for stopping in. I thought I responded earlier, but I must have only done so in my head. I apologize for the delay in responding. I am sincerely sorry and didn’t mean to neglect you.

      I’m glad you LOVE Zip-Locs and that you are enjoying my blog. It’s been a lot of fun and I hope I can live up to the standard you have set for blogging. I am flattered by your praise. Thank you.

  3. Gari Says:

    I’m finding that “us” like-minded creative people are easily entertained, easily amused. I think it so cool you asked for ziplocs for Christmas!! (and got them!!!)

    You do keep pieces I would throw away!!! Gees, should I mail mine to you??!! 😉

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Gari, Yes, I am easily amused and entertained, and on top of that—I’m inexpensive. I should be on everyone’s Christmas list. When people say I am hard to buy for, they obviously don’t know me. 🙂

      Yes, I do keep very small pieces. I should have done something to give an indication of scale. Some of the pieces I found in my bags were so small, that for a moment, I even questioned why I was keeping them. Thank goodness that moment passed. I would have regretted throwing them out.

      Please keep your scraps. I’m sure you can make something wonderful out of them.

      I have a bunch of ideas floating around in my head that I think those little pieces will be perfect for. You know you are hanging onto them for a reason. I”m hoping one of my ideas will stimulate you into using up those little pieces.

  4. Kim Says:

    My kids named me the Queen of Zip Locks 🙂 At one time I too had every single size from the itty bitty ones you can buy at the craft store to the 5 gallon size. Sadly we live overseas where it’s hard to find zip locks of any size (and they’re expensive when I do find them). Last year when friends came to visit I asked them to bring zip locks in the four most common sizes (snack, sandwich, quart and gallon). We’re getting ready to make a trip to the U.S. and I hope to track down the other sizes to bring back.

    I like them because they’re clear, reusable, squishable (which is great for small spaces) and (in the U.S. anyway) they’re fairly inexpensive.

    Looking forward to seeing what you do with your scraps! I’m another keeper-of-the-scraps (in zip locks, of course).

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Kim, I can’t believe I didn’t respond to your post. I sincerely apologize. You are the QUEEN! I didn’t even know they made Zip-Loc bags in a 5 gal. size. I need to run out and get some. I don’t know what I will put in them, but that doesn’t matter. They will be there when I’m ready.

      I LOVE these bags for all the reasons you mentioned. They are my go-to holders for everything. “When in doubt—put it in a Zip-Loc bag.” I understand they are useful in the kitchen too, but I don’t spend that much time in there, so I can’t really say if that rumor is true.

      Thanks for sharing. After my Paducah post, I’ll be showing your updates on my little project.

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