Since I like to use LOTS of different fabrics when doing applique, many have asked through comments and emails how do I work with so many fabrics and get blocks done so quickly.
Normally using lots of different fabrics, often for each leaf or petal, would take a long time if I was dealing with yardage or large pieces...choosing a bin, sifting through to find the right fabrics, unfolding, pressing, using, re-folding, putting away...TOO SLOW!
I am guilty of container-mania. I can't seem to look at any kind of container and NOT think of a way to organize quilt stuff in it! If you are familiar with my quilt cave, you already know this. If you aren't aware of my whacky OCD and the quilt cave, click here (and be kind...)
My larger scraps are already segregated by color, but even these medium-sized art bins can be cumbersome when I am working with many colors at once. They are too big to have many of them open at my fingertips, all at once, as I audition fabrics and group them together to test compatibility.
I found these small bins lately, and realized that I had found a way to speed up choosing fabrics and prepping ahead of doing the glue stick thing on each piece.
They were made to store and organize 4 x 6 and 5 x 7 photos while archiving or scrapbooking (that should give you an idea of their small, handy size). At my JoAnn's, I found them both in the scrapbooking AND sewing container sections of the store.
Well, at the risk of ridicule, I will share my latest organizational idea for tiny and small scraps. It only took one good movie on DVD to establish these little boxes for this project, and now prepping blocks is a joyful breeze. I picked through my large, "wee bits" (or crumb) bins to find the colors I needed for most all these blocks.
I use the small ones for the tiniest fabric crumbs (pictured below, right)...sometimes just big enough to get one leaf or petal shape out of it. I can sort through the little container of crumbs very quickly and easily with my large, straight forceps (my fingers are a little clumsy picking up the little bits - have you ever seen someone doing this kind of thing with chop sticks? It's amazing how agile and quick you can be when clumsy fingers get out of the way!).
I put slightly larger pieces in the 5 x 7 boxes (pictured above, left)...this is good if I am prepping larger pieces or several pieces from one fabric. These bins are so small, I can have several open at one time around my immediate work area. (I actually went to my pink yardage and quickly whacked random rectangles with my scissors that were slightly smaller than 5 x 7 in size to establish this box of larger pieces.)
I used to dig through these large crumb containers...
...they are large and clumsy, and hold a color family ("hot" - reds, oranges, yellows; "warm" - purples, blues, greens; "neutrals" and "browns/blacks"). I spent all my time first digging to choose, then pressing (because they are a jumble on the inside of the big bin).
Using the forceps to move bits around (for speed,) I did a quick press of the desired crumbs only once when establishing these little boxes, then as I use pieces, I put them back in the container stacked instead of jumbled...meaning I don't have to press them ever again. Taking a little time now saves much time later. Using the forceps to move them in and out makes this go really quickly.
I just use the forceps to quickly lay out some pieces, then use the forceps to easily pick up the tiny pieces of freezer paper and place them on the scraps, then I come through with the iron to adhere the patterns to the scraps, several at a time. MUCH FASTER!
After cutting out the piece, if there is enough crumb left to save and use again, I use the forceps to quickly stack the pieces back in the small bins, maintaining the nice, flat, "pressed-ness." When pressed, you can get a lot of crumbs into each small container!
They don't take up a lot of room when closed and stacked, so I can have them right next to where I work, ready to grab.
These little bins make the following nonsense a lot easier and faster to do!
Think this is nuts? Welcome to my OCD world! But it is helpful to have OCD, sometimes...