My grandparents, parents and relatives, who lived through the lean years of the 20th century, salvaged and saved everything for reuse or re-purposing at some later date. By example, I was taught to do the same. I grew up in the era where we made cute things out of toilet paper rolls, plastic dish soap bottles and tomato trays. We even made Christmas trees out of digest magazines. It seems that our culture has in the last few decades moved away from those lean-thinking times. No one wants to make things out of toilet paper rolls these days.
I've learned to not save everything, but when it comes to fabric, the old ways mostly still rule. I save all of the scraps I generate for reuse in other projects. OK, maybe not all...
In the last few years, I developed a more organized way to save my scraps bringing a bit of sanity into the process:
-- large pieces (fat quarter or larger) are folded and re-filed in my many boxes.
-- Smaller pieces are cut into squares depending on the size of the scrap (or the mood I'm in at the time),ranging from 6 inch to 2 inch (I no longer cut them smaller, but I used to!) They are sometimes cut into strips, mostly 2 1/2 inches, but they can be as small as an inch.
--An older fat quarter that has fallen out of favor may be completely cut into squares and strips.
--Any scraps of special occasion fabric go in my Victorian crazy quilt box. I sometimes save old denim and I have been known to salvage the fabric of 100% cotton men's shirts.
I keep the various size scraps together in an assortment of shelves and boxes for ready use. The 4 inch squares have been sorted into a. mostly white & off-white b. prints c. tiny prints d. novelty & brights e. solids & semi-solids f. Kaffe Fasset. The reason they are organized is, of course, for ease of use; however, sometimes I just like to play with them and this is the result.
I like making quilts with scraps or with a scrappy-look. There can be a certain zen to ironing and cutting scraps, whether it be one scrap at a time, or 6 bigger pieces cut all at once. And, while the old ways rule, they now also ROCK because baby, it is now cool to reuse, re-purpose, recycle, and be GREEN! (although I doubt anyone is making things out of toilet paper rolls again).