We’ve all got one. That ever-expanding stash of scrap fabric you can’t bring yourself to toss in the bin - after all, it’ll be perfect for a project… just as soon as you work out what the project is. Never fear. We’ve got a dozen ideas for using up those scraps and making a little extra space in your sewing room - at least
1. Scrap Quilt: This might seem like an ambitious project, and if you’re new to piecing fabric, you might want to start with a smaller quilted project like a table runner or lap blanket to get the techniques down. You can use just about any scraps of woven fabric, but it’s important to make sure that the grain runs the same way in all your blocks or strips. That way they move the same under tension and you don’t end up with misshapen blocks.
2. Bookmarks: These are quick and easy projects that even the kids can help with. Piece them like quilts, or just stitch several layers together flat for a sturdy surface. Use a serger to finish the edges, of pinking shears for a ruffled look. They’re great for stitched embellishments like applique and embroidery!
3. Building Blocks: Essentially little cube.shapes pillows, these blocks are perfect for little ones who aren’t quite ready for real building toys. Add rice or beans to the blocks for a little extra weight to help them stack. For extra fun, stitch applique letters or shapes to the sides and use them in learning games.
4. Fabric Bows: You only need a tiny scrap of fabric and a few stitches to create these adorable embellishments. Fold over the edges of a strip of fabric to hide the raw edges, then fold the ends of the strip in to meet in the middle. Wrap a second strip around those loose ends to form the bow shape and stitch by hand. That’s it! Add them to all sorts of projects, from headbands and barrettes to stuffed animals and even your pets’ collars.
5. Lanyards and Key Fobs: Tired of digging through your bag trying to find your keys? You can solve that problem and get rid of some extra fabric with this fun project. All you need are strips or patches of fabric and a ring to attach it to your wayward keys. Sturdy fabrics tend to work best for this, and you may want to add a few rows of stitching to reinforce your lanyard or fob, just to make sure it can take the wear and tear.
6. Applique Art: Who says sewing has to be functional? Why not make something that’s just beautiful? If you’ve got lots of bits of colourful fabric, create an applique artwork by stitching them to a neutral background. Go abstract, or print off a template - downloadable colouring pages work well for this. Display your finished work in a frame or embroidery hoop.
7. Bunting: If you love the shabby-chic or vintage look, why not use those scraps to make some festive bunting? For a more bohemian look, finish the edges of your flags by pinking them, or make your bunting reversible by layering two different colours together, stitching, then turning to hide the raw edges. To turn individual flags into a string of bunting, shop-bought bias tape works great—just pin the flags in place and stitch the whole length in one seam.
8. Sachets: Another project that only takes a few little scraps. Cut palm-sized sachets in fun shapes and stuff them with your favourite scents, like lavender, rose petals, or even cedar shaving to help keep moths away. Layer sachets in between linens in storage, or give them as gifts!
9. Wallets: Practical, easy, and perfect for getting rid of fabric scraps, wallets are a great project to make for craft shows or to give as gifts. There are plenty of different patterns, from traditional mens' billfolds to colourful mini-purses that hold your phone as well as your cards and bills. Get as complicated as you like, or keep them simple. Just be sure to use sturdy fabrics and closures. No one wants to arrive home to discover your wallet's a little extra empty!
10. Rag Rugs: This one is an excellent scrap-buster, and depending on your preference, it can even be done without any sewing at all. Cut your scraps into strips of roughly the same width. You want to use fabrics that have the same weight, so your braids stay a consistent width. Cut small slits into the ends of each strip. These will be used to join them together. As you braid, add a new strip by drawing it through the slit in the end of the old one, then loop the new strip over and pull the bottom end through the slit in the top. Create a traditional braided rug by weaving your braid into itself as you go, or wait until you’re done and stitch the braid in a coil using a wide zig-zag.
11. Coasters: Another great gift idea, and another perfect project for those just getting into fabric piecing. Practise your quilt blocks and colour combinations by making coaster sets. A gridded cutting mat, clear ruler, and rotary cutter are very helpful in quickly preparing your pieces and for making sure your blocks are square.
12. Pincushions: You can never have too many pincushions! From wearable wrist cushions perfect for using during fittings to adorable shapes that are as decorative as they are functional, pincushions are a great way to use up some extra fabric. Stuff them firmly so they hold pins well. Wool is particularly good filler as its natural oils also help prevent your pins from rusting.