What can you do with fabric scraps?

Got scraps?  Here’s a quick & cute scrap busting project!

I spend way too much time thinking about fabric scraps!  As a maker, I’ve got quite a few.  And as someone who cares about sustainability, I want these scraps to be functional & have a second life!  If you’re wondering what to do with your fabric scraps, you’ve come to the right place! 

Scroll down if you want to get right to the project!

First things first…

Should you keep your fabric scraps?

The short answer is YES!  Save them!  There are so many projects that will put your scraps to good use.  Everything from blankets & homegoods to clothes to gifts to pet supplies & more!  Save those scraps – even the tiny bits!  

You can even SELL your fabric scraps!  Search for “fabric scraps for sale” and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

How do you organize your fabric scraps?

You might be fine with just a single bin or box for all of your scraps.  Toss everything in the bin.  When the bin gets full, it’s time to get making!  

But if you make LOTS of things, including things to sell, and have LOTS of scraps, you might want to organize your scraps by color or size.  

For example, I keep my selvage edges together in a drawstring bag.  And I keep my really tiny bits together in a separate reused plastic bag.  Scrap fabric pieces that are about 2” in length & width or larger, I organize by colors.  

I have a LOT of fabric scraps because I sew a lot and also because when I first started No Trace, I didn’t have zero waste patterns for all of my bags so I saved the scraps for future use.  Now, I mostly sew zero waste patterns so that I don’t create new scraps. 

But I have 2 little rolling cabinets with small drawers that are full of fabric scraps.  When those drawers get too full, I sell a bag of scraps online (I’ve only had to do that once so far!). 

Why does it matter what we do with scraps of fabric? 

Fabric is a major source of trash globally.  The US alone contributes about 15 million tons of textiles to the landfills each year.  This is really depressing given that up to 95% of textiles could be recycled and reused with the right resources.  (See smartasn.org for more information on textile waste and recycling).  

As makers, it’s important that we don’t contribute to this problem.  After all, we’re creative!  We can use our creativity to fight textile waste, have fun, & share our skills with our family members, friends & community!  

Where do you find fabric scraps?

If you don’t have enough of your own scraps to make what you want, try reaching out to your local quilting guild to see if they have any scraps.  Lots of communities also have creative reuse resources like The Fábrica in Santa Cruz, Scrap SF in San Francisco, and Scrap KC in Kansas City.  You can also check Facebook marketplace – I’ve sold a bag of scraps there before.  And check your local fabric shop & Etsy for scraps for sale too.  

What can you do with really teeny tiny fabric scraps?

If you’ve got really small bits – threads & thin cuts less than ½” of width or length, I’ve got a few projects for you!

One of them is a zipper pouch that’s filled with these little bits!  I’ve got a short video here.

As soon as I have a longer version of this video with more details, I’ll link to it here, and create a blog, eventually.

 

I also have 3 different videos that show you how to use your tiniest scraps as stuffing.

 

This video shows you how to use your teeny tiny scraps to fill hot pads/pot holders.  These work great as table top trivets as well.

And this one shows you how to use your teeniest scraps as stuffing for pattern weights.  

And this one shows you how to use your super small scraps as stuffing for cute toy strawberries!

Also check out Zero Waste Daniel for inspiration for putting even the tiniest bits to good use.  He saves every little bit of thread & fabric in his studio.

What can you make with your fabric scraps?

I’ve got TONS of tutorials for projects to make with your fabric scraps and I’ll link to the whole playlist here. 

In this tutorial I’ll walk you through the steps to make a scrap-tastic tiny drawstring bag.

I’ve been loving playing with my scraps – it’s become my happy place!  When I need a break from working at the computer, I love sitting at my machine for 5 or 10 minutes & piecing together scraps in a crazy quilt-as-you-go style.

So I thought I’d create an easy project for YOU to get some of the joy & satisfaction of cruising through some scraps!  Once you make one, you’ll probably want to make a few more.

These use a bunch of scraps & work great for holding small things – earbuds, jewelry, a gift card, cash, bobby pins & hair ties, crystals, essential oils, you name it! 

Here’s what you need:

  • lots of scraps in a color palette that makes you smile.
  • about 30” of cord, ribbon, or shoelaces

Step 1: Make your outer panels (crazy quilt-as-you-go method)

  • Starting with a small scrap, place a second small scrap on top of the first piece (right sides together, or RST) along a straight edge, and sew together with ¼” seam allowance.
  • Press the pieces flat on the right side of the fabric & trim excess fabric.
  • Attach a 3rd scrap to the new working piece along another straight edge using a ¼” seam allowance.
  • Press the new pieces flat on the right side of the fabric & trim excess fabric.

Continue attaching pieces to your original piece (and ironing & trimming as you go) until your piece is large enough to cut a 5” x 5” square out of it.

Repeat these steps for the other side of the pouch, so that you have enough for 2 5” x 5” squares.

Set these 2 squares aside for now.

Watch the full video tutorial here!

Step 2: Cut the inner layers & make the drawstring casings

  • Cut 2 more 5” x 5” squares out of your scraps from the inner pieces (or piece them together if you’d rather.  I used larger scraps to make the inner panels, rather than quilting them into patchwork panels.  But you do you!)
  • Cut 2 rectangles that measure 5” x 2” for the drawstring casings
  • Fold the short edges of the 5” x 2” rectangles over ¼” & press.  Fold another ¼” and press again. Repeat for both rectangles, both short edges.
  • Top stitch the folded edges in place so that both rectangles now have finished short edges.

Step 3: Attach the casings to the outer layers.

  • Fold the casings in half lengthwise so they now measure about 1” x 4”.
  • Center the casings on the top edge of the outer layers with the raw edges of the casings touching the raw edges of the outer layers, pin in place.
  • Sew the casings onto the outer layers using a ⅛” seam allowance.

Step 4: Sew the inner & outer layers together.

  • Place the outer layers right sides together & pin along 3 sides. You can add a personal tag here if you like or a little decorative loop.  
  • Sew the layers together along 3 sides with about ½” seam allowance, making sure to not sew the casing into the seams.  Keep the top side open/unsewn.  
  • Place the inner layers with right sides together & pin along 3 sides.
  • Sew the inner layers together along 3 sides with about ½” seam allowance, but leave an opening of about 3” in the bottom side of the inner layers.  Keep the top side open/unsewn.

Step 5: Join the inner & outer layers & finish the bag.

  • Turn the outer layers right sides out but leave the inner layers wrong sides out.
  • Place the outer layers inside the inner layers, so that the right sides of the outer layers are touching the right sides of the inner layers.
  • Line up the side seams & pin in place.
  • Sew the layers together along the top edge with a ½” seam allowance.
  • Turn layers right sides out through the opening in the inner fabric.
  • Press or finger press the opening in the inner fabric & stitch it closed with ⅛” seam allowance. 
  • Push the inner layer into the outer layer & press the top seam/edge so it lays flat.
  • (optional) Top stitch along the top edge of the bag, below the casing, for a finished look.
  • Thread about 10” of cording through both sides of the casing & tie together in an overhand knot.
  • Thread another 10” of cording through both sides of the casing, coming out the opposite side of the casings, & tie another knot.

Trim loose threads & you’re done!

If you make one, I’d love to see it!  Please tag me on Instagram @no_trace_shop. 

I’d also love to see you in the Zero Waste Sewing & Crafting Community, so click here to join us over there! 

Xo,

Liz

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