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Are you the type of person who saves every teeny tiny itsy bitsy piece of fabric and thread?? I will say that I have a limit to what I will save, and often if depends on my mood. Sometimes, I will save a fabric scrap that is less than 1″ square (for applique, I tell myself.) Sometimes, I feel a little more reckless and throw away anything under 2″. I have a bag full of little scraps of fabric and batting which I told myself will be good for making dog beds…. Like I am ever going to do that! Oh how we kid ourselves!! But fabric is pretty, and we understandably don’t want to just toss it away. So today, let’s talk about a few ways to use up some of those scraps.
A great way to use scraps is to make new fabric out of them. OK, so I am not talking about waving a magic wand over the piles of scraps so that they somehow become brand new fabric (though, that would be pretty cool. If Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother could turn a pumpkin into a carriage, she could probably turn my bag of scraps into several bundles of perfectly folded and coordinated fat quarters, right?) But you can sew them together and then use that pieced fabric to make something very cute and visually interesting.
For example, sew fabric scraps together like this (and notice, these are little pieces!):
and turn it into a cute stuffed bird ornament like this:
Isn’t that much more interesting than a single piece of fabric? Bird ornament pattern here.
Turn your new Scrap Fabric into an apron, as shown here by Crazy Mom Quilts:
You could also take that pieced fabric and iron fusible web to the back and use it for applique, or you could use it for an interesting background for blocks or applique.
Use scraps to make small projects such as this Hippy Chick Belt- free tutorial here.
Something else you can do with scraps is EPP- English Paper Piecing. Because you are using templates, it’s very easy to make best use of your scraps because you can lay out the templates on your fabric before cutting. I am currently working on a lap-sized hexie quilt. The hexies are 5″ at their widest part, and there are a couple of advantages to that. First, the project will go quicker. Second, I wanted to use some really pretty fat quarters and favorite fabrics that I know won’t make their way into another quilt (because I just have too much fabric). But by using large hexies, those pretty fabrics get showcased in a way that they wouldn’t if I cut them down into itty bitty pieces- so I don’t feel so guilty about cutting into my favorite fabrics… (and also it’s good for larger prints if you don’t want to lose the design by cutting them down too much). Of course, the disadvantage to using the large hexies is that you need larger pieces of fabric. If you’d like to do an EPP project, go through your scraps and see what size templates make sense for the fabrics that you want to use. If you have itty bitty pieces, then by all means, use small templates and put those little scrap pieces to good use.
I made this string block in a workshop about 12 or 13 years ago- I can’t remember how we made it! I think we used paper templates? Well, whatever it was, it’s a nice example of a scrappy block:
(Find a similar tutorial here.)
Another block which looks great with scrap fabrics is a wonky house block- if you made a whole little “town” of these with scrappy fabrics, it would be really cute! Find the Wonky House Block tutorial here.
So, when you are making a pile of scrappy blocks, how do you “pull” them together and make them “make sense” in a single quilt? That’s what your border fabrics are for! Choose a border fabric or 2 which coordinates with and contains the colors in your scrap fabrics, and that will make it all come together. You may even want to choose your border fabric(s) first, and then go through your scrap pile and see what works. For example, in the quilt below, called Grammy’s Rose Garden, lots of different pinks and greens were used, but the floral fabric border makes it all pretty and cohesive. Get the free pattern for this quilt here.
OK, now it’s your turn to give all of us YOUR ideas for using scraps! Tell us in the comments.
I ove wonky and I love scraps. At 78, that’s who I am and that is what I love to do … wonky, colorful, scrappy quilts. More great ideas so I thank you as usual for sharing your talent with the rest of us!!
Actually meant to say I love wonky!! I use my scraps in quilts, pot holders, mug rugs, uhhhh … minis, etc. I do like to sew a bunch of scraps together and create a large piece of “fabric” and then cut something funky out … You just never know what it will turn into!! ;)
Yes- and you get completely one-of-a-kind fabric that way!!
You are always an inspiration Jacquelynne! Thank you so much for all that you share and for the little nudge I needed to get back to being creative!
Thanks for your nice comment, Terri! I’m glad you found some inspiration here!
i don’t have that many scraps but have some small ones I am thinking a string quilt for the smallest ones.
I love string quilts, Diana. They are always interesting!
These types of houses have been around for a long time. Gwen Marsten in her Liberated piecing and then with Tonya Rucucci the “Unruly Quilter.” They are a great way to use up scraps.
Great way to use scraps, and so much fun :)
Jacqueline I fell in love with your site when I first ran across it. I am a self taught quilter as of Jan 2015. I am 62 always wanted to quilt but never thought I could. Lots of tutorials and online classes, American Girl quilts (7) table runners /toppers, curtains, and now I have been moving up. Somewhat afraid of failure. Thank you for your inspirational spirit. I also love birds and your little quotes you put around them. Blessings to You!
Hi Robyn! I’m so glad that you are enjoying your new hobby- isn’t it fun?? Don’t be afraid of failure- we all have some projects which have been “clunkers”!! That just goes with the territory- the important thing is to have fun, and learn a few new things along the way….
Keep pressing on! And, thanks for the nudge. I tend to procrastinate, especially on things that need to be done but I’m dreading.
I remind myself of the quote by Mark Twain:
“If your job is to eat a frog, eat it first thing in the morning. If your job is to eat two frogs, eat the biggest one first!”
It adds some humor to the nudge!
I enjoy your work and I think you are very talented and generous with your talents by sharing with us, your quilting community!
That is a funny, useful, and truthful quote! I find it’s best to do the stuff I don’t want to do first- and I reward myself with fun later on!
I am a huge fan of scraps. I cut individual squares from 1 inch up to 6 and a half inches and store them in see through plastic containers. Anything smaller is placed in an old pillowcase and will be sewn into a doggie bed for either home or community Humane Society. Scrappy blocks do work wonderfully when you pick out a border first. Tote Bags are another great way to use up scraps for carrying groceries in. Thank you for sharing and I hope that you have a wonderful creative day!
You are so organized! I don’t pre-cut up my scraps- I keep all the pieces of a particular fabric- large and small- together. Then I group them by color.
And yes- I am a tote bag “junkie”- can’t get enough of them :)
So far i have been using some of my scraps to make fabric yo-yo’s
I love yo-yo’s! Do you have a particular project in mind, or do just keep them on hand for when the right project comes along?
I keep most of my scraps. I will cut them in strips and put them in a box for ‘piano keys’ , and another box labeled for ‘squares’ usually 4, 2 5/8 or 2 1/2 inch squares. I also color coordinate my scraps in baggies or small bins. Great to have ready for all kinds of projects!
Looove your site!!
Leigh- wow! You are SUPER organized! I bow in awe, LOL!
some wonderful ideas here, especially like the apron unable to do it though at the moment as I have just used all my scraps in a scrap vortex quilt with crazy mom 60″ square just needs quilting etc, Now nwwd to collect more scraps that I think will be quite easy to do
Yes Margaret- all you need to do to get more scraps is make a few more projects :)
The little bird ornament is a must for me. It’s SEW cute. Thanks for the idea.
Yes I love that little bird, Rosemary, it’s one of my favorites :) Start now and you can have a whole “flock” for the holidays!
Great ideas. Thanks so much
Great ideas! I’m new to quilting so I don’t have a fabric stash. I’ve only worked on small projects and with the hst scraps those generated I stitched them together to make practice sandwiches for free motion quilting.
That’s still making good use of your scraps, Karla :)
I love scraps and scrappy quilts, bags, etc. It’s when I given myself permission to just play and experiment. After all its on;y scraps if it doesn’t turn out very good. That block of yours that have the lavender border and pink center is a spider web block. I made a lap quilt in the spider web pattern before. You typically sew to a muslin foundation. Here is a tutorial: http://www.sewmamasew.com/2010/04/spiderweb-block-sew-along/
Thanks so much for the link! That is helpful :)
I love to see different inventive ways to use every bit of fabric that you may have. I’m a mom, grandmother and foster mom, therefore I give each and every child a quilt of their very own. I have also joined an organization to help other foster child, and I see a great opportunity there to make quilts for them also. Keep the designs coming. Thanks…..
I love the idea of making quilts for foster children- what a wonderful and loving thing to do :)
wow I never thought of using them to make a bunch of little house blocks .. now the idea of a village quilt .. thank you for the inspiration .. houses, lake, stream, trees, bushes, maybe a campground .. endless scene imagination .. paper please to jot a beginning ..
That’s great Barbara! Keep those ideas coming!
I have both organized & unorganized scraps. My organized are cut squares sorted in sizes from 1-1/2″ square to 6″ square. My unorganized are various strips & scrappy pieces sorted by color. I make a lot of quilts for Project Linus, so I am constantly making small scrap quilts. It’s fun to go through the squares with a particular color theme in mind. I love a scrappy quilt!
That does sound fun, Peggy. Kids could help sort the colors, too :)
I have fabric that I love and cannot bear to use…I love to kiss it, hug it and fondle it. Mind you, I have charm kits and fat quarter bundles as well as yardage. I think maybe I can summon the courage to make a epp’d hexi lap quilt. Yeah, that sounds good! Might even hand quilt it. Thank you for the kick in the pants!
Yes I have lots of that fabric too! Lots of it went into the hexie quilt- I just couldn’t justify NOT using anymore. I think the hexie quilt will be a nice way to showcase some of it :)
The bird is so cute and it gave me an idea how cute a heart will be with scraps for office gifts! Scraps stress me, I save everything-after a quilt i’ll make a pillow sham, throw pillow, bag, table runner, down to pot holders and now have resulted to mug rugs. I’ve started on some small projects from my scraps for our quilters guild silent auction next summer, (Money raised goes toward a selected local charity). Thanks for the idea!!
Glad you found some inspiration Monica :) I’m sure everyone will love your handmade gifts!
I have been rearranging and rearranging my sewing room and each time I find more material and lot’s of scraps. I love Wonky and you have given me some great ideas. The schoolhouse can make an adorable applique for a skirt I am making for my 2 youngest grand daughters. Originally planned on just adding lace but now Ummm.
Thanks for your creations. keep them coming.
I did make some doggie beds and filled them with scraps of fabric, scraps of batting and small scraps that you get from straightening up fabric, Missouri Star Quilt Company has a tutorial to show us how. These beds were for small dogs, but I was able to make 2 with a yard of fabric and enough scraps …. so easy and so cute and so washable.
I have been organising my scraps to cut into 1 1/2inch pieces to make a basketweave quilt.
I have spent substantial amounts of time exploring your website which is really inspiring and filled me with an unresistable urge to get back to sewing and occupy my mind in this time of the virus turmoil in the world. Thank you for sharing your creative ideas.
Love it ?