Once upon a time, I was big into quilting. It was my first entry point into sewing (hello flat and rectangular things). I loved the meditative precision and there are so many pretty fabrics. Magpie that I am, I amassed quite a collection of quilting cottons. And then I fell hard for garment sewing and have pretty much never looked back.
All that to say I have this enormous collection of small cuts of fabric I never use. Since I don’t see myself getting back into quilting enough to actually use all this fabric that way, I’ve been trying to find other ways to use it up, as well as my other garment scraps. (Yes I could sell the quilting cotton, but that seems like so much work, and somehow in my head this is less work? I know, it doesn’t make sense, but here we are.).
I’ve also been trying to be more sustainable with my sewing (which is kind of a theme in the sewing community these days. Have you seen the awesome post by the Magnificent Thread about #sewingleftovers?). So I’m trying to find uses for these beautiful scraps, so they don’t just decorate the landfill. Yes it makes me spend a little more money and consume a little more (on things like interfacing, hardware, etc.), but I think it’s worth it to give something a new life.
I have a ton of little projects to share, so this will become an ongoing series. I’m always looking for ways to use up little bits of fabric, that are actually cute and functional. It seems like so many of the fabric scrap ideas are kind of Becky Home Ec-ey, and I’m not really down with rick rack, you know? So I’ve been trying to find ideas that are functional, pretty and most of all, not tacky. At some point, I think I’ll even need to open an Etsy shop to unload some of these items.
These are the first three small crafts I’ve been doing to try and make a dent in my fabric scrap and quilting cotton stash. I like how they use compatible fabric scrap sizes, so when I have a scrap from cutting one, I cut the next from the leftover. These all use woven fabric scraps, but at some point I’ll share some knit fabric scrap ideas too.
Beeswax Food Wraps
I’ve been thinking a lot about sustainability recently and trying to make little changes in my daily life to be more eco-friendly. One is carrying around these straws to reduce my plastic straw consumption (ask my boyfriend how annoying it is that I now specify “no straw please” everywhere we go). Another is using these beeswax wraps instead of plastic cling wrap.
I used this tutorial and essentially just melted organic beeswax, tree resin and jojoba oil onto fabric squares. I used mostly cotton, but also linen and even some rayon and canvas scraps. It took a few tries to get the proportions right, but you want to err on the side of too much, rather than not enough. I love how they turned out and it’s so nice to have functional things that are also pretty.
You can use them on anything you’d use cling wrap on. Despite using these a lot, when I took pictures, I didn’t actually have anything to wrap because it’s grocery day. So here’s a lime. You get the idea. The one thing you can’t use them for is meats, since they can’t be cleaned at high heat. Just rinse off with cold or lukewarm water, and use a sponge if it really needs it. They aren’t as clingy as plastic wrap, but the warmth of your hands creates a seal and they do the job pretty well. I wouldn’t use them for liquids or things where you need an airtight seal (like bread dough). Once they’ve lived their happy life (probably 150 – 200 uses) they’d can be composted (though not sure about the rayon).
I use these for wrapping cheeses (my primary food group, tbh), fruits, veggies, bread and practically anything else I can think of. And they’re great for bringing snacks or lunch with me on the go. I’ve made a bunch of different sizes, but I find the 10 inch square does most of what I need.
These are great for using up batting or fusible fleece scraps. You garment sewists may not have much of those laying around, but quilters sure as hell do. A few years ago I grabbed a huge hardware kit from amazon, and it’s been so worth it to have those on hand. I used this tutorial and sew them in bulk (8-15 at a time). They make great little gift (like teacher or thank you gifts), and it’s fun to use something pretty everyday.
One thing I recommend is sewing a line of stitching holding the two ends together before you put the hardware on. I’ve seen one side of these pull out after lots of use, but the extra stitching seems to help. These are probably best in darker colors as they can get pretty dirty over time, but that doesn’t really stop me from making them in whatever fabric I have on hand.
Oh holy grail of tiny scrap use. These are fantastic, adorable, and use up those itty bitty scraps you wish you had a use for. Now you do. I’ve used the 3/4 inch fabric buttons here and they use a 1.5 inch square. I recognize this is maybe a crazy level of fabric scrap usage. But they’re so cute!
These are best for pretty small scale prints. I’m having fun fussy cutting some little prints, and my clear button maker thing makes it really easy to line the print up. I used this kit and these magnets have already ordered another set!
Do you have any ideas for little leftover fabric scraps? Are there particular kinds of scraps you’d like to find a use for?