As a sewist, one of the first things you learn is that it's a hobby that generates a lot of scrap fabric, and that parting with those scraps is just about impossible. The trick is coming up with just the right scrap-busting projects to put all those scraps to good use. Here are just a few ideas to get you started!
- Scrappy Pet Leash
Start by piecing together two strips of scraps and trimming them to your preferred width and length. Make sure to include seam allowance on both sides, then stitch both sides together, turn and press. A little topstitching not only serves to reinforce the leash, but provides a decorative touch. Attach a swivel clip, and Fido's ready for a stroll in style.
- Quilted Letters
Baby toys are a great way to use up scrap fabrics, since they provide fun textures, shapes, and colors. Quilted shapes like letters and numbers make these toys educational as well as fun! Choose sturdy fabrics that wash well, and avoid anything with stitched on elements like sequins, buttons, or applique, as these can be a choking hazard.
- Patchwork Cushions
If you're just getting into fabric piecing, patchwork cushions can be an excellent first project. Start with a simple block, like a nine-patch square, and choose scraps suitable to the project—sturdy fabrics like canvas, denim, and upholstery fabric for chair cushions, and lighter cottons and fashion fabrics for decorative throw pillows.
- String Quilts
String quilts are made from narrow strips of fabric, like the selvedges cut from fabrics being prepared for other projects. The effect is quite striking, and they're much easier to make than they look! Cut a square of backing fabric (muslin, scrap cotton, or even old bedsheets work perfect), then decide what way you want your strips to run, either straight across or on the diagonal. Stitch down your strips until your block is covered, then trim the edges to match.
- Roll-Up Checkerboard
Whether you use traditional black and white, or use squares of varied light and dark colors, all you need to create a fun, on-the-go checkerboard is a pieced fabric with 64 squares. Quilt by hand or by machine for a sturdy, washable finish. Add 16 buttons in light and dark shades to serve as checkers, and you're ready to play!
- Personalized Wallets
These scrap-busting projects make excellent gifts. With a few tweaks to a basic pattern, you can create everything from plain billfolds to fancy wristlets. Add monogramming, appliques, and other details to turn them into one-of-a-kind works of art perfect for a special occasion, or for adding to your craft show inventory.
- Not only is this a project that gets some of your scraps out of storage, it can even help you store the rest! Use your favorite piecing technique to create simple rectangular panels out of your scraps. Add stiff interfacing to help your basket keep its shape, then assemble. Add handles and a lining if you desire, and your basket is ready to help you get organized.
- Rag Rugs
Wrap your scraps around a core of cotton cord, then, using heavy duty needle and thread and a zig-zag stitch, coil this colorful cord into a flat mat, stitching between rows of cord to join them together. Work slowly and carefully to avoid ripples in your rug. With practice, you can make rugs in different shapes, from perfectly round to elongated ovals and even hearts!
- Fabric Accent Flowers
Made from brightly colored scraps, these are the perfect accent for cushions, headbands, scarves, and other projects. Different fabrics lend themselves to different types of blossoms. Experiment to see what works best for your scraps.
- Contrasting Appliques
Combine piecing techniques and embroidery to create applique patches that are easy to add to any project. Use a tearaway backing, and add a heat-activated adhesive to turn your creations into iron-on patches.
- Reversible Headbands
All you need for these simple accessories is a bit of scrap fabric and a bit of elastic to make for comfortable everyday wear. If you don't mind sacrificing reversibility, consider adding fun accents like fabric flowers.
- Festive Garlands
No matter what the occasion, a strand of colorful bunting makes for a festive addition. Triangles of scrap fabric stitched into double-fold bias tape makes creating such bunting easy. Pink the edges of your triangles for a shabby-chic appearance, or stitch two layers together, turn and press for a reversible design.
- Pincushions with Personality
While a standard, store-bought pincushion will, of course, get the job done, why not whip up something with a little more personality? Whether it's a felt cactus stored in a tiny terracotta pot, or a wristlet perfect for doing fittings, craft a cushion that speaks to you.
- Colorful Hair Bows
A few stitches by hand is all you need to turn a scrap of fabric into an adorable hair accessory. Add a barrette clip, elastic band, or hairpin and you're ready to go!
- Pet Toys
What cat or dog wouldn't love a fun new toy? For cats, stitch tiny fish or mice stuffed with polyfill and a pinch of catnip. Dogs need who love to chew need something a little tougher. Braid scrap denim into tough strands, knotting the ends for extra chewy texture. Always supervise your pets and take away any toys that are damaged before they pose a choking hazard.
- Fabric Tassels
Tassels are once again having a moment. Whether as accents on a bag or scarf or decor around the house, you can easily turn scraps of fabric into unique tassels for all kinds of projects. Keep in mind that fabric scraps look best in medium to large tassels.
- Quilted Potholders
What better way to practice your quilt blocks than with quick and easy potholders? Test out new designs and color combinations for piecing, and new techniques and shapes for the quilting. Make sure that all of your fabric scraps are heat-safe before using them in potholders.