I kept fabric scraps, even the really small pieces (like 1″ x 3″) forever before I figured out what to do with them. A couple of years ago, my husband finally said, “Why don’t you get rid of that stuff? You never use it.” Of course I, being contrary as I am, took that as a challenge. Since then, I’ve found plenty of uses for my leftover fabric, and now he can’t say boo to me about it.
1. Make a little girl’s pillowcase dress.
I had all of these 11″ x 11″ sample pieces of linen (like 40 of them). They sat in my fabric stash for a good 4 years before I did anything with them. When I saw the pillowcase dress that Charlie made for her daughter, I knew I had to make one for my baby niece. I based it off of this tutorial, but I needed it to be much smaller, so I measured a size 18 mo dress, and used those measurements for the size. I just cut strips and pieced them together until I had rectangle pieces of fabric big enough for the width and height. Then I just treated the rectangles like solid pieces of fabric, and proceeded with the pattern.
I just loved the way turned out. The linen seams were a little scratchy, so I decided to line it with a soft cotton.
2. Make hanging storage bags.
I made these out of the same linen samples, and some leftover cotton. I use them for toys in the kids’ room. One holds Mr. Potato head and his accessories, one holds the play food, and the other holds Max’s battlefield set. It’s nice to have some of the toys up off the ground. They look nice, and save floor space.
3. Make flowers, pinwheels, or rosettes.
These flowers were surprisingly easy to make. They can be used to embellish anything from, well, storage bags, to clothes, purses, and hair accessories. I haven’t made pinwheels or rosettes yet, but I have a book full of projects that use them. They seem pretty easy to make, and only take small pieces of fabric. Here’s a tutorial on pinwheels, and here’s one for rosettes. My flowers came from a book, but here’s a link to a site that has similar ones.
4. Upcycle an old headband.
I love headbands. I had bought a cheap pack of 3 on sale from the drug store. They were just plain black. When the fabric started peeling off, I decided to try wrapping one myself in some leftover fabric, and it turned out great! No sewing involved. I just used a hot glue gun. Add batting to make it puffier or wider.
5. Make doll clothes.
I wanted to offer a homeschool co-op class for girls, since all the projects I do at home with my kids have to be boy-friendly, or at least interesting for them. Max would love to make clothes for his Mario Bros dolls, but not so much a dress for an American Girl or Fancy Nancy. So, for the class which would have girls as young as 5, I decided to do a very simple doll-sized tutu.
After I made the sample (with Charlie’s daughter’s Fancy Nancy, which she so kindly let me borrow), I realized that she needed a leotard, otherwise the see through tutu looked waaaaay inappropriate. I used a leftover piece of shiny black double knit fabric, found a free pattern for a tank top from Liberty Jane, and modified it to fit over her bottom. Then I painted a red star to match.
Charlie has done quite a few doll outfits. We’ll have to convince her to do a post on the subject.
6. Make a wrist pin cushion.
I got the idea years ago from a craft book, and I used to make them as gifts. I prefer a metal pin tray, but if I’m pinning something where I have to be up and about, or it just isn’t convenient to drag around my tray, my wrist pin cushion really comes in handy. You can use any fabric for the cushion part, but felt works best, and is the easiest for the wrist band, ’cause you don’t have to sew button holes. You can just cut them.
Tip: Make sure you stuff these ridiculously full of stuffing, ’cause you don’t want to stick a pin in it, and have it come out the other side. Ouch! You want to put so much in that it feels hard.
7. Make bean bags.
These can be used for a plethora of games, and they come together so quickly. Lindsay and her husband made this really cool Frankenstein bean bag toss game for Halloween, which is where I got the idea to make some. I hope she’ll share the project sometime.
I always keep expired bags of dry beans rather than throwing them out, ’cause they can be used for so many different projects. So my bean bags are filled with actual beans, but you could also use dry rice. And think, if the apocalypse or end of days hits us, you’ll have convenient little stashes of food.
8. Make a dog bandana.
Okay, everyone knows what dog bandanas look like, right? I tried, and failed, to get a good one of our new puppy in his bandana, so I’ll just share one of him looking cute with my son, Max. Dog bandanas are very easy to make, and you don’t even have to finish the edges. You can just use pinking shears when cutting it.
9. Make small purse or satchel.
My son needed something to put his “treasure collection” in. He requested something portable so he could add to it if he was ever outside and found a cool pebble or, ahem, air soft pellet. (We didn’t know what they were!) This was actually made in a homeschool class from an old felted sweater, but any fabric, especially one that doesn’t fray, would work. I used mid-weight knitting yarn for the straps. I gathered three groups of three strands, treated each group as one, and braided them. It worked beautifully.
10. Make wall art.
This idea came from a Better Homes and Gardens magazine. They did a canvas covered in hearts for Valentine’s Day. You just cut out little pieces of fabric, and affix them to a canvas using (and following the directions for) a fabric decoupage glue. No sewing, no painting, and voila, you have colorful artwork.
What do you do with your leftover fabric scraps?