Fabric Scraps – How To Use Every Last Piece.

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When I first started sewing, I was amazed at how many waste pieces of fabric I was producing. Being a little bit miserly, I really resented the thought of throwing these pieces away. Especially when they are such expensive and lovely fabrics. So here are some great zero waste ideas that I have found for using up every last one of my fabric scraps.

This post was originally published in June 2019, but I regularly update it to add new projects. Most recent update – March 2021.

How To Use Up All Your Fabric Scraps


My scrap bag is always overflowing. But I hate to throw even a small piece away. I would rather try and reuse it in some way to ensure it doesn’t go to landfill just yet.

As well as my scrap bag, I have a large pile of old clothes and towelling that is due to be repurposed. I just don’t believe in wastage.

Small Bags and Pouches

For larger pieces of woven fabric, bags and pouches are a great way of using up your fabric scraps and producing great gifts at the same time.

All you need is 2 pieces of outer fabric, 2 inner pieces and a zipper of the correct length.

Here is a great tutorial on how to sew up a zippered pouch

Drawstring Bags

Small drawstring bags are also really useful. And they are my go to way of wrapping presents in a zero waste way. You can make them in all sizes, or unlined bags can be useful for loose produce at the supermarkets. And they are a brilliant way of using up all your fabric scraps.

Here is my tutorial on how to make drawstring bags

Zippered pouches of various sizes

Earbud Cases

You could also make these great earbud cases. Because they are hexagonal, they are even more zero waste, as the pattern tessellates. Tutorial here – with my FREE pattern!

Hexagonal ear bud pouches


Eye Masks

A little while ago, a friend and I looked all over to find a suitably soft eye mask for her daughter. We didn’t really find one soft enough for her needs, and so when I came home I made her one from the scraps of some lovely Rifle Paper Company rayon that I had in my scrap bag. It was SO silky and soft.

I self drafted my pattern, but there are some great patterns for free out there. Like this one from Tilly and the Buttons.



Rifle Paper Company Eye mask


Reusable Straw Case / Travel Toothbrush Case

When making dresses, I often get left with long thin pieces from the selvedges. These are brilliant for making cases long and thin for holding a reusable straw. And double as a travel toothbrush case too!

How To Make A Reusable Straw Case - DIY sewing tutorial. Sew your own holder for bamboo, stainless steel, & reusable straws. Doubles as a toothbrush pouch! - full pictorial tutorial - great gift or to sell #sewing #sewingprojects #easysewingprojects #sustainable #zerowaste #reusablestraw #bamboostraw #stainlesssteelstraw #reusablestrawpouch #bamboostrawpouch #reusablestrawcase #bamboostrawcase


Find my tutorial here.

Fabric Coasters

These are a great idea for keeping your furniture from getting marked by glasses and hot mugs. Plus they are an incredibly easy make whilst also using up your fabric scraps. A real winner for me!

See my tutorial on how to make your own.

Easy fabric coasters



So on trend at the minute. These are a great idea for long thin scraps that you have. A great back to school and gift idea, and they only take a few minutes to make.

Check out my tutorial here.


Making Scrunchies From Fabric Scraps - using up waste fabric and up cycling old cloth to make other things #zerowaste #recycled #upcycled #fabricscraps #scrunchies #90s

Reusable Sandwich Wraps

I got pretty tired of throwing away ziplock bags for sandwiches. And then I realised that there was a far better zero waste reusable option. So I made myself some reusable sandwich wraps. Find my tutorial here.

How to Make your own reusable sandwich wraps - an alternative to plastic ziplock bags for packed lunches. A zero waste kitchen swap.. #DIY #tutorial with pictures. Pictorial guide to making these #sustainable #kitchenswaps. #Environmentallyfriendly #sandwichbags #zerowaste #zerowasteliving #zerowastelifestyle #sandwichwraps #sustainableliving

Patchwork Quilts

Quilting is a speciality that I have yet to properly delve into, though I have promised myself that I will have a go soon.

There are different types of quilting, but probably the easiest to start with is english paper piecing. Done by hand, in this method you cut geometric paper shapes slightly smaller than the fabric that you are using. You fold over the fabric at each edge of the paper shape, loosely tacking it in place. Then you take the edges of each paper covered shape, and you sew them together tightly. You can remove the paper, or leave it in place.

Patchwork - english paper piercingYou can also machine quilt your pieces together.

This is such a good way of using all the fabric scraps, and you can end up with a really eclectic mix.

Making New Fabric From Scraps

Very similar to patchwork, this is a way of using those log strips of fabric. I find some coordinating pieces and sew then together with a 1cm seam allowance. I then trim the seam allowance and press open all the seams well. With enough pieces you can go on to make a whole new piece of fabric. This will be great as a lined bodice for a small girl’s dress.

New Fabric from old fabric scraps

Small Stuffed Projects

There are so many brilliant patterns out there for making small projects such as stuffed toys and bears. Here are just a few patterns available commercially, and there are lots available for free to download online.

Commercial patterns for small stuffed projects

I personally love to make my own projects, a particular favourite is my padded fabric Christmas trees. These can be made from 6 fat quarters of material.

Padded Fabric Christmas Trees - duo

Small Keyring Or Bag Charms

Similarly, you could make a small stuffed keyring or bag charm with your fabric scraps. Like one of these cute ‘Among Us’ keyrings. See the tutorial here.



Bunting is a great way of using up smaller pieces, and there are a lot of tutorials out there on how to make it. Or you could just use pinking shears to cut triangles and use string or cotton to hold the bunting pieces together. See my tutorial and get my template for the easiest bunting ever here.

How To Make The Easiest Bunting Ever - this bunting is quick, easy, simple to make and uses up your fabric scraps. Get the free template here



Garlands are also easy to make using scraps. Earlier this year, I made a heart garland for valentines days using a load of red scraps from my scrap bag.See my post here.

Padded Heart Valentine Garland - finished


Sometimes you end up with massively long thin strips. These are perfect for lanyard making. Heres a great tutorial on how to make a lanyard.


Hand Warmers


Not only are these an incredibly easy sew, they make great presents, are so useful and use up your fabric scraps too! For this ultra win of a fabric scrap idea, see this post for how to make them.


Wash Cloth Soap Holders

These small bags help to keep the soap or shampoo bar from going mushy. A really useful idea. Find my tutorial here.

3 different ways how to make a wash cloth soap holder. Make your shower bars, solid shampoo and soaps last longer by slipping them into these bags in the shower. No more mushy soap. Full tutorial with photos. Upcycle old towels and cloth. #zerowastehome #Environmentallyfriendly #sewinghacks #sewingforbeginners #sew #upcycling #sustainable #zerowaste #upcycled #sewingprojects #diy #sustainableliving #sewingtutorial

Free Motion Embroidery

A type of appliqué, free motion embroidery uses small scraps of fabric bonded together and stitched over to produce a collage of pieces. I went on a workshop, and then used the techniques I had learnt to make some Christmas decorations, but you can use it to appliqué onto lampshades, bags, or even to make cards.

The finished decorations


Chapstick Holders

These are a great way of using up smaller rectangles of fabric, and can be attached to a keyring or lobster clasp so they can be attached to your bag. Find how to make them here. I can even fit a tiny hand cream in mine.

chap stick holders

Doll Clothes

When I was younger I was a massive fan of Sindy dolls. And I was really happy to find a few vintage books on how to make clothes for my old collection. There are also commercial patterns available to make small dolls clothes, and obviously these are very easily cut from the small remnants in your scrap bag.

I’ve even drafted my own fashion doll summer dress pattern. Get the free pattern and see my tutorial here. Why not make your little girl’s doll a matching dress out of leftover remnants of fabric?

Making the Sindy dress - adding cam snap fastener


Doll dress pattern and vintage doll outfit book - great for using up fabric scraps

Dog Coats

Another project that only requires small remnants of fabric, I made a friend’s dog a dog coat using some fat quarters of fabric and an up cycled old fleece blanket. If you watched this year’s Great British Sewing Bee, you will have seen the contestants epicycle some old tents to make a waterproof version!

Make a dog coat using remnants of fabric


Dog Poop Bag Holders

And whilst we are on the subject of dogs, this handy bag holder/dispenser is easily made from scraps, and is a great gift for any dog owner. 

See my tutorial over in this post.

How to Make A Dog Poop Bag Holder - ever forget your dog poo bags? Or lose them in your bag or pockets? Then use this easy step by step sewing tutorial to make a convenient, useful and handy dispenser. Perfect dog walking and dog lovers gift or present accessory. #sewing #dogpoopbagholder #dogwalking #giftsfordogowners #dogownergifts #dogaccessory #dogs

Reusable Kitchen Towels

Although the  backs of these are made from old towels, I do like to use fabrics from my scrap back to make the backs pretty. Find how I make these brilliant zero waste items here.

Reusable Paper Towels - all the towels made up


While we are in the zero waste kitchen swaps groove, why not make these plastic free pan scrubbers from small pieces of fabric and up cycled towelling or flannel? I even made a pan scrubber version using hessian from my rag rug making. See how you can make your own.

How To Make Unsponges - Make your own kitchen sponges - a great alternative to plastic bacteria breeding sponges and scrubbers. A great zero waste kitchen swap. Upcycle old clothes, towels and bedding to make these padded scrubbing washing cloths that can be laundered with the rest of your wash. DIY unsponge tutorial with pictures. Pictorial guide to making these sustainable recycled kitchen swaps. Environmentally friendly #unsponges #kitchenswaps #upcycling #sustainable #zerowaste #environmentallyfriendly #kitchenunsponges #diyunsponge

Reusable Make Up Remover Pads

Similarly, whilst the actual removing part of the pad is best made from new or upcycled towelling, the backs can be made as pretty as possible using some of the cute girly dress fabrics from the scrap bag.

I prefer to have square or hexagonal remover pads, as this does not waste as much fabric. See my tutorial here.

How To Make Reusable Make Up Remover Pads - these are a great zero waste, sustainable alternative to cotton pads & wipes. Full step by step sewing tutorial - up cycle old towels and fabric scraps. #sewing #tutorial #makeupremoverpads #upcycled #sustainable #zerowaste #easysewingproject #sewingprojects

What can I make from Fabric scraps? How to use up all the small remnants of cloth in your scrap bag. Zero waste ways to make great gifts- using up waste fabric and up cycling old cloth to make other things #zerowaste #recycled #upcycled #fabricscraps #scrunchies #giftideas

Fabric Bookmarks

These are a great idea as a stocking filler for a bookworm, or teacher. Perhaps you could give them with a favourite book? Find my tutorial here.

Handmade Fabric Bookmarks - great fabric bookmarks with an elasticarted loop to fit over books. Scrapbusting and zero waste idea for using up fabric scraps. Great gift idea for teachers at Christmas or end of term. Lovely gift idea. Make your own. DIY. Handmade presents. #scrapbusting #zerowaste #bookmarks #giftideas #teachergiftideas #backtoschool #scrapbustingidea #fabricbookmark #stockingfiller #handmadegift


Reusable Sanitary Towels

In my tutorial on how to make reusable sanitary pads, I used quite a few pieces from my scrap bag. And because I make quite a few girly garments for me and my little girl, my sanitary pads are ever so pretty.

Find my tutorial here.

Reusable sanitary pads made from fabric scraps - find my tutorial on how to make those here #recycle #upcycle #zerowaste #reusablesanitarypads #upcycling


Family Cloth

This is a great zero waste alternative to toilet paper. Have a stash by the toilet in a basket, then soak and wash them.

See my tutorial

How To Make And Use Family Cloth - these reusable loo cloths are a zero waste, sustainable & upcycling alternative to toilet roll. Easy sewing project. Step by Step DIY tutorial here. #sewing #familycloth #reusablelooroll #reusabletoiletcloth #easysewingproject#upcycling #sustainable #zerowaste


One of the best things about sewing is the fact that you can personalise each garment or piece you make to the recipient.

One of my favourite things to do is cut letters, shapes or details from fabric, and then appliqué them onto bags and garments.

Some of my first makes as a sewist were fabric bags. One of the recipients of a bag was a huge Disney fan. I had used a Mickey and Minnie print as the interior of the bag, but I ironed some of the remnants onto a piece of bondaweb (or vliesofix) then them out. I could then bond them to the exterior fabric of the bag, and sew them onto the fabric with a small zig zag stitch.

Applique of fabric sc raps applied to a bag outer

Letters and numbers are great for putting onto pump bags and pencil cases for school gifts. Or even for pimping up teeshirts.In my advent bag tutorial, I cut out numbers to go on each bag.

Advent Calendar Treat Bags - sussex machine

Sandcastle/Sandwich Flags

A couple of years ago, I saw that Liberty London were selling these (Liberty London Party Picks by Meri Meri) in a shop in the Lake District.

For 24 picks I considered that the price asked was quite steep. And so I decided to make my own.

Again, using Bondaweb or Vliesofix, you can bond your fabric. Then remove the backing, stick the fabric to itself around whatever length of cocktail stick or wooden skewer you wish – and hey presto, your very own personalised sandwich picks or cupcake flags. Or we take them to the beach as sandcastle flags.

Sandwich picks or sandcastle flags made from fabric scraps - zero waste

Bunny Rabbit Ears

I made these from some leftover wool felt

Tutorial here

Homemade Bunny Rabbit Ears

Rag Rugs

For small pieces of jersey fabrics and old clothes, one of the best uses is to cut the scraps further into long thin strips. And to make these into a rag rug. Find my tutorial here

Making a rag rug - finished

Hessian Shower Pouf

And small pieces of the hessian left over from the rug bases can be made into zero waste scrubbers for the shower.

See my tutorial here.

Zero Waste Hessian Shower Pouf - Forget plastic bacteria breeding bath sponges and shower puffs, here is a version that can is up cycled, sustainable and can be laundered and composted at the end of its use. A full pictorial tutorial on how To Make Shower Unsponges - Make your own bath scrub sponges - a great alternative to plastic bacteria breeding sponges and scrubbers. A great zero waste bathroom swap. Upcycle old coffee sacks to make these scrubbing washing cloths that can be laundered with the rest of your wash. DIY unsponge tutorial with pictures. Pictorial guide to making these sustainable recycled bathroom swaps. Environmentally friendly #showerpouf #showerpuff #unsponges #bathroomswaps #upcycling #sustainable #zerowaste #environmentallyfriendly #bathunsponges #diyunsponge

Rag Wreath.

For long thin lengths of coordinating woven fabrics, why not consider making a rag wreath? See here how you could also make one


Festive Rag Wreath - finished


And they are not just for Christmas – I made one by upcycling an old skirt for Halloween. A Halloween Rag Wreath

Fabric Twine

Got loads of long thin strips? Learn how to turn them into fabric twine that makes a great zero waste alternative to string for packages, bunting, for making coasters and garlands. 

See how you can make this too in this post. And see my you tube tutorial.

How To Make Scrap Fabric Twine - repurpose all your long thin cloth remnants, upcycling and repurposing them into something new & useful. This thin rope has a host of uses, from jewellery to zero waste packaging and wrapping. Great zero waste up cycling project. Be sustainable and ecofriendly by stopping all these scrap fabric pieces from ending up in landfill #fabricscraps #zerowaste #recycle #sustainable #upcycled #upcycling

Stuffing For Other Projects

What if the piece is too small, or too ragged, or just on the selvedge etc? I still don’t throw these away. They make great stuffing for other projects, such as my Padded Christmas Trees, Pumpkin Garland or Felt Hearts. I also use old pillows that have lost their bounce for these projects. Nothing need be wasted.

I even had enough tiny scraps to fill my Closet Case Pouf in my living room!

The finished pouf

So there you have more than 30 ideas on what to do with all the fabric scraps in your scrap bag. I hope that you have found this post useful, and that you have a go at some of these.

Want to save money by sewing?

See this post for how some of these sewing ideas can save you cash!

Want to make some money from your sewing hobby?

See which projects are suitable to sell in this post.

And Why don’t you pin this post for later?


What can I make from Fabric scraps? Are your cloth leftovers taking over? Then find here Over 35 ways to use up all the small remnants of cloth in your scrap bag. Scrap bust even your tiniest remnants of fabric to make these clever and useful easy sewing projects. Full free tutorials for each. Zero waste ways to make great gifts- using up waste fabric and upcycling old cloth to make other things. Make brilliant presents and frugal money saving items for around the home.


35 Replies to “Fabric Scraps – How To Use Every Last Piece.”

  1. Ali Duke says:

    I never thought there were so many ways to use smaller bits of fabric! I love bunting, I have just finished some for my daughters bedroom. I loved making it so am going to look for some more to try.
    Ali Duke recently posted…Imposter Syndrome, Blogging & MeMy Profile

  2. Laurie says:

    My scrap bag is often overflowing too. Thanks for these great tips! Love the chapstick holder. Mine is always getting lost in my bag. I could use this to clip it to an inside strap!
    Laurie recently posted…Share Four Somethings – JuneMy Profile

    1. Jo Boyne says:

      Thank you. Yes, I love clipping my chapstick to my bag, and mine is big enough for a tiny tube of hand cream!

  3. Eilidh Horder says:

    Inspirational! What a lot of ideas. I’m just about to make some room in my wardrobe… but now I’ll have a job donating anything!

    1. Jo Boyne says:

      Thank you. And sorry. I must admit, I do have an issue throwing jersey clothes away. The rag rugs are a great idea for these!

    1. Jo Boyne says:

      Thank you Jayne, the Christmas trees are a really great gift idea too!

  4. Sarah-Marie says:

    So many great ideas! They have really encouraged me to get creative. I love your stuffed Christmas trees and will definitely be having a look at the tutorial! #KCACOLS

    1. Jo Boyne says:

      Thank you. The Christmas trees are so cute and make great gifts too!

    1. Jo Boyne says:

      Thank you so much! Yes, my scrap bag is always full.

  5. Carol says:

    So many great ideas for those little left over pieces of fabric. I’ve been wanting to try a rag wreath or rug. I think this year I’ll try one. #MMBC
    Carol recently posted…Strawberry-Lime WaterMy Profile

    1. Jo Boyne says:

      The rag rugs are so easy, a great way to use old jersey clothes.

  6. Kelly-Anne Combes says:

    Oh wow some of these fabrics are so beautiful and something that I would love to try and create. But I have to be honest my needle skills are something else. Thank you for taking the time to join us for #KCACOLS and we hope to see you next time.

    1. Jo Boyne says:

      This is why I need to use every last scrap. Not wasting any of these lovely bits!

  7. Theresa says:

    These are such cute ideas! I have a lot of fabric scraps and cannot wait to try some of these. The first one I’ll try is the cupcake flags. Those are adorable. Thank you!

  8. Fiona jk42 says:

    I’ve just finished making a load of face masks from fabric scraps. I used a multi-stitch zig zag to sew the scrap pieces together rather than seaming them as you would with a quilt, as this meant I could use lots of odd-shaped pieces rather than having to look for pieces with straight edges.

  9. Lorelai says:

    Hi! I am 10 years old, and I only buy fat quarters because I like to make small projects. I have alsready made the twine, and am a dancer who wears stage makeup, so I will make the makeup removers! Thanks so much!

    1. Jo Boyne says:

      Fat quarters are a brilliant way to get into sewing. You can get some brilliant fabric really cheaply, and not waste too much too. Happy sewing!

  10. Joanne says:

    These are all such cute projects for using up fabric scraps. I used to make scrunchies all the time in grade school and high school; that was my favorite use for fabric scraps and really loved when they matched an item of clothing I had made for myself.

  11. Cheryl | Time To Craft says:

    Lots of really good ideas here. I can’t bear to throw away scraps either. Keep on meaning to make a set of earbud holders for my teens. They would love them! #mmbc

  12. Louise (Little Hearts, Big Love) says:

    I love all of these different ideas for using up fabric scraps. I remember using up my mum’s leftover fabric from dressmaking for doll’s clothes and I’ve made patchwork bags and rag rugs before with leftover scraps of fabric. You’ve certainly given me a lot of ideas for ways to use up fabric scraps in future! #MMBC


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