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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 all my bits of fabric in some way to ensure they don’t go to landfill just yet.
As well as my scrap fabric bag, I have a large pile of old clothes and towelling that is due to be repurposed. I just don’t believe in wastage when it comes to leftover fabric remnants, and love to find new ways to upcycle fabric scraps.
And it seems that I am not alone. People are always asking in the forums what they can do with their scrap material, what they can create using fabric scraps and crafts to make with fabric samples.
What Size Fabric Scraps Should I keep?
I keep and use pretty much all my scrap fabrics. Everything can be used. Whether you are wondering how to use up from small to large fabric scraps, or wondering what to do with fabric trimmings, you will find all the easy diy sewing projects and no-sew projects in this post will take care of pretty much all of them. I even have a few tiny fabric scrap projects to use up even the teeniest pieces.
So read on to find out how to not waste a single piece and make some wonderful scrap fabric creations!!
What Can You Do With Your Fabric Scraps?
There are so many things that you can make with material scraps. And so here is a huge list of DIY fabric scraps projects for all sizes and shapes of remnants that you have left over from when you make larger sewing projects.
Most of these easy scrap fabric projects need sewing machines to make, but some you can hand sew. And a couple are completely no sew projects.
Small Bags and Pouches
The first of my ideas for sewing with scraps involves the larger pieces of leftover fabric that you may have.
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 fabric pieces and a zipper of the correct length. If you are using cotton fabric scraps then you may also need some interfacing to make the fabric more rigid.
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.
You could also make these cute little earbud cases. Because they are hexagonal, they are even more zero waste, as the pattern tessellates. Tutorial here – with my FREE pattern!
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 a great one from the scraps of some lovely Rifle Paper Company rayon that I had in my scrap bag. It was SO silky and baby soft.
I self drafted my sewing pattern, and you can find it here with my tutorial.
These have been an invaluable addition to most sewing repertoires over the past year. Plus most of the face masks patterns can be made using up smaller bits of cloth scraps. They are great for scrap busting,
Find my tutorial for a face mask with filter pocket here.
Reusable Straw Case / Travel Toothbrush Case
As I said, I am always looking for ideas for leftover fabric. And 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 they double as a travel toothbrush case too!
These are a great idea for keeping your furniture from getting marked by glasses and hot mugs. Plus they are an incredibly easy project to make whilst also using up your fabric scraps. A real winner for me!
Make these a little larger and with more layers and they also become brilliant pot holders.
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.
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.
Baby bibs are a brilliant way to use up fleece and cotton remnants. Plus make a lovely gift to boot for a new mum!
Quilting is a speciality that I have yet to properly delve into, though I have promised myself that I will have a go soon. It seems the perfect idea for how to use fabric scraps.
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.
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 long 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.
Such a brilliant zero waste way of using everything up by making fabric from scraps! This will be great as a lined bodice for a small girl’s dress, or any other ideas with fabric that you may have.
Small Stuffed Projects
There are so many brilliant patterns out there for making small projects such as stuffed toys and bears. Here’s a photo of just a few sewing patterns available commercially for sale. If you have a local fabric shop you will probably find them stocked there. Or there are lots available for free to download online.
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, and look particularly festive by using Christmas fabric.
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. It is one of the easiest ways to start sewing with fabric scraps.
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.
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. It’s a beautiful easy home decor project, and a brilliant way how to use up fabric scraps, as you can use tiny scraps for stuffing.. See my post here.
Next in this list of projects with fabric scraps is an idea for when you end up with massively long thin strips. These are perfect for lanyard making. Heres a great tutorial on how to make a lanyard.
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.
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. I have made some wonderful fabric scrap projects using this technique.
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.
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?
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!
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.
Reusable Kitchen Towels
Another one of the cool things to do with leftover fabric are these unpaper towels, as they also are a great way to upcycle your old towels.
Although the backs of these are made from old towels, I do like to use fabrics from my scrap bag to make pretty toppers for my pads.
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.
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.
The next one of my scrap fabric ideas are these easy fabric bookmarks. They 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.
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.
This is a great zero waste alternative to toilet paper. Have a stash by the toilet in a basket, then soak and wash them.
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 ways of sewing scraps of fabric is to cut letters, shapes or details from fabric, and then appliqué them onto bags and garments using my sewing machine.
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.
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.
What if you just do not sew? This next idea is one of the no-sew crafts with fabric scraps that I created after realising that I could create something for free rather than purchasing it at a vastly inflated price!
A couple of years ago whilst shopping in the Lake District, I saw that Liberty London were selling these sandwich picks.(Liberty London Party Picks by Meri Meri)
For 24 picks I considered that the price asked was quite steep. And so I decided to make my own.
It requires very little in the way of craft supplies. Using Bondaweb or Vliesofix, you can bond your chosen fabric. Then cut your desired size and shape, remove the backing, iron the fabric to itself around whatever length of cocktail stick or wooden skewer you wish – and hey presto, a simple diy with fabric to create your very own personalised sandwich picks or cupcake flags.
We actually take ours to the beach as sandcastle flags!
Bunny Rabbit Ears
I made these from some leftover wool felt
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
Hessian Shower Pouf
I even love to recycle fabric scraps of hessian from my rag rug bases. Small pieces of the hessian left over can be made into zero waste scrubbers for the shower.
For long thin lengths of coordinating woven fabrics, why not consider making a rag wreath? See here how you could also make one.
And they are not just for Christmas – I made one by upcycling an old skirt for Halloween. A Halloween Rag Wreath
Got loads of long thin fabric strips? Learn how to make fabric twine from long thin strips of fabric. Fabric scrap twine makes a great zero waste alternative to string for packages, bunting, for making coasters and garlands.
See how you can make this no sew fabric scrapbusting project in this post.
Stuffing For Other Projects
What if the material scrap is too small, or too ragged, or just on the selvedge etc? Are you wondering what to do with tiny fabric scraps?
Well, 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.
How Do I Use Fabric Scraps For Stuffing?
If the item needing stuffing is small, I just stuff directly into it.
But when I had enough tiny scraps to fill my Closet Case Pouf in my living room, I actually sewed a few pieces of cheap cotton material (an old duvet case) together to make bags for the tiny scraps, and then sewed these bags shut before using them to stuff the pouf. That way, when the pouf needs washing, I can remove the scrap stuffing and wash both the outer cover and the inner bags.
So there you have more than 30 ideas on what to do with all the fabric scraps in your scrap bag. So many ways how to upcycle all the little bits of fabric you have left over.
I hope that you have enjoyed finding out about all these fabric crafts and scrap sewing projects. I also really hope that you found this post useful and have gained a few fabric scrap recycling ideas that you will be able to recreate at home.
Do think that you will have a go at one of these scraps of fabric ideas?
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?
If you have enjoyed this post on projects for fabric scraps and want to refer to it in future, why don’t you pin this post for later?