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Are you the type of person who saves every teeny tiny itsy bitsy piece of fabric and thread?? I will say that I have a limit to what I will save, and often if depends on my mood. Sometimes, I will save a fabric scrap that is less than 1″ square (for applique, I tell myself.) Sometimes, I feel a little more reckless and throw away anything under 2″. I have a bag full of little scraps of fabric and batting which I told myself will be good for making dog beds…. Like I am ever going to do that! Oh how we kid ourselves!! But fabric is pretty, and we understandably don’t want to just toss it away. So today, let’s talk about a few ways to use up some of those scraps.
A great way to use scraps is to make new fabric out of them. OK, so I am not talking about waving a magic wand over the piles of scraps so that they somehow become brand new fabric (though, that would be pretty cool. If Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother could turn a pumpkin into a carriage, she could probably turn my bag of scraps into several bundles of perfectly folded and coordinated fat quarters, right?) But you can sew them together and then use that pieced fabric to make something very cute and visually interesting.
For example, sew fabric scraps together like this (and notice, these are little pieces!):
and turn it into a cute stuffed bird ornament like this:
Isn’t that much more interesting than a single piece of fabric? Bird ornament pattern here.
Turn your new Scrap Fabric into an apron, as shown here by Crazy Mom Quilts:
You could also take that pieced fabric and iron fusible web to the back and use it for applique, or you could use it for an interesting background for blocks or applique.
Use scraps to make small projects such as this Hippy Chick Belt- free tutorial here.
Something else you can do with scraps is EPP- English Paper Piecing. Because you are using templates, it’s very easy to make best use of your scraps because you can lay out the templates on your fabric before cutting. I am currently working on a lap-sized hexie quilt. The hexies are 5″ at their widest part, and there are a couple of advantages to that. First, the project will go quicker. Second, I wanted to use some really pretty fat quarters and favorite fabrics that I know won’t make their way into another quilt (because I just have too much fabric). But by using large hexies, those pretty fabrics get showcased in a way that they wouldn’t if I cut them down into itty bitty pieces- so I don’t feel so guilty about cutting into my favorite fabrics… (and also it’s good for larger prints if you don’t want to lose the design by cutting them down too much). Of course, the disadvantage to using the large hexies is that you need larger pieces of fabric. If you’d like to do an EPP project, go through your scraps and see what size templates make sense for the fabrics that you want to use. If you have itty bitty pieces, then by all means, use small templates and put those little scrap pieces to good use.
I made this string block in a workshop about 12 or 13 years ago- I can’t remember how we made it! I think we used paper templates? Well, whatever it was, it’s a nice example of a scrappy block:
(Find a similar tutorial here.)
Another block which looks great with scrap fabrics is a wonky house block- if you made a whole little “town” of these with scrappy fabrics, it would be really cute! Find the Wonky House Block tutorial here.
So, when you are making a pile of scrappy blocks, how do you “pull” them together and make them “make sense” in a single quilt? That’s what your border fabrics are for! Choose a border fabric or 2 which coordinates with and contains the colors in your scrap fabrics, and that will make it all come together. You may even want to choose your border fabric(s) first, and then go through your scrap pile and see what works. For example, in the quilt below, called Grammy’s Rose Garden, lots of different pinks and greens were used, but the floral fabric border makes it all pretty and cohesive. Get the free pattern for this quilt here.
OK, now it’s your turn to give all of us YOUR ideas for using scraps! Tell us in the comments.