Sewing Space Shuffle Part 3: The Fabric Scraps Dilemma

Fabric scraps. The bane of any sewing person’s existence? Or are you good at either throwing your scraps away or actually using them to make something?

I vacillate from throwing out my scraps, to using them for something.

I’ve pinned many a tutorial that converts fabric scraps into useful and pretty doodads. But pinning, though a sewing term, is not actually sewing.  And I can rarely envisage a personal need for said doodad, so it never gets made.

Except, one day, I will suddenly want to make a doodad, but I recently threw or gave away (to a childcare centre) my scraps, and so have to use (or go buy) a fat quarter to make a doodad, thereby creating more weirdly sized and shaped scraps. Argh!

However, I have developed a system. It’s new, and I’ve not quite yet put it into place … The system is that I keep scraps divided into knits and wovens. One 10L plastic box, and no more, of each.

The Before

The Before (actually, The Sometime After Starting & Then Realising A Picture Might Be Helpful)

For knits, I will keep larger than fat quarter size only of fabric that I will use again. If it’s smaller, but awesome, I’ll keep it. If it’s smaller and one of the colours of the rainbow, I’m cutting it into 16″ squares, and putting it into a little bag, which will one day become a rainbow jersey duvet cover, yes it will. I do keep and use long bits of knit fabric cut into strips for tying up tomatoes, and other gardening miscellany. The balance of knit scraps go into a scrap rubbish bag, which either becomes filling for something that needs stuffing (like my Scraptember pouf) or gets thrown away when the bag gets too full, and I start again.

For wovens, I’ll keep fabrics thus:

  • larger than fat quarter but less than a yard
  • fat quarter size
  • smaller sizes cut into
  • 5 inch squares
  • 2 inch strips

And I will not budge from this system. Nosirree. If I cannot manage a square or a strip from the fabric, it will go into the knit fabric stuffing bag.

I also keep pretty selvedges, because they’re pretty. But they’re kept with ribbons and binding and a miscellany of ‘trim’.

What will be chucked. Well done, me.

What will be chucked. Well done, me.

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17 Comments

  1. This post really made me giggle, I also have an odd relationship with scraps that I cant bare to throw away. When packing to move I streamlined my fabric stash which was very difficult! I still have scraps of fabric from when I was at college almost 9 years ago! xx

    Reply

    1. I love the scraps that have somehow lasted multiple moves! I haven’t been seriously sewing for very long (well, almost 4 years!) but there are some that were there right at the beginning!

      Reply

  2. Haha oh the scrap dilemma! I keep telling myself I’m going to turn them in to flower brooches and cute tie headbands for baby niece … I think she’ll have more headbands then days of the year to wear them!!

    Reply

    1. Yes, having a little person on the way makes the idea of using scraps more feasible. Congratulations! Have fun sewing for your niece!

      Reply

  3. I used to keep *everything*. These days, my system is similar to yours, just less organised. Anything that can be cut into what I deem a reasonable size (I’m afraid that depends a bit on my mood but must be somewhat rectangular) will be kept, all small offcuts (and by small I mean “won’t even fit half a bra cup”) gets thrown out during cutting.

    Reply

    1. I’m also trying to throw out during cutting … I manage to do this successfully when I’m not at home (e.g. when out at Social Sewing), and am always feel so ‘light’ when I get home. It seems harder at home, but I have to do better and stay more organised now!

      Reply

  4. I cut our some pink/red denim shorts for the younger lass. Then forgot to sew them up. She no longer wants them, so I they out the pieces. The elder lass swooped and said “but you can still use them!”.

    I blame her father.

    Reply

  5. Have you been finding that you have way more of a stash than you thought as part of this process? I must admit, I was quite shocked to see all the fabric and wool I have lying around – me, the non-stasher! This means your list of rules is going to be a handy thing indeed, lest you find yourself buried in an avalanche of scraps.

    At the moment, I’m keeping my scraps to use as stuffing. I’m about one thousandth of the way through a bee-keeper’s quilt and I’m planning to use my little store of scraps whenever I run out of fibrefill.

    Reply

    1. I’m finding I have more categories of stuff, but ultimately if organised well, it condenses nicely. Bonus! I’m very close to the finale post 😆

      Reply

  6. I wish there was a service that would collect fabric scraps and recycle them. How cool would it be to buy something made out of recycled fabric scraps? Like jeans or something. I don’t even know if that is possible, but it should be!

    Reply

    1. I know! I love the Japanese skill of recycling beautiful old kimonos into pieced fabric and new garments (I forget what this is called!), but our modern society (& Japan’s too, where the skill is slowly dying) is so consumed by purchasing The New (stores like Forever New! That store name drives me bonkers every time I see it) and I guess we are all sufficiently well off that there is no ‘need’ to recycle in this manner any more.

      Maybe a sewist needs to start this business!

      Reply

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