Have you seen the new sewing challenge #sewingleftovers? Launched by Shauni of The Magnificent Thread the idea is to come up with ways to use up your scraps and I quite frankly love it! You can read all the details of how to take part here on her Instagram page. I am so excited to see more conversations around sustainable sewing cropping up everywhere and seeing as tomorrow is the start of Fashion Revolution week I thought it would be a good time to shed some light on this new sustainable sewing challenge!
I don’t think there is any better way of showing your commitment to sewing sustainably than using up all your fabric. That fabric has used resources to be produced, you chose it and bought it – why not use all of it? Being careful with leftovers is one of the easiest ways that home sewists can be more environmentally friendly and less like fast fashion manufacturers in their impact on the planet.
It is no secret I love using my scraps so I thought I would put a little post together with my personal favourite ways of using up fabric leftovers!
1. First of all I’d like to say, the best way to reduce your sewing leftovers is to not overbuy your fabric! Try to stick to what the pattern recommends or if you’ve made it before, just buy what you know you will use. I know when I first started sewing I would often buy a bit more ‘just in case’, but now I am more confident in my sewing abilities I know I don’t need to buy extra so that’s a great place to start. I know it’s tricky when working with fabric with a directional print or fabric with a nap – I ended up with a whopping 1.5m leftover when I made my yellow corduroy coat! I got a Cleo dress out of it and still have scraps left!
2. Children’s clothes are a great way of using up small scraps. Even if you don’t have children yourself you can use your jersey scraps to make new baby gifts for any friends or family who are expecting. Or you could use cotton scraps to make little quilts? The t-shirt below used a really small scrap of that bears fabric – so small that I couldn’t get the front of an age 3-4 t-shirt out of it! But I love the fabric so much I altered the side seams into that diamond shape so I could make it work!
3. Use little scraps as stuffing – for these tailor’s hams I used the tiniest scraps from my overlocker mixed with small fabric scraps to really pad them densely. I am now planning to make one of these ride-on horses (pictured below) for my son and intend to pad it with scraps I’ve been saving up for just this purpose. I also plan to use the last of my yellow corduroy for the horse’s body – I will be rid of it eventually!
4. I’ve mentioned them before but sewing your small scraps of special fabrics into gifts is a lovely way to use them. Slippers are a great way to use scraps and I definitely plan to make some Ida Clutches this year for family members.
5. Have a dig through your pattern stash and see if there are any garments in there that use small pieces of fabric. My personal favourites include – the In The Folds Peplum Top – I was amazed by how little fabric it uses! I got the whole bodice out of a pillow case and then needed two long thin strips of fabric for the peplum. I also think the Collins Top would be great too as it has so many panels – could be used for colourblocking several different scraps? Or just handy if your scraps are in lots of pieces? I know the Ogden Cami uses a small amount of fabric and is a lot of sewists go-to pattern for scrapbusting. Finally for those jersey scraps, I love the Gable Top as I know I can get one out of less than a metre.
6. Don’t forget that you can use your jersey scraps to make undies! Megan Nielsen patterns has the free Acacia underwear pattern so you can make cute undies out of smaller cotton jersey scraps. There are also some lovely bralette patterns for free on the Madalynne Intimates website. Remember you don’t need to have loads of lace or silk scraps to make underwear, some nice cotton jersey would make lovely everyday bras and knickers!
7. There are loads of other ways you can incorporate small scraps into your sewing – pocket linings, facing pieces and bias binding are all great ways you can turn small bits of fabric into useable pieces. My favourite bias binding tutorial is this one because it uses the continuous method but clearly explains how to make it work for rectangular pieces of fabric – I don’t know about you but I don’t have many perfectly square scraps and this saves wasting fabric by having to make a square first!
A huge thank you to Shauni for coming up with such a great challenge! These are some of the ways I am going to try and continue to smash through my sewing leftovers. Do you have any favourite ways I’ve missed?