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What to do with all those scraps

kiwianne | Posted in Fabric and Trim on

Hi all

I’m sure this question has been asked many times before but here goes.  Like many of you I have all these little pieces of fabric left over from past sewing projects that I can’t bear to throw away.  I’ve made lots of jewellery rolls with the silk bits, handbags with the cotton bits but there’s still a heap left so what I’m looking for is some good ideas – maybe some books – to help me get the stack down.

Any suggestions gratefully received.

Regards, Kiwianne


  1. liselaure | | #1

    "Fabric Leftovers: Simple, Adaptable Ways to Use up Scraps" by D'Arcy-Jean Milne has good reviews.


    1. kiwianne | | #3

      Many thanks, LiseLaure.  Have had a look at that book on Amazon and it certainly looks the ticket.  Before I order it I'll wait and see what anyone else suggests so that I can buy several at one time.  Saves on the postage to NZ!

  2. Crazy K | | #2

    I rarely sew with 'silky pretties' so most of my scraps go to a local quilting group that makes quilts for the homeless in our locale.  They donate to the Salvation Army.  These ladies will take nearly anything and work with it.  The quilts they make are utilitarian in nature.  Actually, the Sal. Army prefers that since some of the homeless have addictions and would take a quilt too nice and sell it.  Since that is not the purpose of their mission, they prefer to have the warmth rather than perfection!  Many Churches also have quilting groups that make quilts to be sent to missions in impoverished areas of the world.

    That's where my scraps go............that way everything but the very tiniest pieces are being used.


    1. kiwianne | | #4

      Many thanks, Crazy K.  The things I make from my scraps I generally use for presents or giving away.  It's the making that I like but when the scraps finally start overwhelming me, I'll be looking for a charity to give them to.

  3. Lady Willoughby | | #5

    Hi Kiwianne,

    I've made a number of Microwave Potato Bags using 100% cotton scraps.  Previously, I wouldn't consider "baking" a potato in my microwave (ack) but now when I have to throw a meal together quickly, I now sometimes use one of these bags and the potatoes come out pretty good.  Not exactly the same as an oven baked potato but quite acceptable.  This is a report from my husband who is a potato lover.

    This simple project was a free idea from Hancock Fabrics a year or two ago.  One needs to cut three layers of material:  one of the outside layer and one of the inside layer (can be different color or print) of cotton fabric and a third layer of 100% cotton batting such as what you would use in making a crib blanket (thin).  The pieces must measure about 11 x 22 each and it is important to use only 100% cotton thread as using a combo of cotton and poly will result in a fire.  I know this from experience!  Luckily, I was watching it (all unaware that I had used a thread w/poly in it) and voile -- smoke and then tiny (thank goodness) flames appeared. 

    Since that excitement, I've bought the 100% cotton thread and made 5 more of the bags to spread around to family members who say they are impressed with the results.  If you or anyone else would like the directions and exact measurements, I could try posting them for you using our scanner. 

    I've also made several potholders using all cotton scraps and then sandwiched that silver cloth used for making ironing board covers and also two layers of the thin batting.  I put the silver stuff on the inside, then a layer of batting on either side followed by my patterned scrap fabric.  I even got into making my own bias tape for the last one because I wanted it to be "pretty."  Also tried out machine applique by drawing an eggplant w/leaf and stem, cutting it out in purple and green and stitched it onto a soft yellow cotton twill that I had laying around.  Then I edged the whole thing in a soft green.  This method makes a thin but heat resistant hot pad.  Yes, it does move out of alignment as I machine quilt the layers together before putting the tape on, so I've basted the layers together thoroughly before going to the machine.


    1. user-217847 | | #7

      Dear Lady  Willoughby,                                                                                                      you have tweaked my imagination with your potato bags but you didd'nt say how to use one. Do please follow up with more information.

      your friend in stitching,


      1. sewfar | | #8

        secretworkshop.com which is a quiltshop in Canada has the neatest project for micro wave finger mitts.  In essence they are tiny pot holders that protect your fingers .  I have made lots of them  and fellow sewers always request the pattern.  Good to include with food gifts that I give.   

        1. Lady Willoughby | | #10

          Your suggestion sounds interesting.  Could you could provide a visual for us, or more information so I could picture it?


          1. sewfar | | #14

            Unfortunately I have not yet conquered how to send attachments but the oven mitt pattern and description are free.  Go to secretworkshop.com and on the right of the screen will be free tips and info.  The oven mitts are hint #28.  Essentially they are 6" by 3" ovals with batting sandwiched between to protect from the heat and on top are two little "pockets" to slide finger and thumb.  It is reminiscent of cloth bedroom slippers only with two toe sections.  I also pad the  "pockets"  for extra protection although some do not.

               I have taught myself to use the computer and whenever I call across country to my computer guru son, he says "Mom that is easy."  I agree, grasp the concept and promptly forget how or cannot understand the clear notes I took of his clear description. I hope you find the site or someone  with better computer skills can help.  They have so many good free projects and patterns.  The childs flap hat was popular with my grandsons when they lived at Edwards AFB in the California desert.

          2. Lady Willoughby | | #15

            "I agree, grasp the concept and promptly forget how or cannot understand the clear notes I took of his clear description."

            Boy, can I ever identify with what you said (above)!  Thanks for the explanation re secretworkshop.com.  Actually, I poked around in it today but didn't see the part with free info and tips.  I'll go back and see what I can find. 

          3. sewfar | | #17

            if you are on the secretworkshop.com  homepage, the Tips and Info section is the second section from the top on the right side under Newsletter.   Free patterns and Projects is the last item on the on the Tip and Info list.  There are 74 free patterns listed.

            Honestly I am glad that you found the right site.  Once I keyed in secret workshop wrong and found a site that certainly had nothing to do with sewing secrets...blush.  

          4. Lady Willoughby | | #19

            I went on the secretworkshop.com website last night and was surprised at how many little projects there were.  I found and printed off the set of directions and pattern for the Finger Oven Mitts.  Will try a pair some time in the foreseeable future.  Thanks.

            Our pre-teen granddaughter (some years ago) wanted to see pictures of arabian horses and got much more than she bargained for.  Luckily my husband was sitting with her (just in case) and instantly took the situation in hand.  Too bad these things happen.

            Thanks for sharing.

      2. Lady Willoughby | | #9

        I've been trying to post a copy of my printed sheet of directions for the Potato Bag into this discussion for all to see and print off if they want but I'm not sure I've got it right.  I've got the sheet scanned and sent that to myself.  From there I was able to save it to a document that I can find (amazing, so far).  I will now try to attach that file to this message and we'll see what happens.  I don't know if the page will be the right size -- important only in that there is a line drawing of a little potato on it that you can cut out of potato-looking fabric and applique it to the front of the bag.  Very cute!  If that's all that's wrong with what you get, I'm sure you can size the drawing down if you wish to use it.  If this attachment effort fails, my husband will be home late Sunday and he can usually figure these things out for me -- or I would be willing to retype the directions, if I have to, but I would like to learn how to do this.  Here goes ...

        I'm going to be so excited if this works!

        1. user-217847 | | #16

          Lady Willoughby,

          Bingo. Well done. Now can I trouble for the instructios for it' use?



          1. Lady Willoughby | | #18

            Dear Wombat (love it),

            Actually, the basic directions for use are on the scanned directions sheet.  I discovered that if I just print that overly large attachment direction sheet, it all comes out on one sheet.  Here is the little guide I worked up to tuck into each bag that I make:

            - Wash potato(s)

            - Wipe dry and DO NOT POKE HOLES IN POTATO(S)

            - Wrap each in a paper towel

            - Place in bag with paper towel wrap (up to 4 med.-to-large potatoes per bag)

            - Microwave according to the guide in your microwave instruction book, turning bag over after 1/2 the time has passed.

            I've used mine maybe four times now and it still smells fresh as new.  The potato skins will not be dry and crisp as when done in a conventional oven but the interior will not be soggy as is the norm for a microwaved potato w/o a bag.

            After my little polyester fire experience I chose not to use even the rayon thread the directions call for, even though I had bought some in a potato brown.  I just went all cotton all the way.

            Lady Willoughby

    2. kiwianne | | #11

      Many thanks, Lady Willoughby.  This sounds a great idea.  Will add it to my list.

      Regards, Kiwianne

    3. solosmocker | | #13

      Making children's clothing allows me to use a lot of small pieces for piping, pockets, collars, etc. But anything smaller than maybe 12 in. square I put into a little bin to use for doll clothes which are great fun to sew. I also give them to the grandchildren to cut up and play with sometimes too.

  4. User avater
    Thimblefingers | | #6

    When I've gotten to the point that I know I'll never use all my scraps, I bag them up in plastic grocery store bags and sell them for 25 cents each at a garage sale. They sell like hotcakes to crafters, quilters and teachers who use them for school art projects. When I had a sewing shop, I threw all my scraps in Rubbermaid bins, called them looney bins, and sold them for "all you can stuff in a bag for a looney" (in Canada, that's what we call our $1.00 coin).

    1. kiwianne | | #12

      Hi Thimblefingers

      As I said to Crazy Kate, it is the making that I enjoy but I guess sooner or later I will get to the point where I'll have to dispose of it somehow and the school fete bags sound a great idea.  Might also contact my local Quileters' Guild and see if they want it all.

      I know what a looney is from fondly remembered visits to Canda in the 90s.  Got some lovely silks when I was there, a couple of which are still in my stash.

      Regards, Kiwianne

  5. Teaf5 | | #20

    I sort my scraps, boxing "lights" "darks" "fancies" "laces" separately. That way, when I need to repair something, add a pocket, make a small gift, add an embellishment, I can find what I need.

    When the boxes are full, I go through, pull out some of them and donate them to the local elementary schools or church groups or senior centers that make crafts. If I call in advance and ask if they are interested, their passion and gratitude make it much easier for me to part with many of my "treasures." Time to do that again this summer!

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