Tips for sewing with scraps

With a full weekend (plus a few days!) left in September, I thought I’d share a few ideas in case you’re planning a little scrap fun this weekend!

1. Sort your scraps
If you’re anything like me, your scraps are stored in an undignified, dusty heap of a bin. I may or may not cross my fingers that said bin will close as I stuff yet more scraps in. Doing a scrap project is entirely unpalatable until I lay my scraps out and actually see what I’m working with. This helps me identify larger pieces, favorite scraps, etc – which brings me to my next idea.

2. Look for similarities
One of my favorite things in scrap sewing, nay, in life, is to sort things according to similarities. I find that this is an especially fun technique for scrap fabrics. Look for one or two characteristics that you like, such as color, fiber, texture, print, or weight. (Given the monochromatic nature of my recent sewing projects, I was able to amass a pile of grey, white and silver linens for my Scraptember project.)

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 9.44.49 AM


3. Or, go crazy and look for contrast!
Bright colors! Light and dark! Thin and thick! Textured and smooth! You can make some stunning combinations with contrasting fabric scraps. Using contrast can highlight your seams and design lines in a great way.



4. Consider dye
If you want a cohesive look, you can stitch some scraps together and dye them! If you want all of your scraps to pick up the dye, check first and see what fibers your dye will work with. I use Procion MX for plant-based fibers like cotton and linen and Jacquard for animal fibers like silk and wool, but there are many types of dyes.

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Boro from Jen Kao

5. Consider using your scraps as embellishment
Making your own applique or trim would be  a great way to use up scraps without sewing an entire garment with them. Check out how Debbie used leather scraps on a dress she made!

This list is by no means exhaustive as I’m an enthusiastic amateur scrap sewer, not an expert. Please share if you have any tips on sewing with scraps! And if you’d like your Scraptember projects to included in the round-up next week, please add your photos into the flickr pool.

13 thoughts on “Tips for sewing with scraps

  1. The sorting… I think I need to do that. I love seeing analagous colours together, so if I at least had separate bins for warm and cool colours, I bet I’d reach for them more!

  2. I like to put scraps that I think might play well with another fabric together. When I have just a bit of something left, I’ll drape it over the hanger with its potential blind date when I store it- to remind me of the gaudy possibility.

  3. Right now, sadly, my small scraps are all shoved in a plastic bag, and my large scraps are stored by colour with my regular stash. I should fix that. You’ve got some really good sorting & storing ideas here. 🙂

    1. I’d been storing my larger scraps with my yardage too, until I did a sort for this project. It made me realize why I felt like my stash was plenty large but I often didn’t want to sew anything from it! Demoting my scrappies really helped. I meant for these ideas to be more about doing a pre-sewing sort, but I’m glad they translate to storage (because really, more of them get stored than get sewn!)

  4. My scraps are getting out of hand and I know that I need to do something about them! Thanks for the tips. Maybe I can crank something out before the end of the month. 🙂

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