So while I may not have the best scrap organizing system (throw everything into a bin, keep shoving it down so they all fit), I have been pretty good about USING up my scraps. Lately, I’ve found a good strategy has been to use up my scraps right when I finish a project, thus keeping them from the scrap bin entirely. I’m usually still enthusiastic about the fabrics I’m using, and I feel good about reducing the amount of scraps I’m saving.
I don’t organize my scraps (see above) or cut them down to usable sizes. Although I love the idea of chopping up all my scraps into 2.5” and 5” squares, it just isn’t realistic for me with the volume of quilts I produce. It would be way too time consuming. I save ALL my scraps. I think anything 1″ square or larger is usable!
One thing to note, rarely does anything from my projects end up in the trash. I’ll show you my 9 favorite ways to use up scraps, from the biggest pieces to the smallest. The bonus is that for most of these projects, you rarely need additional supplies, so they’re super cost effective and make great gifts!
1. Scrappy placemats
If you have fabrics that are 2.5” or larger, this is a great project to use them on. Use leftover quilt binding to bind them (I know if you’re a quilter you have a stash of this lying around too!) and some scrap batting on the inside.
Get the tutorial: Scrappy Patchwork Placemats
2. Improv panels
Turn these into throw pillows, quilt backs, tote bags, or coasters, depending on the size of your scraps and panels. I love improv sewing because it is so free and liberating. It allows you to use up all types of scrap shapes and sizes too! The results are never the same twice, but always stunning.
For these, I piece together fabric only (no batting), and then decide what to do with them. Will I fuse it to foam for a tote bag? Or add some batting and a backing for a pillow? The sky is the limit.
3. Quilt As You Go panels
An extension of improv panels is quilting them directly to your batting in a Quilt As You Go (QAYG) fashion. Turn these panels into zipper pouches, coasters, placemats, or drawstring bags.
These are my latest obsession and I’ve been busy turning all my tiny scraps into usable zipper pouches for everyone on my Christmas list. (I’ve started early this year!) Here’s a great short video showing the process of QAYG.
4. English Paper Piecing projects
English Paper Piecing (EPP) is perfect for scraps! I’m especially in love with Porcupine Stew Threads’s new EPP patch kits. They’re small enough pieces that you can use all types of scraps for them! Plus all of the animals are just so dang adorable!
Get the kit: EPP Patch Kits from Porcupine Stew Threads
5. Lanyards & key fobs
You know all those leftover binding ends and small strips of fabric you have? Turn them into a lanyard or key fob along with some batting and a clasp!
Get the tutorial: How to Make a Lanyard by Lo & Behold Stitchery
My hair may currently be too short for tying up with an adorable scrunchie but that doesn’t meant I don’t make them for gifts! Plus the cute little bow addition makes them hard to resist.
I recently made these for my 18 year old niece and she was over the moon about them. Who knew that fashion trends from my youth would come around again so rapidly?
Get the tutorial: Bow Scrunchie Tutorial
7. Magnetic Needle Minders (or magnets)
I’ve made needle minders quite a few times and I love them! They are perfect for fussy cutting, but you can use any scraps you have around.
Bonus, if you don’t do a lot of hand work and don’t need needle minders, they double as super cute magnets too! I like to buy my rare earth magnets at Harbor Freight (the price is right!).
Get the tutorial: Magnetic Needle Minders
8. Fabric Tape
Fabric too small even for improv can be turned into fabric tape to brighten up your next package. Definitely use carpet tape! Other double-sided tapes aren’t sticky enough for fabric. And be aware, the tape will leave a residue on your scissors or rotary cutter so don’t use your good ones.
Get the tutorial: Fabric Washi Tape Tutorial
And when they’re too small even for fabric tape, use scraps as stuffing for soft toys or pet beds. A lot of pet shelters are grateful to receive these for the animals in their care.
Get the tutorial: DIY Dog Bed Tutorial