What to Do with Scrap Fabric: Quilting Projects & More


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Scraps—we all have them, and if you're like me, it's hard to get rid of them or (gasp!) throw them away! So, what do we do with scraps? Surely there has to be something that can be created with those little pieces that are left over from quilting projects many moons ago. There are some fantastic scrap quilt ideas out there, but first you've got to get those scraps organized!

Have no fear, here are some easy tips for what to do with that scrap fabric

Scrap Quilt Featuring Moon, Stripes and Buttons

Mixed media scrap quilt by bkendrick

It will be beneficial for you to spend an afternoon or two sorting your scraps into a few different piles.

First you will want to pull out all pieces that are on the larger side-you know the ones, where you cut into a fabric for the perfect appliqué piece, only to render the rest of the fabric useless? Pieces with wavy edges, Fat Quarter "scraps" that you're not sure what to do with, etc. Trim up these kinds of scraps, give them straight edges and place them aside.

Next, create a pile with scraps that are longer strip-like pieces.

Often times after making quilts we're left with lots of narrow pieces that are around 2-4" wide x the width of the fabric. Believe it or not these can be used (they are great for string blocks, for example!) Pull out these long strip-type pieces and create pile two.

Finally, set aside all of the tiny pieces.

Your 3" x 3" squares, the random triangles and odd shaped scraps that can't be trimmed down effectively, should be used to create pile three.

If you're feeling very ambitious now would be the time to subdivide each pile into colors.

To use your scraps it might be helpful to see them divided into color, so that you can quickly pull from each scrap pile when you're getting ready to put them into a project. If that seems too overwhelming of a task just keep your three piles separated. You will still be able to use them!

Blue Scrap Quilt, Project on Craftsy

Whimsical scrap quilt by Craftsy member 3patch

Now, put them to use!

Looking at the pile of larger pieces, there are many things that you can do with these scraps.

Pieced backings are always a fun and easy way to make use of large scraps from your current project, and from past ones as well. Pieced bindings are also a nice way to create a fun look, while using up some of your smaller scraps (look for pieces that are at least 2 ½""). If you like to do appliqué look for patterns, block of the month programs and scrap-related programs, that would work well for you to use these scraps as appliqué pieces.

What about making a whole quilt? Craftsy Instructor Pepper Cory offers some great ideas for creating one-of-a-kind quilts from scraps in her class, Scrap Quilting.

There have been plenty of patterns released in the past few years that make use of narrow strips.

Now is the time to use your strip-like scrap pile to make some of these fun quilts! Look for patterns that call for Jelly Rolls (2 ½" strips), Honey Buns (1 ½"" strips), or wider 6 ½"" strips and squares. You should be able to find fome great patterns in the Craftsy pattern store.

With your pile of tiny scraps and odd-shaped bits, consider using these for your art quilts, or donate to a group who likes to do quilt embellishment and create art pieces.

Sometimes these little splashes of color add the perfect touch to a piece, and this will eliminate the need for having to cut off a small piece of a larger, useable piece of fabric.

Scrap Quilt Featuring Hexagon Pattern

Hexagon scrap quilt by instructor Pepper Cory

There are plenty of charity groups that will gladly take the scraps off your hands, if you don't want to go through the process of sorting, or if you find there are scraps you really won't use.

Check with your local quilt store, as they can be a great resource for charity groups in the area who are willing to take in donated fabric.

It's worth noting that one of my favorite products these days is Mary Ellen's Best Press. When you start to work with your unsorted scrap pile you will probably notice that many of the scraps have been stuffed together, leaving them wrinkled and a bit unsightly. Mary Ellen's Best Press is a starch alternative that leaves no flaking (even on dark fabrics!), smells nice as you can choose from a variety of scents, and truly makes ironing easier. Once your scraps are nicely sorted and pressed you will be much more excited and apt to use them in your future projects.

Your scrap pile doesn't have to be a daunting task, you simply need to have a plan and get to it! The faster you use up these scraps the better you will feel about using up previously un-useable fabric. And you might even find that you need to reward your thrifty efforts with a few new (big) pieces of new fabrics that you've had your eye on for awhile.


Enjoy sorting and let me know how YOU end up using your scraps!


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