Late last year, I wrote a series of posts detailing projects that you can make to use up scraps of fabric, around a fat quarter or less in size. But what if you have offcuts of around a metre, can you make any clothes with them? Yes, you absolutely can. Let’s take a look at some options for your offcut projects.
Playing pattern tetris
For most projects, you’ll need to play a bit of pattern tetris in order to squeeze some projects onto short pieces of fabric. Generally, if a pattern suggests you need around 1-1.2m, you should be okay. If it suggests you need 1.4m, you’ll definitely have to play some pattern tetris, but you should just about be able to squeeze the pattern onto the fabric. Ultimately, squeezing the most out of a metre of fabric depends on a few things: how wide it is, how many pattern pieces there are and what the grain line of your pattern is.
For other projects, you might need to get a little more creative. I’ve managed to make a pair of Ruri sweatpants by Named Clothing from a 1m piece of knit fabric by turning them on their side and using the horizontal grain, rather than the vertical grain – and I still have just about enough to make a sweater to match – however, that’s because my fabric was 2.1m wide.
Making tops from offcuts
There’s a surprising amount of options when it comes to making tops out of your offcuts. Many t-shirt patterns can be made with roughly a metre’s worth of fabric, so if you’ve got some good jersey or knit fabric offcuts, this is a perfect option. My personal favourite is the Iris t-shirt by Forget Me Not Patterns; with options for both short and 3/4 length sleeves, plus the option to make a standard t-shirt or one with pleated details on the sleeve, it’s super versatile. If you haven’t got any knit or jersey offcuts, but want to make a t-shirt style, check out the Seychelles top by Itch To Stitch; like the Iris t-shirt, you have the option of short or longer sleeve and the short sleeve has lovely pleating details around the cap of the sleeve.
Camisole tops are a popular make now we’re heading towards the warmer months here in the northern hemisphere. Many people swear by the Ogden Cami by True Bias, but there’s lots of options. You could make the camisole from the Reef set by Megan Nielsen, or perhaps you could make a top from the Sicily slip dress by Sewing Patterns By Masin. Instead of a camisole, you could perhaps make a tank top, like the Lago tank by Itch To Stitch, which uses a maximum of only a metre of jersey or knit fabric no matter what your size.
Other styles of tops which can be made as offcut projects include the Atlas top and the Bathurst top, both by Stitch Witch Patterns, or even the Grace corset top by Named Clothing. Alternatively, you could have a go at drafting your own top; sleeveless shirts and vest style tops can both be made from small pieces of fabric.
Using offcuts to make skirts and shorts
Skirts and shorts are perhaps among some of the easiest patterns to fit into short pieces of fabric. While you can get skirts in several lengths, it’s entirely possible to squeeze an above-knee length skirt into as little as half a metre. I managed to do this with View A of the Brumby skirt by Megan Nielsen, squeezing the four major pattern pieces onto a 50cm offcut of denim and fitting the waistband pattern onto a smaller offcut piece, though unfortunately I wasn’t careful enough and accidentally cut two identical front pieces. Doing this does mean you need to get super creative though – I would have needed to use a contrasting fabric to make the pockets for this skirt, as none of the denim offcuts I had were large enough for the pattern pieces.
There’s many shorts patterns out there which are easily made with a metre or less of fabric too. I recently made the V3 shorts from the Reef set by Megan Nielsen, having chosen them knowing I had limited fabric available. When cutting out though, I easily had enough fabric to make the V2 shorts – on my slightly older copy of the pattern, the fabric requirements said 1.5m for the V2 shorts and 0.8m for the V3. I even cut and used the curved hems of the V2 shorts and still would have had enough to make the full V2 shorts. (I’m still confident I made the right choice with the V3’s though).
Aside from loungewear style shorts, you can even make practical hiking shorts with lots of pockets. The Sequoia shorts and the Angelina shorts, both by Itch To Stitch, feature multiple pockets, flap or tab closures and full flies, but the recommended fabric requirements are only 1.4m for the largest sizes – meaning with some clever pattern positioning, it’s entirely possible to make these shorts from as little as 1 metre even for larger sizes.
Other ideas for using your offcuts
Colour blocking or alternating patterns and plain fabric are fun options for offcut projects, as they both use up spare fabric and make something completely unique. This also allows you to use those bits of fabric that are shorter than a metre but still big enough to fit some pattern pieces on.
Some patterns are even designed with colour blocking in mind. The Arlo track jacket by Friday Pattern Company has a section at the bottom of the fabric requirements specifically for colour blocking. It’s easy to see how you can colour block the Lamma hoodie by Itch To Stitch from the official imagery, though it doesn’t give specific quantities for colour blocking like the Arlo jacket does. There’s many more patterns out there which can easily be colour blocked too, so this opens up a lot of possibilities for you.
Choosing to colour block or alternate complimentary fabrics also expands your options for offcut projects; suddenly, you can make items which would typically require more than a metre to make. Trousers, sweaters, cardigans, even long dresses – all look great when created with funky colour blocking or creative combinations of plain and patterned fabrics.
How to decide what to make with your offcuts
Any sewing project is a personal choice, whether you’re making it for yourself or someone else. We choose the pattern and combine it with the fabric as a matter of personal taste too – I’m not a massive fan of huge bold prints, for example, while I know that others absolutely love them.
If you have some offcuts that you want to work with but you aren’t sure what to make, perhaps the first thing to do is look at your wardrobe. Is there a garment type missing, or perhaps you don’t make that often but you would like to? This could be a good place to start. Alternatively, is there a garment type you wear a lot which you just can’t get enough of?
Now you’ve got a rough idea of what garment type to make, what offcuts do you have and what type of fabric are they? Do any compliment or match each other, in case you want to colour block or alternate different patterns?
When looking for patterns, try checking out community reviews and suggestions. You may find an absolutely perfect pattern from a little known pattern company, or perhaps if you’ve always used patterns by the same company, you might find another you like too. The brilliant thing about sewing today is that with PDF patterns, more designers can afford to produce a wider range of patterns and you can make clothes from patterns designed anywhere in the world.