I’m trying to use up fabric and yarn from my stash before buying any more, unless a specific project really needs something that I don’t have. My fabric stash is full of offcuts and fat quarters that until recently I wasn’t exactly sure what to do with. Then I realised that there’s loads of useful things or little gifts that can be made with small amounts of fabric – and there’s some really great patterns out there to help you make them. Likewise with my yarn stash, I have mini skeins, leftover yarn and balls that I bought thinking that I needed more yarn than I actually did. Neither my fabric stash nor my yarn stash is particularly big, but I want to be able to use what I’ve bought to the fullest. So I’ve collected together some scrap busting ideas to try.
I realised while writing this though that there were so many ideas that I was pulling together, this blog post would be an absolute monster, so I’ve split it up. This is part one, the next part covers making decorations in the run-up to Christmas (though many of these can be used throughout the year too) and part three is all about scrap busting gifts you can make for friends and family.
With a few bits of hardware and some decent batting material, you could turn your offcuts into a beautiful bag. Lots of bags can be made with half a metre or less of fabric for either the outer or lining.
Makeup bags can be used for lots of things, such as pencil cases, tool pouches or even to hold your medicine if you have a complex medical condition. I’ve made the small Retreat bag by Emmaline bags, but I didn’t like the pattern instructions, so it’s not one I’d make again. There’s plenty of different patterns out there that you could try though.
Soatak Handmade have some lovely patterns, from the Norfolk and Devon pouches to the Boxy Tool or Olivia pouch, you’re sure to find a pattern you like. Svetlana (of Soatak Handmade) also does a lot of patchworking and makes many of her patterns using scraps – you can find tutorials and examples of techniques on her instagram and blog.
Both Emmaline Bags and Soatak Handmade also have patterns for handbags, as do Blue Calla Patterns. Blue Calla also have patterns for drawstring bags, backpacks and overnight duffel bags – I intend to make some of the Dogwood duffel bag pattern from the larger offcuts I have. While larger bags require more fabric, the smaller travel size handbags are perfect for using fat quarters as your outer fabric – some patterns look best when you use more than one fabric for the outer (such as a print and a plain), so you have the potential to really use up your offcuts and produce something you’re proud of.
Simple zipper pouches are super useful for a range of things too – from lunch and snack bags, to toy storage, face mask storage and even as nice clutch bags when you go out somewhere. They’re very straightforward and quick makes, can be made at pretty much any size and are easy to modify if you need to. I used this tutorial by Made Everyday to make a zipper pouch for my camera monitor, modifying it to fit the bracket and adding a piece of thick cork between the inner and outer to protect the screen.
Spare yarn can be used to make bags too – market or produce bags like this one by Moara Crochet are a great way to use up left over yarn while also making something which will help you to be more sustainable when you shop.
Scrunchies: the must have hair accessory of the 80’s and 90’s is back in a big way. Almost everyone I follow on instagram makes a matching scrunchie with their clothes. Personally I never liked them, but if you do then they are a really good way to use up spare materials. Positively Splendid have a great tutorial with clear photos for each step on how to make these.
Kanzashi hair clips are another great way to use up small squares of fabric and spare buttons. Kanzashi flowers can be made by hand reasonably quickly and easily, as this youtube tutorial shows! Personally I’d sew the button in place rather than glueing it, but by all means use the method which works best for you. This isn’t the only style of kanzashi flower by any means, there are lots of different methods of making these flowers, so you can find one you like or prefer. Make sure you use a tutorial for fabric flowers and not one for satin ribbon though, as the processes are different – if you do choose to use a tutorial for satin ribbons, be sure to watch or read it through before cutting your fabric so you can make adjustments as appropriate to accommodate the fabric.
Sewing and crafting items
There are so many things you can make for your sewing and crafting space which are great scrapbusters and are super useful!
Pincushions can be made from spare yarn or scrap fabric and there’s a wealth of different designs and patterns out there for you to choose from, so you can truly make something personal and unique! My mother in law knitted me a cactus pincushion with a happy little face, you can make animal pincushions or some more ‘traditional’ style ones, the choice is yours and there are endless great patterns out there!
Personally, I really like the idea of making a hedgehog or turtle, so I may have to make these at some point as gifts! Had my mother in law not made me the cactus, I probably would have made myself a turtle! As a gift for my mother, I made her a ‘sprocket’ style one using this tutorial. I used up some yarn to turn it from a circular pincushion into the one you see above by sewing the yarn from the top and aligning it with my seams, sewing into the bottom and back out of the top. I added the button in the same way, carefully knotting the yarn on the bottom of the pincushion – the button was one from my little collection of spares that I’ve had for some time, so this was also a good way to use up spare buttons.
Soatak Handmade have some useful patterns for items such as scissor pouches, wall organisers, a sewing machine cover and more that will be useful around your crafting space. I made the Undercover Maker Mat by Lilyella Stitchery, which also doubles as a sewing machine cover and I find it super useful – especially the thread catcher! No more thread all over the floor! I really like the selvedge edge pockets too, as it’s not often that you can use selvedges for much, though you don’t have to make the pockets with selvedges if you don’t want to.
Lilyella Stichery also has a pattern for a Mini Maker Station which is perfect for people who don’t have a permanent craft space and use their sofa or a comfy armchair to craft from. I like that she’s thought through how people will use her patterns – in the Mini Maker Station there’s a magnetic strip so that accessories like pincushions and trays don’t get knocked over easily. There’s also the Mini Maker Case and Fabric Basket patterns to help keep your craft space organised. The fabric basket could be used in any number of areas around the house too – in wardrobes as a clothes organiser, as a laundry basket, on shelves, as a toy basket or for any number of other uses where a box or basket would be handy.
Needle wallets are another really useful way to use up fabric scraps – and if you want to personalise it, you can even use up left over embroidery thread. I adapted this tutorial by The Crafty Gentleman to make one for my friend – The Crafty Gentleman used a piece of leather and some canvas, whereas I used two pieces of quilting cotton and woollen felt. Because I used felt, I didn’t need to pink the edges as the tutorial says to do, though you can do if you wish. I first sewed the felt “leaves” of the wallet to the lining fabric and then did my decorative stitching and embroidery on the outer before stitching the two together. Be aware that you need to measure and sew this fairly precisely so that you don’t accidentally sew the felt into the main seams. When turning the right way out, I added another piece of felt between the two as a stiffener, sewed the gap up and edgestitched around the whole outer. The last thing I did was topstitch the two sides together to create the spine of the wallet.
This knitting needle case tutorial from The Spruce Crafts is a great sewing project for yourself or a yarny friend and could be adapted for crochet hooks – or if you do both knitting and crochet, you could make this one from Guthrie & Ghani which keeps all your needles and hooks together.
If you crochet, this basket pattern from Squibblybups can be made to any size and could be used to store yarn or any number of things. Alternatively, you could crochet an owl shaped basket or knit an easter egg style basket using these tutorials from Sizzle Stitch – there’s lots of different styles of baskets you can knit or crochet out there, so there’s sure to be a pattern that suits you.
Quilts, blankets and cushions
Cushion covers are really quite simple projects to sew, depending on which closure you choose. In most cases, all you need are two fat quarters of fabric, perhaps some piping and whatever hardware you need for the closure. You could use big statement buttons, a zip or even an envelope style closure to finish your cushions.
Plenty of quilt and blanket patterns use scrap fabric and leftover yarn to create the patterns. These could be nice gifts if a friend or family member has a new baby or perhaps something to help comfort a sick or elderly relative. Whatever the reason you choose to make a quilt or blanket, these don’t need to be overly complicated at all. There’s plenty of modern designs to choose from too, so don’t write off quilts and blankets as being frumpy or decide you don’t like the styles without checking out some more modern designers.
Personally, I really like Lilyella Stitchery and Leila Gardunia’s patterns for quilts. I’d love to make something using Leila’s Mountain Range pattern pieces at some point, though I’ve not yet learned to paper piece. There’s obviously more designers out there who have modernised quilting than just these two, so you’re sure to find a design you like. Quilts don’t have to be made in one go either – it could be a long term project that you make as and when you have the right colour or size scraps. Some of the smaller patterns could easily be made into cushions too, particularly designs like Lilyella’s butterfly and moth charm blocks.
Lots of crochet blanket patterns can be made using granny squares or Afghan squares, and the beauty of these is that they can all be different so you can use up all your different colours of yarn. My personal favourite has to be this animal baby blanket by Alyse Crochet – or you could make something similar with floral squares (there’s so many designs out there to choose from!) Alternatively, you could use different colours and textured stitches to make a cushion or throw like these by Loch Ness Knitting. Of course, since a cushion cover or blanket is usually just a large square or rectangle, you could just choose a stitch and get knitting or crocheting with the different colours you have. Like quilting, this doesn’t necessarily need to be done in one go, you could pick it up whenever you have more leftover yarn of the right weight.
Trims and finishing materials
Of course, no post about scrap busting would be complete without mentioning that you can also turn your scraps into trims and other finishing materials for projects.
Yarn can quickly and easily be turned into pompoms of any size with a pompom maker – you can make one from cardboard by following this tutorial from The Craft Train. Stitch lots of tiny ones together and you have a pompom trim, sew one to the top of a hat, or turn a few of them into a keyring; there really are endless things you can do with pompoms. Likewise, you could turn your scrap yarn into tassels and use them for just as many projects as pompoms.
If you sew, you can make your own bias binding. It’s easy to make from a fat quarter’s worth of fabric – though the bigger the square of fabric that you start with, the more bias binding you’ll get with fewer joins. You don’t need a bias tape maker to do this either – they do help and make things easier, but you can still do this without one. I’ve been following My Golden Thimble’s tutorial to make my bias tape without a tape maker.
You could also use lengths of leftover yarn or cording to create piping for sewing with. It’s really quite straightforward to make piping; The Spruce Crafts have a great tutorial on how to make it, plus some tips on sewing with piping if you’ve never used it before.
I hope this gives you some ideas of how to use up your fabric and yarn stashes and turn them into beautiful and useful items. Keep an eye out for the next part (depending on how long that is, there may also be a part three) for more ideas – there’s always more scrap busting projects you can try. Even if you can’t sew, knit or crochet with your scraps, they will still have their uses as stuffing!