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The magic of recycled fabrics: How to upcycle fabric scraps

fabric for kids

Delicate silks, awkwardly shaped patterned fabrics, and your old t-shirts can all be transformed into something entirely new. Upcycling your scraps keeps them out of the waste stream while allowing you to create entirely custom projects for less. From small shopping bags to eye masks and kid’s toys, here are some great scrap fabric ideas for repurposing even the smallest pieces!

How can you organise your scraps?

First of all, don’t throw scrap fabric! Pick all your scrap and add them to a stash. Organise them by size and fabric type so that you can easily see which pieces can be turned into jar liners and which should become patchwork blankets. Then arrange them by colour and prints making it simpler to find the shades you have in mind for your next project.

What can you make with fabric scraps? 

Shoelaces 

Let’s start with a simple but creative idea to transform a pair of trainers. All you need to do is take your old laces and measure them. Then, take long fabric trimmings and hem them to the appropriate width and length. Sew along the edge using a small zigzag stitch on your sewing machine. After folding the tips once more, sew them flat. You can even join together different patterns of fabric if you do not have one piece that is long enough.

Eye masks 

eye masks

Do you have a beautiful and soft scrap velvet fabric you don’t want to throw away? A night mask is the ideal project. Luxurious, elegant fabrics such as duchess satin and silky satin will help you make the most beautiful, relaxing mask.

To create it, draw and cut two identical eye mask shapes from the fabric, then place the fabric pieces together with their right sides facing inward and pin them in place to secure the edges. Sew along the traced lines, leaving a small opening unsewn for turning the mask inside out and inserting the filling. Trim any excess fabric around the edges and carefully turn the mask right side out through the opening. 

Fill the mask with soft materials like cotton batting, foam, or even rice or flaxseed for a soothing effect. Once filled to your preference, hand-stitch the opening closed using a slip stitch or a ladder stitch for a seamless finish. To enhance comfort, consider adding a soft elastic band or ribbons to secure the mask gently around the head.

Napkins

napkins

In addition to being fancier than paper napkins, cloth napkins can also reduce waste. Linen or cotton are ideal for this project, however, the best fabric is the rustic Gingham. Known for picnic tablecloths, gingham was immortalised in pop culture thanks to Dorothy’s blue gingham dress in The Wizard of Oz.

To create your own napkins from recycled fabrics, simply cut scraps into squares, roughly 40cm x 40cm. Using a sewing machine, you can hem them. Alternatively, you can pull the threads to make a fringe.  If you want to be more creative, you can embellish them with embroidery or applique.

Lavender pouches 

lavender pouches

Lavender pouches are a thoughtful, comforting and easy-to-make gift. Just cut to scrap fabrics in squares, and sew them together but keep one part open. 

Take a bowl and mix 2 cups of uncooked rice with 1 cup of loose lavender buds until well mixed and add a few drops of lavender essential oil. Scoop portions of the mixture into the bag and sew it to seal it. Fill the bags until 2/3 full. Pull strings to secure contents. 

If you feel more creative, you could easily adapt this to make pouches in a shape that your recipient will love, a heart, an animal, their zodiac sign, or even their initials. If you want to add volume and make your pouches more fluffy, you can use wadding

That features polyester fibres and won’t tear or flatten over time.  Don’t forget to add a tag or a card with a personalised message. Your recipient will love your gift!

Jar covers

jars

Do you want to give a little extra to the containers in your kitchen? Or gift your friend your homemade marmalade in a beautiful jar? Jar liners give a rustic feel to your containers. They are super easy to make. To start, you need to measure the circumference of the jar you intend to cover. Continue by cutting a round or square piece of fabric, ensuring it’s slightly larger than the calculated dimensions to accommodate seam allowances. 

Place the fabric over the jar lid and smooth it down around the sides. Make sure your overhang is even. Take a rubber band and slide it to the area where the lid and jar meet to keep it secure & adjust the ruffles. Wrap the twine around the jar, keeping it snug. Leave enough ribbon to tie off or create a bow.

Stuffing

Wadding is a great fabric for padding for cushions, bolsters, quilting, pelmets, headboards, and upholstery. The polyester fibres make the wadding extra durable and can be washed and reused multiple times, unlike natural fibres that tear or flatten over time. 

However, if you don’t have wadding or If you have run out of ideas but have gathered so much scrap fabric you don’t know what to do, the easiest option is to use it as stuffing. Use the recycled fabric to stuff cushions and soft toys for your kids, or even stuff your favourite bag with them to help it keep its shape. Your options are endless.

We hope you found some great ideas here for upcycling scrap fabrics.  Get creative, and don’t forget to share your projects with us on Instagram. If you have any questions about our fabric offering, crafting, or DIY home décor, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can contact us by completing an online form or by giving us a call at 01164030269.

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