Not sure what to do with your fabric scraps? I’m here to help! This is part 1 of my ‘scrap fabric sewing project ideas’ series.
Here are creative ways to use fabric scraps in your next clothing project. I looked to fashion brands for inspiration.
I’m starting today’s list with ideas for smaller bits of fabric. These are always hard to think of! I then suggest what to do with bigger scraps of fabric. At the end, there are inspiring examples of designer patchwork clothes and tips for mixing fabrics.
Use small fabric scraps to make bows
You could place bows on:
- An adult or child’s dress.
- On a waistband (front or back).
- A small bow at the bottom of short sleeves.
- Sew lots of small bows onto a dress or skirt to create a 3d ‘print’.
How to make fabric bows:
Use fabric scraps as contrasting straps
This is a great idea for minimalist clothing. Your straps will really pop.
If your fabric scrap is cut on the bias, I would be careful here. Bias-cut fabric is weaker and likely to stretch out of shape. Straps need to be strong enough to support the weight of the garment.
If your heart is set on a bias-cut fabric, I recommend backing it with strong fabric and interfacing to support it.
Use scrap fabric to make ruffles
The ruffles could be placed:
- On a sleeve hem.
- Along a neckline.
- In a shoulder seam.
- At the bottom of a skirt or dress.
Use fabric scraps in waistbands
Contrasting fabric in the waistline is a great idea if you want to emphasize your waist. It really draws the eye.
Use fabric scraps in collars and necklines
Use fabric scraps to add a patch pocket
Fabric scraps can be turned into patch pockets on tops, pants, and jackets.
I recommend adding lightweight patch pockets onto lightweight clothing, and heavyweight patch pockets onto heavyweight clothing.
If your pocket is decorative, you can even get away with using a woven fabric on a stretchy t-shirt. That’s how the grey Liberty t-shirt in the photo was made. They added a woven cotton pocket on a stretchy t-shirt.
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Turn small fabric scraps into hair accessories
Here’s how to make scrunchies using woven fabric scraps. If you don’t have enough fabric for the long rectangle, you can join scraps together and then cut out the rectangle.
Here’s how to turn stretchy knit fabric into wide headbands or twisted headbands.
For really small bits of woven fabric, here’s how to make small hair bows.
Use large fabric scraps to make contrasting sleeves
If you don’t have much fabric, short sleeves and ruffle sleeves are an option.
Upcycle jersey scraps into pants & bras
Megan Nielsen has a good blog post on how to make pants. She shows you 3 ways to finish the pants depending on what you have: regular elastic, picot elastic, or fold-over elastic. She included a free sewing pattern, but you can also just trace pants you already own.
Bralettes are a trendy way to reuse knit fabrics. However, this is probably a better idea for smaller busts that don’t need support.
This is a different style with more coverage, but it’s not very supportive:
Here’s a bralette tutorial with more structure. You’ll need to get foam for this.
Turn scrap fabric into patchwork clothes
Chop your sewing pattern up into patches and cut your fabric out (don’t forget to add seam allowances). Or pick a different fabric for each pattern piece.
For a quiet patchwork look, use fabrics in similar colors, plain designs, and small prints. Here are some examples I loved:
For a dramatic look, try patches of bold color and large prints.
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Tips for mixing different fabrics together
- I recommend mixing fabrics that are a similar weight and thickness.
If you do mix fabrics with different weights, I recommend placing the heavier ones at the top. You don’t want lightweight fabrics at the top being dragged down and stressed by heavier ones.
- When you’re mixing prints, think about where you want the eye to look first. Try placing your boldest, largest, and most contrasting fabric in that spot. That’s where the eye will be drawn.
- If you want balance in a patchwork design, make the left and right sides symmetrical.
- Mix large-scale prints with small-scale prints to create contrast. If you only mix large-scale prints together, the impact of each print will be reduced and they won’t stand out anymore.
- Try having a shared color in all the fabrics to unite them.
- Sketch out and color your design ideas first. You’ll be able to plan your fabric placements more confidently.
Use fabric scraps to make skirts
Here are some interesting ways that brands have created patchwork and paneled skirts.