- a small piece or portion; fragment
- chips, cuttings, fragments, or other small pieces of raw material removed, cut away, flaked off, etc., in the process of making or manufacturing an item.
For National Sewing Month 2015, I’m going to be talking all about fabric scraps and the many ways you can use them in your sewing. Sewing with scraps is like a way to connect with our sewing ancestors, who would reuse old garments to turn them into new things in an effort to waste not, want not. These days, it’s rarely less expensive to sew something yourself than it is to buy it in a store, but there are ways to economize your sewing – and saving your scraps to use in future projects is at the top of that list.
So, what exactly qualifies as a scrap?
In general, a “scrap” is a leftover piece of fabric that is too small, on its own, to be used in another project by itself. The size of something that is considered “useful” may vary from seamstress to seamstress, but in general there are a few rules of thumb that can qualify a scrap for everyone.
Here are some questions to ask about a leftover piece of fabric, to evaluate whether or not it qualifies as a scrap:
- Could I use this piece of fabric by itself to make a whole new project (or the majority of one)? Even if it’s a small piece, it might work for the outer fabric or the lining on something like a snap wallet or a holiday ornament.
- Is it the right size to cut into a typical patchwork square for quilting? (Typical here might vary for every quilter, so you should evaluate it in terms of the size of fabric you normally use in your quilting projects.
If you can answer “yes” to these two questions, then the fabric may be more of a remnant than a scrap. The details are fuzzy at best, but basically – if you can use the fabric by itself to make something else, even just one quilt block or patchwork square, then it’s probably not a “scrap.”
There is such a thing as a piece of fabric that’s too small to be scrap-worthy, too. So ask yourself this: Can I physically sew this piece of fabric to another one? Is it large enough for me to maneuver it in my sewing machine without sewing through my own fingers?
If the answer is that the fabric is too small for you to sew, then it’s probably time to retire that one to the trash. But if it’s big enough to sew to something else, keep it! It’s a scrap!
Now that you’ve got a good idea of what makes a fabric scrap, what exactly are you supposed to DO with them all? We’ll be covering that all month-long, but here are some great ideas to get you feeling inspired:
- fussy cuts – cutting a small section out of a piece of fabric to be a visual focal point in a piece
- burst of color – use small pieces of scrap fabrics to accentuate your projects
- new fabric – sew several scraps together to make a larger piece of fabric for a bigger project
Now to the question of storing the scraps. It can be hard enough to store larger, folded pieces of fabric, but what about tiny strips and squares? Never fear – we’ve got a post coming up that will cover this topic, so you’ll be all set to store your fabric scraps and then sew with them all month-long for National Sewing Month. Stay tuned!
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Comments & Reviews
Some of those look familiar! I have been using scraps from our scrap swap myself lately! Happy Sewing!
You have no idea. Wait until you see what I made. Almost everything is from our bag. I might even have made an extra one to share….