Nice things to do with your fabric scraps

Dressmaking does rather leave one with a large amount of odd-shaped fabric leftovers.  Fear not – there are several thousand ways to use them up.  Here are some of my favourites.

AKA ideas for gifts when you are skint.  Or when your cup of happiness overfloweth and you just feel like making someone something.

Tote bags

Require roughly half a metre of fabric (assuming its the full width, from 110cm/45″ wide).  This bag below began life as leftovers from a pair of curtains (IKEA fabric) into a gift for my daughter’s teacher.


You can sew together smaller pieces to make two-tone totes.


Glamorous clutch bag

This fills me with joy, and in turn I can fill it with biscuits, hair accessories and receipts.  I could pretend that I actually go out, or I could add a nice long cross-body strap and wear it to go to buy loo roll.

Spotted this gorgeous one on Stitchless TVs instagram feed.

ideas for fabric scraps


This little monster used to be a charity shop jumper, an unloved cushion and leftover fabric scraps.  Now it is stealing my heart, and I have to part with it as I made it for my daughters friend (8th birthday).  To cope with the separation I will make more, I have a cupboard full of scraps, YAY.   Join me in the monster madness by following my tutorial here.

DIY toy scrap fabric handmade monster sustainable zero waste sewing


I haven’t made these yet but I can’t wait to.  Spotted on Jolies Bobine’s glorious instagram feed.  I would guess it is a strip of 2″ elastic, a few inches less than your waist measurement + 6″ wide fabric a few inches longer than  the elastic + very cool belt clasp.  I’m only guessing, lets experiment!

Screenshot 2019-11-12 at 16.18.37

Fabric baskets

I bloomin love these.  I have made many many fabric baskets, they are super quick and easy, use up scraps, make lovely presents and look super cute around the house.  I like this tutorial on a YouTube channel called Treasurie.


Wash bags and make up bags



This one is for my husband, he keeps some of his many thousands of leads and chargers in it.  This pleases him immensely.


Pencil cases

A close relation of the make-up bag, but takes even less fabric, is the pencil case.  I’ve had a lot of fun personalising these as gifts for little people’s birthdays.


And last summer made a LOT to sell at the school summer fair, for crazy bargain prices, of course.  IMG_20170715_105706417.jpg

My favourite pencil case tutorial is Melanie Ham’s pencil pouches tutorial on YouTube.

Pencil rolls

The pencil case’s big sister, the pencil roll is for people with a serious stationary habit.  Sometimes we just want to look at our pens and shiny rulers, give a happy sigh, and move on.

DIY Pencil Roll Helen's Closet Sogosew

I like the pencil roll tutorial here in Helen’s Closet Patterns.

Drawstring bags

I have made bagillions of these, my favourite use for them is reuse-able gift bags – sustainable and no pesky sellotape required!  Also great for packing your shoes, underwear etc, keep your bits separate in your suitcase.


Eye pillows

A bag of lavender + rice + fabric scraps = zzzzzzz!



Squeak!  So fun!  First there were the squashy pouffy ones…IMG_20170711_145131458.jpg

Me, my boss and my mam (mostly my mam) made a gazillion of these and sold them at the small person’s school summer fair.  Our smallest daughter was having a bit of separation anxiety in the mornings at school drop off.  She would wear a bow I’d made her, and when she was missing me, would take it off and cuddle it.  Adorable.


Small girls were very very happy.  Parents were dragged to our stall by one or two particularly ardent fans to purchase several at a time.  We sold out 🙂

The year after we were back, I am now the hairbow lady.



I have made many many of these.  They are so satisfying.  They use up scraps of jersey and stretchy knits, and are gratifyingly quick to whiz up.  And hello!  So cute!


I like this tutorial: Made Everyday Simple (stretchy) Headband YouTube Tutorial

You need pieces of jersey around 18″ x 6.5″ for children, and around 20″ x 6.5″ for adults.


They are back!  Which is good news for hair (much kinder on the old barnet than elastics) and good news for scrap-busting.

You need 2 rectangles 15-18″ x 4″.  Mellie Sews has a good tutorial here.



Face-cleaning pads

These are already really popular in the no-waste shops that are springing up everywhere.  Great for removing eye make up and can be rinsed and re-used, even can be tossed in the washing machine to use over and over again.  Very quick and easy to make, I like square ones because there’s less waste than circular ones.

Place towelling or bamboo (I used old facecloths) and backing fabric wrong sides together, then either overlock or zig zag together.  Simples!


Below is a collection I made for my mam, a tote bag, pencil case, and make-up brush roll.


The teeny weeny scraps?

I drive myself slightly mad saving up all the little weenies, convinced that one day they will magically transform into a rug or a quilt.  Elves will visit while I sleep.

You can use iddy biddy scraps as stuffing as long as you don’t mind it being rather lumpy and heavy.  I did once make a draft excluder snake, he took a satisfyingly large amount of scraps to fill and he is marvellous at his job.

Other iddy biddy scraps go to the charity shop (to be sold on as rags for recycling into building insulation).  They never ever go in the bin, never have, never will, not on my watch mister.

I hope these have given you some inspiration to use up your scraps.  I’d love to hear how you use yours.

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