Waste Not Want Not - Fabric Scrap Busting Projects

Collage of scrap pieces of material with artist Jessie Cutts

No matter how hard we try, there’s always some waste when working with fabric.  Fabric is made on rolls and unless your project is perfectly rectangular and exactly the same width as the roll, then there’s bound to be peculiar off-cuts and odd-shaped remnants.   

Among the many responsibilities that come with being a B Corp, watching our waste is one of them.  We’re careful to minimise wastage by careful cutting and not pattern-matching as far as possible, but we’ve also come up with some creative uses for any necessary waste.  Our twill valances are made out of leftover fabric from our curtains and we also cut our Nigel Napkins and Bobby storage bags from smaller scraps of this same fabric. We also have our Waste Not Want Not parcels for you to get get crafting with too. 

We’re an ingenious and crafty bunch here at our Secret Linen Store and many of us have used leftover samples to make our own little projects at home.  We’ve put our heads together and come up with a list of inspirational ideas to get the creative juices flowing.  You don’t need to be an expert with a sewing machine to make something lovely; some of these projects just require a good pair of scissors, some glue and a spare half hour. 

Patchwork coasters 

We get through a fair few cups of tea here at our Bed Quarters and love a coaster to protect our lovely wooden desks.  These Easy Fabric Coasters would really brighten up the office. 

Image credit goes to Amy Latta Creations


Homemade scrunchies are a fab use of small scraps of fabric and also make great presents.  This free pattern from sewing pattern guru Made for Mermaids includes a simple tutorial for three different sizes of scrunchie. 

Image credit goes to Made for Mermaids

Reuseable makeup wipes 

Reusable wipes are a simple way to reduce your daily waste and are very easy to make.  We suggest using brushed cotton or towelling backed with your choice of fabric remnant for the decorative side.  A little bundle of these makes a super stocking stuffer.  If you need a little tutorial then this one from A Beautiful Mess is lovely. 

Image credit goes to 
Laura Gummerman at A Beautiful Mess

Fabric wrapped jewellery 

Whether you sew or not, there are so many ingenious ideas for making necklaces and bracelets with fabric.  This first tutorial from Upcycle My Stuff shows you how to upcycle metal or plastic bangles by simply wrapping fabric around them – such a simple yet effective method.  And here’s a slightly more complicated design from Spunnys using spun cotton balls (or you could upcycle some old beads) for a very stylish necklace.  Such a great way to add a bit of personalisation to an outfit. 

Image credit goes to Spunnys

Fabric gift wrap 

Why not make the switch from using expensive gift bags and wrapping paper to wrapping presents in reusable big squares of fabric?  This is a Japanese method called furoshiki, and as well as making good use of leftover material it also looks just so beautiful.  Here’s a little tutorial from Pointful Things showing you how to wrap a basic box, but if you’d like to learn how to tackle more complicated shapes then this blog from Mind Your Bees Wraps has detailed instructions for other techniques. 

To avoid fraying you might need to finish your fabric piece with an overlock or zigzag stitch.  Alternatively, you could always just use pinking shears to finish the edges.  Easy peasy. 

Gift cards or tags 

A handmade card is a gift in itself, and even if you don’t consider yourself to be very artistic, here are some simple ideas for using fabric scraps to decorate and embellish your own cards.   

From a string of mini bunting or some multicoloured Christmas trees, to a patchwork applique adding buttons or lace, the sky’s the limit.  The fabric can be sewn on with a machine or by hand, or you could always just use a dab of glue instead. 

Image credit goes to A Spoonful of Sugar

Noodlehead Open Wide Zippered Pouch

We are quite partial to a cute bag and have built up quite a collection over the years.  Making your own out of a scrap of your favourite fabric gives you quite a remarkable sense of achievement.  This is a stitchery project for someone with a little more experience as it requires sewing in a zip.  But it’s a great tutorial that our crafty Emily has used plenty of times to make gifts for friends and family. 

Image credit goes to Noodlehead

Happy crafting all.