How can I reuse or recycle small pieces of fabric – that isn’t patchwork blankets or tote bags?

Last week, I posed a question from Annetta about what to reuse or recycle to make a bird bath – thanks for all the great suggestions. Annetta asked another question – about fabric:

Any other good ideas for using fabric. I have tons of it and I am getting bored making blankets and tote bags. I want to make something useful.

I asked her to clarify what type of fabric – old bedding, old clothes, old yardage/fat quarters etc – and she added: “The fabric in question is in small bits. I have so much fabric in small pieces I just don’t know how to use it all, and I don’t want to throw it away.”

While I’d challenge the insinuation that blankets & tote bags aren’t useful, I do know what she means – we currently have more than enough shopping bags and throw blankets (even with a messy/often soggy dog) so new ideas are always welcome.

I’ve seen some lovely pieces of patchwork used for revamping old chairs etc recently – painted woodwork and patchwork seats – and also patchwork cushions, but I’d imagine the latter would quickly become the next blanket/tote bag — a couple is all you need.

Individual little bits of fabric could be used for appliqué for upcycling/revamping old clothes, or used for creative repairing. Bunting is also super popular at the moment as an all-year-round decoration as well as at party time.

Involving less sewing, jersey/t-shirt material can become reusable washcloths or wipes to replace toilet paper. I’ve also seen lots of fabric wrapped bangles and necklaces recently. And don’t forget rag rugs – I recently saw a cool way to make round ones using a hula hoop but if the fabric pieces aren’t big enough for that, a knotted one might work better.

Any more recycling ideas?

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16 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle small pieces of fabric – that isn’t patchwork blankets or tote bags?”

  1. emma says:

    Make a broche! Here is a great tutorial, It’s in dutch, but you understand it anyway ( I did and I don’t speak dutch:)
    You can also make children’s clothes, doll clothes or stuffed animals. Martha Stewart have some great tutorials and patterns! If you make pillows you can stuff them with small pieces of fabric. If you have pieces with nice pattern you can sew them on cards in nice shapes and make birthday cards etc. If you have boxes or jars that look a bit boring, cover them in fabric (use glue). Make new lampshades there is lots and lots of tutorials out there, just Google it:) There is endless things to do:)

  2. If you’re still enjoying the patchwork but want to make something else, just remember that you can use patchwork fabric the same way you can use yardage! I’ve been planning to cover storage boxes with some of my patchwork fabric, and you can even use cereal boxes to make your own storage bins to cover. I also like to do applique work and make fabric flowers, both of which can use very small scraps. You can do latch hooking with narrow strips as short as 2″

  3. Kayci says:

    I know it says you have a lot of scraps, but if you happen to also have a few old T-shirts as well, you could make a pillow-chair and use the scraps as filler.

  4. Heather says:

    I’m not sure how many of these you would want to make, but they have the added bonus of recycling plastic lids! These are “billed” as thimble holders, but they could be used as coin purses or little catchalls for just about anything.

  5. greenfield green says:

    I use all my old bits of fabric to make rag rugs. All you need is a hession sack from the veg shop, your fabric cut into 3″ x 1″ strips and something to prod the fabic through the sack and back again. Keep the fabric close together and you have a beautiful thick plush totally secure rug that will last forever. I have one in my bathroom and have one on the go for the living room

    • Jmarie says:

      I want to see this! I’ve been wanting to make a rag rug forever, but don’t have the patience to fold and stitch pieces together … your way seems pretty brilliant! Can you take a snap and post it, possible? Very inspiring.

  6. Charlotte says:

    Stuffing! You can stuff softies, pillows or lavender hearts with small scraps of fabric. They are also great for collage, simply bind in place with bondaweb or similar then stitch around. Long strips of fabric can be woven to create new fabric panels, the spirit cloth blog is incredibly inspiring for this kind of craft!

  7. I would also suggest buntings, rag rugs, kitchen rags and cushion stuffing.

  8. I. Sokol says:

    I donated a box of small scraps to a church group that made small blankets and quilts that were donated to a hospital for children. They used the small scraps for applique. I have sewn small pieces together to make yardage. From that I made liners for the bottoms of cat or dog cages and donated them to a local animal shelter. You would need to make three layers: top and bottom and a filler in between using old towels, sheets, blankets or even worn out clothing. Randomly hand or machine stitch to keep the layers from shifting or bundling. One request from the animal shelter is not to use quilt batting for the filler. They said the liners helped calm the animal because they had something soft to lay on.

  9. Patti says:

    Use them to make animal costumes, small pieces are useful as appliques for example. I’ve used small bits to make colorful patches on my daughter’s clown costume, I used a pair of too short denim overalls and sewed various shapes of patches all over it, and turned it into a costume. If there are pieces large enough to make triangles you can sew a pennant banner for a party or gathering.

  10. Melinda says:

    One could use quilting techniques to make place mats.

  11. Medeea says:

    Pillows or chair cushions can be VERY stylish if you use only 2 colours in a checkered pattern.

    From there I would go to pillow covers, mattress covers. These are useful stuffs.

    The rag rugs and wipes are what comes to my mind.
    A rug can be quite nice if you manage to have pieces in similar colours.

    If pieces are large enough, then dinner napkins, cloth towels for the kitchen.

    Use nice patterns to dress Pringles cans (cut in half) for pencil holders. Use the same idea to dress up plant pots.

    Make small bags (really small) and fill them with dry lavender. Use as moth repellent in the closet.

    Sew together and double with some cushioning thing…you can make oven gloves and mats to place hot pots on.

    Donate them to some kindergarten. Kids could learn to tailor clothes for dolls.

  12. Susan L. says:

    You can make these with the small scraps:


    Actually, the How About Orange site has tons of ideas…

  13. Marg Phillips says:

    To use up your small scraps check out a great craft idea called “Japanese Komekomi”. Just google it. What a great way to use up scraps and make presents for your friends and family members! I have ordered the book , the tucking tool and bought the hot knife already. Can’t wait to try it out!

  14. Alena says:

    Starch them, cut out shapes or letters and make holiday garland.

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