When it comes to saving fabric scraps, on a sliding scale from ‘Marie Kondo’ to ‘overflowing hoarder-house on current affairs show’, we here at Bombazine fall hard on the hoarder side. Both of us save almost everything. From leftover lengths to those weird-shaped wedges; from spare corners to half-hacked toiles – if it doesn’t fray and turn to overlocker fluff in your hands, you can guarantee it’s sitting in a bag in one of our houses, taking up space.
Of course we both tell ourselves we’ll make quilts one day. Huge quilts. Gorgeous, king-sized quilts that tell the stories of our sewing lives; our project histories artfully patched together and thrown on a bed. But I think we both know that’s probably not going to happen. And I suspect we’re not alone with the quilt delusion: the Earth’s imaginosphere is full of the most beautiful quilts made from the scraps of a thousand sewists, most of which will never be made by real hands in real life. It’s almost as fun just to make them in your head.
Short of quilting, we’ve been trying to do a little scrap busting. Nothing as dramatic as throwing anything out (God forbid), but a few small projects to use up a few small scraps. We also put out a little Insta-shout a couple of days ago for scrap project ideas, and were pleasantly surprised by some of the suggestions. Because clearly not everyone is hoarding for quilt day. Some makers out there are doing practical, sustainable stuff with their scraps, like stuffing cushions and dog beds; donating off-cuts to school and kinder art rooms; piecing together little mini-quilts; making new fabric out of Washaway (I’d never heard of it!); wrapping presents; sewing stuffies and crafting textile jewellery. Who knew there were so many things to do with scraps?
So we’ve pulled together a few of our recent projects to show, in case you’re also a little low in scrap-busting inspiration.
This is the third year I’ve made a batch of these oven gloves for the school fete. The inner is recycled wool blanket found in an op shop, and this year’s batch has linen outers, although in the past I’ve used felted wool from recycled jumpers and wool scraps from jacket making. Oh, and the leather tags are cut from a leather sampler book. Everyone needs an oven mitt – ours are used tirelessly. I’ve gifted these and Kate has been known to steal one from my fete making pile.
These are lovely mini padded patchworks. They’re inspired by my trip to Japan, where they’re used everywhere – everything there has a small mat or trivet or plate underneath it, nothing sits directly on the table or floor… ever! So after admiring them in use and buying a couple I was itching to make my own. There is probably an ancient art to Japanese trivet-making that I’m unaware of. Mine are pretty naive but that’s what I quite enjoy about them – LOTS of wabi sabi. I also suspect that any craft project looks better with a bit of sashiko stitching on it.
Linen scrap bag
This bag is again inspired by a Japanese maker – I patched it together quickly from my linen scraps. I like how simple and utilitarian it is – I just have to be careful not to use the bag on days I’m wearing the clothes that these scraps originate from. Scary matchy territory…..
Basically the entire Purl Soho website is one big scrap-project inspiration board, there are weeks’ worth of ideas on that site for sweet little micro-projects. I’ve been wanting to try these baby pants for a while, but the family and friends supply of newborns to cuddle has been low lately. Luckily, a baby girl recently landed, and she’s so cute I was prepared to cut into a very special off-cut: the first piece of Nani Iro I ever bought. The floral coral double gauze bum on these pants was purchased from Superbuzzy in early 2009 (I know this because the invoice is still in my Hotmail account, speaking of vintage!?!) – I cut a dress out all those years ago but never got around to making it. Slowly the pieces have been used up on dolls clothes and blankets and other home projects, but I’ve kept a few bits for extra special things. Like babies bottoms.
Another Purl Soho project – this simple gathered skirt comes in kid and adult sizes, and those large side pockets are perfect for scrap busting (and for holding small stuffed toys in, as this kid has discovered). The skirt is made of an offcut of chambray linen that I found in a bargain bin in Japan, and the pockets are refugees from another early failed Nani Iro project. I love the confetti-like border on this double gauze, and am happy that a small piece of it has found a home. Big sister has requested her own version, and if I’m really honest I’ll admit there’s enough for a grown-up version as well. Now we’re talking seriously dangerous matchy territory.
I love adding hidden details to the inside of my makes, and an easy way to do this is with homemade bias binding of facing. I feel like this scrap story is a wander down failed-project lane for me: the navy ikat facing on this dress and in these skirt pockets was a very beloved purchase from Tessuti, which again ended up as dress pieces, never a dress. The ikat goes so well with denim and chambray that I’ll just keep using it up on the insides of my never-ending denim project list.
More scrap-busting inspo:
- I love these tiny quilting blocks from beththais and dream of making something like this with my scraps…..
- I’ve been admiring and pinning simple bags that can easily be made from scraps…
- Wish I could make a dozen of these while I sleep…
- I’ve made these little owl creatures for the fete and they are great for tiny scraps.
- And yep, one of these days I really will make a rag rug…
- There’s something so lovely and old fashioned about lavender pouches in your smalls drawer – these Nani Iro ones from Ute and this one from atelier_to_nani_iro, are almost too good to hide away.
- If you don’t have enough fabric for a whole garment, make something up in two fabrics instead. I love this Willow tank that Bella posted recently (and sorry for stalking you Bella, it’s your fault for posting photos of lovely things!).
- More proof that everything looks better with some sashiko stitching: how lovely is this oven glove from Miushkamiushka?
- If I ever do get to the quilt, I want it to look a little like this Ace and Jig one…
- And finally, as I was writing this blog post we got a message in Instagram from Lila_Sews with a link to this beautiful Toast post. I love the Japanese quote: ‘If you can wrap three beans in a piece of cloth, then it’s big enough to keep.’ Thanks Lila, this makes us feel so much better about our scrap hoarding!