Drowning in Scraps of Fabric

Long-time readers of this column may remember the reader who wanted to know where she could donate her fabric scraps. I offered details on a small organization in Texas that turns new fabric scraps into quilts for shelters, churches and other charities.

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Apparently reader G.W. was not the only reader with fabric scraps too good to throw away. Everyday Cheapskate readers sent so many donations, this group is set for years. Now they’re waving a white flag begging us to stop! Still the requests pour into my mail box from readers with an apparent case of Fabric Scrap Overload Syndrome. So far, I am unable to come up with any alternative groups or individuals in need of fabric scraps.

But not to worry. You may rethink your plans to give away your fabric stash when you discover all the ways to turn your scraps into fabric assets.

CUT QUILT SQUARES. Cut your like-content fabrics into 5- or 6-inch squares, put them in color coordinated sets and sell them on eBay. You’ll need to do a little research to see what other sellers are offering and what people are buying, but this is an excellent way to turn scraps to cash. 

SACHETS. Place a small amount of potpourri in the center of a square of fabric. Pull the corners to the center and tie with a ribbon. Place in drawers and cupboards. For gifts, you my want to add lace to the edges of the fabric and additional ribbon accents.

RAG RUGS. If you’re good with a crochet hook, you can make fabulous rag rugs from strips of fabric. There are several techniques including tying pieces of fabric into a piece of rug canvas. For ideas, photos even patterns and directions, go online and search, “How to make a rag rug.” Or check your local craft store. Prepare to be amazed.

FABRIC ART. You can use scraps of fabric as you would paper to decoupage just about anything like picture frames, scrapbooks and checkbook covers. Mod Podge, the popular stiffening product crafters use that is available in craft stores works well with fabric.

GIFT WRAPPING. If your pieces are large enough you can use fabric just as you would paper to wrap boxes and gifts. Or make unique gift bags on your sewing machine. You can make a formal, structured bag or a simple drawstring bag. The great thing about making your own, you can make it the exact size for the gift. You can tear fabric into long strips to use as ribbon, too.

TABLE GOODS. You can use fabric scraps to make potholders, napkins, placemats and table runners. You may have to do some piecing, but that will result in what quilters call the “scrappy look” that is very popular. Exposed raw edges are quite trendy so don’t worry about perfection.

In the meantime, if any readers know of legitimate groups, organizations or individuals who need new fabric scraps, please let me know. I’ll check them out. And also make sure they’re ready, willing and able to handle what Everyday Cheapskates can dish out!

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18 replies
  1. Pat
    Pat says:

    I take mine to a food pantry/thrift shop. A lot of people will buy bags of fabric to make quilts an doll clothes or they donate them to groupsee that make quilts for the homeless or military etc

    Reply
  2. Cathy Mortensen
    Cathy Mortensen says:

    I just read an article in the Dec15/Jan16 edition of Mother Earth News. The article is titled Free quilts for Needy Individuals. The nonprofit Free Quilts was founded in 1994. 20 women sew quilts out of donated fabrics, and send the finished quilts all over the USA to people in need. They have given away nearly 10,000 quilts since 1994, but they need donated materials. They only make quilts when they have donations. If you would like to donate to the cause (they said no money, donations please): Free Quilts, 2056 Stewarts Corners Rd., Venice Center, Scipio, NY. 13147.
    I plan to help by sending some of my under used leftover fabric and thread.

    Reply
  3. Carol Nedrow Farkas
    Carol Nedrow Farkas says:

    I make a “pillowcase” out of fleece and fill it with all of my fabric scraps. It takes awhile, but when it’s full, I sew it shut and use as a comfy pet bed. Animal shelters are always in need of these items, and it’s a real bonus that it can be washed and dried by machine. My two dogs absolutely love them! Tiny scraps of 100% cotton can also be added to your compost pile.

    Reply
  4. James
    James says:

    Our family has long supported the Tutwiler Clinic (205 Alma St, Tutwiler, MS 38963). More than a decade ago, my Mom began sending fabric scraps to an affiliated group, the Tutwiler Quilters. They make bright, beautiful quilts, runners, place mats, and other gorgeous items while preserving their rich quilt making tradition.

    Reply
  5. mgibbs
    mgibbs says:

    I like to cut 3″ – 3.5″ squares or circles with pinking shears (or you could ravel edges or just leave them cut straight) and put on top of gift jars of jellies, pickles, etc under the ring. Looks nice!

    Reply
  6. Melanie Street Harper
    Melanie Street Harper says:

    Ask your local school’s special ed department or children’s hospital occupational therapy or Child Life programs. All of those can use differently colored or textured fabrics for therapeutic purposes.

    Reply
  7. Janice
    Janice says:

    I donate my scraps to our local county jail. They have a program for inmates to learn to make quilts. They are always looking for donations.

    Reply
  8. Richard Rorex
    Richard Rorex says:

    My late wife Joyce made me some ties with the material from many of the dress she had made for our daughter. I wear one of them each year on or near her birthday in her honor.

    Reply
  9. Markie
    Markie says:

    I agree with other posts to look locally. I donate to my church resource room as they use fabric scraps, braid, tassels for children’s crafts and costumes. Our senior center also uses scraps for quilting and offers many classes.

    Reply
  10. Chelsea Ferrer
    Chelsea Ferrer says:

    https://yerdle.com/i/chelsea-ferrer

    I have seen a lot of people selling fabric on here, it can go to others that are looking for craft supplies and keep it out of the landfills

    Reply
  11. Jualene
    Jualene says:

    The sewing group of volunteers of PIH Health Hospital in Whittier is always in need of pieces of fabric large enough to make pillows for patients of the hospital.

    Reply
  12. Gehugh
    Gehugh says:

    Check on local schools, including middle (junior high) and high schools as well as recreation and senior centers who may need your small amounts. The Salvation Army will take your yardage (lengths) to sell. Nowadays alot of the fabrics in clothing that is not used at tge charity stores is bundled and sent overseas. With your antique or vintage fabric, look at your local boutiques and antique stores to put on consignment. I took a bunch of yardage, that I never would have used that was donated to me , and SOLD it to a quilt store.
    Cedar shaving sachets are a great gift for cabinets, closets and drawers.

    Reply
  13. Jan
    Jan says:

    Our local quilt guild uses donated fabric scraps to make quilts that are given to elderly shut-ins, nursing homes and the hospital for children and babies. They always accept donations 🙂

    Reply
  14. Tami
    Tami says:

    Many churches and libraries have quilt groups…..they would love to have your scraps! Also check with daycares, kindergartens, Scout troops…..they are always doing something crafty, they may be able to use scraps.

    Reply
  15. B G Carter
    B G Carter says:

    Animal shelters would love catnip sachets for the cats, little nap pads for the cages, rice bags/bean bags to microwave to help keep animalsstay warm as they emerge from surgery.
    Check with a local shelter, they may have a group of volunteers thrilled to take the scrap fabric and yarn for a project.

    Reply
  16. Pat
    Pat says:

    Just run a google search for other ideas, and you will find plenty (I especially like https://www.pinterest.com/fabricdotcom/scrap-fabric-projects/).

    One of my favorite things to do with scraps is to make zipper bags of all sizes with my fabric scraps. If the scraps aren’t big enough, I sew them together to make a pieced and quilted one, and I’ve made a full size bag this way as well. These make quick and easy gifts, too.

    Reply

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