Your Options For Dealing With Fabric Scraps

Posted on: 7 December 2016


It's something that happens to anyone who sews -- you end up with a mountain of fabric scraps. Unwanted fabric can really clog up landfills, so it's nicer to find an alternative to just throwing the fabric away. If you're at the point where you have to do something about that ever-growing mound of material, here are some options that will let you keep it out of the city dump.


Depending on the amount of fabric and the size of the pieces, you can try donating the fabric to charity. These places might resell the fabric in their thrift stores, or they might use the fabric to make clothing or blankets for those in need. Even raggedly scraps are useful; they can be turned into woven rag rugs. The fabric stores you frequent and any fabric sellers you use online should be able to point you toward companies that accept donated fabric scraps.


Another possibility is holding a fabric swap meeting. You and others who work with cloth can bring all your scraps and swap them. Those working on rag rugs can grab strips of cloth, those who just want another pattern can trade some of their cloth for other fabric, and so on. These can be great ways to dispose of larger pieces of unwanted fabric as there is generally someone out there who wants that pattern or material you've had sitting in your sewing box for years.


Stuffing is also an option. You don't want to use only scraps of fabric to stuff things that are supposed to be soft, like pillows, but you can use them to stuff rag dolls and other items that need to be fairly solid and firm. It's best to place the fabric scraps toward the center and use foam shapes near the surface of the item you're stuffing, though, because the fabric scraps can make the surface appear uneven.


Another possibility is recycling. There are companies that will take cloth and recycle the fibers, rather than trying to reuse the cloth. For example, Chicago Textile Recycling sends about 15 percent of its donations to be reprocessed back into fibers. Talk to the fabric stores in your area to see if they know of companies that will do that; if they don't, contact regular recycling companies to see if they know of specialty fabric recyclers.


Here's a fun option for the hardcore DIY crowd: Some fabric can be composted. Fabric that is pure cotton, wool, hemp, or bamboo can be thrown in a composting pile after being cut into small pieces (especially for wool).

Talk to your fabric suppliers about the best way to get rid of excess fabric in your area. You'll be pleasantly surprised to find you have a good number of options.