Using Fabric Scraps

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Hello everyone! I’m not sure about you but once I’ve finished cutting out a new pattern I can’t quite bring myself to throw out the bigger scraps. It feels like a waste because some of the scraps are so beautiful. And it is fair to say that I have accumulated quite a collection of them. Some I have found repurposed uses for but others have been left to ponder. I won’t say that it has been easy to find uses for these. My naturally dyed scraps just don’t seem suitable for just tying up tomato plants. And my chiffon scraps still don’t seem to have uses just I keep them just the same. But today I’m talking about the scraps that have found new life and the forms they have taken on.

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One of the first things I used my scraps for was to make silk flowers (or silk-cotton flowers to be more exact). They are made of the hem scraps from the shirts I have made. These scraps are ideal for making flowers because they are cut on the base and seem to curl into themselves once folded over beautifully. The rosettes produced are flecked with gem-like natural dye stains giving both intrigue and whimsy.

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But the flowers only take up a small portion of the scraps that I produce and you can only make so many roses… a more straight forward use for scraps is to cut them into long strips and use them to tie up the plants in the garden. I went to far this year as to steak my snapdragons. At the end of the season or whenever I get around to cleaning up the garden I can just dispose of them into the compost if they are composed of all natural fibres (which my scraps usually are). If you want to go so far as to use silk scraps for that you can, I just use the cotton ones and save my silk ones for another job.

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Rag rugs is a good way to use scraps, and again requires long thin scraps or requires you cutting them to be so. I personally prefer the woven ones to the hooked or braided ones. However this just may be due to the biased opinion I have towards the rag rug that I made. I used the scraps from the first winter coat that I made, a coat my mom made, and gold silk scraps that were found in the house. If you want a more practical and cozy rug use wool scraps but if it is just for the decor go wild and use whatever will give you the right aesthetic.

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Or you can use long silk scraps for knitting or crocheting. Keep in mind whatever you make from these will most likely be a project with character. However if you take care you use tasteful colours whatever you make will come out nicely. I got this tip from India Flint’s book Eco Colour and I rather liked it so I took to it!

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Some of my yellow natural dye samples, especially on the chiffons are so pale that it almost appears as if the fabric wasn’t dyed at all. Intact they appear as though they could stand to absorb some more colour or a different colour and not appear to be laying colours. For these bits of fabric that look like yellowed bits of paper I have added them to my container of white fabric scraps that I use for natural dye tests, and they work beautifully.

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For the more brightly coloured small bits I have accumulated a stack to use for embroidery or appliqué projects. I use them to cut out pieces and shapes. Generally I reserve the smaller cotton or linen samples for this, the silk ones have deemed to be too delicate and the wool samples seem to thick for my taste but whatever floats your boat. And I have developed a nice neat pile of rainbow scraps that I can use whenever I need a colour.

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As for the bigger more substantial cotton and linen natural dye scraps that I have I use them to make flax bag sleep aids. Those are just rectangular pouches filled with flax seeds that you are meant to drape across your eyes to help you sleep. The theory is that there are pressure points in your eyes and between them that can make it easier to fall asleep with when pressure is added. Also they help to block out the light. And frankly I find them better than those sleeping masks because they don’t mess up your hair and they fall off when you turn over. These are rather simple to make and you can use them yourself or give them as gifts or sell them and all you have to do is buy the flax seeds.

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Another standby for big square fabric scraps is drawstring bags. I went and made quite a few last summer out of dyed linen that I had and I am still pleased with them and use them to carry projects in.

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The lastly there is a sort of one time only project that I am endeavoring, which is making myself a proper pincushion using the bigger natural dye scraps. It will act as pincushion and also hold my scissors, thread and tape measure! So an extra handy pincushion is what I am after opposed to the plastic container that I currently use. However this project is still in the works and will have a post all to itself when I finish it. But here is the photo where I took inspiration:

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Until then, do you the readers have any uses for fabric scraps? let me know!

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Sincerely, L. C. Cariou

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