We all know that going forward we need to reduce our consumption of non-recyclable materials, so it’s time to get our thinking caps on how to continue making things but at the same time buying less. One key way to do this is by re-using fabrics from clothing that you maybe don’t wear any more or have damaged or by using up your fabric leftovers from previous sewing projects.
One way of doing this is with patchwork, although this doesn’t have to mean patchwork quilts, it could mean clothing items. Just look at the recent Sewing Bee Episode Four where they made a great jacket with a patchwork design. That is one way to create an entire patchwork garment, but another way could be via mending with visible patches, which works particularly well with jeans or jumpers.
Patchwork Quilts from Fabric Scraps
Patchwork quilts are a great way of using up any left over fabrics, especially anything natural and light-weight. Cotton is the most traditional option for quilt making, but as we have said before you can also use things like linen, wool or double gauze. If you use a simple quilt pattern, using regular sized shapes such as various sized rectangles to create a brick style formation; with a little bit of effort you can turn all your scraps to make a handy quilt to snuggle up under. By using a simple shape you can get more out of your scraps without it being super fiddly.
If you are worried about using different fabrics other than cotton within a quilt, it might be worth casting your eye over our previous blog Using Alternative Fabrics for Patchwork and Quilting which has handy hints and tips from Kim Porter at Worn and Washed Fabrics.
How to Sort Your Fabric Scraps
Okay, so now you are super inspired to turn that box of leftovers into a cosy cuddly quilt, but where the hell to start? Well when we have done it before, it helps to separate your fabrics firstly into what is suitable and what is not. You are looking for fabrics which are light-weight but with no drape or stretch. Once you have a pile of those, now go through and split it into colour groups, so that even though it is pretty random, you want the fabrics to co-ordinate rather than clash. Once you have all the pieces in co-ordinating colours, you can chose a square or rectangular size which means you can get the most out of your scraps. From there you can great a beautiful quilt top and clear some space.
However, it is slightly unlikely that you will have enough to make a quilt top, so you might need to check our our patchwork and quilting cottons for a top up.
Patchwork jackets are a great transition piece and can be handy for those times of year where you might need a jacket for the cooler evenings but then during the colder months it can be layered up with jumpers and various other layers. Episode Four of the Sewing Bee this year highlighted how a patchwork jacket can be made using various scraps, although you might need slightly more time than they allow. The idea is to create four pieces by sewing smaller pieces of patchwork cotton together and then using these to cut out the bodice and sleeves from. These pieces are then layered with wadding and a lining fabric, then to keep all the layers together each piece is held by top stitching.
Although you want to use the scraps for the your patchwork jacket, you might want to use a full piece of fabric for the lining so you can truly focus on the outside. You probably want something light-weight and made of similar fabric you are using on the outside, we were thinking a cotton voile would be a good shout. We are really enjoying the new duck egg blue colour we have in…
A great pattern option is the Hovea Jacket and Coat sewing pattern from Megan Nielsen and comes in various different styles which gives you more options. We were thinking that you might want to start much liked the patchwork quilt by going through your left over fabrics and separating them by colour and size to co-ordinate the colours.
Patchwork as Visible Mending
Another great way to incorporate patchwork into your wardrobe is visible mending. We all have clothing that we want to last forever and unfortunately that might mean we need to get better at mending as dull as it may be. Visible mending can look amazing on jeans or on jumpers which is handy as they are the garments that tend to develop the most holes. Patchwork detailing on jeans can look incredibly cool, we thought it could work especially well with brushed cottons too to match the laid back vibe.
Jumpers might need slightly more attention but when we get around to it, we want to mend all our jumpers with Liberty scraps to appliqué over the holes. By mending our clothes we can help reduce the amount of textiles that are dumped into landfill…
Other Re-Using Ideas - Bees Wax Wraps
Even if after reading all these ideas about how to create beautiful patchwork from fabric scraps you still aren’t entirely convinced, but you are still interested in re-using, how about making some super handy super sustainable bees wax wraps. These are a great alternative to both cling film or tin foil, you can use them to wrap up your sandwiches for a picnic or to keep any left over food fresh. The ideal fabrics for these are light-weight cottons, such as cotton poplins, craft cottons, or even a cotton lawn and so it’s a great way to use up any leftover patchwork fabric that didn’t make it into your most recent sewing projects.
Bees Wax Wraps can be made any size so really it’s ideal for those pesky leftovers which you can’t throw away because they are too big. Because of the variety of types of cotton you can use, it isn’t just left over patchwork scraps you can use, but also cotton dressmaking fabric scraps too. Imagine how much more exciting your lunch time sarnie would be wrapped in one of these bobby dazzlers…
Autumn Flowers Cotton Denim Blue and Frida con Las Plumas Aqua
If this got you super interested in whipping up some bee wax wraps this weekend you can learn more about how to make them from the Natural History Museum's Website…https://www.nhm.ac.uk/discover/how-to-make-beeswax-wraps.html
Patchworking from Fabric Scraps
We hope you've been inspired to use up your fabric scraps to create some beautiful new things, whether a patchwork quilt, patchwork jacket or a beeswax food wrap. Or simply patch your favourite pair of jeans when they eventually go on the knees. As ever, share your fabric scrap makes with us on our social media pages.