an entirely satisfying activity involving scraps

garlands made from lace scraps

All you need are scraps. And a sewing machine. It is the kind of thing you could lose yourself in, the next thing you know hours have gone by and there are miles of it. It’s a meandering process and an invitation to happy accidents, there are no mistakes, it is not careful (except keeping your fingers away from the needle) and there is no planning. The perfect thing if you are feeling the need for something spontaneous. Just start and keep adding stuff.

garlands made form little scraps of fabric and lace

My approach was pretty bare bones and I had lots of fun. What is your scrap situation like? I’ve got tons and lots of it very small.  I dumped the whole thing out and started pulling out the tiniest scraps, the un-sewables, the little whispers I can’t let go of.

 garlands of scrap lace

Start with one piece, add another and another, machine stitching through the whole thing, sometimes bunching or curving the little pieces. I can’t stop. And they don’t need to be lace, I’ve got cotton scraps too and I’ll try those next.  And you can add other stuff and get super intricate and detailed – find a tutorial here.

You could use the garlands for packages or hang them (maybe with some twinkle lights and paper mache ships) or stitch them onto doll clothes or your clothes or make a crown for somebody little.

I made a mini one  to use as a roiling sea for this little boat.  Find the free mouse pattern here and the free  little boat pattern here.

very nice mice free sewing pattern     


  1. I love this idea. I have so many scraps along with rolls of vintage trims. I like looking at the trims in a big plastic jug. But now I can do something with them. They can take the place of the suggested ribbon. The randomness of this activity appeals to me greatly. I think my saved fabric selvedge lengths will be fun to use for this, too, maybe sewn on torn lengths of fabrics. I can’t think of a better way to spend some of these odd rainy days we’re having here in Colorado. Feels like I never left NYC. Thx a million for sharing this idea!

  2. Jane Miller

    Very inspiring post, as always! I hate throwing out bits of yarn, name it, I keep it. I think I’ll try the above with my fabric scraps! Thanks so much for the idea!

  3. Joannie Coles

    I really like this idea of using scraps in creative ways. At 81 years of age, my fingers have become very stubborn and refuse to let me make exact(almost) stitches. But I can use those bits of pieces in different ways. I am repairing or adding those long forgotten bits of material, lace, etc. to an old (75 years) quilt made for us those many years ago. My not so perfect stitches looks perfect on this old quilt. I can enjoy crafting in a new but special way. I am glad you addressed this novel idea of “doing different”. It has given a lift to my days. Joannie

  4. I agree, it is addictive, I’ve been doing it with cotton scraps after first reading about over at THE LINEN GARDEN.
    I’m going to try it using all my lacy bits now after seeing your fabulous results.
    Thanks for showing us

  5. Lovely idea. I have a hard time throwing away scraps too. I am in the process of making a blue jean quilt and have a big stash of each blue jean that I cut up. Waist band, zipper and all seams still attached in one piece. I have been trying to think of something to do with them other than throwing away. I would like to hear about any ideas.

    • sylvia griffin birdlandia8 on instagram.

      You can use these elements to make little purses or bags!

  6. “Little whispers I can’t let go of” resonates with me so. You’ve made little whisper ribbon. ♥

  7. Marilyn

    I also have loads of scraps of beautiful lace and love this idea on how to use them. Thank you Ann, you always come up with so many interesting posts, I do so look forward to receiving your emails.

  8. sylvia griffin of Birdlandia8

    I can’t wait for the scrap exchange!! I have a hug pile, as I am currently re organizing my fabric collection. Lots of vintage linens, velveteen chunks and scraps from my quilt making. I can send out to many who need scraps!!

  9. agirlnamedkay

    “the un-sewables, the little whispers I can’t let go of.”
    How beautifully you’ve articulated what it is that you started out with, they are as poetic as what you ended up with. Lovely. 🙂

  10. Kathy Atria

    Hi. I really love your newsletter. I actually think I signed up for it. You’re a bit like I am in your approach to projects. I did try your scrappy pouch/(coupon keeper, as I call it). I made one, then another and kept going. Somehow, as I started them, I felt, this is going to look terrible, then when I made the “grid” they looked amazing. Everyone who likes my crafting wanted one, so I ended making about 15 of them. Now, I’m working on something else. I love your ideas and find them inspiring. Thanks for keeping me sane.

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