the 2019 annual scrap festival : 10 ideas for your scraps

stacks of antique fabric scraps

Did you know it is national scrap week? It is not. I made that up. But it should be a thing. I’m making it a thing.  A bag of scraps is food for thought, inspiration, an invitation to happenstance, possibility thinking. It always has been for me.  

January is an organizing month here. I am sorting through pretty much everything but mostly fabric scraps. Choosing what to keep, what to let go of and making what I keep as tidy and orderly as scraps can be. I’m ironing my scraps. I secretly love to iron. Not my clothes, I’m permanently, slightly, comfortably disheveled.  I like to iron scraps. It’s a little ridiculous. Lets call it meditative. Or it could also be called productive procrastination… 

tiny scrap of vintage fabric to patch tiny pants

And sometimes not so productive procrastination. It frequently devolves into spending a lot of time pondering a very small and fabulous scrap. I love this scrap. Now I have to make a tiny pair of pants so I can add this patch to them. And then I have to make a lamb to put in the pants. You see how this goes…

fragment of an antique garment

There are some pieces I can’t call scraps. Some are so exquisite I call them fragments. Something left over from a life with marks from other hands and days.  

If you have found your way here it is likely you have scraps too. In celebration of the inaugural scrap festival I’ve collected 10 ideas for your scraps. Let’s start with 3 projects for your most special scraps, your fragments.  

1. sweet needle books –  for needles and ideas and memories.

2. amulets – little stitch experiments I  started making last summer. I begin with no shape in mind, just layering my favorite fragments, experimenting and playing with compositions. Then I trim them and sew a backing. I find the compositions are more interesting if I approach them this way rather than beginning with the shape. I made a little template of the shapes I use for you – you can download that here.  And for cord I usually use this waxed thread (PS I get a tiny commission if you buy it through that link, you can also find it in craft stores).

stitched amulets on my work table

3. ethereal garlands – for the tiniest scraps, the un-sewables, the little whispers you can’t let go of.

4. string quilts- there is a full tutorial here for this quick and easy flip and sew technique for your longish scraps.

5. Once you have pieced together a bunch of scraps you can make a fabric basket – you know what you could put in it?  Scraps.

specks and keeping stitched compostition

6. marvelous fabric compositions – let happenstance be your guide and find inspiration in these stitched pieces by Specks and Keepings. The left-overs from garment sewing are used as is. I love the compositions. There is magic in those accidental shapes and relationships. 

7. french seam pillow cases – for your larger scraps. This is on my domestic sewing list. 

8. jar opener – so clever – made from fabric scraps and rubber shelf liner. 

9. fabric twine – for your tiny scraps. And netflix. And wine. 

10. And finally – it  is illegal to do a blog post about fabric scrap projects without including fabric bunting. Plus I love it – so sweet to make for little folks.

Find 4 more scrap project ideas here. And if you have a project to recommend please leave it in the comments.

 P S – Do you get my free weekly-ish newsletter? There are tips and tricks, ideas, stuff to try, all the latest news and blogposts and extra stuff, just for subscribers, delivered mostly on Friday. Pretty much.

ann wood : stitch expeiments and stacks of antique scraps

14 Comments

  1. You are my new best friend!
    I love scrap month and your inspirations speak right to my soul and it’s art spa e.
    Big sigh so happy to have found you and your amazing work.

  2. You can sew scraps together to make wonderful binding tape. Sonia Phillips calls it Frankenbias, I think.

  3. Phyllis de Vries

    Anne, you are my favorite thinker. Scraps? Oh, how I cherish every tidbit from all my various sewing projects. So many scraps and not enough time to give them all a proper home. Currently I keep them in those cellophane bags according to size. Some are so small and simply too beautiful to discard in a waste basket. I do believe you have inaugurated National Scrap Week! I love your thoughts and suggestions. xo

  4. Geraldine Paton

    I love your train of thought Ann, you inspire me and make me laugh. Your writings are ALWAYS worth reading. I have lots of precious scraps too which I keep threatening to make something wonderful with but I always find them at the wrong time because they’re everywhere, tucked safely away. I adore miniature things and make all kinds of fabric, mixed media and paper goodies….. mostly just for my own satisfaction. Thankyou for your wonderful words and inspiration and hooray for ‘National Scrap Week’…
    Long may it continue!! x

  5. Mary Boyea

    I have just started making junk journals or altered books and will now be sewing scraps into journal pages! Thanks for the idea!

  6. Now I need a new list. I have one existing for why I need more fabric, it has over 70 items. Why I need to save every fragment is too wonderful. Thank you. Lists help me justify my odd but fun behavior. I have been saving every tiny triangle from flip and stitch projects to embellish a quilt in the same style as An Loveless, written about in Quiltfolk issue 8. She entered the world’s largest public art competition and won twice, with her art quilts that are embellished with layered fragments of fabric.

    What I want to do is make a Monet flower garden or field with a huge amount of colored triangles in glorious profusion, sewn down randomly by straight lines. This is also kind of like a ticker tape quilt. Thank you for being a friend, you make me feel better about myself.

  7. Oh Ann how can I ignore this? I allowed myself a break from a day set aside for organizing and cleaning since Abby our lab and I have the whole day and house to ourselves and then I read this. Now my mind is spinning with possibilities……..and none of them have anything to do with cleaning.

  8. Rosemary B

    I need to make fabric twine, with wine.
    All of these ideas are very good ones.
    I am sewing scraps together, some I am making 2″ ;half square triangles blocks, and others I am just making pieced pieces. There are a lot of excellent ideas for scraps.
    I have 4 grand girls now, so I am hoping to make some scrap balls to toss around
    Happy Week-end

  9. Fabulous and Funny
    I loved all the wonderful ideas. I also am a paper scrap saver. Double whammy !!
    Several of my art buddies did a retreat recently where we each brought a small baggie of fabric scraps, a 4x4inch journal and a glue stick. We contributed single words to a bowl, drew one out and then interpreted our words in the journal. We readily shared each others stash and it was great fun to figure out each of the words from the mini artworks. The wonderful bonus is the nice memories of the weekend in the small journals.
    Love getting your musings each week. Thank you so much.

  10. We definitely need National Scrap Week! How do we make it official? One of my favorite uses for the little treasured scraps is SACHETS. I made up a batch a couple of years ago and posted the free patterns for 3 “styles” on my blog. I used up scraps of velvets, satins and notions to make them, but they would be equally charming in wovens, indigo, little sashikos, etc…: https://craftdesignworks.wordpress.com/2015/07/25/diy-luxurious-lavender-sachets-lovely-easy-for-gifts-or-to-keep-free-patterns/

  11. oh, what a wonderful post. scrap week, month , life. i keep my big scraps in a big basket and small ones install baskets and teeny tiny ones in a “love hearts” sweeties tin. i’ll put a picture of that on my ig page. I’ve been intending to stitch them all together but first i need to finish my ann wood needle book.
    thank you xx

  12. Sandra Glover

    Ann, it’s wonderful someone came up with a “holiday” for fabric scraps! What an inspiration you are! I make little prayer flags & fabric brooches from my scraps, bits of lace & ribbon & old buttons. Wish I could share a photo! You Go Girl!!

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