Top 5 Favorite Sewing Scrap Busters

Scrap buster ways of how to sew fabric scraps.

Top 5 Favorite Sewing Scrap Busters

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By Roxanne Nickolie Nancy’s Notions Guest Blogger

With all the sewing that goes on inside the walls of Nancy’s Notions, we get more than our share of fabric scraps. In fact, our sewing room has boxes and boxes of them building up beneath tables and along walls. Every seamstress knows it would be a cardinal sin to throw a single scrap away. So how do you use them up? Here are 5 ideas for useful and beautiful projects to get your creativity going.
Idea #1: Fabric Twine
This was the video that got us thinking about scraps in the first place. This tutorial will show you how to make twine that’s functional and 100% fabulous. This beautiful multicolored cord would be fantastic as a gift-wrapping element, a textural accent on a quilt, braided into headbands, belts, purse handles, and anything else you can think of!
If you don’t have long strips of scraps at home, precut fabric strips would make an excellent alternative.
Video courtesy of

Idea #2:  Rag Rugs

Rag Rug patterns  are some of the most popular items sold at Nancy’s Notions. The reason they’re in such high demand is because they don’t require any special skills or equipment. Anybody can make a rag rug. Plus, the look of a rag rug is classically cozy. But of course, the very best thing about rag rugs—they take a ginormous bite out of your scrap stash.
Scrap buster ways of how to sew fabric scraps.Idea # 3: Pincushions
Small projects are scraps’ best friend, and pincushions are the ultimate small project to make. You can sew dozens of them and feel good about giving them away; they’re a practical gift, and with tons of different designs to choose from, you can never go wrong handing them off to friends and family for birthdays, holidays, or just to show a little love.

How to use fabric scraps.

Find instructions for this pincushion in the Pincushion Appeal Book at

Idea #4: Pet beds
Who knew a fluffy bed for your furry friend was only a pillowcase away? Fill a pillowcase with shredded scraps, sew the end shut, and voila! You have a pet bed perfect for your own home use, or as a fantastic donation to an animal shelter.
Want to make it even scrappier? Sew the pillowcase yourself from old yardage! Nancy’s Notions has a free pattern for an easy pillowcase here.
How to use fabric scraps.Idea #5: Crazy Quilting
Of course we have to mention the fairy godmother of all scrap projects: crazy quilting. Crazy quilting has been around for centuries. The technique involves impromptu patchwork using small scraps—making it a resourceful, yet beautiful way to prevent fabric waste. Often embellished with a variety of stitches, the end result has lots of color, texture, and of course—meaning—infused within the project. Modern variations include using embroidery, coordinating colors for a more cohesive look, and mixing crazy quilting with more structured quilting to get a nice contrast. Small projects like decorative pillows, mug rugs, and pot holders are simple ways to try out crazy quilting.
How to use fabric scraps.

This pillow sham was created using Eileen Roche’s Today’s Crazy Quilting With Your Embroidery Machine Set.

This is really only the tip of the iceberg—there are hundreds of ways people use up their scraps. For even more ideas, visit or connect with Nancy’s Notions on Pinterest to get those creative wheels turning.
Thanks for the blog Roxanne!
Nancy Zieman's Giveaway Winner
The random winner of Quick Column Quilts is Joyce W. She shared, I was watching your Quick Column Quilts program on our local PBS station on Saturday and the phone rang. My 86 year old mother called to ask if I was watching the program. We both found it very interesting and hope to try your techniques. Thank you for continuing to present such great programing and the tutorials on your blog.

Quick Column Quilts by Nancy ZiemanBye for now,

Nancy Zieman The Blog

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  • Diana G
    February 24, 2015

    Thanks for the tips, as I have 4 large bins of fabric and more to come for scraps. As I am garment sewing, quilting as well. Thanks again !

  • Adeline
    February 24, 2015

    that dog fabric is a total hoot! Love the mushroom pincushion too. I am going to study that fabric twine thing. I LOVE to decorate gift packages with a theme and this could be a good one!

  • Patricia in Iowa
    February 24, 2015

    Thanks for the suggestions for scraps. Pet bed pillow case it is!!!

  • Peggy H
    February 24, 2015

    I use my scraps in many different ways. Some will go as doll clothes for my granddaughter and her friends, others into quilts, pin cushions, and dog beds. But, I think the best thing I’ve ever used my scraps for is stockings for the troops. A friend of my receive a “scrappy” stocking when he was in Iraq, he just love it. He brought it home with him, and since all the scraps had a memory for him (cars, drive-in movies, movie theme, girls, beaches, books, turkeys, and many more themes), he felt “home” was just a stocking away. He has been home for four years now. His “scrappy” stocking gets hung every Christmas.

  • Kim Harrington
    February 24, 2015

    I sometimes think I keep too many scraps! Pieces that are really too small to do anything with have a place in my studio… I see that with some of these projects they are perhaps useful afterall.

  • venita abel
    February 24, 2015

    I love ideas to use up scraps. The last 2 years for our church quilt show we have been using my scrap stash to make our quilt for raffle. They always turn out very nice. My friends think I’m nuts when I pick their cutoffs out of trash. It is a running joke now and I am offered all sizes of scraps. Ha

  • Linda Kapuscinski
    February 24, 2015

    I have been trying to think what to do with all the scraps I have. I don’t want to tackle a “scrappy” quilt at the moment but these ideas do have me thinking. I really like the pet bed. My dog is too big for a pillowcase bed, but I think I can find something bigger for him. Great idea!

  • Jackie
    February 24, 2015

    I love the comment about making Christmas stockings for the guys overseas using theme fabric. I think it’s my new idea to take to our church for a project. We have been using our scraps for lap quilts for rest homes.

  • Pat Dyke
    February 24, 2015

    Loved the twine. Never saw it before.

  • Donna Campbell
    February 24, 2015

    I do a LOT of sewing and quilting for charity with a group of fun women. It is wonderful to repurpose jeans, shirts, sheets, blankets, bed skirts and even wedding gowns. After we have used every possible scrap, we take the little pieces and cut them into tiny pieces to stuff cloth dolls we call “Huggable Friends” that we give to children in shelters, hospitals and to EMS. NOTHING goes into the trash or land fills.

  • Donna Fecteau
    February 24, 2015

    Our quilting group does the pet beds from the scraps we make while teaching classes and working on projects. I love the twine idea and may do that with some of my stash at home. I also love the rugs, they remind me of the rag rugs we used to have at home. My mom used to tear all her old sheets, shirts, etc. into inch and a half strips which we would wind into balls. After the basket got full we would send it off to an older relative who wove them into rugs.

  • Sharon Koepper
    February 24, 2015

    I use strips that are about 1/2″ wide to tie up my 65+ tomato plants. Makes me feel good about not throwing away all those pieces, and it’s amazing how many I use. It also brings extra color to the garden. I don’t use the red pieces on the tomato plants…makes me think a tomato is there when there isn’t. I also tie all color strips on the garden fence to fly in the breeze and help keep unwanted creatures out of the garden. Our scarecrow, Oscar, also has fabric strips stapled to his clothes, my husband’s old overalls. Seems to work.

  • Ruth Bernstein
    February 24, 2015

    I go to a shelter for homeless men once a week and have done it for 8 years. Many scraps of rescued pant hems and sleeves,etc. have accumulated. I have had the help of the men, placing the pieces very randomly to make much needed blankets for the shelter. My sewing is not beautiful, but WARM! I have backed the piecing with a donated beadspread. I have more to finish soon. You know, waste not, want not.

  • Lorij
    February 24, 2015

    Scraps can really be an unthought of blessing.
    Nancy a great give away would be a box of your scraps!Some of us would love it. I’m visiting my daughter in California and my scrap stash is in North Carolina. One of my friends here gave me a plastic queen size spread bag full of scraps. I’ve made a queen top, twin top, some pin cushions, used some of the strips to sash another queen top I was working on, a 38×36 lap quilt and I’m piecing another queen scrappy quilt. I think there is enough to do a pink, a black/white each, and one with brown, orange, yellow twin quilt tops. I separated all the colors and put them in zip lock and plastic grocery bags. That made it really easy and, because of limited space I can put all of the bags in the queen bag when I’m finish for the day and store them out of sight. I really appreciate her for this. She just wanted to be rid of them. And I needed something else to sew. I grew up in the era where you used everything and fabric was never thrown away except there just was no use for it. You know one person’s scraps (trash) is often someone elses treasure. Happy sewing

  • Starla
    February 24, 2015

    I love the scrappy pet bed idea. Maybe I could get my own pillow back…

  • Mary
    February 24, 2015

    I’ve been quilting for many years and have been in a scrappy quilt stage now for about five years and I’m loving it. I found Bonnie Hunter’s website and am in the process of cutting some of my stash into strips for her quilt ideas/patterns. But there’s always smaller pieces and I’ve started making fabric out of them, to shape squares I can use in other quilts.
    I have made rag rugs and also knit a vest for our daughter out of torn strips, tho not scrappy. I’m fascinated by the twine idea so will be giving that a try soon.

  • Karen
    February 25, 2015

    I made my niece a quilt. She was getting her first sewing machine I used many of the scrapes to make her a sewing bag and pin cushion using the smallest to stuff it. Some also went on a Hunt coat as piping around the collar.

  • Sandra Cantrell
    March 1, 2015

    The rag rugs and crazy quilting are my favorite. My daughter and I plan on making a rag rug this year which may help her catch the sewing bug.

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