• ruthich1976

Make your own fabric from scraps

A box of scrap cotton fabrics in different colours
One of my scrap cotton fabrics boxes....

I think it's fair to say I love fabric. Without it, I'd be a bit stuck, and my Etsy shop would come to a grinding halt. I rarely throw fabric away either. I've kept maybe 98% of all the fabric scraps from making things; reusable products and clothes.

Did you know that according to a recent study, the UK is the fourth largest textile polluter in Europe? Over 206 tonnes of it a year goes to waste. You can read the short version at Circular Online, and the longer full report at Labfresh.

Not wishing to add to this, I've been keeping my fabric scraps. I've donated some to school for collages, to some new sewers wanting to try quilting on a Facebook group I'm in, but there's still a huge amount left.

Inspired by Keren's recent blog post, and with my success with a table runner from her quilt pattern, I decided to have a go at making my own fabric to use in an upcycled denim bag project I'd been wanting to try for a while.

I discovered a pattern for an upcycled jeans bag my mother in law had taken out of The Woman's Weekly and grabbed an old pair of jeans I'd had sitting around for too long that had a hole in an awkward place and were too far gone to repair.

Strips of red cotton fabric sewn together to make a new piece of fabric
Sewing a whole load of strips of red fabrics together to make one big piece of fabric

Having made the basic bag up from my jeans, I needed a lining, so I scrabbled through one of my boxes to find the biggest red scraps I could find and sewed them all together, cut it to size and sewed it into a bag shape, then sewed it into the inside of the bag.

The new piece of fabric made from scraps used as the lining of an upcycled denim bag
The new fabric made into my bag lining! I added snap fasteners to close the bag.

My mother was so impressed that the following week she brought me two pairs of old jeans and told me that she would like a bag too, and one for my sister. Production has started and our 10 year old helped to sew up the first of the lining fabrics in various shades of green. It's the Mr Miyagi method of learning to sew - sew up, sew down.... over and over again until you get your seams straight!

A new piece of fabric made from green cotton scraps
The new piece of fabric my daughter sewed from green scraps

I've a new found passion for keeping scraps and so many ideas floating round my head because I know I can keep them out of landfill and turn them into new things. It's the epitome of reduce, reuse and recycle! Here's a hint if you want to try: Pinterest is a brilliant place to look for ideas and free patterns to follow. I have two boards that might interest you - Eco Sewing Ideas and Upcycling Denim and Scraps - just pop over and take a look.

Not only that, but I have so much still left and no jeans available, so I've created a new listing for 1kg of cotton fabric scraps to get you started. A bargain at £8.50 with shipping included, what's stopping you from making your own?

I'll also have a guest post coming up this month from a serious Upcycler to get you even more inspired!

Ruth xxx

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