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What to Do with Leftover Fabric

Sandra Hatch

What To Do With Leftover Fabric


Mary has a great idea. "What do you do with your leftover fabric? I donate mine to a group that works with mentally challenged children. They can use anything over 12" square. They use the fabric for various projects for the children. As always, such groups are woefully underfunded and every little bit helps."

Let's hear how more of you use your leftover fabrics. Write and share your ideas.

Joan suggests: "I have donated some of my leftover fabrics to a school where I used to teach. There are always students who can't afford to buy fabric. I've also donated leftover fabric to a hospital's auxiliary group and the sewing ladies in the group have used it to make projects for their annual bazaar.

"Preschools like to get fabric remnants because the teachers use it to teach texture (tactile) skills to the children. Another place I've donated leftover fabric is to a sewing circle at a local church. A local bookstore has several hands-on activities for children, and they love to get my scraps, including the little pieces of batting."

Joyce has an idea. "I am replying to Michelle's question about making a quilt from her father's plaid shirts and ties. My dad passed away in 2002. I made my first very simple quilts from his shirts and jeans. I simply cut 6" squares from his shirts and pants, and sewed them together into rows on a sewing machine, and then sewed the rows together.

"My father had worked on the railroad all his life, so I chose a cotton print of trains for the backing fabric. I bought several iron-on appliqués of things that meant something to him, such as an airplane for his service with the Air Force in WWII, and dice and playing cards, horses, an American flag for his patriotism, trains and birds (since he had two parakeets as pets). I scattered the appliqués here and there on the various squares.

"I made two of these quilts -- one for my mom and one for myself -- and we cherish them. Something that simple can be very meaningful and gives you a lasting remembrance of the person you miss!"

Janet writes: "I recently finished a denim and flannel quilt for my granddaughter out of my husband's old flannel shirts and jeans. Since the fabric was so heavy, I did not back it or quilt it. I joined 6" squares of denim on-point, and filled in the edges with triangles.

"I covered, at random, different denim blocks with flannel and sewed them in wherever they fell in the quilt. Stitching was done with the wrong sides together in rows using a 1/2" seam allowance; then the rows were joined.

"Snipping into the seam allowances every 1/2" around the quilt created a ragged fringe after washing and drying. My daughter made hers by sewing four 6" blocks together to form a block; then she used her flannel in 3" strips to join them and as a border. Everyone grabs these two quilts before any other to cuddle under."

Peg had to laugh. "What to do with leftover fabrics -- this question made me laugh. Kudos to Mary for sharing her leftovers with mentally challenged children, but we are quilters, so there is no such thing as leftover materials. As a crafter of all trades, as I make projects, my mind is busy thinking of more projects to make with any little bits left over.

"I hate going to the trash can with even small bits of fabric for which I have paid good money. I try to use every piece I can, as I am sure most quilters do.

"You have a wonderful newsletter, Sandra, and I read every one from top to bottom. Some of them I save for rereading and using ideas later."

Lavonne writes: "I just read Deb's question about using corduroy in quilts. I have made many raggy quilts using corduroy where I sewed with 3/4" seams and then clipped into the seam allowance. I alternated the direction of the lines of the corduroy material and used a heavy-weight flannel on the other side. This makes a warm and cuddly quilt. There are many Web sites giving complete directions for making raggy quilts."

Penny has some ideas for using scraps. "You can just sew scraps together and make lap throws or make twin-size quilts to take to a veteran's hospital. They love them so much. They don't always have close visiting family that can come see them and talk, and they think the world of you for your thoughtfulness.

"All I do is sew pieces of bonded knit to foundation squares made of old sheets. Motels often throw their sheets away, so they often donate them to me because they know I can use them in this way.

"It's a good feeling when you see the faces of the recipients of these quilts. They are so happy to have their own blanket or lap throw. I always remember that they are there because they have protected our country.

"I am also a military mom and wife and a supporter of the military. I have a son who has done two tours, and a husband who has done one tour. Each one is going back for another tour soon. We are all Rolling Thunder supporters of POW-MIA issues. Veterans are very important and cannot be forgotten."

I found that the Rolling Thunder group's mission is to publicize POW-MIA issues and to educate the public about the prisoner-of-war issues. Go to for more information. Contact a veteran's hospital near you for information about making quilts for their patients.