If you’ve been sewing for even just a few months, I’ll bet you’ve already started building up your own “stash”. A personal stock pile of fabrics that are either left over from past projects or yet to be cut into and patiently awaiting the “perfect” project. Eventually that stash will need a box, then a cupboard, then one day a room of its own, so get it under control right now!
This post is all about ideas for using up your smaller pieces of fabric, I’ll be writing another in which I’ll talk about teaming fabrics with the right patterns.
So, start using your fabric offcuts instead of hoarding them!
Colour blocking and panels / patch pockets in garments:
I love the challenge of using up small pieces of fabrics that aren’t big enough to make whole garments, in parts of garments. Your stash can make perfect contrast cuffs, collars, sleeve bands, hem bands, and why not add seams to garments so that you can piece fabrics together like in this version of my Walkley Vest pattern.
I’m also quite partial to a contrasting patch pocket like this one on the fishtail skirt from “Beginner’s Guide to Dressmaking”.
Picture © Julian Ward
It’s so easy to make your own bias binding and if you use my continuous strip tutorial, you’ll be amazed just how much binding you can get out of a relatively small piece of fabric.
Facings and pocket linings:
If you’re not into contrast fabric details that are visible in your handmade garments, you can still use up that stash – facings and pocket linings are often the perfect size for those odd leftover pieces of fabric in your stash. You can add a secret little flash of contrast fabric on the inside of your garment that only you know about. It’s little details like these that make sewing your own clothes so satisfying!
Suffolk puffs and ruffles:
Suffolk puffs (or yoyo’s) are really easy to make from the smallest pieces of leftover fabrics and I’ve used them a lot as embellishments on garments. Admittedly, this is a long slow project, but the effects are worth it. Find my step-by-step tutorial for making them here.
A quicker embellishment idea is to use long strips of jersey, gathered along the centre of the strip and then stitched onto an otherwise plain garment.
Things to Watch Out For When Using Your Stash in Garment Making:
- choose fabrics that are similar weights when combining them within a garment
- make sure all the fabrics have been washed so that any loose dye has been washed out and any shrinkage has already happened
- pay attention to the grainline – you still need to use your stash fabrics with the grainline in the right direction for your pattern, if you piece together fabrics with the grainline off in different directions, you’ll end up with puckered seams and stretched and / or distorted areas in your garment.
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PS: I’ve been thinking of making a broad strip of patchwork for a panel at the bottom of a straight skirt, I really must get to that, I don’t know why I keep putting it off! That would also be a good way of using up small amounts of stash.
I’ve done that with a yoke + patchworked jersey fabrics. I say do it!
Oh my gosh, these are fantastic ideas! I particularly love seeing how different the contrast panels can look: I’m not sure I would have been as into the idea with just one of the photos, but this really kicks off my imagination (I have sooo much fabric to use up!!). Thank you so much Wendy, I truly appreciate it!
The flounce and the contrast pocket are pretty darn brilliant ideas too. Thank you!
You’re welcome! Glad to hear you’re inspired 😊
I upgraded from basket to box over the holidays and found some gems I’d forgotten I had that are now earmarked for contrast facings! I love the other ideas too 🙂
Like shopping without the shopping 😁 enjoy. Glad you found it useful.
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Wow, thanks for this post. I had no idea other what to do with leftover fabric smaller than to make scarves with. This idea of making the t-shirt with the seam across is pretty cool. Also, the bias binding post helps a lot.
Glad to hear it’s helped inspire you Ani!!