Using up scraps of fabric & batting

Scraps of Fabric & Batting
Thursday is garbage day. There is a black bin for trash, green for compost, forest green for yard waste and blue for recycling. I wish there was another bin for fabric scraps, preferably in a bright colour, like shocking pink. In the interest of living minimally, I have been throwing small scraps of fabric in the garbage, but have been saving bigger pieces in a clear tote bin. I still have guilt when throwing out the tiniest pieces of fabric.

This little project is a great one for many reasons: it uses up fabric & batting scraps, it’s energy efficient, it saves you money and finally, in the interest of living beautifully, it is totally cute!

Without further ado: a door draft pillow. My friend was complaining about the cold draft from the door to her garage, so I made her one. It’s hard to remember that we are in the middle of winter: the weather in the SF bay area is sunny and warm, but it still gets really cold at night. Even though I’m Canadian, I can’t handle the cold–I am LOVING the weather here. Also, the price of electricity is almost 3x more here, than what we were used to paying in Vancouver.
Door Draft Pillows
I made one a couple of years ago and pulled out the same fabric. It’s a fun printed home decor weight canvas from IKEA.
Fabric - IKEA Gunilla
To make, I cut 2 pieces of fabric, approximately 4.5″ x 42″. Using a 1/4″ seam allowance, I sewed around the edges, leaving a 4″ opening. I filled the bottom with about a cup of poly-pellets. You could use rice, but I think rice is for eating and feel it’s a waste otherwise. Then I filled the pillow with various scraps of leftover batting and fabric. It was a great way to use knit/fleece fabric scraps because I never know what to do with them. Finally, I sewed the opening closed with my sewing machine.
Door Draft Pillows
Door Draft Pillows
The previous one I made was a little skinny and firmly packed with stuffing, so this time I made sure to make it wider and loosely packed with fabric and batting scraps. This is important because the pillow needs to relax and slouch into the door crack in order to fill all the little nooks and crannies to stop the cold drafties from seeping through. Hopefully, it’ll keep spiders out, too. That’s pretty much it. Nothing fancy–just an easy project that will have you wondering why you didn’t make one years ago.


Why cutting fabric is like playing Tetris

I hardly ever follow the recommended pattern placements for cutting fabric. I like the challenge of figuring out how to minimize fabric waste. So I rearrange pattern pieces, keeping the grainline and fabric prints in mind, until I am completely satisfied that I have wasted the least amount of fabric possible. All those years of playing Tetris have somehow paid off. Although it does slow down the sewing process–it usually takes me several days to finally cut my pieces.

So imagine my disappointment after finishing my Wiksten Tova in Nani Iro and my fabric remnant looked like this:

Since the confetti-dot print is heavily saturated in the middle of the fabric and gets more sporadic and non-existent near the selvedges, I had a hard time thinking up a project for the remnant. After staring at the fabric, I realized I could make an infinity scarf! I made one using this tutorial last Christmas for my mother-in-law and really liked the drape and look of the scarf. I wouldn’t call this post a “tutorial” because I used Anna Maria Horner’s original tutorial, but just a step-by-step process on how I made my version.

Again, to minimize waste, I simply cut out a rectangular-ish shape by cutting straight lines.

One side is completely uneven, but as a wrapped scarf, it doesn’t even matter. The one important thing that I forgot to do was to make sure each end is the same width. (You’ll see why later on.) The total length of the fabric was about 62″. At its widest point it was 12″.

After cutting out the rectangle, I flipped the fabric over so the right sides were facing each other. I pinned it together to hold it in place. I don’t always use pins, but with such a long continuous piece, it’s a good idea so the fabric top doesn’t shift too much while sewing.

I put a small marking 1/2″ from each end and on both sides. This is an important step! Do not start sewing from the edge, but instead, start and finish sewing at your markings.

I sewed both sides with a 1/4″ seam allowance.

I then finished the cut edge with a zig zag stitch. I dream of the day that I have a serger to finish my seams! After zigzagging the edges together, I cut off the frayed bits and pieces, being careful not to cut into my stitches. I love my quilted fabric notebook that I got from a hand-printed textile shop in India.

The next couple of steps require ironing, my least favourite task. I wear wrinkly shirts all the time, just to avoid ironing. My ironing board is wretched, so I covered it with some cute fabric. Here are the steps: 1. Press seams. 2. Flip right-side out and press seams flat to one side. 3. With seams on the very edge, press both sides together.

Then I pressed one end 1/2″ back, right-sides facing together. This was done on both ends. Then the 2 unpressed ends are pinned together and sewn, making sure that there are no twisty loops in the scarf.

So here’s where I messed up. If both ends were the same width, the edges would line up perfectly. Instead, I had one end wider than the other. So I folded a pleat in the centre. Since this seam will be worn at the nape of my neck, I figured it wouldn’t be such an obvious mistake.

After I sewed the ends together, I zigzagged the edges together and zigzagged each open end individually.

Now for some more ironing. Ugh. Here are the steps: 1. Press sewn seams and one end to the inside of the tube. 2. Using the pressed line as a guide for a fold line, press the other side while tucking in the edge. 3. I realize now that this is just step 2 with the iron at a different angle.

Almost done! Now for the top-stitching. The original tutorial calls for hand-stitching, which is my 2nd to least favourite task. So I went ahead and machine stitched it altogether. The stitching on the backside mostly fell in between the seams and doesn’t look too horrible. In the pictures below, you’ll notice that I inverted the outside pleat. This was not intended. Oops.

Finally, some photos of me wearing the scarf. The first one as a single loop.

This one shows the scarf wrapped twice around my neck. Super soft. Super lightweight. Super cozy, without being too warm. Perfect for the SF bay area.

A close-up. You can’t even tell that one side is uneven.

I made a couple of blunders, but take a look at this:

From 2 yards of fabric, I only have a couple of itty bitty scraps left! These scraps are going into a scrap bin, of course. I’m not sure what they will become, but as in Tetris, it is completely satisfying to clear every last brick.