using the fabric scraps

I can’t stand waste. More specifically, I can’t stand being wasteful.  I don’t know if the mild hoarding is the source, or the consequence of this aversion to throwing away anything that could possibly be useful, but here I am – constantly with drawers and boxes and surfaces covered in things that surely will be useful – somehow, sometime.

fabric scraps

Setting up in a new apartment always feels like a new start, so spurred on by that, I’ve come up with a way of making at least some of my hoarded materials turn useful. I’m sure I’m not the only one with scraps of fabric left over after sewing projects – too big to throw away (too beautiful!), but too small to be put to use in a garment. Some people make small things; pincushions, coin-purses, soft toys – but I mostly make garments, and these pieces aren’t even large enough for pockets. I finally realized the perfect use for these scraps was to make bias tape!

making bias tape

I make my bias tape by measuring the same amount (say, 3 inches) along two sides of a triangle – along the weft and the warp grain. Connecting those two points gives me the bias, and then I can just use my ruler to draw new diagonal marks. This works well on oddly shaped scrappy pieces, but I’ve found that my lines can get a little skewed after four or five repeats – best to double-check my lines every so often!

making bias tape

making bias tape

One trick to getting perfectly aligned seams when joining pieces is to make sure the short ends are at a 45 degree angle to the long ends, which they will be if they follow the grainlines to begin with. Sometimes it’s easier to trim the scrap piece of fabric first. The other trick is to mark the seam allowance, and offset the two pieces so that it’s the stitching line goes edge to edge on both layers.

self-made bias tapeIt’s kind of amazing how many yards of bias tape you can get out of a fat quarter sized scrap (or smaller!) of fabric.

I think I’ve been fooling myself with my mindset of “this can be useful somehow!”. Sure, most of the things we having lying in drawers and boxes can be useful, but are they useful to us – in the way that we use things? Like I mentioned, I don’t really sew or make small things, so smallish scraps of fabric don’t hold any value to me, at least not in how I craft. So while someone else might have found a million things to make with my scraps, I didn’t. By making these remnants into bias-tape, I’ve turned them into something I will actually use  – something that makes sense with the kinds of things I craft. And that is the whole point, isn’t it?

And what will I use my bias tape for? I took a workshop a while back where I learned lots of finishing techniques, like hong-kong hemming, bound seams, and decorative uses. Quilts can be finished with some home-made bias tape; use it for a decorative piping touch,  and my favorite, a really nice edge finishing from Tasia of sewaholic.

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5 responses to “using the fabric scraps

  1. that’s a really good idea

  2. Great idea! and a great result. Maybe you should set a goal for yourself to use at least one of the bias-tapes in a garment during the next year. :-) (Some amazing silks you have there!)

  3. That really is a good idea! I may copy you at some point.

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