5 Fabric Scrooge Tips

Today I’ve got some tips for you on how to get the most garments from your cuts of fabric.  If there was a hall of fame for the least amount of fabric wasted, you just might find me there!  In fact I’ve even got a series over at Skirt Fixation about classy ways to use fabric scraps.  Intervention may be necessary soon…

Camo clothes

From 2 yards of Desert Camouflage fabric, I made a tween size 12 shirt, a boy’s size 4 shirt, a girl’s size 6 pencil skirt, and the hidden shorts underneath.  4 garments from 2 yards of fabric.   And these tips work for adult size clothing too.  Recently, I used them to get a man’s XL t-shirt, a women’s size M dolman tee, and from the scraps I made a baby circle skirt in 3 months size and baby leggings in 6 month size.

Little Laugh

Fabric Scrooge Tip #1:

Pattern designers overestimate the amount of fabric you will need.  (As a pattern designer, I can let you in on this little secret 1st hand!)  We’re not in kahoots with the fabric manufactures, you cynical thing, it’s a better reason than that!  You see we designers really don’t want you to run out of fabric in the middle of a project.  Plus fabric does shrink and we have to allow for that.  And last of all, we are fellow fabric hoarders too, and know that NOBODY complains about having extra fabric on hand!   The 4 patterns in these photos called for 2 and 7/8 yards of fabric, and I only used 2 yards of this camo fabric.  In the adult size garments example, the patterns called for 3.75 yards, and I only used 2 yards of a solid blue knit fabric.

Camo Skirt

Fabric Scrooge Tip #2:

If your fabric has 4 way stretch like this amazingly soft Desert Camouflage knit fabric, you can change the direction of your pattern pieces.  This works best on solid fabrics, of course, but for this example, I laid the shorts pattern piece sideways on the fabric, the opposite direction of the grain line because they are hidden under the skirt and no one is the wiser…except you now that I’ve told you!  But what’s under the skirt, stays under the skirt.  Or something, right?  Oh dear!  Okay moving on now!


Fabric Scrooge Tip #3

Lay out all your pattern pieces before cutting.  Another tip as a designer…you don’t have to use the cutting layout we suggest.  And by playing around, you might find a more economical way to lay out your pattern pieces…especially if you are cutting out multiple garments.  For example, I was able to fit the baby legging pattern pieces underneath the arms of the men’s shirt, normally wasted space.  And for the women’s dolman shirt, I turned the back piece upside down and cuddled it up next to the front piece, again making use of that wasted underarm fabric space.  Of course, this works best with non directional or solid pieces.  Think of it like a big jigsaw puzzle!


Fabric Scrooge Tip #4

Choose patterns that use less fabric.  A pencil skirt requires much less fabric than a circle skirt.  A fold over yoga waistband uses twice as much fabric as a regular waistband.  A dolman sleeve uses less fabric than a set in sleeve.  And of course, baby and doll size fabrics use tiny amounts of fabric and are ridiculously cute!  If you don’t have any tiny beings to sew for, try using the scraps for making your own lingerie, which is a huge sewing trend and also uses tiny scraps of fabric.  And then there’s the zero waste fashion movement!

Little Shirt 1

Fabric Scrooge Tip #5

Facings, linings, binding, pockets and all things hidden can be made from contrasting fabric.  A solid garment with a print lining is so fun!  It’s like a surprise inside.  Plus you can use fabric scraps you saved from a different project.  Like I mentioned above, intervention might be necessary soon…

All right, leave me your best scrap busting tips in the comments below…quick!  Mr. Skirt Fixation is threatening to “help” me clean my sewing studio, and he’s stocked up on XL trash bags!

Audrey from Skirt Fixation

Audrey, a mom of 8, sews and blogs at Skirt Fixation, your home for everything skirt related! There's lots of other sewing goodness too...after all can't leave the boys out of sewing adventures! She also designs and sells pattern through Savvy Patterns.

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13 thoughts on “5 Fabric Scrooge Tips”

  1. I appreciate all your ideas here and a few of them I do take advantage of BUT the issue for me is about space. Honestly I am on a VERY strict fabric diet at the moment because I’m just…well the word overwhelmed immediately comes to mind 🙂 Saving, organizing and storing “pieces” is just an impossibility. In fact once I’ve gone through my fabric I’m thinking about buying it as needed!

  2. I’m relatively new at sewing and have been wondering what people do with fabric scraps… i feel so guilty throwing away even small pieces of fabric…

    1. Carola, if you have an H&M store near you, they have a textile recycling program. You can drop off a bag of old clothes and/or sewing scraps, so even the smallest scraps can be recycled.

      1. I also stuff old t-shirts with scraps, etc., to make dog beds for the animal shelter.

  3. Sometimes small fabric pieces can be joined with others to make “new” fabric. Think colorblocking, patchwork designs, etc. I once made my daughter a jumper using only Christmas colors in small squares pieced together. It looked great and saved me buying a holiday outfit.

  4. When you get to scraps that are too small to do much with – even doll clothes – toss them into piles or bags or small bins of coordinating colors. Then, sandwich a bunch haphazardly between two pieces of dissolvable interfacing stuff (sulky solvy) and sew all over with coordinating thread in whatever stitches you like to mesh all the scraps into one thing. Cut to a good size to go around a wrist, add a snap or other closure, then rinse out the interfacing. 🙂

    1. Perhaps a better phrase would be “round up.” Because it makes sense to do that for all the reasons listed. Indie pattern designers give more accurate fabric requirements than the big 4 in my experience for sure!

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