Sewing Leftovers: Inspiration & Ideas

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

It's been amazing to see so many people sharing their makes over on Instagram using #sewingleftovers. There's been everything from incredible garments squeezed out of the tiniest scraps and leftovers repurposed as stylish linings, to bags, baskets, patchwork and English paper piecing. As primarily a garment sewer, I'm really keen to try and transform my own leftovers into something wearable - whether that been an entire item, or a garment 'feature'. So here's some inspiration for incorporating leftovers into making a stylish wardrobe:
All images sourced from Pinterest, with the exception of 7, which was sourced from Instagram
  1. I've never been quite sure what to do with leftover outerwear fabric, but I absolutely LOVE this patched coat. I'm thinking next year's winter coat might be a big win for stash busting!
  2. This contrast-patterned kimono-style jacket is perfect for spring/summer layering.
  3. Inspiration from Paul Smith Menswear: the contrasting border sleeves and lower jumper could be a good way to use leftovers!
  4. Statement pockets and stand out details like the cuffs and collars on this jacket are great for using up smaller scraps.
  5. Some simple colour blocking inspiration: this RTW dress could totally be recreated with the Inari Tee Dress.
  6. I want my own version of this Mimi G Simplicity 8613 men's top. Using a mix of prints for the sleeves/body of a t-shirt is a great way to mop up stray bits of jersey!
  7. Instagram inspiration here from @fragmentid who made this hack of the Sew House 7 Toaster Sweater for her daughter. The contrasting collar and cuffs give it a real edge!

Personal #sewingleftovers plans

I have some pretty substantial chunks of denim and corduroy leftover from my many attempts at the Lander Pants. I've just finished up pair 4 and finally got the fit right, so it's time to seek out some inspiration for the scraps...
All images soured from Pinterest
  1. I may be at risk of looking a bit too B*Witched, but I'm really into these jeans made from large patchwork sections, particularly the deep blue culotte version. 
  2. Some decorative patching/appliqué inspiration. I'd probably be less likely to do this at the point of making, but it could be a good way to salvage a much-loved pair of jeans and trousers whilst using leftovers at the same time!
  3. Marilla Walker's denim Lander Pants might just be my favourites. I think I'm going to try and combine some of the patchwork elements with this version of the Landers in mind, to make my own leftover-Landers!

I have a fairly small amount of textured red faux leather leftover from making the Ready to Sew Juliette Skirt which is crying out to be made into a matchy-matchy bag/purse...
All images sourced from Pinterest
  1. RTW regrets - Cos had these amazing circle bags in last year and I should have bought one at the time. I'm wondering how difficult they it would be to recreate...
  2. This envelop-style clutch could be easy one to draft and make from a small amount.
  3. Serious matchy-bag inspiration on the catwalk at Marni.
  4. The Ida Clutch Bag by Kylie and the Machine might just be the perfect #sewingleftovers project. I've made 4 already for gifts, but still don't have one of my own. I love this little handbag hack by @danisaurus33 and would love to try one out for myself! 

And if you needed any more inspiration:
  • Listen to episode 35 of Love to Sew Podcast. Helen and Caroline launch into a thoughtful, well researched and balanced discussion about sustainability and sewing, which contains some useful suggestions for scrap usage!
  • Take part in #makeyourstash challenge organised by @pilar_bear and @timetosew. Use fabric that has been in your stash for more than 6 months to make a wearable garment and share for the chance to win a prize! Full details here.
  • Read Rachael's thoughts on how sewing has had a positive impact on her environmental/ethical consciousness. 
  • Sign up to Megan Nielson's newsletter to get the Acacia Underwear pattern for free (a great one for #sewingleftovers)!

Next up for #sewingleftovers, I'll be doing a round up of fab patterns for limited amounts of fabric. If you know of any patterns that absolutely should be included please leave me a comment below :)

Stay in touch!

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  1. Have you looked at Zero Waste Daniel's clothing line. He's my current inspiration for sewing my scraps. I love some of the outerwear you've included in the post and the trousers.

    1. I hadn't but I have now and I'm totally inspired! Thanks Claire for the great tip :) x

  2. Love sewing issue 48 had a very similar circle bag like that in picture 1, it's a free download, the instructions will be in the magazine but I think they will be very straightforward. Most cami tops take up very little fabric, if they have a large facing it could be done with a contrast or similar fabric. Shorts are another obvious one for using up denim, they're also a good way of sewing a toile & getting the fit right on the waist & hips before proceeding to full length trousers or jeans. Sleeves usually eat a lot of fabric so anything sleeveless takes less.

    1. Oooooo I'm going to dig back through my old copies as I've totally missed that but would LOVE to make one. Thanks Sam! And thanks for the other great tips - definitely swapping facings out for a contrast fabric in future :)

  3. Made it patterns has the Kite Fold tee It's for kids but could easily be used as inspiration for an adult version.

    Blueprints for sewing has a number of color blocked patterns perfect for using up scraps: Saltbox tee, A-Frame skirt, Geodesic sweatshirt are three right off the top of my head.

    1. Ah I like that! Definite inspiration for an adult-sized garment :)
      And I totally forgot about Blueprints for Sewing - they have some really good patterns for using up scraps. Thanks for the tips Barbara!

  4. Eek! I'm delighted to find this series! I've coincidentally embarked on a similar project (less because of overbuying, more because I aggressively play pattern Tetris and favor yarn-dyed fabric with no wrong side). I recommend the short-sleeve Melilot from Deer & Doe - if I forgo the collar and chop the side seams to about ~10 inches, I can get a very cute and wearable shirt from large scraps. The free Tate top is also an amazing buster, at least the cropped length!

    1. Ah thanks Lia, I'm glad you're on board/already doing this yourself! I'm definitely all for cutting collars - it gives a really different look to a pattern. Thanks for the pattern tips :)

  5. Carolyn Friedlander also has a pattern for a circle bag.
    I love the "patchwork" look of the clothes. I am feeling inspired.

    1. WOW I LOVE THAT BAG! Feeling very much inspired - that's jumped right up my 'to make' list :)

  6. Thanks for the inspiration! I need to get out of the linear way of thinking when it comes to using leftovers. Looking forward to working my way through some of mine.

    1. Thanks Claudia! I'm trying to do the same myself. The process is a bit slower but I'm learning lots and enjoying it - hope it works with your leftovers too :)


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