Top 5 Uses for Your Scraps of Old Fabric



What’s the most popular and practical thing to do with your old scraps of fabric? Create a quilt.
What’s the most popular and practical thing to do with your old scraps of fabric? Create a quilt.
iStockphoto/Cindy England

Now that you have a few nice throw pillows, a matching quilt is a must-have. Quilting may look difficult, but if you start with a simple block pattern, quilting is simpler than it appears.

A child's rag quilt is an easy first project because it requires less sewing than other patterns and you won't need to add a back panel. A regular rag quilt is made by sewing squares of fabric together with a layer of batting in between.

To make your own rag quilt you will need 144 6-inch (15-cm) squares of fabric, 72 5-inch (12.5-cm) squares of batting, and a spool of matching thread [source: Quilting].

For your first quilt -- especially if sewing with a machine -- choose a low-loft batting. A higher loft means thicker batting, and a thinner material will be easier to work with. Just because a batting is low-loft doesn't mean your quilt won't keep you warm. For a warmer quilt, reach for polyester batting, which is lightweight like cotton but less breathable [source: Massard].

For each block, you will need two squares of fabric and one square of batting. Begin by sandwiching each piece of batting between two fabric squares, with the inner sides of the fabric touching the batting. Then, sew a seam around all four sides and two diagonal lines in an "X" across each square -- you now have a block [source: Quilting]. When finished, your quilt will have 72 blocks (or squares of fabric) arranged in six 12-square rows.

After the blocks are finished, sew them together in rows of 12. Start by joining two blocks by one side -- allow about a 1-inch (2.52-cm) seam allowance. Continue this process until you have six rows of 12 blocks each. Then, sew the rows together, again with a 1-inch (2.52 cm) seam allowance. When all of the rows are sewn together, use scissors to trim the excess fabric at the seams [source: Quilting].

To add a little pizzazz to your rag quilt, tie bits of yarn in every other block. To do this, sew a piece of yarn through all three layers of fabric at the center of the block. Then, tie each piece of yarn in a square knot [source: Qualheim]. For a fancier look, use ribbon instead of yarn.

For more information on creative crafting projects, check out the links below.

Related HowStuffWorks Links


  • Craft Town. "Rug Braiding Instructions." (Accessed 4/14/09).
  • Heida, C. Jeanne. "How to Make Great Cleaning Rags." Associated Content: Home Improvement. March 7, 2008. (Accessed 4/13/09).
  • Idea Queen. "Using Scrap Fabric: Scrap Pillows." (Accessed 4/14/09).
  • Jane, Hester. "Cleaning Rags Made from Old Clothes." Fun In The Making. January 21, 2009. (Accessed 4/13/09).
  • Kahn, Jodi. "No-Sew Tote Bags: How-To." Martha Stewart. 2008. (Accessed 4/14/09).
  • Kahn, Jodi. "Place Mat Tote." myLifetime. July 8, 2008. (Accessed 4/14/09).
  • Kahn, Jodi. Simply Sublime Jodi Kahn's Blog. October 6, 2008. (Accessed 4/14/09).
  • Love to Know Crafts. "Quilting for Beginners." July 9, 2007. (Accessed 4/15/09).
  • Massard, Gloria. "Quilt Batting." Sew a Quilt. (Accessed 4/15/09).
  • Morely, Cat. "Fabric Ball Necklace." Cut Out + Keep. May 30, 2007. (Accessed 4/14/09).
  • Patterns That Fit You. "Scrap Tote Bag." (Accessed 4/14/09).
  • Qualheim, Beverly A. "How to Make an Easy Tied Quilt." Bev's Country Cottage. April 2008. (Accessed 4/15/09).
  • Savvy Seams. "Recycle Your Favorite T-Shirt Throw Pillow." (Accessed 4/14/09).
  • San Pedro, Eren. "Rag Rug Tutorial." This Vintage Chica. October 30, 2006. (Accessed 4/14/09).


Raid the Recycling Bin: 10 Recycled Crafts

Raid the Recycling Bin: 10 Recycled Crafts

Are you looking for some fun recycled craft ideas? Check out these 10 recycled craft ideas in this article.