Things to sew with fabric (besides quilts): 4 ideas

Fabric bowl pattern from It's a Wrap IIHave you made a quilt (or more) for every friend, family member, coworker, and child in your life, but you still don’t see a dent in your fabric stash? Perhaps it’s time to explore things to sew with fabric that may not be quite as cuddly as a quilt but that promise just as much fun and creativity.

When you think about what to do with extra fabric—other than using it in quilts—what projects typically come to mind? Pillows? Yes! Pincushions? Sure! Table runners? You bet. But there are even more out-of-the-box ways to feature the fabric you have on hand.

You’ve stockpiled all that fabric for a reason: to create! Below you’ll find four different things to do with spare fabric—things you may have never considered before. The ideas from these stellar authors just might inspire you to break into your stockpile. Are you game for a new sewing adventure?

1. Wrap It

Fabric bowl pattern

Got fabric strips to spare? Wrap them around common clothesline; then coil that clothesline into beautiful baskets, bowls, purses, mats, lids, and embellishments. If you’re thinking three-dimensional items might be too challenging, put those fears on hold until you watch this video, which demonstrates the basic technique:

Watch the video

Easier than it seems, huh?

The entire process is revealed in It’s a Wrap II—and author Susan Breier makes learning easy and fun. Customize your creations with favorite colors, patterns, and textures from your stash. Make basic round, oval, and square shapes, or try innovative triangles, hearts, and figure eights. Here are just a few examples of what you can do:

Projects from It's a Wrap II
“Scrap Fabric Shoulder Bag” and “Large Oval Basket with Knotted Trim”

Projects from It's a Wrap II 2
“Urn-Style Round Basket” and “Scrappy Plate with Tree Appliqué”

Projects from It's a Wrap II 3
“Round Striped Basket with Knotted Handles” and “Synthetic V-Shaped Round Basket”

2. Manipulate It

As quilters, we typically work hard to keep our fabric flat—pressing, sewing, smoothing, quilting. But fabric is an exceptionally flexible friend; why not try a few techniques that take advantage of the medium’s versatility?

Popular blogger and Moda fabric designer Vanessa Christenson plays with gathers, twists, pleats, tucks, folds, and more in her book Make It Sew Modern. Below you can see how she adds touches of texture—all with the simplest of techniques.

Make It Sew Modern--ruffles
“Decorative Hanging Globes,” “Throw Pillow with Frosting,” and “Spring-Blossom Wreath”

Make It Sew Modern--twists
“Twisted Fabric Bracelet,” “Decorative Balls,” and “Satin-Ribbon Flower Accessory”

Make It Sew Modern--gathers
“Square-within-a-Square Pillow,” “Decorative Bed Pillow,” and “Market/Beach Tote”

Make It Sew Modern--pleats
“Chic Modern Pillow,” “Folded Petal Flower,” and “Everyday Quilt”

3. Wear It

If you’ve been stashing away a special collection of fabrics for a real knockout project, you could sew those fabrics into a quilt—or you could wear them instead! Nancie M. Wiseman’s bestseller Start with a Sweatshirt has inspired thousands of quilters to spotlight their stash favorites in beautiful jackets, and helped them expand their sewing skills in the process.

Spring Trees Jacket
Front and back of “Spring Trees” jacket

With Nancie’s clever approach, you use a sweatshirt as a base. (And since you choose a sweatshirt in your size, a good fit is guaranteed from the start.) Create sections of pieced fabric as you would for a quilt; then deconstruct your sweatshirt and quilt the pieced fabric onto sections of the sweatshirt. Sew the sweatshirt pieces back together; then make reservations at your favorite fancy restaurant. You’re going to want to show off your gorgeous new jacket!

Mandarin Jacket
“Mandarin” jacket

Save 40% on Start with a Sweatshirt this week.

4. Paper Piece It (then wear it!)

Garden Party VestIf you’ve ever wanted to try constructing clothing but have been a little bashful, let the Queen of Paper Piecing, Carol Doak, ease you into it with her friendly advice and easy techniques. More than 100,000 people bought the first edition of Easy Reversible Vests; Carol’s revised edition combines all-new block designs with a fresh, updated style. And because you feature quilt blocks and other pieced elements in each vest, you’ll find a nice familiarity to fall back as you learn new techniques.

First, Carol walks you though choosing just the right blend of fabrics—focus fabrics, supporting fabrics, and accent fabrics. You can choose to work with only strips, only squares, or a combination of both. But what’s really fun about Carol’s projects is that she’s built in lots of variations so you can customize your vests. Plus, she offers tips to ensure your vest will flatter your figure:

Vest options from Easy Reversible Vests

Each set of project instructions features two additional vest photos to inspire your own variations.

Batik Beauty vest with variations
“Batik Beauty” (main project); “Black Tie” and “Red Hot” (variations)

Full-sized vest patterns are included on pullout pattern sheets.

Tropical Blues paper-pieced vest
“Tropical Blues”

Ready to step outside of the traditional quilt square for a spell—for the sake of your growing stash? Be sure to take advantage of this week’s sale!

What kinds of non-quilt projects have you sewn from your stash? Share your ideas in the comments!

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