Monday, March 27, 2017

Recycling Scrap Fabric the Easy Way

Is your life taken over by scraps? Mine has been for the last couple of years, and I know that eventually I'm going to say ENOUGH!

Only two changes have occurred to those scrap bags - they're now sorted by color, and the aqua and purple scraps are pretty much gone. I'm really trying my best to use these up, but do find it can be a bit of a drag.

While in search of matching fabric (for a scrap project no less!), the clerk at the quilt shop flat out said, "fabric is compost-able". Say what??? When I thought about it, it makes sense for 100% cotton fabrics. But would the city/composting center really like that in the compost bin?

So I called up the local recycling center to get the scoop.
The lady was extremely nice, and said, "no, can't put fabric, no matter how small the piece, in the compost bin for pickup." The reason is because the compost is a commodity for the city, and is used by the farmers in their fields. Though it's 100% cotton, it's been treated with chemicals, which they don't want. 
Ah, makes perfect sense.

Well, what to do with all those cotton pieces? She went on to tell me to place all 100% cotton fabric items (we're talking clothing too) in a bag and mark "Fiber" on it. Then donate it to Goodwill. Really???

Turns out that Goodwill has connections to 'fiber recyclers' who take all of the unusable cotton scraps and clothing and turn them into items such as shop rags. Awesome!!!!

So, for those of us overwhelmed by scraps, here's some other ideas: 
  • make pet beds or use as stuffing for pillows
  • decorate/design gift cards, tags, etc
  • sell by the pound or give away to other quilters/fabric artists

Just some ideas for keeping scraps out of landfills, while saving our sanity - makes for more happy quilting!

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  1. A few years ago I worked in a factory (KYB manufacturing). They would buy those boxes of clothing from goodwill to use as cleaning rags. My aunt currently works in a factory that makes car carpet padding out of recycled blue jeans. She told me GM is their biggest customer.

  2. some people would be willing to pay you shipping to have you send them your scraps as all they make are scrap quilts - I don't want them personally but I have had quilters as me if I have any scraps to share

  3. Back to compostable: Yes! I compost some of my snips and bits trimmings. Longer stringy pieces are put out for birds to steal, and pad their nests with. An onion bag is a good trick hung where it has some protection from weather, and they will fish out pieces through the netting.

    The frugality of using every last scrap is sometimes a hindrance to those of us who think we must, and our lovely, current fabrics sit and age like fine wine. I'm trying to let go of the mentality of 'have to use it up before I move on' because people keep donating more and more. At this rate I will never touch the new, and be wracked with guilt. I'm with you. At a certain point you just move it on.

    Now can we address the batting scraps issue???

  4. Thanks for the info, but I guess I am hopeless. I hang on to as much as I can and look for uses. That is a good one that Julie had about throwing out stringy pieces to the birds. I could do that

  5. OMG! What a shame! There are many quilter's that would love to have your scraps and couldn't do much quilting otherwise due to a tight budget. You could have giveaways for packages of scraps like some other bloggers do. Lots of people sign up for a chance to win them. Or else, you could donate them to a local quilt guild for charity quilts. Another option is Craig's List. They have listings for "free" items to be picked up. Someone would scoop them up quickly.

  6. Thanks for sharing your research. Goodwill isn't that far of a drive for me. I could look in the shop for men's shirts so I could cut them up into scraps. win-win

  7. there are a few quilt groups in my area who make heart pillows for the local hospital that are stuffed with scraps. Another group stuffs scraps into kennel bags for the animal shelter.

  8. Wonderful scraps! Love the pile of teals. "Sew for Love" is in your area, have classes at Nibble Thimble for making things for charity, might take your scraps.
    Did you every find a match for your neutral fabric? Thought I had some but my fabric has more white triangles then yours; would blend nicely and I could send you a picture.

  9. Good to know! It's nice to have options when scraps are too small, too oddly shaped or just too many!! I tend to make pet bed "pillows" out of my scraps: sew the covers out of fabric that is unsuitable for quilts (like non-cottons, or thicker canvas) and stuff it with the teensy scraps. Then I donate the beds to local animal shelters.

  10. I would donate or give away. There are many who don't have much of a stash or the budget for much fabric and could really use an unwanted bag of scraps. I truly try to "waste not".

  11. I hoard my scraps but the tiny ones goes into my composter.

  12. I have been saving a decent size bin with triangles I cut off from flip and sew squares. I decided to look at what was in the bin and realized most of them were pretty small. I had already made a small quilt with 1" half triangle squares. I'm going through a handful every day to throw away the smaller bits and moving decent size triangles into a box of usable triangles. It will take me a week or two to finish this but I know I'll be a happy camper afterwards. I can't imagine these tiny triangles could be used to make shop rags. So, my small bits will hit the landfill. To balance that we put out more recycling than garbage each week so I don't feel too terrible. Thanks for the information.

    1. I agree - those are too small to try and do anything with. I guess there's applique, but really?
      As for the shop rags, my guess is they grind it up and spin new threads or use the mulch like they do for paper. My suspicions are correct - just found this on Wikipedia:

      Fiber reclamation mills grade incoming material into type and color. The color sorting means no re-dying has to take place, saving energy and pollutants. The textiles are shredded into "shoddy" fibers and blended with other selected fibers, depending on the intended end use of the recycled yarn. The blended mixture is carded to clean and mix the fibers and spun ready for weaving or knitting. The fibers can also be compressed for mattress production. Textiles sent to the flocking industry are shredded to make filling material for car insulation, roofing felts, loudspeaker cones, panel linings and furniture padding.

      So maybe you want to reconsider what to do with the little bits. I've start collecting my little cutoffs in a separate sack now.

  13. Thank you for sharing such a great idea! I also appreciate the other comments. Your point is so valid! I am realizing that I may never sew through my scraps - much less my stash. I so appreciate your blog!


Thank you so much for just made my day!