Like most sewers, I have a lot of scraps. Especially since I often sew with second-hand fabric and sheets from the thrift store and so I can't buy just the amount of fabric that I need for a project. Usually this works out well---I can often fit in more than one project on a large piece of fabric. But sometimes it just means that I have a lot of odd shapes left over and can't quite squeeze a blouse or a scarf out of them. Then what do I do?
We don't have a lot of storage space in our apartment, and since our rats passed away at the beginning of the summer, I don't have any ready way to use up the fabric scraps that we produce on an almost weekly basis. It has become a pressing problem (especially after a few failed sewing projects this summer---I liked the fabrics but not the finished garments, and wanted to re-make them into something I would actually wear) to figure out a way to use up a large amount of scraps at once. Inspired by the aloha-shirt quilt we are making out of my husband's old clothes, I thought that I could cut up as many of my scraps and failed garments as possible into squares, sew those squares into patchwork fabric, and then use that fabric to cut out a dress.
This method of using up scraps is time-consuming, but I think that the result is eye-catching, unique, and very wearable. I used my favorite 1970s dress pattern, McCalls 6209 for my first try at this experiment, and I am pleased with the results. I didn't do anything to finish the seams this time, as I was working with sturdy cottons and cotton-blends. I didn't trim the seam allowances either, so I think it should go through the washing machine just fine for at least the next few years. I always try to launder our handmade garments as gently as possible and air-dry them anyway. I can see this as a useful way to use up fabric scraps and make any kind of garment more visually interesting. Right now I am imagining future patchwork skirts, blouses, vests, jumpers, smocks, tote bags, etc.
Mr Rat took these pictures of my new experimental dress a bit over a week ago at Wheeler Historic Farm. It is a unique state park that is still a working farm, historic site, and a hiking area. It's only a few miles away from us, and we've been trying to take advantage of the free admission to enjoy being outside there and visiting the plants and animals while the weather is still somewhat warm. I felt very autumnal and festive in my patchwork and my home-made hair flowers. If you want to make your own, you can follow my simple tutorial here.
Have any of you attempted a patchwork garment before? Is it something you would like to try? How do you use up your fabric scraps?
Mr and Mrs Rat
Mr and Mrs Rat like to sew.