Don’t Toss It: 7 Creative Ways to Use Leftover Fabric

Channel your inner DIY guru.

We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs.

Welcome to Don’t Toss It, a new series that spotlights tips and tricks to give your old items new life. Despite the Marie Kondo craze and our sudden cultural fascination with decluttering, throwing things away isn’t always the best solution. In the spirit of exploring easy ways to be more sustainable, we’re sharing low-lift upcycling projects that even the most inexperienced of DIY’ers can tackle. We kicked things off with six ways to repurpose used candle jars, discussed what to do with old china, and now, we’re diving into upcycling fabric scraps.The unfortunate truth of being an avid crafter is that your home ends up being a graveyard of extras. Extra materials, extra paint, extra wallpaper samples… these things add up and they’re likely spilling out of every available closet and storage container. The whole thing is enough to make Marie Kondo weep. But rather than tossing these extras, we’re all for finding sneaky ways to squeeze out another DIY. Chief among the castaways? Extra fabric, the inevitable byproduct of a penchant for sewing.

From technicolored textiles to boldly patterned materials, it’s a shame to totally discard these little tidbits. While you may not be able to reupholster an entire chair, there are still tons of small ways to reuse leftovers and be more sustainable in the process. According to the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association (SMART), the average person throws away 81 pounds of textiles, which end up decaying in landfills.

In the spirit of upcycling, we’ve put together a few easy-to-follow DIYs to make the most of your leftover fabric. Don’t have any leftover fabric but still feeling inspired? We have you covered—scroll to the end to shop our edit of vibrant textiles just begging to be turned into decor.

For the Rookie DIY’er

Gallery Wall

Photography by A Pair and a Spare

Turn an array of printed fabrics into a stylish wall hanging using only a simple frame. A Pair and a Spare’s DIY is so simple that it doesn’t even require a tutorial—simply cut the scraps down to the size of your frame, add the backing, and hang. The beauty of this project is that it makes use of even the smallest scraps; all you need is an equally small frame. Be sure to add the glass covering to make each frame look polished.

Tie-Dye Napkins

Photography by Annette Vartanian

You’ll either need old napkins or a napkin-size sample of fabric for this colorful craft. Tie-dye is having a moment, and these vibrant table textiles are a great way to incorporate the retro trend in a small way.

Changing Basket Liner

Photography by Jane Merritt for The House That Lars Built

The House That Lars Built has a super-smart idea for making a baby-proof bassinet liner: Cover it in vinyl. All you need is the fabric of your choosing and some iron-on vinyl material to make a personal nursery accessory.

Upscale Wrapping Paper

Photography by Dream Green DIY

Consider birthdays and holidays sorted from here on out. Instead of spending money on paper wrappings—which end up being wasteful because let’s be real, most people throw them away after one use—follow this easy tutorial from Dream Green DIY to make a beautifully cloth-wrapped gift. It’s simple but makes a normally mundane item feel elevated.

For the Crafting Pro

Fabric Buckets

Photography by Fall For DIY

Fall for DIY’s project requires a sewing machine and a larger sample of fabric, but the final result is worth it. If you’re tired of woven baskets and wire storage bins, try something a little softer. These fabric buckets are made for housing smaller plants, but if you’re not really the plant-parent type, you can use them to hold desk essentials or magazines in the living room.

Printed Magnets

Photography by The Merry Thought

Regular fridge magnets tend to skew either tacky or completely boring—The Merry Thought’s DIY changes this. Their project is technically for creating a brand-new memo board, but you can opt to make only the magnet part if you need a few for your refrigerator. Otherwise, it’s a great craft to add a pop of print to your home office; just opt for lively patterns to cheer up a workspace.

Colorful Wall Hanging

Photography by Sugar & Cloth

Not one for paint? Sugar & Cloth’s wall hanging is the perfect way to spice up an empty room. The abstract lines, coupled with the layered colors, make for a showstopping display; adjust the dowel size according to your largest piece of leftover fabric and have fun playing around with complementary color palettes.

See more ways to upcycle: Don’t Toss It: Here’s How to Make Your Rug Look Brand-New Please Don’t Throw Out Your Old China 6 Genius Little Ways I Repurpose Used Candle Jars

Elly Leavitt

Writer and Editor

Elly enjoys covering anything from travel to funky design (tubular furniture, anyone?) to the latest cultural trend. Her dream apartment would exist on the Upper West Side and include a plethora of mismatched antique chairs, ceramic vessels, and floor-to-ceiling bookcases—essential to her goal of becoming a poor man’s Nora Ephron. You can probably find her in line at Trader Joe’s. You will never find her at SoulCycle.