Moral fibre: 5 ways to upcycle fabric scraps

As fast fashion increases demand for fabrics, we’re seeing its effects on our planet. Around 20% of pollution is attributed to the textile industry, from the use of harmful and toxic chemicals during manufacturing, to microfibres shedding during washing, and the pollutants released when textiles reach the end of their lives – and become landfill or ashes.

And the recycling rate for fabric is far lower than other materials like glass, paper, or aluminium. Fabric waste comes in the form of production off-cuts, samples, end-of-rolls, discarded garments, there’s plenty of waste – and it’s cheap.

You can do your part by getting creative with old textile scraps. By making something useful, you’ll also reduce waste, need less new stuff, and have a bit of fun in the process. You could even get a few friends together and turn your upcycling into a crafternoon tea.

Here are 5 easy no-sew or low-sew things you can make with fabric scraps:

Hair accessories

This upcycling project also makes a great gift. Stretchy, silky fabrics work well for this. Sew a tube and thread elastic through to make a scrunchie. For a headband, attach the ends together with a sewn seam or tie together to create some decorative drama.


Maybe ripped jeans aren’t your thing? If you rip a hole in a favourite pair (or any other item), a patch can save the day. This is an easy item to hand sew, just fold over the edges of the patch first so it doesn’t fray. You might want to make a feature of it by using a contrast colour patch or thread.

Non slip hangers

Fabric scraps can give boring wire clothes hangers a makeover. As a bonus, they’ll also make your hangers non-slip. Just wrap long strips of fabric neatly around and around the hanger and seal ends with hot glue or double-sided tape.


Cloth napkins are fancier than paper ones and can help you reduce waste. This one works best with linen or cotton fabrics. Simply cut scraps into squares, roughly 40cm x 40cm. Create a fringe by pulling the threads, or, if you have a sewing machine hem them.


It’s easy to make fabric ‘string’ by twisting or plaiting long skinny pieces of scrap fabric together. You might want to tie a small knot at each end to prevent unravelling. Use your twine to decorate gifts, in the garden or anytime you need to tie something up (or down). This fabric ‘wool’ can also be used in knitting or weaving projects.