Ways to try to Reduce your Fabric Waste

24 March 2021, written by Caroline

Reducing Waste at Miss Maude

It is no surprise that we love to sew at Miss Maude and personally it has helped me through some tough times. There are many reasons why people sew, for example as a creative outlet, to make themselves feel better or perhaps to reduce how much ‘fast fashion’ is consumed. But what to do with the waste that is created? Anything that we can do to keep our textile waste out of the landfill can only be a good thing.

At the store, any bolt ends are put aside for one of our rare remnant sales, if some of our remnants are on the smaller side, we bundle them up with similar fabrics to give you more opportunity to make something beautiful with them. 

For example, a great stash buster of a pattern is the Pinnacle Top by Papercut Patterns. If you search the tag #pinnacletop on Instagram there are some beautiful examples of colour blocking.

A white woman with long dark hair, she is standing in front of a white background and is wearing a mid grey top. the top has seams going diagonally across it so it can be made of 4 different pieces of fabric. She is wearing it with a dark green skirt.

The Pan Tee by I Am Patterns is another great top for colour blocking and combining fabrics. These projects are great for larger scraps of fabric that you may have. But what if you have pieces that are too small for garments? You're not keen on colour blocking, or don't have fabrics that are suitable together? 


I have compiled a collection of project ideas that you could do with your remnants. This would also work If you have scraps that are a bit precious and you aren’t quite willing to donate them or feed them to your worms for compost!

Leimomi Oakes who writes The Dreamstress blog has published an excellent article on her blog looking at where to donate fabric and crafty bits in NZ. I recommend giving it a read and it may well give you some more ideas. 

Stuffing things up..

Scraps are a great sustainable stuffing option - for new projects (toys, dog beds, poufs and cushions), or to re-invigorate much loved items around the house. 

One of the things I do with my scraps that are too small to do much with (or fabric that has any hint of manmade fibre in it) is to fill an old store bought crochet pouf. It has lost its puffiness after years of being climbed on while being used in games of ‘the floor is lava’.  When I need to add a few more scraps, I simply open up a side seam and start stuffing, before stitching back up - either by hand or manoeuvring it around my machine.  

Composting Fabric Scraps

Any scraps of natural fibres I have are popped in my compost or worm farm. There is a fascinating article on 1Million Women about composting fabrics, if you would like to find out more. They also have a really great infographic which makes it clear which fibres can be composted or not.

photo of a compost bin with the lid open and compost in it. it is in a green garden under a shady tree

Image credit 1 Million Women

Organisations trying to Reduce Textile Waste

There are some inspiring people and organisations across New Zealand and Australia that are working towards reducing the amount of textile waste that goes to landfill (an estimated 4% of NZ landfill is made up of textile waste.)  Here are a few to get you started, however there are certainly more, so please let me know so I can create a more comprehensive list. 

New Zealand

Vinnies Re Sew 

Vinnies Re Sew aims to reduce textile waste while creating social and economic opportunities. Discarded clothing and textiles that aren’t sold in their Op Shops is now turned into new products, repaired for resale or passed onto other community group projects.

Common Unity – Lower Hutt 

Common Unity in Lower Hutt is a community organisation that runs a range of fibre based activities including classes and sewing and knitting groups - some of which make care packages for Hutt Hospital. They accept donations of good quality fabric and yarn.

Sew Love

Sew Love is a social enterprise providing pop-up fun spaces and resources for people to be creative, learn new skills, and get to know their neighbours. They focus on reducing landfill and strengthening communities in a fun positive way. @sewlovenz on Facebook and Instagram.

Stitch Kitchen – Dunedin

Stitch Kitchen brings together like-minded crafters, makers, artists of all walks, who share a love of creative design, our environment, and their community.

Stitchomat – Christchurch

Stitch-O-Mat offers the community a resource for upskilling sewing skills and a hands-on way to recycle fabric and develop creativity.

Remaker Space Tauranga

A collaborative and empowering space focused on uniting and supporting sustainable living within their community.


Sewing for Charity

Sewing for Charity Australia is a registered charity whose mission is to make and provide handmade items to those suffering from distress, health crisis or disadvantage and the communities that support them.

The Sewing Basket

The Sewing Basket supplies a wide range of donated fabrics and patterns, patchwork, embroidery materials, knitting and crochet yarn, haberdashery, and more, while providing employment opportunities for people with disability.

Uniforms 4 Kids

Uniforms 4 Kids is a program repurposing donated law enforcement and emergency service organisation's uniforms (which would have otherwise been disposed of), into beautiful and unique clothes for children.

Please let me know if you use any leftovers from our fabrics for scrap projects, we love to see the creative way our community puts them to use!

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