Thursday, April 28, 2016

Sewing Room Inspiration and Cleaning/What To Do With Scraps

In my ongoing pursuit to clean out, declutter and organize my studio, the question that looms is what to do with scraps and fabric that we no longer want. For so many of us, this has almost become a war cry. We love to sew, we love to create, and yet we feel so guilty about throwing out fabric scraps that we know could be used for SOMETHING!!! And then there's the fabric that we once thought was great, but our tastes changed and it's just the sad old piece that continues to sit there because we feel, once again the "G" word, guilty about not using it. 

To lighten up the mood just a bit, now that I have us all feeling guilty, I came across this on Facebook this morning. Made me laugh and I thought you might enjoy it as well :)

At the moment, and I say at the moment, because I have quite a bit more to go through, I have 3 bags full of fabric and scraps. So what to do? 

A few years ago, a very energetic and creative woman came to speak to our sewing group, The Haute Couture Club of Chicago. I was amazed by what she has done and the impact that she has made. Her name is Monika Neuland Kimrey, and she is an artist who believes that you can change a life with a scrap of fabric or a piece of yarn. 

She works with the elderly, the developmentally and physically challenged, children's programs, and has recently started programs in the Englewood area of Chicago. For those of you who do not know Chicago, this area has become notorious for gang activity and murders.

Monkia believes in creating opportunities for those whom society has labeled as unable and and giving them the new title of artist. 

Below, an after school program. 

Monika teaching a developmentally challenged young man to sew and ultimately create.

Another example of what can be created with scraps.

After meeting Monika and experiencing her vision, I no longer look at my bags of scraps and unwanted fabric as a burden. I see them as possibilities in waiting.  

If you live in the Chicagoland area and have fabric and scraps that you would like to donate, please email me at sewbussted@yahoo.com and I will be happy to pass along Monika's email address. Sadly, she does not have a website.

Now, if you don't live in Chicago, what can you do? I've given this quite a bit of thought and here are some of my ideas.

1. Put an ad on Craig's List and direct it toward artists. There are many artists who use fabric scraps in their artwork. You can always arrange to meet them at a fabric store to pick up the fabric rather than coming to your home.
2. Contact a local art center. Again, many artist's use fabric and scraps in their artwork and would appreciate the donation.
3. Contact your local government or schools and see if they have an after school art program for children.
4. Talk to school teachers, especially those teaching kindergarten classes. They are always looking for materials that can be used for art projects. 

These are just a few ideas that came to mind. 
Do you have any resources or ideas that I can share? If so, please leave a comment and I will do a follow up post and share your ideas with everyone. 

I posted this last Sunday for the week's inspiration;

Never believe that a few caring people can't change the world, for indeed that's all who ever have.  

Even a scrap of fabric can make a difference.

Next week, I will share more of your studio pictures and my progress as well. In the meantime, if you would like to share your studio with all of us, you may link up your pictures on THIS POST. We want to see the good, the bad and the ugly :) Come on!, I showed you mine!!!  

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  1. Our high school has a fashion component every year and at the beginning of the school year takes donations of fabric and yarn. I throw in some machine needles usually and thread. Fabric scraps still build up. My rule of thumb is unless there is something terribly special about it, I only save fat quarters and larger scraps. The rest goes in with the cardboard to be burned in the wood boiler for heat. Granted I have no fibers other than cotton, linen and wool. The wool goes to the school or stays. I save a bag of serger trimmings (mostly the wool ones) and put them out for the birds. I have found my old wools in nests through the years. :-)

  2. Thank you for taking the burden out of scraps and over-abundance of fabric. I too struggle with my excess. This year promise is "absolutely no purchases but to use my stash - which BTW is ample. I feel like it's a second chance to create what once I thought was absolutely wonderful. I still itch when I see something I simply must have and have faltered several times. This sounds like quite a confession on my part but just to let you know, I'm completing more projects then ever before. "Change your attitude, change your life." Good luck on the completion of cleaning up your design studio space - can't wait to see the "after" pics.

  3. If you live in Seattle, you can collect those scraps 'larger than a hand' and take them to Goodwill or Value Village and they will get them recycled as part of the city's plan to keep stuff out of the landfill. This also applies to clothing that is ruined but clean (Shoes, socks, underwear, you get the idea).

  4. Hi Rhonda, my sewing guild used to donate fabric scraps to a lady who used them to stuff dog beds for the animal shelters. She moved and we lost that avenue, BUT we found that the State Mental Hospital and the local Genesis Thrift Center take scraps/unwanted fabric and sells them to recyclers. The money raised then is put back into funds to help the indigents at the State Hospital or the Battered Women who find a temporary haven living at the Genesis Center while they get their lives back on tract without the batterer in their lives.

  5. Goodwill in my area (Wisconsin) loves to get fabric donation as as they have many people coming in and asking for fabric. If you have an RSVP in your area (Retired Seniors Volunteer Agency or something like that), they like donations of fabric, sewing supplies and yarn that they can make into something and then donate. Quilt guilds may know of donation sites for quilt-suitable fabrics. Natural fiber fabric can be composted in your compost bin.

  6. Lovely program in Chicago!! But I live far away. I am boycotting the one fabric store in our area as it is terrible to its workers, so I go to the thrift stores. So if no better option, donate to thrift stores.

  7. On of our local quilt stores will collect scraps for a group who use them to stuff dog beds for pet shelter dogs .

  8. Love this post, thank you for sharing this information. I too work with at risk youth as well as individuals with varying disabilities and you have just sparked a new idea for me.

    1. My day has just started and you have already made it for me. So happy :) Please keep me posted on what you do. And if by chance you would like to talk to Monika, I can put you in touch with her.

  9. I love reading about stories where someone is giving back to the community. There is so much violence now a days, that we barely hear about the GOOD!!!! I pray that many that she comes in contact with will have a GREAT impact and turn their lives around if they were headed in the wrong direction.

    Thanks for sharing!!!! I too work in the community and I know that a simple listening to someone can make a world of a differences in their lives.


  10. Bag them up by colour and give them to the thrift store. Our local thrift store has a bin of fabric scraps sorted by colour...a great resource for quilters who like to make scrap quilts for charity but can't afford to buy fabric.

    Another friend cut all her scraps into strips, sewed them together end-to-end and croched a rug!

  11. Sewaholic posted a great piece on recycling fabric and clothing. I have taken bags of all kinds of textiles to H & M. They give you 15% off coupons for each bag, which I distribute to the people waiting on line, since I sew my clothing. The video on the H & M web site is worth watching.

  12. Here in Ontario Canada, we have a local Immigrant Sewing Club. It is free to all new immigrants, who are invited in to sew and create. The Sewing machines, fabric and thread, etc are all supplied. They make everything from quilts, crafts, pillowcase dresses for Africa, and clothing for themselves and their families. I have been able to off-load seven large green garbage bags full of fabric and scraps....guilt free!

  13. I'm lucky to have a client who is also an art teacher who is thrilled to take my scrap fabric. She reports back sometimes about what it has been used for, but always that the students are enthusiastic about its arrival.

  14. What great ideas, Rhonda! I give my fabric to a senior center here and they use it for all sorts of fun projects. It's hard to part with things if you think they won't be used ...