Recently I posed a question to my fellow seamsters of Team EcoEtsy: is it safe to put fabric through a paper shredder? Why, you may ask, would I consider such a hair-brained idea?
If you’re like me, you hate wasting fabric, even the smallest of scraps, and I have a veritable mountain of them! I thought perhaps instead of using polyfil batting to stuff the spikes of my dino scoodies I might try using shredded fabric scraps. My first attempt worked out fairly well, but it involved laying the scraps out on my cutting board and running through it multiple times with the rotary cutter – effective, but time consuming and resulting in an aching wrist (the old carpal tunnel). So I wondered if the paper shredder might do a better and quicker job of it – most shredders are meant to cut through plastic credit cards, so why not fabric?
Before attempting this clever plan, however, I thought I’d better ask around. Who better to ask than my EcoEtsy teammates? Here were some of their very helpful replies regarding both shredding of fabric and uses for shredded fabric:
Myra (HerbanLuxe): “My daughter tried this once out of boredom and jammed my shredder. I would recommend using a rotary and cutting the scraps into small strips.” (Myra and I appear to have much in common, including adventurous daughters.)
Jennifer (LilGirlShop): “I save all of my fabric scraps, thread, and used dryer sheets to stuff my dog beds. Fabric scraps saved for stuffing are those pieces too small to use elsewhere.”
Erin (DinnerTimeChimes): “Offer the tiny scraps cut into strips to birds for nesting.” (I LOVE this.)
Rain (Remainewicked): “My experience with fabric scraps is they work well for small projects that won’t be used as a snuggle toy. I also make them into beds for my dogs, but I leave a small opening to add more as needed… and it will be needed, because it packs down. They are also great as appliques, anything crazy quilted and for draft stoppers. ”
Lori (Lorigami): “Things designed to cut paper are not sharp enough to cut fabric. You won’t ruin the shredder, but it won’t cut the fabric. Works well for draft dodgers, but that’s the only thing I’ve really found successful.”
Lisa (JohnsonFamilyZoo): “I keep my scraps and when I fill a flat rate priority box, I list it on ebay or etsy and they always sell! The scraps aren’t very big and I make a few bucks – like $5 (hey, it’s a lunch!) while someone else finds a use for my discards. One of my regulars sent me a pic of bookmarks she makes with the scraps she’s bought. I accidentally caught my sleeve in the paper shredder once. Bell sleeves shouldn’t be worn while cooking or paper shredding!”
In addition to these helpful tips from the EcoEtsy team, I did some hunting and found this cute tutorial from Craftaholics Anonymous for Scrap Fabric Vases. I also found a clever storage idea for scraps from Film in the Fridge (which will only work, trust me, if you don’t have cats). Another idea, from my soap-crafting friend Zoe, is to use small fabric squares to package handmade soaps! And if you have scraps that are long and thin, you may want to try your hand at weaving a rag rug.
If you’d rather just do a clean sweep and lose the scraps, GrowNYC takes clothing and textile donations for reuse. Otherwise unusable scraps are sold to recycling markets that turn materials into wiping rags, fiber for car seats, and insulation. Contributions to the program directly benefit Council on the Environment, Inc. Goodwill and Salvation Army stores also accept rags and textile scraps – when you drop off your scraps be sure to tell them that your donation is for salvage, not sale. If this sounds like a good idea, check with your local charity or thrift shop to see if they have a similar plan. If they don’t, suggest it!
If you love fabric as much as I do, show it some love and give it a second life. How do you recycle fabric scraps?
(LindaEve on Etsy)
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