Scrap Happy, Interrupted

It was to be the perfect scrap happy project. Scraps of leftover handwoven fabric, scraps of leftover commercial fabric, scraps of sweet-smelling filler what had been languishing a long time.

And, yet, it has not come to pass.

It seems that whenever I weave multiple kitchen towels, from lovely cotton and linen, I inevitably end up with a piece of pretty fabric that is too short to be a towel.


I’ve tried passing them off as bread basket liners or small table mats but discerning folks seem to know that they are simply too-short towels.

What to do with pretty scraps? I mean, it’s woven by hand and I can’t just throw it away!

Well . . . how about combining them with scraps of white cotton fabric, leftover from some long-finished quilt project, and adding some balsam or lavender or even cedar shavings, all of which I have on hand (I know—that’s odd, isn’t it?) and making sweet sachets?

I love this idea. Easy to make, cute to behold, perfect for a little gift.

Off I went to make a prototype. I had fusible web already cut in 5-inch squares from another project. I stabilized and cut my handwoven fabric, I cut my backing, I sewed them together, I clipped the corners, and turned it all right side out.

I cut the top off a plastic soda bottle to make a little funnel.


And I went to dig out my bags of balsam, lavender, and cedar shavings that had been languishing.

Languishing far too long, as it turns out.

They all, every one, have lost their scent. Nothing sweet, or spicy, or woodsy left at all.

And what is a sachet without a scent? Just a bag of organic matter . . .

The scentless stuff won’t go to complete waste—it will add depth to my compost pile, I’m sure.

I know where to get more balsam, and lavender, and cedar shavings. Scraps of fabric, both commercial and handwoven, seem to multiply while I sleep.

This scrap happy project has not come to pass. But it will.


ScrapHappy is open to anyone using up scraps of anything – no new materials. It can be a quilt block, pincushion, bag or hat, socks or a sculpture. Anything made of scraps is eligible. If your scrap collection is out of control and you’d like to turn them into something beautiful instead of leaving them to collect dust in the cupboard, why not join us on the 15th of each month? Email Kate at the address on her Contact Me page. She welcomes new members. You don’t have to worry about making a long term commitment or even join in every month, just let Kate or Gun know a day or so in advance if you’re new and you’ll have something to show, so they can add your link. Regular contributors will receive an email reminder three days before the event.

Here are the links for everyone who joins ScrapHappy from time to time (they may not post every time, but their blogs are still worth looking at).

KateGun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, JanKaren,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancy, Alys, Kerry, Claire, Jean, Johanna,
Joanne, Jon, Hayley, Dawn, Gwen and Connie

77 thoughts on “Scrap Happy, Interrupted

  1. Your posts always make me very happy to read. Hurrah for sachets and hurrah for compost and hurrah for your wonderful creative skills (as a weaver and sewer and writer!) and hurrah for your sense of humor (“I’ve tried passing them off as bread basket liners or small table mats but discerning folks seem to know that they are simply too-short towels.”) Thank you for all you do… and then share with us.

  2. Your posts always make me smile too! You definitely can’t throw out those beautiful, hand-woven scraps, and your sachets are the perfect solution.
    A question, which will show that I know nothing about weaving ….. why can’t you weave the length you want for the towel? Why do you always have extra?

    • Thanks, Anne! To address your question, I have to put a length of warp on my loom to begin a weaving project and that’s a set length that determines how much I can weave. So, I often put on about 7 yards of warp. Now, if I was better organized or more analytical, I could probably figure to how to get 5-6 towels of equal size out of that 7 yards. But i tend to just weave along, doing 36 inch towels . . . and then the last one comes up short–I come to the end of the warp and I can’t eke out any more. Am I making any sense??

  3. With the right scent, that one would also make a festive tree decoration. And no, you *definitely* can’t throw out hand-woven fabric, it would be almost sacrilegious in this age of machine-made disposability. I would also offer the idea of keeping some of your larger not-quite-towels and when you have enough, assembling them in to a pieced outdoor tablecloth or picnic rug with a waterproof backing? I’d love something like that, so I’m sure others would too.

    • Yes, I was thinking tree decorations and the balsam fir needles would be the perfect scent. Next year! I like your idea of piecing together leftovers–pretty obvious that’s a quilter talking! 😉

  4. I was also going to ask whether you could add essential oil to re-scent the shavings, etc. A quick burst in the microwave afterwards would give the scent a boost too. Or, as you say, there’s always the compost heap.

  5. Lovely idea! It won’t take you long to finish it now.🙂 maybe make a few mug rugs to put your hot chocolate now while your enjoying you weaving or fireplace.

  6. I am glad I wasn’t drinking hot coffee when I read “Just a bag of organic matter ” because I might have burned myself. 🙂 Great project and a wonderful way to use those smaller pieces left from your beautiful weaving projects. Creative comments too. 🙂

  7. I love this. I wonder if you couldn’t refresh the cedar scent with essential oil? Probably best to get fresh and move on. I love the bottle top funnel. I’ll be making one of those soon!!

  8. Oh, how frustrating. I’m always annoyed when I think I have all the elements for a project and then it turns out I don’t – the interruption sometimes even stops me entirely. I am sure, however, that you will be more focused than me and in no time at all you’ll have some beautiful lavender/cedar/balsam bags and all those hand woven scraps will be put to good use.

  9. Oh! This post is the perfect antidote to The World at the moment. The UK is such a dreadful place to be at the moment, so it’s good to be reminded that the simple pleasure of making beautiful things can and does survive.

    • I’ve been thinking about you a lot, with all the terrible mess in the UK–I’ve been reading a little more, trying tor really understand what in the world is going on over there! It’s confusing and I can’t see a way out . . . .

  10. What a great idea! Although I thought you were going to say that you joined the fabrics together to make a bigger, towel-sized piece. I often think it would be interesting to join together some of the swatches I have knitted and crocheted over the years. 😀

    • If I needed purely utilitarian towels, I could sew these pieces together. I’m not sure they would be very pleasing aesthetically, though. But maybe they could be used as a kind of patchwork quilt affair . . . it’s nice to use up the things we make!

  11. Wonderful, and anyone would be lucky to get one! I liked someone else’s idea of hanging them with a ribbon as ornaments.

    Also, is the glass half full or half empty? I saw this, and the photo below it: “I cut the top off a plastic soda bottle to make a little funnel.” And I thought, “no, she cut off the BOTTOM of the plastic bottle!” 😀

  12. A beautiful and practical work in progress, and I like that the organic matter will be added to the compost where it will eventually attain a new type of odour and a new life.

  13. What kind of fusible web do you use? I know I should be using it for sewing my handwovens, but I hate the thought of putting it on my lovely natural fibers, so I’ve been sewing cotton bias tape on all of my cut ends. Not sure how well that will hold up, though. I would love your advice on what works well for you. And Happy Thanksgiving!

    • I used the fusible because I was afraid bits of the balsam would migrate through the slightly loose weave of the woven fabric. And, nicely, it also keeps those stripes straight and true. But I also feel a little bad about altering the naturalness of the woven fabric with that iron-on stuff. I think what I used is Pellon SF 101 AKA Shape Flex. It was scarps I had lying around but I’m pretty sure that’s the one. Happy Thanksgiving to you, too!

  14. That’s a fun idea. What size are the squares? Could they be napkins? Many, many moons ago when I was selling my woven things, I always ended up with odd bits like that. I bundled them together and advertised them as “napkins for one”. They did sell. I think single people often don’t treat themselves or can’t find one of something…. It might be a better item at a craft fair.
    More on my weaving soon and maybe I will be selling next year!

    • The square in the photo is 5 inches (because I had 5″ squares of fusible web already pre-cut). After I made that big deal about the bread basket liners not selling, I sold two of them at a craft show last weekend! Looking forward to hearing more about your weaving!

  15. I used to make these when my boys were little lads. It helped them relax and fall asleep. They choose the scents and herbs themselves. Never had problems with the oils staining the fabric but i used simple flannels and not the pretty handwoven leftovers like yours…I understand your hesitation!

  16. Hey, Kerry. You write: “I’ve tried passing them off as bread basket liners or small table mats but discerning folks seem to know that they are simply too-short towels.” But I bet those discerning folks enjoy your lovely work!
    Mind you, sachets! Now that’s another great idea. Pretty, too. Keep on creating. Keep on sharing with us.

    • It’s funny–as soon as I said people didn’t want the basket liners, I sold two at a craft show last weekend! I wish I could’ve offered some of the sachets for sale, too, but I’ll have them next year!

  17. Well, whatever you do with those wonderful scraps, whether they be sachets, pin-cushions, bread-basket liners or Christmas decorations, I am sure they will be gorgeous!
    My schemes usually end up like yours did with one of the things I was sure I had somewhere, not being where I thought. So frustrating!

  18. Hello Kerry, As you know I was inspired to make balsam sachets and pillows after reading one of your posts, so I love seeing that you are making them with your “weft overs”. I am curious what you do to “stabilize” your handwoven cloth. I too have used interfacing to keep the balsam from sticking through. Yet sometimes in the process, I find the fabric does not remain square. Your wisdom is appreciated.

  19. I was expecting “coasters” for cups from small squares of left-overs. I tried filling mesh-bags with fresh lavender to put on the towel pegs in the bathroom thinking that they would give out a scent. Yes, bags of organic matter. I put a few drops of essential oils on them to pretend that the dry sticks are doing something. -Oscar

    • I didn’t want to do coasters because it’s easy to weave intentional coasters. I like the idea of the sachets but I agree about lavender–nice idea, maybe, but pretty ineffectual.

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