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Utilising or Selling Leftover Fabric

By: Jennie Kermode - Updated: 16 Jan 2013 | comments*Discuss
Fabric Leftover Scrap Fabric Shop Buy

No matter how carefully you buy fabric for your fashion design business, you're always going to find that you have leftovers. Nobody likes just throwing things out, but what else can you do with scraps like these? They might be worth something in a fabric shop, but they're difficult for a designer to sell. Fortunately, there are numerous ways in which an innovative designer can make use of them.

If you have larger remnants left over, such as a metre of fabric from the end of a roll which isn't sufficient for the designs you used the rest of it for, you can incorporate them into one-off outfits. These can often be sold at higher prices at special events, as customers like the idea of wearing something unique. Alternatively, you can use these remnants when you're experimenting with new designs and are first transferring patterns onto fabric. Makers of smaller fashion items like hats and gloves will often be willing to buy leftover pieces like these, or you can incorporate them into accessories of your own for your fashion models to wear on the catwalk.

If you have a large number of good-sized leftovers to get rid of, fabric shops will sometimes be willing to buy them from you. You shouldn't expect to make much of a profit this way, but it can help you to build up a good relationship with shop owners whom you may rely on from time to time when wholesale suppliers let you down.

Practical Uses for Smaller Scraps

Even the tiny scraps left over from the edges of cut pieces of fabric can be put to good use. Rug makers will by them for constructing rag rugs, and craft suppliers will sometimes buy them in bulk for sale to artists. There are also a range of things you can use them for yourself.

  • Trimmings - pieces of fabric which are too small to be used on their own can still make useful trimmings for other garments. Hemming them can be awkward and time consuming, but can sometimes be avoided altogether, as with traditional, intentionally ragged styles.
  • Patchwork - clothes made from patchwork go in and out of fashion but there is always a niche market for them. You can also use patchwork techniques and quilting to make useful items for your own home.
  • Stuffing - provided they are fire-safe, fabric scraps can be used as padding in warm weather items and even in soft toys (though you will not be able to sell these).
  • Cleaning - you will always need rags to keep your workplace clean, to polish your display equipment and to dust your stored fabric and finished garments. Be careful to use only colour-fast fabrics for this.
  • Decoration - Knotted rags can make good decorations for a stall, especially if you're working in a marketplace where having a range of vivid colours on display is a good way to catch customers' attention.

Fabric Donation

If you can't find a use or a buyer for your fabric scraps, you still don't need to throw them out. Primary schools and libraries are often happy to accept donations of materials like this for children to work with. And making donations isn't a purely altruistic act. It can be a very effective way to generate local publicity and put yourself on the map.

Reclaiming fabric is an excellent way to reduce the environmental imprint of your fashion design business. It can boost your business image at the same time as saving you money, and all it takes is a little creativity.

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