How Do You Reduce Waste When Sewing?

  • By: greenorb
  • Date: October 14, 2021
  • Time to read: 5 min.

People love to sew for many reasons: to repair, to create, or as a creative outlet. 

It’s a skill that everyone can benefit from learning. But to maneuver in sewing projects, you need a heap of materials that results in waste.

Unluckily, waste directly harms the environment. Anything we can do to reduce tons of waste out of landfills deserves the hype. 

So, how do you reduce waste when sewing? This post gives you tips for sustainable sewing.

What Is Fabric Waste?

It’s simply a simple-consumer kind of material that becomes unusable after the end of the production process of products like clothing, fashion accessories, beddings, footwear, drapery, towels, and more. 

The materials become worthless or useless, hence million of tons end up in landfills

Wastage is a big threat to the environment. 

How Do You Reduce Waste When Sewing?

You’d want a zero-waste lifestyle, but it may not be 100% attainable. 

However, you can find the right balance of a hobby with potential environmental risks. 

If you’re a sewing or crafter, it’s possible to reduce waste and make your sewing more conscious. 

Here is how: 

Reduce and reuse fabric scraps

First off, reduce fabric scraps by buying materials only when they’re needed. 

For instance, you can unsubscribe from clothing store newsletters. 

Remember that most of them urge impulsive purchases. 

Also, reuse the materials. Reusable dryer sheets can eliminate waste when it comes to your clothing. 

Other ways to reduce off-cut and reuse waste include:

  • Reduce offcuts through pattern placement and planning. Plan your project before buy additional and new materials 
  • Sustainable sewing scrap busting projects. Little things like covered buttons, bows, key fobs, and drawstring bags can be joined together to large pieces of fabric crafts.
  • Waste consciousness. Avoid thrashing ‘useless’ offcuts, trimmings, and threads.

In doing so, you’ll be able to understand, monitor, and adopt other eco-methods to reduce waste further.

Salvaging materials for new use

Sewing is fun and entertaining. To some of us, it’s a hobby more than a necessity. 

You can salvage materials for a new useful life. You can:

  • Potential uses for old materials. Consider all old materials with good conditions for potential use. 
  • Challenge your creativity. Take your time to identify how you can use scraps. Check out everything, including buttons, collars, cuffs, hems, and pockets. 
  • Damaged materials should be cleaned for repurposing

Proper sewing material selection

Conscious selection of materials boosts sustainable sewing. 

Start by checking certifications and fabric labels. 

Doing this will help you make informed decisions, leading to waste reduction in the long run. 

There are other many factors worthy of consideration:

  • Growing/harvesting of raw materials – is it natural or synthetic
  • Processing of materials – the process should use less energy and water
  • Usable and end-life of these items

It’s no surprise that there are chemicals involved. 

This raises environmental concerns. Natural-based materials can be recycled and reused.

Fabric stash busting

You can as well make sewing more sustainable using this method. 

Use what you have rather than budgeting for new supplies. 

Reducing the raw materials in your stock means you’ll reduce waste. 

Everything you bought should have a good purpose before it completes its life cycle. 

Swap or redesign

Reach out to your friends and swap the clothing you’re tired of with them. 

Swaps are popular now. Let them provide the materials you need in return. 

If you’ve some design and sewing experience at hand, it will be easy to redesign your clothes. 

This is the best way to revamp them instead of buying something new. You can shorten a dress to make a top. 

Shopping isn’t likable to everybody, and consuming much more than you need could be a waste of resources.

Don’t bring resources and leave them unused. 

Use second hand fabric

There’s plenty of secondhand or unused fabric that needs zero input of new resources. 

Most thrift stores feature a fabric section where all sorts of materials, prints, and fabric types. 

Use these unused fabrics to line other projects. 

You can as well make better use of them for small projects. 

So, stop buying fabric, especially if you don’t intend to use it. It will be a waste of money and resources. 

Use thread

Like many of us who are conscious, a thread is an afterthought. 

If you own a thread, use it instead of going to a shopping store for something new. First, use up whatever you’ve got to ensure zero waste.

A cotton thread can be reused much longer than polyester.  So, you don’t have much to dispose of. 

Save your scraps

As you wind up every sewing project, there will be fabric scraps no matter how small it is. 

Have a basket next to your sewing machine designated for these threads and scraps. 

You can utilize what you have in the bucket whenever you need to piece together something small. 

You can combine the scraps with a small number of virgin materials. 

This will enhance quality and durability.


Sometimes you’ve to do away with what can’t mend, fix, overdye, redesign, alter or swap. 

The best idea will be to donate. Donate bags, clothes, shoes, accessories, and old materials to your local donation location.

Research to find out the best local donation location that can accept or align with your values. 

This will reduce the possibilities of waste around you.

Can Thread Be Composted?

Yes, cotton thread is compostable. It’s a natural product that biodegrades when added to a compost heap. 

Note that about 65% of all harvested cotton is used to produce threads and yarns. 

Thread is in turn used to make fabrics for clothing. And because thread has biodegradable properties, it can be recycled and repurposed to manufacture other useful products like household insulation.

You can compost any thread made from pure cotton to nourish the soil in your garden. 

Cotton mixed with dyes and synthetic materials won’t decompose quickly.


Even if your personal sewing is about fun or a hobby, think about reducing waste as much as you can. 

Make use of scraps, reuse, recycle and create small things using old materials.

Throwing sewing waste in a thrash should be your very last resort.

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