Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Recycle Concious Quilters!

Hey Gang...I've been working back and forth with my editor on how to best get the recycling theme through the book with applying to every day life,not just to quilts from recycled clothing.

I have this idea of with every quilt page having a little "pop up message" (message in a box) with a different earth-friendly tip from quilters.

Some things I have come up with, besides the obvious....are the fact that I'm not going to buy bottled water anymore. I'll keep some bottles on hand to refill, but I don't like these bottles filling up the landfill.

I have ideas for hints using batting scraps in cleaning, dusting etc. Can anyone add their ideas and what they personally do?

I have a little page about ways to piece batting scraps and use them in quilts.

Does anyone make dog/cat beds with their smallest strips and scraps and donate them to animal shelters? Would you write me about what you do? How big,how full, what goes into it, etc?

I would love to know what anyone is doing with selveges other than quilts. After being shown really cute baskets at a couple of classes...oh my. Here *IS* something I've been throwing away. 1/2" strips! Who would have thought. (No, I'm not going there...at least....well, maybe!)

Are there items you have made that are NOT quilts that could be considered earth and recycle friendly?

(Please,no beer can crocheted hats...remember those?! *LOL* or crocheted bread bag stories..those are just...hmmmmm...*LOL*)

We are not only quilters, but we are home makers and wives and daughters and sisters and friends....as an earth concious quilter, what are you implementing in your daily life?

My book is also going to include some simple patterns and ideas for cloth grocery sacks. I'm using the top part of a pair of recycled jeans for this project..it's cute!

I know you are waiting for step 2 of OC...I have tonight dedicated to finishing up the pdf file and getting it out to you.

For instance, I wash zip loc bags again and again. I buy ONLY the freezer bags because they are heavier, more washable and a better value than the flimsy ones that get thrown out "too soon". I use zip locs a lot in my quilting as well...

What do you do??

What do you guys think?

I'll submit them to my editor with your name, city and state, so please include that info in your email/comment!



  1. Hi Bonnie:

    I put small strips & cuttings out in the spring for the birds to use when making their nests.

    I also use pretty scraps in plain glass balls for "quilted ornaments". . .so there is also decorative thread snips, ribbon pieces, etc.

    Spotswood, NJ

  2. Anonymous1:19 PM EDT

    Hi Bonnie, I was just on the Ohio Long Arm Quilters website and I saw a request from one of the members for batting scraps. She collects them to stuff long thin tubes of material and uses the finishes them to prop preemies up in the incubators. I thought it was a wonderful, useful way to recycle.

  3. small batting scraps - doll (small wall) quilts. I have used the left overs from the last quilt that I got long armend on the last 3 doll quilts that I made & I think I can do 2 more...

    You use your "free" HST's for borders & other bits on big quilts - they can be assembled for doll quilts too.

    These quilts can also be donated to cover isolets (you need to get the exact size from your hospital.)

  4. Selvedge strips are great for tying up tomatoes. If they are long strips, they can be used to tie bundles of newspapers for recycling.

  5. Bonnie,
    I do the recycle scraps dog beds for my local rescue group. I have used everything from old pillowcases to rectangles of leftover fleece scraps/ugly fabric/old sheets cut up. I put in any scraps of batting (I like the pieces not TOO huge ...too lumpy), pieces too small for crumbs, etc. The only thing I don't add is long pieces of thread. I am afraid that one dog might chew a hole and choke on that. I would suggest that you contact the group you wish to donate to and ask what THEIR wishes are. Mine takes whatever I drag in! I just love to know I'm giving some dog some comfort. All those scraps have ONE more home before the landfill!

  6. Sorry! I forgot my name:
    Beth Shay
    Glendale Arizona

  7. My husband uses skinny strips of my scrap fabric in his garden to tie his tomatoes and other climbing vegetables to stakes.

    Kathie Laposata, Allentown, PA

  8. 1/2" strips make nice crocheted purses.....or make into a sewing pouch. Selveges can be used when making small fabric tubes for turning (fold fabric in half with selvege in the middle, stitch across the top and down the side, pull on selvege and it will turn the tube right side out)

    Left over batting can be rolled and lightly sew the edges and make into neck rolls or back support while driving, cut into small pieces and used as pillow stuffing, sewn (or I use fusible interfacing to attach edges together) to make large enough for baby quilts or kennel quilts. You can also cut into narrow widths to use for handles on purses for more stability. Or used to pad a journal, tv guide cover or book cover with white denim or duck to cover school books so the kids can get autographs from their friends.

    Plastic shopping bags and garbage bags can be crocheted into rugs or even woven on a loom.

  9. I always save scraps of fabric from my quilting to make catnip mice. I work with a local rescue group which sells them to raise funds. The woman who runs the rescue gets leather scraps donated for the ears and tails and I usually get donations of stuffing via Freecycle so we are reusing all sorts of scraps!

  10. Yes, we've stopped buying water that we can get free from the tap. None of our guests has noticed that we're drinking refilled bottles; cold water is cold water. Other suggestions? Get back to you!

  11. Strips of fabric that you can't use (as unlikely a concept as that sound to me!) can be used by rug weavers. If you don't know any, you might contact a local weaver and spinners guild.

  12. bonnie, I recently took a half yard of fabric and sewed it like a pillow with a small opening, and I've been stuffing all my tiny pieces of tread, fabric and batting (like those little pieces that are left when you sub-cut units from the strip sets) and I've been stuffing them into the 'pillow form' which I will eventually sew up the opening and my kitties will have a soft bed to sleep on. I saw this idea in someone else's blog, and I thought it was a good one.

  13. One more...I know someone who cuts apart the plastic grocery sacks into 1" strips then crochets them into really sturdy tote bags and even hats! LOL.

  14. what a great 'thread'..lol I don't know if this will interest your editors or not ,but at this time of year when the birds are building their nests, I like to leave a few baskets of small scraps around my yard. I include pieces of yarn, crochet cottons etc. The smaller the better. They seem to like the long skinny ones. I'm looking forward to reading more ideas.
    (((Hugs))) Fran

  15. What a great idea to take suggestions from the 'quilter's village'.
    I reuse those plastic hinged containers that deli salads or bakery goods come in. You can store lots of small spools of thread standing up and see your colors through the container. Or use it to hold notions, HST's, hand sewing, embroidery, etc. Some are sturdier than others, but when it wears out I just replace it.
    Leslie Roberts, Redwood Valley, CA

  16. I use the plastic bags w/zippers (think bed-in-a-bag type bags) to hold craft projects together. Some of the larger ones even have handles built into them to take projects to classes.

  17. I donate scraps and batting to the art teacher who does a couple of projects with the kids on the sewing machine. There also is a loom in the art room so they use my scraps to make rugs.
    I also clean my stainless steel appliances with batting.

  18. I can't wait for your grocery bag pattern. I've been looking for a pattern!

  19. I pay elementary schools for thier recycle juicebags and sew into totebags. I use them as gifts for teachers, kids party favors etc, or just use them as project bags. I did up instructions and Canadian Living Magazine has published them on their website. Have a look.


  20. I made some 'faux paper towels' as I had become a paper towel junkie.
    I posted about it on my blog here:

    The triangle scraps from this project will be donated to my sister who makes all kinds of scrap quilts - so no waste at all!

    Cheryl (Howdy) R., PA

  21. I like the recycled plastic webbing on ornage bags, etc, cut and croched up into scrubbies that I can use for my dishes. I recycle my plastic bags to hold cat poo. I also sew my large pieces of scrap batting together with a basting strip and use it for baby quilts. I buy K-sized batting and cut it into twin/baby/queen sized quilts as needed. :) That's why I can use my batting again and again. LOL!

  22. Anonymous10:27 AM EDT

    when you iron plastic shopping bags between sheets of paper, they melt a little an become a thicker plastic. Cut into squares or rectangles, sew together as you would do with fabric and you can make lovely (garden)pillowcases, aprons etc. I posted a pic some time ago on my weblog. I collected bags from quiltshops and plan to sew a gardentable tablecloth from them.
    Fabric selvages make great pincushions as do other fabricsnips. Ofcourse filled with leftover battingsnips. They make nice gifts too!

  23. Hi Bonnie,
    I use muslin bags instead of plastic for produce at the grocery store and Farmers' Market. I've also made more out of "ugly" fabrics. I transfer to Ziplocks at home and just wash the fabric bags for next week.

    I've also made a ton of cloth napkins and we've cut our paper napkin use to nearly zero.

    Great ideas!

  24. Use cloth napkins and lunch bags! Quilters have plenty of fabric to make those. My kids loved the fun ones I used for their school lunches.

    For non-quilting specific tips, try eating a few more plant-based meals with little or no meat. That has a huge environmental impact!

  25. I take old towels that are stained/ bleached/ wearing out and zigzag two strips down the middle in each direction so I can cut it into four pieces. (If there are holes, just don't use that piece, or cut it smaller!) These rags are great for mopping up my daughter's messes and for general spills. They wash really well and don't cost me any money.

    Katie Z. Lewis, Wichita, Kansas

  26. The author of a "thrifty" blog was complaining about how we get multiple phone books from many different companies nowadays. I immediately thought of the way that you use phone book pages for your paper piecing -- for example, your "Out On A String" quilt.

  27. Also, when I was at a quilt show recently, I saw rugs made from strips of torn fabric using this tool:


    I think this would be a good way to use up inappropriate fabric someone has given you because they "know you quilt." (I have no connection with the maker of this product, just thought it was kind of cool.)

  28. Hi Bonnie,
    I've always got a cat mat in progress it seems (in fact there are two in the closet waiting to be dropped off at the shelter right now).

    I place an old pillow case inside my garbage scrap basket (like you would line a wastebin with a plasitc bag), then I just put all my waste scraps, trims, bits and batting pieces in it as I am working on projects, when it is about a third of the way full I remove the pillow case from the basket and double stitch a line acrossed the pillow case at just shy of the 1/2 way point. Then you fold the top half down around the bottom half of the pillowcase portion (where all the stuffing is), then you sew acrossed the open edge which encloses the stuffing with in a double layer of pillowcase material. After that is done its just a matter of fluffing the stuffing to fill the pillow case mat.

    The cats love them and they are easy for the shelters to toss in the washer and dryer or just throw away when they are done being used.

    I hope you were able to understand my process by the directions I provided, lol, its hard with just words, I'm much more of a visual person.

    Good luck with your book! I can't wait to see it.

  29. hi little late, but i figure this is one time where a link in comments, is pc?
    this is probably not book material, but I was pleased to recycle my paper bags (the heavy kind) into gift boxes. As an American in Ireland, I love sending care packages in these quirky boxes. Here is the link http://verrysherry.blogspot.com/2008/04/potatoes-in-box.html

  30. Not sure if you've used this before, but old phone book pages make great stabilizers for applique.

    Around here at Christmas, family presents are wrapped in fabric, safety-pinned together and bits of rickrack, lace, ribbons, etc. used to decorate. I cut old cards up for tags, too.

    Since my husband has only the use of one hand, I have begun making bags of all sizes with drawstrings for him to "wrap" other gifts in, and also for him to receive his gifts in. Smaller pieces of leftover fabrics can be stitched together, or used to applique and make them festive. I hope to eventually have enough that all our gifts can be wrapped this way, and only use wrapping paper for rare occasions.

    Most people can use small bags, so these are options for outside gifts, too.

    Stephanie Davison
    Flat Rock, NC

  31. Hi Bonnie,
    I use my scraps of batting for a lot of things, one of which is to grow garden cress on.
    Margeeth from the Netherlands

    (see my blogpost of 24-04 for a picture)

  32. A local thrift store sells the unusable donated items to a fabric recycler. The thrift store uses that money for their food kitchen for the needy. Any item out of fabric can be sold, so I passed the word on to several little sewing groups I belong to and we now save every little scrap of fabric, batting, wad of thread, practice blocks and totally worn out items to deliver to Aunt Betty who works at the thrift store. A simple plastic bag next to the cutting table collects the pieces. Locally, the scrap bags are known as "Betty Bags" and sometimes a delivery will fill up the back of a suburban. This is a win-win situation for more than us - we no longer feel any guilt for tossing something we will never use and the thrift store makes more money for their kitchen and the fabric recycler uses them in their products. Throwing out small scraps is easier now that we know we're helping others.
    Marilyn G
    Northwest Arkansas


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