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What to do with those Marvelous Scraps on the floor

Marcia Acker-Missall

© 2002

 If you are like many of us, you usually have a myriad of oddly sized and shaped scraps of fabrics, ribbons, metallic fibers and wools lying at your feet as you work on a project. Snippets here and slices there, all piling up as your work progresses. At the completion of your project the usual thing to do is to bring out the broom and sweep the tidbits and strips unceremoniously into a wastebasket. Some months ago I was inspired by examples of embellishment ideas in a wonderful book called, Embellishment A to Z by Stephanie Valley, published by Taunton Press. I was particularly excited by the technique for creating a ribbon fringe. It was the catalyst for my thinking about all those scraps and tidbits I felt so guilty about tossing out at end of a project and it prompted me to using my floor scraps and fibers to create a uniquely one of a kind fringe.



·        Straight stitch or edge stitch sewing machine foot

·        Co-coordinating sewing thread & general sewing supplies

·        Scraps of metallic fibers, thin strips of Tyvek painted with metallic colors, odd scrap lengths of cotton prints, velvets, netting, lace, novelty wools, bead trims, ribbons, rayon trim and tiny tassels. Just about anything can be used.

·        ¾” to 1” wide transparent tape


Start by selecting a proper size fabric that coordinates well with your scrap fiber collection and sew a ½” finished hem along one edge and press.  Mix up your scrap collection in a big bowl, as you would toss a salad. Now proceed to randomly select fibers, fabrics, ribbons and odd trims from the bowl and lie them down flat in a single layer row about 10” in length. Cut a strip of transparent tape about 14” long and place it sticky side down along the center of the row through the midpoint of the fabric strips. You will now have a length of beginning fringe consisting of a wide variety of fibers, prints, colors and textures all varying in widths and lengths.  I really like to create a very casual and textural look. Now scan the fringe you have assembled. If there appears to be any voids or need for color enhancement, make those adjustments now.  Apply light pressure with your hand to make contact between tape and fibers. Make additional strips as needed.


 I have two suggestions for attaching the fringe strips to your fabric.


1.       Place your chosen fabric piece right side up and position your fringe over the ½” hemmed edge with the sticky side of tape face down.  The upper portion of the fabric strips will lie above the hemline and the lower portion will lie below the hemline. You may wish to secure the strip with a few pins. Using either the straight stitch or edge stitch foot and color coordinated thread, position your sewing foot needle so that you sew straight down and through the middle of the tape strip, back tacking at beginning and end. Remove the tape and fold the upper portion of the fringe down over the lower portion. Dampen and press firmly with an iron with temperature set to accommodate the variety of fibers used in your fringe.


2.      Place your hemmed fabric piece wrong side up. Position your scrappy fringe strip onto it with sticky side of tape face down as described in #1. Pin in place. Position sewing foot so that you sew directly down the center of the strip of tape and back tack start and finish. Remove the tape and fold the upper portion of fringe over the lower portion. Dampen and press firmly with an iron. Now turn the piece right side up and pin a coordinating or contrasting decorative edge trim (the new bead edged trims available by the yard is wonderful for this purpose) just over the visible stitching line of the hem if it shows. Pin and sew into position. The addition of this extra embellishing element can really add visual interest and a totally finished look to your work.


Now that you have created your unique one of a kind fringe, consider adding some metal bells, charms and decorative beads placed randomly through the fringe strips. Experimenting with this may lead to exciting results for the hem of a doll’s skirt, pillow or curtain edging. A decorative touch for a shawl or table covering is sure to become a remarkable piece of work. Surely, once you get started there will be no end to innovation and some exciting new ideas and approaches.


Here are a few of the many wonderful books available today that you may wish to use as resources:

·        Wearable Dreams-Out of Africa by Sue Akerman, published by Triple T Publishing – Cape Town S. Africa

·        The Art of Manipulating Fabric by Colette Wolf- publisher Krause Publications

·        Layers of Stitch by Valerie Campbell-Harding & Maggie Grey, published by B T Batsford ltd., London

·        Ribbon Trims by Nancy Nehring, published by Taunton Press. For those needing new inspiration


For color combinations take a look at these two books:

·        Color Index by Jim Krause published by How Design Books

·        Designer’s Guide to Color, published by Chronicle Books.


Copyright © 2002 Marcia Acker-Missall
For Comments or Questions contact: potdfrog@bellsouth.net
All Patterns Copyright by Marcia Acker-Missall, The Potted Frog. 
All Rights Reserved
Last Updated 16 December 2003