What Do You Do With Leftover Fabric Swatches Once You're Done Reupholstering?

Fabric swatch cards are -- if you're a fabric junkie like most sewers and crafters -- just fun. While they're exceptionally useful while you're deciding on how to reupholster your dining room chairs or your grandmother's fainting couch, you can end up with quite a pile of them over time. That leaves you with three choices: pitch them, let them continue to collect and gather dust, or put them to good use in some fun and creative ways.

If "fun and creative" sounds like your cup of tea, here are some ideas you can use, so those lovely little swatches of fabric don't go to waste:

1. A Baby Blanket

Who knew how many shades of blue there were out there -- or how many beautiful patterns there are on fabric these days? Because people are taking a lot of hints from the Hollywood "glam" era, fabric has become an important part of any room's decor. A lot of fabrics have exceptionally soft elements, subtle designs, satin trims, or delicate-looking threads that sparkle. It's quite easy to end up with 20 or 30 swatches of fabric in variations of the same color while you're deciding on the refurbishment of an important piece.

If you gather up all of the swatches you have that you like looking at together, you can easily compose a one-of-a-kind baby blanket. Just sew the patched together on the reverse side and use a solid backing for the blanket and a wide satin ribbon for a trim and one lucky baby is going to have a beautiful blanket!

2. Small Holders for Small Items

What if you only have a few fabric swatches -- or lots but not enough of them in colors that would look good together for a baby blanket? Upcycling them is just as easy as it is when you have a lot of swatches. You just have to be a little more creative about their use.

First, consider the things that you're always fishing around for in your purse, jacket pockets, sewing box, or elsewhere. If they're small items that tend to get shuffled to the bottom of a drawer or bag, then what you need is a small container that's easy to use and grab onto. 

A few fabric swatches sewn together and folded to make pockets in the appropriate places (sometimes with the addition of snaps) can become all manner of useful holders:

  • A "tea cozy" (much like a wallet for tea bags) so that the tea drinker in your life can carry a few tea bags around without worry about them ripping -- this sort of item is wonderful in a world that tends to cater to coffee drinkers!
  • A cup quilt that will go around an overly hot ceramic or plastic coffee/tea cup so that nobody risks burnt fingers.
  • A unique needle holder for the crochet artist in your life -- especially if he or she is always looking for that lost size 000 hook.
  • Instant pockets that can be sewn or "stitch witched" (using fabric glue) to the inside of a coat so that you have someplace to put your cell phone where you can grab it quickly when it rings.

These are just some of the ways to upcycle the fabric swatches that you have when you're done selecting what you want to use for your reupholstery project. Whether you use them for yourself or give them as gifts, it's a neat way to make use of beautiful scraps of fabric that shouldn't go to waste.

Contact a company that carries apparel swatch cards for more information and assistance.