Meeting Notes

Zero Waste Quilting – 3rd Quarter Challenge

Our third quarter challenge is all about Zero Waste Quilting!

What is Zero Waste Quilting? It is the concept of using your quilting waste and byproducts rather than throwing them in the trash. Examples of Zero Waste Materials include:

  1. project leftovers (batting scraps, binding triangles, “snippets”)
  2. trash (thread clippings, fabric bits that can’t be sewn, stained/damaged fabric)
  3. packaging materials (cardboard backings, plastic bags, ribbons)
  4. reclaimed materials (clothing, linens, mattress pads)

Using these materials can be accomplished in so many ways! Your challenge from now until the September meeting is to use something that you personally used to put in the trash in a productive way. Some ideas include:

  • making art
  • starting a new quilt project
  • upcycle your material waste
  • use reclaimed materials
  • hide it in plain sight

Share what you did at the September meeting to be eligible for prizes! Be sure to tag your project with #sdmqgzerowaste so we can all follow along!

But why do we do this? If you were lucky enough to be able to follow Sherri Lynn Wood’s artist in residency with Recology, you got a first hand look at what ends up in the dump: EVERYTHING. For four months Sherri Lynn had to source 99% of her materials from the San Francisco dump. She was able to create a fabulous range of quilts and art from what she recovered from the dump, many of which were featured at Quiltcon Nashville in 2019. You can read more about the work that resulted from her residency here, view photos here, and learn more about recology here.  

Another reason to use all of your materials is that you paid good money for them. Fabric is $10 a yard whether it is a 10 inch piece or a half yard. By using all of your materials, you get more value from the materials you purchased.

So how does someone get started? One of the first things you can do is to audit your waste and see what you actually throw away. By monitoring your trash for a while, you can see what is available and start thinking of ideas for how to use them.

Also think about what kind of quilter you are and the types of projects you like to work on. Use that information as a starting point. Do you like to make art? Turn your trash into an art piece. It doesn’t have to be a quilt! But it can be.

Getting organized is a great way to manage your scrap materials for easy use. By keeping them contained, easy to find and in order, you are more likely to use them. Processing your scraps instead of leaving them in bags or boxes allows you to see what you have. Meg of Tea & Brie put together this great flow chart to help you figure out what scrap management process might work best for you.

Meg also wrote a great blog post about scrap processing that you can read on her website here.

By organizing your materials and keeping like-things together, you can easily see when it is time to stop collecting and time to start making! Use simple storage solutions (plastic bins, cute boxes) or reclaimed containers (zippered plastic bags, shoe boxes) to keep like-things together. Jen C. shared her “Easter basket method” for corralling string scraps for twine. 

Another great way to use up scraps is to start a dedicated scrap project. A leaders and enders project is an efficient way to use your scraps while you work on other projects. Jen C. uses binding triangles to sew half square triangles as an ongoing leaders and enders project and harvested fabric for an English Paper Piecing project from weird curve scraps. 

Using reclaimed materials from around your house is also a great way to make something functional out of something you were ready to throw away. Got an old stained blanket? Turn it into the batting for your next quilt. Have a perfectly good blanket that you were ready to donate to Goodwill? Use it as your batting AND backing for a quilt. Quilting with old clothes is another way to use fabric that might eventually end up in the landfill. An old mattress pad protector, a ripped pair of jeans and backing scraps were pieced and quilted into this dog bed for little Penny.

Finally, you don’t have to use everything generated from your quilting but that doesn’t mean it has to go in the trash. That stuff you just want out? It may be exactly what someone else is looking for! Trade with them or use our members’ facebook group to find a resource for your scrap trash. Finally, look to your local community to see if someone is looking for what you have to offer.

Want to be inspired and learn more about Zero Waste? Check out the following instagram accounts:






And listen to the Sustainable Sewing chats on YouTube about Repurposing and Zero Waste.

Share what you did at the September meeting to be eligible for prizes! Be sure to tag your project with #sdmqgzerowaste so we can all follow along! We can’t wait to see what you work on!

Written By: Jen Collins

Posted By: Kristyn Jansen