8 Ways to Use 1 Yard (Or Less) Fabric Pieces on Garments

After the hubbub and clamor of the last couple posts, I figured it was time to get everyone back on the same vintage-loving page and look at an obstacle that many of us have in common:

The complete anguish of finding gorgeous fabric, only to unfold it (or read the measurements in the description) and realize it's only a yard, or less.  

For using this cloth, quilting is an obvious answer, but what can you do with only one yard when it comes to garments?

Here are a few options for you in using that gorgeous feedsack piece, that beautiful novelty print scrap, that amazing leftover piece from that last project!

1. Create contrast pieces on garments.
Look at yoke pieces on blouses, pockets, a dickey, contrast cuffs and collars as options.  They don't take a lot of fabric, but they pack a lot of style punch!
McCall, 1932 - source

2. Trim a hat.
Use fabric like ribbon to trim on of your simpler hats.  If it's scrap from another project, then you have a perfectly coordinating hat to go with it!

3. Make bows to accent a dress.
Or any other garment you have!  Bows are a sweet, feminine touch without a lot of fabric needed!

4. Make a removable collar-necklace.
Removable collars are easy to make and perfect to pair with simple cardigans or as a necklace with a modern take on an old style!

5. Sew a coordinating purse.
A small purse, especially a nice drawstring shape, is simple to make and accents a vintage outfit beautifully.

6. Make a hat!
Find an old sewing pattern and create your own hat.  Oftentimes they don't require much fabric, but you get a one of a kind, new-vintage hat out of that scrap! (And I'm loving the look of the one below when it's all made up!)

7. Cover Buttons.
Make some great, one of a kind buttons by using fun fabric with button kits.  Even if you don't have a dress in mind, you can save them for later as adorable accents to a garment in the future!

8. Create Bias Tape.
Bias tapes come in so handy, and they really aren't hard to make.  You can use small pieces of fabric and make your own tapes to use later in finishing the edges of garments with a little extra personality.  (I also recommend using a straight pin to help fold the tape as you iron!)

What other things have you used fabric scraps for on garments?  Are there any ideas you use especially love?


  1. This is great Emileigh as there are so many pieces out there that are one yard, especially feed sacks. There are books on this too! I think using a couple of different fabrics is a great idea.

  2. Thank you for this post, it is very timely. I've recently come across some wonderful vintage fabric that is very narrow in width (maybe due to wartime rationing?) and I'm really wanting to get as much out of it as possible. I have more than a yard, but with its narrow width and a few stain spots, these tips/suggestions may come in very handy.

    She Knits in Pearls

  3. What a fantastic post! I'm saving this for when I find that gorgeous fabric!! So many I've missed out on because I didn't know what to do with it! I guess we naturally wanna show off the fabric and make a dress or a skirt out of it but why not be creative and not waste it? :) Thank you!

    1. So true! I've also been inspired lately, so I'll be working on some projects as well!

  4. Fantastic suggestions! Trimming a hat is one that appeals to me in particular. Another great use for small pieces of fabric is to make jewelry with it (fabric covered beads, braided/woven bracelets, fabric bow earrings, etc).

    ♥ Jessica

  5. Great tips! You see so many photographs of ladies in the 20s-50s with coordinating accessories, matching hats and hand bags, collars and cuffs etc. which is something I don't think we see enough of in the vintage world today. These are great ways to really pull your vintage outfits together and use up all that "left over" fabric in the stash! :)

  6. Oo, I love them all! I definitely have a few little fabric scraps I want to incorporate into something, and I have a new hat which matches nothing else I own (I know...) so I'm hoping to pick up a little bit of vintage fabric that goes to trim a dress or some such for a snazzy ensemble. I particularly like the contrast panels in the third picture!