Zero Waste Sewing: Giving New Life to Scraps

A person standing in front of a yellow and blue wall wearing a colourful quilted jacket made out of scraps with a long striped dress underneath.
@bashfulleo standing in front of a yellow and blue wall. She is wearing her memade reversible quilted jacket pieced entirely from Ace & Jig scraps. She is wearing an Ace & Jig maxi dress in colorful stripes.

Hello Sewcialists!

This project has been months in the making, and I am so excited to share this true labor of love with all of you!

Image of three people standing close together all wearing one-of-a-kind, colourful quilted jackets made out of patches of fabric.
Jenna Wilson, Natalie Ebaugh, and Cary Vaughan pose in Natalie’s one-of-a-kind Ace & Jig quilted jackets.

My Inspiration:

I was inspired to create my quilted jacket by the incomparable Natalie Ebaugh (@natalie_ebaugh). Her line of quilted coats pieced, quilted, and constructed from leftover Ace & Jig scraps are stunning and awe-inspiring. Natalie’s quilted jackets truly embody the spirit of Ace & Jig, which is committed to reducing textile waste by using every last scrap of their leftover custom woven textiles. I was fortunate to take Natalie’s quilted jacket Sewalong through Topstitch Studio & Lounge (@topstitchatl), where she shared tips and tricks on how to make a quilted jacket.

Here’s several views of the colorblocked quilted jacket I made in the Topstitch sewalong with Natalie:

In that class, I used the Pauline Alice Patterns (@paulinealice_patterns) “Ayora” pattern to piece, quilt, and construct my own quilted jacket from Diamond Textile fabric. With this successful effort under my belt, I felt encouraged to tackle making a quilted jacket entirely from Ace & Jig scraps.

Many different colours and sizes of fabric scraps are laid out on a light brown table.
Pile of Ace & Jig scraps organized by color.
Three large pieces of scrap fabric are laid on top of one another on a table with a Gibson Coat pattern by It's All in the Stitch in the background and a small image of the jacket drawn paper and sitting on top of the fabric.
It’s All In The Stitch Gibson pattern flat lay incorporating the Ace & Jig patches that I want to focus my quilted jacket around.

My Ace & Jig Scrap Jacket:

Having pieced my Ayora jacket using simple big blocks, I anticipated that the hardest part of this process would be the pre-planning, mapping the patchwork design, and cutting quilt pieces from irregularly shaped scraps. I knew it would definitely take a lot longer than cutting from fresh yardage, but I was confident the extra time would be worth it to give new life to these beautiful Ace & Jig scraps I had been collecting from #aceandjigfriends, the #aceandjigcommunity, and the periodic releases of Ace & Jig Patch Kits, which are assorted bundles of their scrap textiles. And boy, did it take time! It took me almost a month to source Ace & Jig scraps! For this jacket, I decided to use It’s All In The Stitch (@itsallinthestitches) “Gibson” pattern.

Here’s several views of the planning process I started before the piecing process. I made a miniature paper “toile” to visualize how one side would be color-blocked.

Here’s several views of the long process of preparing the scraps for piecing:

First, I cut the randomly sized scraps into strips of various widths. Next, I organized all of the strips into color and started pairing them together to make strip sets. I used the “chain piecing” method to save time. Chain piecing is a method of sewing together blocks of a fabric one right after another in a long chain, with a continuous stitch, without lifting your pressure foot or cutting the thread.  Think of it as assembly line sewing! Then, I took the strip sets and cut them into chips of various widths. Lastly, I took the chips and started sewing them together into mini blocks.

Here’s two views of what the quilted pieces looked like after I finished quilting but before I started constructing the garment itself:

Whew! The prepping of the scraps and piecing them together was definitely the hardest and longest part of this project. Once the mini blocks were done, I used those blocks to sew the pieces of the jacket.

Here’s two pictures of the reverse side before I started constructing the garment. I lucked out with the reversible side. I had massive scraps and did not have to do much piecing.

And here are several views of the finished garment! Once the piecing was done, attaching the bias binding and the construction of the garment was a breeze! I also used a large scrap for the bias binding.

Here’s several pictures of me modeling different views of the finished quilted coat. I love how each side is completely different!

Monelle lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She learned how to sew when she was 9 years old and she has revisited her childhood pastime as her adult lifestyle and interests focus on slow fashion and sustainability. When she’s not hiking, camping, or exploring the outdoors with her two little boys, she’s sewing. Follow Monelle’s sewing and outdoor adventures on Instagram @bashfulleo.