Treasures from Trash


A few years ago I became interested in quilting after seeing a beautiful kaleidoscope quilt someone had made. Knowing that interior design houses throw out their old sample books as lines and collections change, I made an effort to contact a number of interior designers to see if they had any discards.

Evidently very few people are utilizing this rich resource and I’ve been inundated with so much fabric in both samples and yardage that I regularly take the surplus to share with others at my quilt meetings. The fabrics range from heavy vinyl and velvet upholstery fabric to drapery sheers and Italian lace. Fine cotton, linen, silk, rayon and wool are abundant in addition to various synthetics and blends.

A year ago I decided to try and make a table runner with a bunch of linen samples that were mostly large, 12” x 18” pieces. I picked out some that coordinated well, sliced them up in varying widths and then started chain piecing them together via this system:

  1. Sew all the strips into pairs.
  2. Sew the pairs into fours.
  3. Sew each four to another four.
  4. Sew each of those together and so on until it’s all one long piece.

I evened up the sides with a ruler and a rotary cutter and sewed on a narrow border which was followed by a wide border. I then added some fusible fleece and backing. I quilted it along the seam lines and the final step was binding.

I felt the little pieces that were cut off were too pretty to throw in the trash so I sewed them all together and turned it into something like a small place mat. (That’s a tiny pewter hedgehog in the upper right corner.)


I inherited my parents’ bedroom set when my mother died some years back and that included a very long dresser. I decided to see if the runner would fit there and amazingly enough, it fit perfectly even though I hadn’t even thought about making it to fit that or anything else! And the little patchwork piece was perfect on a small chest of drawers.

Goodwill and most other thrift stores won’t take fabric sample books, but we have a store in our city called the Repurpose Project that specializes in salvaging useful materials that would otherwise be thrown out. They accept many things that other resale stores won’t take and are a great place to share my endless haul.


Two in One Pouch


I made the Two in One pouch by Sotak Handmade for my oldest daughter’s birthday.  It was my first real success in making a nifty bag. I added the brass birds charm because my daughter’s name is Phoebe and I used to call her Phee-bird when she was a baby.


I used several pieces of Alexander Henry fabric from his Indochine Garden and Hosomichi Kanji collections. My daughter, Phoebe, is a big fan of Japanese animated movies, so I added some anime geisha fabric in the center.


I used a narrow strip of Kanji in black for the bottom edge –


and used Kanji in cream for the pocket interiors.


Phoebe really likes it and finds it much better for storing her jewelry when traveling than plastic sandwich bags. A velcro tab holds the two zip pouches together at the top.

The pattern is easy and fun, even for a beginner. I was a little anxious doing it as I couldn’t understand how the instructions were going to turn out with something that worked, but I decided to just trust what was written and it came together perfectly. 🙂

Zippy pouches and handbags pose very different challenges in construction than any of the clothing I’ve sewn over the years. I love that you can make very personalized gifts with bags and accessories.