Zero-Waste/ Earth-Friendly Sewing Tips: Part 2


Good afternoon! 🙂 Last year, I wrote a post about 14 Zero-Waste Sewing tips that I have learned throughout my sewing journey over the last five years. I picked these up through old sewing books, advice from people who I know, and much trial and error. I have learned so much more about sewing and sustainability since then, and really have worked to craft in the most earth-friendly way possible…along with practicing many new techniques that I learn from binge-watching Angela Clayton’s YouTube channel 🙂

Here are my “zero-waste” sewing tips, part 2 :



15.Sharpen your needles. Hand sewing needles and machine needles can actually be sharpened using emery boards or sandpaper…no need to purchase new ones once the needle you are using becomes dull.

16. Save fabric trimmings as stuffing for pillows or cushions. This was commonly done during the Old West, the Great Depression, and really any other time that people had scarce resources and sewists had to get creative. Polyfill pillow stuffing is a waste product from the petroleum industry, and doesn’t bode well if you want clean air in your home. Off-gassing of petrochemical products are extremely hazardous to human and animal health. Since I mostly sew with used cotton and new linen, those scraps will therefore be much safer to use in projects that will stay in my home.

17. Buy a vintage or used sewing machine. Modern sewing machines are covered in plastic, and have many plastic parts that are not only less durable than their metal counterparts but are manufactured in poor countries such as China and Thailand. Countries that don’t prioritize fair treatment or fair wages for their employees. The best way to sidestep all of these issues is to purchase a used sewing machine- either from Ebay, a worthy thriftstore (such as Disabled American Veterans, or Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore), or even a garage sale. Vintage cast-iron machines are especially durable, and am loving the 1950s Brother one that I got at my local ReStore.

18.  Baste by hand, it uses less thread. As I’ve found more sewing channels on YouTube, I’ve learned that basting was historically done by hand. It saves time, and helps you really get to know your sewing project stitch by stitch. I’ve also observes that I seem to use less thread than if I baste using a machine.

19. Gather by hand, it uses less thread. This goes along with basting by hand- you can sew using larger stitches and gather (in my observation) much more quickly and accurately by hand. This has saved me a LOT of time with my most recent dress I sewed.

20. Buy vintage thread on Etsy or at secondhand crafting stores. I recently stocked up by purchasing two bundles of vintage cotton thread  on Etsy. I don’t want the possibility of running out of a certain color and being tempted to go to Hobby Lobby or Joann for just enough thread to finish a project. It might seem small, but the right thread is one of the most used supplies in sewing and the water footprint or carbon footprint of commercial thread just isn’t worth it to me.

21. Skip the cutting mat. I bought one last year, but I’ve found that I really don’t need it. Good old-fashioned scissors seem to work just fine for me. These cutting mats are not only made of plastic, but oftentimes have a thin coating of soft plastic (such as polyvinyl chloride) on at least one side. If you haven’t learned of the many dangers of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), check out this article or read Annie Leonard’s The Story of Stuff.

22. Keep a lookout for “going out of business” sales. This is one of those few times that you can purchase crafting supplies brand new without contributing to any upstream waste. The law of supply-and-demand isn’t applicable- the business is being dissolved, and all assets liquidated…any items not sold, will be thrown away so the business can write them off as a loss. Personally, I find the amount of plastic in craft stores disgusting, but I’ll happily buy a bolt of cotton or linen in situations like these.

23. Buy vintage doilies to use as trim. Doilies are just one option if you need trim pieces for your sewing project. You can easily find used lace curtains, lace-trimmed pillowcases, or even placemats and use that lace instead of buying brand new cotton or polyester lace. Personally, I really appreciate the different lace designs from decades past and find them to have more interesting pattern than the mass-produced stuff at Walmart.

24. Be willing to seam rip to a great extent. This is my favorite way to acquire sewing notions. I’m not willing to purchase a brand new plastic zipper from Joann, nor am I willing to order one online and spend the carbon on transport…but I can walk 4 blocks to a D.A.V. Thrift store, pick out a dress in poor condition that isn’t likely to be sold, and spend a long movie (like Return of the King) just seam ripping out the invisible zipper 🙂

25. Acquire vintage fabric scissors. Keen Kutter scissors had a factory in Old Wichita a long time ago, so plenty of older residents have a pair or two of these durable, U.S.A steel scissors that can be found at the occasional garage sale. Ebay is also a great option.

26. Acquire a sharpener for your fabric scissors. A good pair of scissors can last a lifetime if properly taken care of.

27. Buy the fabric remnants and end-of-bolts. As always, being a conscious consumer often means buying undesirable things that are likely to get thrown out. The end of the fabric bolts are sold at a discount, so not only are you reducing the likelihood of waste but you also save some money 🙂


It would’ve been nice to end on an even 30 tips, but oh well.. I’m sure there will be more! 😀 Thanks for visiting my blog today!!


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