Small scrap-busting projects for hard times

Now, due to restrictions placed on us by the arrival of unwanted viruses, it is time to take stock.

I have a ridiculous amounts of fabric, all of which were bought with something particular in mind – often long forgotten. I need to organise a system to keep track of my original plans and subsequent changes of mind! I have my patterns on Evernote, and have also tried Trello. I need to try harder.

I have most of my stash documented on Cora (an app which catalogues fabric) It took a while to set up but as long as I remember to keep it up to date when I get something new, or use something up, then it does a decent job of letting me see what I have to work with. You can get it for various platforms and read about it here

I also have a large box of leftover scraps, which I always save in case there is enough to make something useful out of. I thought that during this period of isolation I would look at my bits and find uses for them.

Simple cotton facemask, lined with flannel

The first thing I came up with was a face mask. All the wisdom says that a mask won’t protect you from the virus, but it may help to reduce the spread of any germs you may already be carrying with you. They seem to be very popular with foreign visitors if news photos are anything to go by, and there are also other applications, my favourite being to make matching adult and child ones so children having to go through unpleasant treatments can see a parent wearing a matching mask (maybe with a funny cartoon theme) and lessen their anxiety.

There are many YouTube video with instructions available, so rather than re-invent the wheel I chose one of those to follow.

Quick Scrapbuster Face Mask

I followed a YouTube Video by Kathy Braidich of “The Turban Project”

YouTube video from Kathy Braidich of The Turban Project

It is essentially two rectangles of fabric: adult size 9” x 6” child size 7.5” x 5” and two pieces of flat ⅛” elastic 7” long

Use a cotton for the outer and a flannel for the inner (I tried with thin fleece for the inner and it was a bit too bulky, but a brushed cotton flannel worked very nicely.)

the flannel is lovely and soft against your face

Use a cotton for the outer and a flannel for the inner, mine was left over brushed cotton shirting from Fabworks that I used for a dress. (I tried with thin fleece for the inner and it was a bit too bulky, but a brushed cotton flannel worked very nicely.)

The two pieces of fabric are laid right sides together, the elastic is inserted at the corners, one piece on each short edge.  Stitch round the edges, leaving a 2” gap on one long side.  Turn through, put a couple of pleats in the side to give it some shape, top stitch to hold flat and seal the gap. Bobs your uncle.  Very detailed instructions are in the video.

The pivot function on my Juki DX7 was really handy when sewing this, and I took the opportunity to use one of the built in embroidery stitches to decorate the edges. I like to take every opportunity to use the great selection of built in stitches on my machine.  Realistically there aren’t that many opportunities when I am making clothes for myself, but they adorn lots of my grandchildren items, and when making things like this project they add an element of fun and personalisation.

I have started to add secret messages into the facings of my grandchildrens’ clothes and they love the excitement of seeking them out.  It is an idea I borrowed from Jen (@jenerates) one of my fellow Juki Ambassadors.

‘Janni loves Jessica’sewn into the facing of a little jersey dress

This mask uses small pieces of fabric and comes together really quickly. I am on the lookout for other simple quick sews. If you have an idea to share why don’t leave a message in the comments section below.


I thought I had retired!

My life slowed down a few years ago, I stopped working and found more time for myself. I started painting, sewing, doing more sport – skiing, sailing and golf. Time took its toll and we stopped skiing and sailing when my husbands mobility reduced.

Now we mainly play golf (thanks to an electric buggy for him – I still walk) and I sew, and sew and sew!

As a result of appearing on The Great British Sewing Bee series 5 in 2019 I find my life is much fuller. I have done lots of talks, and the interest continues. I have been invited to sewing events, exhibitions and have found myself sharing my knowledge and experience through teaching.

A quilt for my baby grandson sewn on my new Juki DX7

I am also happy to be a Brand Ambassador for Juki Sewing Machines. I have had a Juki overlocker for many years, and a Juki coverstitch machine for two years. I love them both and they do exactly the jobs I ask of them without fiddling or drama. I was delighted when the opportunity arose to use a Juki sewing machine (a DX7) and I am very impressed with that too. I will be at the Juki Sewing and Quilting Retreat in Lincolnshire in February and at Sewing for Pleasure at the NEC Birmingham (UK) in March, teaching and chatting on the Juki stand alongside my good buddies and fellow Bees Jen (@jenerates on instagram) and Mercedes (@ohsewthatmercedes)

My next teaching class is local to me in the lovely North York Moors National Park at Belmont Studios ( two days – residential or daily – in a great working space and Tony and Anne run a delightful B&B. You can also find details of this course at

Maybe I will see you at one of these event. I hope so.