Zero Waste Part 2: Treasure trays, an apron and a napkin tutorial!

The second installment in my thrilling Zero Waste series is here! And not before time, as I made these projects around Christmas time. If you missed the first part in which I took on the trials of making scrunchies, the ubiquitous Closet Case Patterns pouffe, bias tape and stuffed some cushions, it’s here for your delectation. Basically, I’m trying to use all my little scraps and small pieces to make quick and useful things (hopefully not just for the sake of it) and the truth is – I have used everything I made in the first part a lot – so it was totally worth it!


Here are my most recent projects:

  1. Tiny Treasures Trays

This is a free pattern from Anna Graham, aka Noodlehead, and I trust anything Anna produces. She has such a great aesthetic and you can tell she tinkers with a pattern until it’s just the way she wants it.


I made these little trays using some of my favourite Cotton and Steel fabric as part of my gift for the Secret Santa Sock Swap 2019, organized by Jess from La Mercerie. Clearly, this is not yarn, but I suppose you could put your knitting project in the basket, or anything else you like, really, as the tray and basket are both nice, practical sizes. I just figured it would be nice to include something handmade in the gift and these fit the bill.


They’re also very quick to make up. You need a square of each fabric you use for the outer and inner, and a long thin scrap for the binding. The little handles and tabs are also just scraps of leather (you could use binding or even make some from fabric too) and they are held in with rivets (you could sew them on as well). I had some trouble finding the right size rivets and nearly abandoned the idea, until someone mentioned Tandy Leather and so I zoomed over there and success! One pack of rivets and 10 mins later and I was done. All in all, they probably take 45 mins or so if you have everything on hand.


Anyways, I think they’re really nice and I will definitely make more, both for myself and others. I definitely recommend this pattern! Here is a pic with other gifts in it, to give you more of an idea of scale. The dark blue one is a 100g skein of yarn.


2. Apron

I got the book “Cloth” by Cassandra Ellis from the library as a little something to peruse and was blown by away by the projects contained within. Usually in these kinds of books I love one, like a couple of others and that’s about it, but this is a beautiful book with really great and useful ideas in it. I have already made another of the projects, which I’ll post about next time.


Anyway, I had a decent piece of striped denim twill left over from making my Chi-Town Chinos skirt, but not enough for another full garment. When I saw the denim apron pattern, I thought of my brother, who likes to dabble in cooking and decided to whip one up as a spur-of-the-moment Christmas pressie.



It’s a very quick sew because you basically just hem the apron, rather than add a lining or anything. Of course, denim or heavy twill is perfectly able to cope with that kind of treatment as it’s so thick.

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Here it is, modelled by my lovely Dad

It does have some lovely little details though – such as the big front pocket, divided into two with stitching and the spoon holder on the side of the upper pocket. I used a high-quality cotton webbing from my stash to give it a luxurious edge, but of course it would be very easily customisable with various hardware, patches – whatever you like, really! One word of caution – this is a one-size-fits-all pattern and is one the large side. It is too big for me, although it fits my brother admirably. It would be very easy to adjust though. 🙂

3. Napkins

Yes, okay, this might be like teaching your granny to suck eggs, but napkins are seriosuly one of the quickest and easiest things to make with any fabric squares you have lying around. You can use any fabric and really don’t have to be super-particular about the size. I used a half yard of fabric for two napkins, but they’re definitely not all exactly the same size.


It’s also a great way to save on endless kitchen paper and disposable napkins, PLUS you get to see favourite pieces of fabric every day, rather than once in a blue moon when you wear that special dress.


Anyway, as you can guess, all you do is take your piece of fabric and create hems to finish the edges. There are various ways to tackle the corners to get a nice finish and I like this way – it’s so easy. Just make sure your corners are pretty much square (at a right angle) before you start:


Straighten up this corner!

Fold your first edge up by 1/4″, press, and then fold up by another 1/4″ and press. Then, at each corner, fold up a triangle, so that the side is running straight up, parallel to the side and also that the height of your little triangle is double that of your hem – in this case around 1/2″. Press well.


Fold up your corner to twice the height of the hem

Then turn to the next edge and fold up your 1/4″ hem twice again and you’ll see that the folding forms a nice mitred corner. Fold up a triangle in your new corner and then turn and carry on from there. By the time you get back round to the beginning you’ll have four mitred corners.


Take your napkin to the sewing machine and edgestitch all the way round. Ta-da!


Of course, you can use a fancier method, or you could use contrasting bias tape for a fun edge. It’s such a quick thing to sew and you could do so many fun things. It’s also a great project for a total beginner to get the hang of machine-sewing.


That’s it for Part 2. I have some really cool projects for Part 3, whenever I get a chance to post that. At least, I hope they turn out the way I think they’re going to! Bye for now!



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