Re-using embroidery 'waste' in a creative way (9 tips!)

blog boost your creativity Danielle Balfoort embroidery re-use story tips

Blog re-use embroidery waste tips D. Balfoort embroidery 15Re-using embroidery ‘waste’ in a creative way (9 tips!)

My thoughts on how to re-use my embroidery waste and changing my creative process

Where products are made there is waste…that is the brutal reality and makes me realize that I need to be more responsible and critical when it comes to my own creation process...

Blog re-use embroidery waste tips D. Balfoort embroidery 15

I try to be conscious by reducing my waste at home, separating my carbage, don’t buy fast fashion but mostly secondhand and/or fair niche brands. I am slowly changing my beauty routine into using nature-based products from niche brands. Every step forward sometimes means 3 steps back (I sometimes desperately want/need a trend item from a fast fashion brand/it’s soooo convenient to buy cheaper beauty products at my local drugstore/why is everything wrapped in plastic?? And so on...)

And that is only at home. But I am also a creative person that needs to… well…. create 😊 You can easily be overwhelmed with the feeling that nothing you do seems to help mother Earth. I believe every bit helps in the long run and while I was working on a new embroidery project, a big bag of embroidery waste from a previous project was still waiting for me…

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Time to dig a bit deeper in my own creating/creative process and jot down some helpful tips how I can be more aware and hopefully that will inspire you as well!

1) Design process
My designs start with a collage or mood board, because I love working that way and I am a huge fan of everything paper. That means paper waste and images that didn’t make it. Digital tools are not helping my creative process, but I can be more aware.

Tip one: create an abstract collage with the snippets of paper and combine with other materials you love
Tip two: put the images you will not use this time in a binder for use in a future project
Tip three: browse through the magazines you already have and force yourself not to buy a stack full of fresh magazines every month (I am on a fashion magazine diet and only allow myself the September issue or niche magazines)
Blog re-use embroidery waste tips D. Balfoort embroidery
Blog re-use embroidery waste tips D. Balfoort embroidery magazines
2) Sourcing materials
Such a fuuuunnn part of the process! Don’t you agree? Put me in a store full of beads and other sparkly things and I know I will not leave the place without new stuff for embroidery. Any other store that sells embroidery items is a favorite. The more beads don’t mean better work though 😉

Tip one: make a list beforehand of what things/color/quantity etc. you need. This way you will not get a ‘I want it all’ attack and end up buying way too much items (been there...)
Tip two: what is in your stack already? Can you blend threads or use different materials to get the result? Or create a swap material party with other (in my case) embroiderers?
Tip three: check out thriftshops/markets/marketplace etcetera. These are usually good places to find treasures

Blog re-use embroidery waste tips D. Balfoort embroidery thriftshops

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3) Creating your design
You end up with pieces of embroidery floss/fallen sequins on the floor/yarn/pieces of fabric etcetera. Everything you are using during making. You can throw everything on the floor but here’s a better idea:

Tip one: make things easy and use a trolley on wheels where you keep the materials needed for your project. Put a small container on the trolley and use that as a mini bin for all ‘waste’ When the bin is full, put the content in a zip bag
Tip two: create a new embroidery design and use the materials from the plastic zip bag! I love that it forces me to be creative with limited materials on hand
Tip three: donate all your embroidery waste to schools or community centers, they can use it for workshops etcetera.

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Blog re-use embroidery waste tips D. Balfoort embroidery 12

Well I’m curious what you do with your embroidery waste and love to hear and see if my tips were helpful.

Hope to see, meet, or hear you soon, let’s stay in touch:

  • Love everything embroidery? Want to receive updates on my latest embroidery stories? Subscribe to my newsletter
  • Questions or want to collaborate with me? Love that! Just send me a message:
  • There is much more embroidery art to see on my Instagram and You Tube, see you there!

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