Home decor Home Improvement

How to Save a Bundle Using Remnants

Hello Friends,

Remnants are often overlooked little pieces of decorating gold. But with a few shopping tips and tricks, it’s super-easy to get a fabulous designer look at a fraction of the cost. 

How to Save a Bundle Using Remnants

But before we begin, I just have to tell you the funniest story. One day, I am tooling around the city and make a wonderful new friend. The next day, I’m backing my car up to a warehouse dock that was, coincidentally, stacked with the most exquisite fabric samples and remnants imaginable. 

I know! Right?

It’s totally like this post was going to write itself.

Affiliate links are included for your convenience. See full disclosure here.

Boost your home decor on the cheap by combining fabric remnants | #orc #oneroomchallenge #remnants #livingroom #upholstery #pillowcovers | www.thechelseaproject.com

Anyway, I had no earthly idea what kinds of fabric or even how much yardage were in the stacks. But as they were loaded, I spied some amazing silks, linens, and upholsteries. And the fact that these precious pieces were literally on their way to scrap-fabric heaven made saving them from such an unseemly fate all the more joyous.

Even tiny pieces of fabric can create a big decor impact | #orc #oneroomchallenge #remnants #livingroom #upholstery #pillowcovers | www.thechelseaproject.com

So I brought them home and started sorting….and sorting….AND sorting. To onlookers, it may have seemed like the mother lode of hot fabric messes, but to me, it was like Christmas! I promise, if anybody with even a hint of decluttering OCD had come around, they would have likely needed to be restrained…..or maybe even resuscitated.


By the time I had finished sorting, that glorious fabric covered the floor from the front door to the back.

Mix textiles to create interesting textures | #orc #oneroomchallenge #remnants #livingroom #upholstery #pillowcovers | www.thechelseaproject.com

But once I finally got my arms around what was there and figured out which pieces could be used for the living room refresh, it was 100% worth all the work  fun. 🙂 And honestly, it’s such an honor to have the chance to work with such fabulous textiles. Many thanks to the good folks at #JimThompson. I’ll gladly stand between your warehouse dock and the fabric-eating trash bin any time. #callme

And with this, let’s talk about how to actually buy and use these little fabric gems. 

The Three Basics

Size Matters

When it comes to using remnants, size matters. Usually, the smaller the remnant, the lower the price. But looking at these tiny pieces in a new way can turn even the smallest of remnants into the decor of your dreams. I got my first taste of maximizing small pieces (2 yards or less) during the dining room refresh. Now, I’m a complete and hopeless remnant junkie.


Then there’s cohesion, always and always. In the dining room refresh, cohesion is maintained on the chairs by keeping the fabric type (all linen) and the colors (white and greige) consistent.

Learn how to use the cohesive elements of remnants | #orc #oneroomchallenge #remnants #livingroom #upholstery #pillowcovers | www.thechelseaproject.com

I have six dining room chairs and each of the linen fabrics covers two chairs. If you find smaller pieces of six coordinating fabrics, this would work, too. Or a smaller remnant could cover the host chairs and a larger coordinating remnant would cover the side chairs. See where we’re going here? When working with remnants, it’s all about moving the decorating ball down the field using whatever play that makes this happen.

Any number of fabrics can be used in a room. The key is to mix and match | #orc #oneroomchallenge #remnants #livingroom #upholstery #pillowcovers | www.thechelseaproject.com


As for fabric repeats, a word of caution. Make sure you know the exact size of the seat or pillow cover needed because repeats in the fabric can make or break a good DIY. Notice in the photo below that the upholstery is placed on these two chairs as exact copies based on the 4-inch check repeat. The same was also true for the geometric fabric used on the host chairs. Of the three fabrics used on the dining room chairs, only the whirly Kate Spade gave me some elbow room with the repeat (photo above). 

Tips for upholstering chairs to be exact copies are one click away | #orc #oneroomchallenge #remnants #livingroom #upholstery #pillowcovers | www.thechelseaproject.com

Shopping Tips and Tricks

  • Create a pattern (template) of your chair or pillow out of old fabric and carry it with you to the fabric store. When standing at the remnant table struggling to determine how the repeat will impact your project, lay the template over the remnant. Trust me. You’ll thank me later.

  • Does the face side of the fabric work only kinda sorta? Flip it over and consider the back side. In the photo below, the fabric on the left is the smooth face side and on the right is the more textured back side. 

Fabrics can be used front (face side) or back. One fabric piece. Two options | #orc #oneroomchallenge #remnants #livingroom #upholstery #pillowcovers | www.thechelseaproject.com

Here are the finished pillows using the more textural back side of this fabric.

Pillows on the top are made using the back side of a remnant as the textured front | #orc #oneroomchallenge #remnants #livingroom #upholstery #pillowcovers | www.thechelseaproject.com

  • Have great remnant pieces, but they’re just too small? Sew a few pieces together to create the right-sized textile. Admittedly, this is sometimes easier said than done. But, among my stacks of teeny, tiny pieces, I found a good size piece of silk and two pieces of linen with these amazing inlays. 

Sew pieces together to create a new textile | #orc #oneroomchallenge #remnants #livingroom #upholstery #pillowcovers | www.thechelseaproject.com

To create a new textile using these pieces, one option is to lay the linen pieces side-by-side since the white sides match. Sadly, the grays are two slightly different shades of greige so gray side-by-sides is not a good option. And since the pieces are isomers (Remember isomers AKA mirror images in chemistry?), they won’t stack well either. Well, at least they won’t stack so that the inlay pattern retains a consistent direction.

Keep moving pieces around until a good fit for the pattern is found | #orc #oneroomchallenge #remnants #livingroom #upholstery #pillowcovers | www.thechelseaproject.com

But look what happens when one of the pieces is flipped. Notice the totally awesome matching patterns? #smokinthesewingmachine #justsayin #LOL

Sew remnants together using meticulous technique | #orc #oneroomchallenge #remnants #livingroom #upholstery #pillowcovers | www.thechelseaproject.com

Then, silk pieces were added to the left and right of the linen to complete the pillow cover. And although the seam in the center is quite noticeable in this photo, trust me, it is far less noticeable in person.

Place seams from created textiles in sensible places | #orc #oneroomchallenge #remnants #livingroom #upholstery #pillowcovers | www.thechelseaproject.com

  • And last, but not least, is the fabric nap. You know, those raised threads that give a texture or light reflection on different kinds of cloth? When manipulating fabric remnants, always be aware of the nap. This is because fabric is milled to use in ONE direction. So if the fabric is used in the opposite direction…..texture, light reflection and color will change. This change can be used as a friend when piecing together remnants to create a new textile. But do be aware, the nap will be a foe if upholstering chairs or making pillow covers that you want to look identical. See how this velvet shines the light (sample left), but is darker on the right sample? This is because the right sample is upside down. A perfect example of how the fabric nap can change the look when the fabric direction is manipulated.

How does the fabric nap change when a fabric is manipulated? Details are one click away | #orc #oneroomchallenge #remnants #livingroom #upholstery #pillowcovers | www.thechelseaproject.com

Now, soak in all these tips (sorry if it’s TMI) and peek back up to the photo of my dining room chairs covered in the buffalo check. To make the chairs exact copies, I had to be careful that the remnant repeat exactly fit both chairs with the nap going in the same direction. Yes, even with that very tightly woven linen. Nap in the same direction = friend. Nap in the opposite direction = foe.

And that’s all there is to it. How to use designer fabrics without breaking the bank. Easy peasy.

To revisit this post, please….

For small projects--such as pillow covers or dining chair seats--think about using remnants. Shopping tips and tricks are one click away | #orc #oneroomchallenge #remnants #livingroom #upholstery #pillowcovers | www.thechelseaproject.com

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And don’t forget to say hello to our gracious hosts, Calling It Home and House Beautiful), and visit over 200 bloggers by clicking Designer Challenge and/or clicking Blogger Challenge. #oneroomchallenge #ORC #housebeautiful

Thanks so much for stopping by!






  • Reply Karen Nolan Bell April 24, 2018 at 8:58 pm

    I had no idea you could get remnants like these. How beautiful. I’ll have to come back for more tips from you, Susie.

    • Reply theChelseaProject April 24, 2018 at 9:17 pm

      Before too long, we’ll just be “tradin” ideas. Wink Wink. 🙂

  • Reply Karen Nolan Bell April 24, 2018 at 9:54 pm


  • Reply Marie April 25, 2018 at 9:43 am

    That new friend of yours sounds heaven sent. My heart skipped a beat just reading about your fabric haul so I can only image how exciting it was to have access to all those remnants! Excellent post, Susie filled with so much valuable information. Pinned to my sewing tips board on Pinterest. Can’t wait to see your new pillows in the reveal!

    • Reply theChelseaProject April 25, 2018 at 10:35 am

      Hi Marie and thanks so much! You know how I love a good upcycle. 🙂

  • Reply Tee April 25, 2018 at 10:19 am

    Such gorgeous remnants that you scored, Susie! I love how the pillows came out. Great tips too — I can always count on you for that! Can’t wait for next week’s update!

    • Reply theChelseaProject April 25, 2018 at 10:37 am

      Hi Tee and thanks a million. I always think of you when I’m choosing a “how-to” post. You’ve become such an encourager for me and my little blog.It means so much. XO

  • Reply Carol April 25, 2018 at 1:10 pm

    Susie, I love remnants. I never leave my favorite fabric stores without checking the remnant table. These fabrics are usually 1~ 2 yards and they are $5/yard for fabric that is usually $80 – $100/yard. If I love it I buy it. I had a piece of gorgeous fabric ( 2 yards for $10) I held onto for 2 years. When we redid a vintage table and chairs, it was perfect for the host chair backs. That fabric was originally $97/yard. I’ve made pillows, too. You showed some other great ideas.

    • Reply theChelseaProject April 25, 2018 at 1:56 pm

      Thanks, Carol. Glad you are getting some great buys and enjoying the fun of using remnants.

  • Reply Susanne April 25, 2018 at 6:46 pm

    You are my sewing hero, how lucky you were to meet that new friend!! I am excited to see it all put together…2 weeks and counting!!

    • Reply theChelseaProject April 25, 2018 at 7:15 pm

      LOL….thanks Susanne. I’m with you….ready to have it done.

  • Reply sarah April 25, 2018 at 7:13 pm

    I’m all about remnants… for fabric and other materials too! I just bought marble slab remnants for a backsplash niche I’m adding to my kitchen. Great tips! Loved this one.

    • Reply theChelseaProject April 25, 2018 at 7:18 pm

      Hi Sarah and thanks so much. P.S. Any info about those marble remnants? Was it from a local supplier? I bought my granite at the granite graveyard back in the day, but would love to start some updates with marble.

      • Reply sarah April 25, 2018 at 10:00 pm

        It was from a local supplier. I just asked them if I could walk their slab yard with a sales rep and buy any “small slabs… aka- remnants. I ended up purchasing a 60″ x 30” piece that will be perfect and I scored it for cheap.

        • Reply theChelseaProject April 25, 2018 at 10:02 pm

          Wow. Great find!! Thanks Sarah. Looking forward to seeing it in place.

  • Reply Jen @ Jenron Designs April 26, 2018 at 12:13 am

    I hear ya about the remnants you can get some really great things for pennies on the dollar that way. Love your selections and can not wait to see what you and your new friend whip up for this challenge.

    • Reply theChelseaProject April 26, 2018 at 12:19 am

      Hi Jen and thanks…we will have to go remnant shopping!

  • Reply Toni | Small Home Soul April 26, 2018 at 2:15 am

    You scored big time, and I love the reds so much! You have a way with fabric and I’m a bit envious LOL I’m sure you’ll have more fun creating even more beautifulness for your new room <3

    • Reply theChelseaProject April 26, 2018 at 8:30 am

      Hi Toni and thanks so much. You are such a blessing. XO

  • Reply Jeweled Interiors April 26, 2018 at 7:45 am

    You have such a gift for finding and describing good ideas in a way that is fun and easy to understand. Not to mention some mad sewing machine skills and killer, timeless, style!

    • Reply theChelseaProject April 26, 2018 at 8:40 am

      Oh Jewel..thank you so much. Your kind words are the wind beneath my exhausted sail today. More coffee and it’s back to sewing. XO

  • Reply Jessica Vanderveen April 26, 2018 at 1:16 pm

    I love mixing and matching fabrics. These are some great tips for using remnants!

    • Reply theChelseaProject April 26, 2018 at 5:21 pm

      Hi Jessica and thanks so much!

  • Reply Kate Smith April 26, 2018 at 8:16 pm

    Such good advice! Remnants are a little known gem!

    • Reply theChelseaProject April 26, 2018 at 9:58 pm

      Hi Kate and thanks so much.

  • Reply Lisa April 27, 2018 at 9:22 am

    Susie you are a magician with fabric remnants!! Your chairs look so great, love the fabric combination you used!

    • Reply theChelseaProject April 27, 2018 at 11:41 am

      Thanks a million, Lisa! It means so much hearing this from you!

  • Reply Jessica | Petal + Ply April 29, 2018 at 10:13 pm

    Your projects definitely rocked those samples!! Great tips!

    • Reply theChelseaProject April 29, 2018 at 10:58 pm

      Hideeho Jessica! Thanks girl.

  • Reply by Brittany Goldwyn April 30, 2018 at 7:55 am

    Wow, what a useful post. Thanks for sharing. Now I just need a friend like that, ha

    • Reply theChelseaProject April 30, 2018 at 8:44 am

      Hi Brittany and thanks. Come on by and I’ll share my samples with you.

  • Reply Joy April 30, 2018 at 6:50 pm

    So very smart my friend! I love the mix of patterns and the frugality, your space is going to be gorgeous!

    • Reply theChelseaProject May 1, 2018 at 8:17 pm

      Hi Joy!! Thanks so much!

  • Reply Lindi May 1, 2018 at 11:08 pm

    Wow! I need to get my hands on some remnants now… lol. Such useful info! Thanks 🙂

    • Reply theChelseaProject May 2, 2018 at 8:35 am

      Thanks Lindi! And yes, you need some remnants. I’d love to see your amazing ideas.

  • Reply monica20039 May 2, 2018 at 10:06 am

    These are great ideas- definitely making a template to take with me when I recover my dining stools.

    • Reply theChelseaProject May 2, 2018 at 11:00 am

      Hi Monica and thanks! I’ll be thrilled to know this post helped make your life easier. Templates rock. LOL…

  • Reply Julie Briones May 7, 2018 at 5:58 pm

    What an AWESOME post! Love all the info… and now I’m going to call my designer cousin… they just closed one of their stores! Happily pinned!

    • Reply theChelseaProject May 7, 2018 at 6:33 pm

      YAY!!! And yes indeed! Grab all of those delicious samples before they are gone! Thanks so much and good luck with your remnants.

  • Reply Stacey @ Poofing the Pillows May 7, 2018 at 6:08 pm

    Great idea! I’ve ordered samples before that were large enough to make something beautiful. Using remnants is definitely doable. Your dining room is gorgeous! Pinning.

    • Reply theChelseaProject May 7, 2018 at 6:34 pm

      Hi Stacey and thanks a million! You just made my day!

  • Reply FLORENCE SALMER May 7, 2018 at 10:38 pm

    Susie, that’s incredibly interesting! I love fabrics too, but I think I must love collecting them. I seldom really DO anything with them. Aren’t you a lucky girl to have been in the right place at the right time to score all those pieces??? I LOVE the one with the swirly pattern down the middle!

    • Reply theChelseaProject May 8, 2018 at 8:31 am

      Hi Florence and thanks so much. Wish you lived nearby and could come over for some fabric. Everything is better when it’s shared. XO

  • Reply Mary May 8, 2018 at 9:28 am

    Susie this is brilliant. The remnants you have used are so pretty and they work well together to help you decorate and coordinate. What are you going to do with that swirly one that you’ve added pieces to? That is gorgeous.

    • Reply theChelseaProject May 8, 2018 at 10:01 am

      Thanks so much, Mary! I have it here and I’m waiting for a decorating epiphany. LOL….

  • Reply gardenmatter May 9, 2018 at 7:00 am

    As an admitted fabric hoarder I can totally relate to your love of fabrics. You’ve given some great tips here and now I want to go to that warehouse. 🙂

    • Reply theChelseaProject May 9, 2018 at 7:53 am

      LOL…. let’s go! Or better yet, just swing by my house and pick what you want. Thanks Patti!

  • Reply Judy @Savoring Today May 9, 2018 at 9:58 pm

    This is so smart! Such a great way to save a few pennies and make something beautiful!

    • Reply theChelseaProject May 9, 2018 at 10:09 pm

      Thanks Judy!! Yes, every penny helps. 🙂

    Thanks so much for your comment!

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