Updated March 9, 2021.
I admit it, and I am a packrat. My studio, stitching chair, and part of my garage are filled with assorted needlepoint stuff.
I rarely throw out ends of thread skeins. I keep piles of ORTs, and sometimes I wonder why.
Actually, I shouldn’t wonder; leftovers have uses. Here are some great ones I’ve come across lately.
PLEASE NOTE: If the linked instructions call for specific colors, substitute what you have. The results will not be the same, but they will be YOURS.
Bits and Bobs of Thread
You probably have lots of this: the last yard of thread from a skein, a sample from a shop, the leftovers from a kit. I keep these and use them in several ways.
Make a Scrap Bag Needlepoint These projects are designed to use small amounts of different threads. Buy one or make up your own. (I have a book of scrap bag projects available here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/553414873/scrap-bag-needlepoint) An easy way to do this is to find a nice outline and frill it up with the same stitch in different threads.
Use them when you need “just a bit.” It fries me when I have to buy a whole skein of a thread when I only need a yard. I’d far rather be told to look for something in my stash to use. If I’m doing a project that only uses a bit of something, I go to my scrap pile to get some thread. Often the exact match of color in these areas isn’t as critical, and using my stash makes the canvas more my own. Over the weekend, I was working on a small nativity. By using bits & bobs of thread, I was able to complete & use up threads for the star, manger, Mary’s veil, and the stable background. There are many other small parts in this piece, so I am excited to use more scraps.
Use them to add variety to your needlepoint. Few things in the world are uniform in color and texture. But how often do we stitch a bunch of shrubs, for example, and use all one thread in a simple stitch? If instead, you used some of your bits of leftover thread to stitch a bush or two, you’d get something that had more variety, depth, and realism. This process may seem strange at first, but stick to it; you’ll soon see lots of places where your scraps can do good.
Right now, the SpaceNeedlers chapter of ANG has a great sampler project where you are encouraged to use these kinds of scraps when they are in your chosen colors to add life to your project. I have pulled my main threads. I need to go searching for scraps tonight. Anyone can join the fun; just see their Facebook page.
You could also use them beautifully to make a heart for Hearts for Hospice. Not only will you be doing a lovely thing for grieving families, but you’ll also be using up your stash. I have a heart outline on my desk that is crying to be used this way.
If you finish your own items, cut your ORTs into small pieces and use them to stuff pincushions and other small items.
Do the Totally Useless Stitch-A-Long Save your ORTS each month and put them in a labeled spice jar. Line them up on a shelf to be a colorful testament to what you’ve stitched.
You should not do is give them to the birds for nests. They attract attention and can be bad if the bird swallows them.
I recently bought a charming needleminder that has orts pressed between two pieces of glass. If you don’t want to finish the glass edges yourself, look for glass pendants to make these.
I recently used a bunch of old Persian Wool and leftover thread to make a tassel. Because it is made only of wool, I cut the tassel’s skirt short and gave it to my cats for a toy. They love it! Because it’s all wool, it’s nice and fluffy to throw around and carry. It’s also proving pretty indestructible. I’ve even found Bingley playing with it on my bed!
If you have lots of leftover wool, you could also make pom-poms. You can then use these in different projects. Lots of wool could make dryer balls.
Leftover Large Amounts of Yarn or Thread
If you have lots of thread or yarn that won’t work for needlepoint, you can still put it to good use.
God’s Eyes are a traditional ornament. They are great for using up leftover thread of different amounts.