I work with materials that might otherwise end up in landfill, like punctured bicycle inner tubes. It only stands to reason I wouldn’t want to waste a scrap.
I wrote more about my process in a previous blog post, but depending on their characteristics, the long lengths of those punctured inner tubes become products like my bags, wallets, and coin samosas.
Inner tube is a funny material. It’s curved in two directions and comes to me in random lengths and sizes, depending on what gets donated. It’s very rare that I’m able to use up every last scrap on a design, due to the way they’re constructed.
So what do I do with what’s left over?
Above is my very rough and ready storage system for scraps. It is a bit of a mess, I know. Most pieces are leftover from making products. It also contains some things I’ve taken apart: products that were too wonky even for Super Seconds Saturday.
They sit there until I’m able to find a use for them.
Using Scraps While Making Larger (Or Non-Inner Tube) Things
Where I can I try to use the scraps in my normal making process. The tabs around either end of the zip are often made of smaller scraps from other projects, and I’ll mix and match the pieces for wallets as they all tend to be the same width and amount of stretch.
I’ve used scraps to reinforce around poppers, as flaps over pockets, and even as a grippy helper to pull needles through thick layers.
That grippy nature also helps me use inner tube around my business for other things: I use a strip of inner tube to keep my ruler in place when cutting out coasters.
I also use that strip to open bottles of glue if they get a bit stuck. I’d love to make jar openers out of inner tubes, but the material isn’t food safe so I wouldn’t feel comfortable.
But what about those smaller bits?
Whenever possible I try to turn them into something useful!
Cable tidies are my go-to scrap buster. If the pieces are at least 5-6 cm long in one direction, I can probably turn it into a tidy.
And they’re great for showing off that wear and character that gets left behind on other projects. Just check out some available at the time of writing in the shop:
But what to do with those even smaller scraps?
Any thin strips of inner tube, where possible, gets turned into rubber bands to help me store more inner tubes! Sometimes I do have scraps that are circular strips, but more often than not I tie them up from longer strips.
I also use any rubber bands we get in on produce. I don’t think I’ll need to buy a rubber band for the rest of my life!
But I’ve still got the chunky little bits of inner tube I can’t tie into bands and are too short for cable tidies. I’d been saving them for ages, waiting for a project, and I’ve finally found a use in a new product!
Valets – Helping use up the unusable
If you’ve been paying attention to my valet trays on social media, you may have noticed there are washers near the rivets.
They’re there to add a little interesting detail, and to make the rivets I use more secure. But did you realise I make them myself? They repurpose those little scraps I can’t do anything else with.
You can see the process clockwise for making 10mm washers I use for the small valets – and it’s basically the same for the 12mm I use on the large ones.
They do take a bit of time, but I’m so happy to remove even more waste from my process. But obviously that’s not the end of the story.
End of the line – a work in progress
As great as the washers are, I’m still left with little circles and wispy remnants from around the washers. I also get little straggly strips from neatening up edges on other projects that are too thin or weak to use as rubber bands.
If I can’t find another use for them, those bits will probably go into stuffing something for myself. I’ve already made a little bolster to prop the door open for my cat to come in and out of the loft.
Believe it or not that bolster is has 1.8kg of inner tube scraps in it. It just swallowed them up. And the exterior of scraps made from fabric scraps of some linings for bags.
I’m always on the lookout for more ideas, though, especially for inner tubes. If you have any, leave a comment below!