Archive for the "clothes and fabric" category

What can I reuse or recycle to repair the mesh on bicycle panniers?

Good friend of Recycle This and The Really Good Life, Su, has got a question for us:

Bicycle panniers – mine have a really useful stretchy mesh pocket on the outside, unfortunately now more hole than mesh. Any ideas on repairing them? The actual pannier part is absolutely fine.

The summer before last, I bought some mens’ shorts for myself and since I don’t have things down there in need of containment, I removed the “netting” layer – that wouldn’t have been pretty but would have fit the bill perfectly – stretchy white mesh. (I ended up using it in the greenhouse to store bulbs.) Can anyone think of anything else in the same vein to reuse instead? Heavy (so they won’t run) nylon tights maybe?

Another idea which is less reusing/recycling but still repairing: could you crochet a flat mesh from a plastic twine using a variant on a string bag patten? I used to make a version of this bag from all sorts of different yarns when we were short of shopping bags – makes up very quickly because it’s so much hole :)

Any other ideas?

(Photo by arifm)

How can I reuse or recycle (or pass on) slippers?

Rachael left a note on the suggestions page, asking:

hi, how can recycle some slippers? do shoe banks take them? thanks

Yes, they can be put into shoe banks – but make sure they’re tied together in some way (if they’ve not got laces, tie them together with string or an elastic band). Stuff put in charity shoe banks is usually distributed in three ways depending on quality/condition: for resale at a charity shop in this country, for resale overseas or for actual recycling down to being shredded for raw materials — so one way or another, they’ll get reused.

If they’re old and in poor condition, you might be able to revamp them yourself to get a bit longer out of them – I tend to wear slipper socks than actual slippers but I’ve upcycled the “leather” soles of one pair by crocheting new “uppers” using the relevant part of patterns widely available on the internet. Sole aside, a lot of towelling-type slippers will be 100% (or thereabouts) cotton so might be dye-able, which might breathe new life into a discoloured/grubby pale coloured pair.

Any other ideas for revamping or recycling an old pair of slippers? Or other suggestions on places to pass them onto? (eg would shelters take them?)

How can I reuse or recycle novelty jester hats?

Karen has emailed about her boyfriend’s hat collection:

When cleaning up I came across a lot of jester hats from my boyfriend (about two dozen). He has collected them over the years for free at carnival (we are from Holland). Giving them away hasn’t been succesful, and we don’t have freecycle nearby. So I was wondering if we could reuse them in some way. They are made of different kinds of fabric, some I can’t place (and there is nothing on the labels). Some are felted and some are fake velour I think.

Two dozen jester hats! That’s quite a collection! I really hope he knows to reduce from now on and not collect any more.

As for reuses, the felted ones may lend themselves to small felt craft projects – there are lots of felt brooches around these days and basic (but pretty) ones are quite easy to make (for example, these butterflies ones).

As for the velour ones, I have half a memory of seeing a cushion made out of novelty hats but no amount of Googling will confirm I didn’t just make that up in a cheese dream.

Any other suggestions?

How can I reuse or upcycle trainer socks/glove socks/foot socks?

About seven or eight years ago now, I had a bit of a thing for trainer socks/glove socks/foot socks — those socks that stop before your ankle so they almost disappear in trainers/sneakers — and bought quite a few pairs to wear for work.

Now seven or eight years later, arrgh, I hate them. They always slip down so my trainers rub the back of my ankle, and they’re useless in walking boot style shoes where you need the protection further up as well. It’s not even a “hide-the-unsightly-cuff” issue any more because my jeans are always way too long so you can barely see my shoes, let alone a gap between the hem & the shoe, and on the very, very rare occasion I wear a skirt or shorts, I’ll be more than likely wearing them with nice no-sock shoes or flip-flop/sandals anyway.

After slowly growing to despise them over the last couple of years, I decided to evict them from my sock drawer last night. I counted 24 pairs. Yes, I clearly had a big thing for them seven or eight years ago.

Anyway, now I have 24 pairs of ankle-cuff-less foot socks which need reusing or upcycling. They’ve all been well used so aren’t really in a position to be passed along – but equally, have a bit more life in them than to just become cleaning rags — so I’m looking for upcycling ideas really.

Some ideas I’ve had so far: attached two pairs together to make above-ankle socks; Alice’s moth-repellent idea; stuff with cat nip to make a cat toy; use them to make sock monsters (although they’re mostly plain so might be dull).

Any other ideas?

How can I reuse, recycle or revamp a rucksack/back pack?

We’ve kinda covered this already but Janette has such a specific question that I thought it was worth looking at it again:

I have a backpack I would like to recycle and reuse. I have the straps and the part that goes against our back but would like to change the rest of it with reused fabric. Only the zipper doesn’t work right now but would like to change the whole outside pocket to add style. I have some random fabrics including jean material from old jeans. Could [use] the jean material for durability?

Does anyone have any simple but fashionable patterns that fit what I have? It would be fun to do a quilted backpack (but I don’t have any quilted fabric yet). I don’t want to do a purse backpack just a normal one that can hold books and such. I’m trying to avoid buying anything so buying a zipper is out of the question. I have some other craft supplies but not extra zippers.

Because I’m a bit lazy, I’d probably try to do the least possible sewing and start with something already roughly the right shape or with pockets. Very simply, I’ve seen the bottom of old jeans turned into backpacks (like in this video tutorial) but depending on the size of the jeans, it may be more of a mini backpack (like in the video), which isn’t the sort of thing Janette wants. (Mine would be big enough to hold a few books, and even a folder if I didn’t make a closing flap at the top. Finally an advantage to having a bigger bum!) If you only have small jeans available, you could make them bigger by cutting up the fly, and using a different fabric for the back of the pack, and opening up the legs (as if you were making a skirt from jeans) to make it longer.

Another video makes a backpack from an old suit jacket – a lot of the jacket is cut away so you wouldn’t necessarily know it was from a jacket, but the useful pockets do remain. I’ve also seen skirts made into backpacks (although I can’t find any links now) and there are lots of tutorials on how to make a drawstring backpack from an old t-shirt out there.

I don’t think any of those ideas will completely satisfy Janette’s requirements but they’ve certainly given me some ideas for non-zip closures: how about a velcro-ed flap like the suit jacket one? or buckles on straps (like old army packs), buttoned down flaps or a drawstring, possibly under a flap? I usually shy away from wikihow posts but there seems to be a decent tutorial on making a pack with the latter on there.

Anyone got any advice, suggestions or tutorials for Janette?