Archive for the "revamp this" category

How can I revamp some plain curtains with recycled/upcycled materials?

Following on from my recent “how can I revamp a kitchen so I don’t need a new one?” question, Janet has asked a similar (smaller scale!) question about curtains:

I have ordinary plain curtains that need to look snazzy. I like the “wacky” type of design,whether it’s adding on old buttons,bits of fabric etc. Any ideas? Many thanks,Janet.

I think you’ve already got a few good ideas on there: cover the bottom quarter/third of the curtains with a strip of contrasting fabric and decorate the join with a row of buttons (mmm, buttons on curtains) – or go shabby chic with a whole row/section of buttons and misc (badges, charms, pompoms, bows, rosettes – whatever you can find). Or use scraps of old fabric and yarn to make a bunting design higher up – old patterned clothes or bedding would be fab. I’ve seen curtains that looked like they had tufts/short tassels of yarn every 15cm/6ins or so in lines down the length of them, which would be easy to replicate. Or sew on ribbon/thin strips of scrap fabric to add stripes or wiggly lines – for thicker stripes, this chevron idea is nice and I’ve seen a similar appliqué idea using strips of a design cut from old lacey net curtain. Alternatively, you could make reverse appliqué patches – cut out simple shapes and add a contrasting shape/fabric behind to peek through (reverse appliqué tutorial). A simple no-sew idea is to attach ribbon/yarn/strips of scrap fabric to each curtain ring/clip – like the idea (about a third of the way down) on this page.

If the curtains are 100% cotton, you could try dyeing them – ombre/dip dye ones would look interesting (as if all the dye from the curtains had slid down to the floor ;) ) – or if they’re too dark for that, selectively bleaching them. (Obviously do try a test patch first.) If they’re too big to be manageable in a dye bath, you could try printing onto them instead (possibly using a linocut technique or an even simpler stamp for something like polka dots — or for a fun or kid-centric room, hand prints ;) ).

How would you revamp or embellished plain curtains using recycled/upcycled stuff? What did you do? Have you got any tips or suggestions for Janet? Any non-sewing idea or ones that use alternative materials to fabric/yarn?


Reduce This: How can I revamp an old kitchen so I don’t need to buy a new one?

Yesterday, I posted a question from James, asking for ways to reuse or recycle a whole kitchen, because he’s getting a new one. Thanks to everyone that has commented about that!

At the bottom, I mentioned reducing is the most important part of the recycling triangle. James already seems quite set on getting a new kitchen but other people approaching a similar “new kitchen?” position may want to revamp what’s there rather than starting again. By “other people”, I mean me ;)

Our kitchen is also 15+ years old, is looking rather tired (especially as half the kitchen has one cupboard design, the other half a different one) and the far end is generally pretty dark (as is obvious in the picture!). We did a few things to freshen it up when we moved here two and a half years ago such as repainting the walls a more neutral shade and replacing the very scuffed, dark green hob & sink with lighter alternatives (thanks eBay for second-hand bargains for both!).

More recently (as this week – it’s still drying), we’ve had the nasty grease-attracting spiky artex ceiling reskimmed so once painted, that’ll look fresher and as well as redecorating again, we’re going to add some tiled splashbacks (since there aren’t any at the moment – mucky walls a go go!). We’re hoping to find a replacement for the badly fitted dark vinyl flooring too and improve the lighting somewhat. Will it be as nice as a new kitchen? No — but it’ll hopefully be good enough and more practical so we won’t need to decorate again for a good while (I hate decorating). I don’t think I have the skill or space to do an adequate job of repainting the cupboards (which would make the mismatched doors more uniform) but I’m hoping everything else will freshen it up enough.

Have you revamped an old kitchen to save replacing it? Do you have any tips or suggestions?

Did you include any reclaimed, recycled or upcycled elements in your “new” kitchen? I’d love to hear your stories for inspiration!


How can I repair/revamp a stained cotton rug?

I haven’t done a “repair this” for a while but this is something I’ve been wondering about for a few weeks now: how can I repair/revamp a stained rug?

It’s a circular cotton rug with off-white (even before the stains!) and pale blue strips, and even though it was pretty cheap, I love it. But it is stained and dirty now and it really needs a good clean and/or a revamp.

Since it’s cotton, it can probably handle some tough cleaning love – but it’s also about 2m/6-and-a-half feet in diameter and heavy and awkward to work with. It’s not going to fit in a sink or a washing machine – even cleaning it in a bath will be very awkward because it’s so big.

As for revamping it, since it’s cotton, I thought about the possibility of dyeing it – but again, that’ll be an awkward job, and also potentially a very, very messy one.

Any suggestions for how can I clean it? Or any advice for dyeing it or revamping it in another way?


Upcycling clothing: How can I upcycle/revamp a vest top (tank top)?

Those who follow my simple/DIY living blog The Really Good Life as well as Recycle This will know that I’m doing a clothes rationing exercise in 2011. For those that don’t know, I’ve limited myself to buying a maximum of 12 items of clothing – be it brand new or second-hand – across the year. I didn’t think an outright “buy no clothes in 2011″ ban would be realistic due to the gaps in my current wardrobe (no smart clothes, few jumpers that fit) or because of wear and tear throughout the year — but as it happens, since I implemented my quota and got incredibly conscious about using up my allowance, I’ve not bought anything at all so far.

I do keep getting flashes of “something new would be nice”. Since the start of the challenge, I’ve regularly done exercises to “shop from my wardrobe” — sorting through my existing shirts or tops to remind myself what I’ve got, what fits, what needs repairing and mentally linking items together into outfits. But by the end of winter, I was still getting a bit bored of the few jumpers/hoodies I own (especially as the hoodies are very same-y) and now, after a warmer than expected Spring, I’m already getting a little tired of my t-shirts.

Then at the weekend, I spotted a how-to which started my mind cogs working. In that tutorial they used doilies to make cute short sleeves/shoulder accents for vest tops (aka sleeveless shirt, tank top, singlet, or camisole – the outerwear, t-shirt like version rather than underwear). I’m not sure I’m a doily type of girl but I have a number of cute (or even just plain but nice coloured) vest tops that would be made considerably more wearable with the addition of some sleeves, new straps or a little more support/coverage around the cleavage area. (I usually wear the vest tops underneath other tops or shirts to disguise these defects but when it’s warm, I don’t want to wear multiple layers.)

So I started looking around for some other vest top revamp ideas. I found some more ideas for adding mini sleeves onto vest tops; I could combine two vests – making sleeves, a length extension and a boob-cover up from one all sewn onto the other. There are also the usual ideas for hiding stains or embellishing plain tops too, to add more excitement to the festivities.

Before I go snip happy with my pinking shears, I’d love to hear more ideas though – have you revamped any vest tops into something more covering or just something fresh and new? Have you seen any how-tos or inspirational ideas?


How can I freshen up a tired winter coat?

A couple of weeks ago, I spotted an article someone was promoting on Twitter about “sprucing up your tired winter coat“. Ooh! I thought, I like sprucing! It’s a great way to upcycle & reduce after all — but when I clicked over to the article, I found the sprucing involved the addition of various belts, brooches and doohickeys, which is fine but not very me.

For me, it’s both a “repair this” and “reduce this” type question – how can I refresh that tired winter coat so I don’t need to buy a new one? I think it’s important that it not just so that it looks better but that I feel better about it too.

I basically have three coats for throughout the year – a light cotton hoodie (which I wear most of the year), an expensive-for-me big super-warm cotton parka type coat for freezing days, and a cheaper, shorter “wool” one which I wear when it’s not quite so cold and I need to look a bit neater than in the parka.

So how can I freshen those up?

For me, there are two main areas that get tired dirty – my cuffs and my pockets. The hoodie gets thrown into the wash regularly, hurrah for cotton. The parka & wool one aren’t as easily washable, especially mid-winter but spot-washing on the cuffs improves things a lot. As for the pockets, I treat my pockets like some women treat their handbags – a site for the accumulation of detritus. This is sometimes good (I found a fiver in my parka coat when I put it on the first time this year!) but mostly bad (crumbs of dog biscuts, bits of paper, sticky sweets). Emptying out the junk & cleaning out the crumbs and dirt from the pockets won’t make it look any better (although a lot of junk does ruin the line of the coat), but it’ll make it feel better for me and enjoy using it more.

Another thing: my wool one – it’s not 100% wool but wool-heavy and it’s that heavy woollen style – is bobbly. A bit of combing with a debobbler would make it look a lot tidier. I suspect there will also be some snags too which could be tidied up. I’m also going to debobble/de-snag my scarves, gloves & mittens for good measure.

Yet another thing: the zips on my hoodie and parka coat have been playing up recently – I could secure the bottom zip section in place with a couple of stitches and rub a little soap on the teeth to stop them snagging, and it would make zipping up a less frustrating experience.

Another, more involved thing: the lining on the wool-ish one has always bugged me – it’s icky polyester and now it’s torn a little too. I could use an old fun-patterned shirt to replace it – using the original lining as a pattern – an upcycling idea and revamp in one.

So that’s what I do/will be doing. Have you got any ideas for ways to freshen up an old coat?

(Photo by sh0dan)