Posts tagged "clothes and fabric"

How can I reuse or recycle vertical blinds material?

Someone on my Twitter feed yesterday – I can’t remember who, sorry – asking about ways to recycle or reuse the material from vertical track blinds.

My first – instinctive – reaction was “bleugh!” because I hate the feel of those blinds ;) My second thought was “good question!”

We had lots of great ideas for re-using the slats from Venetian blinds so what about vertical blinds?

The fabric is usually synthetic and a little rigid & scratchy (hence the bleugh!) so not ideal sewing material but I’m sure those attributes could be strengths in some projects. The strips of fabric are usually about 10cm/4inches wide and as long as the window drop (so typically at least a metre or so).

On the slat blinds post, chez suggested using vertical blinds to make a shopping bag — weaving the strips together. They could also be woven together to make a protective mat – or even a picnic blanket type thing if you’re not so phobic of the fabric as me :)

Have you reused or upcycled vertical blinds in any way? What would you do with the material?

How can I reuse or recycle an acrylic sweater/jumper?

We’ve covered wool jumpers/sweaters on the site before now – what to do with them when you accidentally shrink your most favourite jumper ever in the wash. But what about acrylic jumpers? They don’t get ruined in the same way but cheaper ones tend to lose their shape and look a bit washed out over time. That’s the position I’m in now with a few things from before I brought in my “at least 50% natural fibres” rule (in practise, it’s usually a minimum of 80%) – they’re approaching the end of their wearable life even by someone as scruffy as me.

Since they can’t be felted (either accidentally or on purpose), they can’t be used for a lot of the same reuses as wool jumpers – they’re too thin (and anyway, not heat resistant enough) to be turned into a pot holder or something like that, and I don’t think they’d be absorbent enough to be used to make a soakers/nappy covers for babies.

If they were prettier jumpers & cardigans (rather than just boring one colour ones), I could use the less washed out ones to make a cushion cover – I love the stripes and matching stripy draught excluder in that tutorial and actually, that’s another idea – I could use the arms to make a draught excluder, stuffed with the shredded material from the body. But what else could I do with them?

Have you reused, recycled or upcycled acrylic jumpers in any interesting, practical or fun ways?

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?

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)

Upcycling ideas: bows & flowers & tins & umbrellas & everything

It’s been a while since I’ve done a “links round-up” post about some of the things that I’ve been emailed or spotted around the greater internet recently so … here goes!


  • With the major gift giving time of the year looming in the near-distance, I love this idea of reusing colourful children’s pictures to make gift bows instead of using generic plastic ones. Of course the same idea can be applied to any old paper – as the tutorial shows black-on-white newspaper text looks pretty cool too.
  • I’m always a sucker for stuff made with drinks cans but these flowers are rather cute – I especially like the painted ones.
  • Tinplategirl emailed recently her new tutorials site about working with tinplate – the smooth heavier-weight metal from various large tins & cans. The site includes a number of free videos introducing the craft – where to find the materials and how to work with them – and how-to PDFs for making all sorts of things (some free, some costing up to $9.95). A great resource for people wanting to move on from working with the more malleable drinks can metal.
  • And speaking of large tins, this tiered unit made from old biscuit/chocolate tins has been around for a while now but I thought it was worth mentioning because it’s a lot of fun and useful.
  • Another thing that’s a bit old but feels newly relevant given the sudden switch to autumn this week: how-to recover an umbrella frame. Great for revamping a brolly or fixing it if it gets torn – double up your green points by using old fabric (an old tent? old synthetic clothes?) for the umbrella and reclaiming the best bits of the original fabric for other craft projects (a water resistant swimming bag? or to make foam bath cushion?)
  • Oh, and if you haven’t seen it, do check out, which started as a 30 day/30 upcycled things project but is now a wider collection of upcycling ideas. No how-tos but lots of inspiring, pretty pictures.

Have you seen any fun or interesting reusing or recycling projects recently? Or have you got anything you’d like to show off of your own creation? Do leave a comment below!