Posts tagged "clothes and fabric"

How can I reuse or recycle small pieces of fabric – that isn’t patchwork blankets or tote bags?

Last week, I posed a question from Annetta about what to reuse or recycle to make a bird bath – thanks for all the great suggestions. Annetta asked another question – about fabric:

Any other good ideas for using fabric. I have tons of it and I am getting bored making blankets and tote bags. I want to make something useful.

I asked her to clarify what type of fabric – old bedding, old clothes, old yardage/fat quarters etc – and she added: “The fabric in question is in small bits. I have so much fabric in small pieces I just don’t know how to use it all, and I don’t want to throw it away.”

While I’d challenge the insinuation that blankets & tote bags aren’t useful, I do know what she means – we currently have more than enough shopping bags and throw blankets (even with a messy/often soggy dog) so new ideas are always welcome.

I’ve seen some lovely pieces of patchwork used for revamping old chairs etc recently – painted woodwork and patchwork seats – and also patchwork cushions, but I’d imagine the latter would quickly become the next blanket/tote bag — a couple is all you need.

Individual little bits of fabric could be used for appliqué for upcycling/revamping old clothes, or used for creative repairing. Bunting is also super popular at the moment as an all-year-round decoration as well as at party time.

Involving less sewing, jersey/t-shirt material can become reusable washcloths or wipes to replace toilet paper. I’ve also seen lots of fabric wrapped bangles and necklaces recently. And don’t forget rag rugs – I recently saw a cool way to make round ones using a hula hoop but if the fabric pieces aren’t big enough for that, a knotted one might work better.

Any more recycling ideas?

How can I reuse or recycle PVC aprons?

We’ve had an email from Ann:

The centre where I work has just rebranded and they’ve made us get rid of all the protective aprons we use for messy art classes as they had the old name on them. I think they’re PVC. Can they be recycled?

I would have thought most textile reclamation companies would accept them – because before actual recycling, they might be reusable by people less bothered about having the correct brand on them. Similarly there may be community groups in your local area that would like them – but it does, unfortunately, depend on how obsessive the organisation is about the brand stuff — I know some places are really annoyingly single-minded about that sort of thing and will send all sorts of new items to landfill to avoid any confusion about their current name/logo.

Could the aprons be adapted or repurposed so they can still be used internally? I’m imagining they’re full length aprons – if the logo is just on the top bit, could it be covered up? Or cut down to make a waist apron?

Or could the non-branded bits of the apron be upcycled into something else? Placemat-style table coverings? Might be useful for messy sessions.

Any other ideas for reusing/repurposing/upcycling them? Or actual recycling suggestions?

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?

Upcycling clothing: how can I reuse or recycle a felted wool jumper?

A few years ago, I found the BESTEST JUMPER EVER in a shop. It was a lovely shade of purple, with fair isle detailing and fit me perfectly, in a really flattering way. Best of all, it was in the last ditch clearance sale so only cost £4. From the title of this post, I’m betting you can tell how this story ends. I got to wear it once before I shrunk it horrendously in the wash. Sigh.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s been in that situation – and there are people who buy old wool jumpers from charity/thrift/op shops purposefully to felt them and use them for crafts.

Have you ever made anything from a felted/shrunk wool jumper? Anyone got any suggestions or links to finished projects/how-tos?

And what about reuses/recycling ideas for people who aren’t crafty or confident enough to make something extravagant with them?

Or any other sob stories about accidental shrinking/felting mishaps?

How can I reuse or recycle hairdressers/beauty salon aprons & smocks?

Jeri left a question on the Suggest an Item page:

I work at a beauty salon and we just got new aprons so I collected all the old black ones and all the old polyester smocks that they were going to throw away. They were just putting them in the trash so I rescued them now what can I do with them?

Alison Bailey Smith has already suggested: “Donate to a local art project or gallery or museum that has ‘have a go days’.” which is a great idea. In the UK, you could also offer them to your local scrap store – they’ll probably be able to use them or pass them on.

The smocks they have at the hairdressers I go to always remind me of bat wings or witches’ cloaks so a couple of them could be also upcycled into a fancy dress costume. But Alison’s idea is much better if you’ve got a lot. ;)

Any other suggestions?