Posts tagged "clothes"

Recycled Christmas – upcycle trash into handmade presents

Perhaps it’s just the blogs I read but it seems like more people than ever are thinking of making gifts this Christmas.

There are lots of suggestions out there for making biscuits, cakes or jams, or knitting or crocheting something pretty — but if you’re after a truly frugal Christmas, all those ingredients & yarns add up: what about things which you can make by reusing/recycling/upcycling things from around the home?

Here are my favourite ideas for simple & frugal upcycled Christmas presents:

1. Hankies

Handkerchiefs are easy to make from any soft old cotton fabric – bedding or clothing for example. They’re simple but always useful – and help the recipient cut down on their disposable tissue usage too.

Don’t feel they have to be boring white – I made the ones in the picture out of an old pink gingham shirt – and consider monogramming/embroidering them to make them extra special.

(Use 100% cotton fabric where possible and 100% cotton yarn too so that they can handle being washed at a hot temperature if needs be.)
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How can I stain my wedding dress?

I got an email with the above subject line and assuming it was spam, braced myself for a rude message – but in fact it was a genuine reusing/upcycling question from Valerie:

i am getting married again, but because it is my second marriage, i don’t want to spend a lot of money all over again.

i still have the gown i wore for my first wedding, a couple of years back (not outdated yet!), which i love, but i wouldn’t wear it white again…can i stain it? to make it cream or just not white?

i read something about tea staining, but i would need to use a tub to evenly stain it, which i don’t have…suggestions?

My first thought whenever anyone asks about staining/dyeing old clothes is always: what fabric is it? Natural fabrics dye a lot better and lot more evenly than synthetic ones. If you’re not sure what fabric it is – well, even if you are sure, it would be worth doing a swatch test on a hidden layer to check out how well the stain will take and what it’ll look like.

(For those interested in natural dyes, I’d recommend the Pioneer Thinking guide to plant dyes – what to use to get different colours and what to use as fixes.)

Any other advice? and what about tub suggestions/advice? I’m not an expert dyer but I believe you have to be careful using some metal pots (especially aluminium) – is plastic to be avoided too? Valerie seems happy with the design but any other upcycling advice?

(Photo by trudyloos)

How can I reuse or recycle Birkenstock sandals?

orangeterra left a comment on the “Suggest An Item” page:

What can I do with my old Birkenstock sandals? They’re a combo of rubbery foam soles, cork footbed, and leather straps. Because they take the shape of my feet, I doubt they’d be good hand-me-downs, but I hate to toss them.

Birkenstock has a page about their green production/distribution policies and advice on repairing/maintenance suggestions to prolong the life of the sandals. Birkenstock USA also links to shoe redistribution charity Soles4Souls.

Depending on which bit of orangeterra’s sandals has give way, they might benefit from a little repair – get a few more months out of them with new soles – or if the sole is good but the rest ruined/broken, they might be suitable for turning into slippers.

Any other suggestions? Or recycling links?

How can I reuse or recycle man-made fabric clothes?

Lynette left a comment on another post asking:

Does anyone know how I can recycle man-made fabrics that are beyond wearing, not appropriate for ‘rag’ etc. People have suggested charity shops, but they wouldn’t want such items. Council 3rd world bins ask for only wearable clothes, so this is becoming a problem. I buy all second hand clothes but have to avoid wool as I am married to a staunch vegan.

As I replied to the comment, I think it depends on the item of clothing/type of fabric – a man-made fleece jacket is going to have different reuses to a viscose camisole or nylon tights. From Lynette’s mention of wool, I’m guessing she’s thinking about fake woollies – polyester or acrylic jumpers/cardigans and coats etc.

If the fabric is a reasonably heavy weight, a lot of the insulating ideas for fleeces would apply. If you’re handy with a needle & thread then you might be able to upcycle the decent parts of the garment into something else – a smaller version of the clothes for a child or a dog.

I also wouldn’t be too sure about charity shops not wanting them – talk to the staff (the stock sorting staff, not necessarily the counter staff) at your local shop and see if they collect items for a “rag man” — textile reclamation companies often have deals with charity shops to take their scraps, and pay the charity shop some money based on weight. Clothes and items not fit for reuse in their current state can be shredded to use as filling, or depending on the fabric, the fibres reclaimed and respun.

Any other suggestions?

How can I reuse or recycle price tags from clothes?

Last week Junk Jewelry‘s Jane linked to a picture from this month’s Vogue in which hang tags – price tags – are deliberately kept on items as part of the overall look. Ok, it’s maybe a just-in-photo-shoots look rather than something you’d wear on the street but it still made me think about price tags.

Price tags on clothes from highstreet shops seem to be multiplying – one piece of card for the brand/sub-brand, one for the price, one for care instructions… True, most are card so widely recyclable but increasingly I’ve spotted fabric ones on brands attempting to make themselves look more upmarket – held on with a piece of string or ribbon, instead of those little plastic things. A lot of waste that’s just usually pulled off and thrown in the bin straight away.

Anyone got any suggestions for reuses – rather than just recycling – of the card ones? And what about the fabric ones?

(There is, of course, a reduce case here – stop buying excessively tagged highstreet clothes but even the charity shops I go to usually have a couple of big card tags on their garments now.)

(And speaking of highstreet shops and their wasteful antics, this story came to light last week but in case you’ve not seen it – H&M have admitted deliberately destroying brand new clothes rather than giving them to charity. Another attempt by big chains to discourage freegans/scavengers and resulting in more senseless waste. Sigh.)