Posts tagged "clothes and fabric"

What can I reuse or recycle to make a chair?

We’ve had an email from Adele:

For my Product Design A2 level I am aiming to create a chair made from recycled materials. I’ve got to be able to collect them in a fairly short time, and of course it would be very helpful if the items were free…I’ve got an open mind about it, and I need some inspiration fairly quick.

Cardboard chairs are the first thing to spring to mind – designers have made them in all sorts of shapes and styles and there are a number of how-tos around the internet, and people talking about the theory of making them too.

If it doesn’t have to be a formal chair, it might be worth exploring upcycling old clothes or bedding to make a bean bag. (I’ve also used old clothes to repair broken chairs on a number of occasions – an opened out jean leg is about the right width for a director’s chair seat – but those projects did start with a real chair frame.)

Getting a bit more involved than just cardboard or fabric, you can make chairs from old oil drums/barrels – for example, these basic chairs or a more flamboyant rocker. Plastic barrels might be slightly easier to work with but still transformable (these chairs aren’t made from old barrels but give an idea of possible shape).

Any other suggestions for Adele?

(Photo by Jascha400d)

How can I reuse, upcycle or recycle synthetic England flags?

Our good friend Tim posted this question on Twitter yesterday:

Anyone have good craft ideas for a synthetic England Flag? There may be lots of them on the streets or landfills soon

There certainly will be! A4-ish size car ones, towel sized ones, super-sized ones… a whole lot of squeaky synthetic white fabric with a red cross on it — all of which will be instantly discarded as soon as the team are knocked out. (I’m speaking from experience about the disappearing – the photo was taken on our old estate by John during the last World Cup and they all disappeared the day after the losing match.)

Of course it would be great if everyone reduced – didn’t buy as many (if any) or kept them to reuse for future events rather than buying new each time but that doesn’t seem to happen.

So any reusing, upcycling and recycling suggestions?

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 pass on quality new clothing for reuse?

We talk a lot about upcycling, reusing or recycling old clothes and textiles but Louis wants help passing them on:

A couple of years ago our company produced some clothing (hooded sweatshirts and t-shirts for men and women).

We still have quite a substantial amount of this clothing, which we plan to donate to charity. Every item is brand new and is extremely good quality (100% combed cotton) and each item is individually wrapped in a plastic bag.

We were wondering if you have any contacts or links to legitimate clothing charities who may be interested in this clothing? We’re keen for this clothing to be used by those in need (and not recycled)

A “substantial amount” would probably overwhelm a high street charity shop but it might be worth getting in contact with a local shop anyway – they might be able to put you in touch with someone higher up the chain who could distribute the items over a wider area.

What about more direct distribution to those in need? Does anyone know about any charities who accept large amount of clothing for giving out rather than resale? From what I’ve read, large international aid charities tend to prefer money to items (or items to be sold in their local shops to make money for sending overseas), because the items are rarely what they need in a given situation but does anyone know different?

How can I clean a smelly vintage dress?

We’ve had an email from Su:

Although is not strictly a recycle or indeed repair, I nonetheless need help!

I bought a lovely dress in a second hand shop which I just know I would get loads of wear from if only I could remove the smell! It seems to have been washed in a very highly perfumed washing powder or maybe fabric conditioner. Unfortunately, I am very susceptible to smells, so at the moment there is no way I can wear. I have washed it countless times, it’s been hung outside for weeks now and I have soaked it in vinegar, all to no avail, the smell does not even seem to be fading. It’s made of a man made material.

Any suggestions?

We often get clothes with a “charity shop smell” (which isn’t a bad smell, per se, just an overly-perfumed one) but one wash usually sorts them out, so I don’t know what to suggest on this lingering aroma. I suspect the answer may be to use bicarb of soda since that’s great at absorbing smells but I don’t know how that would be applied… Anyone know?

Any other ideas?