Posts tagged "textiles"

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?

Where can I source fabric production waste products?

We’ve had an email from Karen which is a bit different from our normal “how can I recycle…” questions but a good question all the same:

I’m a fashion student and I am interested in doing my final project/collection using waste products! I’ve been looking for things like parachute silk with faults in (apparently over half of what they produce is waste because it has to be SO perfect!) and anything else along those lines. I’m not so interested in taking old things and making them into something new, for me it’s more about using the waste products of production.

However I’ve been really struggling to find any, do you know where I might be able to find some? I have loads of great ideas and I promise to share what I do with you :)

The first thing that comes to mind is something that I’m sure has already occurred to Karen – to contact relevant factories. While obviously a lot of manufacturing has moved offshore these days, there are still a fair few specialist factories around – or people that take offshore-made fabric and turn it into something else (for example, I can’t find it now but someone contacted me a while ago about recycling leather/pleather offcuts from making motorbike seats).

Scrap stores may be able to help too – they often work with local industry/businesses to take unwanted materials for crafty reuse/recycling and depending on the area/their links, that might include production seconds/thirds and offcuts etc.

Any other suggestions? Any specific places? I’ll contact Karen to see whereabouts she is in the country in case that makes a difference. (UPDATE: she’s replied to say: “I’m down in Brighton, so anything kinda south coast/Sussex way would be useful :)”)

How can I reuse or recycle curtain swatches?

We’ve had an email from Stephannie:

Just having our lounge curtains replaced and got a lot of fabric swatches to check out colours etc before hand. Not sure what to do with them now. They’re mostly about A4 size with fractions of big patterns on. Thought about little coin purses or pin cushions but patterns don’t really work for that.

A friend of mine at uni got a book of (admittedly plain) curtain fabric swatches and sewed them together to make a patchwork curtain for over their draughty door. That needs a 60+ swatches though, so probably more than you’ve got.

Earlier in the year, I was looking at basic fabric doorstops – basically cubes with a handle. If you’ve got six swatches that are good colour matches, that might work.

Or colour coordinating mini-quilt padded coasters – where the general colour is more important than the pattern. We’ve got some little padded coasters with cloves in them so they let off a pleasant aroma when “activated” by a hot drink.

Any other suggestions?

How can I reuse or recycle wooly winter scarves?

Brr! For few days last week, it felt like we were getting a last minute reprieve from summer’s sayonara but now it feels very autumnal indeed. I guess it’s time to shift into winter mode – I’ve got a list of insulating chores to complete, the garden needs more tidying, I need to make soup, lots of soup, and I also need to go through the woolies in my wardrobe to see what’s in there & what’s still wearable etc.

Now is the perfect time to do the latter because charity shops, shelters and other related charities need clothing in good time before winter properly kicks in – they need to time to sort and distribute them etc. I urge everyone to have a look through their wardrobes and see if there is anything that could be used more productively by someone else. And it’s not just jumpers or cardigans – scarves, hats & gloves are all very useful and in high demand too.

When possible, passing on items for reuse by others is always the best option — but what if they’re not they’re not in a suitable condition for passing on? Or if they’ve got sentimental appeal (such as they were made by a loved one)? What can be done with them then?

If part of the scarf is damaged/stained, the rest of it could salvaged to reuse as any flat knitted fabric – cute tote bag, cushion cover, nappy/diaper cover – and if it’s got a decent quantity of wool in it, it could be felted opening up more options (oven gloves/hot pads, wrist warmers, even cute tote bag).

Any other upcycling ideas?

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?