Costumes are a lot of fun! They challenge me to be creative, at times, too! The young man in the photo needed a costume for a summer music camp. The shirt is refashioned from a blouse that I made. I used a pattern to make the pirate vest. The pirate belt is made of a very stiff pellon, and the buckle is made of it too, but is covered in a metallic paper. Pellon and elastic were used for the eye patch.
The voyageur shirt was a requested custom garment for a gentleman who does storytelling tours. Historical re-enactments and story telling walks are great fun and educational too! Check out www.twilightwalkingtour.com, or use a search engine to find historical re-enactments near you, if you want some educational vacationing!
Upcycling is on the rise in the United States. The UK and Australia have been doing it for quite some time. It takes a combination of conventional sewing skills and free spirited or even renegade sewing! It is definitely thinking outside the box, or rather recreating the lines of the box. The thing I love about it is taking something that is classic and changing up the way it is, customizing it to its new owner.
When it comes time to go through your clothes and weed them out, if you are interested in learning new ways to recycle, you may want to think outside the box, too. Recycling fabrics can be done in more than one way.
We all already know to re-home things via give-away’s, garage sale or donating to a thrift or charity shop.That is usually our first go to way of saving the earth from overflowing landfills.
Simple alterations can be done to make a garment fit a new owner or a re-sized body.
There is also clothing that is stained or has wear beyond your ability to make use of it. These types of garments can still be salvaged by making it into a smaller size, a child sized garment, pillow/cushion, scarf or a purse/tote. I have a blog page on one thing that I made recently for someone else; a military uniform re-made into an amazing purse! Here are some others I have done (bear with my phone photo’s).
They can be broken down into even smaller usable parts both for sewing or for crochet and knit projects. Quilting originally was a way to re-use good parts of an otherwise unusable item. Look at this tutorial on how to make t-shirts into continuous parts to crochet with:
Then you can look up “T-shirt yarn projects. There is an abundance of things to find. Here is one example:
Woven fabrics also can be made into yarn to use for crochet. In the short video below, it shows a very quick way to cut the strips. You would have to remove all seams before doing this, and make sure the fabric is evenly cut.
You can find many ideas for their use by searching “crochet fabric strips”. You can also weave with it. There are rag rugs, baskets, purses and more. This provides an essentially free source for project materials, since you already own the fabric. The outcome of color is so different than the original look! You can also use smaller pieces to make a rag rug, using the very easy method of latch hook. This tutorial shows you how to do latch hook recycling or you can see the preview below.
5. Finally, a great way to continue to use outdated garments is taking the fabric of the garment and giving it a complete make-over to where it is something completely new. There is a program that I would love to watch and wish I could find. It’s from the UK, called “This Old Thing”. It seems like it is referencing that old reply to a compliment on one’s clothing ; “This old thing? Why, I only wear this when I have nothing else whatsoever to wear!” The show’s host, Dawn O’Porter is a refashion sewer and she changes up vintage clothing that people bring to her. She does so because she has a love and appreciation for vintage clothing and has begun designing a new line of things that are stylistically vintage but have elements that make them more suited to today’s wearers, (pardon the pun). Check out this clip:
I so love this young woman’s reaction to what has been done. She can’t find what the hostess asks her, to find what is recognizable on herself. She totally cannot see the former, in the new item that she is wearing. 🙂
I find value in re-learning how to re-consider what to do with the things we weed out of our closets and drawers. Rather than just having convention give-away/garage sale pile, or a trash pile, perhaps we could add a couple of these new categories. Re-fashioning in order to fit ourselves without looking like we’re from another era, or doing so to fit someone else is not a customary way of thinking but it might be worth your time and effort! Re-making items into something smaller, AND re-claiming the smaller parts of usable fabric from something for purposes such as quilting are ways to prevent total loss, and fully use that which is ours. Even if you are not a person who would get around to using the fabrics for craft purposes, maybe there is someone you know who would. If not, what about donating it to a local daycare center or other child care facility?
So next time you do a sort, try to think outside the box. What can be useful with what you have?
A re-fashioned uniform… a military wife asked me to refashion a uniform that she had into a new bag. Fun!! I was SO excited about this project. Sadly, I wasn’t able to start it right when I was ready to dig into it. I would have liked to! My already existing “to do list” prevented me from doing so. But onward, and forward! Here is what she gave me for the project.
The photo below shows a judicious purchase (a thrift store bargain), that was acquired expressly for the purpose of lining her bag.
From Military Shirt to Bag or Purse
She sent me a link to a photo of how it would turn out. It actually was part of a tutorial on how to make it, totally expediting my ability to make quickly the exact outcome she hoped for! Here is the tutorial. So, all I had to do was “commence” as my sewing machine manual calls it! lol I removed the pockets, pen pocket and sleeve tab. Wow, that is some industrial grade velcro on those pocket fronts!!
Next, I cut the front and back pieces from the shirt, and the olive dress shirt.
AND the straps.
The assembly process was next and the bag… oh the bag!! It’s a pocket lover’s delight!! Every pocket came with velcro tough enough to keep a small anxious pet inside it. Inside, there is the really big pocket from the camo sleeve, which has a strip of velcro to hold it closed. Nothing is getting lost! Next to it is the pen pocket, with three spaces for pens. On the other side of the lining, is the olive dress shirt’s front pocket. The button area was sewn shut.
This bag’s bottom strip is four inches wide. It will have plenty of room for personal belongings. the front has pockets that velcro shut, and also have velcro loop tape on the front. The tab that was once the shirt’s sleeve closure, is not the bag’s closure.
Pocket Lover’s Delight!
The view of the other side.
The pockets on this side were on this piece when I cut it off. It was previously the shirt’s front. I also took some velcro from the sleeve and sewed it on here for the closing tab. THAT was a fun project! Many thanks to my friend for asking me to do this for you! Beyond that, many thanks to our military men and women for your service to our country, and to those who have paid the ultimate price for freedom. We appreciate you and are thinking of you all this Memorial Day weekend. You have our prayers.
A woven bag is one of the things I currently have going on. I am also in the middle of my ongoing hand quilted, recycled denim project. I was going to cut out pieces of it to take with me on a trip out of state earlier this month, and quickly realized that all the blocks I have left need white denim. I was fresh out and had no time to look for some. I had to think fast about putting something else together to take along, besides reading. I decided on weaving another bag from re-claimed fabric. This one will be called the “Jeans and T-shirt Girl” bag. It’s nearly done. The weaving part takes the longest. Here is the humble beginnings with my humble phone camera:
These woven bags have been selling faster than I can stock them. 🙂 I am not sure when Jeans and T-Shirt Girl bag will become available, but watch for it in the products portion of this webpage. 🙂
I had decided to make a recycled denim quilt. At some point, after finishing the only project that I have worked on during rides in the car for twenty years, I decided I wanted to undertake another one; sewing this time! That pretty much put it into the hand quilting category. But why not? I had made several machine quilts already. I mean, yeah, they were simple four inch blocks, arranged in a pattern that suited me.
The quilt above was for a loved one who is cold easily. I chose corduroy remnants and reclaimables for it that my mom had been saving for years. In fact, the rust colored fabric is from a project I made when I was first learning to sew from a pattern. The middle is cotton batting, and the back is hunter green flannel. It is decidedly warm! Notice the crocheted blanket at the end? That is my Mom’s lovely work. 🙂
The above quilt was made with calico remnants from my leftovers boxes. The person receiving it gets hot too easily, so it was made to be a lighter weight. The middle layer is a lightweight recycled blanket. The back is a lightweight cotton. The squares in the middle are indeed lighter than the rest, it’s not your eyes. 🙂 Notice the crocheted blanket at the end? That is my Mom’s lovely work. 🙂
So yes,…it was about time for me to learn to do quilt blocks. My mom had given me a magazine quite a few years ago, that taught quilting one block at a time. I told her then that I felt like I had too much when my children were little, but that I would do it later…in time. I pulled that magazine out. My new quilt work would be made for someone who likes to sleep with weight over top, so I chose denim. I will be on the lookout for just the right blanket to recycle for the middle. TBA on the backing. Here is the first ones. The bone colored fabric is actually a light weight pinwale corduroy. I have one more block done since that photo was taken. Six blocks to go. I am looking forward to giving it to its new owner. 🙂
My “Weak in the Knees” bag, was what I came up with to find a use for ALL parts of denim jeans that need to be recycled. The holey knees were the only part I hadn’t found use for until this. Being that frayed denim is somewhat popular, I knew I *wanted* to create a use for them, but it just wasn’t happening.
My good friend Kelly likes to create… and is very creative. She designs fabric prints from home, using a website called Spoonflower, (link to her designs). She prints up samples to offer them for sale and shares some with me!! After cutting up some jeans and having the square with the holey knee in it sitting around, I happened to notice that they bore some resemblance in size to the samples. That was the inspiration I needed as the impetus to work out what to do with the frayed denim.
I also tend to buy up sewing supplies at resale shops. It sometimes lends itself to more interesting outcomes. Such was the case for this item. I had a pretty hip zipper that was perfect for the bag.
Around the same time, I was altering casual dress shirts for one of my sons. The guys in my house prefer the “slim fit” over the “muffin top” look. It just so happened that one of the shirts to be altered was in a color similar to faded denim. Soooo, I used the cuffs to make pen pockets atop the existing pocket that I added into the center of the bag.
I really wanted to use some of the original hems from the bottoms of the jeans for the top edge of the bag. As depicted in the picture above, some, but not all of the top seams worked out that way. For the remaining raw edges I used bias tape.
It is large. I almost wanted to call it a portfolio, until its current name came to me. The resulting bag is pretty exciting to me!
Why is it recycling at its finest, you ask? Because this is a project that uses pieces that absolutely would have no other use. I kept them out of the land fill hoping to find a project that would return them to circulation and make them useful. In this first bag, I have saved cut offs from customer’s garments and woven pieces of everyone’s lives together. A new career as prison guard (gray and black rows), a new life as a married person (white silk row) , a flannel work shirt that has seen better days (the blue/black plaid row), jeans that have been played in so many times that the knees are MIA (the denim handle)….. so many significant moments intertwined, of people who don’t even know each other… all in one bag. That’s how I see it, anyway. The button was made by a young man who likes to do wood burning, and invented the snazzy decor button.
The zebra striped bag was made from jersey knit that also was saved from a landfill. Garments that have lost their usefulness can be turned into something useful once more. Now, I myself am not great at inventing these uses, but I do love using the ideas that I find around that others have done. I used a tutorial for this one. I was so excited when I found it! I just knew it was the project I had been saving for! The one above was made on the exact same sized loom board as the previous. The jersey knit, when pulled taught ends in this shrinkage that give such a lovely result. The button is recycled from the 60’s. I used the side pockets and the fabric they were attached to from a worn out jersey knit dress to line the bag. I also stitched grosgrain zebra ribbon onto the tops of the pockets for a little flare. Have I mentioned yet that I love this project? 🙂
More jersey knit recycling in the next bag, with quite the color change up. I think of this bag as “Candy Striper”. I love the color combo’s. The button was made for me by a young man who does wood working. The detail on it’s swirl pattern shows time put into it!
A tea wallet? Something only a tea LOVER could appreciate. A favorite score for at a re-sale shop was some upholstery samples. Unsure of where they came from, I was SO glad to have found them. The only regret that I had was that I didn’t take both bundles. When I later went back to get the other one, it was gone. Well, hooray for someone else! 🙂 I didn’t get to use these right away, but now am so excited at the project that I have been using many of them for; a cute little place to tuck tea bags for the road.
More recently, I have discovered where the upholstery shop is. Frenchy’s has been recycling their scrap fabric for decades, before “recycle” was what we called it! That is because it was owned by more than one generation; starting with the generation that I like to think of as the original recycler’s. This one came from their shop, who called me to pick up their recycling. THAT’s a dedication to re-use! By the way, our little corner of the world has only been getting online for the past ten years, so many businesses have websites that are a mere online billboard. To learn more, give them a call or stop in. They are amazing!
This has been a fun, fast project. I gave the one below to my friend. If it weren’t for her “English ways”, I don’t think this project ever would have caught my attention! I originally saved this project to make this for her. Glad she finally got one!! 😀
A variation on the tea wallet is the business card wallet. It is changed up a bit to accommodate a different content. It also has sewn in mat board to stiffen up the sides and protect the cards from bending.
There will be more business card and tea wallets available on the products page as time permits.
I have always appreciated puppets! When my children were younger, I made a puppet show theater for them to use with the box of puppets I had available to them. Two spring loaded curtain rods in a door way with two black silky curtains was all it took.They were placed one above the other, with the top one draping behind the front one a little. The puppets came out from in between, and it served well as a theater. They had hours upon hours of fun with it. They made up stories to go with the puppets, and they used the puppets to act out stories that we knew. Puppet play is a great way to bring about imaginative play. It is also a mode of creative expression. Sometimes, children love puppets but are unsure how to use them. Engaging them is as simple as using one to tell a story yourself. When you model the use of puppets, they will quickly be able to stretch what they have learned. If your puppets don’t match the story you want to tell, then improvise the story, the puppets or both. If you happen to have a sock monkey and a male puppet, you could retell the much loved story of “Caps for Sale”, as one example. What better place to look for a story to use puppets for than you and your child’s favorite story books? This also enables your child to go from receptive to expressive communication. You can order puppets online, watch for them at garage sales, or make them for or with your child. One year we made finger puppets that were pre-printed “Peter and the Wolf” finger puppets while listening to the story, in preparation for an orchestral version we were going to be attending. Even simple color and cut puppets lent themselves well to imaginative play.
We attended a puppet show one year, that had first rate puppets! They looked like muppets and I SO wanted to learn how to make those. When I talked with one of the owners afterwards, I found out that they made their own puppets. The goods used to make them were apparently quite costly. I never did find help on making them until recently. I was so excited to find that tutorial. Yet, now there is even more available online about making muppet type puppets! When I did I was SO excited to make one. By this time, my youngest was almost past the age of appreciating puppets, but still did get some good use out of it.
When one of my sons started to teach music lessons, I made puppets for him as a teaching medium, for those moments when it was difficult to catch the attention of his young Suzuki students. There was one girl and one boy puppet.
This month, I was trying to find ways to upcycle itty bitty bits of fabrics, as well as some mate-less gloves. I came up with glove puppets. I opted for good old fashioned fairy tales as the subject of my puppet project. I just so happened to recently have been asked to change out the zipper in a Carhardt jacket. The leftover zipper made a great wolf, (see photo below). Wolf is also dressed up as grandma. This one has already got a new home.
Depicted below, as my calligraphy tags are harder to read, since I enlarged the pictures, are Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The Three Little Pigs, and Peter and the Wolf. More zipper wolves! 🙂 Making puppets is very rewarding, and if you’re a diy’er, there are so many resources online to assist you. If you start out looking at what types of puppets there are, and decide what type you want to go for, it might narrow your search a little to then search up “tutorial ________” (inserting type of puppet). If you feel like it is hard to find the time to make puppets for your little ones, may I just say that if you press on and make the time, you will not regret it! It is so worth your time to make something that will provide hours of imaginative play. Of course, you might need to use the off button, on electric media in order to facilitate imagination, but that is a healthy limit to set. 🙂