Recycling a Sweater - Riciclo un Vecchio Maglione

Posted on August 5, 2016 at 2:45 PM Comments comments (0)

I think I've mentioned my fondness for Italian films in past posts. When I can I watch them Sunday nights on the OMNI channel here in Ottawa and have even managed to learn a bit of Italian along the way. I especially like answering my phone with a 'Pronto' instead of 'Hello'. Surprises my friends no end!

I have since discovered a bunch of lovely Italian blogs and websites that I'm following. Currently the site Casa e Trend is one that I've been exploring and that's where I found this cute little DIY for turning a sweater into a jolly whale of a soft toy! 

What kid (big or little) wouldn't want to snuggle up with this little fellow? Yes, it's in Italian but the tutorial photographs provided will even allow an all-thumbs gal like me make one.

For the easy and colourful tutorial, click here.


Earth Day Project - Don't Buy More Clothes

Posted on April 21, 2016 at 7:20 AM Comments comments (0)

I know that I promised a recycling clothes post, but I've decided to rant about used clothing instead!.

A friend of my daughter's, a nurse, spends six months a year volunteering at an AIDS hospital in Africa. Many of the families of AIDS victims (mostly women with kids) are the poorest of the poor in their communities. She helped to set up a local initiative for these women to make fashionable accessories from the little bits of leftover fabric made at a local, traditional, textile manufacturer. The accessories, mostly small bags, are beautifully handmade by the village women using eco-friendly treadle sewing machines (remember those?). These bags are made to be sold at local markets. 

However, the influx of tons and tons of used clothing (purses and shoes), from North America and Europe, selling at low prices makes it extremely difficult for these women to sell their products. And what, you ask, is the source of these castoffs? Well, our charity shops, for one. Tons of clothes that are 'recycled' by charity shops are destined for developing countries where they are sold at local markets so cheaply that local clothing makers can't survive. In sending our old mass-produced garments to Africa, we are depriving people there of a viable locally-based livelihood, and at the same also destroying traditional clothing manufacturing.

Do we really need to buy new outfits every season? Is it so important to be in 'style' and toss out perfectly good clothing before heading out to buy more? The irony in all this is that if you are in need of a new coat, sweater, blouse, etc, one of the best places to buy good quality are charity shops in your home town.

If you sew, you can make a second-hand good quality outfit fit better or be more fashion-forward. Or you can repurpose that outfit into something else: the internet is bursting with sites that offer thousands of ways for you to repurpose those castoffs: turn a t-shirt into a bag, jeans into a pillow cover, make pillow covers from old shirts, etc., etc. If you don't sew yourself, hire a local seamstress to do it for you.

Any used clothing that does not end up in the ragtrade or  in developing countries, ends up in landfills - another reason to keep clothes buying to a minimum. According to the Triple Pundit website, "Decomposing clothing releases methane, a harmful greenhouse gas and a significant contributor to global warming. There are dyes and chemicals in fabric and other components of clothing and shoes that can leach into the soil, contaminating both surface and groundwater."

You''ll not only be helping to keep used clothing from being dumped abroad but also landfills, but give someone in your hometown a job. 

Think about it and then read about the impact your your discarded clothes have on poor countries.

Where do your old clothes go?  

What Happens to Your Used Clothing?

The hidden trade in our second-hand clothes given to charity. 

Let's keep clothing out of the landfills.

Recycling Socks - Stick Horses

Posted on March 31, 2016 at 10:35 AM Comments comments (0)

I promised myself a few days away from blogging, workshops, and crafting, but, before I head out into the sunrise, I found this cute (and very eco) way to recycle old woolen socks. Always popular toys with the little ones, stick or hobby horses go way back at least to the 16th century. Earlier versions were carved in wood (and fetch high prices at auctions) but I think the sock ones came about because a mom somewhere came up with the lone sock version for her little Hoppalong.  

Anyway, after discovering this charming stable of keppilhevoset (that's stick horse to you and me) on this Finnish knitter blog, Mummo, I decided I could make one for the little guy. Just have to find a suitable sock and I'm all set.

Here's the original Mummo post - no instructions. As I mentioned, Mummo's blog is in Finnish but, if you are interested in making one or two yourself, I found a couple of tutorials for these adorable little stick ponies.

Karen over at Desert Chica has a post of of her sons making one, I guess to show us how easy it would be. Click here for her tutorial. 

Another very good tutorial is posted by Heather at the Chickabug blog.

Both have great photos showing how to put this wee neigh sayer together. So start horsing around!


Ikea Idea - Fabric Recycling

Posted on February 10, 2016 at 3:15 PM Comments comments (0)

I've been cleaning up my closets and found a heap of clothing I no longer wear - some I even forgot I had! So it's all going to the charity shop tomorrow. Now I know there are hundreds of uses for reusing textiles but just thinking about how much work it would be tires me no end. But I do remember spotting a pretty patchwork quilt on Ikea's Livet Hemma site some time ago and decided that it might give some of you ideas for upcycling your fabric odds and end. 

Ikea Patchwork Quilt from Fabric Scraps

If I had this Ikea patchwork quilt, it would certainly brighten up my studio and it seems fairly straightforward to make. All I need is to buy a sewing machine!

Pretty cute, eh?  It looks like a great way to recycle fabrics you can cut from old shirts, blouses, skirts or dresses. Ikea does provide how-to instructions but they're in Swedish! I didn't find an English version but I did manage to translate the material required.

For the quilt which consists of 8 columns and 15 rows:

120 -  15 x 15 squares (A) (allow 2 cm for seam allowance)

For the trim binding:

Two pieces fabric, (B) sized 225 x 8 cm (allow 2 cm for seam allowance)

Two pieces fabric, (C) sized 126 x 8 cm (allow 1 cm for seam allowance)

No mention is made of a backing or the actual size of the quilt  so I looked around to find better instructions. If you are a novice at quilting, you will find the pictures and reasonably easy-to-follow instructions here and here.

You can find the Swedish instructions here.

Chic Patchwork Pillow

If you find the idea of sewing a quilt a bit daunting or you don't have a lot of fabric for one, why not try making a patchwork pillow cover for practice? I found this lovely one for sale at Anthropologie. It's from Ace and Jig, but you could easily make a similar one.

Hmm ... all this talk about fabric recycling has got me fired up. Note to self: Buy a sewing machine!