Recycle and Reuse – Upcycling Projects

By Mariana Kelly

When I hear the words “lock down” I know I will be home…a lot. Then comes the urge to find something to do, a project or activity to fill my time and most often, that of my family around me.

upcycle /ˈʌpsʌɪk(ə)l/ verb

  1. reuse (discarded objects or material) in such a way as to create a product of higher quality or value than the original.

Typically I feel better when I complete one of those organisation or decluttering jobs I have on my ‘to do list’ but for some reason or other, I have [apparently] not had the time to complete them. Often we have a pile of clothes that have been so well loved they are no longer even suitable to donate with the amount of tears, holes or stains, but we cannot bear to just tear them up into rags.

To tick both the ‘productive project’ and ‘crafty creative’ box, I have come up with a list of upcycling activities that rejuvenate and repurpose your worn-out clothes and linens.

The first few projects are great ones to get your kids involved in, so make sure you set these aside for a time you can do them together, or if they’re old enough and do not to need your help, they can be left to their own creativity.

1. Tie Dyeing

You can’t say you’ve really embraced your time in isolation until you come out the other side with an awesome DIYed tie dyed item. This is a reemerging fashion statement that we keep seeing pop up all around – so why not DIY it and add a splash of colour to some worn out clothes. You can give your stained or sad looking t shirts, dresses or bedding a second chance at life with this fun dyeing technique.

Bonus, if you don’t have fabric dye on hand, you can always make your own natural dye with items from your fridge! Here is a link that suggest some simple natural dye options.

2. Sock & Hand Puppets

Every family has their own sad saga of the missing sock. Making sock puppets is a great way to repurpose those otherwise useless odd and mismatched socks you have around the house. It is an easy craft activity to do with your kids and they can get as creative as they want with this one!

- Googly eyes, mini pompoms, or thread stitched on, make great additions for the puppet eyes.

- Yarn and faux fur make for realist hair options.

To help you get started check out this giraffe sock puppet for inspiration.

Or if you have extra felt and other fabric, try your hand at these sweet little animal hand puppets.

3. Rag Doll

I couldn’t think of a sweeter way to recycle that pile of give away clothes and less then new linens. These pretty little dolls also make for a great homemade gift idea. Check out these links here and here for inspiration and a free pattern.

4. Embroidery

This a favourite way to add a little extra beauty to your clothes and other linens. Adorn a simple shirt, dress etc with some beautiful embroidery to refresh this item. You can find tons of inspiration online. Also check out these links below:

- Embroidery How To

- Essential Embroidery Tools

- Embroidery Stitches for Beginners

5. T Shirt Blanket

Last but not least, we have a project that is ideal for preserving your memories and sentimental tees. If you have a stack of touristy travels t shirts, well-loved tees or old sport jerseys then this is a great way to keep the memories while giving these items a new lease on life. This is the perfect upcycling project if you’ve been holding on to these shirts because of sentimentality but you no longer wear them.

Tip: Think about how you will be using this blanket – will it be a small lap blanket or a quilt for a bed – then add the necessary amount of t shirt blocks to make it the desired size. Approximately 16 t shirts are a good start for a smaller blanket. You can also space the t shirt blocks by adding additional quilting fabric between them, and therefore increasing the size of your blanket. To get you started on this sentimental keepsake, check out these links – here and here.