Category Archives: recycled clothing
Using natural elements from my home and garden I started to experiement with Eco printing. I gathered leaves of varying sorts from the garden, previously solar dyed fabrics and a new item, an all cotton shirt. I have been reading India Flint’s book Eco Colour which is where this idea has come from. First of all I needed to lay out the leaves on the fabrics and then roll them up around a stick and tie up well with string. Then I soaked my fabrics in a mixture of St John’s Wort dye with a litte beet juice added, boiled them for approximately 10 minutes, it may have been longer but not much. My fire was very hot and the liquid almost boiled dry. Then I left said items for almost two weeks at which point I took them out of the liquid and set them to dry outside. Another two or three weeks has passed and I opened them up today. These are the results.
Felted wool birds are the latest items in my repertoire. I am having lots of fun making them, I use Merino wool roving in a variety of different colours. Sometimes I add silk threads or maybe a little tussah which is a fine silk mixed with wool, it adds a lovely sheen to the item.
I also use some of my knitted UFO’s you know the ones …unfinished objects ! I felt them, then create a small wool bird from the felted fabric. I stuff some of them with polyester fibre fill and others I stuff with pure wool. Many of the wool coats and sweaters that I have purchased from the thrift stores make great birds, I even dye the fabric to make it more interesting.
What I love most about them is that no matter what I use to create them they all have their own character, sort of like our children. But I am not selling my children to-day ! Just wool felted birds. I do hope you will take a look at by bird family on etsy. More will be along soon.
Wishing you happy creating with love, remember Valentines Day is just around the corner and a little bird friendly company maybe the perfect gift.
Here is my own design of the lovely market bag from the wonderful Alabama Studio Style Book by Natalie Chanin. I love the designs from this book and the previous one, aptly named Alabama Stitch Project.
The work is slow and therapeutic and uses old gently used cotton t-shirts. I had originally thought I would be making the skirt from the first book (ASP) when I designed this stencil pattern. But on closer inspection I decided that the pattern for the skirt would not fit me! So the fabric with the stencil painted on languished in the corner of my sewing area for a REALLY long time! Finally I hauled it out and planned a market bag shape and used the sewing instructions from the second book (ASS)
I will have used three t-shirts in total, one turquoise, one pumpkin with a Pennsylvania logo, and one for the lining. At this time I am not sure what colour I will use for the lining but I am leaning towards green, always one of my favourite colours. I do have leftover turquoise pieces from the skirt but I would have to piece them as I did for the front of the bag and I would rather not have to piece the lining, you will have to wait and see what I do! I still need to make handles for the bag BUT I am almost finished. Just a little note about thread, I used jeans thread which comes in a lovely array of colours, it is polyester and is made by YLI corp and comes in 200yard / 180m spools and is called Jeans Stitch.
As you can see from the photos I also made a hat band in the same method using small scraps of leftover t-shirting. I think the process so far as taken me about a month. But I also knit in between!
I have knitted up a green shrug to go with my blue dress that I made a little while ago. I didn’t use the Alabama style completely for the dress. I did however use the spiral designs in green and the rosebud stitching and I added pewter grey beads around the swirls. I am hoping to add more spirals and stitching to the dress before I wear it again. The shrug came about because the dress is sleeveless and I sometimes need a little extra warmth. I had thought I would make just a pair of knitted long sleeves but it morphed into a shrug. I have to say it is very cosy.
So here we are my Earth Day slippers. I did not end up using the tie, it was not the look I wanted but I do think that the bias binding idea from old ties is a very workable option. I will work on it at a later date.
For now though I am working on some small eco friendly change purses. I am using small scraps of handmade, hand dyed fabrics using the string quilting process. I think they have turned out really well, I love the more muted tones. I believe this is from using plants such as madder,indigo and marigold. No matter which fabrics I put together they all look lovely. Such is the way of nature….I really must pay more attention to her !
Still cool and blustery here but I have at last managed to get my laundry to dry outside on the washing line, how I love that smell when I bring it in to the house nothing beats it for me.
Here is the project I am working on for this Earth Day Challenge, so far so good but I am not sure about the tie! I read an article in the latest Threads Magazine about using old ties for bias binding. I found this lovely greenish one at the local thrift shop. ( See in the previous post pics) I noticed it is made of silk so I am not sure how I will incorporate it into my design ….I am thinking over the exposed seams. Hope you are able to make something too.
So here is the plan, take three items of clothing and use all of them or parts of them to re-create a new item. This is my challenge, would you like to join me ?
For example: take an old wool sweater ( no surprise there! ) one used cotton T- shirt and one no longer “cool” tie. Now get creative and see what you can come up with. Some ideas to get you started might include, hats, scarves, mittens, pillows, toys, games, bags, purses, slippers etc.
A few titles of books that may help spark your creativity:
Sewing Green and Warm Fuzzies both by Betz White
Generation T: 108 Ways to Transform a T-Shirt By Megan Nicolay
The Sweater Chop Shop: Sewing One-of-a-kind C… by Crispina ffrench
Heartfelt: 25 Projects for Stitched and Felted Accessories By
If you would like to participate just send me a note and if we have enough people we can set up a flickr page for all to see!
See if you can get it done by April 22nd Earth Day.
Good Luck and have FUN 🙂
I basically draw out a shape on paper that I think will work for a felted purse, I sometimes cut out a cardboard copy of this if I think I will make more than one.
Then you need to find a sweater of your choice from the thrift store…go for 100% wool whenever possible they felt up a lot better than other types. Take this cool find to your washing machine and do all the things you have been told not to do to wash your wool sweater! Hot water, lots of soap and agitate! when you have done this rinse out the soap using cold water, spin and place in the drier…this should now be a few sizes smaller ! and felted. Once your sweater is felted you can cut open the seams, now you have your working fabric. Your decision as to where to place your pattern happens now. Choose a part of the design you like and see how it will look folded or turned the other way. When you are happy with your choice, cut out and hand sew the side seams. I use strong buttonhole thread which comes in a mass of different colours.
I use an easy envelope style flap on the front of the purse. This design lends it’s self to a few variations, make a point like a regular envelope, angle up to the left or right side and round out the point as seen in the pictures. I sew on a large snap closure making sure to sew a small piece of felt underneath each part of the snap. This gives stability to the closure. Decorate the top if desired, I used a knitted, crochet and felted flower with two wool leaves. You could use recycled buttons, embroidery, loops, lace or whatever comes to mind. Let your creative juices flow.
If you are unable to find a wool sweater try making a swatch from your many scrap pieces of yarn. The multi coloured purse with the gold coloured flower was actually a test swatch that I made to see if I could knit with two yarns. I knitted in a round and found that the join looked kind of nasty so I decided to felt it. After this I cut it open were the join was and TA DA! a lovely working fabric to design with. If you need to flatten it out, just use an iron on hot and steam for a few seconds.
I love the versatility of this project. I am sure that I will be making more. I hope you will give this a try and if it helps.. you are making an eco friendly project by saving sweaters from the land fill.
Most of my inspiration comes from the natural world, our garden and the surrounding beauty of Western Canada. We are fortunate to live near the ocean which can be a place of great serenity and chaos. I love colour and texture.
Knitting for me is a kind of meditative therapy that enables me to quiet my mind and explore my creative abilities. No matter what happens creatively, I feel a little magic comes into each design. I make every effort to create earth-friendly items for my shop. I like to use re-purposed, gently loved t-shirts and re-cycled natural and sustainable materials wherever possible in my work.
My favourite yarn is wool of any weight depending on the project. One day I hope to learn to spin and weave.