Mending Items Versus Buying Items

07.29.2019

0600

If you read about my Fast Fashion post, it relates to this one. If not, please go check it out. Even though I do by thrift store items, I will still mend an item to save it from a donation. Sometimes I will mend my items and then I donate the item. For instance, I found an old shirt at my aunts house. It had a few holes in it but overall, I liked the color and I didn’t mind the cut of the shirt. The color went perfectly with my color palette for my capsule wardrobe, so I really wanted to save it from being donated. I just needed to mend the shirt, so it would be decent to wear.


Now I have an almost new shirt.


Whenever I upcycle clothing, I always keep scraps of the leftover clothing item. In my Reusing Fabric and Thread blog post, I wrote about keeping my fabric scraps in a small bag. I literally have a bag of scraps. I love fabric, and the use of fabric in different products, (depending on the thread count, material, and the way fabric is sewn together,) can be a very durable material.

Some shirts have higher thread counts, which lends them to become excellent candidates to upcycle into grocery bags, or other heavy duty bags. The smaller scraps that I keep, I always try to find a use for them. Whether it’s going to be upcycled into a small project or large project, the one thing I can count on is that I can throw it in the washing machine to clean it. 

If I had a choice to make, with picking and choosing reusable products, I prefer to choose items that I can wash easily. I don’t like to buy items which require a special cleaning method or liquid to clean. I like to sew and mend items, because the product that I’m usually mending, only needs to be washed with soap and water.

If you reflect on the products that you use daily, the majority of them are probably sewn together: your clothes, handbags, wallets, car seats, bedding, upholstery, etc. Knowing how to sew and understanding how to repair fabric products has been a life saver for me. I actually learned how to sew by hand, and didn’t learn how to use a machine until years later.

Learning how to mend items can save you money, time and stress. Even the simple act of sewing on a button is helpful. You can save a simple dress shirt, like I did, from sending it to a donation station.

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Upcycling Fabric Shower Curtains

12.05.2017

0600

Materials:

  • Two 72″ x 72″ Fabric Shower Curtains

Tools:

  • Sewing Machine
  • Sewing Kit

 

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Fabric Shower curtains are usually  made with polyester fabric. A few years ago, I had ordered extra fabric shower curtains and I really wanted to use up the material. I had previously posted a quick blog post about using fabric shower curtains as temporary screens for doors in Alternative Screen For Doors.

But now I wanted to see if I could upcycle the material again for another purpose.  This upcycling project works well if you have solid color curtains. I wanted to create a sheer curtain layer to hang with each of the three sets of my existing window curtains. I thought it would be interesting to upcycle my extra fabric shower curtains to sheer curtains for my windows. I still like the patterns I choose and with the sheer curtains up against my windows, the patterns would be illuminated as the sun hit them each morning.

So I took down each of my existing window curtains and measured them to see how much fabric I needed from the shower curtains. The width of the window wasn’t a problem since I had 72″ to work with. The only variable was the height of each curtain.

For my multicolored shower curtain, I divided the shower curtain in half length wise and width wise equally. I had planned to use the top half of this curtain to create my first sheer window curtain set. The bottom half would be combined with the top half of the bamboo curtain, to create the third set of window curtains.

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For my bamboo print shower curtain, I measured the height that I initially wanted starting from the bottom of the curtain. I did this because I wanted the second curtain set to be completely covered by the pattern. I left the white void at the top of the bamboo curtain because I knew I was going to use it in the third set of window curtains. I had planned to sew the top half of the bamboo shower curtains to the bottom half of the multicolored shower curtain to create the last set of sheer window curtains.

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I then pinned the edges that had been cut using sewing pins and hemmed them to clean up the trim around the shower curtain.

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Since the width of each shower curtain piece was wider than the individual window curtain pieces, I tucked and folded the shower curtain pieces to fit each window curtain width accordingly. I only sewed about 6″ up the shower curtain piece to hold the folded in piece in place, and across the bottom. You can sew the entire height of the folded piece, but I simple choose not to.

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Since I know I want to keep these curtain designs as is, I decided to sew the new sheer curtain layer to my existing window curtains.  You don’t have to sew them, you can use safety pins as a temporary solution if you’re not sure about keeping the sheer layers, or if you want to change them out. Make sure you decide which side of the sheer curtain you want to face towards the window and which side of your existing window curtain you want to face inwards into your home. I personally don’t care about what my curtain looks like to the outside world so I have the nicer pattern facing inwards. This is why adding a sheer layer helps the presentation of my curtains to the outside world.

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To secure my curtains, I had initially made cord tiebacks with leftover material from an old bed sheet, in order to keep my curtains open. With the new sheer layer, I can tie back the solid color window curtain and leave the sheer layer or I can wrap them both back to let in even more sunlight.

 

Handmade Handkerchiefs

10.03.2017

0600

Materials:

  • A few shirts (I used collar shirts for the fact that I like this material and these were extra shirts I found)

Tools:

  • Sewing machine
  • Sewing Kit

 

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So there was a recent heat wave that spread through California, and it was HOT. I only had two handkerchiefs and those were being used up fast. I knew I needed more. Although I could have bought a set of twelve for about $5.00. I thought making my own would be more fun.

I found some old collar shirts, that had never been worn (and would never be worn) to make into handkerchiefs. Since these shirts were dress shirts with a tight thread weave, I knew these would be durable over time and the material was still 100% cotton.

I had no idea how many handkerchiefs I would produce from these three shirts so I was curious about the end product. Most handkerchiefs are square shaped and I knew these would vary in size, so I kept that in mind. My current handkerchiefs were 10″ x 10″.

First I took apart each shirt. this meant I had to tediously unravel each thread that made up these shirts. This took awhile to do since certain parts of the shirts had double layers. I also needed to be able to look at each piece of each fabric that made up these shirts. I needed to be able to size up my handkerchief template accordingly.

 

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Once I took apart all of the fabric pieces that made up my shirts, I started to map out 10″x10″ sections on the fabric. There were pieces that I knew I could not use, such as the cuffs and collar of the shirts. For these pieces, I put them aside for future projects. Parts of the shirts such as the Yoke, would have to be sewn together to create enough surface area for a handkerchief.

part of shirt

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Due to the shape of each piece of fabric, I wasn’t able to make perfect 10″x10″ squares. Instead, the shape of the fabric pieces gave me some very unique shapes to use for handkerchiefs. Who said a handkerchief had to be a perfect square anyway?

For each piece of handkerchief, I hemmed the edges by first folding in the edges in to create a margin of 1/4″ and pinning them down with sewing pins. From there, I simply sewed the edges down and tied off the leftover thread.

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From the three collar shirts, I originally started out with, I was able to make a total of 47 handkerchiefs. The breakdown is:

  • six – 9″x10″
  • six – 11″x11″
  • twelve – 10″x12″
  • six – 9″x12″
  • twelve – 10″x18″ (used for cloth napkins)
  • five – 8″x10″

Because the result of the shirts varied in size and shape, I decided to use the twelve 10″x12″ for napkins instead of  handkerchiefs (Luckily I ended up with twelve in this size).

This was a fun upcycling project that took me longer than expected. Taking apart the shirts was the most time consuming, but it was well worth it in the end. Handkerchiefs don’t need to be perfect squares, but preferably 100% cotton. I hope this post inspires you to give it a try to making your own handkerchiefs as well. I’ve learned that although carrying around a handkerchief is an old tradition and I personally don’t see it practiced too often where I live, having one handy can be a lifesaver. Sometimes I’ll use it as a napkin when I don’t have my reusable cloth napkin available. And sometimes, when a stranger needs a kleenex, I’ll give my handkerchief for them to use. I have so many that I can give it away as well. It’s a gesture out of love and caring for humanity.

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Tank Top Bags

09.12.2017

0600

Materials:

  • Two Tank Tops
  • Sewing Kit

Tools:

  • Sewing Machine

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This hack has been published before, but I made these years ago and I thought I would share it. Depending on the type of material the tank tops are made out of, the bags may be better used for carrying smaller and lighter items. These tank top bags stretch well, so a lot of items can fit into these bags.

First I turned the tank tops inside out and hemmed the bottom of the tank tops. I pinned the hemmed edge using sewing pins and tied off the thread ends.

I turned the tank tops inside out and that’s about it. Using the straps of the tank tops as the handles, the tank tops become small bags.
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These are really simple and quick solutions if you have extra tank tops or shirts that you may not want to get rid of. For t-shirts, just remove the sleeves, and hem the existing openings of the shirts and you can use the collar opening to fill up the t-shirt bags. You can always repurpose items into useful items. Living a zero waste life doesn’t necessarily mean to live with only glass or aluminum items, it also means to repurpose items so that you won’t purchase unnecessary items as well. Considering where materials are foraged for the products we use, and how much clothing is donated each year, sometimes repurposing clothing just seems to fit better for some memorable pieces. It’s the reason why I tend to repurpose clothing items when I can.

For the clothing items that mean more to you than others, consider making it part of a quilt or a bag or even a pillow cover. You’ll be able to hold onto the items, and they will also serve another purpose as its initial purpose may have expired.

Fact:

In less than 20 years, the volume of clothing Americans toss each year has doubled from 7 million to 14 million tons, or an astounding 80 pounds per person. The EPA estimates that diverting all of those often-toxic trashed textiles into a recycling program would be the environmental equivalent of taking 7.3 million cars and their carbon dioxide emissions off the road. Trashing the clothes is also a huge waste of money. Nationwide, a municipality pays $45 per ton of waste sent to a landfill.

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Backpack Hacks

08.15.2017

0600

 

With all of my backpacks that I have ever owned, I hack them the exact same way as I always have. Going back as far as middle school, I always had to hack my backpacks. It was my way of customizing my carrier to my exact needs and over time I would edit it as my needs changed. Within each compartment I always created some type of hanging or attachment mechanism to hang my water bottles, extra bags within the compartments or hang something I needed access to immediately. most of the time I hung items that I needed access to so that those items weren’t at the bottom of my bag, where I had to go digging around to look for them.

 

Front of the backpack

  • I always attach extra reflectors so that in low light, vehicles or any type of light can bounce off of my backpack and I can be visible. These reflecting straps are for bikers, but I took two of the straps and weaved them through my exisitng strap set up.

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  • For all of my zippers that open to significant compartments, I always sew a section of the zipper, so it limits the access to that compartment to only one direction of movement for the zipper. I prefer to only have access in one direction for the zipper movement so it’s easier to watch over and maintain. I also attach metal rings right below the point of the sewing block (through the exposed zipper tape) so that I can use this ring to lock my carabiners from the outside but to also hang items on the inside of the bag.

 

 

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  • On the inside, I hook extra interior metal rings with carabiners to the exterior rings that are popping through the tape so I can hang items on the inside. I’ll hang my water bottle from these interior rings (when my external water bottle pocket has my coffee tumbler in it) or small bags so I can keep items separated in the same compartment. These interior rings are there for anything that needs to be hanged or utilized.

 

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Sides of the backpack

  • I also sew blocking for my smaller compartments and create a locking system for these pockets as well. For the smaller pockets, it really just depends how and where you want to secure the pocket. I chose to insert an extra ring so that I could attach an extra carabiner to it and lock the zipper with it.

 

 

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  • For my external water bottle pocket, I usually take one of the extra backpack straps (that I trimmed off)  to create a safety strap for the external water bottle pocket so that it can hold taller water bottles more securely. There have been a few incidents where my external water  bottle pocket wasn’t deep enough and due to the fact that I had so much stuff in my backpack, my water bottle managed to get squeezed out of the pocket.

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Back of the backpack

  • I usually trim the extra strap slack that comes with the backpack straps. I don’t like any loose hanging straps so I will measure how high I want to carry my backpack and trip, then hem the straps accordingly.
  • For my backpack straps, I like to keep my smaller items very close to me. So I will attach some type of pocket (large enough to fit my “wallet” items and my cell phone) to the front. This backpack didn’t come with a pocket for those types of intimate items.

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  • I also ALWAYS, ALWAYS attach an extra carabiner to the other strap, so I can hook my keys onto my strap quickly.

 

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So there you have it, those are the hacks I made for this backpack. This is my day to day back pack, so I’ll run to the store or go hiking with it. I do have another hiking backpack that’s a 65 gallon capacity for traveling and I’ve hacked that accordingly as well. Hopefully you may see a hack i described here that you would like to use on your own backpacks or carrying bags that you may want to use.