Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Wristlet or wallet

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Is it a wallet or a wristlet?  It's both!  Wristlets are handy whether using alone or in addition to your purse.  A functional wristlet should give you easy access to cash, cards, coins and cell phone as well as have a secure wrist strap.  If you like to travel light around town, try a wristlet.  Wristlets are also a fun alternative to a traditional wallet or small clutch.  Check out some of my new wristlets below made from upcycled fabrics.


What are your favorite features of a wristlet?


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Upcycle, repurpose, recycled - what's the difference?

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Customers frequently ask me 'what is upcycled fabric?'  When I explain to them that my upcycled bags are made from gently used, discarded clothing, I get a variety of reactions.  'Green' folks love the idea and often offer other upcycling ideas for bags.  'Not-so-green' folks think it is weird.   I realize that upcycling, repurposing, or even recycling is not for everyone, but it certainly is for me and I enjoy giving thrift store finds a new purpose.  I have done some research on these different terms in order to clarify for myself and my prospective customers. 

Here's what I came up with:

Upcycling is the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or a higher environmental value.  (wikipedia definition)

Repurpose:  To take what may be otherwise a waste item and use it for another
purpose - e.g a coffee jar becomes a jar for keeping nails
green terminology (courtesy of allgreencontractors)


To take a thing or a material and use it for a purpose not originally intended. By their very nature, re-purposed objects often have a lot of inherent character, flair, and style.

Artisans have re-purposed old doors to make tables.  (about.com)

Recycling:   Disassembly of product components so that they can be the raw
material for future manufacturing processes.  

So, what do these definitions tell us?  We all have lived with the term recycle for many years.  In fact, most of us live in areas that demand us to recycle what was garbage years ago; glass, newspaper, plastic bottles etc.  The horror of thinking of all those items I tossed into the trash for so long.  Now, between composting and recycling, we generate very little trash here.  Recycling is here to stay, as it should be.

In my research, I learned that I have been using the terms Upcycle and Repurpose interchangably, but they are not the same thing.   Upcycling is making a completely different (and sometimes) better product from an item that no longer has value in its present state.  Repurposing is using an item in its present state for a different purpose - either as is or jazzed up a bit.  So, when I take thrift store clothes, wash them and cut them into usable pieces of fabric to make bags - it is upcycled!   When I use a an x-acto knife as a seam ripper - it is repurposed!

Let me know what you upcycle or repurpose. 


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Getting the most from repurposed fabric - part two

In  Getting the most from repurposed fabric - part one,  we cut apart a pair of cotton pants for upcycling.  Now, we will get the most from a cotton shirt and talk about what to do with this great repurposed fabric.  More on upcycled or repurposed fabric in another blog.  For part two of this series, we will be working with a men's XL name brand cotton shirt that I found at a thrift store for $2.

Lay shirt flat on cutting surface

Cut sleeves off close to seam with rotary cutter or sharp scissors

This is what you will have after cutting both sleeves off.  Set sleeves aside for now.

Cut shoulder seam all the way through collar.  This works better with scissors.

This is how your main piece of fabric should look at this point.  You can cut the side seams for smoother fabric pieces.  I prefer to leave it like this to take advantage of the larger piece of fabric.  The seams add character and dimension when I use them for making bags.  

Cut sleeve seam

When both sleeves are cut, this is what you will have

The sleeves and main body piece will give you approximately the equivalent of one yard of 45 inch wide  fabric.  Mix and match upcycled fabrics for making your favorite craft!  I prefer all cotton, heavy weight fabrics.  Name brand men's shirts, especially very large ones with long sleeves offer nice workable fabric.  Cotton/spandex blends and linen can present a challenge during the sewing phase, as the fabric shifts.  If you choose to use these, keep this in mind when you start stitching.  

Enjoy repurposing your old clothes or thrift store finds.