Monday, January 28, 2008

Something from nothing

My son brought me a pair of his flannel pj's. Seems that both of the legs are ripped from hem to waistband. I've fixed this pair of pj's a couple of time. So now they're MINE.

The tears weren't "evenly" in the middle, but close enough. I went ahead and cut the pants apart, down the front through the crotch area and up the back, giving me 2 separate "legs".
I then opened the pant legs up by finishing the tear - cutting through the portion of the hem and waist band that were holding the pants together. I then cut the side seams apart on both sides. This left me with 6 pieces of fabric. Two large pieces from the backs of the legs and 4 smaller pieces from the torn front. The smaller pieces were just the right width for some cloth squares and I simply cut across the fabric to make the other side of the square. Well actually some were a little more rectangular. Then with the back pieces, I continued cutting squares by folding the leg in half so that I had one long piece of fabric, doubled over on itself. I cut this apart and proceeded to cut squares from that by folding the pant legs in half and then in thirds.

I ended up with about 30 squares that were roughly 8x8. I added them to my bathroom stash. They get used for anything you would use TP for. From wiping to blowing the nose to wetting and wiping off the sink. The used pieces get put into a special container and washed in hot water, hand 1/2 cup vinegar added to the rinse cycle and dried in a hot dryer (it's very rainy here in the south during the winter. If it's sunny where you are, line drying them will also kill any bacteria that might have escaped the soap and hot water.) There's no smell or stains left on them after laundering them and they're as clean as your underwear or any other item that you throw into the wash with the general clothing.

So I now have some useful items from nothing - trash that normally is discarded. It's kept that fabric out of the landfill and made a reusable item that keeps even more items out of the dump.

So what can be done with old clothes that are too shabby, stained, holey, etc to give to the thrift store, but you don't want to throw them into the trash?

Here are my ideas, feel free to add you own!

Old sweaters or sweats:
New sweater/sweats: Take it apart and make a child's sweater or sweat set out of it, and yes, you can take a knit sweater apart at the seams, cut it down and then sew it. I'd use a small zig-zag stitch along the edge to keep it from unraveling.
Mittens: Have the person that will be using them place their hand, palm down on a piece of paper. Have the slightly splay their fingers and trace around the hand, mitten like to make a pattern. Use the bottom edge of the sweater/sweats sleeve as the cuff of the mitten and place the pattern on the fabric. Cut around it, and sew it together. Hint: don't cut the folded section - it's already together for you.
Slippers: use the body of the sweater for the material. There are patterns on the net for fleece slippers that you can use the sweater material for. Just do a small zig-zag stitch around the edge, about 1/8 inch in from the edge then sew like normal. Here's one that I found just by Googling "Free fleece slipper pattern".
I would use the ribbed section of the sweater for the upper part of the bootie and not bother with the rubber "grippy" material. Instead, after I made them, I would use my fabric paints - the ones in those little bottles, and dot the bottom of the sweater fabric with that. That's what I do with regular slippers that I knit. Make some good size dots and let it dry completely before using. And if it should wear off, you can just reapply it.

Any item made of cloth:
Any cloth can be cut up for towels, napkins, wipes, rags, etc. Cut them into 10x10 squares with a pair of pinking shears or heck, sometimes I just start a tear and then tear them into the size I want. And I'm not wasting fabric by measuring things out. I just eyeball it. I fold the material to see how to get it to look about the size I want. Then I cut through the folded layers with my pinking shears. And unless your really bothered by loose threads, don't bother to hem them. After the first wash or two, they quit raveling. (I will say the first wash with the never been washed flannel was a mess to untangle. But after that, no problems with it tangling. And since this fabric has been washed before, it shouldn't shrink or fray a lot.)
Stack in an old diaper-stacker, an "Glad type" disposable 8x8 pan, make a hanger for them - anything to neatly store them where they will be handy. Use them for anything you'd use a paper towel or paper napkin for. Rhonda Jean in her blog "down-to-earth" (link below) has a pattern and some ideas of her own on using her rag stash.

Sheets, bedspreads and other large pieces of fabric:
Remember my furoshiki post from the other day? Well....Cut a sheet down to the sizes you want and use those to wrap items furoshiki style. You can do a wrap and have grocery bags faster than the bagger can fill them - or go in with cloth premade into bags and no sewing is necessary. Or use the material to sew bags for the groceries. Make a matching towel, potholder, apron, placemats, hot pads and/or napkins from a set of sheets.

Old quilt:
DO NOT throw it away. It's still got some life left in it. Make a vest from it. Make potholders, placemats, hot pads, crib bumper pads, or baby quilt out of the sections that are still good. Make (or get) some bias tape to sew around the edges. There's even a web site that tells how to make your own bias tape. So use some of the above materials instead of buying the tape.
and how to use bias tape:

Old jeans/pants:
cut off legs and make purses from the left-over body. I once made a quilt top out of my then husband's old work jeans - the ones with the knees and bum out of them. I simply cut off the jean legs above and below the tears and used the material that was still good for "squares", but don't you know, I didn't bother with those tiny 4x4 pieces. I left them in good size chunks. I actually opened the inside seam and left the French seam that was on the out leg stay. I then matched up pieces of leg and stitched them together to form an odd size, large piece of fabric. Square it off, use an old blanket, quilt or batting for the inside and then either make another jean fabric for the back or simply don't use batting and use the sheet, blanket or quilt for the other side. Mark a line 4"down across the fabric, then 4" across the fabric to make a grid and then do a tied quilt instead of "quilting" it with regular fabric. Actually, since you wouldn't be using the yarn to hold down the insides of the quilt, you could easily make it 8x8 or even 10x10 squares.

How to tie a quilt:
You don't have to have the "traditional small squares" quilt - that's what I'm talking about making when you use tailor's chalk and a yardstick to measure off your squares. And I've used yarn instead of embroidery floss/thread to tie a quilt.

Here's a 2 hr quilt idea that I found. Only, don't go to the store, use what you have at home. A quilt does NOT need to have an "insides" of anything. It does make them heavier/warmer, but you can do the same thing with layers of quilts.

Either way you choose to make a quilt, you can either finish it the way the last link shows or you can just use bias tape to enclose the loose edges. You don't need a machine for either choice. Use the same floss/yarn that you tied the top to sew up the edges.

From any material you can make a braided rug:

1 comment:

Sharon J said...

A girl after my own heart :)

Very little in the way of fabric gets thrown away here - there's generally something that it can be used for to prolong its life, even if it just wash rags.

Another idea for using sweaters. I make winter skirts out of them, especially ones with interesting patterns (fair isle style, for example). Just cut the body part to your shape using the welt as the bottom of the skirt. Seam the edges, turn over the top (I turn twice to save it from unravelling) and thread some flat elastic through. Voila, a warm and one of a kind skirt that looks great with thick tights and boots.

Sharon J