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Topic: Recycled crafts

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Subject: Recycled crafts
Date Posted: 10/24/2007 5:04 PM ET
Member Since: 10/22/2007
Posts: 4,013
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I'm always looking for ways to reuse items into craft projects, but something that someone might actually be able to use, rather than just another piece of junk.

I've been using my plastic grocery bags to crochet into large totes and I found a great pattern for making bracelets from pop tabs.  Does anyone else have any practical crafts that use recycled items?  Thanks!

Kim (Mistry) -
Date Posted: 10/24/2007 9:40 PM ET
Member Since: 6/23/2006
Posts: 4,127
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  I recently  made a purse out of a book!  (I posted some pics a few threads down)  The pages were dirty, but I only used the cover, and was able to do something with it.  I'm going to keep the core of the book and make some bookmarks from words, phrases, etc.  

 I've also started saving clothes that are too worn to wear, to make purses from the pants, and scraps for quilting when I get around to it.

Date Posted: 10/25/2007 3:59 PM ET
Member Since: 3/28/2007
Posts: 94
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I saw this on HGTV Decorating Cents - I am making a shag rug out of  Black denim jeans.  I am using a golfing net and cutting strips out of black denim jeans I buy at Good Will for $2 or three dollars.  It is kind of fun but time consuming.   The strips are 1" by 9"  I mix the denim colors.

I would like to see the soda can tabs bracelet do you have a link for it.?



Date Posted: 10/25/2007 5:40 PM ET
Member Since: 10/22/2007
Posts: 4,013
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Here's a link to the bracelet I'm going to try.  I thought it was pretty cute.


Date Posted: 10/29/2007 10:58 PM ET
Member Since: 2/27/2007
Posts: 90
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Those bracelets are pretty easy, I and my girls have made many they are addicting and look totally cool on. We used thin ribbon instead of wire or cording. Let me know what you think!
Date Posted: 11/18/2007 9:25 AM ET
Member Since: 11/14/2007
Posts: 1
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I try to make the majority of my christmas and birthday presents so I am always experimenting with recycled materials! Here are a few things I have done in the past or are currently making for presents!

I have been taking old clothing apart and using the fabric to make funky sweatshirts, people love them! Used buttons, ribbons, old T-shirts w/funny sayings, etc. can all be utilized and it keeps clothing out of our landfills!

I have also been experimenting with bass strings, hoping to make some jewelry out of them.

I also save remnants of my soap (I just leave a jar in the bathroom) until I have enough to melt it down for  a new bar! T

his year I want to use recycled fabrics to make gift bags, in  acouple of years I will not need to buy wrapping paper at all! 

I also have been experimenting with Basmati and other burlap packaging, trying to make grocery sacks. 

I have turned funky buttons into stamps, by gluing them on top of wine corks, they are adorable and I just glued layers of felt together to have a "stamp pad." 

You can use old picture frames to make a cool earring/necklace holders by stapling screen to the backside of the frame. I paint, stain, or decoupage the frame and then use small hooks at the bottom of the frame for a place to hang necklaces, you can also staple the screen more to the inside of where the glass goes and then place an image between the screen and glass! Again my lady friends adored these!

One last project I have been messing around with: taking the front of cards or the parts I like and gluing them to old glass (from old picture frames etc), or cutting up magazines and using these images along with old handles, knobs, etc from dressers and such and making key holders, coat hangers....I just glue this stuff down to a piece of plywood in an artsy fashion and grout it. I mix broken mirror, china, etc into the design!  You can even color the grout with acrylic paints! 

Date Posted: 11/22/2007 6:31 PM ET
Member Since: 10/6/2007
Posts: 168
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Big Mama and all,

  Thank you for sharing all your sites and techniques. It amazes me how creative you all are! Thank you as I hope to delve into being more creative with recycling materials. I am currently stumped on a pair of leather jeans worth a fortune that I'd rather cut up than throw out. I surely give enough to the churches and charity so I am holding on to these.


Thank you all for sharing!



Kim (Mistry) -
Date Posted: 11/22/2007 10:46 PM ET
Member Since: 6/23/2006
Posts: 4,127
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Carly, if you are handy with a sewing machine, there are patterns galore to make a purse/bag out of old jeans.  I'll bet you could make a fantastic purse out of the leather jeans! And even bags out of the legs if there is enough material left over.

Date Posted: 11/26/2007 11:21 PM ET
Member Since: 9/21/2007
Posts: 9
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ArtsyAngel,           I buy leather jackets at yard sales.  I cut these into matching pieces and make drawstring bags for the Historical

reinactment folks.  Use leather thongs for the draw strings.    It pays well.


Shalom,  LL

Date Posted: 11/30/2007 6:02 PM ET
Member Since: 8/1/2007
Posts: 954
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I've been making tote bags out of fused plastic lately, it's time consuming, but if you cut designs out of black plastic and fuse it on, you get a really interesting look for basically free, and people love them =)

Subject: plastic bags
Date Posted: 2/10/2008 3:20 PM ET
Member Since: 6/2/2007
Posts: 373
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I have crocheted several different kinds of bags from plastic bag "plarn".  There is a website about "plarn" - plastict bag yarn with some good instructions and free patterns.  I enjoy it and plan to give some as gifts for beach bags.  I also have directions for crocheting a rug from the strips.

You can make cute cell phone bags or small bags from blue jean pockets.  Cut them out as close to the pocket as you can, use the seams for straps or ribbon, braids, whatever  you have.  You can decorate or leave plain and but a button and loop at the top, velcro or leave it open.  Let you imagination run wild.  Websites about that also.

For cheap bookmarks, cut the corners from envelopes about 1 - 2 inches, just eyeball, and slip this over the corner of the page.  Use colorful envelopes and add stickers, color or leave plain.  I have cut them with craft scissors, zigzag, etc. and then put a flower sticker on it.  Kids love to decorate them and it will teach them to recycle old envelopes and mark the pages of books correctly.

A rubber band also makes a good bookmark/


Subject: recycled uniforms
Date Posted: 3/13/2008 7:33 PM ET
Member Since: 9/13/2006
Posts: 26
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For Christmas this year I made each of my kids a messenger bag out of my husbands old BDU shirts.  I did it in such a way that the front flap looks like the front of the shirt, so their last name is across one pocket and they have two useable buttoned pockets on the front. 

Date Posted: 3/23/2008 11:14 AM ET
Member Since: 12/20/2005
Posts: 152
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Alise, I'm interested in the crocheted grocery bag pattern.  Would you please give the site or where I can find the pattern.  Thanks.

Date Posted: 3/24/2008 11:08 AM ET
Member Since: 12/20/2005
Posts: 152
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I googled Plarn and found the website with the patterns.  I'm on my second rnd of my plarn bag.  I love to crochet, but there is not much use for the finished products in South Florida. Using plarn I can get my fix and make things that people will actually use.   Thank you my crafty friends!

Subject: tote bags of fused plastic
Date Posted: 3/25/2008 12:40 PM ET
Member Since: 2/22/2008
Posts: 426
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Hi everyone:

I am interested in directions for fused plastic tote bags?

Can you share them with me?


Helen L.

Date Posted: 3/28/2008 10:28 PM ET
Member Since: 12/20/2005
Posts: 152
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Soooo....I completed my first plarn tote bag and brought the thing to school (I work in the school office) to show my son's teacher as a possible project for our "green" month.  Everyone went nuts over the bag, one of the teachers even offered me $20 for it! 

Before I knew it I had become the crocheting coach for our new crocheting club.  LOL  The idea is that the kids would make walker/wheel chair bags (see myrecycledbags.com for pattern) and donate them to local nursing homes and hospitals. We are trying to become a "Green" school in our area, so this project will really earn us some points. 

Now the question is...had do I run the school store, PTA and a crochet club all at the same time!!!   Any suggestions? ;)

Subject: crafting
Date Posted: 3/29/2008 9:25 AM ET
Member Since: 6/2/2007
Posts: 373
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I have also jumped on the "plarn" wagon and love it.  I demonstrated it to the ecology club at my school and a teacher paid me $10 for one.  I was really surprised.  Mostly I just give them away as gifts.  I also like to crochet pieces of yarn or colorful string i find with plarn - looks good.  Also, I use handles from other bags or plait them from various ropes I find.  One good one was a rope used in upholstery  and one was twine used with plants.  I also found some cute wooden ones on a bag at a thrift store, took it off and sewed it on the plarn bag.  I have also used the rings from free key chains to attach the handles.  It is fun looking for unusual handles.  When  I use the clear plastic bags, if keep a powder puff close by with bath powder in it to rub the needle with when it begins to stick.  I found these types of bags are more difficult than the opaque ones.

Have fun


Subject: I made all my gifts this year
Date Posted: 3/30/2008 2:15 PM ET
Member Since: 3/22/2008
Posts: 352
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This year I went thru my old cross stitch pieces that I never got around to framing and I sewed them onto a 15 inch square of denim cut from old keans. I bordered each cross stitch piece in a bias tape border and sewed them down by top stitching. Then I sewed 2 squares together into a pillow. I used the seams in the denim legs as a design element so they sometyimes went diagonally behind the top stitched piece. If the jeans were in good shape I cut the inner leg seams open and then resewed the inner seams the other way to make a long recycled demin laundry bag. I took the cut out double stitched seams and made a woven hot pad for my table... it was really nice!!!!! I made denim shopping bags from smaller jeans and am looking to make some into paperback book covers. I also made a few jean purses...all  basically from free stuff. I also sewed bright fabric remnants into hanging drawstring toybags for legos and sm matchbox cars. I am thinking of needle tatting a border and sewing it to long narrow denim pieces for denim bookmarks as stocking stiffers this year. We are really big on making stuff from things usually thrown away. You can sew old buttondown shirts along the bottom and sew up most of the way up the button band...cut off the arms and sew them shut...hang this on a hanger in a closet for dirty sox or even toys for kids. They look like big clothes pin bags. I make a lot of flannel jammies and have lots of small flannel scraps. They are white background with small prints for the mosr part...if someone would like some flannel scraps for a quilt I have waaaaaay too many of them to ever use. PM me....\deborah

Date Posted: 4/1/2008 7:52 PM ET
Member Since: 8/22/2007
Posts: 24
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I would love to see more ideas that don't require sewing.

Any other ideas for recycling greeting cards? I hate to throw away the pretty ones but don't know what to do with them.

Date Posted: 4/1/2008 10:06 PM ET
Member Since: 2/21/2006
Posts: 457
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You can decorate plain gift bags with greeting cards.

You can frame holiday cards to display around those holidays.


Date Posted: 4/5/2008 4:14 PM ET
Member Since: 12/20/2005
Posts: 152
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Frances, thanks for the baby powder tip!  I live in FL, so when its hot (all the time) the bags get real sticky and hard to work with.

Date Posted: 4/6/2008 3:10 PM ET
Member Since: 6/2/2007
Posts: 373
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You are welcome, also use a used fabric softner as a wipe.  It helps smooth and clean the needle.  I also use these when knitting also so help with static electricity.

A friend brought me a large bag of plastice bags today at church and I am looking forward to cutting them up and being "artistic" with plarn.  Making  a large bag now to use to carry my knitting and crocheting projects.  Life is good when you keep your fingers busy.  Think I may ADD.


Date Posted: 4/16/2008 6:37 AM ET
Member Since: 6/22/2006
Posts: 157
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To recycle old cards you can re-create them into new, blank cards. Lay your card on your cardstock and trace around it. Mark the center and score across the short part. Cut out the blank card. Place double sided tape on the back of your card front and then position it on the card stock, on the appropriate side of the card stock (the way a card would open). You now have a new card, with a blank interior. Usually I'll find a cool quote and tape or write it inside. You can also do any kind of greeting. Google "birthday card sayings" or "sympathy card sayings" and you can find plenty to put in your new/reconstructed card.

All the cards I've sent out people have loved. I usually personalize it to them, add artwork and just put time into it.


ETA: Correction, and an easier way to make these. I didn't describe it well the first time

Last Edited on: 4/29/08 7:45 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 5/12/2008 3:00 PM ET
Member Since: 3/11/2008
Posts: 7
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I like to take old tshirts, cut them up, and sew them into something new.

Date Posted: 5/22/2008 6:32 AM ET
Member Since: 6/23/2007
Posts: 6,025
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I work in a preschool, and we reuse greeting cards to make special cards for Christmas, Mother's Day, etc. I use the front only, and punch holes all the way around the edge, then the kids weave ribbon through the holes and tie it in a pretty bow on one corner. The parents LOVE them!

I have one of Alise's plarn bags! She sent it to me in a yarn swap several months ago, I love it! I like how it stretches so it's really strong. I'm trying to accumulate enough yellow bags to make a yellow bag, that sounds funny but it makes sense to me... I have the teachers on the prowl for red and blue bags too, to make plarn out of.

I reuse my nieces' outgrown sweaters and jackets to make doggie jackets for my mom's Shih Tsu and my niece's Chihuahua. The jackets are nice because they have quilting on them already. Sweaters also make neat pillows, especially cardigans where you can have the buttons going down the front! My mom made me a pink chenille cardigan pillow, then we used the sleeves to make a doggie coat for the chihuahua.

LilyLady, you could use the scraps from your leather bags to make doll shoes, the patterns are pretty simple and doll lovers (like me) always appreciate genuine leather shoes, rather than vinyl.  :-P