Fabric Salad

Green goodness for quilters and sewists

Archive of ‘Upcycled’ category

Nose job

Like other folks of the green persuasion, I buy recycled paper products whenever possible…paper towels, copy paper, toilet paper and the like. And, yes, the brilliant (!) thought crossed my mind, “I use cloth napkins, why aren’t there cloth tissues?” This brilliant (!) thought was followed by a classic duh moment. “Cloth tissues? They’re called handkerchiefs, and they’ve been around forever.” Oh, right.

But then, I saw these cloth tissues on Etsy, made by JuniperseedMerc from organic bamboo. Brilliant (!)

Cloth tissues

These wipers are wonderful and they reminded me how much I love vintage handkerchiefs. I’m old enough to remember my mom and aunts always having a floral or embroidered hankie in their purses. One of my favorite quilt shows is fast approaching in Lebanon, Ohio. The show leans toward traditional and vintage wares. Every year I find a few handkerchiefs that have to come home with me. So what have I made with them? Um…, nothing yet, but I have created a board on Pinterest (brilliant!) to inspire me when the time comes. Enjoy!


Flight of fantasy

Sometimes a trip down the rabbit hole of the Interwebs turns up crazy beautiful things. Following a post on Selvedge Magazine’s Facebook page, I came across British textile artist Mister Finch, who transforms aged fabrics into magical beings. This  Textile Butterfly is just one of the winged beauties in his online portfolio.  Does this make you look at antique textiles with a new eye?


Three sheets to the wind

No, this is not a post about a drunken debauchery: It’s about eco-friendly laundry practices (a tiny departure from the usual Fabric Salad information on sewing and quilting–but we’ll get back to that in just a few paragraphs.) Shop Ethica offers some common-sense guidelines on its web site for greening your laundry routine. (By the way, the shop also sells a wide range of eco-happy goods.)

One way to save energy is  by hanging sheets (and your other laundry) in the wind. I made a foray into outdoor drying after receiving a top-of-the-line (pun intended) drying line from Lehmans. The habit didn’t last, since I seem to find myself always doing laundry late at night. I’m re-committing myself here and now. Even just one load hung outside each week will save on electricity.

Are you with me? One way to get motivated might be to stitch up an adorable clothespin holder. Here’s some inspirational eye-candy (see more on my Pinterest board).

Fun fabrics make these bags from TieDyeDiva a cheerful sight on laundry day. Grab the pattern and make your own:

clothespin bag pattern

Make a bag with vintage charm using this tutorial from Knick Knacks and Ric Rac:

clothespin bag from Knick Knacks and Ric Rac

Make a bag super fast by re-purposing a handtowel. This tutorial from the Happy Housewife shows you how:

clothespin bag from Happy Housewife

Snug-as-a-bug rug

This Christmas, my sister surprised me with a handwoven rug she made with the help of my kids. Woven on a loom like this one, the rug is so soft and super thick, perfect for the cold floor under my desk. I recognize some of the fabrics they used–several were of the “what was I thinking?” variety, but they look great woven in strips. Metal bars along the sides of the rug loom help keep the weaving straight and even. My sister swears this was not a difficult project. How lucky am I?

woven rug

Totally tatty

So, what’s in a name? When it comes to fabric that’s new to me, I usually refer to it as “upcycled” or “thrifted.” So, does that sound better than “used” or “second-hand”? Words do have power–dealerships no longer refer to not-new cars as “used”: Now they’re “pre-owned.” We don’t covet “old” clothes, but vintage? That’s another story.

Funny, when we bought our Victorian home, no-one referred to it as “pre-owned.”

Now that I’ve read about HappyTat, a British collective whose aim is to refurbish furniture and sell it to benefit local charities, I’m adding “tatty” to my list of adjectives. Seems the Brits like to throw this term around when we ‘Mericans might use “trashy” or “worn out.” Like “dodgy” and “telly,” the word “tatty” just seems so much more charming.

I’m looking at the “tatty” linens in my stash and considering a project like this originally from BLHDN.com. Wouldn’t this be oh-so-refreshing to hang once the holiday trimmings come down?

bunting from BHLDN.com

A whole shirt-load

My stash of dress shirts and blouses is dangerously close to critical mass. I thrifted them for a make-and-take project that upcycled the cuffs into luggage tags…Thrifted shirts

So, now what to do with the leftover shirt-age? Considering a quilt, I’ve started poking around for inspiration…

Love this trick of turning the stripes to form pieced squares, adding the solid center is brilliant. Go to Flekka Journal to see the finished stripey quilt.

This shirting quilt, from the blog Carpe Lanam, uses varying sizes of squares, making it a stand-out.


Pairing stripes with polka dots? Yes, ma’am. Not having to cut and piece triangles would be a bonus, too. And this quilt is just adorable.

quilt from inspiration.au.com

Spots and Stripes quilt

Whatever my shirts become in their next life, it’s clear I need to add a few solid colors to this collection. Meet me at the thrift shop?


It’s a Wrap

According to Earth 911, wrapping paper and shopping bags alone account for about 4 million tons of trash annually in the U.S. Ummmm, what does this have to do with quilting and sewing, you ask? Well, green gal, just think how you could help the earth by using fabric (new or upcycled) for some of your gift wrapping this year.

Stash-busting, unexpected and stylish even, wrapping with fabric can be easy, too. Look for tips at Sustainable Baby Steps or, if you’re up for a bit of sewing, follow this easy fabric gift bag tutorial at The Happy Housewife. Can’t quite break the gift wrap or bag habit? You can at least substitute fabric scraps for the predictable curly ribbon. Charissa at The Gifted Blog shows you how. If you need longer ribbon, Charissa suggests, just tie two pieces together. Brilliant!

So ditch the snowman paper and reach for fabric instead. Wouldn’t you be stoked if someone handed you this gift bag? Fabric Scrap Ribbon

Wipe out scraps

So do you make gifts for the holidays or no? Sometimes it’s a tough call–you know how much work a project calls for and you wonder if the recipient will even like the finished product.  And with so many other obligations clamoring for your time right now, it often feels more efficient to just run to the store or order something online. This year, like most, I’ll make a few gifts and shop for others. As I shop, though, I’m giving priority to items that are handmade.

If you have a little one on your list this year, this brilliant use of fabric scraps would be a perfect gift. Quiet, green and fun for baby, this wipe container re-make by Kim Bond of A Spotted Pony is simply brilliant.

Wipe Container Toy