Saturday, July 21, 2012

Reuse old T-shirts to make market bags

We all know that plastic grocery bags are a tremendous waste of natural resources as well as landfill fodder.  Reusable bags are the way to go.  But what about all of the resources that go into making those reusable nonwoven bags?  Factories need to use resources to create the bags, as well as transport them to be sold.  Here is a way to minimize waste by creating your own bags, as well as keeping old t-shirts out of landfills.  These are the only truly "green" bags out there.

First, lay the t-shirt flat and use a rotary cutter to cut off the arms and neck.

Next, turn the t-shirt inside out and sew a straight line across the bottom.  Then sew another straight line.  Double sewing will reinforce the seam, which is good since you are going to be carrying lots of heavy veggies in the bag.

Next, sew the corners of the bag at a 45 degree angle, this will make the bottom of the bag wider. 

Cut off the corner you just sewed about a half inch from the seam.

Turn the bag right-side out and go to the Farmer's Market.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

How to create a recycled tie brooch or pin

I admit it. I have an obsession with old ties. I love the patterns and textures they have, and I love upcycling them into new craft projects. The other day, my husband asked me to buy him a tie for a wedding we were invited to, so I headed to the local department store to see what I could find. I was absolutely dumbfounded by the price one single tie. Thirty dollars! So I headed to the thrift store, and ended up buying eight ties for a total of two dollars. My husband chose the least “ugly” one, and I was left with the rest to add to my collection.
There comes a point in time, however, where you need to say “enough is enough. I need to do something with these!” I have made purses out of the ties before, and they turned out great. But I wanted to make something that was more marketable to a wider audience, something that I didn't need to charge a lot for so craft sale customers would be enticed to buy them on impulse, just because they were cool.
I came up with this project after looking at a book of different ribbon embellishments to make. I immediately thought of my ties, and how great they would be for a rosette.
Project Difficulty: easy
Possible Injuries: a few needle pricks, possible a burn or two from the hot glue gun
Time: about 15 minutes

First, measure 13” from the skinnier end of the tie and cut it with a fabric scissors. Tuck the cut end into the opening of the pointed end of the tie to make a circle.
Sew a straight line to connect the two ends together. You can either use a sewing machine or sew by hand using a tight straight stitch.
Using a needle and a strong hand sewing or quilting thread, sew a loose straight stitch around one edge of the entire tie “circle”, making the stitches approximately a half inch long. Leave a tail when you come to your original knot, do not knot the end of the thread.
Now is the fun part. Pull the tail of the thread tight, and you will see your tie rosette come to life. Reposition the needle closer to the fabric and sew a knot, keeping the thread taught, so that the rosette does not loosen. Trim the threads.
Using a hot glue gun, glue on a vintage button or two to cover the center of the rosette. Glue a pin jewelry finding to the back. Pin to your blouse or jacket, and let the compliments commence.

How to reuse old hardware to make a Steampunk vase

Project Difficulty: medium
Possible injuries:  two or three blisters (if using a hot glue gun)  You can also use E6000, but then you run the risk of getting a little loopy from the fumes or possibly gluing your fingers together a few times.
Time:  approximately 3 hours

Items needed:
an old vase
old hardware (I raided my parents basement for this, and also bought some from the Restore for about 25 cents a pound)
spray paint (in keeping with the mixed metal theme of this project, I chose a metallic copper spray paint)
masking tape
hot glue gun and sticks

1. Be sure to wash your vase first to remove any residue.  Dry Thoroughly.  Use the masking tape to tape off the rim of the vase all the way around.  It doesn't have to be perfect, this just prevents the spray paint from seeping into the inside of the vase when it is drying.
2.  Unless you have a ventilated spray booth in your house, you need to go outside.  And preferably on a non-windy day (yes, I have made the mistake of spray painting INTO the wind before, it's not fun).  Turn the vase upside down and spray a couple coats with the spray paint.  Let dry.
Don't worry about drips for this project.  They will get covered up by the hardware.

3.  When the vase is dry, remove the masking tape.  Lay your vase down on its side and start gluing on your hardware.  Be sure to vary the different metals and sizes evenly throughout the vase.
This will take a while, but don't give up. 

When you're finished, add some flowers and enjoy your feeling of accomplishment.

I made this project in about three hours and escaped with only a few second degree burns.

All in all, I'd say that's pretty good for a days work.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Welcome to The Salvage Experiment


   noun, verb, sal·vaged, sal·vag·ing.
the act of saving a ship or its cargo from perils of the seas.
the property so saved.
compensation given to those who voluntarily save a ship or its cargo.
the act of saving anything from fire, danger, etc.
the property saved from danger.
The property saved from danger.  That says a lot.  Everything we have right now will someday be in danger of being buried in a landfill.  We have a lot in our lives.  Just go to any major department store and peruse the aisles and you will see how much "stuff" we have.  Do we really need all of this "stuff"?  My answer is no, we already have it.  Look around.  Every store you visit contains shelves upon shelves of useless items, all made with a common theme in mind:  consumption.  We as humans feel the need to consume because it is in our nature.  But in doing so, we are depleting our natural resources and condemning the environment.  Everything we think we "need" contained within these stores we already have, we just need to look around us and be a little creative.  Humans have been creating things for centuries.  All of these things, whether made to last but have outlasted their long lives, or made for "planned obsolescence" because the makers know there will be new and better versions in coming years; all of these things can be reused.  We do not need to continue our path of resource depletion if we can just stretch our imaginations a little bit more.
Okay, enough of the lecture and on to the real blog.