Tag Archives: recycle

Upcycling with bees

The sofa came to us second hand, and was used vigorously over the years. That use included the enthusiasm of several cats, and the damage they did to the arms. 

Sofas are preposterously expensive things to buy new, and throwing away a whole one creates an unacceptable amount of waste. So, we dismantled it and did what we could. The metal fold out part for the sofa bed went to the local tip where hopefully it can be recycled. Wood from the sofa was repurposed, and some of it has been kept for future use. The fabric covering went in the bin along with some of the foam padding, but we also re-used some of that foam in rebuilding the arms.

Two of the cushions were dismantled and used to solve a problem with a different piece of furniture. The sofa bed bit was replaced with a wood base – thanks to the generosity of a friend who wombled together something from material he had lying around. We bought a piece of new foam to fit it. Solid foam cushions were reshaped and covered with new fabric and are now leading new lives as different cushions. 

We threw very little out. We ended up with a sofa that perfectly fits the space, and has more sofa and less sofa arm going on. One side of the sofa is now a bookcase and inside the sofa there is more storage space. The whole thing is more flexible and can be arranged to serve as a bed for anyone under 6ft tall, as a sofa pillow fort for me, and as a leisure space. There’s also more room for the cat!

Adventures in patchwork

I really like unique clothing. I also hate waste, and these two things often result in me making patchwork clothes out of otherwise dead items.

When jeans wear out, it tends to be at the ankle, the knee and the front of the thigh. This leaves a lot of fabric still in good condition in the calves and backs of thighs. So, when a pair of jeans die, I take them and I salvage the usable bits.

In this waistcoat project I’ve been using the small scraps left over from making a jacket for Tom. I used an old waistcoat as a pattern, and a lot of pins to get the small pieces into shape. The sewing is rough – it just needs to hold the denim together. I am now in the process of embroidering the whole thing – the embroidery will do most of the structural work and makes the garment solid and durable.

The resulting garment will be unique. It doesn’t matter how many waistcoats I make, no two will ever be the same. That cheers me. There’s something so very sad and drab about one size fits no one  supermarket clothing, and so many people are stuck wearing that for lack of anything better that’s also affordable.

Throw away fashion is incredibly harming to the planet. Anything we can do to slow down our consumption of clothing is a good idea. For me, this kind of repurposing is a way of doing that while also having clothing that is original, and interesting. I find joy in making things, and in remaking. There’s a pleasure in keeping clothing out of landfill and in getting to use skills I have developed. Nothing in this waistcoat is especially difficult to do nor did it require much specialist kit – pins, scissors, sewing thread and needles, fine wool and an embroidery needle. Mostly it calls for patience. It’s an affordable hobby alongside being useful and eco-friendly.

This is all based on boro patchwork and sashiko sewing.