Frugal Living, Handmade, Sewing

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

18th August 2020
Handmade Kitchen Roll from Recycled Materials

I am far from leading a zero waste life but I really do believe in trying to do my bit for our planet.  I passionately believe that if everyone makes small changes they will add up and make a big difference.

If you watched the Great British Sewing Bee this year you will have heard Patrick Grant say that right now we have enough clothes on the planet to clothe the next six generations.  Certainly worth thinking about! 

I try to incorporate changes into life wherever possible and have just had a little spell of sewing related ones that I thought I would tell you about in case you are inspired to have a go. 

Reusable Kitchen Roll

A couple of years ago I ditched the paper kitchen roll and replaced it with handmade reusable ones.  At the time I wondered how long they would last and I am pleased to say they are still going strong, two years later.  You can read my original post about them here.  At the time I used new fabrics from my stash and toweling which I had bought off a roll.  There is nothing wrong with this at all as at the time that is what I had access to.  But recently when I decided I needed some more kitchen towels I decided to make my new ones from recycled materials.  I had an old garment of clothing knocking around and a towel that had developed a hole right in the middle.  So I cut both of these up and made myself a new set.  These are already being well used and I am tempted to make some more soon as I have some of the towel left over.  This is a super simple project.   

Repairing Jeans

We seem to have had a run of issues with jeans in this house so I sat down a few weeks ago and did a batch of mending.  I fixed up a few small holes and bare spots by darning them on my machine with a small piece of fabric inserted behind (I actually used denim from a pair of jeans that are so far beyond mending) and this was really successful.  I also had a pair of kids’ jeans that were pretty new but my son had fallen over in them and made holes in both knees.  The legs were too narrow to put under my machine (he is only 5) so I decided hand sewing was in order.  I rummaged in my stash for some scraps and found a tiny bit of Marvel fabric left that I had bought at Millie Moon when I was doing some Sewing for Boys back in 2018.  I cut two patches and added them to the jeans with bondaweb.  Then I sat down with some perle cotton and blanket stitched them in place.  I can report that Henry is super happy with his superhero jeans! 

Altering my Camber Top

Last summer I made a Merchant and Mills Camber top.  I was really pleased with it and when I wrote about it thought I would wear it a lot.  But when I came to wearing it I just couldn’t seem to get on with it.  At first I wasn’t sure why and I kept trying to style it in different ways.  I then decided that perhaps it was too long.  By this point the summer was over so I popped it away and when I brought it out again this spring I had another look.  I decided it was definitely too long and that was stopping me wearing it.  It looked too long if untucked and if I tried to tuck it in there was simply too much fabric and it didn’t sit right.  I am pretty short so this isn’t surprising.  I spent around 20 minutes pinning the top a few weeks ago and adding a new hem.  I took off nearly two inches in length and it works so much better now.

Hemming Shorts

I own two pairs of denim shorts (almost identical actually) that originally had turned up legs.  These were never hemmed into place but simply starched or chemically set.  They were fine for a while but after a few washes and wears they started to fall down and however much I ironed them or refolded them they would stay in place.  I was completely frustrated by these and found I wasn’t wearing them because of this issue.  So I washed and dried the shorts, measured and ironed even turn ups and held them in place with wonder clips.  I popped a denim needle in my machine (as I would be sewing through three layers of denim) and added some hems.  This was such an easy and quick job and I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of this sooner.  I am now regularly wearing the shorts and it has saved me having to buy new ones. 

Repurposing Clothes

Last summer I lost a lot of weight as I was unwell with an overactive thyroid and I ended up buying a skirt to see me through the summer, knowing it wouldn’t fit me once my thyroid was back under control.  I felt uncomfortable about it at the time but knew I needed something to wear to work on a regular basis.  As my summer clothes came back into rotation this year I popped the skirt to one side to think about what to do with it.  I actually really loved the linen fabric it was made of.  I recently purchased a sewing pattern for an Ashton top and was keen to make myself a toile to check which size I needed.  I decided, instead of wasting fabric and simply using muslin, which would later be discarded, I would use the skirt and make a wearable toile.  I loved keeping the beautiful linen from the skirt and I am delighted to be able to wear it again.  It was a bit of a squeeze to get enough fabric from the skirt, but with some careful planning I made it.  And I even kept the buttons and placket! 

I had originally planned to simply adjust the waist on the skirt but when I tried, it was so heavily overlocked, as it was commercially made, that I couldn’t gain access to the parts I needed to make the adjustments. 

I would love to hear about any sustainable sewing that you do and any tricks for repurposing fabric. 

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