Time to dig out the fabric stash

A few weeks ago, we held the first of our Textile Transformation workshops. It now seems part of another lifetime, with the upheaval that Covid-19 has wrought upon our lives and lifestyles.

While we won’t be holding any face to face workshops for a few weeks please do sew and craft as a way of helping yourself stay well in these troubled times. You don’t have to leap onto the Internet to order lots of new stuff; many of the things you need can be found at home. And in the spirt of Textile Transformation your crafts and mending/upcycling will help stop stuff being thrown into the household bin – easing the burden on refuse collectors who are still in the frontline collecting our rubbish.

So, let’s get started…

Mend what you have…

Now is the time to go through the clothes that you don’t wear because they have missing buttons or hems that needs stitching and mend what you can. Swap buttons around so that you have a set that matches on the part of the garment that you can see. If you need spare buttons then check the labels and inside seams of other garments with buttons as you will often find spares here. If you are short of needle and thread did you keep that sewing kit you got free in your hotel room recently?

Use what you would throw out…

Gone through your closet and had a clear out? Keep the best clothes to one side until you have chance to go to the charity shop or to a clothes swap. Items like old T-shirts that have seen better days can be turned into something new – there are load of tutorials online – here the Internet really is a boon. T-shirts that have seen better days and have no side-seams area ideal to be turned into T-shirt yarn which can be used to craft new projects. Craft Passion’s tutorial shows you how and suggests a few ideas.

Use up your leftovers…

A rag rug is a great project to do for half an hour or so a day while listening to a podcast or music and one to use up lots of smaller pieces of fabric. If you have a piece of recycled hessian sacking you can follow Christine Macleod’s no-nonsense video where she uses a pencil as her prodder. Otherwise you can sew your rag pieces onto an old towel (have not tried this one). For a completely sew-free circular version that requires no backing or sewing or special tools apart from a pair of scissors try Barri-Jayne Makes. Start with a place mat or go straight for a circular rug. You can use old sheets for this one.

Close up detail of a Rag Rug

Button it up…

For Christmas we used second-hand buttons to make cute Christmas trees decorations. Buttons have endless potential for craft projects – they can also be used to smarten up garments by hiding small holes or rips. Visible embroidery is another way of making a feature of your mending.

Get upcycling!

Portsmouth based fashion designer Eva, who is also a regular repairer at Repair Café Portsmouth runs her own You Tube channel showcasing ideas for upcycling and re-use. And simple T-shirts that you no longer wear can be turned into a range of new garments, often without any sewing – search upcycled T-shirt ideas to get you started.

Think laterally!

Isle of Wight designers Wyatt and Jack take defunct inflatable and turn them into stylish new bags. This is probably more than most of us have capacity for, but it shows the potential for turning a broken item into a high-end product. At the more low-end of the re-use spectrum at Planet Aware we recently upcycled some fabric from broken umbrellas to make some mini beach clean bags. The fabric is waterproof and quick to sponge clean – and bags are ready for the time when we can get out onto the beach again…

And to keep you inspired until we restart our workshops here are some of the tote bags made from fabric scraps and upcycled fabrics at our “Start Sewing” workshop.

Textile Transformation is a joint project between Making Space and Planet Aware supported by Hampshire County Council and is all about helping us to cut the amount of waste textiles that we each produce. Check out our full list of workshops and events on our blog page and follow #TextileTransformation on social media to stay in touch with the project.

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