Friday Favorites–Recycling and Repurposing

I’m never quite sure what to say about Earth Day.  It feels similar to what we all tell our children when they ask why there’s no Kids’ Day.  Say it with me – every day is Kids’ Day.  Isn’t every day Earth Day?  Do you only recycle on April 22nd?  Probably not, and I found a bunch of creative people who do it year-round too.

I just bought some shrinkable plastic sheets to play with.  I wish I would have found these DIY Shrinky Dinks from Curbly first.


If someone comes up with some creative way this thing will water itself (I’m sure it’s out there) I’ll be all over this Vertical Vegetable Garden from Instructables user pippa5, because I’m pretty sure I have this shoe organizer somewhere.


I’m sure if you’ve even dipped your foot into Pinterest, you’ve experienced the frustration of trying to track down the original source of a pin.  I saw this photo and loved it, but finding where it came from took a LONG time.  Turns out, it’s an entry in a photo contest on Dave’s Garden.  The photo, taken by Elfishone, is lovely and the idea is a brilliant way to reuse an old purse.


Who hasn’t found themselves with old, empty DVD cases and wondered how they could be repurposed?  This DVD Coloring Case from Handmade by Stacy Vaughn is the perfect answer.


I’m not sure how difficult it would be to find the hardware for this Book Page Bracelet from Happy Hour Projects, but I think it’s definitely worth looking.

Mod Podge book page bracelet

Start collecting those pop tops, because you’ll need a lot of them to make this Pop Top Lamp Shade from Make.


This Buckle Up Key Holder from Uncommon Goods is a ready-made item, but with a little ingenuity and access to an old seatbelt, I’m sure you crafters out there could make one. 


Something about this Corner Door Shelf from Craftaholics Anonymous feels like Alice in Wonderland.


This braided belt from Instructables user hammer9876 uses ties from yoga pants, but the possibilities for reusing other string-shaped items are endless.


I’m going to start stashing away colorful magazine pages so I can make these gift bows from How About Orange.  As if I need another excuse.


Friday Favorites–Earth Day

I had grand intentions this week.  I have a pair of jeans with a broken zipper that I was going to use to create some sort of Easter basket/container, covering my Easter and Earth Day projects in one fell swoop.  Didn’t happen.  Honestly, there was just too much going on this week.  But it’s Friday, so instead I’m going to let you in on some great recycling projects other people have done.  Don’t worry – that denim thing will turn up here at some point.

I’ve been seeing these homemade play kitchens for a while and every one of them is more clever than the last.  They are usually made from a piece of old furniture, like a night stand.  The details on this version from My Little Gems really put it over the top.


I don’t think it would be especially difficult to get a kid to empty a candy bag for me so I could make this Sweet Tooth Pouch from Punkin Patterns.


And I think there’s someone else in the house willing to empty the dog food bag for the Upcycled Garden Tote from Garden of Eden Goods.


I really like this Braided T-Shirt Yarn Headwrap from Sew Homegrown, but I also think it would make a great belt.


I’ve worried that bags made from old t-shirts might stretch and sag, but I think She Wears Flowers has solved the problem by lining hers.


We have loads of Pez dispensers floating around this house.  I seriously love this Toy Story Wall Art by Under the Table and Dreaming and might have to make one for myself.


This Ribbon Sling Bag by My Recycled Bags is an ingenious use of old store shopping bags.


Primitive Living Skills shows you how to make your own Tire Sandals.


This Treasure Chest Gift Box, made from recycled plastic containers, by Creative Jewish Mom is a present all by itself.


This is one of the most unique recycling projects I’ve seen.  UrbanWoodsWalker on Our Everyday Earth made this plastic coat by fusing plastic shopping bags together with an iron and using it as fabric.  Pretty amazing!


Happy Earth Day…now go recycle something!

Reusable Shopping Bags

Earth Day is this week.  According to the all-knowing Wikipedia, this year will mark its 40th anniversary.  The thing is, I don't recall hearing a peep about Earth Day until the last couple of years or so.  I understand the concept of appreciating and protecting our planet, but I don't know what the official way to celebrate is.  I feel like I've been missing something all these years.  In light of this, I decided to focus on my personal crusade to use fewer plastic bags.  I would like to say I don't use them at all, but I only remember to bring my own about every third time I shop.  Sometimes I try to catch the cashier and tell them I don't need a bag at all, but if they've already started the bagging process it goes in the trash, totally defeating the purpose.

I carry reusable shopping bags in my car that I've bought various places, but they're not cute.  I realized if I had bags I loved, it might make me remember them more often.  Lacking a pattern, as I often am, I measured one of my store bags and made my own.

You'll need strong fabric, like denim or home decor fabric.  Got a set of old drapes?  I had some leftover home dec fabric from my daughter's pink/green/brown period.

Bag 1

Bag 1

Cut one piece 21" x 38" for the body.  You'll need a piece 3" x 106" for the handles.  Rather than try to find a continuous piece of fabric that long, you can sew together several pieces.  Lay them together as shown in the picture, stitch diagonally, trim and press. 

Bag 2

Bag 2

My handles happen to be about 2" short, because I ran out of fabric.  They're pretty flexible that way.  Fold each edge of the handle in 1/2" and press.  Fold the entire handle in half and press again.  Unfold one end, fold raw edge in 1/4".  Lay the other end across, forming a giant loop, making sure there are no twists. 

Bag 3

Bag 3

Fold it back up and stitch through.  I seriously need to put "New Ironing Board Cover" on the list of projects.  Ugh.

Bag 4

Bag 4

On the bag fabric, fold each short end under 2" and press.  Fold raw edge in 1/2", press again and stitch close to inner fold.  Lay the bag fabric out, right side up.  Find the center on each long side.  Find the center of the handle, opposite your connecting seam.  Lay the handle over the bag, matching centers, and pin down 7" from long raw edge, facing open side of handle toward the center of the bag.

Bag 5

Bag 5

Halfway through pinning the handle down, I decided an outside pocket to hold receipts, coupons, shopping lists or change would be handy.  Cut a piece of fabric 6" x 9".  Fold the bottom edge up 1", then under 1/2" and press.  Fold the top up 2", then under 1" and press.  Stitch across the top, close to the inner fold.  Don't stitch the bottom yet.  Lay pocket on the bag with the top 3" from the upper edge of the bag and edges under the handle.  Pin.

Stitch close to both edges of the handle, all the way around, starting with the open side.  Stitch an X shape at the top edge of the bag over each handle for reinforcement.  Stitch across the bottom of the pocket.

Bag 6

Bag 6

I made one of these, overcomplicated the side seams, slapped my forehead and said "French seams, duh!"  With wrong sides together, stitch a scant 1/4" seam down each side.  Turn with right sides together and stitch again with a generous 1/2" seam.  Simple.

Flatten the corner with the seam in the middle.  Measure 4" from corner and draw a line across.  Pin in place.

Stitch along line, then again 1/8" away, closer to the corner.

Bag 8

Bag 8

Turn and press.  You can lay something in the bottom if you'd like.  I used plastic canvas for one of mine.  You can also use cardboard, either covered in fabric or not.  Fill with groceries and save a plastic bag!