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Upcycling October - what will you make?

 
steward & author
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What upcycling projects are you working on?  Something for Halloween perhaps?

I like the way these two words sound together: Upcycling October, so I decided to make it a thing in my house.  Look around at all those things that are too good to toss and see what I can upcycle from the materials?

I'm thinking about a bit of sewing.  Maybe make a hat out of that coat that got mudstained and shrunk?  Maybe something spooktacular like:



Or maybe something else.

Let's have some fun and use October as an excuse to get some of those upcycling projects started or, better yet, finished.
 
gardener
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My newest project is knocking out some sea glass. I've been collecting broken glass and unsold glassware from local second hand stores. Rarely used cement mixer modified by taking out the paddles. I've done small runs in a large rock tumbler for making jewelry pieces with a first run of ball bearings to soften the edges and then a run with abrasive. I'll do the same thing in the cement mixer running it in the shop. Hoping to get some pieces for art work, pebble sized pieces will end up iin gravel walkways.
 
pollinator
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I have a BB addiction . . .

I hate throwing things away, so have been accused of hording. I partially fixed this by buying less stuff in the first place. But since I started the nest and textile badges, I’m up-cycling constantly.

Summer lingers and winter comes fast and early, so October is transition month.

I have two caches, otherwise known as the basement and garage. My big October task will be to totally empty, clean, organise and put back. I’ll have to be on my toes justifying every item. The BB’s are giving me lots of ammunition, but I’m married to a minimalist. If I have enough scraps of wood, I’d like to build a dog cargo box for my bike.

carrying stuff on bike
 
pollinator
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I have a small stash of shirts that are unwearable because of stains that won't wash out, sizing issues, multiple missing buttons, or thrifted "bargains" that never looked right on me. I'd like to do something interesting with them like piecing bits from different shirts together to make a hopefully wearable item. Just for fun, I can collect a couple of BBs like adding to my button jar and salvaging fabric at the same time.
 
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I'm on my eighth year of this rag rug.  I know, it's only tiny, but I don't work on it often.  Your post has inspired me to try and get it done this year so my toes have some coziness when we get our brief Spanish winter.  It will also be an incentive to clear out the 'you can't go out in that' clothes from wardrobes and drawers, to find material to use.

Ps I'm new here, what's BB please?!
IMG-20210426-WA0000.jpeg
rag rug upcycling old clothes
 
master steward
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Helen, welcome to Permies!
That rag rug looks really cosy for bare feet, and what a cheery way of using scrap fabric! I`ll have to wait till my puppy gets past the chewing stage though before trying something similar.

BB stands for `Badge Bit`. It`s a Permies term for a scheme to help people develop and get a sort of accreditation for skills. See This thread for an overview.
 
Jane Mulberry
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Helen, that rug is beautiful! I love the way you've blended the colours! How are you attaching the fabric pieces? Sewing them on, or does hooking work on a hessian backing? Would love to see a couple of pics of you at work on it!

Sorry for using jargon, too. Thanks Nancy for explaining BBs. The overall aim of the badge system AKA SKIP, Skills to Inherit Property, is a high and noble one - like an advanced qualification in doing permaculture Paul-Wheaton-style, to show to older land stewards that this might be a worthy person to take over their land when the time comes.

I'm not seriously collecting badges for that reason - LOL, good thing, as so far I only have one badge bit! But it's also a fun way to note what I already do, learn new skills, and stretch into doing things differently.
 
pollinator
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Probably I will do some upcycling. Only I do not yet know what. But upcycling is my way-of-life. As you can see in my Textile BBs (Jane, I don't do BBs to inherit anything, just because I like 'giving a good example').
 
gardener
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We have two rabbit mansions that have been living empty in the garage for 4 years after our disastrous attempt at raising bunnies. And we have two corn hole games that tried to kill me by attempting to fall on my head from the shelf they were stored on in the garage. And I realized that they are just the right size to fit on top of the bunny hutches to become a roof and turn the whole thing into a chicken coop for some bantams we want to get next spring. I'm very excited I figured this out so we don't have to but any new lumber. We even have some scrap siding that is just the right size. All we have to do is find a roofing material to go on top of the corn hole games.
Screenshot_20210630-220426-2.png
Bunny mansions, just the right size to protect a few bantam chickens from coyotes.
Bunny mansions, just the right size to protect a few bantam chickens from coyotes.
 
Edward Norton
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I decided to tackle the garage today as we have a rain forecast everyday this coming week. I up-cycled a bunch of cardboard boxes which are now labeled and full of sorted items, like nuts & bolts. I was hoping to find enough wood to build a bike box, but alas, all I had was pressure treated and a bit icky.

The last year has been very transformative, so much of what I would have up-cycled, I’ve now recycled. I was growing plants from seed in plastic yoghurt pots. I now make yoghurt and store in glass jars. My biggest success with growing from seed was direct planting, so I’m no longer need a huge pile of plastic plant pots. I will wash and put out the front with a ‘free plant pot’ label on them as that’s how I came by some of them in the first place.

Studying permaculture has made me think about everything holistically. More and more, I buy less and when I do buy something, I’m thinking of it’s whole lifecycle. The BB’s I did over the last few weeks also made me think about clothes. Can I make do with what I have? Can I repair it? Can I make something from scratch. If I do buy something, can I one day, deconstruct it?

Anyhoo . . . Here’s a few shots of my big clear out, which I think will also earn me three BB’s!
1B150DD0-5744-43A3-861B-848655DEC97C.jpeg
Before garage store clearout
Before
E63B681F-9B5C-4CAC-B649-6B42151FC107.jpeg
During garage store clearout
During
F75EA26E-027A-4B10-AE22-F273825E6E6A.jpeg
After garage store clear out
After
 
gardener
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I keep seeing wool sweaters with moth holes or shrunken from laundering in thrift stores. Why not make warm socks out of them, in addition to mittens and hats?
I self drafted my own pattern so the long socks will fit over my daikon legs. I have made several pairs and they are all comfortable and warm to wear
P1150717.JPG
Knee high socks from wool sweater
Knee high socks from wool sweater
P1150707.JPG
Ankle socks from felted wool knit
Ankle socks from felted wool knit
P1150714.JPG
Crew socks from merino knit scraps
Crew socks from merino knit scraps
 
pollinator
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Nothing very special. We had to recover a deck, which left us with a lot of wood that is still useable, but not nice enough to make furniture. Since my chickens are gone, I'm refurbishing their coop, totally changing the nest boxes and revamping their perches: I want the perches to be moveable so I can recuperate the manure without bumping my head all the time.
They will be free standing, and light. I'm thinking of adding wheels [not caster wheels, bigger]
I cleaned up the wood a bit. I will be painting it. As far as the wheels, I'm still thinking...
 
Jenny Wright
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May Lotito wrote:I keep seeing wool sweaters with moth holes or shrunken from laundering in thrift stores. Why not make warm socks out of them, in addition to mittens and hats?
I self drafted my own pattern so the long socks will fit over my daikon legs. I have made several pairs and they are all comfortable and warm to wear



I LOVE your socks! I must not be very good at thrifting because I never find feltable woolen things when I go to the thrift store. There are so many projects I'd love to try if I found some fun sweaters.
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Jenny Wright wrote:

May Lotito wrote:I keep seeing wool sweaters with moth holes or shrunken from laundering in thrift stores. Why not make warm socks out of them, in addition to mittens and hats?
I self drafted my own pattern so the long socks will fit over my daikon legs. I have made several pairs and they are all comfortable and warm to wear



I LOVE your socks! I must not be very good at thrifting because I never find feltable woolen things when I go to the thrift store. There are so many projects I'd love to try if I found some fun sweaters.


It depends on the thrift store (the people working there). Here I have that problem too. It seems they only put the fashion clothes (often of poor quality synthetics) in their shop, the (often better quality materials) clothes with holes or shrunken/felted go somewhere else (maybe even to Africa).
 
Jane Mulberry
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Same here. :( Not so easy to get useful natural fibre stuff for upcycling. We used to have a wonderful old-style charity shop that put stained or damaged things on a 50p rail. Now the only stuff that's on there is t-shirts that are only fit for rags. Not sure if they aren't getting the donations of natural fibre clothes, or if they put them in the "rag bag" where they get paid pennies per kilo.

Unfortunately most of the volunteers in that shop aren't friendly and wouldn't want the extra work of checking labels for fibre content (and I'm sure on busy days, they might not have time), or I'd explain what I want and offer more than the rag man.
 
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Jenny Wright wrote:

I LOVE your socks! I must not be very good at thrifting because I never find feltable woolen things when I go to the thrift store. There are so many projects I'd love to try if I found some fun sweaters.



Hello Jenny!

For thrift shopping, I go to the big cities.  Especially in the more industrial districts.  It is a huge waste stream and the quantity and variety is excellent.

Another great thing to try for fine clothing, is the boutique thrift stores in the affluent neighborhoods adjoining the big city.  
 
Rusticator
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Jane Mulberry wrote:Same here. :( Not so easy to get useful natural fibre stuff for upcycling. We used to have a wonderful old-style charity shop that put stained or damaged things on a 50p rail. Now the only stuff that's on there is t-shirts that are only fit for rags. Not sure if they aren't getting the donations of natural fibre clothes, or if they put them in the "rag bag" where they get paid pennies per kilo.

Unfortunately most of the volunteers in that shop aren't friendly and wouldn't want the extra work of checking labels for fibre content (and I'm sure on busy days, they might not have time), or I'd explain what I want and offer more than the rag man.



This is a brilliant idea, for anyone able to pull it off!
 
Jane Mulberry
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In the past (15 or more years ago) I was able to establish relationships with the local thrift stores to save things for me, because at that stage anything unsold after 2 weeks just went in the trash. But I didn't ask them to sort things for me. I ran a successful online bookstore for a few years by arranging with the two local thrifts to buy all the unsold books or the books they deemed not worth even trying to sell (where the real gems were) by the box-full. So many books saved from the trash! It was great fun, and I made some amazing finds.

Now recycling is big business so the head offices sell the unsold or waste items on contract. It's far easier for busy volunteers to throw that shrunken cashmere sweater in the rag bag for the weekly collection from the truck that does the rounds of all the stores than set it aside for someone.
 
Jane Mulberry
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I'm hoping my October project will be making a single bed sized sleeping bag which will open up completely along the side and bottom edge if needed, but can also completely seal along those edges with hook and loop tape to stop drafts.

The currently only usable bed in our old Bulgarian house in the process of renovation is in a corner with big windows at the head and side. Single-glazed windows with paper-thin glass that the cold pours in through! I've already puttied the gappy paned and will caulk the gaps in the frames, and I'll be sticking up some plastic sheets over the windows with double sided tape as well as using old blankets as curtains. But as I tend to be a restless sleeper and blankets or quilts usually end up on the floor, I also would love a sleeping bag that is easy for this sixty-something to get in and out of.

I have two matching old cotton flannelette duvet covers and an old thin quilt that should work for the project, so the only purchased part is the hook and loop tape. It will all be hand-sewn, so I need to get better ar using a thimble!
 
master steward
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Hi Samantha, my mother-in-law lived in a larger affluent city.  She would shop the “Gold Coast” for yard sales for clothes for my wife. When she visited she would bring $300.00 suits that she had picked up for $5.
 
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My upcycling project I need to get back to is another pair of leggings made out of sweaters that I started last winter and never finished. Jay Angler has a whole thread about them Transforming old sweaters into snuggly leggings
Sweater pants are warm and comfy! I made loose house pants out of a heavy enough fabric to have lots of usable pockets, and wear a pair of sweater pants with those over them, keeps them clean, gives me pockets and warmth for working around the house.
 
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Ahhh... my mother's slogan... Wear it out, Us it up, Make it do... or do without!

I upcycle old pallets to firewood, then put the ashes through my power sifter to sort out the nails. Ashes go on the garden and the nails go to the scrap yard where I get 10 - 15 cents a pound... it's amazing how many pounds of nails there are in a winter's worth of firewood. Before the power sifter I sorted the nails using a rare earth magnet inside a tin can... pick up a bunch of nails from the ashes... lift the can over another bucket and pull the magnet away from the can.
 
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May Lotito wrote:I keep seeing wool sweaters with moth holes or shrunken from laundering in thrift stores. Why not make warm socks out of them, in addition to mittens and hats?
I self drafted my own pattern so the long socks will fit over my daikon legs. I have made several pairs and they are all comfortable and warm to wear



I love this idea!! Would you be able to share how you constructed the pattern-like where you put the seams and do you find they are still comfortable with seams?
 
Nancy Reading
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I'm hoping to make myself a shed....
I got caught in a shower when I was in my growing area down the hill last week and had to make do with sheltering behind one of my log stores. It would also provide a place of privacy for a quick wee, and a tool store for my digging tools and pots, keeping them out of the worst of the weather.
I'm thinking of 7 pallets in an octagon (gap for door) with a yurt style fabric roof...I've been offered a trampoline membrane, which may do for most of the roof. Some off cuts of polythene from my dead polytunnel cover will do for the rest if necessary and I need about 3 more pallets (I'll ask my friendly delivery driver tomorrow if he can spare any :) ). I'm thinking it's doable if I avoid too much 'project creep'! The roof supports will probably be the most challenging, but I think some of my trees will yield some thin flexible poles....
 
Garth Wunsch
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Your roof and perhaps entire shelter could be created using a castaway trampoline. Search YouTube for trampoline greenhouse. I've seen several videos over the years on converting a trampoline frame to "geodesic dome" greenhouse.
 
Samantha Lewis
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John F Dean wrote:Hi Samantha, my mother-in-law lived in a larger affluent city.  She would shop the “Gold Coast” for yard sales for clothes for my wife. When she visited she would bring $300.00 suits that she had picked up for $5.



Yes!   It is so sweet if you can frequent these sorts of places.  
You can really pamper yourself.  It is lovely to go through winter with silk and cashmere under things.

Even if it wasn't about the money, I actually prefer to shop those places for their variety.


 
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We gave some wine barrel staves a third life!  They’ve been holding up and looking gorgeous for 30 years!
How do I add the photos?
Staff note (Jay Angler) :

https://permies.com/wiki/61133/Post-Image-Permies has a couple of options
Other useful info can be found here: https://permies.com/w/how-permies-works
Welcome to permies!

 
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My simplest upcycle¿down cycle? this year has been cutting up used poor fitting or stained t-shirts to use as handkerchiefs.   Jersey material needs no hemming,  just cut and blow.  Tie dyed old shirts are the most fun!
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Pearl Sutton wrote:My upcycling project I need to get back to is another pair of leggings made out of sweaters that I started last winter and never finished. Jay Angler has a whole thread about them Transforming old sweaters into snuggly leggings
Sweater pants are warm and comfy! I made loose house pants out of a heavy enough fabric to have lots of usable pockets, and wear a pair of sweater pants with those over them, keeps them clean, gives me pockets and warmth for working around the house.


Thank you for reminding me. That thrift-store sweater is already waiting here for much too long, to become such leggings (or sweat-pants). I have more sewing work to do, so this can be combined. And then I can make a photo to show here ...
 
Nancy Reading
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Garth Wunsch wrote:Your roof and perhaps entire shelter could be created using a castaway trampoline. Search YouTube for trampoline greenhouse. I've seen several videos over the years on converting a trampoline frame to "geodesic dome" greenhouse.



The trampoline membrane I've got doesn't seem to be waterproof - I'm now wondering about hammocks! Pearl has a great thread here on things to do with trampolines.

I've now (almost) made a start on my shed, project thread here: https://permies.com/t/231302/Pallet-yurt-simple-shed
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Okay ... so I made this 'swants' (sweater-pants). The thing is wearable, at least when nobody else sees it. It was not as easy as I thought.
upcycling old sweater jersey top
Grey cotton sweater in very large size.
paper pattern piecing jumper reuse
Sweater, pattern for pants (I had, and used in the past) and other tools.
upcycledd jumper leggings diy free
How my crazy grey 'swants' look on me (in the mirror).
 
master steward
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Inge Leonora-den Ouden wrote: It was not as easy as I thought.

Totally! I think for a first try you did great! Think of them as something you'd wear under a skirt where only the bottom of the legs will show, but when you need extra warmth.

I usually wear my pairs under rain gear, as my field gets really wet and muddy. My second pair definitely turned out better, but I also learned a lot from making both pairs, and used sewing techniques I hadn't used before, but which will be potentially very useful in the future.

I will admit that my second pair also had more of a pattern to it, which helps distract the eye!
 
Jay Angler
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I just don't feel as if "plain old mending" counts for this, but that's likely as far as I will get. Hubby had shorts that needed a patch in the crotch which got me looking at what else had come out of the wash.

I scored a long-sleeved 80% cotton 20% wool shirt at the local Charity shop a while back. I was eyeing it for myself, even though it was pretty big on me, but it fit Hubby perfectly. I wasn't convinced he would wear it, but it quickly became a favorite and seemed to go from the clean laundry to him wearing it often enough that the collar wore through at the back. I took a strip of 100% cotton and stitched it over the damaged part last night. Hubby sort of asked if my time was worth it, but I suggested this was a pretty good quality shirt originally... It's a "Viyella" :
https://www.mynewshirt.com/collections/viyella?sort_by=created-descending&filter.v.availability=1&filter.v.price.gte=&filter.v.price.lte
He had an OMG moment when he realized that to buy a new one would be $150 - $180 prospect and that is definitely before taxes, but it might also be US dollars.  So I think making it last is totally worth my time!
 
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