These days, everyone seems to be repurposing / upcycling / refashioning all kinds of things. I guess I was way ahead of my time, because I’ve been doing that all of my life. But for me, it was always a matter of necessity, so I didn’t often think of “repurposing” as anything that could be fun and creative. It was just a way of doing what my mama always said: “Use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without.” And so that’s how we lived.
Finding a dress or skirt at the thrift shop and adding a row of lace or a ruffle at the bottom was just the sensible way of adding a bit more length to a garment . . . it wasn’t a fashion statement! And taking old Mason jars or tin cans and painting them or wrapping them in pretty paper just made sense at our house. That’s where we would store things like spoons and spatulas, or crayons and pencils. It never occurred to me that those things would one day be fashionable.
Cutting up two or three garments and piecing them back together to make a completely new garment was one way that I got anything “new” when I was a teenager – the other being when I would earn .75 or a dollar and go to our local dime store to buy a few yards of fabric and a pattern to make my own “new” outfit. That was when fabric was about .50 a yard and I could buy a pattern for about the same amount. So with just a couple of dollars in my pocket I could actually buy enough fabric and a pattern to make a new dress! And that’s exactly how I learned to sew! It was all trial and error, and over time I made a lot of mistakes and learned from them.
Now there is a wonderful appeal for all kinds of “repurposed” or “upcycled” items, especially in clothing / fashion design as well as in DIY home decor projects. Since I’ve been doing that kind of thing all my life, I am delighted to see this kind of frugal fashion and creative living skills becoming so popular. But since all of this kind of “making do” with whatever I already have on hand was not something to perceive as creative or fashionable, I need lots of inspiration to turn my old-fashioned, practical knack for using whatever is available for a humble, ordinary necessity into a few things that are fun and whimsical.
Now that we are getting back to our home update projects, it’s time to start searching for things that we can use to decorate a bit. Of course, we can always use stuff we’ve had around the house for several years and use those items just as they are. We can also paint a few things like picture and mirror frames, end tables, and even book shelves. But after stuff has been around for a really long time, it’s kind of fun to get something “new.” Well, “new to us.” That’s where the repurposing / upcycling projects come in!
Recently I’ve found that having too much “stuff” around is making me feel a bit overwhelmed. Some fun stuff is great, but too much “clutter” and I begin to feel rather claustrophobic – so I’m being much more selective with the items that we display in our home. Here are some fun, creative ideas I found on Pinterest (of course, where else?) that have inspired me to “shop” my own house first and use things that we already have, and then the next time I’m at the thrift shop I’ll keep an eye out for things that I can upcycle with a purpose.
Most of the time the DIY projects that I work on tend to be the kinds of things that I can use for a long time. When my kiddos were little, we would make paper DIY projects for the holidays or any other time, just because it was fun to do. I still have many of those projects stored for safe-keeping, and even though they are old and faded, I still love to take them out and look at them from time to time. The spring bunnies made from construction paper, the Mother’s Day card with “I Love You, Mom!” scrawled across the front in childish writing and paper cupcake liners for flowers, the Thanksgiving turkey pictures with colorful feathers, and the Christmas ornaments made from paper plates, construction paper, and glitter . . . all hold a special place in my heart.
Now that all of the kiddos are pretty much grown up, I’m not collecting paper DIY project ideas these days. Instead I’m always looking for frugal DIY project ideas that will add a touch of charm and whimsy to our home. So as I was searching for ideas today, I came across some really fun ideas using vintage suitcases, discarded drawers, old serving trays, primitive benches, and even vintage jewelry.
Here’s a gorgeous cuff bracelet that is made from a basic bracelet form, wrapped with fabric or ribbon, with vintage jewelry and buttons attached. I’ve made similar bracelets that I hand stitched vintage buttons onto a fabric cuff, but this one has inspired me to try a bit different technique. Isn’t it beautiful?
How fun is this??? Plain, old, ordinary tin cans have been repurposed with vintage tea cups and fancy drawer knobs. It is amazing what you can do with a bunch of old stuff and your imagination! Instead of buying boring canisters for my kitchen, I’m thinking I’ll make a set using tin cans and maybe some paint . . . or Contact paper? I can’t tell for sure how the one was decorated with the white background and the dark gray floral design, but that spoon on the side is so cute! Guess I need to get busy!
Here’s one more way to upcycle / repurpose those old tin cans – some white paint, burlap ribbon and twine, and a few vintage pins or buttons and look at the gorgeous result! How perfect would this be for all of my paint brushes out in my design studio? Or scissors on the sewing table, or all the other odds and ends that accumulate while I’m working on the next fun refashion project? Always looking for more practical but pretty upcycle DIY projects . . . how about you? Do you like to take old stuff and make it into new stuff? I’d love to hear about it!
Please join us for this week’s
Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop and Linky Party
Angelina- Petite Haus
Theresa Begin – Shoestring Elegance