Friday, 22 March 2019

The Up-Cycled Cloth Collective - Some Weekend Inspiration

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My talented friend Sarah introduced me to a fantastic group on Facebook yesterday, The Up-Cycled Cloth Collective. Author, Melanie Brummer, who set up the group, says that 10% of the world's waste originates with the textile industries. I have created this page to create awareness so that people stop and think "How can I re-purpose this cloth before I throw it into the landfill?"


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I know a lot of us secondhand aficionados feel we're fighting a losing battle trying to spread the word that cheap throwaway fashion is destroying our planet, I'm increasingly exasperated by otherwise intelligent women showing off their dubiously made fast fashion hauls on social media and sick to death of sorting through charity shop rails loaded with poorly made clothing that was the in-thing only weeks ago and, even worse, when I'm out and about I often see clothes fly-tipped on street corners or hanging out of wheely bins. Charity shops are swamped with so much fast fashion that they haven't room for it and so it gets shipped off to Africa which has caused many of the traditional textile industries to collapse as our secondhand cast-offs are a far cheaper alternative.


 But there is a chink of light. The Up-Cycled Cloth Collective boasts over 52,000 members worldwide sharing ideas for re-purposing fabrics otherwise destined for landfill. The group pages are packed full of brilliant makes from professional makers and artists to enthusiastic amateurs and absolute beginners - even if you can't thread a needle I guarantee there's inspiration for everyone.

If you're not a Facebook user I'll try and share any good ideas I come across (with the author's permission). 

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Here's a few of my makes over the years.


 My patchwork curtains were my first ever major project, they helped distract me from my grief in those dark days after my Mum died and before her funeral. I used old tea towels, frayed vintage clothes, doileys, tablecloths and tatty curtains from jumble sales. Tutorial HERE.


The cats had ragged this jumble sale 1930s bentwood chair to buggery, it was too tatty to donate to the the charity shop and it would have been a crime to take it to the tip so we recovered it with some vintage curtains we'd bought from a charity shop years ago.


What do you do with three vintage St Michael single bed covers that have seen better days? Cut them into strips, sew them together and make a massive one (perfect for the cats to camp underneath.)


Hideous old granny lampshade you inherited from a relative? Cut up some vintage fabrics and stick onto the lampshade with plenty of PVA glue. (Tutorial HERE.)


A giant pair of shoelaces, scraps of vintage fabric, a bag of pompoms from the charity shop and some felt becomes bunting for our festival stall.


A collection of knackered 1960s hand towels and some fringed trim from your bed cover project? A patchwork bath mat.


A charity shopped  Lloyd Loom ottoman that had seen better days? An hour with a staple gun and an old velvet curtain a friend no longer wanted.

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My inherited Edwardian chaise longue was a disgrace, having had a brown Dralon makeover back in the 1970s. On a wet Bank Holiday Monday out came my stash of vintage curtains and the rest was history. My skirt was originally a 1960s curtain and my cardi a repurposed granny square blanket bought from a charity shop.


A friend kindly passed on a trunk of vintage table linen she'd discovered when clearing out her late Grandmother's home. I made them into these crop tops which I sold at festivals.


 My waistcoat started life as a pair of curtains that hung up in my little brother's bedroom back in the 1960s.


 I shared my Afghan dresses with the members of the group and was overwhelmed by the reaction.


Here's me in the throes of a skirtain* making frenzy a few years ago.

Skirt + curtain = curtain



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Get creating, you'll never know you can do it until you try.

Linking to Patti and the gang for Visible Monday.

48 comments:

  1. One of the many reasons I am a fan of yours is this exactly - you are a master recycler. I almost never buy new clothing, at most underwear/bra/socks. Everything else comes from the thrift store. Not only is it a fabulous way to recycle but is so much better for your pocketbook, even when you can afford new. I would far rather spend money on adventures traveling than $200 frocks you only wear once.

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    1. Thank you so much! I'm completely with you, I'll ALWAYS see if I can find it secondhand before I buy it new. I've been lucky with brand mew bras and socks in chazzas (why people donate them I'll never know, but I'm glad they do). xxx

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  2. I bought from the best kept secret charity shop locally, 3 shirts for £1 each and a lovely double duvet cover for for £2 all of which which I am going too make into baby clothes and accessories for my incubating twin grandchildren. Also you would love a very inspirational woman who is Underdock on IG - she repurposes mainly men's shirts into wonderfully funky garments. https://www.instagram.com/underdock_uk/

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    1. I'm so excited about your news! I like the sound of that charity shop. With prices like that you're not going to be nervous about chopping your purchases up and re-purposing them and because they are homemade the new parents are going to truly treasure them. xxx

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  3. You have always been a champion of recycling and upcycling Vix and you do it so brilliantly.
    I’m to join the cause on Facebook. I’m pretty good about recycling but I could look at buying less I think.
    Our lovely local pet shop owner has asked us all to take in our containers that we keep bird seed and such like so that he can stop having to put it in plastic bags. Great idea. He is always forward thinking xxx

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    1. Lovely to see you in the group, Lynn.
      What a good idea of the pet shop owner to encourage customers to bring their own containers. Little cghhanges like that will make all the difference. xxx

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  4. Yes!!! I just followed on Facebook!!

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    1. It's such a good group, I love all the brilliant ideas. x

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  5. OOh I'm not a Facebook person at all - but this tempts me so much. I am about to open my own vintage shop aka bags of clothes that have been languishing in the attic for years lol. I've inherited a new-to-me sewing machine - so I'm not even charity shopping for clothes now until much later on this year. Thanks for the inspo Vix xx

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    1. I'm thrilled to see you over there, Elaine! xxx

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  6. Bravo for showing everyone how it's done.

    Patti went to a meet-up from a similar or maybe even the same group recently in NYC. They had the same goals. It is refreshing to see some people are concerned about the future of the world.

    Suzanne
    http://www.suzannecarillo.com

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    1. We're not alone although IG and some blogs often make me feel that I'm drowning in a sea of mass produced fast fashion.
      I loved Patti's post about her time with that group. All cities should offer workshops to give people ideas of how to reuse their old clothes. xxx

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  7. Secondhand shopping and reusing things is great! You're spreading the message well, Vix!

    I share your love of all things patchwork and you inspired me to make my very own patchwork lampshade last year.

    I'd forgotten about that waistcoat you made from your brother's curtains, it's wonderful! X

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    1. Yay! I'm delighted that you made a lampshade, I'd love to see it on your blog one day.
      Secondhand shopping is the way to go. xxx

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  8. By re-using cast-off fabrics like you do, it definitely cuts down on the amount going to landfill, but there is so much cheap rubbish fast fashion out there now, I fear we won't be able to make a dent in the pile. As long as people keep buying it, it will keep being produced.

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    1. I like the quote about social change happening one personal choice at a time. I know it feels like we're fighting a losing battle about mindless consumerism especially on IG where it's all sponsored shite and freebies! xxx

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  9. I perused an estate sale today. There were piles and piles of children's clothing. I think that is a major contributor to the problem. People buy so much clothing for kids who just as quickly outgrow it. I remember my mom altering clothes we no longer fit in or otherwise re-purposing them.

    I love re-using fabric from clothes that I can no longer wear because it means I still get to enjoy the fabric that drew me to purchase in the first place.

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    1. Yes, there's mountains of kid's clothing at car boot sales. I often look at it in case there's any interesting small scale prints I can cut up for patchwork but it's all hideous synthetics and limp cotton jersey, utter rubbish. xxx

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  10. I love the upcycled cloth collective , been there a while , theres loads of weird ideas i hadnt even considered and the odd touch of genius , really hoping that once the spring garden phase is done i can get back to my weird sewing

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    1. It's such a great group, isn't it? I'd love to see some of your creations! x

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  11. I love the bath mat you made. It looks amazing. All of these DIY projects are amazing, you're super creative. I love the bedding you made, so much fun. The chairs look amazing too...and the curtain skirts are fabulous. People often don't think of textile as waste, but it really is. I organized some fund raising events back in the day, and one thing that kept coming up was the issue with donated clothes. Many charity organizations can't accept donations of clothing anymore. The reason is because the official ones (such as Caritas) are required by law to have the clothes they donate dry-cleaned. Needless to say, most of clothes donated is such trash that dry-cleaning it is a waste of money and they only afford to spend a certain amount. Another problem that much of the 'donated' clothes is actually sold in developing countries and while locals hate it (they call it dead white people's clothes), they often can't afford anything else. It's all very problematic and fast fashion is really the root of the problem. Until something is done about fast fashion, donating clothes will be a shady activity (one in which you're not sure if you are helping or hurting people by doing it).

    So, yeah this collective is fantastic news. I'm all for up-cycling! It's even better than recycling.

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    1. Waste textiles are a terrible blight on the planet especially fabric like fleece that can leach into the water when washed or polyester which doesn't biodegrade.
      Our charity shops accept all manner of clothing - if it's too tatty to sell they ask that you label the bag as "rags" so it gets sold to the textile recycling company.
      I don't understand the dry clean only policy, dry cleaning is such an ineffectual method of cleaning and releases all manner of toxic chemicals. Caritas clearly need educating!
      xxx

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  12. Gorgeous sewing projects out of pre-used fabric! I vividly remeber most of them. So inspirational. Love to hear that out there are much more idealists. Thanx for sharing! Xxxx

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    1. My pleasure! It's so refreshing to discover there's more people like us out there! xxx

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  13. You are so talented, Vix. Love all your ideas, particularly that bath mat, lampshade covering and the crop tops. I'm fascinated over the idea of upcycling clothes and recently combined a tiered chiffon skirt with a blouse to make the cutest tunic top. I'm trying to look at scrap fabric and donated garments in new ways. Your post is very inspiring!

    Theresa

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    1. Thanks, Theresa! A friend recommended a lady on IG who made amazing dresses with charity shopped men's shirts and old skirts sewn together, they looked so good. The Up-Cycled Cloth Collective is full of clever ideas and you don't have to be a particularly skilled seamstress to create them. xxx

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  14. I'm sure you were up-cycling long before the word was ever invented! I truly admire your endless creativity. Your patchwork curtains are fabulous, and I love them even more now I know the story behind them. I'm also loving your patchwork bath mat (which has given me an idea) and the waistcoat made from your little brother's curtain! You're an inspiration to us all! xxx

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    1. Thanks, Ann! Yes, I was in a dark place when I started on those curtains but they really helped with the healing process. xxx

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  15. I love seeing your projects together in this post. Your use of colour is always inspiring. I am constantly surprised at otherwise intelligent people blinded in fast fashion buying. My making is much less these days but you're inspiring me to get back to it. Xx

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    1. Thank, Minnado! I do love colour and print, I'm like a magpie when I spot anything in a charity shop that fits the criteria.
      Have a look at that Facebook group - it's public so you don't have to be on Facebook to see the posts. If there isn't an idea that gets your creative juices flowing again I'd be very surprised. xxx

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  16. Very good post vix , Thing i am going to make something out of my Antique table linen xxx

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    1. Thanks, Eileen. You should post some photos of your antique table linen to the group and ask for suggestions. They're full of great ideas. x

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  17. I love that you practise what you preach, Vix, and how beautifully you upcycle, recycle and refashion. An inspiration to us all. I must check this FB group out.

    I've never seen you in glasses before - you look fab!

    Hope you have a lovely week.
    xxx

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    1. Thanks, Vronni!
      It's a wonderfully inspiring group, so many good ideas.
      My eyesight is so bad for close work and reading these days, I've got quite the collection of wacky reading glasses! xxx

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  18. what a fabulous group, it's one of the few times that I've found that Facebook could be useful (;D), and I totally support the idea of up-cycling!.
    Love that you're inspiring and encouraging people to do the right thing and also to be creative and fabulous!. I think that some of my projects are totally inspired by your patchwork creations!.
    I try to avoid any fast fashion purchase (it's difficult sometimes and I had to buy my sneakers new!) and try to support only quality, sustainable, local products. But sometimes I also feel alone as many people have said me that my talk is old-fashioned hippie stuff and that I'm becoming depressing and boring. So I'm grateful for this post and the FB group.
    besos

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    1. Those groups really do restore your faith in Facebook - isn't it refreshing to connect with like-minded people?
      I'm sure your sneakers were a mindful purchase, you aren't the type to get swayed by trends and fast fashion. Sometimes there's no avoiding a purchase especially when essentials like comfy footwear are concerned. xxx

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  19. The wave is growing, of people who don't want to add clothing to trash piles. You are a pioneer, and amazing in your creativity! All the projects you show here are inspiring me to get to work. The coat made from your brother's curtains is a personal favorite. xox

    Patti
    http://notdeadyetstyle.com

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    1. Yes! After joining that group O'm beginning to renew my faith in humanity. There's so many blogs & IG accounts I no longer follow as it's all buying fast fashion, I can't bear it. xxx

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  20. Shall spare you all my speech/sermon on the disappearance of sewing classes from American secondary schools two generations ago. Instead, I'll thank Vix for the inspiring tutorials -- and pix of her brilliant wardrobe and profitable projects -- that I share with friends, particularly the youngsters skint for cash.

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    1. I think we have the same situation here, Beth - Home Economics is no longer part of the school curriculum. Madness! xxx

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  21. You are fantastic! You do so much to recycle and reuse! It is brilliant!!! I'll bet the crop tops were a hit- I must have missed when you posted those on line before!xx

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    1. Thanks, Kezzie! It's easy to get disheartened with the wastefulness of society but every little helps. Hopefully both some of my ideas and that Facebook group may inspire others to rethink what they were going to throw away. xxx

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  22. I'm not very good at recycling worn-out clothes myself, though they do go into the rag bin at the recycling centre. (And I do stitch up runs in the toes of opaque tights.) What I am good at is conscious shopping - I buy things I really like and like to wear them a lot, so I always opt for quality. I'm not sure how the statistic that the average garment is worn seven times before being discarded was reached, but it's a shocking number if it's true. A pox on fast fashion; it's not worth hanging onto, and the fabric's rarely worth making into anything new.

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    1. Since I've got my sewing mojo back I've been trawling the chazzas for non-vintage clothes I can cut up but you're right, the quality of modern clothes is absolutely shocking - flimsy and appalling quality, horrible new and even more disgusting after 7 (or less) wears. I was trying to educate a couple of women in Banardos yesterday, showing them a beautiful handmade dress made from West African waxed cotton and getting them to feel the quality of the fabric as opposed to a Primarni horror - they got it! xxx

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  23. I've always admired your 'makes'. I've joined the group, I haven't made anything for years but I've got visible mending on three pairs of jeans at the moment... I feel it's just the beginning.
    xx

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    1. You'll get so many good ideas from that group, there's some wonderful menders on there, too! x

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  24. I remembering learning in one of my Psych classes that using fine motor skills(beading,sewing,drawing...)alleviated more stress than working out.It's nice that you have something lovely to look at after your healing. Anytime someone says,"I know I'm not perfect, or it's not perfect"I say, "Of course not!" Nothing is perfect. How boring life would be if things/people were.

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  25. I have been creating for a long time. Sewing,beading,thrifting,refashioning....But I still get blown away by what some people do to recycle. The people in some country(Name??)that make sculptures out of single rubber sandals that they find on the beach. Someone wove a beautiful bag out of plastic bags. The list goes on.

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Lots of love, Vix