Tuesday, April 28, 2009

My Recycle & Upcycle Tips

Most of us have our "little" parts that we do to help the environment.

I thought I'd share a few of mine.  I'd love to hear your's, too.

Selvages:  1)  For a long time now, I've filled a small (recipe card-size) box with cut up bits of my selvages.  I then keep a small lid, of another box, filled with these bits.  I use the selvages as thread starters and enders.  For those of you that might not know what I mean...when I finish sewing a block, seam, etc. instead of just cutting my threads and leaving a long "tail", I sew a bit of selvage for a couple of stitches and then snip my block free.  This saves me a lot of wasted thread and, even more importantly, headaches that are caused when my threads get caught up under the plate of my machine or on the back of my next block.  2) There are a number of patterns, etc. that you can use just by sewing strips of selvages together.  Someone was asking for selvage donations, on twitter, one day.  She pointed me to a website that featured products made JUST from selvages.  I can't for the life of me remember the name of the site though.  But I now have 2 bags hanging on my work-wall...one for me and one for the woman requesting selvages.  I'll be mailling my first bag to her by the end of the week.

Rotary Blades:  Once my rotary blades get to dull for fabric, I don't throw them away.  I put them into the empty package (of the new blade) and mark them "paper".  I have a 2nd rotary cutter that is filled with these "dull" blades.  I cut paper or just about anything that isn't fabric with them.  They last for a very long time and get a 2nd "life".  NOTE:  When these blades are too old to use any longer, I have a small Glad container with the lid sealed by masking tape.  A small slit is cut in the lid and I store my old blades in it.  Once it's full, I cover the slit and dispose of the blades.  This keeps people, or animals, from getting cut by them.  Yes, they can still slice a finger like butter.

Jeans/Denim: I've been making baby and toddler sized "hide and seek" rag quilts lately.  I decided that a great way to give new life to old jeans and denim shirts was to cut them up and make them into these cute little quilts.  I "raid" a thrift store, that's just down the street from my house, for my projects.  Once the quilts have been pieced and ragged (all exposed seams cut) I then wash them in hot water and dry them on high.  This steralizes them and gives them the "ragged" looked.  It also helps me to keep the costs of these quilts down.  It is VERY expensive to make reversible applique rag quilts any other way.  I have a traditional one for sale, in my shops, that can attest to the expense.  Ragging all the seams is very stressful on your hands, even when you use scissors specifically made for that purpose.

Old Spools:  Now here I am completely clueless.  I don't have any idea what to do with all my used spools of thread.  If anyone out there has suggestions, or would like to have them, let me know and I'll start a "bag" for you.  I always feel a little guilty everytime I throw one away but I'm enough of a pack rat as it is without keeping completely USELESS items (to me).

Okay, so there are my little tips that I use.  Let me know how you recycle and upcycle items.  I love to hear the creative ways things can be used/become.