Category Archives: Green Craft

Upcycling: Comfy Pet Bed

Do you have a pet in need of a comfy bed?  If you have an indoor cat like I do, no doubt its not short on beds.  But if you want to provide a special place for your pet to snuggle on its own…or just another option…take a look at these fabulous pet beds from Molly Mutt, a US based company.

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The Molly Mutt Dog Bed Duvets, which come in a range of sizes and shapes, consist of a removable and washable cover as well as a ‘stuff sack’ which is designed to be filled with old clothes and bedding that are no longer usable.  Think old socks, undies, holey shirts and tracksuit pants!  What a fabulous idea for keeping these items out of landfill…and providing your best fur friend with a luxury bed of its own.

The openable sack and removable cover also allow for regular cleaning, airing and sunning (even the clothes within can be washed), which not only keeps your pet clean, but is also an important part of environmental flea control.

When I first discovered these I had one of those ‘why hadn’t I thought of that?’ moments. Then I had a ‘how can I do this in an even more eco-friendly way?’ moment.  The Molly Mutt beds are fabulous and a perfect option if you don’t have time for DIY (you can buy them in Australia from here and here) but they are transported all the way from the US, and they’re not made of eco-friendly materials.

So I came up with my own version.  Here it is:

Find an old cushion cover that’s no longer fit for display (mine was covered in horrible brown stains that just wouldn’t vanish).  If you have a dog who likes to rearrange its bed, choose a cover with a secure closure such as a zipper or buttons.  Use the cushion cover as the ‘stuff sack’ by filling it with old clothes or bedding.  Since my pet bed was a small size, I found it worked best to use small items of clothing (underwear and socks) or cut up larger items to fit in and form a nicely shaped cushion.

Old stained cushion cover

Make a basic pet bed cover with preloved fabric.  For my cat bed I used an old baby blanket made out of a soft, thick flannelette.  Cut out a square of fabric that’s slightly larger than the old cushion cover that you’re using – you need to include the seam allowance (1-1.5cm for each side) as well as a bit extra so the filled cushion cover fits inside the pet bed cover (about 0.5-1cm).

cushion cover instructions

Then, cut out two rectangular pieces of fabric that have their length the same as the square’s side, but the width about 2/3 the side of the square.  Hem one side of each rectangle along the length (this will become the part that opens)…or use an old blanket or similar that already has a finished edge.

Cushion cover instructions

Place the square of fabric right side up, and fit the two rectangular pieces, right side down, onto the square so that they overlap.

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Cushion cover instructionsThen simply sew around the edges of the square (with your 1-1.5cm seam allowance).  For durability, double-stitch the corners and the fabric-overlap on either side of the opening.  Zig-zag or overlock the seam edges if the fabric is prone to fraying (the baby blanket was felt-like so it didn’t fray when cut).  Clip the corners…turn right side out…and you’ve made your cover.  Very quick and easy!

Cushion cover instructions

The same principles can be used for different sized beds, and if you don’t have a suitable old cushion cover for the sack, try an old pillow protector or pillow slip instead (the square European style would be ideal).  Or make one yourself in the same way as the bed cover.

Obi on cat bed

Of course, Obi still makes a bed out of everyone else’s bed, the space underneath everyone else’s bed, the lounge, the cosy chair in the study, the pouffe, the change table, the jute bag that holds my fabric scraps, and even the floor.  But he does seem extra happy when he’s curled up on his special cat bed that I custom-made with my old socks and underwear. Perhaps he knows he’s doing his bit for the environment.

P.S. This is not a paid advertisement (I wish)…I just wanted to share a clever idea!

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Crafting Green

I love doing all sorts of craft.  Here are some ideas on greening up your crafting:

Use vintage fabrics or offcuts – charity shops are an excellent source of remnant fabrics and you’ll often find gorgeous vintage pieces, at very low prices.  There are some fabulous vintage fabric sellers online too…check out one of my favourites here.  Keep the tiny scraps of fabric left-over from your projects – cut up as you go and store in a bag/container to be used as stuffing.

Fabrics: offcuts, vintage and up cycled

Upcycle!  Transform worn-out, stained or torn pieces into something new – just avoid the areas of the item that have these flaws.  Old tablecloths, pillow cases, tea towels, woollen blankets, scarves, jumpers (woollen and polarfleece), jeans, shirts, and baby blankets have all found new life in my hands.  Your own cupboards will no doubt be a source of such fabrics, but charity stores again are a useful place to look.

Build up a collection of sewing bits and pieces by sourcing second-hand and vintage supplies, again from charity stores and online (ebay and Etsy are excellent).  These may have been used previously – eg, tools, buttons, remnant embroidery threads – or be old but unused and possibly still in original packaging – zippers, thread, needles, press studs, bias binding, etc!  I get excited when I scour the sewing/crafting section of charity stores…the best part is that everything is a discovery…you just don’t know what you might find!

Sewing supplies

No need to buy brand spanking new knitting needles and crochet hooks, either!  I’ve found all of mine on ebay and the local Vinnie’s and Salvo’s stores.  Ditto for yarn.  I try to tailor my projects to using what I have – patchwork squares, granny squares, softies and small items all lend themselves to using up scraps of yarn.

Buttons, knitting needles, crochet hooks

When second-hand or vintage isn’t available, choose supplies that are made of eco-friendly materials – organic/biodynamic cotton and wool, bamboo, hemp, pure wool felt and recycled PET felt.  These are all available through online sellers.

Become an organised hoarder!  Before throwing away an item ask yourself whether it could be used for craft.  I store broken crockery in labelled containers waiting for the mosaic masterpiece I’m going to create one day!  Although corks are recyclable, they are a versatile addition to your craft supplies – check out this idea for a cute home-made stamp.  Bits and pieces such as beads, broken jewellery, buckles, lengths of ribbon, and magnets all lend themselves to craft.

Magnets

If you are into paper crafts, collect pretty or interesting papers, card and the aforementioned bits and pieces – invitations, postage stamps, playing cards, greeting cards, board game pieces, and envelopes are fabulous materials for card making, scrapbooking and other paper projects.  This Etsy site has an amazing array of such supplies available for purchase (all vintage/second-hand).

English: Sheet of US Postage stamps, 1940 issu...

The key to not getting into mess and clutter by hanging on to all this stuff is to arrange items into categories (buttons, ribbons, stamps, corks, papers, fabrics, etc) and store them where they can be easily located.  And if you need inspiration or ideas on what to do with anything from an old belt buckle to a pair of holy denim jeans…I give you one word only…Pinterest!

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Upcycling: Cute Picture Frame Magnets

Miss L and I did some crafting together today.  When I explained what I had in mind she responded, ‘No!  I want to do drawing with my sparkly pens!’, in typical preschooler defiance.  She did do drawing, and it was beautiful.  But she was intrigued by what I was creating and quickly changed projects.

So we made some cute little photo/picture frame magnets for the fridge, using the top rims of tin cans and old/unwanted advertising magnets.  Together.  We had fun!  Here’s what we did.

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Find a tin can with a ring-pull lid.  Open it (using the ring-pull), remove lid and use whatever’s inside!  Wash and dry can.  Then use a can opener to go around the top of the already opened can to remove the rim.  One of the more modern types of can openers (like that pictured) will do the job.

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You will be left with a useful tin (minus the sharp bit on the inside) to house all sorts of goodies… as well as an interesting tin ring.  (It was the need to get rid of the sharp edge that’s left at the top of a ring-pull can after opening, that led me to discover this upcycling-worthy item.)

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Can you see that this otherwise piece of rubbish (well, actually, recycling!) is a perfect little frame?  (Click on the photo above to see the pattern of close lines on the rim).  So, find a sweet picture, a photo of a loved one or your child’s artwork.  Use the tin frame like a viewfinder to choose the best part of the picture then trace around the outside of the frame there.  Cut out your circle neatly.

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Then glue the frame onto the picture using PVC glue (I just happened to have it) or something else that will glue metal to paper.  It’s easiest to apply the glue to the frame rather than the picture.  And remember: with glue, less is more!  Alternatively, cut your picture to fit inside the frame, glue the wrong-side edge to the front of the inside rim, then glue a piece of card (re-use an old card, cereal box, etc) on to back of the picture and frame.  This produces a sturdier result, but I prefer the neater look with the picture behind the frame (you don’t need to cut quite as neatly, either)!

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You might want to leave the glue to dry a bit before the next step, which is glueing on the magnet.  Find a heavyish object to place on top – I used another tin can (with contents).  For the magnet I cut a square piece  from an old advertising magnet (I could have done a circle but I find it easier to cut square shapes).  I have a stash of these just through keeping old ones that I’ve acquired over the years.  I’m not a fan of advertising magnets – they’re not necessary, not recyclable (though at least re-usable) and create extra landfill.  But being on the receiving end of them has been unavoidable at times.  Anyway, these magnets make a nice flat backing surface for the picture, and you don’t have to go out and buy more stuff.

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Apply a thin layer of glue to the magnet (printed side), then place onto the back of the picture.

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Leave to dry, picture side up, with a heavy object on top.

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Your lovely framed picture magnet is complete.  They look much nicer on the fridge than business names and phone numbers (and real estate calendars)!  You could also make little doll house picture frames using the same method, minus the magnet.  Or cut out pic’s and sit them inside jar lids and glue a magnet on the back…but I like the look of the pattern on the tin rim.

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Upcycling: Pretty Fabric Bangles

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I made these cute fabric-covered bangles for my little girl the other day.  I’d been meaning to make some since I saw a lovely bunch of them at the local handmade markets.  Rather than buying new materials for craft projects, I like to up-cycle old stuff that’s destined for the bin.  I’d already bought a couple of preloved hard plastic bangles complete with bright pink and bright blue animal prints from a charity store – fabric-covering the solution to these being fashionable again.  They will have to be covered another time because Miss L found some used glow sticks on our recent camping trip and insisted on bringing them home…Mummy took them aside when Miss L was sleeping and turned them into something much prettier.  Miss L agreed they were lovely with the nice fabric.

Covering the bangles with fabric is a very quick and simple process.  Simply cut a length of fabric (I used a vintage fabric remnants from a charity store) around 25mm wide and up to a metre long – I used 80cm lengths for these bangles as they are small.  Fold in one side of the strip to the centre, running along it’s entire length and ironing in place as you go.  Do the same with the other side, so that you end up with a long length of fabric with neat folded edges on either side.  Then start wrapping!

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I found that I didn’t need to glue the fabric in place at the start, but if you find it’s wanting to slip away then feel free to add a small dab of glue to secure the fabric to the bangle.  You need to be quite firm with the wrapping, keeping a hold on the free fabric strip as you go.

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Keep wrapping until the bangle’s covered and you reach the end of the strip.  Then simply glue the end in place (I used PVA)  inconspicuously on the inner side of the bangle.

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You can whip up…or wrap up…a bundle of these in no time.  They ‘d make great gifts for little girls…or big girls if you use regular size bangles.

Do you have some old, ugly bangles from the 80’s or 90’s you could cover?  Or are you wondering what you could do with some expired glow sticks that your kids have acquired?  Then give bangle-covering a go!

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