Aug 272010

When money is tight for a fashionable woman, she just has to find new ways to be resourceful. The movie classic example is Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind, making a dress out of curtains to feign wealth and attempt to impress Rhett Butler to loan her money to save her home. You can watch the clip here.

Most of us when we think about making a wearable clothing item out of something else, picture a result similar to Carol Burnett’s parody, Went with the Wind.

Recently I did my own clothing recycling experiment. I just cleaned out our linen closet and discarded numerous blankets. There is a limit to how many blankets a person needs and we were way over. So, when my daughter received a “Knot-A-Quilt” craft kit as a gift, I thought it was a darling idea but I just didn’t want or need another blanket. Could I repurpose it for something we did need . . . fall wardrobe items?

The Knot-A-Quilt kit requires no sewing. You just tie the fringed edges of adjacent squares together in knots. I liked the bright colors and fringed ends and thought it would make some adorable dresses for my little girls.

The first item I made from the quilt squares was completely no sew. I made a jumper with criss-cross straps. I used 8 squares for the main body of the dress, tying them into a tube, then I used 16 squares for a ruffled edge along the bottom, tying two of the ruffle fringes to every one of the dress fringes. For each strap, I then used two squares tied along one side and then connected each end of the strap to the dress by tying 3 fringes of the strap to every 1 of the dress.

My daughter wore the dress to preschool this morning. It really turned heads!

“Did you make that?”

was the first question everyone asked. My daughter’s teacher then added:

“You know, not everyone can get away with that look.”

which I am not sure if I should interpret as “Good for you, it worked!” or “She really shouldn’t be wearing that.”

The preschool teachers, who are all a very creative and crafty bunch, were really fascinated by the concept of this outfit.

For my littlest one, I made a “tutu” version with four squares connected into a tube for the main skirt and 8 squares for the ruffle. Again for the ruffle, I tied two of the ruffle fringes to each one of the main skirt. The final product did require a little sewing. I folded the top fringe of the skirt down ½ inch. (I folded so that the fringe was showing on the front but you could also fold it to the inside.) I ran a line of stitching, excluding the knotted junctions between squares and threaded 1/2 inch elastic through the casing, sewing the elastic together to finish it off.

I still have a few squares left over and might experiment with either a scarf or hats. This could be a really fun no-sew clothing project for children. Boys could make shorts or funky pajama pants. The knotting was a bit too much for my 4-year old and a child would probably need to be able to tie shoes to do this project on their own, so maybe for age 7 and up.

Despite the fashion risk I think we will wear the blanket outfits again. These pieces will add a much needed punch of color and fun to the drab winter months and the fleece material will keep them warm to boot.

One of the most incredible clothing recyclers I have seen, however, is the Internet phenomenon, Giannina Lezcano, otherwise known as Giannyl. Giannyl resides in Paraguay and speaks both English and Spanish. She makes these wonderful videos, however, where, with no words and just some positive music and a few pantomimed gestures, she shows you how she transforms her clothes or makes wonderful but simple garments from fabric. Her tagline is “Do it yourself has never been so sexy.” And she’s right!

Here she is transforming a pair of old jeans into a miniskirt.

And here she is transforming a winter staple, the turtleneck, into a summer tube top.

And not all of the projects are sexy-oriented. Here is a cute dress for little girls made out of a pillowcase.

I love Giannyl! I get so much inspiration from her projects. Any creative sewer would do well to subscribe to her blog feed or fan her on Facebook.

Have you ever recycled a garment? What were the results? Please share in the comments.

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4 Comments to “Clothing Recycling – New Ways to “Wear the Drapes””

  1. avatar Ruth says:

    “You know, not everyone can get away with that look.” I interpret that to be for the creative fashionistas of the future! That catch phrase applies to my friend’s daughter quite well—such interesting clothing combos but they really really work with her dynamic personality!

  2. avatar Lou says:

    I recycle garments in the form of hand-me-downs—recycling to the next generation. This was so entertaining and inspiring that maybe I’ll try something now with a bunch of scarves not worn in a long time! Fun read!

  3. avatar Mary says:

    Eat your heart out, Gianny! Ruly *RULES* when it comes to innovation and design! Well done!

  4. Very good dress i like this ……..wow good design.I think that’s about all. I love this little one so, so dearly. I can’t help but shower her with kisses everyday. I’m definitely soaking each moment with her all up because let me tell you, this 2 year old stage is dreadful! Maybe she’ll skip it? Only in my dreams…

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