Reuse and Recycle...Material!

Reuse and Recycle…Material!

I had this piece of clothing that really wasn’t my style.

I had this piece of clothing that really wasn’t my style.

I’ve heard stories about my grandmother recycling material and such for the sake of future sewing projects. And, no, I’m not going give you a how-to of how to cut up your couch for the reusable material and filling! But the overall idea is a part of the general theme of today’s post: Reusing material for a new purpose.

I had this piece of clothing that really wasn’t my style. It’s the green, flowery one in the picture, and it wasn’t something I felt was *me* enough to wear in public. BUT, it did get the gears in my head turning with possibility. Even though I didn’t want to wear this as a top or a dress, I was convinced it could make a fairly good apron. I decided to keep the material for future cutting/sewing use.

I think it was last week that I got around to working on the project, and the process wasn’t all that difficult. In fact, there’s a tip for new sewers: Keep an eye open for projects that wouldn’t be overly difficult to build your sewing skills. What I had in the beginning with this piece of material just looked like it could be an apron, with the style and the fabric. And, when thinking through how I’d go about turning the clothing into an apron, I realized the steps wouldn’t be that numerous. If you can catch enough finds like this one—things you might have around your house that you’re maybe planning on throwing away—you can reuse material, make projects for little to no money, and improve your sewing with what could amount to baby steps! Sounds like a win to me!

One side of the clothing had the seam along it, so I only had to follow the outline there.

One side of the clothing had the seam along it, so I only had to follow the outline there.

So what were the baby steps for this project? Well, they started with cutting, since I don’t know that I’ve ever seen an apron with a full back on it. One side of the clothing had the seam along it, so I only had to follow the outline there. The other side depended more on my judgment, but I do have a sewing mat and a rotary cutter now to hopefully help make more accurate cuts. Yay, sewing tools!

The material circling the neck could stay in place though, since aprons attach there anyway. That particular curve required a secondary round of cutting, which I’ll blame on my lack of experience with apron-making. I don’t usually have to make the right-place cuts for loops to go around my neck, so I won’t think too harshly about myself for going overboard on the first try. In the end, if you try for an apron, remember the loop should probably be no more than one inch thick once your sewing is finished, and make sure you’re keeping with the same general width range throughout your cutting. Otherwise, your backing might seem bulky overall, or just in parts. Neither is necessarily a good option!

Remember the loop should probably be no more than one inch thick once your sewing is finished.

Remember the loop should probably be no more than one inch thick once your sewing is finished.

Once I was finished with the cutting, I sewed hems along the edges where I’d cut, and used some of the material I’d cut off for straps that I could use for the ties to attach to the waist. Honestly, that task was kind of frustrating since the straps were so small, and the thread kept bunching or wrapping around the fabric. Lesson I could potentially take from this experience: Tiny material should maybe be reserved for later use, like after I’ve gained more experience with sewing!

I sewed hems along the edges where I’d cut, and used some of the material I’d cut off for straps that I could use for the ties to attach to the waist.

I sewed hems along the edges where I’d cut, and used some of the material I’d cut off for straps that I could use for the ties to attach to the waist.

Possible lesson you could take from this experience, if you’re an early sewer: If you’re going to make an apron, start with thicker straps to go around the waist—maybe two inches or a bit more. As far as appearance goes, it might be better for those straps to be a little bulky than for them to have confusing thread patterns. As far as process goes, saving yourself the annoyance of fighting with your thread might be worth the extra material.

One more tip for the road: If you do a project like this one, make sure that when you can, you make use of the hem on the original clothing. It might seem like cheating, but saved effort and thread is saved effort and thread!

All in all, keep an eye out in your own house for things to recycle into sewing projects. You can learn to be a better sewer without breaking your bank account!

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