Arts & Crafts Frontiers 2020

Turn waste into wearables at home

Written by Fashion the Future

There is a kind of poetry in the creative process of transformation of unwanted, pre-loved and discarded materials and giving them a new life.

Old T-shirts, fabric scraps, discarded plastic … Now’s an ideal time to go through cupboards and wardrobes and boxes – but hold back before you throw them out. It’s not just because of the environmental impact of discarded clothes and plastic – it’s also that it’s surprisingly possible to reimagine the various materials and transform them into something new and stylish and distinctively your own.

T-shirts can be cut into yarn to make bracelets, headbands and even macramé bags, and denim can be drawn into feathers. But other material can be brought in as well, from unlikely-looking sources: plastic pieces from either milk containers or plastic bottles for necklaces, discs from inner cycle tubes for earrings – even bubble wrap can be manipulated and heat-fused into delicately-shaped elements for jewellery. And when plastic bottles tinted with colour are cut into shapes, the plastic has a glass-like quality and can be turned into a range of creative designs, from bracelets to necklaces.

T-shirt fabric has properties that make it an excellent source of upcycling potential. It is jersey fabric, a woven material that frays very little and easy to cut and does not need hemming; and stretching it only makes better.

One of the simplest methods involves cutting an old T-shirt into strips, first laying it down flat, and then cutting out strips horizontally and stretching them to create a yarn-like material that can be used in various projects – from keyrings to woven bracelets and macramé handbags.

Practical guidance can now come direct to your home with a new series of online workshops from the Going Nova group in Moray. It’s part of a project supported by Moray LEADER to share techniques of upcycling with groups in the region.

Lively workshops have taken place in Buckie at the Phoenix Centre and Moray Reach Out, whose large display windows also hosted an exhibition the SEA and THE LAND of two lifesize figures clad in spectacular costumes made from discarded materials, created in collaboration by artists Selena Kuzman (costume designs) and Caroline Bury (headpieces). Current restrictions have put further public workshops on hold, and so they are moving online.




The project is supported by Moray LEADER, whose aims include helping Moray to move towards a low carbon economy.

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About the author

Fashion the Future

A project for upcycling ideas, led by Selena Kuzman, reimagining waste and discarded materials, from plastic to pre-loved textiles, transforming them into eco-couture designs as well as simpler solutions for the whole family to be involved in the process.