I’m sure you are all familiar with one of my favorite children’s stories, the one about Joseph’s overcoat. Versions of this story, based on an old folk tale, have been written into many books, such as Phoebe Gilman’s Something from Nothing, or Simms Tabak’s Joseph Had a Little Overcoat. The story is about an item (a coat, a blanket or something else, depending on the version) that Joseph’s grandfather, a tailor, sewes for him. The boy outgrows/tears it, and so the grandfather keeps transforming it into smaller and smaller objects. In the end, the last one is lost and a story is written in its stead, hence the making of “something out of nothing.”
I already admitted to my obsession with recycling, reusing and repurposing. I just can’t help it–discarding things that still have some use in them makes me feel really bad… This might be blamed on genes (dad, you know what I’m talking about!). Or perhaps it is just an outcome of the sad state of our over-materialistic, over-consuming society (of which I am very much a part). No matter the reason, there it is.
Over the last few months I found several uses for some of my bigger scraps. I also figured out how to use some of my narrower scraps of soft fabrics. But I still have many very narrow scraps of thicker upholstery fabrics. I can’t fold these and and use them as notebook loops, for example, since they are too thick.
I reluctantly threw some of these away. Some I piled up in my scrap box, hoping to use them eventually. And then, one day, I had an idea for a new scrap-utilizing product: bookmarks!
We are all avid readers in my family. Even my first-grader is starting to spend more and more time with books. And we all need LOTS of bookmarks.
It’s a win win!!
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My fingers were twitching to make use of them somehow. So I lay them all on the floor, and started arranging and rearranging them in different combinations. Once I found the composition I liked, I sewed several pieces together:
I then inserted a pink zipper:
And another one:
The piece on top, cut from the flap of bigger purse, reminded me of the arched doors and windows so typical to many old buildings in my native Israel, which I always loved.
I found a luxurious piece of matching magenta silk for the lining:
And cut it to size:
I sewed, ironed, pinned and turned. And there it was: a lively, spring-ready cross-body pouch! When the sling was ready, I added matching tassels to emphasize its oriental look and make it more interesting:
I liked this cross-body pouch so much that I decided to make it my own. An early Mothers’ Day gift for myself. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it just happens to match many of my clothes 🙂
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One of the things that rekindled my artistic passion several months ago was my strong desire to give new life to beautiful-yet-no-longer-wanted pieces of fabric. I’ve been an ardent recycler for many years. I always make sure to sort all our household recyclables into the right bins. I also have a small compost pail on my kitchen counter, which I religiously empty into compost bins in the yard. Whenever I find a stray yogurt tub or banana peel in the garbage, I fish them out and put them where they belong. This little obsession served me well as a quilter, for in quilting even the smallest piece of cotton can often be used.
These days I try to make useful items out of rescued fabrics. After cutting large pieces for bags or notebook covers, however, I always find myself left with leftover scraps. From the very beginning I’ve been using the bigger pieces. I turned some into inside pockets for new purses:
Or outside pockets for totes:
But many of my scraps are too small for that. I haven’t had the heart to throw these away, and so I’ve been collecting them and storing them in a box.
A few weeks ago I went over this trove and sorted these pieces by approximate size.
I decided to challenge myself to find use even for smaller pieces, and to make that a habit going forward. After all, I started ANY Texture out of a strong desire to reduce waste. My goal is to save beautiful, unique textiles from going to the landfill.
So now, instead of cutting fresh straps to make loops for my fabric journal covers, I started making notebook loops out of scraps!
Take this piece, for example. It was a remnant left after cutting the lining for one of my still-under construction spring collection bags.
Instead of throwing it, I ironed it and sewed it into an elegant strap:
Then, I made a beautiful loop out of it. I even found the perfect journal cover to match it with:
It works great!