Upcycled sweater wrist wallet

We’re restarting New Purpose blog, after a long hiatus too difficult to explain. Will be posting lots of pictures and projects as I get ready for Horseshoe Market in Denver on October 6.

Here is the first: upcycling sweater cuffs and ribbing cut off from sweater blanket projects into a wrist wallet to hold cash, credit cards while traveling or just walking around.

Wrist wallets made from upcycled sweater cuffs

Wrist wallets made from upcycled sweater cuffs

I first had the idea for something like this when Marshall and I were visiting a national monument and I had to leave my check my bag, holding ID, cash and credit cards at a check in point that seemed less than secure. Really?

So here they are. I experimented this morning and came up with this first batch. I serged two wristbands together so the length is at least 4″ (enough so a credit card or ID will fit in) and created an inside pocket out of upcycled cotton t-shirt material with a snap to close the pocket. The buttons add decoration.


Navajo blanket style

Hi, this is a new blanket I created from repurposed sweaters from ARC Thrift.

Navajo style blanket

My house smells like wool!

Inspired by the throw I finished this morning, and with the justification that snow is on the way tomorrow, had to make a trip to ARCThrift.

The cacheI had in mind making a new purpose throw from wool sweaters inspired by the colors in Navajo blanket.

Score! At 50% off, I got carried away. Now to clean, felt, design, cut and sew.

Amish-style wool sweater blanket

Not sure what I’m going to do when spring comes since I’ve become obsessed with repurposing and upcycling wool sweaters. This time instead of making a throw, I used merino wool sweaters from around the house, supplemented with some from ARC Thrift, to make this blanket. I threw them all into the washer and dryer, then used a rotary cutter to cut 6″ wide pieces of varying lengths from the sleeves and 12″ pieces from the fronts and backs of the sweaters, then stitched them into strips, serged the strips together, and serged all around the edges to finish. Part of my goal was creating something that would bring some color into a room that is pretty sedate (sage green walls and deep purple leather sofa)—one of my new year’s resolutions is: MORE COLOR!

Here is the result—the blanket, and the blanket draped over the leather sofa.

Amish-style wool sweater blanker

Six more reasons to love ArcThrift: 6 cashmere sweaters + 50% off = another cashmere throw

Cashmere throw made from six recycled sweaters from ArcThrift

There are lots of mission-related reasons to love ArcThrift, my favorite thrift store. It is a social enterprise, employing people with disabilities as well as immigrants and refugees, and the proceeds from the thrift stores support advocacy programs for people with developmental disabilities. And CEO Lloyd Lewis is a passionate advocate for people with disabilities.

And when you are recycling, repurposing and otherwise trying to be green, there is always lots of choose from in these stores.

But yesterday, ArcThrift rose to the top of my list of Denver area thrift stores again for pure design reasons, providing the raw materials for a cashmere throw for my mother-in-law, who really liked the throw I made for my daughter. As Nancy wrapped Jeannie’s throw around her, I kept thinking: I should make her one. But how? And with what? The materials in Jeannie’s throw had exhausted my personal supply.

Making the rounds of the ArcThrift to see what shirts I could salvage for the polyester chronicles, I came across a cashmere sweater. Examined it carefully. There were no  holes. Then another, then another. I ended up with six, and because it was the day after New Year’s Day sale, all were half price.

Everything was half off the tagged price!

The cache before cutting...

I threw them all in the washer and dryer, then cut as many large pieces as I could from the sleeves, fronts and back, serged them together, then serged all around the edges to finish it off.

Approximate time, including shopping: 3 hours

Love this new purpose!

Twinkies, maraschino cherries, and the polyester chronicles

This week, with my inlaws in town, we went to Boulder and ended up at a tapas bar, where my father-in-law ordered a Manhattan with a maraschino cherry on the top. Minutes later, the chagrined waiter came to the table, stating: “I’m sorry, we don’t serve maraschino cherries, but here a shot of a cherry liqueur.”

The Manhattan without the maraschino

Then, as will only happen in Boulder, he went onto explain the chemicals used to preserve the cherries, how it was against the restaurant’s philosophy to serve them, and that eating a maraschino cherry was essentially the equivalent of eating a twinkie in terms of preservatives, etc.

I’m not sure why this got me thinking about repurposing polyester items (probably polyester’s long shelf life), but it did. When Jen and I first began discussing New Purpose, we talked about having a “polyester page” where people could showcase projects repurposing the polyester items most often found in thrift stores into useful items. It’s always fun to find cashmere sweaters you can convert into throws, or beautiful camel jackets you can turn into vests, but what to do with the racks of polyester shirts that make up lots of thrift store inventory?

In the next ten weeks, the “polyester chronicles” will look at different things you can do with polyester shirts, skirts and other clothing items, saving them from the landfill. We’ll be looking at (and for) projects where polyester’s strengths (colorfastedness, lack of wrinkling, etc.) can be put to good use.

Stay tuned!

Christmas 2009: Mondrian pattern cashmere throw and Coach Rockies wristlet

When my daughters were little, I used to make them clothes, little purses, toys, etc. And then they grew up, and Abercrombie always seemed more interesting than Mom’s creations.

This Christmas, I really felt drawn to making personal gifts—something that might outlast even the best-chosen mall gift. Here is what I came up with:

  • One daughter is an over-the-top Colorado Rockies fan, and also loves Coach purses. I repurposed a Coach® wristlet, painting most of the leather Rockies purple, and leaving the cream colored flap as is, except for writing “Go Rockies!” across it.
  • My oldest daughter is always wrapping herself with blankets when she’s home, claiming that we keep the temperature too low (we do!). I made her a throw from pieces of repurposed cashmere scarves and sweaters, serging the pieces together in a somewhat Mondrian pattern, then serged all around to finish off the edges.

Here are the happy results. I really had fun doing this, hope they enjoy the gifts as much as I did creating them.