I have teamed up with the charity Emmaus UK for Recycle Week, to promote the amazing work that they do there. Emmaus helps the homeless, not by giving them shelter for the night, but by giving them a home for as long as they want it and the opportunity to work in their shops, receiving training and feeling part of a welcoming community. We know the charity well as we have shopped in their stores for many years.
To promote Recycle Week they tasked me to go to their shops and find something to take away and upcycle. I chose a pile of second hand ties and a round cushion with the thought that I would create a large cushion, perfect for a vintage chap.
I stitched the ties around the cushion with the wider ends at the edge, gathering them in at the middle. I covered the central bulge with a large vintage button from my button tin. The back was covered in a plain velvet which I already had. I chose autumnal colours so it worked well for this time of year. The skinny ends of the tie which were cut off have been saved – watch out for a project using them, maybe next Father’s Day
This project made me think about how I recycle and how vintage plays a huge part. By buying second hand and vintage, I am already supporting the act of recycling. I also upcycle monthly for Reloved Magazine, some of which I have shared below. But it is not just about me (!) – I caught up with some others to find out what recycling meant to them.
Jen Gale is someone I know through a business group I belong to. She originally inspired me a few years ago as she decided to not buy anything new for a whole year. She loves to recycle, create, reused, bought second hand for 12 months and then made it her business.
At home and in my business, I try to ensure that we buy as much as we can in recyclable packaging, but I’m a big fan of the ‘waste hierarchy’ and the 5 R’s – Refuse, Reduce, Re-use, Recycle, Rot. So I will always try and do the 1st 3 R’s first, before recycling – whether that’s re-using old envelopes for scrap paper, or trying to go paper-less as much as possible in my business.
Jan Knibbs is the award winning owner of Atelier 19 in Chelmsford, where she creates wedding dresses using vintage pieces. She is one clever lady!
I’m an award winning designer specialising in couture embroidery and although I make new wedding dresses and accessories, I like nothing better than taking a pre-loved wedding dress to restyle and upcycle making it very special, completely unique and personal to you. I can incorporate vintage lace, jewellery, silk flowers and even embroider lines of poetry or names/dates into the design to make it more contemporary. Another option is to use pre-loved dresses or veils with any vintage finds that hold special memories to create a bespoke hairpiece, neck piece, sash, garter, shoe clips or even bespoke hand embroidered, handmade shoes made to fit you like a glove for the ultimate bespoke ethical experience. I really love the idea of taking something old that’s possibly seen better days and turning it into something new and exciting which is why I use the strap line “something old…something new”!
Clare Quartermaine is the talented lady behind the vintage inspired fashion brand The House of Foxy. While her designs are all new, they are all based on originals due to her love of vintage fashion. She has pieces you would die for!
Recycling give me a sense that I’m respecting resources – in a world that has become so throw away. It’s similar to my love of vintage. Most of our furniture is upcycled from vintage items. It’s making something that could end up scrapped just because it’s out of fashion – a rather shallow concept when you look at it objectively.
Lou Wells Butt is the editor of Reloved Magazine – so is the queen of upcycling and therefore recycling!
I find it hard to throw anything out, sure that it could come in useful some day for something. When the room begins to bulge, I donate to charity shops – even clothes that are beyond their best as some charities can pass them on to initiatives that shred clothes and turn them into mattress stuffing or similar. However, recycling and, in turn upcycling, have always been a way of life for me and I learned many skills from my parents who lived through times of rationing. Quite often I’d come home from school to find a piece of furniture had been updated with paint, new legs or gone through a complete change of use. I’d rather visit a charity shop for a new-to-me piece of furniture and relove it to meet my needs. It’s not as quick as buying something suitable off the shelf, and you really do need patience to hunt down the perfect piece, but it’s worth the wait.
Find out more about the Emmaus project and the other projects that people upcycled for them here
You can read all my DIY Tutorials here.