Out of the Closet: Crafty Tricks for Breathing New Life into Discarded Items


Hey there fellow American.  Do you have a garage so packed your car won’t fit inside?  Is the underneath of your bed cluttered with items you’re storing away?  What about your closets?  Got a few things hanging or boxed up in there you haven’t seen in the past six months?  Most of us answer yes to at least one of the above…if not yes to all of this and more!

With families now working harder to make ends meet, it just might be the end of an era where we have the ability to fill our lives with so much excess.  It certainly is the time to start figuring out how to make the most of what we have.   So, let’s get it “out of the closet” and see what we can do to breath some new life into underused or discarded items.

If you are even the slightest bit clever and crafty, you can find  new ways to:  1.) Wear it, 2.) Sell it, or 3.) Gift it.  Allow Sono-Ma to get you started with a few ideas:

Wear It

Have you seen what people are creating out of old slips, vests, swatches of silk, bits of metal, vintage sewing tapes, and more?  I am totally inspired by local upcylcing artists who are crafting costumes for our local “nouveau novel” events.

Check out Mary Rossi (Coordinator of the upcoming Reclaimed Legacy vintage craft show and Costume Vendor at the upcoming Handcar Regatta) helping Sono-Ma Annalyce LaSource figure out how to modify a vintage slip to have a “nouveau novel” feel.  Hike the side with a button, pair the slip with some boots, add a thick belt, and… she’s off!

Janay Rose (aka the Window Lady) is my latest favorite “nouveau novel” costume maker.  She takes upcycling to a level of art that makes me burn for a moment strutting one of her creations.  Imagine what it would feel like to wear this to 4aChild or Handcar:

Costumes are fun – worth considering especially with Hallow’s Eve just around the corner – but what about getting more out of your everyday wardrobe?  Yesterday I got together with Selena Cate, friend Amy, and our kids to see what we could make out of our underloved clothing.   We had a blast making hats (two great patterns from this month’s Living Craft magazine) out of old sweaters, cropping jeans and adding ruffles, and funking up shirts and jackets.  We were on such a roll, we decided to get together again on future school holidays for  more creative clothing making.

The new fashion trend of embellished clothing will land you in the haute seat of fashionista should you, too, decide to add flowers, appliques, or other recycled additions to your clothes.

Sell It

If touting a new wardrobe is not incentive enough for you to inventory your closets, what about turning your stash into cash?  Worth WeeCycling is still taking consignors if you have any children’s or maternity items you can unload.  I made $158 at the recent Just Between Friends consignment event – and I only had 30 hodge podge items.   Matt Hundley (co-owner of Just Between Friends) shares the top Fall consignor earned more than $3,400! Two others earned more than $1,300 (with one earning over $1,500).

Take a closer look at your pile, and you might find ways to bring up the value by crafting items out of cast offs.  Rhythm of the Home’s blog recently shared a simple and inspiring tutorial on how to turn old pillowcases into cloth napkins.  Bryles and I are on napkin number 16!  If I keep up with the pace of turning one pillowcase into 8 napkins every few days, I’ll have quite a pile to sell at the upcoming Winter Faire.

Sonoma County features a number or artisan craft shows, vintage sales, and holiday fairs where local crafters can sell there wares.  Check out this handy dandy exclusive Sono-Ma list with show dates, times, locations, and vendor application information.  Want to stay up on local crafting opportunities?  Join Sono-Ma Sharing and sign up for the Craft group.

Craft Shows in the North Bay 2010

Gift It

Dare I say it?  The holiday season is only a mere 100 days away!  That means we should all be planning out our gifts – and considering what we can handmake or remake into presents for our loved ones.

Yesterday, Amy kicked out this lovely “stuffy” as she called it as a gift for her new nephew- see the embroidered fox toy in the photo.   What a great idea!  Simply take some old fabric scraps, do a bit of simple hand work, cut into a free form shape, stuff with wool, and sew.  How far can you take this idea?

If you like patterns to help guide your crafting, please see Living Crafts free pattern page for wonderful, nature based, simple creations.  Local Queen of Crafts, Cathe Holden, also has a wealth of on-line tutorials and digital downloads to support you.

Now it’s your turn!  Go shake out your storage and tell us how you get new use out of your old items…  Extra points if you get the kids in on it too!

Cloverleaf Ranch Summer Camps

3 Responses

  1. Amy Zimmer

    Posted: September 8, 2010 at 12:41 am |

    Thanks for all your sharing and brilliant ideas Holly! Amy

  2. Lesley Papola

    Posted: September 14, 2010 at 6:00 pm |

    Hello Crafty Ladies,

    I wanted to invite you all to promote your events at The Farmer’s Wife Barn Bazaar!
    Bring your posters, postcards and contact information to the show, We would be delighted
    to share with our vendors and customers! If you can’t come on the day…no problem, I’d be happy to meet with you prior to pick up your marketing materials, Just give me a call. Continued success with all your crafty ventures!

    Best wishes,
    Lesley Papola


  3. Lori Spencer

    Posted: September 14, 2010 at 6:02 pm |

    We are doing a craft show in Novato the weekend of Thanksgiving called the Gifts of Joy. We are looking for some new crafters. Would you be interested? Or do you know of someone that would be interested? I would love to talk to them.



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