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The up-cycling of old clothes

A couple of years ago, I joined a Facebook Group called Up-cycled Cloth Collective. This site was started by Melanie Brummer and now has a following of nearly 40k members. I have seen what a difference 40k people can make to upcycling or recycling of textiles worldwide. It has definitely changed my point of view.

Runner ducks in the garden at 40 on Ilkey B&B
Runner ducks at 40 on Ilkey B&B

Descending from a very thrifty mother that grew up during the depression years of the 1930s and the war years thereafter, we were brought up not to waste. This has now, in my latter years, rippled out in almost all spheres of my life. We run a productive worm farm at the guest house for scraps and paper, we keep runner ducks for pest control, eggs and fertilizer and I recycle fabric. Not much of a fashion freak, I buy durable clothes and wear it until it is not decent or reparable anymore. This is where the problem comes in, as I’m not able to dispose of these clothes. I have never, and probably never will throw a piece of clothing in the bin. I am too ashamed of the state of clothing to take it to a gift shop as no-one deserves to get it.  I therefore keep it.

The beginning of 2017 marked a turning point. I identified a couple of projects to work away the bulk of the clothing.  The first of the projects I decided on is a strip quilt from hubby’s old shirts.

Imigqa Yomlingo + The Zulu translation for "Magic stripes" Strip quilt made for my son Kenny.
Imigqa Yomlingo + The Zulu translation for “Magic stripes” Strip quilt made for my son Kenny.

Every shirt is de-buttoned and cut into usable pieces.  From the larger pieces I cut 7 ½” squares to use as base of the blocks.  What is left, I cut into 1 ½” strips to mix into my (generous amount of) fabric off-cuts.  I use 1 or 2 layers of old t-shirts as batting and quilt as you go the strips into position, starting in the center of the block.  The block gets squared off to 7”.  All the off-cuts go into the dog bed bag.

Eighteen months down the line, I haven’t made much of a dent in the scrap bin fabric – as a matter of fact the scraps seem to have accumulated, but the tower of squares grows each day as I sew a block or two to get my eye in for serious sewing.  I’ll join the blocks with the quilt-as-you-go method once they are all done.

This strip quilt will probably end up as a picnic quilt and get smeared by little dirty hands and muddy paw prints, but I can already see it becoming part of our busy family. It warms my heart to know that every piece of fabric and those within, are re-loved in their second life.