Once upon a time, on a now defunct site called Regretsy, there was a post about an Etsy-listed pair of "skants", priced at a mere $758(USD). Much mockery ensued, and skants became a meme of sorts, with Regretsy readers sending site owner April Winchell their own skants pictures. And now knitwear designer Stephen West has taken up the skants gauntlet by bringing us the next evolution in skants: swants. He's posted a tutorial on how to make your own swants, and a video of the Swants Dance. Swants promise to be bigger than skants ever were. Since Stephen West posted his tutorial on November 4, swants have appeared on The Today Show, on Boing Boing, and on Cosmopolitan's blog, as well as on a number of other blogs and news sites. Will you be doing the Swants Dance?
You've got an old computer, your're crafty, and you spent way too much time watching "Transformers" as a kid.
Suppose you’ve got an old computer around, just taking up space, and your initial attempts at finding alternate uses for it have not been successful. But you know perfectly well that, according to this super scientific pie graph, there must be better recycling ideas out there on the net. Let’s have a look at some of them, shall we? [more inside]
If you’re looking for a way to carry your laptop about, want to protect it from scratches, or just hope to make the fact that you’re carrying a brand-new laptop slightly less obvious to shifty-eyed individuals who seem to be overtaking you on a deserted, dark street, and you have been disheartened by the cost and ugliness of the laptop cases and sleeves on the market, take heart. You can make a laptop case or sleeve that will not only protect your computer but will proclaim your individuality and style. Like yoga? Make a case out of your yoga mat. Love to travel? Use a vintage suitcase. If you’re a Jim Henson fan, make a Furry Monster case (but just don’t keep your computer under your bed at night because your aging parents are already terribly tired of running down to your basement lair every time you have a nightmare). [more inside]
If you’re into crafting, you’ve probably stumbled upon Craftster, a crafting community web log within which members can post pictures and documentation of their own crafts and processes, share information and tutorials, and get feedback. The crafts tend to be off-beat and original and many involve upcycling – this is not a site where one would proudly post pictures of a completed paint-by-numbers or rug hooking kit project. The Craftster esprit de corps is nicely expressed by its slogans, which include, “No tea cosies without irony”, “Knit fast. Die Warm”, “Measure twice, cut once. Meh. Just start cutting”, and “Cheaper than therapy”. Craftster was launched in 2003, has 700,000 visitors a month, and, besides posting and discussion boards for every possible subset of crafting, its features include a calendar of forthcoming crafting events, member-created city guides to craft resources in your area, and staff-written articles. But I especially wanted to draw your attention to the Craftster Craft Challenges, the first one of which was announced on April 28, 2005. If you’re competitive and crafty, you have just enough time to whip up something for the 41st crafting challenge, which is to create an “edible craft” (the entry posting window is August 1st to August 5th). For inspiration, check out the 40 previous Craft Challenges. [more inside]
Your household probably gets something like 800 pieces of junk mail per year. Other than sighing and tossing the junk into your recycling bin, what are your options? Of course, I’d urge you to support any one of the numerous current anti-junk mail campaigns (do be aware of any possible conflicts of interest), but until those measures take effect, there is always crafting. [more inside]
If you’ve got extra kitchenware about is never used to cook or contains food anymore, here are some (low calorie!) ways to use it again. If you’ve kicked your caffeine habit, your metal coffeepots can become lamps, or your teapot can morph into a camel. Other items of kitchenware can become recycled toys. [more inside]
For St. Patrick's Day, rather than show you how to knit your own leprechaun or make a hat out of a ice cream container (because who the hell wants to do that), I'm going to help you with your after party cleanup. You'll have lots of bottle caps and wine corks lying about afterwards, so here are some ideas on what to do with them. [more inside]
If you have too much mismatched cutlery to fit in your kitchen drawers, take a stab at crafting with it! Make a wind chime, fork key ring, fork cup rings or coat hooks, make cutlery clocks, or light fixtures such as these by designer Ali Siahvoshi. Or you can make jewelry: fork bracelets, a fork necklace pendant, or collaged spoon necklace pendants like those made by SpoonFedArt. Forks and spoons make groovy rings. Here’s how to make spoon rings. For more inspiration, check out this cutlery chair sculpture by Osian Batyka-Williams, this cutlery table by Toni Grilo, some sculpture by Matthew Bartik, Vince Pompei’s whimsical silverware flowers, clocks and sculptures, or the items at Forkometry. Just don’t get so carried away with your new craft that you find yourself having to eat with your fingers.
Does your linen closet runneth over? Yes, you say, you have a stack of towels you regularly use in the bathroom and for swan origami, but you have others that are getting worn. You have tablecloths and aprons you never use, your dish towels seem to breed in their drawer, and you have pillowcases which have outlasted their matching sheets, king-sized bed sheets for the bed your ex took when you split, and your linen closet contains a selection of linens that are faded or torn or leftover from former decorating colour schemes. What are you to do with them? [more inside]
You can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs, and you can’t buy eggs without winding up with egg cartons. What will you do with the empty cartons? Well, you could make a string of flower lights, lamps, or a pendant light. If you refrained from drinking too much egg nog over the holidays, you might be lightweight enough to make use of a egg carton seat. This company makes footstools out of egg cartons. [more inside]
You forgot all about Valentine’s Day and now must come up with an extra special momento to pacify your beloved. Or you are sitting home alone with no way to celebrate V-day. In either case, it’s crafting time! You can recycle things you probably already have to make Valentine’s Day trinkets. You can start by making a card with scrap yarn, or from wrapping paper. You can make gift bows or a heart-shaped candy basket from recycled magazines, and a gift bag from a newspaper. You can make a love letter box from an old box. The kids or the artist in your life might like to get heart-shaped crayons, made from stubby old crayons. [more inside]
What can be done with worn, outgrown or single socks? Well, if you want to wear those favourite socks awhile longer, you can darn them. If your baby’s feet are no longer so tiny, make a baby sock purse or sachet, baby sock reindeer, or baby sock corsage or bouquet decorations for a friend’s baby shower. You can make a hat out of your child’s outgrown socks, or your kids can make Barbie clothes. You can use single socks to make a foot massager, potholders, slippers, a dog rug, a snowman, sock puppets or cute critters. Or sock art installations. See these articles for more pedestrian ways to use socks.
You’re a former diva who’s decided to eschew cosmetics and let your natural beauty speak for itself, or you just find yourself with drawers full of makeup that you’ll never use. What will you do with all these products? Well, you can consolidate your lipsticks, check out these five ways to use or recycle old makeup, or see the reader comments in these threads for more tips. You could make a snake out of your old fake nails, or take a look at this list of 20 things to do with old nail polish. When your mascara gets too old to be safely used on your eyes, you could sketch a tree with it, or Bette Davis. Here are some tips on how to use makeup as an art medium. And if you decide to paint with your old makeup, please start with the blue eyeshadow and mascara. Merci.
If you’ve got a shabby old suitcase and want to give it a makeover, you could always découpage it. Or disguise it as a watermelon. If it doesn't have wheels, you can add some. If you aren’t traveling much these days, you could put a synthesizer in your suitcase. Or turn it into a pet bed, or a planter. Suitcases can be used as an end table, or turned into chairs and ottomans. The pockets from old suitcases make useful additions to bulletin boards. And if you have unused purses, here are some ideas on how to repurpose them. For info on getting rid of/transforming other types of baggage, see AskMe.
So, you have some old books lying around you don’t read and that you're pretty sure no one else will ever read because they have pages missing or they’re hopelessly outdated technical manuals or they never should have been published in the first place. What to do? As always, crafting is an option. You can make a wrist cuff, or a purse. Book covers can be made into clocks, or photo frames, or photo and card stands. They can become CD and DVD cases, or a hiding place for valuables or necessary contraband, Shawshank Redemption-style. [more inside]
As 2009 approaches, you’re taking down your old calendars and wondering what to do with them. You still enjoy those Monet/Jeff Foxworthy/rose garden/Playmate images so much you hate to throw them in the recycling bin. Don’t worry, there are ways to reinvent that calendar so you can enjoy those images for years to come. For starters, you could make envelopes and notecards out the calendar. Though perhaps you won’t want to use your new Playmate stationery to write to Grandma. [more inside]
Audio visual technology changes so fast that if you’re of a certain age you’ve been left holding the bag of cassettes, VHS tapes and vinyl records. What will you do with these AV artifacts if you no longer want to play them? Have no fear; you can have lots of crafty fun with your real audio. You can make a cassette tape mini journal, a cassette wallet or cassette coin purse, or a mini cassette lamp. If you’re into melting stuff, you can make a sculpture, such as this skeleton, from the plastic. The tape can be crocheted or knitted into items like totes, evening bags, Barbie halter dresses, or baby booties. [more inside]
Christmas is coming, but while the goose may be getting fat, your wallet is not. And you’re dreaming of a green Christmas. How, you ask, can one decorate a home economically and with consideration for the environment? This depends on what you’ve got sitting around the house already. Do you have lots of old Christmas cards that always seemed too pretty to throw away? Use them to make a star or two, tree ornaments, angels, gift boxes, a basket, a wreath or a small tree. [more inside]
If you've quit smoking and you're trying to get through the early withdrawal symptoms without gaining 20 pounds, one coping strategy is to get busy crafting. Sure, you say, you've made naughty figurines out of your cigarette packages in bored moments before, but now if you're going to craft you want to make something that celebrates your fantastic self-discipline and can serve as a worthy memorial to your renounced habit. If that's how you feel, check out these links. [more inside]
Got some old leather articles lying around that have become dated, worn, or too small? Well, happy days are here again for your old leather goods, because here are some ideas on how to make old leather items into new items you can use. [more inside]
As much as you may enjoy using your discarded tin cans to have top secret conversations make yourself taller, you'd like to know if there's anything creative to do with tin cans. Here are some ideas to get you started. [more inside]
Even though you recycle the plastic you discard, you sometimes feel guilty about how much you throw out and worry about where it's going. Would you like to be a little more hands on and proactive and recycle some of your plastics yourself? If so, I've got some ideas for you. [more inside]
While you may not be the shoe hoarder some people are, you have shoes in your closet you never wear and you'd like to know what to do with them. Are they just boring? In that case you could just experiment with new ways to lace them, or find a way to make them light up when you walk into a room. Or you could draw on the shoes with markers or sharpies. You could also paint them, going with the theme of your choice: Art Nouveau, Picasso, Day of the Dead, or any of the ideas here. You could cut motifs from fabric and glue them on to your lace-ups, cover your flats with new fabric, bling up a pair of strappy shoes with glitter, or embellish your flip-flops with some yarn. Is the old upper worn out? Knit or crochet a new one. Want to get where you're going faster? Make custom roller skates, or modify your bicycle. Do your shoes hurt your feet? Put them on your face instead as a wrestling mask, or turn them into an iPod case. Your shoes could also become a birdhouse, a planter, a centrepiece, or an integral part of a coat rack, bookends or leg lamp. If you're really not up to crafting, here are 11 non-crafty ways to recycle old shoes. But what fun is that?!?
Got a stack of bras you don't know what to do with? Charities will accept secondhand bras in good condition, but if you're in the mood to be creative there are bra crafting ideas on the net. You could make a bra wristlet, and then make a sleep mask out of the rest of the bra fabric, earrings out of the hardware, and a toy out of inserts. You could make a lavender sachet out of a bra and use it to perfume your lingerie drawer. One seemingly popular idea is to make a cute and feminine evening bag or, as one woman who wears a 36F quipped in a comment, luggage. If you're an especially sassy member of the Red Hat Society, you could make a purse that matches your hat. Some people even make hats out of the bras, though perhaps not every woman would care to so obviously wear a bra on her head. If you're a breast cancer survivor and want to avoid buying expensive and uncomfortably heavy prosthetics, you could knit yourself a pair of tits and go right on wearing your favourite bras. You could also make an art installation: a 5' bra ball. Here's a list of 28 things to do with old bras. And yes, I realize this post will make many of the men of MeFi want to get a lot of puns/juvenile comments off their chests, but titter away. You're probably just jealous you can't make such cool crafts out of your jock straps.
Halloween is lurking ever nearer, and you need costumes and home decorations. Even if you're not as crafty as a witch, Halloween is a good time to start because the results are supposed to look deformed and grotesque. And you're dreaming of a green Halloween. Fortunately I just happen to have a few links to get you started. This garlic wreath could help you keep the vampires away, and this eyeball wreath may work on everyone else. For a geek-style Halloween, make a Mac-o-lantern. You could also decorate the house with a vinyl record cat clock, tin can candle lanterns, a ghost mobile, CD cat coasters, or a skeleton doll made out of old socks. For outdoor decorations, lawn tombstones can be made out pizza boxes and old newspapers, a skeleton out of old plastic containers, and there could be a ghost or two hanging about. You could adorn yourself with a skeleton brooch made out of tin cans, and if you've got old clothes or linens lying about the children in your life might like a few cute monsters to cuddle. If your kids (or you) have finally outgrown dolls, give the dolls a zombie makeover. For costume ideas, check out the Daily Green's list of the best recycled costumes on the Web, then send the kids trick or treating with pumpkin or black cat canisters. Just please be careful with those shears and x-acto knives or the blood and gore on your costume may be a little too organic.
You've been getting your sweaters out for the cold season, and finding that moths have been picknicking on them all summer. Or your significant other did the laundry and threw your favourite handwash-only sweaters into a hot water wash and/or the dryer. Or your children have outgrown the sweaters Grandma made them. However your sweaters became unwearable, it's time to make like a surgeon and do some cosmetic reconstruction. (If the old sweaters are at least 50% wool, you may be able to felt the material first.) You can make extra long gloves from sweater sleeves, mittens, a scarf, or slippers, legwarmers, a tote bag, a few handbags, or a coin purse. If the kids don't want to let go of their favourite sweaters, they can be pacified with building blocks, a bunny, snail, or seahorse, or diaper-coverup pants. If the cat feels left out, make it a pet bed. Or you can make things the whole family can enjoy: throw pillows, a quilt, or felted bowls. Since Christmas is approaching, Christmas stockings or a wreath might come in handy. If you want to get into needle felting and start sculpting with the felted fabric, you could make virtually anything, including, oh, say, a robin in a nest, Anne of Green Gables, a zebra, or art for the wall. And best of all, by the time you're done you no longer want to throttle your laundry-challenged significant other! As much.
Perhaps in your non-Metafilter time or during the occasional power outtage you indulge in that charmingly antiquated past-time of reading a newspaper made out of actual paper. But, once you've read it, you're left with blackened hands and the necessity for putting that fragment of a dead tree somewhere or other. Aside from putting it in the recycling bin, which is responsible but kind of obvious (and therefore would not necessitate a MeFi FPP) what can you do? One option is to make handmade paper. If you're an outdoors type, you could make organic flower pots, some kites, or a dory. If you're more of a fashionista or home decorator, you could make a purse or a bead necklace, weave a basket or placemats, or make a bird. If you're a spinster, you could make some newspaper yarn as student Greetje van Tiem did for her Design Academy Eindhoven graduation show. The yarn can be woven into carpets, curtains and upholstery. Here's a tutorial on how to make the yarn. Then there's always papier maché. [more inside]
Maybe you've left the corporate world and its dress code behind, you've decided you're not the Avril Lavigne type after all, or you're soon to be unemployed. Whatever the reason, you've got a lot of neckties you no longer wear. What can you do with them? Well, if you still want to wear them in some form, you can make daisy pins, a wrist cuff, a belt or two, a shoulder bag, a wallet or cellphone pouch, a skirt (long or short), a dress, or thong underwear. If you want to have the best dressed dog in your suburb, you can make a dog collar or leash. If you have kids, you can make a snake or cravat cats for them, or teach them how to use old silk ties to dye eggs. If you'd rather decorate the house, you can make baskets, a photo frame, a lampshade, a new chair seat, a floor mat, some throw pillows or some cool quilts. If you want to start getting ready for Christmas, you could make a Christmas stocking, a tree skirt, or an angel. In fact, there are so many ways to make things out of old neckties there's a blog devoted to the topic. Whatever your choice, your days as a corporate peon will be memorialized. As will the peanut butter and jam sandwiches you used to have for lunch.
Your favourite jeans are giving out on you, but you don't want to let them go. These are the jeans you were wearing when you met your partner/got your all-time best score on Frogger/performed at your garage band's only ever paying gig/whenever you move out of, then back into, your mother's basement. They're not just jeans — they're your history. But since you can't wear them anymore, you think you could reincarnate them. You have many options, especially if you've got more than one pair due for retirement. You could make journal or photo album covers so your jeans can truly be part of your historical record. You could make a quilt or two or three, or a wall hanging, or some woven rugs. Or a Christmas tree. You could make a slipcover for a chair, pillows or placemats, or an apron or two. [more inside]
As most women know, nylon stockings don't last. They run, they snag, they rip, and they can't be mended. And they take 40 to 50 years to decompose in a landfill. I was sure as I began researching this post that there must be some great pantyhose crafting and art ideas out there. But the results were, um, mixed. If you are into weaving, you can make some wall hangings or rugs from nylons. If you're a Klondike Kate type who sews, you can make a skirt. If you work in a corporate environment but want to keep your edge, you can abide by your company's dress code AND sport temporary tattoos. If you're a crafty bride-to-be, you can make flowers or dragonflies for wedding decorations. If you're into the less practical kind of art, you can create semi-wearable pantyhose art, or construct pantyhose art installations like artist Mary Nicollet. You can even make pantyhose dolls, and stick them in a jar if you want to. Just be prepared for the fact that most people will never understand why you'd want to. But beware, because pantyhose arts and crafts are either underexplored or instrinsically strange, and can go from “interesting” or “kind of cute” to “bizarre” and “kind of disturbing” faster than a run can make its way from your thigh to your toes. [more inside]
So, as a fashionista or due to your upbringing, you don't want to use wire coat hangers. Yet they keep accumulating in your closet. And perhaps you don't have a thrift shop or dry cleaner in your vicinity that will accept them. You can only use so many weenie roasters and dowsing rods, and your old talent for unlocking car doors is useless on modern locks. What to do? Well, some people improve/camouflage their hangers by covering them with braided strips of plastic bags, fabric, or yarn. But there are other, non-clothes hanging, uses for wire hangers. At the simplest end of the spectrum, you could make a toilet paper holder, or wool sock blockers. You could use the wire as a frame for decorative wreaths (or a wreath for your stitch and bitch party), or little Christmas trees or a Christmas card display rack. You could make a light fixture, or a chandelier. If you have a surplus of plastic hangers, they can become a light fixture too. Or you could make a chair. If you're feeling especially artistic, or just want something to fill in a blank space on the wall, you might follow the lead of artist Lawrence L'Hote, or of artist Philippa King, and make, say, a portrait of Queen Elizabeth, or a sculpture based on a Picasso sketch. And if you're really enthusiastic about the possibilities of wire hangers, try your hand at making a gorilla, a spaceman, or a hooker like artist David Mach. Just please be particularly careful not to put an eye out, since that's not an improvement on mashed clothing.
Uh oh, you smashed a dish while you were washing up. But you don't get upset, because you know what to do with the pieces. Being both cultured and crafty, you not only know about the long and illustrious history of mosaic art but also that you can make mosaics from china and ceramic shards as well as pebbles, beads (new or removed from old jewelery), shells, marbles, or even lego or Scrabble tiles. So you take those pieces of your broken plate (and others that klutzy you has broken in the past) and, following some basic instructions, make numbers for your house, a fireplace surround, a birdbath, a flowerpot, a table or two or four, a tray, picture or mirror frames, a wall mural/homage to Hitchcock, or even a floor. By now you're wishing you had a spare basilica or Roman villa so you could really go nuts. And, besides planning on picking up some thrift shop china, you're eyeing that 48-piece reindeer-and-elves Christmas dinnerware set your mother-in-law gave you a few years back and thinking it's really too bad you're so clumsy and likely to break it in the very near future.
Like so many other people, you have a stack of old t-shirts you never wear. Perhaps you've gotten beyond wearing obscene slogans or Strawberry Shortcake logos. Or you feel it's time to retire that “Team Hillary” shirt. Or your favourite old shirt no longer fits over the impressive pecs/food hump you've acquired since high school. Or you've had it with MeFi and you want a way to repurpose/savage your MeFi blue t-shirt. No need to be at a loss! You might just settle for making a different style of t-shirt, but you can also use those t-shirts to make diapers for your baby, clothes for your toddler, or adult-sized undies, skirts or dresses. Or a bikini. Just beware of saggage. I mean, of the bikini, after it gets water-logged. You also might make tote bags or pillows, car seat covers, baby wipes, or dusters. If you get really ambitious, you can make a t-shirt quilt, taking inspiration from the many examples on the net. If I haven't given you enough ideas, you can turn to the ever authoritative and exhaustive AskMe, or you can do some further reading on the topic. Just don't get so carried away that you wind up having to go to work topless tomorrow. Unless, of course, your career path requires that anyway.
Bag Ladies and Gentlemen.... Yes, you conscientiously refuse plastic shopping bags and use enviro bags as often as you can, but still the plastic bags manage to breed like roaches. How many plastic bags do you have stuffed in (naturally!) a large plastic bag somewhere in your home? And do you despair of ever using them up? Fear not! If you have more bags than home furnishings and décor items, you could make a chair, a few throw rugs, cushions, a chandelier, or a Christmas wreath. If you’d like a stylish yet waterproof wardrobe, you could make a cape, a raincoat, or a bra. It would be less utilitarian but equally cool to make your own menagerie: chickens, a zebra, more chickens, sea creatures, and still more chickens. [more inside]
Your real name and all ten of your aliases are on the AOL mailing list. Or you’re an extreme computer geek and your mother is getting quite irate about the hundreds of used CDs cluttering up her basement. (And your non-payment of rent. And the smell…) Or your alternative-punk-Celtic-rap band’s release was tragically unappreciated by the public. Whatever, you have piles of CDs sitting around. You’ve followed this advice on how to minimize CD use and know that recycling CDs is not as easy as it should be, and maybe isn’t even possible in your country. What options do you have? Well, these people are collecting a million AOL CDs and intend to dump them off at AOL’s corporate headquarters. These people make clocks from them, and you could too. Or you could use them to make an ambient floor or table lamp, a throne, a photo frame, a really huge mobile, a disco ball, shingles for your tree house, or quite a few other things, ranging from postcards to bowls to spinning tops. Or you could play a quick game of disk hockey with a friend (that is, if you have time before your mum gets home).
Has your single-handed can-crushing feat of muscular strength ceased to impress even you? Try this instead.
What to do once your beer is all gone All right, so you’ve finished your beverage. You’ve discreetly released the gas from your digestive tract via your mouth. And now you want to dispose of the empty can. You consider your options. Public-spirited as you are, you are too savvy to believe that you can redeem the pull tab for a wheelchair or a dialysis machine, or that an aluminum beanie will protect your brain from alien forces, and you are far too civilized to smash the can against your forehead. As a responsible, ecologically minded person you could recycle, but you’re also creative, and recycling would leave that artistic urge unsatisfied. So, perhaps you whip up a morning glory wreath for the front door. Or an airplane. Or a honeybee. Or the Starship Enterprise, a shark, a knight in shining aluminum armour, a piano, a hot rod, a Christmas tree, roses for your beloved, or Easter lilies for your mother. Or whatever else strikes your fancy. Then you have twin epiphanies: that you’ve entered the wonderful world of aluminum crafting, and that after emptying all those cans you urgently need to pee.
Ultimate Recycling Rug hooking must be one of the simplest and cost-effective of crafts (basically, cut old clothes into strips, use burlap, insert hook, pull up loop of fabric), and so it’s all the more amazing that it can be used to achieve such cool, painterly and stunning results. If you click on just one link in this FPP, make it this one, made by a Japanese woman out of her grandmother’s old silk kimonos. I’ve selected just one excellent, comprehensive rug hooking web site, but there’s a lot of resources and information available on the web for this craft if you’re interested.