Friday 23 January 2015

Upcycled Christmas presents

This year I was delighted to be able to make a lot of my Christmas presents from things that had been discarded, or buy discarded things for re-gifting.  I love doing that because it's frugal and because it forces me to be creative, but most of all I love doing it because it's a gift to some of the poorest people on the planet, not just the recipient.*

* to see what I mean, read this earlier blog post.

One resource that's really helped with that is the website 'get textbooks'.  Despite the name, they're a website that helps you find books of all kinds second hand.  They search zillions of other websites for your book, then present the results sorted by how much it costs to ship the book to NZ.  It's awesome!  I spend a lot of my time listening to audio books and keep a note of those I particularly like.  After choosing titles from my list that I thought would suit various people I entered them into 'get textbooks' and was able to find every one I wanted, in good condition, for only $10-$15 each (including shipping).

Many other presents were hand-made from discarded materials: something I chipped away at as I was able between June and November.

When we got our lounge curtains we got 'remaindered' ones, many of which were too long for our windows.  We duly shortened them and I kept the offcuts, some of which I have now used to make a toiletries bag.  The curtains are thermal-backed so the bag will be waterproof.

I've used 5 of Martin's old T-shirts (along with one of mine and one of Sarah's) to make 3 Christmas presents: two scarves (instructions for tying the square knot they use are here) and a bathmat.

The bathmat is backed with hessian from an old coffee sack: if you don't back these mats, when you wash them they just turn into one big knot :-(


From off-cut bits of felt from other projects, I made a set of tropical fish fridge magnets.  The actual magnets were culled from surplus 'self denial' boxes from Tranzsend's 2013 appeal.

From felt offcuts and the same magnets I also made some magnetic pincushions; other felt offcuts turned into a baby ball.

Lastly, I made an 'eco travel lid' for my cousin: a food cover you can use in place of glad wrap.  It looks like a large shower cap and can fit quite a range of bowls and plates.  The outer is fair trade cotton and the waterproof lining is gore-tex(!) from a cycling jacket of Sarah's that got damaged beyond repair.

Finally, just to show off, this set of tea towels are the Christmas present I was most pleased with.  They're not upcycled (the actual tea towels are brand new and the cotton isn't even fair trade), but I just love them!  The borders are fabric paint and the flowers are crayon (ironed into the fabric so it'll survive washing) edged with stem stitch.