Indulge your crafty side in an eco-friendly way! It's possible to sew amazing garments, accessories and objects with upcycled fabrics and craft with repurposed materials, helping both the environment and your wallet.
I am, and have always been, a cat person. I love cats and have always had at least one since I was a little girl who begged her mother for a “kitty that goes meow all by itself.” About a year ago we brought two little kitten sisters home with us, after we had had a few months to process the passing of our beloved cat we’d had before. (You can catch glimpses of Macchia in a few places on this blog, such as here, here and here.) My kids wanted to buy a bunch of cat toys and accessories in a pet shop, but I insisted on making some simple homemade recycled cat toys.
I created a couple of fun things for Luna and Cocca with upcycled materials that took a little bit of effort, such as this tent from a T-shirt and wire hanger (find the tutorial here), but in the end, it takes very little to make cats happy, and even less to satisfy kittens full of energy.
Over the past year, our little babies have turn into little ladies, or rather, queens of the house. Everything we own has become theirs.
But it’s still fun to have some special little playthings just for them. And guess what? You don’t have to spend a single cent, because you can easily repurpose what you already have in your home to make your feline friends the happiest cats in town!
Let’s start with the easiest of the easy homemade recycled cat toys. As in literally zero effort.
1. Paper bag.
I still remember my very first cat blissfully crawling inside the paper bags my mother brought our groceries home in. Cats LOVE paper bags. End of story. Just put one on the floor and your fluffy friend will crawl in, bat invisible creatures inside of it, jump, turn in circles, peer out (convinced that he is invisible), etc.
If you want to add to the excitement, pick up the bag by the handles with the cat inside. Not all felines appreciate this, but our cats love being carried around. A friend told me that she removes the twisted paper handles from paper bags and ties them together for a good cat toy.
An alternative to the classic paper bag? The classic cardboard box. Cats are kind of like kids; there’s no end of the fun to be had with a cardboard box.
2. Gift ribbon.
I’m not saying to go into your stash of gift wrap. But next time you receive a gift, put the ribbon aside for kitty, especially if it’s curling ribbon.
Those stretchy curls are perfect (I resisted the urge to write “purr-fect”. Oh dang. I just wrote it anyway.) for bouncing around for playful paws.
3. Aluminum foil.
Again, for the love of God, don’t rip a brand new piece off the tin foil roll! Don’t need that piece that was covering your leftover broccoli, and it’s still reasonably clean? Crush it into a ball and throw it in your cat’s direction. She’ll bat it around and run all over with it.
Ok, those are three no-brainer ideas for homemade recycled cat toys. But have you ever thought of this one?
4. Sweater scraps.
If you follow me, you already know that I’m obsessed with felting wool sweaters in my washing machine for crafting material. I realized that the kittens kept stealing bits of cut sweater while I worked on my projects. Turns out, there’s something about wool that cats just can’t get enough of.
We now have scraps of felted wool sweaters hanging around the house for the cats to play with. But they also love non-felted wool. My kids have a few little knitted wool rectangles that they play around with, and the cats are constantly grabbing them and running away with them.
Actually, they do this with fleece, too, but little bits of the fabric can pull off easily and, seeing as fleece is basically plastic, you probably don’t want your cat eating that.
Our cats scratch, kick, pull, and bat around their wool scraps.
They also sometimes get so possessive of their wool that they hold a piece in their mouths and growl at the other to protect it. Then they stalk off somewhere safe to snuggle with it or lick it, like Cocca is doing here.
Now for the homemade recycled cat toys that require maximum 1 minute of assembly time.
5. Shower tab rattle.
We have to buy little tabs to turn on the showers and hairdriers at the pools we go to. It occurred to me that they make a nice rattling sound when there are a bunch of them together, so I just strung them on some plastic-covered string that I had for some reason, tied it up, and I had a great noisy rattle that attracts the cats’ attention and that they like to bat at with their paws.
You can do this with any object that has a hole in it, or…
6. Bottle cap rattle.
…or you can make your own hole in good rattling materials. Say, metal bottle caps.
I simply punch holes in them by hitting an ice pick* (or you can use an awl*) with a rubber mallet*. Just remember to put some cardboard underneath to protect the working surface. Then just string them together.
I hung both of these strung toys from our Ikea Poang armchair, and the cats love them. They race under and around the chair, batting and banging against these two toys. Every so often they grab them with their teeth and rip them off, so I have to tie them back on.
Requiring the tiniest amount more of time are these homemade recycled cat toys:
7. T-shirt strip knots.
These were not my original idea. I saw these on Pinterest and thought that I certainly had enough fabric scraps to make my own. In this case I used small scraps of fabric yardage, but it would be so easy to cut up a t-shirt into strips, knot some together, and trim the edges.
And finally we have the only one of these homemade recycled cat toys that might actually take you almost 5 minutes to make three of.
I love refashioning and repurposing jeans. We all have jeans and when they become unusable for one reason or another, the fabric is wonderful for using in so many ways. I love the different shades of blue and the fraying of unfinished denim edges. But what about those jean cuffs? Simple: turn them into a super quick and super simple DIY jean hem bracelet!This was my favorite pair of jeans for a while. They had ripped many times in the knees, and are actually the same pair that I used to show how to mend holes in jeans in this machine darning tutorial. (Here you can see me wearing it with my Saturn Sweater.)
I turned these favorite jeans into what became my favorite skirt in a funky refashion that I will share a tutorial for soon. But I didn’t need the cuffs for the refashion. I hated to throw them away, so I just came up with a really simple accessory: a jean hem bracelet.
I hesitate to even call this a tutorial because it’s so ridiculously simple that I didn’t even bother to take step-by-step pictures.
Cut off one denim hem right above the seam with sharp fabric scissors.
Cut through the hem to turn it into a strip.
Trim the strip so that the two ends overlap about 2 cm (¾”).
Apply a snap with a snap press or sew one on by hand.
(Optional) Embellish the strip with embroidery, sewn trim, etc.
Now wear your funky new accessory with a refashioner’s pride! I chose not to embellish my jean hem bracelet because I sometimes prefer a simple accessory. I wore this bracelet all last summer because it was lightweight and didn’t stick to me as metal jewelry does when I’m hot and sticky. One great thing about it is that, when it got dirty, I could just throw it in the washing machine with the rest of my laundry.
The cut edges will inevitably fray. You can leave these white threads hanging out if you like that look, otherwise just trim them off.
Looking for an interesting and unique way to use your old jeans? Cut them and sew them up with an old sheet (or other fabric) for a cool pleated skirt with a matching belt!
And if you love repurposing jeans and making denim items, make sure you follow my “Repurposing Jeans” board on Pinterest! There are currently more than 320 projects and ideas on it, with more being added every week!
What is it about snow that is so magical?! Is it the soft ting of cold as it hits your skin? Or the bright twinkle snowflakes make in the sun? The muted sounds right after snow has fallen? The sensation of catching frozen bits of water as they fall from the sky? The joy of creating a snowman or sledding down a hill? Whatever it is, I wanted to recreate that magic as best I could, and came up with these no sew felt snowflake ornaments.
These snowflakes are incredibly easy and quick to make and can be used in different ways. You can use them as Christmas tree decorations. Put one on a gift package for a pretty seasonal look. Or string a bunch together and hang as garlands.
But my family’s favorite way is by far to string together a few snowflakes on several lengths of thread, then hang them from the ceiling to simulate snowfall inside the home! This way they’re a good second best to the real thing!
Sure, you can use regular store-bought felt, but one of my favorite crafting materials, felted wool sweaters, make much more pretty and substantial snowflakes!
Want to make some of your own no sew felt snowflake ornaments? Let’s get started!
Before you start, make sure you’ve completely felted your wool sweaters according to the directions in this post.
How to make no sew felt snowflake ornaments:
1. Cut a 6 x 12 cm rectangle of felt or material from the felted sweater. Then cut this piece into six 1 x 12 cm strips. You’ll find that you can cut a lot of rectangles this size from one sweater. Using a rotary cutter*, cutting mat* and quilting ruler* in this step will make it much easier and faster, creating perfectly straight strips that will fold and fit together better.
2. Fold a strip in half. Put a bit of hot glue inside the fold and press tight.
3. Repeat step 3 with the other five strips.
4. Glue two strips together on the outside of the folds (shown by the arrow).
5. Repeat step 4 with the other two pairs of folded strips.
6. Glue the three pairs of strips together in the center to make a sort of wheel shape.
7. Join two adjacent strips (from DIFFERENT folded strips!) and glue together about 2 cm from the center. Press well with your fingers til dry.
8. Repeat step 7 with the other strips.
9. Join two adjacent strips, this time the two sides of the SAME folded strip.
10. Glue the strips together about 1-2 cm from the ends of the strips. Press well with your fingers til dry.
11. Repeat steps 9-10 with the other strips.
12. Trim the ends of all the strips to even them out.
13. Glue a sequin in the center of each side. And the first of your no sew felt snowflake ornaments is done!
14. If you want to use the snowflake as a Christmas tree ornament, tie on a loop of invisible (or nearly-invisible) thread.
If you want to make a snowflake garland, make a whole bunch more of snowflakes. Then join each one to the next with thread, leaving long ends at each side for hanging.
If you want to simulate snowfall, make smaller garlands, but leave a long end for hanging only on one end. Attach this thread to the ceiling or window or door frame so that they can hang down.
The effect is simply magical, for kids and adults alike!
Seeing as you’re already creating handmade holiday cheer with felted wool sweaters and hot glue, why not make a few no-sew poinsettia decorations, too?
Last year my kids and I cut up a few old felted wool sweaters in my collection to make handmade felt Christmas tree ornaments to give to our loved ones at Christmas. But partway through, I realized that an even better gift for the families with children would be DIY Christmas ornament kits so that the children could make their own personalized ornaments!
Craft kits are a great gift and have been increasingly popular over the past few years. Unfortunately, they are usually expensive to buy or take a while to prepare for handmade versions.
That’s part of the reason why these DIY Christmas ornament kits are so great; they are very quick to assemble and, if you are using repurposed materials and scraps, like I was, they are also extremely inexpensive! And if you are eco-friendly like I am and love repurposing materials, you can just felt old wool sweaters in the washing machine for the main materials, and just raid your notions collections for scraps and odd bits and pieces to stick in the kits.
The kids that received our DIY Christmas ornament kits last year just LOVED them, and had so much fun decorating them however they pleased. Which is why I decided to make another tutorial, this time showing how to make your own DIY Christmas ornament kits to give to your favorite kiddos this holiday season. I even made a free printable instruction sheet to include in the kits so that the children will know exactly how to decorate and assemble these baubles.
If you want to find out how to make these DIY Christmas ornament kits, head on over to Vicky Myers Creations, where I am guest today with this tutorial and free download!
(Or, if you understand Italian, feel free to click on over to the Italian version of Cucicucicoo for all the instructions!)
I don’t know about you, but I cannot STAND the sound of chairs scratching on the floor. I used to buy tons of those self-adhesive felt pieces to stick on the bottom of chairs, then I finally smartened up when I realized just how easy it would be to make my own DIY chair felt pads, and for FREE at that! How is that possible? Using tiny scraps of felted wool sweaters, of course!
I collect old wool sweaters and felt them on purpose in the washing machine so that I can use this wonderfully versatile fabric for all sorts of sewing and crafting projects! Felted wool, or cooked wool, is perfect for DIY chair felt pads because it is much thicker than regular felt, so it can better withstand the weight of an adult on it.
Get your materials ready, and I promise that you’ll have perfect soft and squishy anti-scratch floor protectors in just 10 seconds or so!
Before you start, make sure you’ve completely machine felted your wool sweaters according to the directions in this post. This is a great project to use up teeny tiny pieces of leftover felt sweaters. I prefer using felted sweaters because they are eco-friendly and much thicker and softer than their store-bought counterparts, however feel free to use regular wool or acrylic felt for this project if you don’t feel like felting a sweater.
Make the DIY chair felt pads:
1. Put the scrap of cooked wool under the leg of the chair and trace around it with the Sharpie*.
2. Cut the shape out inside the traced line with good sharp fabric scissors*, then use that shape as a guide to cut out three more of the same size.
3. Put the chair upside down on the table. Trim the shapes if necessary, and glue into place under the legs.
4. Turn the chair right way down to keep pressure on the pads as they dry.
5. Move your chair as you please and have a seat!
Now go make some more DIY chair felt pads for all your other chairs and furniture! It’s so fast and easy that you’ll want to protect everything in your home!
Isn’t crafting with scraps of felted wool such fun? Check out some of my other great tutorials using this super versatile material!
A few years ago my husband got sick of me always borrowing his headphones, so he gave me my own pair. Even though we were quite happy with these earphones, over the past year or so the cheap material covering the ear pads starting coming off. It got to the point that neither of us were using them anymore because we’d get all these little bits of crud stuck to us every time. I didn’t see any reason why we should buy new headphones seeing as they still worked perfectly well, so I decided to find a solution to my flaking headphone pads.
See all that crumbling gunk around the sides of the ear pads?
It was even worse on the part that comes in contact with the side of your head, because it got rubbed off even more, sticking to my hair and skin. Ew!
I only use these headphones while sitting at my computer and working, so I didn’t really care how good they looked. And one day, when my kids asked if I could cut off the toe of an old pair of stockings for them to do a project, inspiration struck. My old tights could easily cover up the flaking headphone pads without feeling uncomfortable and without muffling the sound!
Are the flaking headphone pads on your favorite listening device driving you nuts? Well, get ready for a super easy way to fix them in just 30 seconds!
1 pair of headphones with ruined ear pads
1 pair of tights (or a small part of them)
2 rubber bands
sharp scissors (not pictured)
How to cover those flaking headphone pads:
Grab a pair of clean tights or other stockings that you don’t use anymore (mine were ripped) and cut off one toe. If the toe is ruined or unavailable, you can cut off another part of the stockings instead.
Cut along the folded edges of the flattened toe so that you have two pieces.
Trim off the toe seam and the corners to make two circles. They don’t have to be perfect.
Place one circle over one headphone ear pad and slip the elastic (doubled or tripled over, if necessary) around it to hold it in place. Pull the edges of the circle until it is taut over the headphone. Repeat with the second ear.
Trim off any particularly long bits of stocking sticking out beyond the elastic, though don’t cut too close or it could slip out.
Wasn’t that about the most ridiculously easy fix ever? Sure, they’re not the most gorgeous headphones ever, but I really don’t care because now I can wear them without it looking like I have giant-sized dandruff afterwards!
I can hear through the stockings just as well as I could without them! Which means I can jam and rock all I want while doing brain-numbing computer work!
If you like this tutorial using reclaimed materials for fixing flaking headphone pads, head on over to see the rest of my awesome repurposing tutorials! You’ll be surprised at how many incredible things you can make using the “trash” that you already have in your home!
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