the ReFab Diaries: upcycled crafts
Showing posts with label upcycled crafts


Custom cookie-cutters from cans? Yes. Easy (and free) to make. Fun to use. If you have an old aluminum pie tin lying around, they work well too.

And if you're concerned about sharp edges, check out the advice at Glitter Mint.


1. Super kid-friendly soda can heart cutter care of Food Doodles

2. Scrap-metal bird cutter from Lulastic 

3. Homemade lip and mustache cookie cutters from My Lovely French





Like most of us in the northern hemisphere, Melanie (of Bliss Bloom Blog) is craving flowers and dreaming of spring. In honor of Earth Day, she created these amazing egg carton roses. They're simple to make (great tutorial) and I love that the end product somehow manages to look both rustic and refined.

Thanks to Melanie for permission to feature this great upcycle. Get the complete tutorial here.




Sometimes I know exactly what inspires these round ups. For example, I once found myself collecting a lot of bottle caps (beer bottles, specifically) so I went looking for ideas for repurposing them. Then I created a blog post around bottle-cap decorating.



There are so many ways to repurpose old t-shirts. Check out the mother of all round ups at Saved By Love Creations.  But these braided t-shirt rugs ... this is probably the third one that's caught my eye. And guess what? The tutorial is excellent. So if you're interested in trying but you've been a fuzzy on the how to, head to My Poppet






I love the steampunk / trashion punk aesthetic. I'll be heading to Cape Town in March and at the top of my to-visit list is Truth Coffee, where steampunk is not just about decorating but has, in fact, inspired a built-from-scratch "coffee bean contraption". Because of its appeal, I've spent quite a lot of time looking around for jewelry DIYs. They're hard to find. But here's a small collection for you, inspired my February sponsor, Sleepless Storyteller


As I created the post featuring Ruth's plarn lunch tote (4), I found myself looking for other cool things created using this cheap-to-create material. Because it's the epitome of upcycling really. Plastic grocery bags are nasty things. They've been banned in a whole lot of places around the world. But in most of the US, we have a choice. Bring your own bags, choose paper, or choose plastic. And if you choose the plastic, what do you do with the pile that quickly gathers in your house?

Turning them into something that will actually last is a really good idea. So if you liked the lunch tote, here are some more ideas for you.

My friend Ruth recently tried her hand at a plarn project. Lucky for me she recorded her steps so I get to share her experience with you! For a roundup of 11 other plarn DIYs, click here.



Wow. How did it get to be January 8, 2014?? A post from me is WAY overdue ... my apologies. My year got off to a streptococcal kind of start. Horrible. But, here I am and I've got several fun bits and pieces to share with you.





I don't know why certain creatures become trendy in art and design, but I enjoy watching the waves. Owls, hedgehogs ... foxes!  I like it. If you know someone who'd like a foxy gift this holiday season, make 'em something!  Here are some fab ideas:



Yeah, shampoo bottles. I suppose you could use any plastic bottles, but we do go through shampoo at a rapid rate right? And the bottles are colorful ... ripe for repurposing! The collection above is all about kids (cold-weather, indoor fun?):

1. Awesome shampoo-monster caddies from Madame Criativa

2. Hold-owls ... beautiful tutorial here

3. A flotilla of post-foam fun ... care of Floris Hovers

4. A bold baby mobile ... DIY care of BB Bellezza




Some slightly more grown-up upcycles...

1. A catch-all wall for a kitchen, office or craft room ... full how-to at DIY Enthusiasts

2. Some simple caddies by Floral Chick

3. A grown-up pencil holder and ...

4. labels turned into gift bows... see more here

5. And finally, a bottle-turned-black-cat napkin or phone holder!  See the details here.








Christine Marie Davis collects old metal knitting needles and turns them into extraordinary bracelets ... the colors are wonderful! Check out the full collection and visit her blog. where she refers to herself as a "finder, collector, maker, breaker, smasher, basher."

No DIY for working with metal needles, but if you have old plastic ones lying around, they make great bracelets too!



Check out the tutorial (pictured above) care of Time for Tea.  If you're interested in what else you can do with old needles, take a look at this roundup.




'Tis the season (in my part of the world) for all things leafy ... watching them change color, fall and burn on bonfires. So in the spirit of leafiness, here are four DIY, upcycled art ideas for you:

1. Leaf burst from Myrtle and Eunice

2. Leaf and twig installation on canvas by Revolutionaries

3. The ghost of sunflowers past by Thrifty and Chic

4. Simple leafy silhouettes care of Bon Temps Beignet








Right now, Chicago is steaming ... 90+ degrees F. And something about the hot mid-summer screams herbs on a kitchen window sill. Now, I know that bombing things with googly eyes is like so ... 2012? Or something. But done like this, it's sort-off irresistible. And planting in eggshells is a really cheap, kid-friendly re-use. 


1. Adorable, wheatgrass eggheads (spotted here)

2. Succulent centerpiece

3. A little floral happiness

4. The cat's whiskers

5. Mixed herbs under a banner

6. Radish heads!







As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame
Gerard Manley Hopkins

This wonderful little dragonfly brooch was created using old book leather and a plastic soda bottle for wings. For instructions and more pics, see The Upcycler.








Ah ... the little Danon yoghurts. One dose a day, means lots of little bottles collecting quickly. Which means you'll soon collect enough to make this lamp! Construction is much simpler than you'd imagine; no special materials required. The completely tutorial at Reciclantes is really inspiring, as is the whole blog - please click through and take a look.








It's summer in my hemisphere. That means (amongst other things) that I'm suddenly driving over a lot of empty plastic bottles! I've started giving myself points every time I hear the loud crunch. But really? Do they need to be rolling around in the street? I think we should let our kids bowl with them instead. Then recycle them please Chicago!


1.  Monster bowling

2. Sumo bowling

3. Bowling "toss"

4. Rainbow bowling









A little more aluminum / soda-can bling for you!  This simple, geometric piece was easy and quick to make. Here's how:





I grew up in South Africa in the 80s. It's possible things have changed now but, when I was a kid, gold seemed somehow more affordable than books (only one of many very screwed up things about SA in the '80s, but I'll spare you the history lesson). So, we used libraries ... populated, and run by, lots of "ladies" wearing a lot of gold jewelry. I didn't own a whole lot of books until I hit England in my mid 20's and discovered publisher's clearance warehouses. And used bookstores. Books for a buck!!  I went a bit crazy. 

Perhaps my values are skewed care of my gold-plated upbringing? But I think this is a great way to treat a less-than-glittering bowl! Get the complete tutorial at Liz Marie Blog










If you live on a certain continent, you recognize the red bullseye a mile away. And the bags ... my, how they collect. There are, of course, other plastic grocery bags in the world ... and they all collect! So here are some fun ways to upcycle and repurpose them:


1. A lampshade

2. A leaf or heart/valentine mobile

3. A cuff bracelet

4. A clutch bag

5. A sturdy (fused plastic) reusable bag (where'd the spots go you ask?)

6. A wreath

7. A sturdy ("plarn" or knit) market bag


PS: I think the majority of grocery and departments stores in the US now collect their own bags for recycling. Some even turn their used bags into the sturdy, reusable versions.









If you don't know luri & wilma then today's your lucky day!  This fabulous t-shirt refab is their project (complete DIY) and a great reason for you to discover this publication. Yes ... publication. Like, actual print magazine loveliness in vintage, handmade, eco-friendly, technicolor glory! The styling, ideas, features, photography and very real women populating this thing are an inspiration. I'm hooked.

They just launched a Kickstarter campaign - here's the nutshell:


"At luri & wilma we are more than a blog or a magazine, we are a way of life. We profile and support eco-friendly businesses, especially those run by women, who have innovative ideas for recycling and repurposing, sustainability or producing quality handmade products. Our models are never airbrushed because we support a healthy, realistic confident woman. We’ve published 7 issues online and this spring, we came out with our first printed issue. This first edition was more of a test and we created a magazine that you can flip through again and again. And now we want more!"


They use a local printer and print on recycled paper. But overhead costs are what they are, so they're asking for support. Their goal: convert luri & wilma into a quarterly printed magazine with an additional 2 online-only versions. Check out their latest issues here!



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