Culling the cupboards, AKA Upcycling


As people who read this blog regularly already know, I make a lot of bags, and I almost always give them away.  So when Boomerang Bags started up in Adelaide (and it wasn’t started by me–woot!) it seemed entirely logical to join their end single use plastics interventions by making bags for them.  I made an initial 6 and gave 5 away.  This time I committed to making bags for a stall on World Environment Day and one of the sweethearts from the local group dropped 12 labels at my place.


Some of the labels were apple green (hard to colour co-ordinate), and I’ve noticed that many of the bags the group creates are made in floral prints.  I’m going out on a limb assuming there are other folk like me who would prefer a not-so-floral bag.  So–I checked to see what relatively plain fabrics I might have and decided the time had come for some unloved trousers made by me over ten years ago.  I’ve worn them a lot over about a decade, even though I had to face the hash I made of the welt pockets every single time.  Never again! Here they are cut into their constituent parts, and below–as bags.

A pair of hemp pants that have never really fit, and are so badly made I’ve mended them several times in a life of few washes and wears.  A couple more pairs of trousers that I won’t wear again.  Two pairs of op shop jeans saved for a day I need denim, and a pair of op shop linen pants, ditto.  Orange linen picked up at the tip shop outside Hobart for a song (because who wouldn’t take their mates to the tip shop if you were passing?) Some repurposed canvas cushion backing dyed with eucalypts.

Oh, the pockets!  It’s a shame to let a well constructed pocket go, so these are now features!


Needless to say there was constructive piecing on the outside, and where the outsides were pieced together, there are linings (often pieced too).


So now my thirteen bags have gone to Boomerang Bags, and I have more labels.  I inherit fabric and have fabric dropped off at my place faster than I can re-home it.  I still have unloved wardrobe items and clothing past use by date.  I have clothing that is upwards of 20 years old, some parts reclaimable and op shop items salvaged for repurposing.  So, I believe I can keep at this project for the foreseeable future without concern for supplies and with benefits for my cupboards.


Filed under Craftivism, Natural dyeing, Sewing

14 responses to “Culling the cupboards, AKA Upcycling

  1. you are a living treasure.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m glad to hear about a non-floral alternative 😉
    (while I may like some floral stuff, it’s kind of annoying that flowers were the predominant pattern…)
    Great job!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Exactly. I love flowers. But, there are limits. When I have been to those big quilting shows I’ve been overwhelmed by the floral and lace theme that predominates. Give me a leaf or a nice plain weave once in a while.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. ditto to mutabilia’s comment!
    I found a purse at the thrift shop a few months ago made of men’s suit jacket parts and other repurposed fabric for the inside. I immediately thought of you! The bag has a label: She makes lots of different bags, although more structured, purse styles. Mine is very sleek, made of a pinstripe almost black fabric. I love the use of the original pockets!

    Liked by 1 person

    • There are such ingenious people on the job everywhere you look, aren’t there? It’s one of the pleasures of op shopping and mending that you find yourself noodling about in another person’s stitching and creativity, admiring their ingenious solutions to issues and such. Lovely. I’ll have to check out I have a special fondness for the folk that take Harris Tweed from the op shop and create bags from them. I have given myself very stern talkings to when faced with Harris tweed jackets in op shops (and wish at times I hadn’t listened to myself and had them to play with or wear).

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Rebecca

    Gosh you are a maelstrom of energy and action. This is a really great project…id be picking your bags over florals too. My little guys are increasingly concerned about the amount of plastic in the world and the steps everyone can take in their lives to reduce plastic use. They are going to love this post.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I am with your little guys 100% and utterly touched that they might like this post. I think I’m more a maelstrom of faffing and puttering, but your characterisation is, as ever, more generous!


  5. Rhonda Bradley

    Also no florals here, unless they are part of a eucalyptus fabric dying experiment. My son in laws worn out work suits are now a treasure trove of bag ideas.
    I had not previously heard of boomerang bags , thanks for the introduction, i am inspired.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, lovely. Boomerang Bags is such a great project. On instagram they are always posting sensible things about the need to get plastic out of the oceans and such, and in person they are practical minded, community building awesomeness. There is an incredible amount of fabric in, people taught to sew, bags out action as well as community engagement at events around the place. Using sewing superpowers (or even just sewing basic skills) for wider good.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Fantastically inspiring post! I can’t sew a button myself, but love that you are re-using so much fabric : )

    Liked by 1 person

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