Fabric organization and upcycling

I am dedicating this post to my sons, both of whom used the word “upcycling” correctly in a sentence this week of their own accord.


I will admit: my crafts room (previously known as my office) is a mess. I am in the long-term process of sorting it out and cleaning it up. In addition to a stack of refashioning projects, I have a big bag of fabric scraps, and an even larger cardboard box of actual fabrics, that I have kept partially hidden under an old play table from the kids. The play table was theirs. I wasn’t hiding the fabrics from them. Although….

I recently tackled that big box. There was everything from fabrics to curtains to twelve-year-old towels in there. I don’t have a before picture, but guarantee you it was scary.

I was inspired a blog post I had read, to organize my fabrics into mini fabric bolts.

The post I read used “comic book boards” to stiffen the fabrics. These boards are the inserts that comic book collectors use to keep their comic books flat and straight within the transparent comic book “sleeves.” I learned all this while trying to find them locally (fail) and then while trying to order them online….from amazon.de…from amazon.co.uk…from ebay…from anywhere really. Those of you who read my last post can already guess that I was unsuccessful.

The only one single place I was able to find in Switzerland that had these comic book boards was selling a pack of 100 for  CHF 25 (USD $ 27.03). Compare that with EUR 15 (CHF 18.67/ USD $20.18) on Amazon.de and USD $9.86 (CHF 9.12) on Amazon.com for the same or equivalent product. That’s crazy! Plus I couldn’t find anyone outside of Switzerland who would actually deliver them to me—though I really wasn’t aware of any import restrictions on comic boards. Comic boards! Cigarettes, beef, alcohol… yes. But comic boards…? Are you serious?

Undaunted (and, frankly, spurred on by the spirit of upcycling) I decided to make my own. Hey, we have tons of cardboard from the palettes and palettes and palettes of juice and milk we have to bring home (because each juice/milk container only contains 1 liter (ca. 1 quart)).

2013-01-25 16.55.25
Only 1 liter in each, so lots of excess packaging. The Swiss are champions in recycling simply because garbage collection is so expensive.

With the help of my trusty utility knife, I cut a “GO YALE” sign that I had gotten at a recent alumni event down to comic board size as a template,

2013-01-02 14.07.13
For God, for country, for Yale, and for upcycling.

and I made my own “comic boards” out of cardboard boxes. My fabrics now look lovely like this, as they wait for their new home. (I haven’t yet made it to IKEA.)

Cardboard for fabric bolts CHF 0The fact that Eric and Luke can use “upcycle” in a sentence: priceless.
My fabric bolts

Also in the box, I found some bits of curtains from hubby’s old home—they were really short and looked like large napkins with lovely lace on one side. There were two striped ones and two off-white ones. Although Martha Stewart would probably know what they were to be used for, I didn’t. However, I did decide that they would make a good upcycling project.

So, a few seam rips, a few new seams, and several-hours-learning-how-to-make my-first-buttonhole-ever later,…

A closeup of my first buttonhole ever
A closeup of my first buttonhole ever (left). The boys helped me choose the button to use (right).

…I produced this:

2013-01-25 17.14.22
My upcycled apron

Fabric for apron: CHF 0
Smiley button: Ca. 10 cents from Michaels craft store.
Ribbon for apron ties: CHF 1 in the bargain bin at my local fabric store.
The fact that my boys can use “upcycle”* in a sentence: priceless


*Upcycling is the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value.Wikipedia



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