Souvenir as a necklace

From a colorful souvenir to a sparkling necklace

Recently, I’ve found this thimble somewhere around the house. I remember buying it as a souvenir on one of my trips to Latin America. Such a brightly colored piece… The moment I started thinking of what to do with it, I remembered a gift I had bought for a friend: this particular necklace by Patil Khatcherian. No wonder it instantly came to my mind: I’d loved the idea and design of that piece! So, therein came the inspiration. 

All I had to do next was fix a couple of things together. I took the thimble and paired it up with a sparkly rock crystal. Then, I attached them to the chain of an old broken necklace that was clearly no good on its own. All in all, a piece of cake.

These three items by themselves were pretty looking items, collecting dust in my drawers. Now, my brightly colored piece has a brilliantly crafted new-purpose.

Photos by Mili


Sustainability and coffee: Reusable DIY filter

Approaching sustainability over a pour-over: Reusable DIY filter 

For most of us, the first logical move in our effort to ‘go green’ is switching to more sustainable and compostable products. As a less harmful option compared to using polluting ones it is a step forward, still, it is buying products and using resources that could be avoided in the first place. Not to mention that most of the items we use do not go to composting or recycling.

The next-best solution would be finding a reusable replacement for a single use item. Due to us being so influenced by modern day single-use society, by all advertisement and consumerism this can sometimes feel like a “weird” idea at first. In most cases, this is as simple as going back to what people use to do/use before we introduced a single-use version. 

Ultimately, when possible we can look into completely eradicating the need for the particular product (habit). I think of it as an exciting concept, with a lot of possible benefits. Other than being utterly more sustainable, for us and the environment, minimalism and simplifying help us regain a conscious approach towards our routines and habits. 

One of the habits I am currently omitting only occasionally is my coffee ritual. After having tried all the delicious, inherently waste-free ways to brew coffee, I am still a pour over-lover. In alignment with my waste reduction efforts, I decided to stop buying paper coffee filters. At the same time, I bumped into a post on reusable coffee filters on Remodelista web. Excited about that product idea, I wondered come the use of fabric coffee filters had not become the standard practice already. And I realized that it was before until we all fell victims to the disposable society mindset. All these times that I’d been having coffees, I did not think about this consciously.  

After my first consumerist urge to go after the fabric filter immediately, my DIY spirit kicked in and I decided I could make one myself.

Only when I started testing the “dripping rate” with different organic hemp and cotton fabrics did I realize how bad my pour over technique was. Thus, I decided to look into those a bit more. As a result, this whole project became even more rewarding. I still need to improve the pouring, but I managed to get satisfying results using my filter. The ultimate test will be taking it to my favorite coffee place (as I never found a place with a tastier pour over) and ask their barista to make my coffee with my filter. I will let you know how it goes :).

Initially, I planned to sew and make a V60 shaped filter. Then, I remembered some folded Chemex filters I’d once bought and I thought that could be a better model to mimic. It would be much easier to make and possibly more practical as it could be used for both V60 and Chemex. Moreover, I would avoid the stitches on the usable filter area.

I’ve tested different organic cotton and hemp fabrics. I went for the hemp one as it gave me the best results when it comes to dripping rate and flavor. In addition, hemp fabric is much more sustainable to produce (compared to cotton), it is more durable than cotton and it is naturally antibacterial.

I wouldn’t be able to say precisely which combination of factors (weight and density) you should go for. I suggest you do your own empirical research, test different fabrics you have available and find one that gives you the most satisfying result.

Step 1  Cut the fabric into 15x15cm squares. 

Step 2  Boil them to remove any impurities or dust, and to ensure it will shrink now rather than when the filter is done.

Step 3  Once you have decided on the fabric you can stop at this step. However, I suggest doing at least some kind of edging at the seams. Otherwise, the fabric might unravel.

Step 4  Cut in a desired shape (optional). I decided to cut and shape my filters before edging (one in a round shape and one in a flower shape). I did this by folding it in 4 and marking the quarter of the circle by hand. Use a round shape dish or plate for more precision.

Step 5  Edge with a sewing machine or by hand.

Step 7  Boil the filter again to get rid of any leftover impurities.

all photos by Mili

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Recycling old clothes: DIY rag cushions

Recycled fabric DIY cushions: A simple makeover for stools

When my desire to manage my waste, clothes included, met my “projects to do” list, I thought that a rag rug project would be the perfect idea for a pile of unusable clothes that I had cleared from my wardrobe.

I committed to this laborious task for the sake of making a promise to myself to be more conscious about consumption and waste management. Luckily, my friend Lucia offered to help. With some nice music in the background we had an amazing, pleasant afternoon: talking, sharing and laughing. As my friend Hind would say, we spent an afternoon in craft meditation. The results were: new cushions for my upcycled stools, a deal to repeat the same again (which we did as I had more scraps) and thoughts on how to do it even better next time.

Take this idea and your unusable clothes or textile scraps and make your rugs, bath mats, seat cushions or sofa throws… Maybe you even have a better idea. Send us pictures! There are many creative suggestions on how to use fabric waste on the internet. I chose some of the options I liked the most and shared them in the DIY IDEAS in this post. I also saved more examples in my clothes recycling ideas album on Pinterest. 

For the base of these cushions, we took bath mat material with holes in it and cut it in the shape of the stool seat. To make the scraps, we cut old clothes in pieces of aprox. 1.5cm x 12-15cm. Then we just pulled the scraps through the holes leaving both ends on the top side. Because the material was quite dense, we didn’t even have to make knots to fix the scraps in place. 

Having chosen a non-slip mat, there was no need to attach the cushion to the stool. It stays put. The disadvantage of using this kind of mats (other than them being made of a sort of plastic) is that you cannot sew it to another piece of fabric in order to add more volume or create a sofa cushion for example. Moreover, I would never suggest buying new material for a project that is supposed to be about recycling unless it’s absolutely necessary. Thus, I immediately started thinking about alternatives and realized that there are other good options: use any kind of available mash or fabric that has gaps or holes throughout.

I used an old sweater as a base for the next project. It was definitely easier to get the scraps through the holes. However, each scrap needed to be secured with a knot. In the end, the time I saved passing the scraps through I lost tying the knots. The advantage of using this as a base (besides it being a 100% recycled project) is that you can sew it to another fabric and also adapt it to different kinds of furniture pieces (and sizes). I will show the full HOW TO in that project post.

Photos by Mili

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Commitment to a dignified end of life of my clothes

End of life of my clothes:  Commitment to managing my waste

Do you ever think about what happens to our clothes after we are “done” with them? Let’s be honest: most of us either do not consider this or choose to turn a blind eye. 

Besides being one of the most polluting, fashion industry generates a lot of waste as most of our clothes end up in landfills. While as (conscious) consumers we are only indirectly responsible for the former, we are fully responsible for the latter. To do better, besides thinking about impact of every purchase before, we need to be accountable for what happens at the end. 

Our options for a ”dignified end of life” of our clothes are anything but letting them end up in the trash and subsequently in landfills! Swapping, gifting, donating and upcycling are great options for decent pieces. I would save recycling for the most ‘pathological cases’ when all the other are exhausted. 

Recently I faced such a case. The result of my  periodical wardrobe clearing up, was a bag of used clothes, no good to be given away. I remembered this rag rug project, I had archived it in my ”to do one day” ideas pool. The pieces of puzzle connected and I decided to make projects using the scraps carpet concept.

After I had started these scraps projects, I thought that I should better invest my time in something less laborious and more productive. It took a while even to just cut the clothes in pieces. Still, I decided to complete them as a mere exercise of my waste managing commitment. I thought that putting effort and energy in this would make me think twice before buying something new. I wanted it to remind me that I will have to take care of it in a decent manner after I no longer need it. 

Commit to managing you waste: your old clothes included! In the RESOURCES section below, I’ve linked a few articles on the impact of our wardrobes and options you have for giving them a new life or a dignified end. If you are willing to take things in your hands in form of DIY, check out the DIY IDEAS section for inspiration and do recycle yourself.

Make produces bags following the tutorial from Delia creates

Make a rag rug or rag stool cushions like I did in this project.

Make a weave stripes and give some texture and fresh look to a jersey shirt. To do it follow the tutorial by Laura from Trash To Couture.

Make a completely new fabric with interesting pattern and texture. To do so you can find instructions in these tutorials: at Just Jude Designs and at Buttons and Paint.

Make party snack cups using fabric stiffener (starch). Instructions at DIYs.com page. I find it is a great idea to make from fabric tissues when making a party as it avoids using other single use items like paper cups. I will try to make it myself and do the the cups project seen above.

Make fabric twine following instructions at My Poppet. There is also a video how to do it. I loved the projects that Cintia made with this twine. You can do her completely recycled planter or use it for a different project. I absolutely loved Cintia’s amazing chair make over.  

Make a continuous yarn that can be used for crochet or many other DIY projects. There are many videos and tutorials that show how to do it

Use your handmade recycle yarn for a project. Crochet, macrame, weaving… I loved Laura’s market bag that she features here on her Trash to Couture web

Make cool hangers by covering plastic or metal hangers from dry cleaning. This example is from Remodelista (article written by Justine Hand).

If you’d like to browse for more inspiration, I’ve saved all these links and I’ll keep adding some more on my Pinterest page in End of Life of our clothes: DIY IDEAS album. 

For some facts check out the following articles:

Article about Facts about fashion from Sustainable Fahsion Matterz:

https://www.sustainablefashionmatterz.com/fashion-facts/

Article about Facts about fashion from Good On You:

6 Fake ‘Facts’ about the Fashion Industry

For advice on how to do better I would recommend the tips from Redress:

You can find those in their new book Dress [with] Sense:

https://www.redress.com.hk/dresswithsense

For more advice on Zero Waste wardrobe check out the article by Lauren from Trash is for tossers. I find the latter one especially useful when it comes to finding places for responsible clothes disposing. 

Zero Waste Wardrobe: A Guide To Secondhand Shopping

How To Recycle Old Clothing (Even Ratty Ass Old Underwear)

DIY IDEAS section photos via corresponding web pages. Each photo is linked to article where found.

rest of the photos by Mili

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From my recycle bin: DIY accessories

From my recycle bin: DIY accessories

My effort to consume less and generate less waste, especially plastic, is often not an easy task. When it comes to living a more sustainable life, one of my latest commitments is to try to recycle and/or reuse most of the packages I inevitably need to use. In this attempt, I set up my so called “recycle bin”, where I store most of these packages together with some other similar items. Doing this not only helps me acknowledge the amounts I consume (and waste), it also prompts me to think about possible alternatives. In fact, this bin has been a new source of items/materials that inspires me to reuse, repurpose and upcycle.

Most of my recycling bin items come from cosmetic and make up products that I use. (If you have any good advice on more sustainable products, please do let me know.)

The item on the photos is made out of a used mascara case and an old charger cable. I loved the color of the case and the striped pattern of the lid. I decided these would be great together with minimum alterations, making this an easy project that would require little effort and time.

I’ve only shown the basic concept here. I can’t wait to share all the different options I’ve been wearing since then: assembling them by combining these few elements and/or using them with other pieces of accessories. I’m sure you also have some old, “useless” items that you could make into something new. To inspire you further, I will continue posting similar recycling ideas. 

I cut the cable in desired sizes and I glued a clasp I’d already bought in a store. Since the cable was long enough for more than one necklace, I made two, different in length. This enables me to wear my accessories in many ways.

I cut the mascara case in tubes and washed them to remove the remaining product from the inside. I used the lid part as it was, preserving its original pattern. From the rest of the case, I got two more plain elements. Those, I painted with acrylic in a random, abstract manner, covering and so hiding the labeling prints. 

“BEORE” and “HOW TO” photos by Mili

All the rest of photos by Carlos Kesgo

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WELCOME TO MY NEW PAGE

Welcome to my new web page and blog

Welcome to my new web page where I share the content that emerges through my creative work and my efforts to maintain a sustainable lifestyle. I hope the blog will inspire you to take ownership of your own life & style choices. I believe that if we all make small steps towards more sustainable and meaningful lives, together we can achieve a better and less contaminated environment.

I started this journey some time ago, amazed by the many incredible people and ideas I found on the web, wishing to make a creative and inspiring virtual space of my own. What I built then was meant to be my own version of a fashion and accessories blog.

Yet, I wasn’t “happy” with what I had created. My main aim was to share styles that included original and handmade fashion pieces. I intended to promote different brands beyond what was overly advertised and I wanted to include ideas and suggestions of my own. Only after I started blogging did I realize how unsustainable my endeavor was going to be. Also, I thought about how unrealistic it would be for the average person to actually follow a fashion blogger lifestyle. I found myself generating OUTFIT posts that didn’t really seem meaningful to me. At the same time, I was buying and collecting items that I didn’t give much use to, even though I loved them. My blog, which was meant to be different, turned out to be just another fashion blog in the end.

As a result, I reassessed my approach and reclaimed my personal values. I brought my lifestyle and behavior in line with the things that truly matter to me, and I decided to change the focus of my blog. I can still share ideas and products, but I don’t have to own them or wear them all. I can still encourage people to shop less or make smarter choices when shopping, but I can also give them ideas on how to experiment, improvise and achieve more with what they already have.

Rather than searching for a style, I am striving to curate my life. 

photo by Carlos Kesgo

necklace by Norma Rinaudo

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Restyling with custom buttons

Restyling with custom buttons

What if you are so into details that you think that a few, seemingly unnoticeable, buttons can completely change your T-shirt and give it a fresh look?

Well, I never liked like the buttons on this top. I wanted to change them and give the overall outfit a more “sophisticated casual look”. After making up my mind, the next step was deciding about the buttons’ actual type and colour. They had to be a good choice that wouldn’t limit me too much when combining the top with other clothes and accessories. In the end, the best was to make changeable ones. And that’s what I did.

You can try this on different articles of clothing by using the buttons to make shapes or in the form of letters. You can even accessorize the edges or necklines. Depending on the size of the button you use, you can also attach it to some of your jeans that have those metal pieces around the pockets (just like I did on the denim skirt I’m wearing below). I encourage you to try and experiment, and achieve more with what you already have. I´d like to see your versions.

 

I took off the original buttons and I got a few press buttons along with some leather leftovers that I had from my previous projects. Then, I sew on one part of the press button to the t-shirt. This is the part of the button that will remain on the t-shirt when I wash it and the other part is the removable one. Using different colours and press buttons with gold and silver edges allows me to match them nicely to different accessories.

I cut circles of leather with a diameter similar to the button itself. Then, I pushed the leather circle into the press button to dress it. I thought I would need to fix it using glue, but I tried one and I realized that there’s no need for that if you cut the perfect size. Start with a circle similar to the button and try it. If necessary, cut it a little bit smaller until it fits perfectly. Notice that if it’s too small it will fall out and if it’s too big the leather lining will be wrinkled and not very neat. Check out the gallery below to see the process.

All photos by Mili

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Souvenir as an accessory

Souvenirs as accessories

When you’re passionate about something, it’s very hard not to notice it everywhere around you. For me, it happens time and again that I see things and I immediately think of ways to turn them into accessories or other useful objects. Here’s an example of some thinking out of the box: I used a souvenir to restyle a shirt. It was quick and it was easy.

In the gallery below, you can see a few suggestions on how to wear this homemade accessory with different outfits: be it casual, for the office or some other occasion. I hope you find it interesting.

For this project, I used two acrylic souvenirs I’d bought at the Glasgow School of Art Shop which were products celebrating GSA´s heritage and the architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Also, I used a piece of textile ribbon (you can take the ones that are used to hold garments’ labels or that are placed to keep clothes on the hangers) and a couple of different earrings. I connected the souvenirs with the ribbon making a bow and then I pinned the edges at the end of each souvenir on the shirt with the help of the earrings. A small tip to keep this structure in place is to use the silicon backs of the earrings.

the souvenir: laser cut acrylic motif > from the Mackintosh building at The Glasgow School of Art. This product is exclusive to The Glasgow School of Art Shop and made in Glasgow. You can buy it at GSA Shop or online.

earrings as pins > unknown

bag> Turleza   

bracelets> by Mili

All photos by Mili

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Souvenir to DIY bracelet

Souvenir from Brazil to DIY bracelet

I’m crazy about striped clothes. Blue and white is my favourite combination, especially when it comes to beach outfits. I thought nothing would go better with my marine stripes than my Brazilian bracelet. This is one of my favourite repurposed souvenirs. I love to wear it not only because of its colours, but also because of its sentimental value, being a reminder of all those nice moments from my trips to Brazil. 

The moment I saw this painted leather bookmarker in a small souvenir shop in Sao Paulo, it was clear to me what it was going to be transformed into. I couldn’t wait to do its makeover. In fact, I bought two of them and turned them both into bracelets. If you’d like to try this idea, check the HOW TO section below. Hopefully, this will inspire you to think of a makeover of your own so that you can also create unique accessories from seemingly ordinary things.

 

I took a piece of orange leather over which I stitched the bookmarker. I used a normal cotton thread for sewing which, if put double or triple, becomes very strong and makes the whole thing look noticeably neat and tidy. In keep with the style, I also stitched over the letters of the word “Brasil” to make them more visible.

In order to make sure that all the stitches were the same and also to make life easier for my fingers (passing a needle by hand through hard leather can be very difficult and sometimes painful), first I ran the bookmarker through the sewing machine but without using the thread. This way, I got a row of holes at equal distance through which I could hand sew later on. The trick is to choose a soft underlying leather and to make the holes in this piece only when you’re passing the needle to stitch both pieces together. However, if you wish to run the underlying leather through the sewing machine as well, try to leave a smaller distance between the holes so that when you bind the two pieces together you will naturally get a nice curved shape. If it’s flat, the underlying leather will be wrinkled when forced into a bracelet shape.

Once I finished stitching, I cropped the underlying leather into an irregular shape that I liked. Finally, I put a rigid skeleton in between the two layers and I closed both ends. For this step, you can either stitch or glue them together. I used glue because I didn’t want any more stitches and also because it’s faster.

You can buy the skeleton in a crafts/jewelry supply shop or you can take an existing bracelet you no longer use. Since I’m crafting and recycling all the time, I usually buy these kinds of things when I spot them for a good price. They will definitely find their way into one of my projects: the rings and links I’ve removed from one project in particular, I’ve reused for another one.

All photos by Mili

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Textile marker shirt makeover

Textile marker shirt makeover

If you feel like customizing a plain shirt or you have one that could use a makeover, textile markers is one of the easiest ways of giving it a new look. Even if you don’t consider yourself artistic enough to experiment a lot, this is a simple idea that will work well, regardless of your drawing skills.

To make it easier, I chose a shirt that already came with a printed pattern. I decided to paint some random bits to break its repetitive print and give it a more interesting style. If you’d like to try this out, read the tips I mention in the section below. I would love to see your ideas and projects as well.

 

You will see that using textile markers is indeed quite easy. However, there are a few things to bear in mind. First of all, you have to test how the fabric is going to react to it when it comes to absorbing the colour and/or spreading it around: see the exact final colour and its intensity on the particular fabric you’ve chosen. I decided to remove one pocket from the shirt and take this piece of fabric for the testing. The marker I used had a very watery ink that would easily spread further outside of the desired areas. In order to overcome this problem, underneath the fabric I put a piece of kitchen paper that would absorb the excess of ink.

Also, keep in mind that you will need to iron the item after painting it in order to fix the colour. So, make sure that you choose an item made out of a fabric that will withstand these high temperatures. If you have experience and/or any tips on using textile markers, please leave your comments.

 

necklace > handmade by Mili

All photos by Mili

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