From Waste to a Work of Art: Ideas for Upcycling Textiles

Have you ever wondered what to do with a lovely piece of clothing or home furnishing fabric after it reaches the end of its useful life? There really is no need to throw it away, it can be recycled into something beautiful, not only giving you a piece of art for your home but also an enjoyable activity in the process of creating it. Can’t part with old clothes, or simply can’t find the right material for your creation? Why not try your local Oxfam?

Look out for striking colours, patterns and texture in materials or clothing to add interest to your creation. Not only does it spare you the expense of buying new materials but you are also supporting those in need. Here are a few artists that use textiles in their art work to inspire you!

David Agenjo specialises in layering texture and colour with a focus on the human body. This school lesson plan  on Collaboroo  explores art with materials and textures inspired by David and shows how a self-portrait can be created using upcycled fabrics and paint.

Louise Baldwin is a textile artist known for her combination of found imagery, colour and domestic packaging used alongside fabric to create rich wall hangings. She doesn’t plan her design in advance, instead adding layers and manipulating and sewing them until they look right. You can see Louise’s work on The Sixty Two Group of
textile artists
.

 

Mandy Patullo uses collage techniques in textile art. She is particularly interested in patching and piecing together fabrics or using paper ephemera and layering in her printmaking. She follows her own ‘thread and thrift’ vision by sourcing vintage fabrics and quilts to recycle into her own work.

Bethan Ash creates bold, bright and eye-catching pieces inspired by relatable social and popular culture including consumer goods combined with abstract ideas.

Jo Deeley is a textile artist who works with different textures and methods to create sculptural shapes and designs. She incorporates 3D designs into her work using traditional methods including weaving, knitting, plaiting and knotting, as well as more unconventional techniques like folding and pressing fabric.

Image of artwork

Top tips for upcycling fabric into art

  • Follow your instincts. There are no rules ­­­- you can combine your fabric with any other mediums and fix as you like using glue, staples or stitching.
  • Gather a variety of different textiles before you begin your creation. Old clothes and textiles from your wardrobe or your local Oxfam is a good place to start. Try asking at the till to see if they have any fabrics that would be heading to textile recycling that you could buy for a cheaper rate.
  • Look out for interesting trims, threads, buttons and fastenings to add interest to textile collages. Check the Homewares section of your local Oxfam or Oxfam Online Shop too for extra sewing supplies and crafting materials.
  • Consider different ways of manipulating textiles to create your art work. Gathering, shredding and fraying, knotting, plaiting, folding and layering will help you to create a 3D piece of art.
  • Use a sketch book to draft out your ideas before you begin but you don’t have to replicate your initial images – a piece of art can develop as you work on it.

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Coming Soon: The Oxfam Fashion Hack with Love Your Clothes

Watch this space for further information about our free Super Crafter events as part of Oxfam’s Fashion Hack with Love Your Clothes. Follow @OxfamFashion to stay up to date with the latest information.

JOIN THE OXFAM FASHION HACK

Breathe new life into denim. Turn an old jumper into a snuggly poncho. Transform a simple tee into a statement top. Anything’s possible with some upcycling know-how. And we’ve got all the know-how and pre-loved clothing you need.

The Oxfam Fashion Hack with love your clothes

In partnership with our friends at Love Your Clothes, we’ve launched the first ever Oxfam Fashion Hack and we want you to be part of it. Because when you upcycle with Oxfam, you won’t just transform your wardrobe, you’ll help beat poverty too. You’ll also reduce waste, stopping yet more jeans, jackets and tees going to landfill.

Dates and activities will be released soon.

Follow @OxfamFashion or search for #OxfamFashionHack for the most up to date information about the Fashion Hack

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How to Upcycle Using Embroidery – A Denim Jacket Transformation

Some of you may already know that I am an embroidery nerd. I taught myself needlepoint and cross-stitch way back during my Fine Art degree and have been stitching pretty much every day since. Stitching by hand can be incredibly time consuming, and working full-time means there’s little time left in the day to complete lots of projects.

Thankfully, I’ve found a way around this and a way of combining two of my favourite things – charity shopping and needlepoint. For the past couple of years I have been scouring the charity shops for abandoned embroidery projects, with the hope of finishing them off or unpicking areas of stitches and reworking them into something else entirely. The perk of this is that most of the stitching has already been done for me, and all that’s left is for me to put my own spin on it.

One of my first reworking attempts was a completed needlepoint piece of a large ship at sea, to which I added some ginormous sea monster tentacles attacking the ship. The next was a small landscape piece that someone had completed but not bothered to frame, which I decided to add the Instagram ‘Like’ icon to the bottom corner and finish into a small cushion complete with a pom-pom trim.

While trawling the charity shops in Halifax (spoiler alert: they’re great and I always find something) I came across a small, completed, swan needlepoint in a frame for just £1.00! Of course I bought it. Initially, I didn’t have plans for this piece, but on a whim, I removed it from its frame and pinned it to the back panel of my denim jacket. I decided to keep things deliberately ‘rough’ and really simple; I pinned the piece to my jacket, and simply hand-stitched it in place, leaving the edges frayed and loose.

 

 

My next project? Well, I have an embarrassingly large collection of completed needlepoint pieces I’ve found in charity shops now, so I really need to start to work my way through them all, but I have my eye on reworking this tiger I found in my local Oxfam in Oldham…

 

 

As much as I’d love to hog all of the embroidery pieces in the world for myself, should you come across some, there are many things you could do with it. If you’re feeling handy with a needle and thread, you could follow suit, and rework areas of it. Confident using a sewing machine? Make it into a bag or cushion. Or, you could simply display it just as it is and appreciate the time someone put into making it for you.

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DIY: How to make a Tie Lampshade

I’m sure everybody’s Dad / Granddads’ have a ton of ties, some never used?

This Lampshade is very easy to create, and is perfect for a handmade gift or even for yourself!

 

What you need:

 

– An old lampshade

– A few ties  (Oxfam Online Shop)

– Glue

– Scissors

 


 

1. Firstly, I started measuring the ties to the lampshade and cutting off the excess

 

2. Then, one by one I started to glue the ties to my lampshade, making sure the ‘V’ is just hanging over the edge of your shade. (I used strong Fabric Glue and tiny bits of Super Glue)

 

3. After this, Leave your  glue to dry (around 1hr)

4. Finally, depending on how you want your shade to look, you can add some other fabric like lace around the top to neaten up where the ties have been cut!

 

And there you have it, your handmade Tie Lampshade!

 

 

With the leftover bits of ties that had been chopped off I decided to put them to good use experiment and make another lampshade.

 

What You Need:

– Left Over Tie Cut Offs

– Glue

– A lampshade

 

1. I got all the ties together and measured them around the lampshade to make sure they fit snug. If they are a little big I cut them to size(remembering the lampshade is not all the same size and usually gets bigger towards the bottom..make sure you do measure before you start to glue)

 

2. I Then started to wrap the ties around the lampshade making sure the V is glued on top of the raw edge

 

3. Carry on repeating this process all way down to the bottom of the lampshade using the same glue as before.  And before you know it you have 2 Up-Cycled Unusual Handmade Lampshades!!

 

Share all your creations with us @OxfamFashion #foundinoxfam

Post written by Leah Topham, volunteer at Oxfam Batley where she helps upcycle the clothes. She’s written this series called ‘Rags to Riches’ where she lets us in on her DIY secrets. You can also check out her last one ‘How to make some Lace Bottom Tailored Trousers’Shop With Oxfam Online

How to make a terrifying cushion for Halloween

By Cassie of cassiefairy.com

Bring a touch of Halloween fun into every room of the house this October by adding some custom-made soft furnishings. This project will help you to turn a t-shirt with a spooky design into a throw pillow to make your sofa look spooky or your bedroom more bonkers.

Pick up a tee at a charity shop or, if your little ones have outgrown last year’s Halloween costume, you could recycle the fabric. This ghoulish cushion will bring a touch of scariness to your autumn décor or can be used to create a gothic look in your home all year round.

You will need: A t-shirt with spooky design, scissors, matching thread, needle or sewing machine, pins, cushion pad.



  1. Iron the t-shirt flat and lay your cushion pad on top of the design.

 

  1. Use the edges of the cushion pad as a guide to cut up one side of the t-shirt.

 

  1. Fold the t-shirt in half down the centre and then cut along the other side in line with the first cut.

 

  1. Unfold and use the cushion pad to determine the top line of the fabric and trim across

 

  1. Fold in half width-wise and trim across the bottom – this piece will be the front of your cushion

How to make a cushion case

  1. Create an ‘envelope’ opening for the back of the cushion by using fabric from the back of the t-shirt.

 

  1. Use the hemmed bottom edge as the top envelope flap and cut a piece that’s half he width of the front piece.
  1. Use the rest of the fabric to cut a piece that’s 2/3rds of the front piece.

 

  1. Layer the fabric pieces with the design facing up, then the smaller hemmed piece (with hem across the centre of the design), with the 2/3rds piece on top.

 

  1. Pin around all the edges then straight-stitch around the edges with matching thread. You could use a sewing machine or hand-stitch the three layers together.

 

  1. Turn the cushion cover right-side out and stuff with the cushion pad.

 


You can make a few cushions in a variety of colours and designs to create a soft-yet-scary corner on your sofa, or throw one onto your guest bed to scare visitors when they come to stay over Halloween!

Have a go and share your creations with us @OxfamFashion #foundinoxfam

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How to DIY your own Lace Bottom Tailored Trousers

As all you fashion lovers will have probably seen in almost every high street shop, Lace trousers are totally on trend this season! Why not Revamp some boring old trousers into an on trend pair of beauties?

What you need

– Some Old Trousers

– A Lace

– A Sewing Machine

– Needle & Thread

If you don’t own any old trousers, come and visit us in any of our local Oxfam Shops or in our Online shop.

Follow these steps

1.  First of all, I started by shortening my trousers by 7″. When shortening I took into account that the hem was 1inch so overall they would be 8 inch shorter. If your not sure how much to take off, put them on and ask someone to give you a hand measuring so you can see how long you want them.

 

2. Secondly, I turned the raw edge over by 1.5cm and did a full machine stitch all the way around to hold in place. The reason I didn’t use an over locker is because I know many people don’t own one so I have done the way everyone would be able to do if they owned a sewing machine, but with an over locker would be much quicker and easier.

 

3. Then turn up again another 1.5 cm and sew. This will lock in the raw edge and make a nice neat new French seam.

 

 

4. Now to the best bit using whichever lace you desire.

I used heavy weight hole lace which is easy to cut into shapes to appliqué on. I cut the same parts of the lace for both the front and back of the trousers so they match. Pin in place making sure both legs are matching!

 

5. Finally,  using a needle and thread I did little tack stitches on parts of the lace where it wouldn’t be seen to hold it to the trousers!



 

And…Da Da! You have your own on trend lace hem trousers!


Don’t forget to share all your creations with us @OxfamFashion #foundinoxfam

Post written by Leah Topham, volunteer at Oxfam Batley where she helps upcycle the clothes. She’s written this series called Rags to Riches where she lets us in on
her DIY secrets, keep your eye out for her next post! You can also check out her last one ‘How to make a Victorian D&G dress’

 

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5 Top Tips for Charity Shopping from Preloved Style Expert Paloma in Disguise

I have done a few charity shop outfit round-up’s over on my blog, Paloma In Disguise, throughout the years but I have never done an Oxfam round-up over here, on the Oxfam Fashion Blog. I thought it was about time since many, many of my photographed blog outfits over the years have consisted of a lotta, lotta Oxfam. 

Combined with a few tips to ensure you get the most out of second-hand shopping I thought I would go through a few of my favourite Oxfam purchases.

 

Tip 1: Visit Often

My number one tip to ensure you get the most out of charity shopping is to visit often. Whether it’s a fleeting visit as you have a few minutes to spare, a scroll on Oxfam Online Shop or you have decided to spend the afternoon browsing the charity shops. Due to the nature of charity shops, you never know when someone your size, with your style and a beautiful wardrobe has dropped of a whole load of loveliness. The more you visit, the more likely you are to find things, from the quirky vintage dress you didn’t know you needed (which was
the case with my paisley pink, full length shirt) or the jumper in the style and colour you had been after for bloomin’ ages. By going fairly often (read: a lot!) I have found a heavily embellished top for New Years Eve, a black midi dress convenient for every single day of my life and a glitterball of a jumper that dresses up even the most casual of outfits! The term ‘right place, right time’ was invented for charity shopping – I’m sure!


Boots, belts and bags
Tip 2: Don’t forget the Accessorise

I should listen to my own advice here. I’m first to the rail of dresses in all charity shops. It’s like I’m on a mission – and that mission is to rummage through every single dress. Then before I know it, it’s time to leave and I walk straight out past the basket FULL of bargain belts. I have found some amazing belts, necklaces and bags over the years that really are a fraction of their original high-street/designer price. Charity shop bargains at their absolute best.


Tip 3: With a little DIY…

Sometimes charity shopping can be daunting in that it’s unlikely you are going to find exactly what you’re after. However, that doesn’t stop you buying something similar and adapting it a little. After a specific slogan T-Shirt? Chances are your local charity shop will sell plain t-shirt’s that, with a few iron on letters from the ol’ internet, can lead to exactly the slogan t-shirt you were after. I shared my own how-to with Oxfam Fashion and created my own lil’ slogan top here. Hems
can be taken up and waistbands can be taken in. One of my most worn Oxfam dresses was my denim button front dress which was originally so long in the length that I would have had a denim train had I left it long. After cutting the hem of to suit short ol’ me better, it is still is the dress I go to for a little effortless, comfortable dressing.

 


Tip 4: Be open minded

Another thing I am a repeat offender of. Someone will tell me that they picked something up from Oxfam. Next time I’m in there I will be not-so-unconsciously scouting out for that particular item and chances are, I won’t leave with it because it won’t be there!  By looking for specific items, you can miss the things that, with a little thought, can be slotted into your wardrobe perfectly. On the hanger, the check blue shorts weren’t something I thought would work well with the tops and shoes already in my wardrobe. I went ahead and bought these anyway and they
became my absolute favourite outfit when paired with a white shirt and sandals. This was also the case with the check green and red skirt in the autumn before. Worn with thick black tights and either a leather or faux fur jacket, this became my favourite autumnal outfit of 2015. By trying on a few pieces you wouldn’t normally choose, and thinking up a few outfits to incorporate the item into, you can find new favourites you could have missed.

 

Tip 5: Go with a friend

This tip goes with Tip 4. I find that by going with a friend I am more open to trying things I wouldn’t have tried had I been mooching around by myself. By discussing items I am unsure of, my friends can often provide outfit combinations I wouldn’t have thought of or prompt me to try on clothes I may have dismissed. It’s usually these things I end up loving that little bit more.

And that’s it! Five charity shopping tricks I always use to ensure I don’t miss any second-hand bargains. I wish you good luck as you scour the shops for those hidden gems!

 

Enjoyed Hannah’s tips? Put them into practise, head to your local Oxfam or Oxfam Online Shop now. 

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How to make your own Upcycled Vintage D&G Style Dress

Everybody loves a little black dress! But I’m sure you girls out there have one hanging in your wardrobe that could do with a whole new revamp! In just 3 quick steps!

 

I have started with a plain black tight strapless dress and some old vintage buttons. If you do not own a dress to work with you can pick one up at your local Oxfam or Oxfam Online Shop.  And
I’m sure a relative will have a box of old buttons you can use! If not, these are easily found in many charity or antique shops!

 

 

1. Firstly, I gave my dress a quick press to make sure there wasn’t any creases before I pointed out the central line

 

2. Secondly, I started by marking a straight line down the middle of the dress where my buttons will be sewn with tailors chalk. Which will rub straight off with a wet wipe

 

3. Finally, I finished by sewing all my buttons down my line, to reveal a classic plain black dress turned into a Victorian D&G style dress!

 

 

Easy, right? Give it a go and you will see how everyone will be impressed about your Victorian D&G style dress!

Post written by Leah Topham, volunteer at Oxfam Batley where she helps upcycle the clothes. She’s written this series called Rags to Riches where she lets us in on her DIY secrets, keep your eye out for her next post! You can also check out her last one How
to make your own Upcycled Vintage 20′ Cloche Cap

 

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How to make your own Upcycled Vintage 20′ Cloche Cap

Post written by Leah Topham, volunteer at Oxfam Batley where she helps upcycle the clothes. She’s written this series called Rags to Riches where she lets us in on her DIY secrets, keep your eye out for her next post!

Everybody has old hats that have been through all weathers and are now on the verge of getting binned! Why not up cycle your old hat, or find a plain one in your local Oxfam or from the Oxfam Online Shop, and transform it into one fit for any special occasion!

 

 

I have started with a plain black felt cloche cap, 5cm wide black lace, 2cm wide black ribbon, and some left over spotty fabric.

 

1.) Firstly I started with my spotty fabric I cut it down so it was approx 11cm wide, I then folded from the bottom to create a little more volume.

 

2.) Then Pleat the fabric as you pin it to your hat …You can choose how you want your hat trim to look. I have worked more towards a flower shape so I have pleated my fabric and pinned in half a circle.

 

3.) Then using a needle and thread, gather the edge of the lace to make it into a circular shape. I gathered two strips of lace, you can do as many as you want and any length depending on the look you’re going for.

 

4.) After Gathering the lace, lay it on top of the fabric already pinned to your hat, keeping in mind the design and shape you’re going for.

 

5.) Then using Ribbon twist it into the shape you desire and tack a few stitched to hold the shape together.

6.) Next, Pin your ribbon into the middle of your lace, and start to stitch down all the fabrics to your hat, remembering to remove all pins afterwards.

 

 

 

And there it is! As easy as that. If you try to do it at home please, remember to share the pictures with us: @OxfamFashion #foundinoxfam

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How to Make a DIY Rug From Old T-Shirts

Blog By Upcycling Volunteer Sophie Burton

As a volunteer at Oxfam Online Batley Hub I was challenged to upcycle something from the rejected products that gets donated to us. As this is such a great way to recycle t-shirt fabric and make something new I decided to share it with you all.

My Idea: To make a rug. But not a regular rug, more of a quirky style rug that is different and unique. So my idea was to get lots of different jerseys and cotton blended fabric, cut them up into 1-2 inch strands and plait to make a continuous yarn. Once done I wound it together on top of an anti slip material to form the shape of a mat. My idea was to make something that would have been rejected or thrown away into a ready to use item. I have written down the steps below if you want to make a one-of-a-kind rug of your own!

My Rug

What You Need:

  •           Old T-shirts (To create a door-mat sized rug like mine I suggest 6-10 T-shirts, for a smaller table mat you should only need 3 T-shirts)
  •           Non-slip floor matting in a large enough size to create the base of your mat.
  •           Needle and thread
  •           Hot Glue Gun

Step 1: Find a variety of jersey fabric materials that include T-shirts, both long sleeve and short sleeve. Look for bright colours and stripes but avoid complex patterns and these do not work as well. Find a mid-stretch fabric, not too stretchy but not tight that it has no give. Try asking your local Oxfam if you could buy some of the damaged clothing that gets donated to them.

Step 2: Cut the shirts!!! To get the most out of one T-shirt I suggest that you cut across the t-shirt but leave a 1 inch space and don’t cut through. Do this to the whole shirt and carry on cutting to the end once below the sleeves. When you’ve done this, open the shirt up to the part that is all still attached and cut across diagonally. I found this tutorial by My Poppet really helpful in creating my yarn.

Make Your Own T-Shirt Yarn

Step 3: Once you have a length of yarn, start to roll it up into balls. This makes the next step easier as you can see what you’re working with and it makes sure that everything isn’t getting knotted. It is also good to make up some cool colour ways.

Step 4: Once you have all your yarn balls you can then start to plait them together using a normal three strand plait. Sew the 3 pieces of yarn together across the top keeping it as flat as possible – this makes the next few steps less fiddly and gives you more yarn to work with.

Make Your Own Upcycled Fabric Rug

Step 5:  You can now start to lay out your yarn to get a feel for what style and shape you want! I chose an oval style square shape that would make a door mat. I started off by laying my plaited yarn onto non slip material which can be sourced cheap off line or at a general shop.

Wound Rug

Step 6: Gluing. For this I used a hot glue, I cut out a rectangle of the non slip and started in the middle in a circular pattern. Once my circle reached the edges then I laid to pieces of straight yarn above and below the circle, I then went round the circle and created semi circles shapes to fit into the lines above.

There you have it – all finished! You can now enjoy your new mat. Hope you liked this tutorial and please share if you make it! Tweet @OxfamFashion #foundinoxfam

DIY T-shirt Rug

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