How to Recycle Craft Materials

Crafting is less expensive when you recycle materials and also is a good way to keep usable items from ending up our landfills. For example, old clothing from your closets can be taken apart and transformed into craft projects. An estimated 12.7 million tons of textiles generated annually makes up 5.2 percent of total municipal solid waste generation, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (See References 1) Don't forget about old books that have been replaced by newer versions, or have become damaged. The text and graphics can add an interesting finish to home accessories.

Felting Wool Sweaters

Wash wool sweaters on a hot cycle with heavy agitation in your washing machine. Wash like-colors together to prevent light and dark fibers from bleeding into each other. Dry the sweaters in your dryer to finish the felting process. (See References 3.) The wool fibers of the yarn are now a sturdy, thick felt.

Turn the sweaters wrong side out. Cut away the shoulder, sleeve and side seams from the sweaters.

Cut shapes to use for appliqués. Or, sew bags, holiday decorations or stuffed animals from the recycled sweaters. Felted wool does not fray and the seams can be left exposed.

T-Shirt Yarn

Cut off the hem of a T-shirt. Cut up 1 inch at an angle, starting on the lower edge of the shirt.

Turn the shirt. Cut horizontally around the shirt's body in a continuous spiral, creating a long, 1-inch wide strip. Cut the entire shirt body up to the seam of the sleeves. Cut the strip away from the remainder of the T-shirt.

Stretch the cut strip slightly to cause the edges of the strip to curl into a yarn shape. Wrap the strip into a ball. Use the yarn for knitting and crocheting, or as drawstring cords for various craft projects.

Decoupaging With Book Pages

Tear the pages out of an old book or use a craft knife to cut out the pages next to the book's spine. Depending on the size of the object you are decoupaging, you may want to cut or tear the pages even smaller.

Sand the surface you are decoupaging with fine sandpaper. This will give any hard surface a tooth for the decoupage medium and book pages to adhere to. Wipe off the sanding dust with a dry rag.

Apply a thin layer of decoupage medium on the surface you are covering. Use a sponge brush and cover an area slightly larger than a book page. Place a page over the medium and brush over it with more medium to smooth and seal the paper.

Add more pages in the same way. Overlap their edges, completely covering the surface. Allow the medium to dry.

Mix brown acrylic paint with water until the paint is an inky consistency. Paint the mixture over the decoupaged surface using a sponge brush. Allow the paint to set for a few minutes. Wipe off the paint with a paper towel. This stain will give the book pages an aged appearance.

Items you will need

  • Wool sweaters
  • Clothes washer and dryer
  • Scissors
  • T-shirts
  • Ruler
  • Old book
  • Craft knife
  • Fine sandpaper
  • Rag
  • Hard surface to decoupage, such as a wooden box
  • Sponge brush
  • Decoupage medium
  • Brown acrylic paint
  • Paper towel

About the Author

Based in the Midwest, Cyndee Kromminga has been writing craft and interior design articles for 15 years. Her articles and craft designs have appeared in Crafting Traditions Magazine, Easy Holiday Crafting Series-House of White Birches Newsletter and Country Woman Christmas Books. Kromminga's education is in interior design and she has experience operating a craft and design business for more than 20 years.