Monday, January 5, 2015

Holiday Recycling

Holiday Recycling for winter fun!

Sheree McKee
January 2015

With the holidays past us, sometimes we need a winter project to fill the time until spring.  Christmas probably offers the biggest selection of cool textural "stuff" to revamp.  

Just what do you plan to recycle?  There is an unlimited possibility when your imagination is revved up!   This could be your chance to turn some trash into treasure…. or NOT!
Woven background uses coffee bags

Have you found yourself saving any of the items listed below?

Holiday advertising mail or catalogs
Baubles, Beads, Buttons
Broken ornaments or jewelry
Candle waxes
Candy wrappers
Christmas Cards
Foils: Coffee or Cookie bags
Holiday napkins
Holiday Stickers
Postal Stamps
Ribbon or cording
Silk flowers
Tapes: Duct, Washi etc.,
Tinsel or Trim
Tissue or Wrapping paper
Wine corks
Stuff to recycle
Colorful coffee bags
Since fiber postcards are the subject of this blog, most items will need to be flattened or cut into smaller sizes.  Keep in mind, the more dimensional your postcard surface is... the more postage and special handling it will require.

You will also want to incorporate some amount of fabric or textile to keep with the theme of “fiber postcards”.  

This year, I decided to re-purpose colorful coffee bags, they are much too pretty to toss out!  My thoughts were geared towards weaving the metallic strips of bag together with fabric and leftover ribbon or cords to form a base fabric.

I’m not too happy with the end results.... and I'll share why.  But at least I gave it a try.  The coffee bags appeared to be foil-like.  In my first attempt, I cut random width strips and left the top edge intact.  On a tabletop, I taped down the upper edge then flat-wove other items through the metallic strips.  The results were a simple 13"x13" fiber weaving.  

In my first version, I cut sides open to lay flat
I used scallop rotary cutter and left top edge intact
But those bags had a mind of their own!  They had curves and folds from being shaped like a coffee bag.  My brain said "Let's iron my new woven fabric flat."  I used a non-stick pressing sheet for protection.  Unfortunately, I discovered the coffee bags were made of 
a heat-sensitive thermoplastic, not a foil at all.  The strips twisted and torqued every which-way and all the woven ribbons, fabric, etc., popped out.  I was forced to reweave, then chose to lightly fuse an iron-on interfacing to the back to hold everything together.
Interfacing on back

Woven but distorted

The second attempt was more successful.   This time I used a straight rotary blade and cut complete strips from the coffee bag.  Then I used duct tape to secure the top edge and used clear packing tape on the backs after weaving a few rows. 

My second coffee bag
Eventually, it was time to stitch through the layers and hold everything together.  My first version was easy to stitch because it had an interfacing backing.  My second attempt was more challenging due to clear packing tape adhering the back together.  This tape gummed up my needle a few times, and resulted in a some skipped stitches.

Decorative stitching to hold the weave together

Finally it was time to cut apart my mini masterpieces (joke).  Below, you can see a window template (made from cardstock) that I use to audition the best cutting location for postcards.   After careful planning, I was able to get two postcards from each woven coffee bag.

I must admit, this was a lot of work to produce a background fabric.  Many times my ideas don't quite work the way I plan!  

The start of four postcards
In the first photos, you can see I chose to sew a fabric yo-yo and holly leaf on my project.  But another idea I plan to play around with will use sparkly motifs cut from Christmas cards. I'll keep you updated with additions to this article.  Have fun with your recycling and designing!

Sparkly embellishment designs from fronts of holiday cards
Here is the backside with fabric backing and iron-on binding