Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Scraps Project: Slipper Boots

It's almost the end of summer, and sometimes the nights and mornings still carry a bit of a chill. This was one of those mornings; temperatures dipped overnight and since we leave the windows open 24/7 this time of year, the apartment was a bit nippy when I got out of bed. Brisk as it was, I was loathe to close the windows and deprive myself of the fresh air. We're on weather lockdown 8 months of the year; we have to take advantage when we can!

My toes are always the first things to get cold. Enter one of my favourite things about fall and winter in this region: slipper boots. Unfortunately, my own were a few years old and they were looking pretty sad. After a few seasons of good use and many a trip through the washing machine, the soles were cracking and on the right foot, actually breaking off in chunks. The pom-poms had fallen off one slipper, and on the other had long since unravelled and shed their stuffing.

I've been meaning to replace them for a long time now, but once spring hits, slipper boots become difficult to find. I've toyed with the idea of making some, but it just never seemed that urgent. Well, today was the day. With freezing toes and the initiative required to pull out my sewing machine, I sat down to work. 

I had a surprisingly difficult time finding a pattern on the internet. Most free slipper patterns and tutorials seem to be for knitting or crocheting, and of those that were for sewing, hardly any were for boots. Taking a cue from this tutorial I decided to make my own. Of course, since I was making boots instead of snug ballet flat style slippers, things got a little wonky. I simplified. 

First, I traced the bottom of my slipper onto a piece of plain white paper, adding roughly half an inch for seam allowance. Then I grabbed one of my dingy old slippers and a pair of shears. I could see from the seams that the top of the boot was only two pieces, so I cut the top away from the sole and snipped along the joining seams, to end up with this:
The one that's shaped like weird pants? We'll call that pattern piece "Top 1" and the other shall be known as "Top 2".

 I traced these onto paper as well, again adding room for a seam allowance and voila! I had a pattern. Now, I could have started with a nice, fresh bolt of fabric, but where would the fun be in that? Slippers are small and don't take much material, so they are perfect project for using up leftover scraps, or even old clothing. Wooly sweaters make awesome slippers. In my case, I had a failed sewing project, made of the funkiest flannelette in the world. I'd been waiting for some inspiration and a project small enough to use what little I had.
I adore this weird, busy print but it was too much to take in cardigan form.

 My slippers would also need a lining; luckily I was also sitting on some artificial sheepskin that I'd purchased for a coat before changing my mind. I was happy to have a chance to use some of it up. What really urged me to action though, was this recent find at the Reuse Centre:
You really never know what you're going to find in the "Sewing Notions" bin! 
Now, here's a great tutorial if you happen to have two sided fabric, or something thick that doesn't need a liner. If you don't have an old pair of boot shaped slippers, it's also a great reference for pattern design.

Again, using this tutorial (from above) I simply adapted the author's directions for a slightly different shape. I pinned and sewed my boot pieces together using the remaining, uncut slipper as a reference.
Remember me? Top 1 is the heel and ankle piece, and Top 2 is the toe piece. Simply sew (right sides together) the curve of Top 1 to the flat part of Top 2, and then sew the sides of Top 2 together to make the upper half of your boot. 
Even with all of my fiddling and adapting the pattern (not to mention watching TV at the same time), this project only took about an hour and now I have a pair of adorable, cozy new slippers. What do you think?

-Sarah (Volunteer)

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Reflections on my summer at the Reuse Centre

This summer I was given the opportunity to become a part of the City of Edmonton’s Waste Management family. My role would be carried out at the Reuse Centre as a summer student, assisting with the daily operations of the Centre. I would be getting a behind the scenes look at the inner workings of one of Edmonton’s most effective waste management initiatives.

Patrick sorting through donations

As my time at the Reuse Centre went on, I started to realize how my studies at the Kings University College as a environmental studies student and the operations of the Reuse Centre coincided. At school I had learned about the effects of human activity on the environment and our creation of a society that chooses to be wasteful in nature. Consequently this has led to adverse effects on the environment such as resource depletion, environmental degradation and pollution to name a few. At the Reuse Centre I have been able to see the operations of a service that tackles these socially created environmental issues. The concept of reuse has become very important in changing people’s perception of what is reuseable. I have seen how people are willing to rethink how they conceive what can be done with their unused items. This summer I have realized that Edmonton is full of thoughtful people who take their time to come by the Reuse Centre to drop off items that are in good condition. Items they feel someone else would like to use, when the easier option would be to throw it away.

This interesting book that was donated, a bit dated but still reusable
It is this concept of reusing that allows for the success of the Centre, as well as its promotion of
creativity. After all the idea is to change people’s perception of what is reuseable, by demonstrating to them that with creativity most items can be given a renewed purpose. Whether it’s getting creative with a broken lamp shade or using keys to make a wind chime. Really the possibilities are endless. If anything my experiences at the Reuse centre this summer has demonstrated to me that it’s not merely about encouraging people to reuse. It goes beyond that. It is also about spreading a message of rethinking about what we once considered useless.

- Patrick (Summer Student)