Thursday, 26 October 2017

DIY Reuse-Inspired Halloween Costumes

Still need a Halloween costume for the kids? With Halloween just around the corner, we have come up with some creative reuse-inspired Halloween costumes for the kids! Instead of buying new, why not get crafty with some reusable materials this weekend? Here are five great DIY Halloween costume ideas for kids.

1. DIY Rain Cloud

Rain, rain, don't go away. Instead, let your child embrace the weather by being a rain cloud this Halloween. Upcycle an old hat, polyester, felt and yarn to create this seasonal look. Add some rainboots and your child will be a walking "rainy day".

2. DIY Toy Soldier

Does your child love the colour green? Then this costume is just for them. Gather old clothes or head to the thrift store, and then spray paint them green. Create a green cardboard cutout for the base and then they are ready to be added to the toy box.

3. DIY Cabbage Patch Kid

Have a little one in the family? You can make a DIY Cabbage Patch Kid costume that surrounds the stroller. Reuse a cardboard box and upcycle yarn to make a wig for your child. Personalize the box with their name and you have your own Cabbage Patch Kid.

4. DIY Jet Pack

Is your child ready to blast off to the moon? Get them ready for Halloween by crafting a jet pack with old plastic pop bottles. Add some spray paint and pieces of felt to finish this look.

5. DIY Dirty Laundry & Washing Machine

Looking for a family costume? Why not air out your dirty laundry and outfit your children as a dryer, washing machine or dirty laundry. Upcycle old cardboard boxes or baskets to create this costume, and don't forget to add in the dirty laundry! Finally those lonely socks can find a new home

Photo: Inhabitat

Enjoy upcycling reusable items this Halloween for your kids' costumes! Have any other great reuse-inspired costume ideas? Add them in the comments below.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Fused Plastic Bag Tutorial

Despite an unreasonably large stash of reusable fabric shopping bags, I somehow continue to collect plastic disposable bags. We recently blogged about 10 Disposables to Toss From Your Kitchen, so I am taking a renewed look at my waste and making a better effort to reduce my consumption. Meanwhile, I am experimenting with what to do with this collection of plastic bags.

Pinterest is a haven for creative repurposing ideas. Fusing several pieces of plastic together with an iron has been pinned in my account several times over. It was finally time to find out for myself if those crafty pinners are leading me down a path of melted messiness or fashionable eco-consciousness. Therefore, I tried making my own fused plastic bag!

I started by cutting off the seams of several plastic bags and laying each piece flat.
My plastic bags were all different sizes, colours and store brands.
Photo: Ellen Hanna
I opted to hide any logos or writing by keeping the plain side facing out. 
Photo: Ellen Hanna
I matched the various sizes until I had a stack of 8 layers. I placed a towel on the table for protection and a piece of parchment paper on the very top to protect the iron. Then, I pressed firmly until the layers were fused, but not melted away. My iron doesn't have specific temperature settings (or even helpful fabric icons to guide me) but I found the mid-temperature was best. The plastic shrinks considerably, so don't be alarmed!
I needed five pieces to create one bag: two sides, a front, a back and a bottom. 
Photo: Ellen Hanna
I repeated this process several times until I had five pieces of fused plastic sheets. At this point, I decided on measurements for my bag based on the largest size of sheet available.
I decided on the sizing based on measurements after my iron shrunk the fused bags. 
Photo: Ellen Hanna
Using a rotary cutter and a quilting square, I cut the pieces down to their final sizes.

Pieces of the bag, ready to be sewn.
Photo: Ellen Hanna
Then for the fun part! I used a colourful thread to sew the edges together. I don't think this material would lend well to being flipped inside out, so I opted for a visible stitch. I used the widest zig zag stitch, fairly tight. I held the stitch as close to the outer edge as possible.
Visible stitching with red thread. Photo: Ellen Hanna

Next, I pinned two pieces together, right sides facing out and sewed a zig zag stitch straight down. I sewed this on all four edges until the walls of the bag were created. 
The form of the bag beginning to take shape.
Photo: Ellen Hanna
The next step was a bit tricky, so I had to make sure to line things up carefully and use pins! I placed the bottom piece in place, then pinched the edges together in place, while using pins to secure. I picked a spot and started sewing a continuous zig zag stitch around the entire bottom. I was careful to backstitch in the corners to reinforce the bottom of the bag. 
The material is stiff; therefore, lots of pins are needed to keep the bag in place. 
Photo: Ellen Hanna
Stitching around the entire bottom of the bag, backstitching to reinforce in tricky places.
Photo: Ellen Hanna 
The last step was sewing on handles to be able to carry the bag. I decided on using fabric scraps instead of fused plastic for a more comfortable feel. I used a visible stitching for the handle which was similar to the bag. I simply folded a long scrap piece, ironed well and then zig zag stitched down the middle to hold in place. 
Simple fabric handles.
Photo: Ellen Hanna
For a more polished look, another option is to stitch a straight stitch down a folded piece to create a tube, then flip the tube inside out to make a strap without a giant zig zag stitch visible in the middle. However, I worked towards a "shabby chic" look and didn't mind the stitching showing or the rough edges on the inside. 
Fabric handles sewn to the inside of the bag.
Photo: Ellen Hanna
I made this in haste while my brother was visiting with his family. It was meant as a gift and I wanted to give it to them before they flew home. As it turns out, they have been using it as a diaper bag non-stop for the past 4 months. It has been dragged around everywhere, while being emptied and filled endlessly. It is still in great condition; therefore, this bag made with fused plastic bags is a real winner for strength! 
Not too shabby for a first effort!
Photo: Ellen Hanna
Happy crafting!
Update: Here's the bag after a few months of use, still going strong!

Photo: Tom Ewart
Photo: Tom Ewart

Photo: Tom Ewart
Photo: Tom Ewart