Thursday, November 12, 2009

Free Gifts

This holiday season seems grim, there is no doubt about it. At my flea market, we trotted out the holiday schwag, and we were taken aback at the reaction of so many people: Oh no! Not Christmas, I can't even think about Christmas, they said. In my view, having money has never been what Christmas is about. It is about doing something thoughtful for those you love, and going the extra mile to make it something they will enjoy. I am here to declare that this does not have to cost one red cent. This month at the flea market, we have been upcycling old clothes. For the uninitiated, "upcycling" is not just a smugger version of recycling, it means using stuff that is really only good for the trash, and making it worth more than it was even when it was new. In the fall, lots of people seem to go through their closets and get rid of the shabby ill fitting clothes that once they loved but no longer wear. We have been collecting these bags of clothes bound for the landfill, and making them into fabulous cloche hats and vintage looking handbags:

I made the handbag and the cute hat out of old pajamas that had seen better days. The clothes were stained and faded in places, but most of the fabric was still pretty. I cut the shirts into strips, starting at the bottom hem, and working in a spiral, all the way to the top. You don't have to be neat or even accurate when cutting, all of the jagged edges go away later. Then I knitted the strips of fabric into a tube. Now here is the confession: I have no clue how to knit- I had my husband's cute Grandma try to teach me once, and she pronounced me hopeless. The trick is to purchase one of these kits:

These are knitting looms. The instructions are easy to follow, a child can do it. You simply loop yarn or in our case fabric strips, around the pegs, and use the tool to pop the loops over the top of each other. It is easy as breathing. There are lots of youtube vids on how to do this, so I won't clutter up this post with tutorials. And these take next to no time to make. I have found these sets at Wal-mart for under $10 dollars, but you could even make one yourself out of a bit of plywood and some old nails if you wanted to be super frugal.  After you have made the initial purchase of the looms, all the things you make out of it can be practically free. The bag and cloche hat I picture above were made from reclaimed jammies, some thread I had laying around from other projects, and some vintage brooches. The cameo on the bag was one that I bought a long time ago, but it ended up being too big and clunky to wear on it's own- but on the bag it is perfect. Look around you- do you have old clothes? Broken jewelry bits? you may be well on your way to fabulous upcycled gifts for all your dear ones that cost you almost nothing.

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