It’s early January as I write this, which means our west coast area is receiving its first winter rains. The grass is beginning its rapid change from bone-dry-brown to vibrant, verdant green, and the frogs are revving up their winter chorus, collecting in vernal pools and seasonal ponds to mate.
Soon, on the clear days, I will begin winter pruning of all the fruit trees, berries, and dormant plants. But during the wet dark days, I like to do some creative indoor projects.
One such project is finding a discarded piece of furniture and upcycle it. I prefer truly dejected pieces, maybe a bit broken, with a free sign, left at the side of the road. Or I unearth something neglected and dusty in the attic or shed.
Here are two dressers I picked up. They both needed a bit of repairing and sanding first. Then I usually coat the whole piece with primer and a basic color like white (wall paint). Artist paints are for the designs and colors, because I have those on hand and I like a quality paint. If there are imperfections, I usually just keep those and even highlight them, like in some of the missing veneer here. My style is admittedly whimsical and full-on color. It cheers me.
If the knobs are cute, I keep them. If not, I replace them with something picked up from a salvage place. I have a thing for hardware, and have some pieces stashed away for just such a project.
I don’t usually have much of a plan in terms of painting design. I just doodle and have fun, usually listening to books on tape. It’s very relaxing. One of the painted dressers I have is used for storing things like small garden tools. Doesn’t have to be for clothes, right?!
How about making a new cushion cover for your garden bench or chairs, to get ready for spring? These abandoned garden chairs were a dull pine-green color before with tired, drab cushions.
Upcycled Sewing Projects
Which brings up sewing projects. A fast and useful one is upcycling fabric scraps or old clothes into garden produce bags. I usually keep mine super simple and fast to make, with a serger hem only. For other uses, like storing shoes in luggage, I will add a drawstring.
I used up many of my existing fabric scraps in 2020 for sewing face masks, and bought more fabric for masks and a quilt. Here are some of the simple bags I made from fabric scraps. I use them for shopping for produce or harvesting fruits and veggies from the garden–in place of plastic bags. Then I just throw them in the wash when dirty. They make nice simple gifts too, especially if they are stuffed with some of the fruits, veg or flowers from your garden!
A friend of mine does some truly great upcycled bags, totes and backpacks that he named Rag Bags. Check them out! Here is one of my treasured favorites:
There is much more to share, but for now, I hope this helps spark your own creative juices. Would love to see what you are working on—share in the comments!