I'm a bit of a sucker for crafts that cost nothing (or nearly nothing), so I'm learning to look at my old stuff with new eyes. I'm also trying to be more considered about all the household waste we produce, so each time I'm about to throw something away, or send it for recycling, I look at at it again and ask "What else could I do with this?".
I needed some new bath mats for the kids' bathroom recently - I like the kind that are basically thick, super-absorbent towels. (They're machine-washable, don't "shed" fluff or rubber that clogs up my drains, and seem to last forever.) I was a bit frustrated because I was struggling to find some in the right colour, until I hit on the idea of making my own!
I started with an old bath sheet that was starting to fray around the edges, and ended up with a luxurious, double thickness mat that doesn't slip. AND I didn't need to spend any money to get it! What a bargain!
Bonus Hint: I've also used this technique to make surprisingly warm and attractive fleece blankets for my kids. Instead of towels, I used a piece of inexpensive 150cm x 150cm cotton or polycotton fabric and lined it with fleece.
You will need:
- One large towel or bath sheet - If you are using smaller towels or hand towels (or if you want a particularly large mat), you'll need two.
- Matching thread
- Tailor's chalk (or something to mark your seams with, that will wash out)
- Sharp scissors
- A long ruler - I have a 1 metre draftsman's ruler that I like using for sewing projects, but anything that will help you draw a long straight line will do
- Sewing machine
Wash and thoroughly dry the towel(s), then neatly trim away its frayed edges. Also trim off any borders (usually at the top and bottom ends of a towel), so that you have an even, rectangular, piece of toweling. If you are using two towels, you will need to make sure both pieces are cut to the same size.
Bonus Hint: If you're left with off-cuts that are larger than about 10cm -12cm square, keep them. You can use the technique explained here to make useful dish washing pads.
If you're using one large piece, fold it in half cross-wise (i.e. short edge to short edge), match the sides neatly, and pin the pieces together. If you're using two towels, line the two pieces up and pin them together. You might need to tug the edges a little to get them to line up because the towel has lost it shape a bit in the wash.
If the towels you're using are beach towels or kids' towels with woven in designs or pictures on on one side, pin them with the right sides together (i.e. the design must be on the inside after you've pinned them together), as you will turn the towels right-side-out after sewing them together, and you will want the design to be on the visible side of the mat.
Remember to use plenty of pins and place them quite close together, so the pieces don't slip as you sew. Also, place them at right-angles to the edge of the toweling, so that you don't run the risk of bending or breaking your sewing machine needle.
Step 3:Now, use your ruler and tailor's chalk to mark a seam line all the way around the edge of one side of your bath-mat-to-be. Mark it at about a 1,5cm to the inside of the edge.
Stitch the pieces together along your seam line, securing the beginning and end of the seam with double-stitching (i.e. go over the first and last few stitches a couple of times) so they are strong and don't come undone).
Important: Leave a gap wide enough to put your fist through at the end of your seam (about 15cm), so you will be able to put your hand inside and turn the mat right-side-out after you've sewn the pieces together.
Step 4:Remove all the pins, and turn the mat-to-be right-side-out. Use a pointed, but blunt object like the back of a pen or knitting needle, to push the corners out so that they are nice and square. Lay the mat flat and smooth it out so its even with no major folds or bubbles.
Next, carefully tuck in the raw edges of the gap you left in your seam, and pin them into place.
Using your tailor's chalk and ruler again, mark two seam lines - one 0,75 cm from the edge, and another line about 5cm-8cm inside of the outer seam line. If your mat is especially large, Consider doing a third round of top-stitiching 5cm-8cm inside the the second round.
Important: Make sure that the outer seam line "catches" the unsewn edges of the gap you left earlier to turn the mat right-side out (otherwise your mat will have a 15cm hole along one edge!)
Finally, remove all the pins and wash out the seam markings. Voila! You now have a fabulous upcycled bath mat!
What are your favourite upcycling projects?