Green queen: breathing new life into repurposed materials

I started hoarding collecting vintage linens a few years ago with the hopes of making something fabulous… I just never knew exactly what. As I mentioned in a previous post, I started out quilting by using leftover fabric remnants and repurposed materials (mostly in an effort to de-stash while also cutting down on the cost of materials). Little did I know, I was also on the verge of defining who I was as a quilter.

floral

I’ve always tried my best to reduce, reuse and recycle when it comes to my crafting and sewing projects. As I started getting more serious about quilting, I also started thinking more about the environmental impact of fabric manufacturing and the textile waste involved. I knew there had to be a “greener” method of quilting that could make the process more sustainable, without sacrificing aesthetic and quality. That’s when I began to realize the awesome potential of my prized vintage linen collection.💡I played around with a few scraps and was hooked. This was exactly the vision I didn’t even know I had for these floral beauties.

I made the quilt pictured above from the linens I already had stashed away. I loved the look and idea of giving new life to vintage and thrift-sourced materials so much that I decided, going forward, every one of my quilt tops, backs and bindings would solely be made from repurposed fabrics. –And in case you’re wondering, slicing into a gorgeous vintage sheet for the first time never gets any less terrifying, but the end result is always worth it!

Minimizing the use of harmful chemicals is also something that’s extremely important to me. I’m always searching for more natural products and methods to use, not only in quilt making, but everyday living as well.

While doing some research online, I happened to come across an article on the benefits of using wool dryer balls as a chemical-free alternative to dryer sheets. These are in no way a new concept, but if you’ve never heard of them, don’t worry. One can never be too late to a WDB party!

These little guys are seriously fantastic! Not only do they help laundry dry faster, they also soften fabric, reduce static and are environmentally friendly. I’ve always used natural laundry detergents when washing my laundry, fabric and quilts, so finding a chemical-free way to soften fabrics while cutting down drying time in the process was a pretty sweet deal.

Note: These are especially great for using with towels and cloth diapers as dryer sheets add a waxy residue to fabrics, repelling moisture and making them far less absorbent.


Also, if you want to naturally scent your laundry, just add a few drops of your favorite essential oils before tossing the balls into the dryer. Some of my favorite oils to use are lavender, orange, tea tree, peppermint and lemon. You can also combine oils (peppermint + orange, lavender + cinnamon) for endless smelly-good possibilities! Growing Up Herbal has some really great info on Blending Essential Oils for Beginners.

Important tip: After first adding the oil, be sure to run the balls in the dryer alone for a few minutes to set the fragrance and keep oil spots off your quilts/clothing. This should last a few loads, re-scent as needed! Also keep in mind, you may not want to scent your quilts if you intend to sell them. Some folks may not be into citrus-scented-snuggling as much as others. 😉

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Are there any more thrifty quilters out there? I’d love to see your projects or hear any tips on staying green in the studio!

xo.a

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14 thoughts on “Green queen: breathing new life into repurposed materials

  1. I love this! I once made a quilt all from men’s shirts from thrift stores. This year I made a resolution to not buy any new quilting fabric (my exception is backing) and it’s been really hard because I love the modern designs!
    Where do you usually find your fabrics? I live in a small town with a small thrift store open 3 days a week, so I buy a lot of things online.

    Thank you!!

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  2. I love your blog and what you are doing with vintage/repurposed materials. I do love modern quilting fabrics but more and more am finding myself pulled in this direction. Found you through the New Bloggers Quilt Hop and am reading all your past entries because your stuff is so inspiring.

    One question about using repurposed stuff: have you ever had a run-in with pests of any type? I bought some thrifted sheets and panicked when I found two little critters on them. Luckily did research and they were not bed bugs (whew!) but carpet beetles. My current routine is that I first shake things out outside, then toss in the washer on “Sanitize,” then dry on high heat. Fingers crossed this is enough protection — but I’d love to hear any tips you might have!

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    1. Aww, thanks so much! 😊 I’ve done a lot of research on pests, especially bed bugs. Heat-treating is absolute key! I pop all thrifted materials in the dryer as soon as I get them home and dry them on the hottest setting for 30 minutes. Then I wash and dry as normal (before and after quilting) again using the hottest settings possible.

      Aside from knocking out any pest issues, heat treating also gives me peace of mind when it comes to testing the durability and color fastness of any fabrics. I feel more comfortable telling people they can launder their quilts on the hottest setting and not be afraid of damaging them. Everybody wins! 😄

      From what I’ve read, the biggest issue with purchasing from thrift stores is with furniture – it doesn’t get laundered like clothes and linens – and has a lot more “hiding spaces.”

      So, with all that said, sounds like you’re doing it right! The best tip I can offer is to pre-dry before you wash to ensure your protection. It’s a pretty extreme process, but better safe than sorry!

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  3. This is so cool, Amanda! I love that vintage fabric quilt — the floral patterns are just so lovely.

    I’m trying to figure out how to properly get into refashioning. I do try to mend my clothes when needed and possible, and it would really be nice to learn to reclaim fabric.

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    1. Aren’t they the best?! I’m still learning too. A friend of mine recommended Young Living, but I’m currently using doTERRA (a gift from my mother). Both seem great, but it’s a little hard to determine if they’re really worth the price or if their popularity is the result of a lot of marketing hype. I still need to do my research, but for the time being I’m using up what I have on hand. Gets the job done for now! 😉

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