Upcycled Wall Hangings: Crafting with Castoffs

Chirped by Tina

Happy New Year! With our nests a little fuller over the holidays, Cass and I took a break from posting to allow ourselves to be in the moment and enjoy time with our broods. But now we’re back, with a whole backlog of ideas to chirp about!

bear-hanging

Nursery wall hanging, upcycled from components of the Yarn Bloom last spring!

Those of you who followed our posts about the Yarn Bloom last Earth Day may have wondered what happened to all those lovely crocheted flowers, creatures, and blankets after the Bloom was over. Admittedly, some items were too battered by the elements to salvage after a couple of months outdoors – but keep in mind that a large percentage of the blankets and scarves hugging the trees of our park were already upcycled and re-purposed from community donations and “pay by weight” bins at local thrift stores. A surprising majority of the materials survived very well, and got yet another life!

Our crafty cohorts separated the giant crazy quilts back into their component parts, or manageable-sized smaller collections. Some hardy and beautiful afghans and scarves went right back to the thrift stores (after we washed and dried them), along with a number of crafty creations – crocheted teacups, flowers and “tree huggers” with felt hands attached. A local dog and cat shelter got piles of clean new mats for their furry protégés. And our own flowers and critters? Well we saved most of them for new projects…

What to do with all the goodies? Seemed like you could make some pretty cool wall art out of them. My sister’s boyfriend, seeing all the work she was putting into cranking out her “assignment” (imposed by me) of 100 flowers, had hinted that maybe she could make him some flowers to brighten up his apartment! (A man who appreciates crafts? Love that!) That planted the seed, as it were, for what we could do once the Yarn Bloom was over. Instead of cutting things down and tossing them, we carefully clipped off all the well-preserved pieces and set them aside for re-use.

I machine-washed and dried everything in lingerie bags, then sorted it, and started playing around with some design ideas. A couple of yards of burlap from the local craft store would serve as a backdrop.

ironing-burlap

(Spritzing the burlap with a little water and ironing it through a hand towel worked well for getting out the creases.)

I had some decorative curtain rods left over from my son’s childhood bedroom, so I hand-hemmed the edges of the burlap with a big running stitch and created an open tube pocket along one side to accommodate the rod. I didn’t worry about making the stitches too pretty – they were going to be covered up either by some French-knitted cording that we had used as vines or by the flowers themselves.

Wall-Hanging

Castoff Project #1: Flower Collage for the Bachelor Pad

Castoff Project #1: After consulting with her boyfriend, my sister and I decided to do his wall hanging as a vibrant collage of flowers – adding animals was a little too cutesy for him. We scattered the larger sunflowers around first and then filled in with other blooms (ok, and a couple of butterflies!) until we got a fairly balanced look, both in colors and sizes. Then we started tacking everything down with complementary thread colors. Some of the flowers had curled a bit, and required more points of contact than others to keep them from drooping. Again, we didn’t worry about neat stitching since the back would be against the wall. You could probably just hot-glue everything, too, but I had visions of flowers starting to drop off in the humid summer months so I went old school…

Castoff Project #2: Next up was a piece for my cousin’s new baby. Animals aren’t too cutesy for a nursery! (I did preapprove this project with the mom, first. She appreciates handmade-by-family stuff, and hadn’t yet decorated the baby’s room in their new home.) I sent her periodic updates and got input on color schemes (not too much orange, please).

It also seemed appropriate to make it a little bit interactive. My constant helper, the Blog Dog, likes to disembowel his squeaky toys, so I tucked a couple of his old squeakers with some Poly-fil stuffing under two bear segments that didn’t want to lay flat anyway. (Blog Dog gets excited every time I demonstrate this!)…

…and slipped the crinkly bag from some chocolate-covered cranberries under the sun.

I took votes from crafty friends and relatives about how much was too much in terms of adding more and more pieces to the design. You can see how that went. c(-; Timing finally forced me to stop. I had thought about adding some repositionable bugs (a ladybug, caterpillar, dragonfly…?) by attaching little hair clips to some tiny critters that I would have had to make fresh, but I knew the room decorating was in progress and didn’t want to hold it up any further. Would have liked to stitch the baby’s name on the front, too, but decided to make-do with a dedication in fabric marker on the back from me and all the other family that contributed their skills to the finished product. Guess I could always send some accessories later? Maybe make a little storybook to go with them about figuring out where the different colored bugs are hanging out on any given day? Heeheehee – the possibilities are endless! (My husband says I’m going to make an awesome grandmother some day… )

I’ve still got a bag of castoffs to put to work… But there are so many other crafts calling to me right now – they might have to wait. Got any castoff craft tips you’d like to share? Tell us about them in the comments section!

Happy Crafting!

-Tina (-:

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2 thoughts on “Upcycled Wall Hangings: Crafting with Castoffs

  1. Pingback: Interactive, Upcycled, DIY To-Do Board | Two Flew Over the Empty Nest

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