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There's treasure everywhere #2

Recycling/up-cycling some textiles and leather!

There’s a trend where vintage grain sacks are turned into various items, from table runners and throw pillows, to tote bags and kitchen aprons and in this post, I will look at different possibilities of recycling/up-cycling some textiles rescued from their way to the dump and a piece of leather off a couch put out on the curve.

A while back, I made some table tops for a coffee roaster and I noticed a stack of jute bags in a corner of the room and asked the owner if I could have a couple. The raw coffee is delivered to the roaster in 60Kg. jute sacks and after they’re emptied, there’s no particular use for them, so the man was generous and gave me three sacks!

What attracted me to them was the rough, bold texture and the stencil telling the origin of the beans. I thought it would make an interesting themed apron, but when I got home and took a closer look, I realized two things, the texture was too rough to go against the skin, and it would leave fuzzies when in contact with clothing.

Still, I didn’t want to renounce the idea of using the material and decided to ad a lining. But how do I attach the lining to the burlap? After some research, I discovered at a fabric warehouse a two-sided adhesive on a paper support. You apply it with a hot iron to one of the fabrics, then peel off the paper, lay the second fabric on top and go over it with the hot iron again. This will fuse the adhesive to both fabrics, laminating them together and also, giving the burlap dimension stability.

With the lining on the back, straps attached and all ready to go.

For pattern, I used a kitchen apron. I used bias tape which I sewed all around the edges to keep them from fraying and give the apron a finished look. All the stress points where the straps are attached, I reinforced with leather which I hand stitched. The straps are 7/8 in. (22mm) polyester and both, the hardware and the leather I got off a purse that had done its duty.

Latte, anyone?

The grain sack I received as a gift from a friend who knew that I was looking for vintage home-spun fabrics. These were replaced a few decades ago with the poly bags, much more resistant to the elements and critters like mice and moths, since the originals around here were a blend of wool and cotton.

After careful consideration, I decided to use it to make an apron and a small crossover bag. This fabric had a tighter weave and a friendlier texture, so the apron didn’t need to be lined. I did line the bag and also put an inside pocket into the lining. The leather trim is from the same purse and the hardware is bought on-line.

My wife Ana, ready to test the apron

Maia, modelling the crossover bag

The people who put the couch out on the curve must have had a dog, as particularly one end of it was well chewed up, where the foam was sticking out. Still, it had a lot of good, usable leather which I carefully removed and decided to make a sturdy shop apron. I used the same kitchen apron for a pattern and since no lining nor edging were required, it only took a couple of hours to complete, as I also decided to skip the “hand sewn” thing and used my heavy-duty sewing machine for attaching the straps. These are 1 in. (26mm) polyester and the hardware is also bought on-line.

And here is my heavy-duty shop apron!

All these were fun projects and once again, the adage that “someone’s trash, is someone else’s treasure”, comes true.

In the next post on recycling, I’ll be experimenting with hybrid materials, some silk shirts and recycled paper. Stay tuned!

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1 Comment

James Mitchell
James Mitchell
Sep 21, 2022

I am always amazed at the skill with which you put together such beautiful things. That burlap black apronI am always amazed at the skill with which you put together such beautiful things. That burlap apron is beautiful. I would like to have seen a better picture of the leather shop apron too. God has blessed you with great talent, and blessed us with you! Your brother in Christ,

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