Category Make

DIY OFFICE CHAIR COVER – Saved from the tip

chair

We turn a much-loved tea towel featuring Issue 23’s cover artist Cheryl Davidson’s black cockatoo artwork into a practical washable cover for a well-used office chair.

Even though ergonomic seat bases might often be unusual shapes, making a new elasticised cover out of fabric you already have at home is easy.

If you’re new to sewing, this is a great project to start with as none of the seams will show in the finished product. If you don’t have access to a sewing machine, it’s not difficult to sew by hand, it will just take a little bit more time.

DIY WORM FARM – How to make your own worm farm

Because worms are so low-maintenance, it is easier than you might think to make your own worm farm.

There are plenty of reasons to have a worm farm. Not only are they a hugely efficient way to process organic waste from your kitchen and around your home, but the high nutritional value their castings and leachate, or ‘worm wee’, can provide your soil and your plants makes them a must- have for any productive patch.

DIY SEED PACKETS – Upcycling

seed-packets

Turn your colourful out of date calendars or old plant and seed catalogues into creative and colourful seed packets.

The recycle bin, worm farm or compost bin are pretty good places to send catalogues and calendars at the end of their practical working life, but upcycling them into a product you can use or even give away as gifts is an even better idea.

COSY COVERS – How to upcycle a woollen blanket into a new cover for your hot water bottle.

water-bottle

Hot water bottles are an efficient low-cost method of taking the chill off your bed, or warming parts of your body. This homemade woollen cover will improve its efficiency.

Used cleverly, a thermal layer or two of woollen fabric has the ability to improve the quality of your sleep by helping your hot water bottle retain its heat for longer.

You can make these covers from any wool fabric; blankets that are past their best or even a worn-out machine-knitted jumper. The principles are pretty straightforward, and there’s a lot of room for improvisation and embellishment if you want to go beyond the basics.

Australia and New Zealand were huge producers of wool and woollen blankets throughout the 1900s and the high quality means they mostly remain in great condition half a century or more later. Blankets as bedding fell out of favour during the 1970s with the introduction of feather-filled quilts and doonas, so woollen blankets turn up frequently in far corners of linen cupboards, at garage sales and in op shops. Upcycling woollen blankets extends the use of these fabrics for another lifetime at least.

WICKING BED – How to make a self-watering raised garden bed with found objects

bed

Wicking beds are a self-watering raised garden bed perfect for growing vegies. They save you time, reduce your water usage and they’re reasonably easy to make yourself.

As the name suggests, wicking beds draw moisture from beneath the soil using capillary action, and providing water to your plants from below rather than above has many benefits. Not only does it save you time watering, but evaporation is reduced, the risk of fungal disease is lessened and the wicking action ensures the moisture is more evenly distributed throughout the soil.

DIY Compost and seed sieve

sieves

An over-barrow garden sieve can up your food-growing game. As well as helping you make low-cost and nutritious seed-raising mix, it can also make the time- consuming bits of seed saving a cinch. And best of all, they’re simple to make yourself.

A sieve is one of those garden tools that, once you have one, you’ll be amazed at how you managed without it – especially if you like growing from seed and/or seed saving.

Taking the idea of the small plastic sieves you can buy commercially one step further, these large over-barrow sieves are enormously useful for a variety of jobs around the garden, and making one – or even two – at home is a simple job that can be easily done in a couple of hours.

Tool Carrier: Garden Caddy

garden-caddy

Time spent in the garden can be precious, so make the most of it by always being able to put your hands on the tool you need as and when you need it with this handmade garden-tool caddy.

Does it ever feel like you spend more time looking for where you left your tools than actually achieving what you set out to do in the garden? This time of year when we’re pulling out the last of the winter crops and prepping beds for summer plantings, it’s easy to move between various jobs throughout the garden, leaving a trail of misplaced tools behind you as you go.

Homemade Clothes: Freehand Top

handmade-clothes

You don’t need a pattern to make a new top, just a well-loved one you already own so you can replicate the best bits and know it’ll fit. And because the straight seams of this freehand design makes it easy to hand stitch, you don’t even need a sewing machine.

As the weather warms up and we’re pulling off our jumpers, now’s a great time to be whipping up a top or two to celebrate the new spring season. Picking up a vintage sheet from the op shop is a really economical way to buy fabric. In fact, you can generally pick up a queen-sized sheet for less than you’d pay per metre when buying fabric new. And because it’s secondhand, it’s usually worn-in and well-washed, so you know it’s going to be soft and isn’t going to shrink the first time you wash it.

Because it’s such a simple process, once you get an understanding of how it comes together you can very easily alter the ‘pattern’. You can make it long-sleeved, sleeveless or even lengthen it to turn it into a dress. It’s the same process, it’s just trusting what you’ve learnt and altering the measurements.

Upcycling: Feedbag Totes

Homemade feedbag totes

The large woven stockfeed bags may be designed for single use, but they’re strong, sturdy and far too good to throw away.

Polypropylene can potentially be recycled and used to manufacture other forms of plastic, but we can delay that process by turning them into robust tote bags. Often adorned with images of the animals their original contents were once destined to feed, with some simple cutting and sewing, you can create a unique shopping bag that will reliably carry all your awkwardly-shaped, bulky goods.

Botanical Colour: Homegrown Ink

sustainable-art

Making your own ink, dyes and art materials from the natural world around you is a deeply satisfying and almost therapeutic process. It not only grows your intimacy with the plants and soils of the place you live in, but also is a far more sustainable art practice, reducing transport, packaging and toxic ingredients.

Creating useable colour from an earth or botanical source is not a new thing; human knowledge of landscapes and their relationship with the natural world is how the first colours emerged to be transformed into paint pigments, fabric dyes or ink. In many places today the use of plants and soil as pigment continues as cultural practice; in other places it was taken over by industrialisation and man-made alternatives, but there’s now a rising interest in a return to natural colour sources. As a gardener you can choose to grow pigment plants that suit your climate, you can forage for plants – particularly weeds – or even use kitchen scraps.