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upcycling curtains

I made a produce bag

Anyone else trying to cut back on their single use plastics? It’s an ongoing process for me, but #PlasticFreeJuly is this month and it’s encouraging me. I’m under no illusions that I can eliminate all the single use overnight. It will take longer. One item at a time.

Today, I checked reusable produce bags off my list. Instead of using the plastic or paper bags when I buy fruit and veg, I can use my produce bag. A drawstring bag, made from light weight fabric. It’s not transparent, but see through enough for a shop’s checkout staff to see how many peaches are in the bag.

I used a toggle and elastic rescued from a small bag that held one of the children’s waterproof coats. The fabric is a net curtain from when we lived in Italy, when I was a child. I call them net curtains, but they were more cosmetic. All the windows had fixed mosquito nets and heavy metal roller venetian blinds, blocking the view. These nets used to hang at the side to soften the look, especially in the bedrooms. Thinking back, I’m not sure it worked.

(One summer, I remember a swarm of bees taking up residence in the box casing for the blinds, in one of the bedrooms, making it unusable. The bees rather objected to their hive being invaded by a clanking metal structure, every morning. If memory serves me right, that bedroom was out of action for a while. No-one went in there. I don’t remember what happened in the end.)

Anyway. Not your classic British net curtains. The fabric is more lightweight chiffon. Like a scarf. The curtains had a channel at the top for the pole or elastic that it used to hang from. I re used that part for the drawstring. Fortunately, the elastic I had, was just a little bit shorter than the width of the curtain, giving the final bag a bunched opening, which doesn’t flop. I cut the fabric to make a square bag and sewed around, leaving the top open.

It was lovely weather, this weekend, and I took my hand cranked Singer machine outside to sew. I used French seams. The fabric tends to fray and is see through, so I wanted to hide the edges. I also think it makes the join stronger and less likely to break. An advantage to making your own. I know it will hold a good number of apples and not split as I put it in my basket. Chasing renegade apples, making a break for freedom around a market floor, is not top of my list of things to do.

The bag was quick to make. Works a dream for the peaches I tried it out with. I have enough fabric left to make several bags. I plan to make one for a baguette too, rather than the long plastic bags that they use in shops. When did they stop wrapping them with a small square of paper for handling purposes? (Showing my age?)

This bag is on a mission today. Youngest is making fruit crumble in food tech at school. The fruit is measured out and, in the bag, waiting to be taken in. No single use bags. After that, I’ll roll it up and keep it in my bag, so I don’t forget it when I’m shopping. Added bonus, it will be easy to wash.

This is not the only single use plastic I’ve swapped this month, but the list can wait to a later time. I’m pleased with my home made bags. I’ve recycled fabric and fixings that could easily have been thrown out as their original use had long since gone. They are pretty too. A win-win all round!

The proof will be the eating of the pudding, as they say. Do you use re-usable produce bags?


Joining in with Rosie’s Going Green linky.

Curtains to Cloaks

cloaks-and-oak-tree-2I’m not sure what my Grandmother would say, but I’ve cut up her curtains. The ones she used to put up in her front room in the winter. I’ve also cut up an old maternity dress of mine. I’m not going to use it again.

Why? Well I had requests for two cloaks. The curtains and the dress were the right colours and the right amount of fabric. Their time had come.

Snip, snip

cloaks-and-oak-treeThe two younger children had been invited to a Halloween party, which called for dressing up. It’s the kind of dressing up that they don’t object to. They were going trick or treating, as part of the party, so they were keen to wear cloaks.

As you can imagine, it is fairly easy to make a cloak out of a pair of curtains. If you do it carefully, you can use the existing hems as the bottom hem and the open front. Cuts down on the sewing required, which is my kind of upcycling.

curtain-to-cloak-diagramThe exact measurements will depend on how big the curtains are and how big the finished cloak needs to be.

Rough guide to making a cloak from a pair of curtains

  1. Cut off the top of the curtains to remove the curtain tape. Tempting to keep it, but it is too bulky.
  2. Fold the curtains in half as shown, so the edges are together.
  3. Cut out a trapezium shape on the fold of one curtain, as shown. (back of cloak)
  4. Cut out 2 trapeziums, not on fold, from the other curtain, as shown (2 fronts of cloak)
  5. Join sides e and d together, making sure bottom hems match up.
  6. Join the two f sides of the hood together.
  7. Fold over edges h, separately, and stitch to neaten the edge of the hood around the face.
  8. Handstitch a gathering stitch along the new edge made by A and B.
  9. Gather this edge so that it will match the edge C of the hood.
  10. Stitch edge C to the gathered cloak edge (A+B). Twice. Remove the handstitched gathering stitch.
  11. Stitch g edges together.


The cloak is now finished and ready to wear. We added a brooch to fasten the cloak. Believe me, it is a lot more straightforward to make than to write down the instructions. Let me know if I’ve left anything out.

The hood could be extended into a longer point, or rounded like the black cloak.

cloaks-and-oak-tree-2The black cloak is made out of my old maternity dress. The skirt was cut off at the waist, cut down the front and gathered.

The hood was made from the sleeves. I cut the sleeves off the dress and down the seams. There is a lot of fabric in sleeves.

Next I drew round the side view of the hood from one of his hoodies, adding a generous couple of inches all round before cutting out the two sides.  Finally stitching it all up.

cloak2Now each of the children have a cloak. I made the purple one years ago and it has been used more times than I can remember. I suspect these new cloaks will be brought out just as much.

They are so easy to make. Perfect for school dressing up days, Halloween, or a Christmas gift.

Oh. I should just point out that using curtains that are already in use as curtains, may not be the best plan. Nor would it be good to remove them from elderly relation’s houses without them knowing.

I’d like to think my Grandma would approve of the new cloaks, but I suspect she’d still tell me off for cutting up her curtains!


Linking up with:

Fiona’s Trash 2 Treasure linky

Skip to my Lou’s Made by You


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