By Larraine Roulston:
Jeans are still fashionable even when they have holes in the knees; however, if they become too tight or too loose, there are lots of ways to reuse them. Denim can be sewn into quilts or braided into rag rugs. Annie Wall, co-owner of Wilno Craft Gallery situated in the Ottawa Valley, gathers old jeans, cuts them into strips and uses her loom to create fantastic rugs.
Feeling Crafty? Check out the Internet for patterns and ideas. The long life of denim goes on and on. There are images of sandals, sneakers, tote bags, aprons, as well as eco-fashion skirts. The pockets alone can be stitched to form a wall hanging that holds pencils and other supplies. An assortment of jeans pieces can be sewn together to reupholster sofas and chairs. Soft denim also makes good book covers. The fabric and even the belt loops, zippers, buttons and buckles are handy for designing pieces of art. Two buttons attached to an old sock create a cute hand puppet. As well, most thrift stores accept these items to add to their box of sewing odds and ends. Broken metal pieces can go to scrap metal collections. Bits of thread and small fabric trimmings can be composted.
There are initiatives to collect and distribute jeans. Now in its 7th year, the Teens for Jeans campaign requests donations. During the months of January and February, teens can bring gently worn jeans to Aéropostale stores in Canada, the United States and Mexico, to then be given to local homeless shelters or charities that serve youth. People now have 10 months to save up their old jeans to contribute to the next drive. For updates and information, visit Teens for Jeans.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Denim lives on in commercial recycling. Blue Jeans Go Green is a United States call-to-action program that gives jeans a “new life” by recycling them into natural cotton fiber insulation. Since 2006, old jeans have been recycled into Ultra Touch Denim Insulation. Every year, a portion of the product is distributed to help needy communities.
Other unwanted clothes have value as well. If they are in good condition, they can be passed on as hand-me-downs, taken to a consignment store or donated to a charity. One latest fad is to host a clothing swap party.
If you are not interested in making face cloths from frayed towels, cutting around soiled tablecloths to hem napkins, or patching ripped sheets, these large items are most welcome at pet stores and animal clinics. Unwanted smaller fabrics such as lace and velvet are useful to dressmakers. Lastly, there are rags. Some are ideal for polishing while others are best for dusting, wiping up spills, and cleaning artists’ brushes. The remainder can be taken to garage mechanics. All have the makings of a good “rags to riches” story.
Larraine Roulstons is a freelance writer and the author of Pee Wee at Castle Compost http://www.castlecompost.com