BetsyBlueDragon -- Sustainable Art: feel the URGE! Upcycle, Recycle, Glean, Enjoy!


Upcycle: repurposing everyday items for a fancier purpose

Upcycling has been around a long time, from early settlers who used old clothing and scraps to make decorative patchwork quilts. Victorians often used elements from broken jewelry to make new items. If you go to a Renaissance Faire you are likely to see outfits made from sweaters cut into strips and sewed together to make elven cloaks. Refashioning tee shirts is mainstream and converting mens dress shirts into tops and tunics is not far behind.

Prince of Ties Ken-Prince of Ties Travel crown Jester Crown

Neckties: One of the first upcycling projects I did was repurposing neckties. There was a fad years ago of sewing ties onto the yoke of a pair of bluejeans to make a skirt. Kelly Clarkson wore a skirt like that in the movie "From Justin to Kelly". At that time you could get ties in bulk really cheap on eBay. I never made the skirt, but I've started making crowns and Elizebethan collars instead. The ties do need some wiring to stiffen them enough to keep the shapes, but not nearly as much or as heavy a gauge as I put in my first one: the Prince of Ties Crown. My husband bravely wore that one to MonsterFest with his tux, some campaign medals I made from ribbon covered popsicle sticks, and an "order of..." sash made from a cotten scarf. A curtain rod made an excellent sceptre to complete the outfit. I took the other ends of the ties from the first crown and made a second, shorter one, with less wire needed--this one can fold flat for packing. The middle section of one of the ties was used to make the jester crown. It has ribs of ribbons stiffened with ModgePodge and sewn to floral wire to hold the shapes.The finial is a stack of wooden beads, with dangling jingle bells underneath.

Blue Moonflower Purple Pansy Peach Orchid Peppermint Pink Yellow/green orchid Bluestar Pansy Peppermint Bloom Red Rose Fascinator

Nylon hosiery: I've found many uses for old pantihose and knee highs. Regular tan colors can be braided to use as dreads, wigs, or beards for cosplay. They work best if you braid three legs, but don't make all three the same color. I use colored knee highs to make Derby-style Fascinators. They are stretched over a frame of floral wire, whipstiched to hold the shape. Naturally translucent, they can also be embellished with acrylic paint or embroidery. A single layer of black hosiery works well to cover eyeholes in animal head masks.


contact: Betsy A. Riley,