Turning clothing into objects you can appreciate every day is a poignant way to keep the memory of loved ones alive. A few years after my father died, I made a quilt out of his colorful assortment of neckties. You can undertake this kind of project by yourself or with the help of others. For the quilt crafted out of my dad's ties, I worked with the online company, The Gazebo. Below are six more of my favorite ideas for repurposing jackets, shirts, pants, and other articles of clothing:
- Make handwoven rugs, table runners, and Moroccan-style poufs out sweatshirts, T-shirts, and jeans. You can also create throw pillows and bean bags.
- Create teddy bears out of fleece jackets.
- Fashion duffel bags, gym bags, and everyday totes out of corduroy and other thick material with the help of Totes with Tales (www.toteswithtales.com).
- Infuse new life into old wool sweaters by morphing them into hair ties, earmuffs, and cozy winter mittens. Artist and upcycler Marcie Chambers Cuff is an expert at this, and her book, This Book Was a Tree, has terrific guidelines to help (www.marciecuff.com).
- Mixed-media artist Rebecca Ringquist (www.rebeccaringquist.com) leads workshops across the country inspiring students to incorporate pieces of clothing into meaningful wallhangings. Her work focuses on embellishing fabric with embroidery -- using illustrations, words, and reminiscent phrases.
- Decorate indoor or outdoor plantings with "Love Rocks." To do this, cut a piece of fabric in the shape of a heart and glue it to a smooth stone with craft adhesive. Note: outdoor love rocks need to be waterproofed with acrylic sealer.
The goal with all of these ideas is that your loved ones' clothing -- when meaningfully upcycled or repurposed -- will spark happy memories every time you see it. Even better, these new objects will serve as an essential conversation piece, paving the way to share your memories with others.