Reinvention: Sewing with Rescued Materials

review of Reinvention by Maya Donenfeld,
Stitching unlikely materials into lovely things. (Image: Deborah Donenfeld)

Those of us who want to live more artfully, frugally, and with a hands-on approach tend to run up against those ever hungry monsters, Time and Money. That’s where green crafter Maya Donenfeld comes in. Her focus is on reinventing everyday materials into useful items for the family, effectively taming those monsters.

“Reinvention” by Maya Donenfeld (Wiley). Image: Deborah Donenfeld.

The popularity of her blog, Maya Made, (with awesome tutorials like how to make elf slippers) led to the publication of her first book, Reinvention: Sewing with Rescued Materials. It’s a sturdy volume with a spiral binding, perfect to use as a reference in the middle of a project, and augmented by dozens of beautiful full-color photos. It covers techniques and methods, with information about each of the seven recommended materials including sourcing, how to deconstruct, environmental impact, and tips for use. I’m mostly enthralled by her step-by-step instructions for making 28 inspiring projects. It’s just hard to know where to begin. Here are some ideas.

Start saving polyethylene mailers. They’re not easily recycled but perfectly suited for repurposing. Maya demonstrates how to turn them into durable luggage tags, banners, notebooks, and zippered pouches.

Have jeans no one wears? Use the denim along with an old bed sheet to make a full-sized hammock. Or pair jeans with a piece of leftover wool to make oven mitts. Or make a denim rug.

Pull together some old t-shirts to make a child’s pillow pal, printed with a robot perhaps. Or make a “forager skirt” for the little girl who likes to pick up shells and stones as she walks.

My absolute favorite is the “toadstool cottage.” A cardboard tube and wool scraps come together to make a dollhouse-like play place with a removable lid, perfect for tiny stuffed animals or other toys. The wool blanket with holes I intended to patch is now fated to face my scissors.

 

 

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Laura is the author of a poetry collection titled Tending and Free Range Learning, a handbook of natural learning. She lives on a small farm notable only for its lovestruck goose.