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Upcycle Your Old Socks With These 5 DIY Projects
Upcycling: A Quick Guide
Upcycle: To recycle an object for a different purpose than it was intended.
In the 1940s and '30s, everything was fixed, reused, or repurposed. Right after The Great Depression and before globalized mass production, people just repaired their lawn mowers, darned socks, and brought their shoes to a cobbler. "Buying a new one" just wasn't possible for most families due to inaccessibility or financial strains. In our increasingly global world of cheap labor. "throwaway" fashion, and mass production, we've overcome many of the problems which arose from that inaccessibility. But we have different problems now.
If you live in the United States, you are familiar with how quickly fashion trends come and go. Magazines tell you what is "trending" and what has fallen out of style. One can only keep up socially and financially for so long before one accumulates what will inevitably become "trash" --not just in the "Ew I can't believe I thought this was cool" kind of way. Literally.
According to The Atlantic, "Americans send 10.5 million tons of clothing to landfills every year," which averages to roughly 60 pounds of clothing trash per American! That's an alarmingly high number, especially since human waste affecting climate change is already a major political and environmental issue. We as Americans generate more trash than many other countries combined! So taking a few items from your home that would otherwise be destined for a landfill and giving them a new purpose is not only good for your wallet, but also for the environment. And if you have kids, it's great for them too.
Pinterest is a great place for learning how to upcycle and reuse items. All of the projects below can be found on Pinterest. These projects are all kid-friendly and require between 4 and 8 materials; most of which you probably already have!
These materials are:
Needle & Thread
Bag of stuffing (can be found at JoAnne's, HobbyLobby, Michaels, etc)
ribbon/twine/string or spare fabric
Scissors (preferably FABRIC scissors!)
DIY Sock Bunny
This adorable sock bunny requires the fewest materials of all the projects, so this is a good starting point.
1.) Turn the sock inside out and lay it heel-facing-up on your work space. This will ensure your seams look clean when you're done.
2.) Using your scissors, cut down the middle of the toes to the heel. For rounded ears, also cut diagonal lines from your center cut to the natural ends of the toe pictured above.
3.) Sew the "ears" together. Turn the sock right-side-out.
4.) Stuff your bunny with the stuffing. Make sure to really fill in the ears.
5.) If there is excess fabric at the bottom like there is in the picture tutorial, you can either tuck it inside the rabbit among the stuffing, or cut it off as pictured.
6.) Sew the bottom shut as shown.
7.) To bunch up the ears, sew a running stitch along the ear bases and pull. Knot your thread tightly to keep them in place.
8.) Using either small buttons or small embroidery stitches with dark thread, make the eyes. If using embroidery stitches, you can also make a cross stitch mouth as shown. If not, you can draw on a mouth with a black pen or nail polish. Use a small, thin applicator!
9.) (optional) "dress" your bunny with pom-poms (glue or sew on), ribbon, or "blush" as shown with a fabric pencil, marker, or sharpie.
DIY Sock Snowmen Decorations
You will need two lone socks for this project: one plain white, the other patterned and/or more colorful.
1.) Stuff your white sock so that it becomes round.
2.) Tie off the end and seal the sock and stuffing inside (the original pin calls for the sock to be filled with rice, but that can be extremely messy). This weird little bit will be covered up by a "hat", so it won't show.
3.) Take a second, more colorful sock and cut it into 3 pieces: the toes, the arch, and the ankle. Slide the arch section over the white sock as the picture instructs, and secure it in place with the twine or ribbon. This also looks adorable.
4.) (not pictured in the tutorial) sew together the ankle and toe pieces. This forms the hat! Sew the ankle seam (the "hat brim") to the top of the white sock, concealing the part where you tied it off. You can also hide your stitches with more ribbon or twine (optional).
5.) Sew on black buttons for eyes, and a small orange piece of fabric for the nose. Alternatively, you can draw it on with an orange sharpie.
Stuffed Sock Snake
If you're in a constant battle with the dryer and losing lots of sock casualties, have no fear! Turn those loners into something bright, colorful and fun!
1.) Collect all of the lone socks together.
2.) cut off the toes on all the socks except two. Those two will be your tail and head.
3.) As the pictures instruct, sew the sock ends together to form the body starting from one of the ends.
4.) Stuff the snake with the stuffing as you add segments. Don't wait until the snake is nearly done, or else you'll have trouble stuffing the ends - especially if the snake uses your child's tiny socks!
5.) Once the snake is sewn completely shut, sew on two buttons for eyes.
6.) (optional) cut a V at one end of a piece of ribbon. Sew the other side onto the "head" and form the tongue!
DIY Sock Mittens
You'll need a pair of longer socks for this project, such as a knee sock or tube sock. In the wintry months, socks and mittens are going missing quite a lot, (especially if you're used to lay them on the radiator like I used to) so having an extra pair of mittens for your hands is always a plus, especially if you're in the car, riding a bike, or using a smartphone.
1.) Turn the sock inside out. This will make your seams much neater on the outside.
2.) Cut off the toes and heel.
3.) Use an overcast stitch or standard slip stitch to secure the newly made holes in the toe and heel areas around where your fingers will be sitting. This will prevent fraying, catching, and will add a finished look. Turn your sock right-side-out and your mitten is complete! Repeat with the other.
4.) (Optional) add extra fabric as a design to the outside and secure with a slip stitch as the above picture has done.
Sock Hat Snowman Ornament
This video includes multiple materials not listed, such as
A Clear Orb Ornament
White Paint (Or you could use the stuffing)
Orange Nail polish
A Black Sharpie/Black nail polish
Fabric / Craft Glue
The video utilizes the sock as a "hat" for a snowman ornament. Be careful! These ornaments are usually made of glass and are therefore easily breakable!
1.) With your Sharpie or black nail polish, draw on eyes and a coal mouth near the base of the ornament. With the orange nail polish, draw on the carrot nose.
2.) Cut off the toes of your sock.
3.) Take off the ornament cap. When the nail polish / sharpie is dry, slide the sock onto the ornament ankle-part-first until the "hat brim" is right above the snowman's eyes. Put a layer of glue underneath the sock brim so that the sock will stay in place.
4.) Carefully pour some white paint into the ornament and slide it around until the entire face of the snowman is covered. Note: You don't need to cover the entire ornament interior with paint, only what is visible. If you don't have white paint or are withholding it from curious children, you can alternatively "stuff" the ornament with the fabric stuffing. Pack it as tightly as you can.
5.) Replace the ornament cap. Using ribbon, twine, string, etc, make your loop from which the ornament will hang. With more of the ribbon/twine/string, tie off the rest of the sock. Make sure the hanging loop doesn't get trapped inside!