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Great Up-Cycling Ideas for Crafters

Updated on November 23, 2014
Up-cycling Greeting Cards
Up-cycling Greeting Cards

Re-purpose Old Shoe Boxes

Old shoe boxes and gift boxes make handy storage for all your crafty bits and bobs. Use them to store beads, jewellery findings, glitter tubs and all your odds and ends.

If you want to you can wrap them in brightly coloured wrapping paper, and put a label on the end so that when they are neatly stacked in your cupboard you can easily locate what you need.

You can use them to dispense ribbon, by making small holes along the sides - filling the box with reels of ribbon, and threading a small amount of each ribbon through a hole.

Shoe boxes make great craft storage
Shoe boxes make great craft storage

Thick Card and Cardboard

Cardboard boxes and thick card have lots of uses. So before you dump them in the recycling, have a look at some of these ideas.

You can create cardboard hangers or bobbins for neatly storing your ribbons, cords, threads etc.

You can see the bobbins in the shoe box photo above, and below is a photo of one of the hanging ribbon holders. As you can see I have a simple rod hanging above my desk, from which I hang my tools. The ribbon hangers keep my ribbon tidy and within reach while I am working.

A shoe box that has been up-cycled into a hanging ribbon holder
A shoe box that has been up-cycled into a hanging ribbon holder
Rough template for a DIY card bobbin, perfect to use with Kumihimo
Rough template for a DIY card bobbin, perfect to use with Kumihimo
Rough template for a cardboard ribbon hanger
Rough template for a cardboard ribbon hanger

The bobbins are made out of cereal box card. I roughly sketched the shape below onto the card and cut it out. I added a little slit, through which you can slip the end of the cord to keep it from unravelling.

Needless to say these card bobbins are not for using with sewing machines. But they are really handy for keeping satin cords, strings and macrame materials tidy. I have stored a lot of these bobbins in an shoe box. No more untying knots whenever I want to use my cords and threads!

The bobbins can also be used with Kumihimo wheels, keeping long lengths of cord tidied out of the way instead of trailing on the floor, just unravel a little at a time and lock them back in place by using the little slit.

I cut the hangers out of a flattened cardboard shoe box, but I think you can use any kind of thick cardboard. If like me, you have a rod behind your craft workstation where you hang tools etc for easy access, then these little hangers are great to keep your ribbons within reach.

Up-cycle card into templates for paper crafts
Up-cycle card into templates for paper crafts

Unsightly card, or card that doesn't have any immediately apparent use can also be used in crafting. For example, cereal boxes, old medication boxes, old appointment cards etc can all be used to create templates.

If you need to cut out a large quantity of identical shapes, try drawing your shape onto a scrap piece of card, cutting it out and using it as a template. You can then keep it to use again at a later date. I keep a box full of templates which I regularly use, such as winter themed animals and objects: reindeer, holly, snowflakes etc for making Christmas cards.

Up-cycling Items from the Kitchen

Keep and clean any empty glass jars, cans, plastic tubs and boxes that are about to go in the trash or re-cycling. They can make cheap storage solutions for your crafty bits and bobs, or can be transformed into gifts or decorations.

  • Plastic detergent capsule tubs make great worktop tidies for your tools
  • Butter tubs can be cleaned and used to store things
  • Cereal boxes can be cut down, wrapped in pretty paper and used as desk dividers
  • Egg cartons can be used to store small items, like jewellery findings or beads
  • Glass jars can store things, or can be engraved, decorated and turned into candle holders or lanterns

Keep Old Greeting Cards and Envelopes

The patterned paper and card that you find in a greeting card can be cut up and used in many crafts.

Cut out words like 'Love', 'Birthday', 'Christmas', 'Sister' etc from the verses in greeting cards and Scrapbookers can use these as page titles in their albums

Cut out images such as hearts, Christmas trees etc and use them in your handmade cards. You can also cut these shapes out free-hand from patterned parts of the card.

Often, the envelopes that greeting cards come in are brightly coloured, they too can be cut down into paper shapes for card making or saved for other paper crafts

Turn the paper inserts that you often find in cards into paper flowers or use it in other paper crafts.

Almost every part of a greeting card can be up-cycled or used again in paper craft projects and scrap-booking
Almost every part of a greeting card can be up-cycled or used again in paper craft projects and scrap-booking


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    • pixierose78 profile image

      Sandra Rose 3 years ago from London

      Thank you :)

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 3 years ago from sunny Florida

      We learned as children to repurpose whatever we could. But there was no fancy name for it...we just reused things, time and time again.

      This is a great lesson to each generation

      Angels are on the way to you this evening.