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Inner Tube Skirt – Update 1: Ideas and Plan

The winner of this month’s challenge

In case you missed it, after last month’s footstool, I put up a poll on Instagram for you guys to pick my creative challenge for May. Clothes for my lower half won! I’ve decided to try a skirt.

I was intentionally vague on the poll as if my primary idea goes wrong, I have an even easier backup (a half apron/tool belt) that will still meet the brief.

You’ll be able to find all of this month’s posts here.

Why a Skirt?

A skirt is a relatively easy sewing project that many people start with on their me made clothing journey. I thought it’d be a good first attempt for sewing inner tube clothes, as I can take a simple sewing pattern and make adjustments to it to fit the needs of inner tube.

I’m going to go with a mini as I often wear them with leggings anyway. Assuming it works, the skirt may make it into a semi-regular rotation. If it doesn’t, it’ll use fewer inner tubes than longer skirt.

I’ve made several skirts before, and they all tend to be upcycles. Here’s one I made from a pair of trousers a few years ago:

Limitations

Sewing inner tube isn’t like working with normal fabrics. While I start with strips, the centre of each strip is longer than the sides. So if I were to create a huge sheet and cut out from it, that fullness would distort the pattern pieces, and I’d have to repeatedly keep cutting, creating a lot of little scrappy waste.

Some other thoughts:

  • Whenever possible I want to create pattern pieces as close as possible to the pieces of inner tube I’ll be using.
  • Inner tube is rather bulky, so I won’t be creating a drawstring or elasticated waist garment. It’ll need to be relatively fitted with some stretch and ease provided from the inner tube itself.
  • That bulkiness also means it doesn’t like to fold neatly – so it won’t be the normal sew the right sides together process of sewing. Instead, I’ll be overlapping strips to construct the pieces and seams.
  • I’ll also need to add a waist stay out of a stable material – that’s a reinforcing piece to prevent fabrics from stretching out. This will help keep some pressure off at the waist, and will hopefully protect my stitching lines.

Plan

My idea is to make a few test skirts out of regular fabric to have a pattern that fits me well. I’ve got a few patterns in my collection that I want to start with:

I really love Peppermint Magazine – they regularly release new patterns as part of their sewing school at low cost (they recommend a donation). They’re a great place to experiment with different styles of garments if you’re just starting out

Both of these would just need to be cropped and maybe minor alterations to the location of darts, but they’re something I’d wear anyway so I’m excited to give them a go. To be honest, I only have one or two minis that fit after some recent weight loss, so it would be good to make some!

Hopefully they’re something I can translate into inner tubes easily.

If these don’t work with tubes, I’ve also considered a gored skirt. Gored skirts are made out of identical panels. The benefit to this is they’re all symmetrical, so it could be easier to construct. BUT:

  • it would also cause a lot of skinny strips of waste, which I wouldn’t be able to easily use on other projects.
  • it’s also more suited to flared skirts, which would be less suited to a mini, and not necessarily work with the level of bulk I’ll have because I’m using inner tubes.

Still, I’ll keep this idea on the back burner though if my initial plan doesn’t work.

Next week I should have some fabric test garments to show you, I’ve even got some fun secondhand fabric to use on the project!

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Footstool Upcycle – Update 3: Weaving and Done!

This post is part of a series documenting a creative upcycling challenge to update an old footstool with a new punctured bicycle inner tube top. See all posts here.

Assembly and Gluing

I skipped a weekly update, as the only thing I’d done was finish polishing the footstool. But over last weekend I finally glued the thing back together!

I thanked past Kelly for so thoroughly labelling all the pieces in areas that wouldn’t sand off. It meant things came together easily. Though I only have two clamps, so I had to glue over two days.

Just before I glued, I did a little test of my wrapping idea (which I wrote about in the previous post) to make sure it would work. I realised I was running out of time and I didn’t want to be scrambling for another solution with only days left of the challenge.

Thankfully I did the test, as besides proving my concept, it gave me a very important insight.

The mortice and tenon joints on the footstool are round. If I wrapped the inner tubes at tension around the cross bars (going across the top only), it might eventually break the glue and cause them to spin. With the other bars still glued, I doubt the thing would come apart. But my idea needed a slight tweak to help preserve my weaving as long as possible

I decided to basically create bands around the bars, that went across both top and bottom of the cross pieces, so the tension wasn’t in danger of spinning them around. I would alternate which side the ends of the tube were on, to distribute the chunkiness of those extra layers.

This new method meant there was another decision to be made: should I weave the tops and bottoms together or separately?

In the end I decided separate: the extra tension would just annoy me, and it might be difficult to get a neat finish as the two layers might not want to lay together. Or if I got them looking nice to begin with, they might shift during use.

Weaving the Top (Finally!)

I did a few time lapses as I went (not for everything), as I realise my descriptions may only make sense to me. The videos are at a weird angle – they’d look better vertical, but that doesn’t play as nice on Youtube. Here are the steps I took.

Step 1: Wrap the cross bars in inner tube strips.

The grippiness of inner tube is the crux of my plan. It’s the bane of my existence in a lot of ways, so I thought I might make it work for me for once!

The inner tube bands could slide against the wood, especially as it’s been sanded and polished under where I’m weaving. By putting this base layer down, I made a foundation that would help hold the bands in place.

2: Put the bands on the short sides.

I don’t have a video on the bands going on. TBH I was feeling a little overwhelmed with the thought of having to do all the things. I cut myself some slack and told myself I only needed to do 15 minutes, but I enjoyed it so much I just carried on.

Basically I wrapped the lower part of the band around the crossbar first to hide the end from easy view, then brought the upper part around over it. I held the bands in place with the clamps I normally use to keep the table cloth on at markets. They were so useful.

3: Wrapping the bands in place on the short sides.

The clamps came into their own here, when I realised I could just clamp the tails of the bands (not the bands on the crossbars) and need fewer hands to hold everything in place.

I made Xes with strips on the three faces where the bands lay against the frame, wrapping in new strips as I needed. This ended up a little messier than I hoped it would, especially between bands where the layers built up and where I needed to wrap things in, but it’s not so noticeable during use. I love the way it looks, now!

The tension of the strips on top should hold the ends of the inner tube bands against one another, and the inner part of the bands against the first step’s wrap. The grippiness should hold everything in place!

On both of the short sides I had long tails left over, so I decided to carry that to the longer edges and save me having to weave more in.

4: Arranging the long sides.

I decided to make the most of the writing and patches on some of the tubes I had available for this side. As I’d decided to weave the tops and bottoms of the bands separately, doing this loose weave had to be done twice.

At this point I stopped for the day. I could see how the footstool would more or less look in the end, and wanted to give my hands and arms a break. Though it wasn’t as intense as weaving a coiled basket, it still puts a strain on my hands to keep that tension.

5: Wrapping the long sides

All that weaving prep really paid off, as I “just” had to tension and wrap the longer sides the next day. I wrote a majority of this blog post the day before I finished to take the load off in case I was running late. That sentence is a bit funny now.

This was a bit trickier as I had more bands to wrangle with fewer clamps, and less space to feed the tails of the strips through. The tube with the patches had a very short tail, so that required a bit more finessing, but thankfully the first set of Xs I do are on the bottom so I didn’t have to juggle a three-handed job for long.

And all that leaves is…

The End Result

It’s just brilliant. I love it so much!

Here are some close ups and other angles:

I loved how I was able to feature writing and patches on the top of the stool, to show off the material’s history. One funny little side effect was air got trapped in the longer inner tubes, which ended up slightly puffy in some areas. It’s not especially noticeable, and I don’t mind.

If I see another footstool, I’ll probably pick it up to have another go. I’m still debating whether or not I’d try a chair, I’ll have to see how this weave holds up over time.

It’s also a little stretchy, as I didn’t go full tension on the tubes.

Lessons & Going Forward

What was really great was having this challenge. Though I did take my time, especially during sanding, the accountability really helped me push through and actually complete it. I’ve learned a new way to use inner tube, one that I can potentially take forward in my business.

I’ve decided to do another challenge for next month. If you’re looking at this on 30th April check out my stories on Instagram: I’ve got another poll for you to help me pick!

The idea is to keep these monthly challenges going forward as long as I’m enjoying working on them and have an idea. I’ll hashtag everything on instagram #TeamSikelLab so you can follow along with all my experiments.

Once a winner is chosen in my poll, I’ll write a bit more up about the challenge and what my next project will be.

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Footstool Upcycle – Update 2: More Prep Ideas

This post is part of a series documenting a creative upcycling challenge to update an old footstool with a new punctured bicycle inner tube top. See all posts here.

Progress

I tried sanding all those tricky places on the footstool the palm sander couldn’t reach by hand (see my last post for more info). How did it go? Well at least I got to spend an hour out in the sunshine.

While I did make some progress, I decided I would have to take it apart if I was ever going to make that new top this month/year/ever. The alternative was painting, which I wasn’t happy doing. I really love the look of woodgrain, and think it’ll look great against the black of the inner tube.

Thankfully some of the joints were loose so I was able to use my workmate to gently pry it apart.

First steps in disassembly

And then further prying and cajoling did the rest (including clamping it in the workmate, sitting astride the workmate, and manually encouraging those last stubbon bits out). At one point, one cross piece came out suddenly and I hit myself on the forehead with it. I think the cut has finally healed. Don’t let anyone tell you upcycling, or crafting for that matter, is without risk!

In the end I was able to fully take it to bits, which showed me it had been stained and varnished before assembly.

So, in a way, it was good I took it apart. Not only was I able to do a decent job sanding, but I also fell back in love with the piece – which I talk a bit more about in a reel I posted on Instagram.

Here are some beauty shots of the sanded wood:

At this point though I set it aside for a few days to focus on the Indie Roller Bundle event, as well as other personal projects. Last night I finally started polishing. I love how much warmer the wood gets with even one coat of oil.

Plain (L) and One coat of oil (R)

I’m using a natural polish containing linseed oil and beeswax, which I originally bought it to help protect my upcycled wooden earrings. The thing is… it absolutely reeks of boiled linseed oil, which isn’t particularly pleasant. The smell fades (or you go nose blind), but it’s still better to use it on furniture than anything I hope to sell.

The instructions tell me to wait 24 hrs between coats, so it’ll be a few days before I’m able to go any further.

In the meantime I’ve been thinking about what I’ll do with the top once the frame is reassembled.

Inspiration/Limitations

I have a few ideas in mind, but before we get to them, here are some ideas I bandied about but ultimately decided against. They may work for someone else, though, so I thought it worth sharing:

This tutorial from Design Sponge is great, but would involve buying in tacks (which I don’t have).

I’d also hate to hammer/staple anything into the frame if I don’t have to, as it hasn’t had any in the past.

And as anyone who’s had a blowout knows, a puncture can easily become a tear with an inner tube. The weave is going to be under a decent amount of tension when it’s finished – just asking for it to tear!

If I must, I will, but it’ll be a last option.

This tutorial on ehow goes through recreating a traditional rush seat. When I first got the chair I attempted something similar with inner tubes, but quickly realised it wouldn’t work. It’s designed for something you have very long lengths of, and inner tubes are under 2m long.

So sadly this won’t work for me either.

This Danish footstool I spotted on Etsy (sold out) is probably closer to the look I’ll end up with- at least with the spacing between the lattice strips.

It’s secured with staples, but I’m as with my first example I’d like to avoid those. I’m hoping to use the inherent grippy-ness of the inner tube to hold itself in place.

My Plan

Ultimately I hope to end up with something similar to the last example above, as I said, but without any wood visible on the cross bars.

What I think I’ll do is…

  • …wrap the cross bars with inner tube strips, similar to what I use when making my baskets, tucking the ends under the wrap.
  • Then I’ll arrange the tubes as they’ll be woven on one short and one long side of my frame.
  • Wrap again with strips to secure – maybe in some kind of decorative pattern?
  • Weave the footstool top.
  • Repeat the securing process on the other sides once the weave is done.

Hopefully the inner tube strip sandwich will keep the footstool top in place. The second lot of securing it will be a little trickier as it’ll be under pressure, but with some clamps to keep the tension as I go along the line, it might work?

My backup idea is to feed something sturdy inside the inner tubes to take the pressure and eliminate the inner tube stretch…though that might defeat the point of the upcycle. I haven’t decided. Let’s hope my original plan works instead!

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Footstool Upcycle – Update 1: Prep!

Last month I asked for your help on Instagram to help me stretch my creative muscles. When I get new ideas for things to make out of punctured bicycle inner tubes, they often get set aside due to lack of time. There’s always something pressing when you run your own business!

So I popped a poll in my Instagram stories: should I upcycle a footstool or a folding craft basket/knitting bag frame with inner tubes in April?

The footstool won, though for a while it was neck and neck.

So now I’m committed, and hoping the process gives me some accountability to see these ideas through. While I doubt this will become something I’m able to add to my regular line, the point of this is to try new things and push myself. Hopefully I’ll learn new techniques that will inform my making in the future.

First thing’s first: Prep

As much as I’d like to dive straight in with the inner tubes, the frame needed sorting out. Where the woven rush ‘seat’ for the stool had been and at the top corners, there was some damage to the wood.

Damage to the top rungs of the footstool

It needed a sand. After about an hour of work in the sunshine with my little power sander, I’d taken it as far as I could…and probably annoyed all of my neighbours in the process (sorry!).

As you can see in the second image, there were some areas the little sander was still too big to reach. I’ve since ordered some sheets of sandpaper, and hopefully the weather will improve enough for me to be outside for a few hours without freezing. This pass was done with 80 grit sandpaper, so it’ll take a good bit of time to work my way up the grades to be done.

While I don’t want to buy things specifically for this project, sandpaper is something I’ll make use of eventually – if not for products than for my evening woodworking classes or random makes at my local men’s shed – whenever it’s safe to go back to those!

This is definitely getting ahead of my self, but once sanding’s done I can wax/polish. While I sand by hand, I’ll start thinking about what I can do with those inner tubes…

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Super Seconds Saturday!

Have you guys heard about Super Seconds Saturday? Organised by Ink and Bear, it’s a special day for makers to post their seconds, prototypes, and older stock so you can grab a bargain.

Super Seconds Saturday will be extra special for me, keep reading to find out why.

SSS is EcoFriendly

Beyond being a bargain, Super Seconds Saturday can help the planet.

Stock that may not be ‘perfect’ (but that is still perfectly good!) is now able to find a home with customers instead of being potentially discarded. While in normal years I may have a seconds/sale section of my table at a market, this past year products have just sat on my shelves.

I do have an end-of-life process for those items that have significant faults, but it would be a shame to take apart the last few items of a line. Team Sikel is ALL ABOUT making the most of the resources that were used to produce products originally. So selling these at a discount will help honour my time, and also make way for new things.

Support Makers’ Potential

Buying seconds and prototypes means people can be more experimental with their creative process. They can try bold, new designs without having to worry if the products aren’t cost effective.

And while I have a bunch of ideas for new products, I always worry about potential waste if I make something that isn’t quite right. I’m happy enough using a prototype as a wallet for myself, but what happens to the iterations that I may want to go through to find the final product? I really don’t need that many! Super Seconds Saturday means I’ve got a place to list those.

What I’ll Have on Offer

I’ll have a mix of things:

  • Seconds – products that have minor faults (e.g. a skipped stitch, an old construction method). I’ll include as many photos as I can to detail why it’s a second.
  • End of Line Items – products that I don’t plan on making any more of.
  • Old Branding – if you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed a slight change to the way I label some products. The older versions will be listed as part of SSS.
  • Prototypes – test versions of products, usually for commissions.

I’ll post more information including the items on offer and discounts closer to the time, follow me on Instagram and keep an eye out for those!

How It Works

Super Second Saturday is on Saturday 27 February. At 10am, I’ll turn on the listings for my SSS products. All my products are one of a kind, but here especially the quantities are limited and will not be replaced when sold out. So if you see something you like in my previews, set an alarm!

You’ll be able to find links to where to buy all the makers’ products on the Super Seconds Saturday website. The site will be updated with the catalogue closer to the time.

So what’s my exciting announcement for this event? My products will all be listed on my teamsikel.com shop!

It’s been a long time coming. I honestly planned on launching my store last year, but with coronavirus completely lost motivation. Super Seconds Saturday is giving me a handy deadline to get myself in gear.

I can’t wait until 27th of February but there’s so much to do!

Kelly

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Upcycled Earring Display Tutorial

Team Sikel is all about creative reuse, so as much as possible of my craft stall displays are second hand or upcycled by me. It’s easy to get carried away, but also a lot of fun.

One of my early wins was this upcycled picture frame to display my earrings:

Upcycled Earring Display

While I’ve moved on to a smaller frame as my balance of stock shifted, I was really pleased with how this turned out. This was the first version to be able to stand on its own.

Without the stand, the picture frame is a simple make that shows off your earring collection in a unique way.

Want to make your own?

Read on to learn how to make a wall-hanging version, but if you’re interested in how I made my stand, or have any other questions, email me. Once I find where I saved the pictures of my process for the stand, I’ll write another post!

Step 1: Collect Your Materials

Materials
Wooden Picture Frame
Wire Mesh
Tools
Pliers / Wire Cutter
Staple Gun & Staples
Hammer
Thick Work Gloves

You’ll be cutting and bending wire mesh, so thick work gloves will help prevent injuries to your hands. Your clothes may get caught by the mesh, so wear something you don’t mind getting holes in, too!

Some top tips:

  • Deep box picture frames work best – shallow ones won’t leave enough room for your backings to hang properly.
  • Look for wood frames – something you can staple into.
  • Before buying your mesh, measure the height/width of the picture recess- that’s what I’m calling the part where the glass and picture go. My picture recess was 51 cm high x 40 cm wide, so I needed at least 53 x 42 cm of mesh.
  • Keep metal allergies in mind when picking out your mesh. I used galvanised steel, which means it’s coated in zinc (a common metal in jewellery). My next one will probably be brass.
  • Buy staples that are shorter than the thickness of your frame or they’ll bust through to the outside (ask me how I know!). Mine was about 1cm thick.
  • Thicker gauge staples will be easier to tap in if necessary, and less likely to snap if you need to remove a mistake.

Step 2: Prepare Your Picture Frame

​Remove any glass, backing, and pictures from your frame. You may need to use your pliers to remove staples. I ended up with several staples that snapped until only tiny points remained above the wood that I couldn’t remove. Just tap those in with a hammer.

Backing sits on the ledge to the right
No backing ledge

If you’re using a deep frame (and I hope you are), take a look at where your backing sits. On frames that give you the full depth in front of where the backing sits, you can choose to leave in the metal strips that hold the backing in place (first photo above). On other frames, you can remove those, too (second photo above).

Did you want to decorate your frame? I like the industrial raw wood look. If you’re going to paint or decoupage, do it now. It will be much harder when the mesh is in and stapled.

Step 3: Cut your mesh to size

Take the picture recess height and width, and add at least 1cm to each side for the staples to catch (I’m assuming you’re using a deep frame here, remember). Your exact amount depends on the depth of your frame, and whether or not you’ll use the backing.

My picture recess height and width were 51 cm and 40 cm respectively. Adding 1 cm to each side gets me to 53 cm x 42 cm. (NB: when doing this version I added the full 1.5 depth, or maybe even a little more, which caused problems later. You can see in the photos).

Mark your measurements along the mesh at intervals and cut with your wire cutters. Be careful not to cut yourself, and wear the gloves to prevent any injuries from the wires.

Once you’ve got it cut out, remove the corners as shown: Take out a square with sides as long as the depth amount you added. I removed a 1 cm x 1 cm square from each corner, but your measurements will vary.

Step 4: Fold and staple in your mesh

Carefully fold the mesh to the dimensions of your picture recess.

Check that your mesh fits properly within the frame. As I mentioned in the section above, I added too much to my picture recess dimensions: on my first attempt, wires were poking past the edge of the frame. That meant it would leave scratches on the wall. If you follow my instructions above you shouldn’t have this problem, but if you do, just take the mesh out of the frame and cut off a little more along each side.

Once it fits properly, use your staple gun to attach the mesh. Start at the centre of each side, and once all four sides have a staple in, you can move towards the corners.

Use enough staples that it’s secure. You may need to use a hammer to tap some in.

Step 5: Hang and Enjoy

Hang using your preferred method. As the frame I showed ended up getting a stand, here’s the one I use for my personal collection:

If you’ve used a box frame that allows you to keep the backing, you can use the existing hanger, and also change up the background from time to time.

It’s hard to see above, but I’ve used some pretty wrapping paper I carefully removed from a birthday present.

Thanks for reading – please share on social and tag me @teamsikel on Instagram and Facebook if you make one of your own!

-Kelly