Some time ago I received a 4-man tent from Freegle: it was beyond repair and no longer suitable for camping, but I wanted it for the fabric.  So, armed with a pair of scissors I set about cutting up the tent, putting aside everything that “would come in handy one day” (oh how that phrase haunts me!).

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What I ended up with was yards of lightweight waterproof material in green and purple, pieces of breathable fabric and netting, a large section of groundsheet, several lengths of nylon cord, two very long zips, webbing straps and tabs, miscellaneous plastic and metal fixings and a bag of flexible rods which contained lengths of thin elastic.  What was left over was further separated into a carrier bag of scrap fabric and an even smaller bag of rubbish which went into the bin, that even now I wonder whether I could have found a use for.

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Whilst many parts of the tent are in a box waiting for their reinvention, here’s what some of it has already become.

Waterproof linings and drawstring cords for swim bags:

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Plain linings for Children’s Doodlebags:

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Adding colour when making a hooked rag rug, as taught by Rosemary Stow:

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However, my favourite project by far was something for our trampoline.  We were fortunate enough to be given a 14ft trampoline via Freegle; well used but perfectly sound, the only thing it needed (apart from to be in a larger garden) was a new padded surround to go over the springs, as the old one had perished.

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Never willing to buy something when I can make it, I thought of the groundsheet that had been part of the tent.  I deconstructed the old cover to make a template which I used to cut out nine identical double layered sections that together would form a ring; there wasn’t enough fabric for all nine but fortunately I had a spare tarpaulin (also from Freegle) which made up the shortfall.

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Having worked out how the cover was made, I machine stitched both layers of each section together along the shorter curved edge, and with the resulting seam turned inwards, the sections were then sewn together along the short straight edges forming a giant O.

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I now had a huge circle with nine pockets, each of which I filled with layers of bubblewrap which came from…….you guessed it, Freegle.

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I then made a long strip, 3 or 4″ wide, using offcuts of the groundsheet which I sewed together and stitched to the outer edge of the ring, thereby enclosing the bubblewrap and forming a skirt that would sit over the rim of the trampoline.

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The final stage was to sew on the tapes that I had salvaged from the old cover, by which the new cover would be securely tied on.

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All that was left was to check whether it would fit…..so, out into the rain I went with my arms full of my strange and unwieldy creation and tried it on.  By some miracle it was exactly the right shape and size!

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I have no idea how much replacement covers cost to buy, but whilst saving money is a factor, my main motivation to upcycle is to see what I can make out of something that would otherwise have been thrown away.

I encourage you to join your local branch of Freegle or Freecycle and see whether you can breathe new life into someone else’s cast-offs.  I’d love to see the results.

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