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Summer is finally here! And summer is definitely a prime season for upcycle projects – what with all that fabulous sunshine to dry paint and glue in!
Here are some superbly summery upcycle ideas to keep you busy.
[Note this post was updated June 2020 – originally published July 2019]
Flip Flops to Sandals
The first thing most people do when the sun starts to shine is kick off those old sneakers and boots in favour of some footwear that lets your toes breath and wiggle.
But if you fancy something fancier than your old boring flip flops, try this upcycle idea to turn your flip flops into beachy sandals.
We found lots of ideas of how to decorate your old flip flops, from hot glueing decorations onto your existing flip flop thong to dangling beads and other bits and bobs off of them to macrame, but this idea was our favourite.
It involves using scrap fabric or an old scarf or strips of an old t-shirt and physically replacing the thong of your flip flop with the new material, either gathered, flat or braided.
There is a great tutorial at All Free Sewing (the third photo) and you can go to town making this one your own once you get the basic idea of how its done.
Simple Scarf Top
We’ve seen lots of ways to reuse your collection of scarves (they seem to be the go to gift for women at Christmas and Birthdays and frankly it gets difficult to wear them all!), but we always seem to come back to this simple boat neck scarf upcycle idea.
It only involves a small amount of stitching and depending on the size of your scarves you can end up with a cute short sleeved top, an off the shoulder slinky number or a long drapey poncho. All lovely and cool to wear on a summer’s day.
This is the best and most simple tutorial we found for how to do this by Cut out and Keep.
What to do with last year’s broken or out of style sunglasses?
Ok, if you actually have enough old sunglasses for this project you have a shopping problem!
But you could always offer to collect all your friend’s old and battered pairs to make up enough to make something as crazy fabulous as these ones!
If you only have the odd pair of broken sunnies, try the next idea!
Sunglass Lens Brooch
So these photos above are actually brooches made from the lenses of regular glasses rather than sunglasses, but we liked the idea so much we wanted to see if there was a version that would work for both. So we’ve done a tutorial of how to make these brooches by decoupaging under the lens (which you would do with a regular clear lens) or over it (for a tinted lens).
You can find the How to Guide here. To be honest we can’t decide which one we like best. What do you think?
If you have a beach ball with a small puncture in it obviously you can tape it up with some duct tape and keep playing.
But what if you can’t find the puncture or there is more than one? What about turning it into a little wet/dry tote bag like this.
It would make a great little place to stuff wet swimsuits for the journey home.
We found a tutorial here you can try but it’s basically cutting a hole in the top, hemming and threading through some cord or rope for the drawstring.
This project is most useful if your beach ball is relatively large probably but a cute reuse project we thought!
Speaking of punctures, what about old garden hoses that has started springing a leak everywhere? Well actually we found lots of ideas from using them to weave a bench seat or fruit basket, to snaking them along the side of a flower bed as a kind of a fence with stakes to hold it up.
But the one we liked best was this simple one about using old hoses as an outdoor matt or rug. It basically involves manipulating the hose around in a circle or oval shape and securing each strand of hose to the next with cable ties. You can find a tutorial here.
This would be great either right outside the door as you come in or even inside a utility room or mud room to collect all the dirt. When it gets too dirty itself you can just take it outside and spray it down with your new hose!
Watering Can Wind Chime
What could be more summery than the soft tinkling sound of a wind chime in the breeze on a sunny day? We love these double upcycled examples of rusted watering cans and broken bits of necklaces and chandeliers. Just charming.
All you need is a watering can that still has its spout cover with the holes in it attached and some jump rings. You can then thread the jump rings through the holes and your strings of beads/crystal/glass, etc.
If you are able to take the spout cover off and put it back on again securely you could also just tie the beads on using their existing string by threading it through the holes (without the jump rings).
If your beads are weighing down the spout cover then you could try gluing it back on to give it some extra strength. Once your bobbles are attached you just need to hang it from a tree, fence or hanging hook to create a beautiful piece of garden art that is a wind chime too.
Transformed Garden Chairs
Sunny days are the best days for painting and decoupaging outdoors. We found loads of gorgeous examples of how to make your garden chairs extraordinary whether they are plastic, metal or wood.
Plastic and metal chairs can be spray painted or decoupaged and while you can do the same for wood, Adirondack style chairs really lend themselves to some creative hand painted artistry.
Just be sure to use a proper outdoor sealant afterward so your piece of art doesn’t deteriorate over time.
Like boot planters, chair planters are an oldy but a goody. You can do these in a very polished way by painting your flower pot to match your chair, like Bev of Revamped (third photo with the graduated spray paint effect) or in a ramshackle – ‘this just happened I didn’t engineer it at all’ – kind of a way, like the second photo. Whichever way you do it, it is a great garden feature for adding some height and interest. It’s always a talking point for guests too.
Either way you need a hole in the seat of your chair essentially. So ideally you will have the container you want your plants in so you can measure how big the hole should be and cut accordingly. This is easiest if your pot has a bit of a lip to rest on the hole you’ve created.
Another method involves removing the whole seat (like a dining room chair for example where the seat can just be unscrewed) and using some burlap or other porous material and stapling it on to the seat so it sags down in the middle, then you can just add your soil and plants directly on to the material. This method works well for succulents for example. I made two of my own chair planters using a similar method that you can check out here.
DIY Garden Bench
This summery DIY project is one of our own. It’s a cot bed transformed into a bright and breezy garden bench.
It didn’t require any power tools, just a lick of paint and a bit of light sewing to whip up the cushion covers.
You can get the full tutorial on how to transform your own old cot bed into a garden bench here.
Denim Picnic Blanket
Do you have a load of old jeans? Or a pile of denim scraps from other upcycle projects you’ve done with your old jeans? Then use them to make a thick and durable picnic blanket. We thought this one was genius. When it gets wet and dirty it can get washed but its still thick enough to fend off any light moisture in the grass. On it’s own this won’t be waterproof but Home Talk suggest using an old shower curtain sewn to the underside to make it more waterproof. Here is their tutorial.
With or without the shower curtain we think this is a great idea for old denim bits and you don’t have to be as structured with the shape of the denim squares as in that tutorial. You can just sew on old bits of denim as you go until you get to a size you are happy with. A great ongoing project for your denim scraps!
I actually took inspiration from the blankets above to make my own Denim Quilt Picnic Blanket. I made mine reversible, using a quilt pattern for the top and that scrappy improv method I mentioned for the back!
If you liked any of these ideas and you want to come back to them later, don’t forget to Pin it!
Do you need to fill your summer with even more projects? Check out these ideas: