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10 Summer Upcycle Projects to do in the Sunshine

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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.

From easy garden DIY Projects to no sew crafts and ways to reuse broken cluttered junk to beautify your outdoor space!

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.

Sunglasses Chandelier

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

Upcycled lens brooch
`Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

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?

Beach Ball

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!

Garden Hose

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.

Chair Planters

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.

DIY Outdoor Side Table from Junk

repurposing junk - outdoor side table
Photo: Charlie Miller

Need an outdoor side table for a small patio or backyard space? Try reusing the old junk in your garage that you keep meaning to get rid of to make your own one of a kind side table.

Charlie Miller one of our regular guest bloggers made this outdoor side table using a large empty paint drum, a broken garden hose, some sample tiles and a slab of wood from a failed mushroom growing project! See her upcycled junk side table journey here.

What could you make with your junk?

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.

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 the examples above 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’ve now made two denim quilt picnic blankets – one using a classic quilt pattern and one more improv style.

diy denim quilt from old jeans
Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

I originally 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 a scrappy improv method for the back!

quick denim quilt
Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

And the year after that I made another one! This new one I call my Quick Denim Quilt as it was much easier and simpler to make!

If you want more ideas for your denim scraps or old jeans check out this post too!

Paint Cans

How to upcycle empty paint cans outdoor planter
Photo: Charlie Miller

If you’ve been using the summery weather to get some painting done we’ve got a great DIY for those leftover paint cans. One of our guest bloggers, Charlie Miller has turned her empty paint tins into unique outdoor planters. Check out the paint can to planter tutorial here.

Summery Festive Bunting

make bunting
Photo: Bewley’s Bunting Emporium
rag bunting
Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

What’ s more fun than some colourful bunting fluttering in the summer breeze? We have two fab tutorials for making your own easy no sew bunting!

Check out this Festive Bunting Tutorial by Bewley’s Bunting Emporium or our super easy No Sew Rag Bunting Video Tutorial here.

If you liked any of these ideas and you want to come back to them later, don’t forget to Pin it!

summer upcyling projects

Do you need to fill your summer with even more projects? Check out these ideas:

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Bonnie Edwards

Friday 25th of September 2020

I have made lawn blankets using old flannel backed vinyl tablecloths as the backing. Also made a seat cover for my vehicle so I could protect my seats from getting wet when I got in in a wet swim suit. (also handy if you pick up a child that has managed to get wet, muddy, nasty.) Much easier to wash a seat cover than a car seat.

Kristen Hubert

Friday 25th of September 2020

Super smart ideas! I love them! Thanks so much.

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