Jewelry Made From Castoffs & Recyclables

RunwayDIY's Alphabet Necklace

Alphabet Jewelry

When your child grows out of the alphabet letters on the fridge stage, you’ll now have two reasons to celebrate. 1) your child is growing up and 2) you can use those letters to make a fabulous necklace or zipper pull. Check out RunwayDIY’s fabulous Alphabet Necklace for step-by-step instructions.

Variation: use this same technique to attach other small toys; think army men spray painted in a bold color or shiny metallic. Fa-a-a-a-abulou-u-u-s!

Plastic Bangles Grow Up

When your daughter grows out of her plastic bangles or you find yourself clawing your way through an entire layer of plastic bangles trying to find a pair of socks then it’s time to grow those bangles up. This project is so simple. All you need to do is wrap them in string, ribbon, lace, strips of t-shirt fabric … and suddenly those annoyingly cheap bangles looks like they came from the latest designer. Okay, maybe not THAT much of an upgrade, but certainly four steps up the fashion ladder, right?

You probably don’t need these remarkably simple instructions but just in case you’re reading this on a day when you’re brain-dead from an exhausting afternoon of chasing toddlers around the house I’ll include a step-by-step.

1. Tie or glue your chosen decorative wrap item to the inside of the bangle.

2. Wrap – and wrap – and wrap – and continue wrapping until you come back around to the start of your wrapping.

3. Tie or glue the end of the decorative wrap to the inside of the bangle.

You can leave it as is or try one of the variations below:

  • Gather 4 to 8 decorative wraps and wrap the bangle in sections so that you have a striped bangle.
  • String beads or charms onto the wrap as you cover the bracelet.
  • After wrapping the entire bracelet wrap it again with a sheer fabric or lace.


Hair Clips

Glue broken jewelry such as a pendant, brooch or earring to a plain hair clip. If needed use a pair of jewelry cutters or raid your man’s toolbox for a similar tool to clip off any pieces on the back of the broken jewelry item that prevent it from laying flat to the hair clip. You can use these in your hair, on a pair of shoes, on a purse or as a brooch.


  • Pile on lots of broken jewelry to make a real statement piece.
  • Use buttons (clip the shank from the back) instead of jewelry.

Snips & Spice's Zipper Rose

Zipper Roses

Malory of Snips and Spice shares a tutorial to make these roses from cast-off zippers. You can attach your zipper roses to a plain hair clip, headband, brooch back or barrette.

Bullet Jewelry

Bullet jewelry? Really? It’s come to this? Well if  you’re truly committed to the Reduce-Reuse-Recycle lifestyle then you’ll follow your man to the target range and collect the shells from his spent bullets. The bonus here is that you can use the shells to make some pretty cool looking jewelry. Again, it’s one of our favorite bloggers to the rescue for this DIY. Take it away RunwayDIY!

Tangled Necklace

Sometimes a couple of necklaces seems outdated, looking a little sad sitting at the bottom of your jewelry box but you hang onto them for sentimental reasons, or someone you love gave them to you and you feel guilty not wearing them, or maybe because you’re hoping they’ll come back into style. Well today’s the day! All you need to do is gather three to six necklaces that look nice together and hang them over your arm. Slip a ribbon or long piece of lace through all the necklaces and tie in a knot. Now twist the necklaces until you like what you see and slip another ribbon/lace through the other end of all the necklaces. Tie the ribbon behind your neck and you have a great new necklace that didn’t cost a penny.

Vintage Watch Bracelet

If you have a broken watch with a band that you like you can turn it into a beautiful new bracelet. Or look for watches with bands that you like at your thrift store or garage sale.

Thread a needle with heavy-duty thread in a color that closely matches your watchband or use fishing line. Thread the needle through a plain small button. Place the button on the backside of the watchband and use the needle and thread to attach buttons, pendants, broken brooches, fabric flowers … whatever you fancy to the watchband. You’re done when you like the result.

Denim Wrap Bracelet

Use the flat-fell seam from a denim refashion to create a wrap bracelet. Trim the seam so that it is of a length to wrap once, twice … six times around your wrist. Sew a cute button to one end of the seam and a button loop made from a small piece of elastic to the other end of the bracelet. Wrap and wear.


  • Sew many buttons to the bracelet.
  • Sew one big fabric flower to the bracelet.


Pantyhose & Tights Recycled into Amazing Things

recycle your pantyhose

I don’t know if anyone is still wearing pantyhose. Personally I don’t buy them anymore and I’m using up all my old pairs to keep warm under my long skirts, jeans and as a second layer under tights, but eventually they will run and so I’ve found some great ways to use them around the house. FYI: I use the techniques below also with tights that have a run or snag.

Air Freshener

Cut a pair of old pantyhose off at the knees. Spoon one of the mixtures below into the foot and tie closed. Then just put it under the seat in your car, stash it in a dresser drawer, in an inconspicuous spot in the bathroom or kitchen. Yes it’s ugly, but that’s why you hide it.

  • approximately 1 tablespoon each whole cloves and allspice and several cinnamon sticks
  • store-bought potpourri – you can buy the ugly potpourri which is much cheaper but smells wonderful, remember you’re going to be hiding this air freshener.

Arm Warmers

A pair of thick tights can be used as arm warmers to allow you to wear your favorite short sleeve t-shirt into colder weather or under long sleeved shirts and sweaters to keep you even warmer. Just cut off the foot section and then cut off each leg at the top. Leave as is or turn under and hem to give it a more finished edge. You can even cut a little thumb-slit at the foot end for a cooler look and a warmer warmer. Pantyhose arm warmers work if you’re going to be using them under long sleeves, but they look a little strange if you’re wearing them with a short sleeve shirt.

Candle Cleaner

Cleaning a dusty candle is easy when you have a pair of old pantyhose on hand. Just slip the candle inside the leg of the hose and roll it around, making sure to carefully wipe the top of the candle with the hose.

Candle Making

Smooth rough spots on your homemade candles by rubbing them with a piece of pantyhose.

Car Emergency Kit

Wrap a quilt made from old blankets (doesn’t matter if it’s ugly) around a large coffee can filled with emergency supplies and secure with a pair of old pantyhose or tights which can then be used for a variety of emergencies such as:

  • to replace a broken belt in your car’s engine
  • as a tourniquette
  • to filter liquids (hey, you never know where you might get stranded)
  • to secure a splint to a broken arm or leg

China Cleaner

Delicate china can benefit from a gentle cleaning with a pair of old pantyhose. The pantyhose are abrasive enough to get the china clean and gentle enough to avoid scratching it.

Computer Protector

Stretch a pair of panty hose over the back of your hard drive to keep dust out.

Deodorant Stain Remover

Remove deodorant stains from clothing in a flash by rubbing with a wadded up length of pantyhose.


Ehow has a great tutorial for making pantyhose dolls.

Draft Dodger

Stuff the leg cut from a pair of pantyhose or tights with newspaper or scrap fabric. Position at the bottom of a door that’s letting in a little too much air.


Cut pantyhose into strips to give you the length of the elastic that you need. I like to use them to replace the drawstrings in my workout pants and shorts because I can tie them at the length that will hold my pants up and they are stretchy enough that I can take them off and put them on without having to constantly untie and retie the drawstring. Love a makeover that makes life a little easier 🙂

Eyeglass Cleaner

One pair of pantyhose with a run can save you from ever having to purchase disposable eyeglass cleaners again. Pantyhose are lint free and have enough of an abrasive surface to clean without scratching.

Cut a pair of pantyhose which you can no longer wear into small squares and stash them where you can easily grab them to clean your eyeglasses and sunglasses. Stash a few in your purse, in a desk drawer, in your automobile glove compartment … I’m a bit obsessive so I store them inside snack-size baggies but you could use recycled envelopes as well.

You can also use them to clean your computer screen and the glass or acrylic in your picture frames.

Place used pantyhose squares in a mesh lingerie bag, wash and re-use them over and over again.


A clean pair of pantyhose makes a great filter. Make sure that if there is a run you are not using that area for your filter as it will not filter effectively. Here are some of the ways I’ve used them, but I’m sure once you get the idea you’ll come up with many more uses for them:

  • Stretched over a paint bucket. Pour paint with debris in it through the pantyhose into the new container.
  • When I forgot to bring a colander on a camping trip a pair of pantyhose stretched over the pasta cooking pot was a lifesaver. And for those of you who are wondering – no I did not pack pantyhose to wear on a camping trip; an old pair of pantyhose is part of my emergency gear kit.
  • An old pantyhose leg can stand in for an expensive metal lint trap for the hose on your washing machine. You can easily attach an section of a pair of old pantyhose to the washing machine hose with a rubber band then just throw the pantyhose away when it’s full.

Find Lost Items

Next time that you drop a small earring, a contact lens or a beaded necklace breaks don’t despair. Slip the leg of a pair of pantyhose over your vacuum cleaner hose. Move the hose over the area where the dropped item is and in a flash you’ll find it clinging to the mouth of the hose.

Fishing Net

If you have an old tennis, badmitten or racquetball racquet that’s no longer fit for a good game you have the beginnings of a new fishing net. Remove the strings from the racquet. Cut off one leg from an old pair of pantyhose. Using a staple-gun, staple the leg to the racquet. Grab you pole and head to the river!


refashioned pantyhose flowers

This doesn’t work well for nude pantyhose, but colored pantyhose and tights can be easily made into flowers to use for your refashions,  flowers for pillows or curtain trim or curtain tiebacks … Check out these tutorials for detailed instructions with pictures:

Wired Pantyhose Flowers

More Wired Pantyhose Flowers

Flowers for Fashion

Note: you can toss your nude pantyhose into a dye bath if you want to use them to make up some flowers.


Frisbee? Yes, you can make a frisbee out of old pantyhose or tights.

Garden Pest Control

This one is a bit odd and many of you may forgo doing this, but I’m here to give you options and this is a viable option AND a two-fer since you’re also recycling cut hair. Ask a local salon or barbershop for swept up hair. Wearing gardening gloves (the hair ends can be sharp), stuff used unwashed panty hose with the hair scraps. Place these in your garden. You may want to hide them under bushes or in trees since let’s face it, they’re ugly. The human smell generated from the hair and unwashed pantyhose will help to keep many pests and animals away from your garden.

Garden Ties

Cut pantyhose across legs into ½ inch wide bands. Cut each tube band apart so that you have ties approximately six-inches long. These are ideal to train climbing plants and to tie plantings to stakes.

Garden Hammock

For fruits and vegetables that are growing on a trellis and need to be supported a pantyhose hammock is a great solution. Tie both foot ends of the pantyhose to the trellis arranging them so that the pantyhose  is supporting the produce in its own hammock. For extra protection tie a knot at the top and bottom of each fruit or vegetable. Don’t worry about making these knots close to the produce as the pantyhose will stretch as the produce grows.

Hair Scrunchies

Cut pantyhose across the leg for ponytail scrunchies. What I love about these is that pantyhose scrunchies look so much more elegant than the ones you buy at the store that have gathered cotton fabric sewn into a tube. Don’t believe me? Try it. They really look quite elegant. Or if you want a really unique scrunchie check out this tutorial on Fingerweave Hair Scrunchies.

Hair Headbands

Cut your pantyhose across the top for headbands. If your pantyhose are the same color as your hair they’ll appear invisible while holding your hair in place. If your pantyhose are colored you can pair them with several different color pantyhose for the effect you want. You can even clip a lightweight brooch to the headband for a different look.

Paint Saver

A pair of pantyhose can save a can of paint. Stretch the pantyhose over a paint bucket that has debri in it. Pour paint through the pantyhose into a new container.

Poster Storage

Slip a rolled up poster into a pair of pantyhose leg to keep it from unrolling and the edges from tearing. If the leg isn’t staying up around the poster, use the waistband of the pantyhose as a tie around the poster.

Recycling Helper

Use the waistband cut from a pair of pantyhose to hold a pile of newspapers or broken down boxes together.


Slip a sponge into a length cut from a leg of pantyhose. Knot both ends to keep the sponge inside. You now have a non-abrasive scrubbing pad you can use for dishes and cleaning up around the house.

Shine Shoes

Rub pantyhose over your leather shoes to shine them right up.

Soap Mitt

Drop bits of soap into the cut-off leg of a pair of old pantyhose. Tie the top of the leg just above the soap pouch and tuck the end of the long leg into the tied portion so that you have a loop. Hang your pre-soaped mitt in the shower.

Stuffed Animals

stuffed animals made from tights

Use old tights to make stuffed animals for your little ones. Bonus – these tend to have a nice vintage look.

Stuffed Animal Repair

If your child has a favorite stuffed animal that has seen better days you can give it new life by picking a couple of inches apart along a seam and stuffing a pair or two of pantyhose inside then stitching it back up.

Trash Can Liner

Cut the waistband from a pair of old panty hose and use as a giant band to secure the trash bag onto the trash can.

Wrapping Paper Storage

Slip a roll of wrapping paper into a pair of pantyhose leg to keep it from unrolling and the edges from tearing. If the leg isn’t staying up around the wrapping paper roll, use the waistband of the pantyhose as a tie around the roll.

Recycling Projects Using Large Cans

There are so many things that you can do with large cans. They’re great for organizing, storing, building blocks for children, crafts … There are so many things that you can do with large cans that we wanted to start this page to give our readers some ideas. If you have a project or idea for using large cans that we haven’t listed here, please feel free to leave a comment.

Decorate Your Recycled Can

You can cover the outside of your recyled can using any of the items or methods below:

  • wallpaper sample or scraps
  • decoupage pictures
  • decorative napkins
  • aluminum flashing
  • mosiac using broken dishes
  • mosiac or glue on buttons
  • mosiac tiles
  • paper mache
  • gift wrap
  • construction paper
  • book cover
  • decorative contact paper
  • paint


Cut a thin rectangle out of the lid using a craft knife. Decorate your new bank however you like.

Craft Storage

Store craft & sewing supplies in large cans with or without a lid. Use labels or pictures to identify what’s in each can.

Flower Vase

Set a jar or water glass into a decorated can.

Hanging Vase

Paint or decoupage as many clean aluminum cans as you will want for vases. Punch a hole near the top of the can with a nail and fill half way with water. Hang on picture hooks and place flowers or greenery in each can.

Kitchen Utensil Holder

Prepare plaster-of-paris or cement according to package directions. Pour 1 to 2-inches of plaster into utensil holder to make it more stable. Allow to dry before adding kitchen utensils!

Magnifying Waterscope

Use a can opener to remove both ends from a large can. Cover the sharp edges on both ends of the can with strong tape such as duct or masking tape to protect your child and prevent the plastic wrap from tearing. Stretch plastic wrap over one end of the can and secure with a rubber band, then wrap tape around the can to secure the rubber band. Tip: to get a better view line the inside of the can with anything black, such as black paint, craft foam or construction paper.

Dip the covered end of the can into the water and look into the can from the open end. The pressure of the water against the plastic wrap curves it, making it into a magnifying lens!

To make your waterscope more fun place objects in the water to view or take your waterscope to a tide pool.

Make Life Easier

Keep your small survival items in a large coffee can stored in your trunk and/or in a convenient place in your home.

As a campfire cooking utensil you can boil foods in the can and place the aluminum lid directly on your coals as a fry pan.

Store candle stubs.

Use cans for mixing custom paint colors then just snap the plastic lid on to store. Don’t forget to dab a bit of paint on the outside of the can to make finding the color you want easy. If you’ll be storing your paint for longer than a week or two seal the lid with tape to make it airtight.

A plastic lid from a large can will make your next painting job less messy. Cut a slit in the center of the lid and pull the paintbrush handle through the slit so that the brush is on the side of the lid with the lip. Dip your brush in the paint and slap away at the wall just like you normally would only this time there won’t be any drips down the handle of the brush or splatters on your hands or eyeglasses.

Pantry Storage

Store opened dry goods in cans that have reusable plastic lids such as empty coffee cans. Leave them right in their paper or plastic bags, just drop into the can & label, or pour into can, cut label off original container & tape to can.

Safe Bank

Glue a few of the original potato chips to the inside lid of the can. Keep it in your pantry as a safe place to store valuables. Few burglars will even bother to glance twice at the can, but if they do they’ll see the potato chips through the lid and hopefully won’t bother to open the can. As further insurance instead of gluing chips to the lid you can put your valuables inside, then stack chips on top of them. It will be harder for you to retrieve your goodies when you want them but they will be safer from prying hands since the can will look and feel more like a real potato chip can.

Tip: don’t use this method to store heavy valuables as the can will feel too heavy and be a dead giveaway that there’s more than potato chips in it.

Safe Mailer

Use an empty container with its original lid to mail cookies, other baked goods and breakable items. Just fill with goodies, securely tape the lid in place, wrap in plain paper, address and mail. Don’t forget to label your package “Fragile”, although I label all my packages “Breakable” and “Glass” to ensure they are treated gently.


Turn two 1-pound coffee cans upside down so that the plastic lid is on the bottom. Leave the lid on as it will help to protect your floors. There are several ways to attach foot or hand holds:

Spread epoxy glue on the bottom of two old shoes or sandals that are large enough for your kids to put their feet into. Attach shoes to the metal top of the now upside down coffee cans. When epoxy is dry your kids can put their feet inside the shoes and take off.

Using a nail poke two holes, one on each side of the can about half and inch from the top. Thread several strands of ribbon or string that have been braided together, or some rope, through holes in cans. Tie a knot inside the can. Kids can stand on the cans and hold onto the rope handles. They’ll need to practice lifting each foot with the corresponding rope to be able to walk in their stilts.

Cut an old belt into six-inch lengths so that you have 4 lengths for each pair of stilts. Nail one end of each length to the top of each can so that there are two straps on each can that are spaced so that a child can slide his/her foot into them. You might want to start by having your child stand on a pair of cans while you position and mark the straps. After nailing the straps in place (without the child’s feet in them!) turn the cans over and bend the nails down.

Wine Rack

This project can be made using aluminum or cardboard cans. I used a mix of coffee canisters and oatmeal canisters. Give them a rinse. Spray with three coats of paint. Let dry completely.

Use just a bit of tape at the mouths of each canister to connect three canisters together for the base. Do the same with two cans for the second tier. Glue each row of canisters together with clear silicone or any other strong glue, then glue the row of two cans to the row of three cans and top the two can row with one can. When glue is dry, remove the tape and you have a wine rack for FREE – whee!

more great recycling ideas