Shop Etsy

Making Memories Last: The Art of Sentimental Upcycling

Jun 5, 2013

by Linzee McCray

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

There’s something innately satisfying about upcycling: rethinking the way an item is used, renewing its functionality, and keeping it out of the landfill, all at the same time. Turning second-hand suitcases into side tables and junked jars into lanterns is one thing, but reconfiguring items near and dear to your heart adds a layer of complexity. How best to honor the memories in the skirt you wore to your parents’ anniversary party; the earrings your grandmother donned at the winter holidays; or the dresser into which you tucked your baby’s clothes? While they may no longer be stylish or useful, the sentiments attached make us hang on tight.

baby_dress_parfait

Petite Parfait

This custom christening gown was made from a family wedding dress.

Wedding dresses certainly fit that description — laden with memories but rarely re-worn, they get tucked away in the back of closets. But Erika Mills of Petite Parfait, a creator of custom clothing for children, sees wedding dresses as the perfect raw material for christening gowns, bridesmaid’s dresses, and other elegant children’s wear. “Every dress is different and it keeps the creativity flowing,” says Erika. “There is a lot of emotion attached to wedding dresses, and people share their stories with me. One woman had three generations of family wedding gowns made into one christening gown as a shower gift for her daughter. Another wanted her adopted daughter to have a beautiful blessing dress from her wedding gown as a symbol that she was chosen.”

heirloom_recycled_brooch_bouquet

Noaki Jewelry

Noaki Jewelry creates custom bridal bouquets using heirloom brooches and earrings.

Upcycling day-t0-day items can be just as meaningful. A desire to preserve the receiving blankets she’d wrapped her newborn babies in provided crocheter Julia Akpan with fodder for the memory bowls she sells in her shop the BackLoop. “I didn’t want them to end up as grungy rags, so I made one into a bowl that now holds my daughter’s hair ties and barrettes,” says Akpan. She’s since offered the same opportunity to her Backloop customers and appreciates that they’re entrusting her with something of deep sentimental value. “It can be a challenge, because some of the blankets come to me in tatters and threadbare. But to give something back its life, its usefulness, and its prominent place in a family feels so special.”

warmnufuzzies_memorial_quilt

Warm ’n’ Fuzzies

An heirloom quilt constructed with old baby clothing.

While it brings satisfaction, working with cherished artifacts isn’t always easy. Tiffany Nelson of Warm ‘n’ Fuzzies creates quilts from baby clothing. Her first customer was the mother of a two-year-old who had died of cancer. “I had a hard time cutting into his clothing,” says Tiffany. “I have two boys of my own, and I could not stop thinking about the family and what they must be going through.” She’s gone on to make numerous quilts from baby clothes for families whose children have grown older. “I imagine how hard it must be to send off your memories to a complete stranger and wait for months to see what the end product will look like,” says Tiffany, so she keeps customers apprised of her progress through photos. “I make these quilts because it brings a smile to my face every time I finish one and I hear my customer’s reaction.”

recipe_dish

Prairie Hills Pottery

Commemorate a favorite family recipe with a custom dish in the cook’s handwriting.

Emotions run deep for many Etsy sellers who upcycle sentimental items. Mario Nickos of Redsmo has created teddy bears for children from the clothing of a grandparent who died before they were born. Mumsey of Mumsey’s Mouse House got started when she crafted tiny mice for family members from clothing their deceased mother had worn. “When I saw the joy it brought them, I decided to offer this to others,” she says. Goldie of Goldie Fox transforms military uniforms and the memories they hold into bags, including a New Daddy bag for a friend. “It is very rewarding to give new life to something as symbolic and emotional as a uniform,” she says.

Creating new memories from old is at the heart of sentimental upcycling. As Julia Akpan says, “Don’t let the things you once cherished languish in a closet, attic, or basement. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture; a simple crocheted bowl, a quilt made from concert T-shirts, or coasters from the wine corks from your wedding can give you a little daily reminder of special moments in your life.”

Scroll through this slideshow for more innovative reuse of much-loved objects.

  • Custom Metal Knitting Needle Bracelet

    These handmade, textured and shaped custom bracelets are made from your mom, grandmom or great-grandmother's knitting needles.
  • Custom Broken Plate Jewelry from YOUR Broken Plate - Recycled Chi

    Don't throw out that broken china! Pay tribute with a custom necklace.
  • Custom Messenger Bag

    Transform a military uniform into a functional messenger bag.
  • Memories Recycled Custom Made To Order Teddies

    Recycle any beloved item of clothing into a huggable, lovable teddy bear.
  • Memory Bowl Baby Blanket

    Recycle your child's receiving blanket with this sweetly nostalgic memory bowl.
  • Custom Surfboard Bag

    A surfboard bag made from anything you desire (even your grandfather's suit).
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152 comments

  • SpearmintAndThyme

    Jennifer Heald from SpearmintAndThyme said 4 years ago

    I love the idea of converting something sentimental into something useful - its beautiful to think that a memory can be cherished in a different way. A very inspiring post! Given me lots of great ideas! Thank you!

  • MegansMenagerie

    Megan from MegansMenagerie said 4 years ago

    I love creating something that can be made functional so its not tucked away hidden or sitting on a shelf collecting dust. This is super important to me when it comes to family items.

  • SpearmintAndThyme

    Jennifer Heald from SpearmintAndThyme said 4 years ago

    I've always been a fan of brooch bouquets!

  • maggiesraggedyinn

    Mary Robertson from MaggiesInn said 4 years ago

    This entry certainly touched my heart. It reflects who I am and what I want to do. These wonderful items and values are why people find Etsy a place to connect with... thank you . I am off to look through these items. Great writing job.. well done!

  • HansHolzkopf

    Natalie from HansHolzkopf said 4 years ago

    Love The Broken Plate necklaces!!

  • Ghadah1

    Ghada Hassan from MyGDesigns said 4 years ago

    This is amazing and very creative. All the best!

  • admspeicher
  • PaintStyle

    Viktoria and Elena from LekaArt said 4 years ago

    I believe that old items have their own energy as they contains memories and emotions of all their owners. Thank you for the article and for items you've shown us <3

  • rosebudshome

    rosebudshome from rosebudshome said 4 years ago

    I absolutely love this blog, I have a quilt that my Mother made that I can pick out shirt material I wore when I was little. Like my Mother I am also on the look out for old things to upcycle for everyday use.

  • cberez

    CB DESIGN'S from CBDesignsPR said 4 years ago

    Very creative!!!!!!!!!!

  • warmnfuzzies

    warmnfuzzies from warmnfuzzies said 4 years ago

    Thank you for including my item in your article. I get so much satisfaction out of making baby clothes memory quilts for others. This article left me wanting more to read and I am inspired by the creativity shown here!

  • rwascher

    Rosemary Wascher from DarburyDog said 4 years ago

    Very nice article. I have just started to dabble in up cycling.You have got my imagination on the run. Thank you.

  • paramountvintage

    kristin from blackmoonsky said 4 years ago

    i absolutely love this article! i think upcycling is the very best way to recycle, but sentimental upcycling? how clever and creative. such a great way to preserve a memory!

  • Iammie

    iammie from iammie said 4 years ago

    Beautiful brooch!

  • JewelrybyDorothy

    Dorothy from JewelrybyDorothy said 4 years ago

    Wonderful!

  • AnatsPolyDolls

    Anat Peled from AnatsPolyDolls said 4 years ago

    it makes me want to go searching inside some forgotn drawers

  • NicolasKnitKnacks

    Nicola and Jessica Belton from CelticKnittingCo said 4 years ago

    Some beautiful ideas, I absolutely love the quilt, such a great Idea to hold all your memories in one place!

  • shoesbysusie1

    Susie from ShoesbySusie said 4 years ago

    This is such meaningful and beautiful work! Giving a new life to a memory and keeping it alive and present- I love it!

  • richdon1

    Rich and Dona from TheCottageMouse said 4 years ago

    This one touched my heart. I have many items in my home from mother grandmother and great grandmother that I have found new uses for. They keep my loved ones close and never lose their appeal....Many people do not realize the quality and craftsmanship in old items. I think Etsy is opening a lot eyes. Fabulous blog...

  • PennyBirchWilliams

    Penny Birch-Williams from PennyBirchWilliams said 4 years ago

    I never realized how many ways old things can be upcycled. I love to paint old wood bowls for my shop, but hadn't explored the myriad of crafts that can make something old and cherished into a new and useful keepsake. I kept my kids receiving blankets, the cats use them now...maybe not for much longer though! I especially was struck by the jewelry made from broken china. I had a handpainted dish my grandmother gave me that I loved, and my daughter broke it accidentally when she was young. I grieved for it and kept the pieces for years...finally let it go and threw it away since it was in too many pieces to try to put back together. If only I could have had pieces used for a pendant or brooch, as this shop can do! I wish now I had kept the pieces. Ah, well, now I know, and I'll try to be more aware of the possible uses for sentimental treasures. Great post!

  • LivingVintage

    LivingVintage from LivingVintage said 4 years ago

    Awesome re-use ideas!

  • joliefemme

    Diana from joliefemme said 4 years ago

    So creative! So meaningful! What a wonderful story!

  • allisondendulk

    Allison Dendulk from desertdustjewelry said 4 years ago

    Awesome post!

  • kookubug

    Jackie from kookubug said 4 years ago

    Very creative. ..

  • TrashThings

    TrashThings from TrashThings said 4 years ago

    cool up-cycling all the way!!!

  • QueenofCuffs

    mary from QueenofCuffs said 4 years ago

    So very much agree - beautifully written. I love to make pieces that has reloved lace or buttons. Special little scraps can be added to fabric jewellery to live on with the next generation. There is so much history in heirloom pieces and so many ways to give them extra years of love. Fantastic.

  • GeorgieGirlLLC

    D George from GeorgieGirlLLC said 4 years ago

    Wonderful ideas, absolutely love the recipe dish & quilt!! Thanks for sharing!!

  • AlisaDesign

    Alisa from AlisaDesign said 4 years ago

    Wonderful !

  • nriemer1

    Nancy from Nittywitter said 4 years ago

    I'm always inspired by the abundance of creative of Etsy artisans and I particularly love this article. I've been repurposing sentimental fabric items for several years now and love to see the great variety of materials and methods that others use to honor the memories and the environment!

  • epicstitching

    Mel Ladner from epicstitching said 4 years ago

    Great ideas. Upcycling is so important so that we don't loose touch with tangible items. And nothing is better than helping items avoid the dump that is for sure!

  • genisepark

    Genise Park from genisepark said 4 years ago

    I love this kind of recycling! Beautiful!

  • myneedlehabit

    Carla Hansen from myneedlehabit said 4 years ago

    The Land of Upcycling is a Vast and Vibrant Place.

  • izzybellyco

    Lola from izzybellyco said 4 years ago

    OMGosh I love upcycling! Being a Mommy to 7 kiddos it's a must in our house! I'll take one of their old very loved favorite shirts or even their "Woobies" as we call them and make it into a throw pillow, a stuffed animal, mix it in with a few more shirt and make it new again or whatever they wish it to be now! All of these ideas are wonderful especially the necklaces! How cool is that! I have made an array of upcycled goodies using sentimental baby clothes and loved ones items but I never thought of making jewerly! Simply priceless! All these ideas are so unique and creative! Love, Love, Love it all! Thanks so much for sharing! ♥

  • PillowcaseHeaven

    Kathy Johnson from KathysLittleAttic said 4 years ago

    What a wonderful blog! I just loved reading this and seeing all the items people can make from memories past, beautiful!!

  • kzannoart

    Kristine Zanno from kzannoart said 4 years ago

    Very Cool thoughful ideas.. creativity at it's finest !

  • bedouin

    Nicole from Crackerjackarma said 4 years ago

    Beautiful post inside and out ~

  • WhisperingOak

    Quality Handmade Items from WhisperingOak said 4 years ago

    I knew this lady who had a sparkling Christmas tree banner. The shape of the tree was created with heirloom earrings, rings, brooches once worn by family members. It was delight to hear her describe all the pieces found the tree.

  • PattiTrostle

    Patti Trostle from PattiTrostle said 4 years ago

    Great ideas!!

  • sarahmoon503

    Sarah from Birchmoonrocksfibers said 4 years ago

    what a great article! I often upcycle for recycling sake, but sentimental upcycling is such a great idea! thanks for sharing this, makes me think of upcycling in a whole other way!

  • vintagejane

    Stacey from vintagejane said 4 years ago

    Inspiring!

  • KathrynPHaley

    Kate Haley from CopperSpineStudio said 4 years ago

    I'm such a nostalgic person and I love the idea of incorporating pieces of your past so they can be preserved forever.

  • NeatNat

    Natalia B. from NataBurgos said 4 years ago

    I really loved this article. I love to upcycly fabrics! And I have been upcycling materials from clothes of some very dear family members. Sometimes it can bring a bit of tears but it's very satisfying to check out the final results.

  • mattyhandmadecrafts

    Matejka Max from NattyMatty said 4 years ago

    Delightful!

  • jessgreenleaf

    Jess Greenleaf from GREENLEAFblueberry said 4 years ago

    Making old things new can be so fun and special. My grandmother made a quilt out of all of my dad's old flannel work shirts. It is beautiful, sentimental, and so cozy!

  • dominna

    Katrina Dzerkale from Dominna said 4 years ago

    This job sounds filled with love and care. Such an emotional connection with every item.

  • regmarlo

    regmarlo from lovegrade said 4 years ago

    wonderful inspirations and beautiful ideas all the way around. upcycling can renew meaning to an already special and sentimental piece. ♥ it!

  • dragonhouseofyuen

    Annette from TheLeveretsNest said 4 years ago

    lovely pieces! nearly 90% of my soft sculpture hares are made from upcycling, it's a super way to celebrate both beautiful fabrics and 'giving new life' too :)

  • swolfie

    sara wolfie from sarawolfiejewelry said 4 years ago

    i loved reading this! thanks so much for sharing. so much history and stories and personality. beauty.

  • QPeeLove

    Kerryn Taylor from GunstoreDaddyVintage said 4 years ago

    Very Inspiring!! I would love a whole set of plates printed with family recipes! This is what Etsy is about - I believe. A world of eco friendly upcycling, handmade love, memories and unique items you can say "That used to be an old knitting needle", "This earrings used to be part of my great grandfathers chamber pot..." Something you cant get anywhere else! Beautiful!

  • debram315

    Debra McElroy from BrickHouseBeads said 4 years ago

    Loved this article! I found two new favorite stores while reading it. Upcycling is a great idea and something I like to do as much as possible in my own work. I am thinking about adding a line devoted to found objects, and your article was very inspirational. Thanks!

  • agebo

    Ann Cosgrove from acbcDesign said 4 years ago

    Such a great idea to transform sentimental items into something new! A great way to have those physical pieces of memory have a place in your life, rather than just a spot in a closet.

  • rewstargazer

    Erika Hapke from LaRouxVintage said 4 years ago

    I was so very lucky to find Monique from GurlyGirl. I wanted a way to honor my grandfather after he passed away in 2009. My grandmother gave each of us granddaughters a metal button from his firefighter dress uniform, and I'd taken to carrying that with me - but was terrified I'd lose it. Monique makes beautiful jewelry, and she managed to turn his metal button into a beautiful necklace that I wear all the time, as a pendant set in a lovely decorative setting she crafted for me. Its the most precious piece of jewelry I own. Now my father is getting one of *his* uniform buttons made into a necklace for my mom! http://www.etsy.com/shop/gurlygirl

  • skirtingthetissue

    Dig Deep Vintage from digdeepvintage said 4 years ago

    truly great ideas!

  • deekish

    Deeksha Lakshmi from TheColorWagon said 4 years ago

    This's very interesting! Growing up in India, upcycling was a way of life. Old sarees are upcycled to make kantha rugs, old silk sarees were used to make a long flowing skirt for kids, (used during various traditional ceremonies). It was amazing to see how things got transformed and came to be useful again. Also, all these upcycled stuff were very pretty too! I am amazed to read the stories here. Cultures everywhere had a similar way of doing things!

  • drmable

    Miss Mable from Old2NewTreasures said 4 years ago

    It is always such a warm feeling when others describe similar activities to what I enjoy. The various stories were lovely. I so like rescuing old items some folks might discard and create new treasures that are functional and artistic.

  • ArtyDidact

    Sharon Parker from ArtyDidact said 4 years ago

    What a lovely and inspiring blog post. I really like the idea of upcycling in general, and doing so with sentimental items even more. I also love the way the current attraction to making something new from something old brings us back to what our grandmothers and earlier generations did naturally -- so both the practice of repurposing these sentimental items and the things we make with them connects us to our ancestors. This has got me thinking about my mother's wedding dress, which was made by her mother. Rather than wait until my mother is no longer with us to do something with it, I think I will talk to her about it now and find out what she would like to see done.

  • rarebeasts

    Brian McNamara from rarebeasts said 4 years ago

    It's great to use items over and over again, we have a few of the kids things that have had 3 and 4 lives and different uses.

  • wendymoynihandesigns

    Wendy Moynihan from wendymoynihandesigns said 4 years ago

    Enjoyed the blog! It reminded me of the baby items or broken pottery that I let go and should have repurposed or upcycled. I did have a long bolster pillow made out of a family hand created table runner. It turned out very nice and I have used it on my bed and now on my couch as recommended by a friend. My friends have asked me to recreate jewelry designs from old family costume jewelry.

  • bottlebloomers

    Leanne Stock from ArtePlastique said 4 years ago

    I love the christening gown made from a wedding dress. How special and thoughtful.

  • PiperPixie

    Piper Pixie from PiperPixieDesigns said 4 years ago

    I love how creative brains work!!! The broken plate pieces used for pendants is epically awesome:) Thanks for this post, was gnarly to read about all these up cycling artists.

  • paulawinks

    Paula Mucha from ilPiccoloGiardino said 4 years ago

    Very thought provoking inspiration. Some people have the innate quality of looking at things with different eyes. To think how one thing can be used in a new purpose is a gift. Nice article.

  • rickrackshack

    Vanessa Ryerse from TheMosaicButterfly said 4 years ago

    Exactly. And don't forget dishes. We use them every day. Everyone has them. But when you see your Grandma's pattern or worse yet, you break it, that's how I can help. I love being able to use these broken things to make something new and beautiful.

  • WackyWanitas

    WackyWanitas from WackyWanitaDesigns said 4 years ago

    One of the first things I learned as a newbie scrapbooker, more than a decade ago, was, "Don't be afraid to cut into it." A scrapbooking master stood next to me and told me it was okay to cut out the parts of the photograph that didn't fit, to trim a ticket stub down to become part of a decorative border, to snip off a piece of material from something that probably would be thrown away or forgotten, in order to create a spread that captured every important thing about an event. These Etsy-ers do that very thing on a much bigger scale. I like the idea of passing something on to the next generation in a practical way that makes the item meaningful, rather than an item that the receiver will feel obligated to hold onto out of guilt, or that they will hold onto but have no place for. Great stories from these shops, too. Fills my heart with hope and a love for humanity.

  • smashgirl

    Michelle from smashgirl said 4 years ago

    I created a beautiful breakfast tray and vase out of a treasured teacup/saucer collection that had crashed to the floor. The husband surprised his wife with it on their 35 yr anniversary...it was awesome!!!

  • TheAmateurNaturalist

    Beth Anne and Sarah Schwamberger from TheAmateurNaturalist said 4 years ago

    Love this! I'm so scared of being a pack-rat that I throw things out without a second thought, but this post reminds me that it's ok to keep the sentimental things. I can turn those memories into something even more special and meaningful.

  • Sparkleandswirl

    Hillary from Sparkleandswirl said 4 years ago

    Love the recipe on a plate idea!

  • fbstudiovt

    Laura Hale from FoundBeautyStudioArt said 4 years ago

    The most important custom upcycled piece I've done was the first one I'd been asked to do. An old friend I'd reconnected with a few years ago after decades apart was home to help her father, who was in the late stages of pancreatic cancer. Having seen loved ones through the end of their journeys myself, she and I became close again. After 3 months, her father passed away. It was incredibly emotional - a potent mix of guilt, regret, sorrow, love, relief, emptiness, loss. A few weeks after the funeral, as she was cleaning out his house, she knocked on my door with a bag in hand. She handed me three of his button down flannel shirts and asked me to make her something out of them that she could keep with her. I was touched. Ok, I was sobbing. I promised to do the best I could and over the next few weeks created a tote bag, a pillow, and book cover for her family photo album out of those shirts. Every few months she emails me photos of her using her bag out and about and tells me a story of what her dad would have enjoyed about her travels. I will never, ever forget this experience and I'm so grateful to have been a part of it.

  • JoDeneMoneuseJewelry

    JoDene Moneuse from JoDeneMoneuseJewelry said 4 years ago

    I am loving all of this!! Such personal and beautiful and one of a kind items are something to be cherished. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • BrianaEdelmanDesigns

    Briana from FoxburyAndCo said 4 years ago

    I love this! I just made two clutches for a buyer out of her wedding dress she wore many years ago. She gave one to her daughter for her wedding day and then the other will be for her granddaughter on her own wedding day. It was the most touching item I had ever made! Now I have a listing especially for clutches made from cherished fabrics/garments that buyers want to use to create a clutch.

  • emily8150

    emily from emilyemilyjewelry said 4 years ago

    thanks for your sharing , sometimes upcycling can let us keep the memory for some items have a liitle time ,or get new ideas to create some new things , i often use the clothes change their places , sometimes for curturn or pillow or for bed , or for desk . and also use the scarf i am not wear to desk . or dress to skirt . feel have new ideas to get fun and change the new mood .

  • enchantedplanet

    enchantedplanet from enchantedplanet said 4 years ago

    Wonderful blog, Linzee! I'm a hopeless sentimentalist and hardly ever discard anything. I always think I'll find a need or a use for something later. Such great upcycling ideas here and I especially Love the Metal Knitting Needle Bracelets by ChristinesCabinet! :)

  • susanneowen

    Susanne Owen from StellasBeadedThings said 4 years ago

    So many great ideas...I don't know where to start! I have upcycled earrings and pins from my Grandmother's jewelry box into necklaces and bracelets. While I probably would never have worn the old clip on earrings, I love them for a bracelet or necklace focal piece and always think of her and the times I saw her wearing her favorites.

  • modflo

    modflo from modflo said 4 years ago

    moving display of wit, creativity, and heart...thanks to those who contributed to this article!

  • knittykittie

    knittykittie from knittykittie said 4 years ago

    Wonderful Etsy Blog! Fascinating to read about these creative and imaginative artists and their unique reuses for the kinds of mementos and treasures that many of us hold on to for sentimental reasons. Love the idea of creating something "new" and usable with them. All wonderful ideas and being a knitter and crocheter I adore the Vintage Knitting Needle Bangles from ChristinesCabinet.

  • LaNomRahDesigns

    La NomRah from LaNomRahDesigns said 4 years ago

    I love upcycling! It's a great way to get a bang for your buck, exercise the creative muscle, and do something unique. I believe that one person's trach can definitely be another's treasure so a number of pieces in my shop are made from upcycled materials. Thanks for highlighting these wonderful shops and sharing this piece.

  • seasidecloth

    seasidecloth from seasidecloth said 4 years ago

    Some great finds - unique uses !

  • COMERARTGALLERY

    Rene' COMER from SensingMajesty said 4 years ago

    Great ideas! Love the christening gown and quilts.

  • abenakcreation

    Virpi Irene Bendandi from ABenakCreation said 4 years ago

    Wonderful ideas. I loved the baby clothes quilts! Making something memorable and at the same time useful of special things, that you don't want to throw away, yet cannot keep as they are.

  • LilacsNDreams

    Lilacs from LilacsNDreams said 4 years ago

    I was close to my grandmother. We had moved back North during a time she was needing assistance with doctor appts, grocery shopping, picking up her meds, cleaning her apartment, and best of all...spending all the time that I could with her. Upon her passing which was very hard for me, things were divided amongst us grand kids. I enjoyed using some of her jewelry pcs...in whole, or broken. I put some of the pcs around a picture frame, and then have a picture of her & Me together from our wedding in it......Precious, special time, and a memory to pass along to my daughter, and grand daughter too.

  • PinkPianos

    Hilary Hahn from PinkPianos said 4 years ago

    Brilliant! Love the quilt and the brooch bouquet, so clever!

  • BemusingBaubles

    Sarah Laguna from BemusingBaubles said 4 years ago

    I love up-cycled things!

  • fionazakka

    fiona zakka from fionazakka said 4 years ago

    All my life I have up cycled memories and this article is such a confirmation I am not alone. it is very interesting to read how different people use different crafts to preserve memories. I have enjoyed it, Thank you!

  • RuthGT

    Ruth from RuthsGreenTreasures said 4 years ago

    Enjoyed reading this story very much. I completely understand and appreciate the sentiments discussed. It has given me so many ideas and new ways to look at things I have saved.

  • jamasters

    Jess Masters from RefinedRock said 4 years ago

    Up-cycled rocks!!!!

  • beadstylin

    beadstylin from beadstylin said 4 years ago

    Ohhh...so sweet. These stories really touched my heart.

  • MadeByTrouble

    Made By Trouble from MadeByTrouble said 4 years ago

    Great article! I like Upcycling idea - it's like living life with a thought of past and future in the same time. It's eco thinking.

  • GailGriggs

    Gail Griggs from GailGriggs said 4 years ago

    It is so nice to see things reused in such beautiful ways. It is much better than them being stored away. I take photos of my old toys and other items as I know I can't keep everything - but a photo doesn't take up much room does it??

  • AudreyKerchnerPhotog

    Aud Kerchner from AudreyKerchnerstudio said 4 years ago

    Very inspiring. I love keeping things and making them functional is a wonderful way to keep them. I really love the recipe plate idea.

  • Agasart

    Aga from AgasJourney said 4 years ago

    gorgeous and beautiful creativity

  • JoJosArtisticDesign

    JoJo from JoJosArtisticDesign said 4 years ago

    Many thanks for compiling this clever list of ways to upcycle sentimental items. I have a huge stash of wonderful jewelry, crochet and needle point that my grandparents left me. My mind is whirling with the possibilities!

  • mcfarlanedianne

    Dianne McFarlane from mcfarlanemetal said 4 years ago

    So gorgeous. I do a lot of new from old jewellery for commission work and really love it for the reasons so eloquently written in this blog. I am blown away to see the range of solutions people have found for upcycling treasured objects. Thanks so much for writing about this.

  • elizabethforster

    elle and belle Forster from elleandbellejewelry said 4 years ago

    Beautiful ideas, lovely stories! Thanks.

  • MissLilyDale

    Lyndel said 4 years ago

    This blog of sentimental memory creativity is the best blog I've read in a long time. Inspiration, and joy fills me up. I am excited to know where to place various items we've loved to be reassembled for the next generation. Thank you big time !

  • ellenbianchi

    Ellen Bianchi from BianchiPaperCastings said 4 years ago

    Love the ways to make old memories into new ones to be cherished through up cycling those family treasures that have been tucked away. My paper castings are an up cycled use of paper that would otherwise end up in landfills. I am trying to take a "disposed of" item and transform it into a treasured one. Not exactly an old treasure into a new one, but a similar idea nevertheless. I love the creativity out there!

  • QuillsWoollenMarket

    Muireann Quill from QuillsWoollenMarket said 4 years ago

    We need more of this kind of creative thinking in Ireland great Article. I didn't hear the expression upcycling before. Here in Ireland I have heard it called reworking something.

  • Motleycouture

    Motleycouture from Motleycouture said 4 years ago

    Just love brooch bouquets! So beautiful! Such a wonderful idea to recycle memorable items and keep them in view instead of hidden away.

  • WaveSong

    ev from WaveSong said 4 years ago

    This is exactly the type of work I do. Uycycling for new restored purpose. https://www.etsy.com/listing/129370929/coiled-basket-bowl-menarche-red

  • huaxinli

    huaxin li from huaxinwawa said 4 years ago

    Wonderful discovery!~Very good, I love them

  • kalicat

    kalicat from kalicat said 4 years ago

    some amazing ideas !

  • mandaleighf

    Amanda Fortier from MandaleighDesigns said 4 years ago

    From someone who can't throw anything away without careful thought, I love it! So great to see something that is old and dusty given a fresh spin. I love the baby gown!

  • matildecanepagonzale
  • CharmingShopLove

    Marissa Howes from CharmingShopLove said 4 years ago

    I loved this post! As the extremely sentimental person that I am, I was really touched by all the beautiful ideas. Especially the idea of creating a teddy bear from the clothing of a grandparent. That is so thoughtful and amazing! Upcycling is very important to me. I tend to hold onto lots of treasures and family heirlooms, whether it's in perfect condition or broken. Finding new uses for things you cherish, so their beauty won't be wasted or forgotten is such a great way to hold onto your memories and the things you care about most. Thanks for sharing!

  • DesPetitesMerveilles

    Meg from DePetitesMerveilles said 4 years ago

    What a great post! I'm so touched by the many stories shared here and awed by the skill that etsy artists have! I'm privileged to be with such a talented group of people! This post reinforces my belief that its important to reuse, recycle and stop throwing things just because they're old! This is something I've always tried to do, in my small way, with the jewelry I make and I'm glad to see that so many of us share in this philosophy!

  • blainedesign

    Karen Brown from blainedesign said 4 years ago

    Wonderful story, Linzee! I love the flip –– making something useful out of something sentimental, or making something sentimental out of something useful. It says so much about creativity and intention. I love the knitting needles that are made into bracelets. Beautiful.

  • pumpkiandmo

    Kathi from PumpkiAndMo said 4 years ago

    What sweet and heart warming ideas!Thanks for sharing!

  • mazedasastoat

    mazedasastoat from mazedasastoat said 4 years ago

    While I understand the sentimental value of various items, I can't help thinking that cutting up perfectly good baby clothes to make a luxury quilt is a shame when there are so many kids living in poverty that would be glad of them. My favourite way of recycling will always be to pass items along to someone who needs them. However, when we moved into our house (which was then still a barn) we inherited the midden from the 16th century farmhouse it belonged to. I used all the broken china we found to mosaic a large planter that is now one of my most prized possessions... valueless to anyone else, but priceless to me!

  • leeannasjewerybox

    Leeanna from LeeannasJewelryBox said 4 years ago

    Up - cycling is the best. I love to see what people come up with.

  • theyellowbamboo

    theyellow bamboo from theyellowbamboo said 4 years ago

    Nice to know that precious memories of the past can be cherished for a longer time and in such beautiful and creative new ways. Very stimulating post. You got me thinking now on what I could do with the wonderful family treasures that I have stashed away.

  • aressa

    aressa from OriginalBridalHanger said 4 years ago

    I have always liked giving life to old objects...Never really gave much thought to going about it this way. What a great idea...Just love it!

  • jenindafletcher

    Jeninda Fletcher from DeckleStudio said 4 years ago

    Beautiful sentiment and something I would like to do as I recycle old plant based cloth into paper pulp that i use like paint. I like to do portraits of people and could use clothes etc.. from them as the medium.It occurred to me that to run a small workshop were the people celebrating a person or event actually get together and make something is another way to generate community and personal meaning in life. Births,deaths and marriages would be great opportunities for something like this. I haven't gone down that road because the process of turning cloth to paper involves totally cutting it up and it is completely transformed and unrecognisable which seems perhaps too brutal for this sort of idea but maybe not. What do other people think?

  • portraitsbybillie

    Billie Bennett from portraitsbybillie said 4 years ago

    Love this post!

  • AntonellaMia

    AntonellaMia from AntonellaMia said 4 years ago

    Noaki jewelry is a fabulous bouquet maker, love her work!

  • rajoman10

    Sue from SentimentalSue said 4 years ago

    Love this post! So many great ideas to commemorate the "sentimental" times in our lives and those we love. This kind of up cycling helps us remember those from our past and to pass those memories down to future generations. Very inspirational!

  • clarasaenz

    clara saenz from Owlystore said 4 years ago

    Great post!!! I consider myself a reuse recycle upcycle fan ! :) What I can´t use, I pass it to another person that can..and this way I also recieve a lot. win win situation!

  • nickydill

    Nicky Dillerstone from nickydill said 4 years ago

    what lovely ideas, I have a lot of precious fabric and it means a lot when I use them to make my art dolls. Fabrics can generate a lot of memories and add a layer of meaning to our artwork.

  • NinaRaizel

    Nina from NinaRaizel said 4 years ago

    Up-cycling is definitely the way to go when it comes to old items with lots of memories. What a great post with lots of good ideas. Thanks for sharing!

  • VintageLoot

    Jennifer Johnson from VintageLoot said 4 years ago

    Like :-)

  • kellygoswick

    Kelly Goswick from KellyGoswick said 4 years ago

    I love your blog! Awesome ideas to preserve sentimental items!

  • blingitongirl

    corrine from BebeAndKay said 4 years ago

    Great article! I have some wonderful broken China pendants from Mystarrrs who makes beautiful jewelry and trinkets from vintage materials. Its wonderful to see treasures given a new life, instead of being thrown away!

  • jbromell

    Jana Bromell said 4 years ago

    This is the coolest thing ever!

  • redsmo

    Marion from redsmo said 4 years ago

    Wonderful article. I am so happy to be a part of it and share with fellow artisans their creative ways of sentimental recycling.

  • rebeckahinton

    Rebecka Hinton from CalicoGryphon said 4 years ago

    These are such wonderful ideas and inspiration! What a great way to hold onto and showcase precious sentimental objects which have been damaged over the years. It's something I wished I known about when my grandmother passed away.

  • handyhappiness

    Heath from GuitarPickFashion said 4 years ago

    Those are really pretty.

  • Nemki

    Nemki from nemki said 4 years ago

    I absolutely love this.

  • MinaMinette

    Jan Penn from MinaMinette said 4 years ago

    These are such wonderful and inspiring ideas! Most of us have family pieces that mean something to us, but they are often put away in drawers and boxes. How wonderful to use them in a way that pays them respect and yet incorporates them into the lives of their families in a new and creative way.

  • LanaManisDesigns

    Lana Manis from LanaManisDesigns said 4 years ago

    What a wonderful article, Linzee! I upcycle books for my book wreaths in this shop and in my old shop, Simple Joys Paperie. What is most meaningful about that is when a customer contacts me about using a book belonging to a family member. Last year I had the pleasure of making several angel wings from old hymnal books for sisters.

  • AprilofMcleod

    April Iris McLeod from ThereCanBeOnlyOne said 4 years ago

    I'm so happy so many people are finding creative ways to reuse items! I love the sentimental aspect of the ideas in this article :) Aside from that up- and re-cycling are so important - many of our Grand- and great-Grand parents did this out of necessity caused by war shortages and the depression. Even my parents handed my brother's jeans and T-shirts down to me. After inheriting much of my parents' belongings at an early age, I ended up incorporating their lives into my daily life. I also, as my children were born, shopped thrift stores and yard sales for barely-used baby clothes and embellished, altered, or used as is for my fast-growing children, then passed most of them on again to family members because I felt it was a shame to buy new clothes every month or two when there were so many barely used to choose from! I learned how to sew at age 6 and inherited my great-grandmother's Singer Featherweight 221, which still works and I've taught my own children to sew and not to be wasteful. My shop has many repurposed, recycled, and Upcycled items in it and I will continue to do my part to reduce the amount of waste we are creating on our beautiful homeworld :)

  • TheBoutiqueJewelry

    TheBoutiqueJewelry from ParakeetsPerch said 4 years ago

    Those necklaces from the broken plate are so cool!

  • omabina70

    Sabine Miner from StudioSabine said 4 years ago

    I just got an idea............... I have beautiful fotographs of my great, great, grandparents... which I might be able to incorporate into my artwork...........

  • Pysar

    Yuri Pysar from Pysar said 4 years ago

    wonderful idea :)

  • rutheshop

    Ruth Claydon from MothandMagpie said 4 years ago

    Thanks for this article-spurs me on to find new ways to upcycle. At the moment its just broken vintage and antique jewellery that I remake, but the sky is the limit. Its like weaving in a bit of someones soul. For me, upcycling isn't so much about thrift and worldsaving as it is about preciousness and the inimitable fingerprints of time.

  • rutheshop

    Ruth Claydon from MothandMagpie said 4 years ago

    Thanks for this article- its spurring me on to find new ways of upcycling-at the moment I remake broken vintage and antique jewellery, but the sky is the limit. For me its not somuch about thrift and worldsaving as it is about the preciousness of past memories and the inimitable fingerprints of time.

  • delightfuldownsizing

    Maria from delightfuldownsizing said 4 years ago

    I'm totally hooked on concept of upcycling/repurposing/refashioning! I LOVE this article! Thanks! Seeing the pic of the bowl /the handwriting has prompted me to think of doing something w/my grandmas written out receipes. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • NirvanaRoad

    Lisa from NirvanaRoad said 4 years ago

    Fabulous ideas!

  • SarahMuffinBird

    Sarah from LittleNestArt said 4 years ago

    Great ideas! Love the brooch idea!

  • GeekkiBoutikki

    Roxanne Gibson from GeekkiBoutikki said 4 years ago

    I love this post.

  • yzfashionbridal

    YZfashionbridal Inc from YZFashionBridal said 4 years ago

    Love it! check out my collections!

  • peonyandthistle

    Peony and Thistle from PeonyandThistle said 4 years ago

    We are huge fans of upcycling too and it's great to see these fabulous creative ideas!

  • BeachglassDesign

    Blackberry Bungalow from BlackberryBungalow said 4 years ago

    What a precious gift for a wedding shower, a favorite family recipe custom dish in the cook’s handwriting. Beautiful idea.

  • handmadebycecilia

    Cecilia Escobar from HandmadebyCecilia said 4 years ago

    Humm, I guess I had never thought about how sentimentally attached I can be to certain "things", but yeah giving in it a new fresh look, a new life will make the happy memories present and the object out of the landfill. I like that philosophy! I'm taking it with me. Thank you.

  • Fimigal

    Voneen Pryce from Woolby said 4 years ago

    Beautiful post. Thanks for sharing!

  • jizbasusan

    Susan Jizba from TheWeaverOfWords said 4 years ago

    Wow, this is so amazing and inspiring! It gives a whole new meaning to giving a gift with sentimental value. I love recycling, knowing that it helps to conserve our valuable resources and helps keep our lovely earth beautiful.

  • ashleigh4etsy

    Ashleigh Clark from ASHLEIGH4etsy said 4 years ago

    A lot of my bunting materials are up cycled! It's so much easier to find the cute prints!! http://www.etsy.com/au/shop/ASHLEIGH4etsy

  • CharlotteRenata

    Charlotte Renata from HenrietteRenee said 4 years ago

    Wonderful inspirations!

  • mettaville

    Guatyen Koh from Mettaville said 4 years ago

    Wow, amazing items and very inspiring. Thanks for sharing.

  • handicraftafrica

    Jafeth Moiane from handicraftafrica said 3 years ago

    Wow.Beautiful

  • cathEM

    Catherine from CreativeMindfulness said 3 years ago

    This article sums up the thought behind the upcycling. It's not so much what people make, it's the creative journey that took them there. It all starts with a touch, a smell, a sight, a sound, a taste, and the imagination does the rest.

  • albenjc

    Alika garnet from garnetssong said 3 years ago

    its amazing!

  • albenjc

    Alika garnet from garnetssong said 3 years ago

    it amazing!

  • ArtFashionCreation

    Toile La La from ArtFashionCreation said 3 years ago

    I love Etsy featured articles such as this one. I'm amazed daily by the resourcefulness of artists/crafters - and impressed by the love of history exhibited in handmade items of this type. The phpottery recipe dishes caught my eye... such a wonderful way to preserve the work and ideas of grownups who have raised and nourished us!

  • korenkwan

    Koren Kwan from GarasuWonderland said 2 years ago

    so creative~

  • infinitlit

    Farideh Nouri from FlairPaintings said 1 year ago

    I love your idea. keeping memories alive with a great art!!!

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