Upcycled Shirt to Upcycled Dress

  • upcycling_quoteReiner Pilz and upcycling here.

RUDE certainly values the old product.  In this post RUDE Girl [Karen] that’s me, demonstrates that this paisley printed rayon fabric was once a man’s shirt.  It was beautifully made in the Philippines, and was rescued from landfill fate.  I was taken by the colours of purple and turquoise in the print.  And I thought there would be something I could do with the garment.

The first upcycle involved the shirt being decreased in size with different sleeves being added.  The sleeves came from a pair of rescued jeggings, also from landfill.

I wore the shirt top last winter but it was not a favourite piece, as I do not wear shirts.  The collar was annoying and always felt out of place = it just did not sit right, probably because it was a soft rayon without the addition of interfacing.

The first two videos below are of the shirt being upcycled and the third video is where it is styled.




For this winter I decided to hack into this shirt again, and I re-upcycled it into a dress.  I rescued a Target brand top from landfill.  Chopped off the bottom of it, and attached the bottom of the shirt top after chopping off the collar and sleeves.

Photos below:  This year’s re-upcycled creation showing both front and back.  The Kangol pure wool beret was scored from a charity shop many years ago for $1.  The necklace is from bits and pieces found at the local tip shop near landfill.


SAMSUNGBeat The Man and Re-upcycle!

RUDE Behind Closed Doors

“No one but YOU knows how hard you work, how many hours you put in behind the scenes, so rely on YOURSELF for approval, not the outside world.”  Anon 

“You have to work very hard behind the scenes, to make a message clear enough for a lot of people to understand.”  Stefano Gabbana

6863_20121027_124018_400308_297303653707079_1332581554_n[1]Above graphic:  RUDE Girl may know the faults but she is not big on judgement, preferring people to be authentic.  She rarely cries behind closed doors these days, as a simple life affords her peace.  She does fight battles that nobody knows about.  And if people do find out about the battles she fights, she knows by experience that most of the time she will not be supported by them because oftentimes they just want to fit in to the mainstream.  And that’s okay for them but it’s not RUDE Girl’s way.

There seems to be some revealing of late, by bloggers that I follow, about what goes on in the life of a blogger behind closed doors, or in other words behind the scenes.  To RUDE Girl’s thinking this is a good thing.  Therefore  it’s my turn to share what I do, to bring our followers YOU,  a weekly Friday WordPress blog post,  an occasional tweet at Rude Record and a daily Facebook page post at Rude Record.

But before I do that, I want to share that behind closed doors, and away from my WordPress blog, I have my sticky little fingers glued to the keyboard [wearing off the printed letters on the keys – yes true] in some other forums.

I administrate one of the largest Marching Girls’ groups in the world on Facebook.  It is about to reach 1,100 members shortly, and it is a very active and vocal group.  It fits well with the RUDE philosophy of recycle, in that it is reuniting people with a sport, that was lost to many of them after their teenage years departed.  This group has an annual meet up in Melbourne, Australia.  Individual members have been known to also meet up with each other as agreed.


Marching Girl photo for coverPhoto above:  Graphic of three New Zealand marching girls.

I also administrate a small closed group on Facebook of passionate recyclers at Bowerbirds Journal.  This group is capped at 45 members to keep it focussed and intimate.  It’s sort of like attending a face to face group where it is safe to share diverse comment and opinion.  And some of us do meet up face to face.


Bowerbird GraphicPhoto above:  Crocheted bowerbird by group member Maretta is the cover photo of Bowerbirds Journal.

RUDE [Danny and I] are regular contributors to a local forum, that allows us to get up on The Soapbox, and have our say about posted local issues.  It’s a great forum for us to express our concerns about local waste management and recycling issues.  At the moment there is a vast amount of timber and textiles being dumped into our local landfill which is facing an expansion submission. We have been advocating for hardwood timber to be free to the community if it is going to be dumped.


soap boxPhoto above:  Cover page graphic for City of  Melton Soapbox

We  have been instrumental in getting the free textiles happening but as yet timber is not forthcoming.  Until we see it on offer to the community, we can only assume it continues to be dumped into landfill and/or chipped for landscaping.  This is very concerning when beautiful hardwood timbers are a limited natural resource.  Local upcyclers working with wood are prevented from sourcing recycled timbers, which in RUDE’S opinion is a travesty.  

SAMSUNGPhoto above:  RUDE has advocated for free stuff and now it is available at our local Tip Shop.

Working and non-working flat screen TVs were also being dumped on the ground at our local recycling transfer station.  RUDE made a video to expose the apathy.


Thanks to lobbying by RUDE it would appear this is no longer going to happen.  The flyer below has recently been displayed at our local Tip Shop.


In regards to this blog Rude Record, it usually takes a few hours, sometimes more to get it published.  It depends on numerous factors, including what I want to add to the post such as photos and videos.  If I make a video, of course that involves more time on top.  So, it would not be unreasonable to say, a blog post takes a working day to publish.

I love writing and sharing my thoughts.  RUDE as a couple loves sharing its unique lifestyle with interested like-minded souls.  We have found that it is best to write for and share with our followers.  And we too get so much inspiration back from you.

Photo above:  RUDE [Reusers of Unloved Discarded Excess] is couple Karen and Danny. 

Therefore, rather than go out and volunteer for a charity, we give our time to share globally on-line via these forums I have mentioned.  We hope our efforts [and my writings] in some small way inspire collaboration, networking, recycling, frugal living, reuse and repair to name a few things.

We know that writing about living off landfill is a niche topic.  We are unique in our activities of daily living.  This is no doubt why you follow us, and we are dedicated to delivering something very different. 

Our unusual lifestyle aka scavenger style is 24/7 and 365 days of the year for 6 years, has a tendency to get us looks like in the photo below.  But we also get some amazing constructive and positive feedback via our numerous forums.

Scrunch nose

It was always the intention of The Man to keep us in our homes in suburbia, not sharing anything, so that we would all consume more.  It was orchestrated 1950s marketing that worked a treat, and suckered the masses. 

Beat The Man by sharing your stuff, your thoughts and what goes on behind closed doors!

A Dumb Phone Repair

I use technology for communication, but I don’t have a Blackberry or an iPhone. I use an outdated cell phone, but I’m fine with it.  Nicolas Cage

Dear MacGuyver, Enclosed is a rubber band, a paper clip, and a drinking straw. Please save my dog.  Peter Griffin

Last week I read about this young guy who appears to be finally following RUDE girl’s trend.  He has embraced old mobile phone technology.  You can read about his story here

1427680088488Photo above:  Nick Fuentes with his beloved Nokia 208 after breaking so many smartphones. Photo: Steven Siewert

RUDE boy has a smartphone supplied by his workplace, and it is so annoying for me to operate.  I suffer with Essential Tremor so the screen jumps all over the place.  The keypad is very difficult for my fingers to navigate because of tremor.

My hand-me-up old Motorola mobile phone, by comparison to the smartphone, is easier to use because of the touchpad.  And because it has a flip cover I do not have to worry about screen damage.  I also like the functions which appear to be more intuitive to how I enter data and text message.

And with RUDE’S frugal ways who can not like a $9 per month plan with 100 free text messages!  Phone calls out are expensive but I do not make them.  I prank RUDE boy and he rings me.  Of course anyone can call me at their expense.

All that has to happen now,  is that I find someone to give me their old Motorola, as the one I have is being held together by my favourite type of rubber band.  These rubber bands are purple and come wrapped around bunches of broccolini and asparagus.  Everything pretty much is reused in our household!

Anyways, here is proof in this video below that purple rubber bands can practically save anything.

Beat The Man and be your own MacGuyver!


Terrific Terry Towelling Turbans


RUDE girl has just discovered there are not many quotes about turbans.  I could not find a quote for this post.  Therefore I will make my own quote.

“The closest I will get to India is wearing my handmade terry toweling turbans”  Karen Ellis / Frugal Homebody

I picked up an old beach towel from the point of landfill the other day.  It was a bit worn but still had lots of wear.  I have a huge pile of secondhand beach towels, therefore I decided to cut this towel up for turbans to wear after shampooing my hair.

I do not mind using secondhand towels because its the same thing as using towels in a motel or staying overnight at a friend’s house.  All I did with this towel is soak it for 24 hours, wash it and hang it out to dry in the sunshine.

Check out RUDE’S short how to make a turban from a towel video here



SAMSUNGPhotos above:  The same handmade turban from three different angles

Photo below:  Rescued beach towel cut into x3 [x6 pieces total] turban shapes


After cutting out the shapes all that was required was to over lock stitch the crown shaped areas.  Add buttons and loops and voila.  Turban time!

Photo below:  My turban has pride of place between two secondhand towels also rescued from landfill years ago.  Just by chance the colours actually match!


Beat The Man and embrace frugal turban fashion!  And a fact, secondhand towels are oftentimes more absorbent than new towels.

Rude and Ragged

For me, clothes are kind of character; I don’t follow fashion or understand trends.  Meryl Streep

Humility and knowledge in poor clothes excel pride and ignorance in costly attire.  William Penn

“Cultivate a relationship with your clothing, an investment that directly connects the grower with the maker and the wearer. Repair is an extension of that sentiment, and a deepening of the relationship through wear, and repair, and the honoring of all the embedded stories that led to it.” REWARDROBE Eco Fashion Talk by Sass Brown

Photo below:  RUDE Girl revived this 1980s frock in under an hour for no cost.  It’s what I term a house dress, and I love it to bits because it reflects my mission to always mend and make new.


For RUDE Girl there is probably no better feeling that RE-vamping a fast fashion garment.  Why?  Because it is a radical gesture.  Many people would not bother to take the time to fix a rag.  And most fast fashion after it is worn and washed a few times, is only good for the rag-bag.

Yesterday, I revived this 1980s rayon frock in the above photo, which I consider to be fast fashion for its time.  The tag had been removed, and the edges had been over locked stitched.  It was probably a little bit better quality than a current cheap fast fashion dress.  Why?  It is rayon not polyester, and has some bust darts to give the bodice shape.

This maxi frock was discovered in a huge pile of clothes at a community garment swap at a local sustainability festival. It was missing a button and had a split up each side.  Both splits had ripped further up the side seams.  The over locking stitch had come away in parts, and there were three tiny holes in the fabric at the front of the dress.  Most people, I believe, would have considered it a rag.  Even the sorting ladies at the local charity shop would have ditched it!

But the frock spoke to me of opportunities for comfortable days around the house. I liked its A line shift style.  I could wear a vintage petticoat under it and in cooler weather a long-sleeved top.  A perfect old dress that sort of reminded me of a dress style from the 1920s and 1960s.

SAMSUNGPhoto above: The front skirt piece had three small holes which I covered with crocheted circles from old doilies.

SAMSUNGPhoto above:  The bodice required reinforced over locking under the bust line. As were the side and centre back seams

SAMSUNGPhoto above:  The hem was shortened from maxi to knee-length and a cotton lace attached to the over locked hem edge.

Beat The Man and revive a ragged frock to good as new, if not better than new fast fashion!

Strutting Sashiko Scavenger Style

Really, what are the options? Levi’s or Wranglers. And you just pick one. It’s one of those life choices.

Harrison Ford

RUDE’S scavenger style represents our political and economical fashion statement against throwaway fast fashion.  We have not purchased new clothes for decades.  And what we have been wearing for the past five years is mostly all sourced from the point prior to landfill.  We seek out and rescue a couple of items, once a fortnight, from the piles of garments at the local Tip Shed, adjacent to the local recycling transfer station.

Photo below:  Garments and textiles at the City of Melton’s Tip Shop in Melbourne, Australia.  Most of these items will not even be downcycled, and will end up in landfill.  Amongst these piles of clothes are denim jeans that are worn and torn.

At the moment, RUDE cannot help feeling a bit smug because Jigsaw clothing brand has just released its For Life Not Landfill campaign. [photo above]   It’s validation for us that our scavenger style’s political and economic fashion statement is leading the way!  How utterly awesome is that thought for us, even if nobody else acknowledges it, we too are leaders in creative ways to advertise landfill textile waste.

RUDE boys red tab Levis as posted here would have been considered by many to be ready for the rag-bag.  And would not have looked out-of-place amongst the clothes found in these cots above.

Mending using the Japanese technique of reinforcing fabric with more fabric and running stitches, has ensured that Danny will be wearing his loved Levis for another 15 years!  Danny’s legs will be strutting and showcasing sashiko scavenger style.  How awesome is that!

We did Twitter the Levi company this good news but it has not replied.

Photo below:  Sashiko mended by RUDE Girl, a pair of vintage red tab Levis

SAMSUNGThank you Dave Towbridge from California in the USA for your comment on Google+ in relation to the above photo as follows:

This is something Friends could certainly get behind. A beautiful example of how the Testimony of Simplicity does not require wearing ugly or uninteresting clothing.

Beat The Man and keep textiles out of landfill!  And like RUDE and Jigsaw advertise your efforts.

Warm Woollen Wagga

“Talent and individual expression are not qualities that just other people possess. You have it too! All of you have a capacity for creativity in your quilting. Let yours happen and realize there are no boundaries to your unique expression.” Anon

“The real wagga was a woollen patchwork bedcover or woolly sandwich.”   Margaret Rolfe / Quilt Expert

RUDE Girl is inspired by the above anonymous quote.  I am not a traditional ‘rule following’ quilter, and do not want to be known as such.  My scavenger style quilt or wagga making reflects the ‘waste not, want not’ or making do tradition. This is evident  where I use recycled woollen fabric rescued from landfill to make my daughter a lap wagga for the football or the car.


I have no quilting skills other than those I have taught myself intuitively or from books.  And from asking talented traditional quilters some questions, and then once knowing the rules, setting out to break them.  Why?  When you work with new fabric and resources it is essential to follow good practice for the obvious reason that mistakes can be costly.  It is my opinion, that when you work with recycled fabrics, and other resources like RUDE does, the beauty lies in imperfections, and the lack of attention to traditional quilt making rules.  And therefore you do not have to be as focussed on making costly mistakes.

Photo below:  RUDE’S acronym is REuse of Unloved Discarded Excess.  The old blackboard is evidence that RUDE REuses stuff.  Even the chalk is secondhand!


A wagga was a bush rug made from scrap wool.  And this is my next quilt making project for the cooler Melbourne months ahead.  I attended a workshop on wagga making and wool dying October 2014.  I was able to eco dye the wool blanket patches provided at the course.  However, I never did get around to making up the wagga.  In the meantime I was given more woollen patches from a woman who had attended the course but was not keen to sew a wagga [thank you Sue for thinking of me!]

These patches came from numerous charity shops via the wagga and dye workshop.  The workshop’s textile artist Robina,  informed me that each blanket cost between $8-$12.  And that she had been all over the place over several months collecting them.  This labour of love, and with the actual total cost of the blankets, and then hidden costs like petrol and time, it is imperative that I create a tribute to all the people who have touched the parts of the blankets that I now have in my keep.

Photo below: 13″ square patches from woollen blankets that have been eco dyed

SAMSUNGPhoto above:  Preparing 6 1/2″ and  5 1/2″ squares for my wagga

Over the past six months I have also been collecting any woollen blankets that I come across.  I will not pay anymore than $4, and oftentimes hope to get them for $1-$2.  Usually they are in reasonable condition but are torn or stained which is perfect for patchwork, as you just cut around these areas.

Photo below:  A piece from a woollen single bed blanket purchased for $4 from a charity shop in Leongatha.  After felting it shrivelled up in certain parts.

SAMSUNG SAMSUNGPhoto above:  The piece of the blanket that shrivelled has been pressed and squares cut ready for use.

Australian waggas were used throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, mainly in the rural areas.  Very utilitarian in purpose being used for camping, holiday shacks, in general, and where extra bedding was sought for guests.

As described in The Gentle Arts by Jennifer Isaacs 1987,  generally waggas included some kind of sacking material, either corn sacks, wheat sacks or flour sacks.  These were opened, the stitching removed and they were sewn together inside other covers.  Extra wool would be added. often in the form of old clothing stitched together; this was then covered with blankets or some kind of fabric such a cretonne.

SAMSUNGPhoto above:  RUDE’s very own book The Gentle Arts 1987 purchased from the local tip shop for 50 cents .

Being a recycling radical, I do hope to showcase this wagga along the way and when it’s completed, as testimony to simplicity and frugality in times of rampant consumerism.  That RUDE’S future generations may keep and hand down this wagga, as evidence that RUDE was radical for their time.  That RUDE was not of the mainstream will definitely be reflected in this wagga.

Here is an example of a historical wagga with its story.

Beat The Man, be radical and make a wagga wagga!