34 Store cupboard crafts: recycled craft ideas to make without leaving the house
Whether you're self-isolating, social-distancing or just staying home because you want to, try these easy recycled craft ideas for adults to make your own supplies from household items – from bunting to a DIY weaving loom.
With Coronavirus (or Covid-19) dominating and changing our daily lives in so many ways, wherever you are around the world, the chances are you’re going to be spending some extra time at home while we all practise safe social distancing in 2020. There are lots of ways we can keep fit and healthy while we all stay at home, and the good news is that crafting has proven to be good for our well-being.
Making things is a simple way to look after yourself and keep calm amidst the wave of Coranvirus news. Not only is crafting proven to have benefits for our mental health, but it also offers us the chance to escape from our social media feeds and ground ourselves in the act of making. But let's talk logistics people! Popping out for supplies is likely to be trickier than usual and with many online craft shops experiencing a surge in demand, chances are you may have a wait for new supplies to arrive in the post.
So we've put together this list of recycled craft ideas for adults that will use up your craft stash and everyday items around the house. Dive in and if you think we've forgotten something that should be on the list – let us know. Share your suggestions online using the hashtag #craftathome. If you're getting crafty over Winter, and you have mini makers to entertain, you might also like our guide to 52 Easy Christmas Crafts for Kids.
Words: Holly Bowman, Jo Gulliver, Zoe Williams.
34 recycled craft ideas for adults
Transform old PJs into an infinity scarf
Raid your charity bags and turn those old pyjamas into an infinity scarf. Head over to Decor and the Dog for their step-by-step guide.
Make mittens from old sweaters
Who doesn’t love a fingerless mitten, especially to keep your hands warm while working from home. Upcycling unwanted woolies into mittens is environmentally friendly and on trend.
Best bathmat for cosy feet
Ooooh we love this idea! You know those old towels that you have stashed in the airing cupboard that aren't your best ones but you hold on to for emergency towelling situations. Well say hello to your new craft supplies! This super-easy bathmat tutorial from Lucia McWeeny's Sewing for Beginners walks you through how to turn them into a snuggly new bathmat with very little sewing needed.
Play with paper and try origami
Gather up some scrap paper and make your own recycled paper crafts, from a bedside lamp to paper succulents. Origami is a great craft for beginners to learn and it's also a soothing project to have on the go while you're watching your favourite Netflix shows.
Try these 10 Easy Origami Projects for Beginners
Cross stitch your favourite photos
Oh hello really simple way to find completely unique cross stitch charts, based on your beloved family snaps. Head to My Photo Stitch to try their free cross stitch pattern maker tool.
Give it a go to cross-stitch gifts for all the family. If you're new to cross stitch, head to our Cross stitch for beginners post to learn the basics.
Make a quilt from old T-shirts
Worn out t-shirts can have a new lease of life as a cosy quilt. Find out how to turn them into a treasured heirloom with this How to make a T-shirt quilt from The Spruce. This works brilliantly for everything from favourite band t-shirts to babygrows you want to treasure forever.
You'll need a few basic quilting supplies like a sewing machine for this one, but even if you don't have enough batting (aka wadding) to make the complete quilt while you're stuck at home, you can get started making the 'quilt top' from those favourite tees and then turn it into a quilt once you can get the rest of your quilt supplies shipped in. Check out our How to make a quilt beginner's guide if you're brand new to quilt making.
Upcycle old lampshades
Fabric lampshades fade and get dusty over time. Bring them back to life by recovering them. Online Fabric Store have put together this step-by-step guide (with video below). If you don't have a yard of fabric spare, have a look around for fabrics you no longer use – either bedding sheets or clothes that you no longer wear.
Make teeny tiny pom poms
If you own a fork and some wool, you can now proudly be the owner of your very own collection of mini pom poms! Mollie Makes show you how to make them.
Give old jeans a new lease of life
We love this idea – if you run out of fabric, reach for that old pair of jeans that you used to love so much and get snipping! Jessica Entwistle's denim bunting can be embellished with embroidery, appliqué or anything you have to hand in your stash.
No need for special pens with this easy tutorial for how to create brushed-effect Thank You lettering. Use this idea to whip up a batch of thank you cards from plain white card or paper and send out to friends to brighten up their postboxes and stay connected.
Raid your kitchen and try potato printing
Why buy expensive rubber stamps when you can make your own? Potato printing is a classic staple of our childhood crafting memories but it's enduringly entertaining for makers of all ages and you can create some surprisingly sophisticated results. Try it to make wrapping paper by stamping geometric shapes in white paint on to Kraft paper.
Head to Fun Stuff To Do for their easy guide to potato printing.
Snip up old bathroom sponges for DIY gift wrap
Cut up sponges from the bathroom and use them to print your own gift wrap. Cheaper and simpler than screen printing but a great messy play project if you've got children off school and trapped inside on a rainy day.
Head to Learning 4 Kids for their Homemade Gift Wrap Tutorial.
Turn newspapers into Typographic gifts
In a way this is the grown up version of the DIY gift wrap idea above. Raid your recycling box for newspapers or local circulars and flyers and cut up chunky letters to personalise plain gift wrap. This would also work to spruce up a plain notebook.
Head to Man Made DIY to find out How to make typographic gift wrap.
Raid your house for fabric to turn into bunting!
The beauty of DIY bunting is, it's entirely suited to showing off mismatching fabrics as it all adds to the boho feel of this cheery quick sewing project. Check out your wardrobe and linen closet for fabric items you no longer use and get snipping to whip up a batch of triangles to turn into me-made bunting flags!
Make a roller stamp from a lint roller
Check out this nifty tutorial from Handmade Charlotte for how to convert a lint roller into an addictive print-making tool.
Press flowers in 5 mins
When we first heard this claim we were like, Whaaaat? But team Gathered rose to the challenge of tech testing the tutorials in this review and we've tried it and we can confirm, it works! Katie Brown Workshop's YouTube tutorial has a touch of magic about it. She shows you how to use your microwave to speed up flower pressing.
Turn pretty papers into DIY beads
Get glamorous with these beads for jewellery making, using pretty much any decorative papers you can find at home (test it out with anything from wrapping paper to magazine articles).
Missing your friends now you’re at home? Make them some gifts to show you how much you missed them! If you don't have embroidery threads to hand, simply raid your wardrobe for pre-loved knitwear that's now neglected in your wardrobe – you can unpick unwanted jumpers to find wool to use in lieu of threads (here's how). We show you how to make 3 different kinds of bracelet in our how to make friendship bracelets or if you're a crochet fan, try our crochet friendship bracelets project.
Make rugs from plastic bags
We've all cut down on using disposable plastic bags in the past couple of years but it's inevitable that one or two will still linger in our kitchen cupboards. Gather up any stragglers and turn them into a plastic bag rag rug! Here's how...
How to make t-shirt yarn
Want to try knitting but can't get your hands on any wool? Fear not! Raid your wardrobe for pre-loved items and turn them into the recycled yarn of your dreams. Mollie Makes show you how with their how to make t shirt yarn guide.
Plastic bottle terrarium
Turn used plastic bottles into your very own mini greenhouse! Soul Flower have got a great step-by-step guide for turning an empty 2 litre soda bottle into a beautiful terrrarium. This is one we're adding to the top of our recycled crafts wish list for lockdown.
Nature walk wreath making
Wreath making workshops were all over our instagram feeds last Christmas, and making them is a lovely mindful craft activity, but why leave all the fun to December? And good news – you don't need any specialist wreath-making kit, in fact you can combine two activities in one and head out for your daily exercise to collect supplies on a nature walk, then try this brilliant idea for how to create a floral wreath frame from a laundry basket from A Piece of Rainbow, and follow-up tips for how to Make Wreaths Easily from a Nature Walk.
Turn old cans into wind chimes
We were on the hunt for easy ways to turn cans into desk storage when we came across this even better way of upcycling the humble tin can. Take a handful of cans and spruce them up with acrylic paint and string to make your very own recycled wind chimes. Nifty eh? Head to cheapcrafts.com to find out more. Or for more ideas for ways to play with tin cans, Simple as That have got 25 recycled tin can crafts to keep you busy.
Recycled tyres garden planter
If you're lucky enough to have a garden during lockdown (or even a small outdoor space like a courtyard), this easy planter DIY from Lemon, Bean and Things is cheaper than buying ceramic planters plus you don't need to go out to buy them. Don't happen to have a spare tyre to hand? Try it with all sorts of other natural containers that you no longer need – from wellie boots to broken tea cups.
Turn wine bottles into vases
This easy recycled craft idea by Crafts By Amanda takes empty glass bottles from your recycling and turns them into stylish vases. For more ways to repurpose wine bottles, Country Living have got 35 other ideas to keep you busy.
Turn a cereal box into a guitar
Whether you're looking for kids craft ideas or you're planning your next Zoom video party and want to provide the music, this fun idea from Kix Cereal for taking an old cereal packet and making your own musical instrument will keep you busy crafting, and then busy making your own music to brighten up quarantine!
Make a newspaper storage basket
Paper weaving isn't just one of the most therapeutic craft activities, it happens to be a great way to turn old newspapers into a practical addition to your home storage. How About Orange have got a handy step-by-step guide to making a basket from newspapers from your recycling box.
Tetra boxes into a DIY lampshade
Architect and Designer Ed Chew won the 2011 Bright Ideas Lighting Design Competition for his recycled tetra box to lampshade DIY. It's not just a clever way to use up packaging that you'd usually throw away, the reflective qualities of the Tetra packaging result in some beautiful lighting effects too!
Turn fabric scraps into a cute case
Everyone who sews will be familiar with that box of scrap fabric from past projects that we can't bear to part with but also isn't big enough to make new projects from. Now you can turn fabric scraps and Selvedges into a handy crafter's storage case to keep all your notions in one place.
Turn coffee filter papers into roses
This cute idea makes a great kids' crafts project, or a creative way for grown ups to give flowers to their partners in lockdown without having to head out to the shops to buy them! It's the first project in this round-up of 20 easy recycled projects for kids by 5 Minute Crafts Play on YouTube.
T-shirt into a teddy bear
Recycled craft ideas for adults don't have to be boring! grab a pre-loved t-shirt from your wardrobe and refashion it into a me-made toy for children to cuddle up to.
Turn a book into a vase
We can't be the only ones suffering from Too Many Paperbacks syndrome. Make a book you'll never read again into a beautiful keepsake by crafting it into a vase. These make great gifts if you can theme the words in the book to your recipient, too. Find the tutorial for this in our best glue gun crafts feature.
Turn wine corks into a corkboard frame
Recycled craft ideas for adults don't come cuter than this corkboard frame! Save up all your old wine corks and use Julie Gibbs DIY corkboard tutorial to make a mini pinboard.
Use sea glass to make art!
Forage the beach for a collection of sea glass then use our 12 sea glass crafts round up to find your perfect project. There's everything from sea glass mobiles, bowls and even artwork. We especially love this DIY tray by Sand and Sisal.
We hope you've enjoyed our recycled craft ideas for adults and found yourself a new sustainable project. There's plenty more like our visible mending tutorial or our easy men’s shirt refashion. Looking for fun craft ideas for kids? Check out our arts and crafts to do at home.
Zoe is Senior Editor of Gathered.how, with over a decade of craft publishing experience under her belt. She's a quilter and sewist who works with the UK’s best-selling craft magazines including Today’s Quilter, Love Patchwork & Quilting, Simply Sewing and The World of Cross Stitching. Zoe loves being immersed in Gathered’s quilting content, tweaking our tutorials and publishing new patterns. Zoe has previously written for radiotimes.com, Simply Knitting and The World of Cross Stitching and was previously Deputy Editor of Papercraft inspirations magazine. She has guest-lectured at Bath Spa University. She’s a keen quilter with 5 projects in progress at any one time and another 12 or so planned.