Michelle McDonell, a Bachelor of Design graduate from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) in Melbourne, Australia, has come up with an innovative way to recycle old clothing into DIY furniture pieces. Dubbed The Fabricate Project, the concept, which aims to save no longer usable garments from ending up in landfills, won her first prize of the RMIT Green Inventors Competition.

After spending six months researching textile use and its disposal, McDonell found herself at a local Melbourne sorting center that deals in the exportation, resale and recycling of old clothing. She asked them for everything they would generally dispose of in landfill and ended up with a heap of old synthetic jackets.

“I assessed the material properties of the waste and discovered that the durable synthetic fabrics would be ideal for upholstery purposes,” McDonell told Gizmag. “The garments can't be recycled as their mixed material composition (nylon, polyester, acrylic, as well as zips, clips and buttons) makes them difficult to melt or shred.”

Incorporating the old garments, McDonell then came up with three simple construction techniques, which allows almost anyone to create these furniture pieces at home.

The “Roll” stool involves rolling a series of garments together before encasing them with a leather outer material that is then secured with buckles. The “Press” chair uses a creative folding technique and two end plates, which compress the textiles together. Using wing nuts and a thread bar, the folded garments are pressed together to make the main body of the chair. “Other materials can be used to achieve the same results, such as milk crates and rope,” added McDonell.

The third piece of furniture is dubbed “Hoods” and features a bench made from galvanized steel poles and jackets that have been stuffed into their own hoods. “The galvanized frame acts as a containment frame for the hoods to be stuffed into, however any material can be used to create a frame and the simple act of folding jackets into their hoods” said McDonell.

“I think my favorite piece is the Press, however everyone has a different preference,” said McDonell. “The Press was very simple to make and I feel it has the most potential to grow into something more accessible to the public, such as a kit you could buy at a charity shop.”

Interested “upcyclers” can jump onto the Fabricate Project website and follow McDonell’s step by step instructions of how to build each piece at home. The video below also demonstrates just how easy these designs are to build.

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