Hip & Handmade: Upcycled Gifts

Studio 5 Contributor Jennifer Heslop dug up new ideas for cool upcycled gifts.

Cuff bracelets- fashion your own designer inspired leather bracelet from a cast-off belt.


Leather belt (any width or color)


Heavy duty punch (or a hammer & nail)

Snap kit (available at craft, hobby or fabric stores)

1. Determine the length of the bracelet by wrapping the belt around your wrist. Add approx.

1 inch of overlap. Use scissors to cut off the desired length of belt and round the corners of the cut piece.

2. Mark position of the snap and punch a hole through each end. Add a snap closure (follow the directions included in the snap kit)

3. Embellish cuff bracelet as desired (brads, charms, beads, etc.)

Quirky Custom Corks /Bottle Stoppers- top off your gift with a custom cork. Great for bottled beverages, dish soap bottles, or candy jars.


Assorted bottles (Look for unique bottles at thrift stores, the grocery store, Dollar Stores, craft stores and Home Décor stores).

Various sized corks (found at craft and hobby stores)

Strong adhesive (i.e. E6000)
An assortment of unique items to use as toppers (buttons, knobs, bottle caps, small toys and trinkets, etc).

1. Determine the correct sized cork for the bottle opening. The cork should stick out of the top of the bottle about 1/8 inch.

2. Decide on the topper for cork and glue with a strong adhesive. Try combining two or three different items, such as a button and a chess piece. Let dry.

Eyeglass Lens Pendant- create a unique pendant from a pair of old eyeglasses.



Modge Podge

Paper or stickers for pendant design.

1. Begin by breaking out the lens of the glasses. You can either cut off the entire frame and use the lens itself, or you can cut off the nose support and side pieces of the glasses and use the lens with the fame around it. To cut the supports, use heavy wire cutters or a Dremel. Make sure you smooth the rough cuts with sandpaper. One pair of glasses will give you two pendants.

2. If you have removed the frame, begin by drilling a small hole through the top of the lens. This will give you a hole to thread your chain, or an o-ring through. If the frame is intact, you can thread the 0-ring or chain through the small hole where the screw for the side support was located.

3. Find a picture for the pendant. Print something off the internet, use a photo or stickers.

4. Modge podge the picture to the back side (concave) of the pendant. Let dry.

5. Attach chain.

Artist Canvas Tote- sew a one-of-a-kind tote from a thrift store painting.


Canvas painting

Scrap fabric for lining

Purse handles

Sewing Machine

Heavy duty sewing machine needle (denim or upholstery weight)

1. The size of the canvas will determine the size of your tote. Using a razor blade, cut the canvas from the wood frame. Consider the canvas as “fabric.” If the painting is smaller than the desired finished tote, consider using 2 or 3 paintings and piece them together.

2. Cut a front and back piece for the tote. Square or rectangle shaped pieces are easiest to work with. Cut 2 side pieces the height of the front and back pieces, and one bottom piece the length of the bag. Side pieces can be a wide as you like.

3. Sew bag together by sewing both side pieces and the bottom piece to the front section. Sew with wrong sides together. This will prevent the need of trying to turn the tote right sides out. Once the front piece is completed, sew the completed front section to the back piece, wrong sides together.

4. You may want to line the tote with a fabric liner. This can be sewn or glued in.

5. Finish off the top edge but turning the edge over ½ inch and gluing it down with hot glue.

6. Add tote handles. Handles can be purchased at a craft store, or you can simply cut the handles from a purse you are no longer using and repurpose them onto your new tote.

Recycled Box Note Pad- make a travel activity pad, shopping list, or reminder pad using your empty food containers.


Empty light-weight cardboard box (cereal, candy, jello, mac & cheese, etc. – look for boxes with bright colors and great graphics)


Spiral binding or binder rings

1. Cut off the front and back portion of the box. Make sure both pieces are the same dimensions. These pieces will become the front and back covers.

2. Cut paper for the inside of the notepad. Use whatever weight and color paper you desire. Cut the paper a bit smaller than the dimensions of the front and back covers.

3. Place the paper inside the front and back covers and line everything up.

4. To bind the notepad, either use a spiral binding tool (available at scrapbook stores), take the note pad to a copy center (approx $2 a binding), or punch holes with a hole punch and use binder rings to attach it all together.

Tip: familyfun.com has free printable activities and coloring pages to add to your notepads

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