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Fabricate Project upcycles old clothing into DIY furniture


March 6, 2013

Melbourne RMIT Bachelor of Design graduate, Michelle McDonell has come up with an innovative way to recycle old clothing into DIY furniture pieces

Melbourne RMIT Bachelor of Design graduate, Michelle McDonell has come up with an innovative way to recycle old clothing into DIY furniture pieces

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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.

Source: RMIT University

About the Author
Bridget Borgobello Bridget is an experienced freelance writer, presenter and performer with a keen eye for innovative design and a passion for green technology. Australian born, Bridget currently resides in Rome and when not scribbling for Gizmag, she spends her time developing new web series content and independent cinema. All articles by Bridget Borgobello

Ugly uncomfortable furniture there are better ways of dealing with mixed plastics. http://www.gizmag.com/plastic2oil-converts-plastic-to-fuel/19108/ http://www.gizmag.com/envion-plastic-waste-to-oil-generator/12902/


Sorry, but this furniture is horrible. I think recycling the materials is a cool thing to do, but this stuff is not. The editors should use some common sense, and consider whether furniture looks like something some reader, any reader, might want. The only place this stuff might look really cool, would be decorating the improvised home of a vagrant under a freeway. I have read a lot of recycled furniture articles over the years. I am afraid you have finally forced me to comment, and lest you think I am really fussy, I will confess that I actually thought the Fedex box furniture wasn't too bad. Perhaps the idea could be improved from what was shown in the photos, with upholstery or classier ways to contain the material.

David Rochlin

terrible - so it takes about 40 items to make 1 stool.... not very economical is it! And what's the weight like?!? Aside from it looking ugly as sin. What's wrong with a few pieces of wood? Wood is recycled in that you can grow more trees and use it for firewood afterwards.

You want to recycle old clothes, then send them to Africa or other 3rd world areas where they will be of use as clothing.... not brain surgery is it!


The overwhelming consensus is this furniture is ugly. If really ugly is ever in fashion then this stuff is the it.

However, the article did give me the great Idea of recycle several of my favorite old Cool T-shirts as seat cushions for bar stools.

Matt Fletcher

I agree, they are not the best looking furniture (or even come close to it) but I think it has potential if some one wanted to take the idea and do something more creative.

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