Designing and creating my own one-of-a-kind jewelry from any number of vintage or thrifted items is one of my favorite pastimes. In fact, I can’t even recall the last time I bought costume jewelry at a big box store! I love the feeling of wearing something unusual and unique…and my DIY accessories are such mood lifters from the compliments I receive. So I decided to dig through the Sadie archives and round up 10 of my all-time favorite upcycled jewelry projects to hopefully spark your creative imagination!
Finding these never-used vintage cameos in various colors was a definite highlight while junkin’ in Fernandina Beach, Florida! And once I paired them with flattened vintage spoons, I completely fell in love…so much so that I kept four for myself before selling a few in my Etsy shop. My favorite is my green daffodil which even Jeni Britton Bauer admired!
This project was one of my earliest blog posts…but something about taking a stodgy strand of $2 thrift store pearls, pairing them with funky hemp twine, and reimagining everything as breezy, beachy jewelry still resonates today! While I can’t teach you how to master the perfect beachy hair waves, I can help you create the perfect coastal accessory!
These colorful characters are simple to make and eye-catching to wear. Old wooden spools get a splashy paint job, and then scraps of old flour sack fabric are mod-podged around the spool- DONE! Slide it on a chain and you are good to go- little to no skill required!
You know what’s a lot of fun to do? Smashing old metal buttons with a hammer and an anvil. Cathartic, stress-relieving, and then when you’re done, you have lovely “coins” ready to become jewelry! I just LOVE how they look when they’re flat- isn’t that amazing?
Here’s an idea that, while Christmas-y in this combination, is definitely unique- using vintage curtain tieback pins in jewelry! A quick search on Etsy finds all kinds of options…some of which would make darling coat and hat pins, and then others (like the red one I used) make for a wonderful focal piece in an upcycled necklace!
Creating sweet, simple bracelets in the Anthropologie aesthetic is easier (and cheaper!) than you may think. Vintage handkerchiefs (clean ones, don’t worry!) are snipped, frayed, and braided together to make a mismatched set of shabby perfection…in just a few minutes’ time.
While I’ve often admired the style of Steampunk from afar, I never acquired any pieces with that theme…until I found the most adorable itty-bitty pulleys that ever existed! And then I couldn’t stop making pendants with them, using bits from broken earrings and chandeliers. I kept one for myself and sold the others on Etsy…and will forever be on the hunt for more pulleys!!
While wrapping thrifted plastic bangles with fabric is not a new idea, I do love using strips of vintage bed linens as my fabric of choice! They add vintage-y charm to some otherwise ugly bangles and turned them into a trio of baubles that look like they came from trendy boutique. Can’t beat that for a couple of dollars, can you?
Leather-bound books are just so sexy, aren’t they? Well, ok, if not sexy then they are at least handsome! And since I can’t afford my own library of old classics, then I just need to make my own miniature version using leftover leather scraps and the falling-out pages from a vintage novella!
Sometimes you find a fantastic old scarf only to realize it’s tattered, torn, or stained in places. What to do?? Why re-fashion it as a funky, chunky necklace of course! An easy, low-sew project, this piece is definitely a conversation starter…and that old scarf will look fabulous once again.
Well, which one is your favorite?? I’m not sure I can pick one- and I enjoy wearing each of them as my outfits and social engagements allow. But it DOES make me itch to make a new repurposed jewelry project…or two…or three! So stay tuned…there are definitely more upcycled accessory posts coming in the future!