Hampstead upcycler who transforms old jeans into sofas

Programme Name: Saved and Remade - TX: n/a - Episode: Saved and Remade - Ep14 (No. 14) - Picture Sho

Saved and Remade Elizabeth Knowles works with some swimming medals - Credit: BBC/Red Sky Productions Ltd/Scott Anderson

From an old rugby kit to a bag of jeans, Hampstead upcycler Elizabeth Knowles can turn your treasured materials into "spectacular" furnishings.

And the former graphic designer can be seen on BBC2's Saved and Remade helping to transform people's loved objects into something new.

"My company is called Old Bag Designs because of a joke about me being an old bag," says the mother of three.

"I started it eight years ago to professionally upcycle furniture and furnishings and go a few steps further. The fabrics I use are existing materials I incorporate into new things. Customers come with items of clothing or precious objects and I recreate them into a table top or upholster a stool."

One family collected their denim jeans to cover a sofa, while another used a son's rugby kits to upholster a chair for his birthday. 

Elizabeth transformed an old sofa with the family's thrown away jeans

Elizabeth transformed an old sofa with the family's thrown away jeans - Credit: Nick Carman


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"He was so overwhelmed he cried tears of joy."

Elizabeth was first inspired after gathering a bag of barely worn clothes for the charity shop and thinking 'there must be something better to do with them.'

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"My mother taught me how to sew so I started experimenting with personal projects, using things I had when my children were small. People said 'oh my gosh can you do something for me?'

"I have always been an advocate of anti-waste but it's become a more pressing and urgent issue. There is so much that we throw away but there are so many beautiful things in the world that with a little creativity you can reimagine something spectacular -  a one-of-a-kind thing you would never find on the high street."

Another project upcycled an old chair with the client's ties

Another project upcycled an old chair with the client's ties - Credit: Old Bag Designs

For Saved and Remade Elizabeth is among a group of "remakers" who take loved objects - an old trombone, a mother's wedding dress, a damaged sailing boat - and transform them.

"Everyone seems to have a little trove of treasures that reminds them of a loved one or a moment in their past stashed in the loft," she said. "They bring them to the studio, we take it and reimagine it into something completely different. It's a fantastic creative process. They are all high quality professionals and it's a celebration of how skilled craftsmanship can take an item with its own memories, put fresh eyes on it, and give it a whole new life."

Saved and Remade continues on BBC 2 weekdays at 6.30pm. See Elizabeth Knowles' work at http://www.oldbagdesigns.co.uk

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