Building construction wrap and courier envelopes. That’s Tyvek. Tear-resistant, water-resistant, lightweight — it’s terrific stuff. But can you pop it into the recycling box, when you’re done with it? Some places, yes; some places, no.. You can always send it back to DuPont for recycling, but where’s the fun in that?

Ella doll by Di McDonald Remember when we were talking about homemade toys, versus lead-painted toxic recalls? In a comment there, Sharon mentioned her daughter making doll clothes out of plastic bags, when she was too young to learn to sew.

Well, Tyvek would work great for making doll clothes, because the little fashion designers can cut and glue to their hearts content. And when the kids are old enough to learn to sew… well, Tyvek can take a needle and thread, just fine.

Just look at Di McDonald‘s Ella doll (dressed in elegant silk and Tyvek) for inspiration!

The possiblities for DIY recycling Tyvek into handy useful crafts are almost unlimited.

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Enter the crafty R. Stern (SternLab) who makes a reusable Tyvek lunch bag from a FedEx mailing envelope… the printed part is on the inside (just as well, so as not to upset the nice FedEx people we depend on to keep the wheels of business running smoothly), but could anything be more appropriate for brown-bagging it to the office?

Tyvek is moisture-resistant, so it’s a great choice for one of those odd emergency situations where you desperately need a placemat or baby’s bib or something to stick underneath that potted plant that got a tiny bit too much water…

More Craft Ideas to Recycle Tyvek

What about cutting strips off a few courier envelopes to weave into coasters?

Or a shopping bag to tote home the veggies, from strips of recycled Tyvek done up in macrame or crochet?

Heck, why not knot up a whole doormat?

kite Save up a few mailing envelopes and make a kite.

Artificial flowers?

Protective dust cover for a keyboard?

Hmm, I could see a place for Tyvek in making a funky lampshade, too…

Make a book cover from Tyvek to protect a book from fingerprints and spills (or to hide that steamy bodice-ripper from other eyes) when you’re reading in public places.

Cut the white part of a Tyvek envelope into a fancyful shape and embellish it with beads, sequins, paints, lace, artificial flowers — Badge? Gift tag? Journal page? Scrapbook cover? Mixed-media art piece? — whatever your imagination suggests!

Taking it one step further, Micki has been painting on Tyvek with interesting effects…

tyvek beads Other crafters are turning bits of courier envelopes (sometimes painted, even marbled) into tyvek beads. Some beads are made by heating the material, which makes me a bit nervous of the potential for off-gassing toxins, but you can also roll a piece of painted Tyvek the same way as you would to make paper beads.

And if that weren’t enough inspiration, the Minnesota Center for Book Arts is offering a class called Tyvek®: It’s Not Just for Envelopes:

This class will introduce you to this wonderful non-woven fabric and present ways to use it in your book and fabric arts projects. Each student will complete a variety of color and technique samples, and construct a simple but intriguing six pocket pamphlet stitch book built from Tyvek. Bring embroidery thread, beads, or favorite rubber stamps to personalize your book. Exploration and experimentation will abound!

I would just love to sit in on that workshop, but {sigh} it’d be a hell of a commute all the way to Minnesota from here!

What else?

I’m sure I’ve barely touched the surface of the possible crafty ways in which Tyvek could be reused, repurposed, recycled to make something new…

Please, share any ideas in the comments — what project ideas have I missed? What are other crafters doing to recycle Tyvek? What would you do, with a handful of UPS envelopes and a bit of spare time?

Technorati Tags: Tyvek, recycling, crafts

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Chrissy

    Just a cautionary note – its not recommended to have Tyvek in contact with food for long – so perhaps wrap any food before it goes into a recycled lunch bag.

    Love the ideas, lots of fun! Tyvek distorts well, and stitches well, and its OK to use an iron with small amounts of it if you are in a well-ventilated area and ALWAYS use baking parchment both sides of the Tyvek or your iron and board will get messy.

  2. domestika

    Thanks for the useful links, Jeff! :)

  3. domestika

    @Logcabincook, so sorry that your comment got lost in the site switch. I really like the patio furniture cover idea!

    @cmkriat, haven’t read anything on this – but most products have a material safety data sheet registered for them, which should be possible to track down through the manufacturer. Matter of fact, your baby book idea is such an interesting one… think I’ll see what I can find out.

    @Dorothy, I don’t think I’ve ever come across ‘Flair Squares’ – but you made me curious! Seems they’re actually made of Tyvek? (Kooky Kitsch has a few.) I just found that YouTube video ( – what a riot! Nothing looks quite as goofy as a 1979 television ad in 2008!

  4. Dorothy

    I found some retro ‘Flair Squares’ at Value Village last night; 4 packages, 15 to a package, and they are made of Tyvek.

    You can see a Flair Squares video on YouTube that is a crackup…

    I’m taking college classes right now and don’t have time to play the way I’d want to, but by summer, my daughter and I will be crafting w/these. I am envisioning book covers, makeup bags, shopping bags…

    these suckers have adhesive on them—are meant to ‘dip, apply, rub smooth’.
    So, might adhere to a second layer of plain Tyvek. They are a green floral, but not the glaring design on YouTube.

  5. cmkriat

    I was just wondering if anyone has seen any information on the toxicity of Tyvek. My 9 month old chews chunks out of his board books and vinyl isn’t very safe for a baby to chew on. I got the idea when I got a package in a Tyvek envelope and he was chewing on it while I opened mail and the envelope didn’t disintegrate. I just don’t know if Tyvek leaches any harmful chemicals. If not, it might make a good paper substitute for books for teething babies/toddlers.

  6. Logcabincook

    I found three recycled rolls of Tyvek house wrap that we are using in our remodel. But I am sure I will have plenty left over to make a patio furniture cover for our new teak set. Never having made anything with my new sewing machine, this will hopefully be an easy project. Twice recycled is twice as nice!

  7. domestika

    I can imagine that a busy bead-maker like you must have a constant supply of mailing envelopes, Lavender! To ‘reuse’ them is obviously the first choice, since it’s hard to ‘reduce’ the number coming in, but you probably find like I do that there are always some left over… and isn’t it fun to see the clever recycled craft ideas out there?

  8. Lavender

    What great idea, and here Id just been stuffing them in a box and re-using them as mailers! Im sitting on a goldmine LOL! Thanks for the inspiration, I really hadnt thought of any of these uses for them, Bravo!

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