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A DIY Ice Bucket Upcycle to Match Your Decor!

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I wonder if other avid thrifters notice the same odd objects seem to be ubiquitous in thrift stores. For instance, I always see vintage ice buckets, bread machines, and those bedside phone cord organizer thingies by the score.

In a recent thrifting venture, I noticed this ice bucket sitting on a shelf without a price tag:

refashionista vintage ice bucket before upcycle
Just a sad, dirty bucket.

It’s dirty. It’s stained. It’s sad.

But look at that lovely faux tortoiseshell & gold trim! This ice bucket is just dying to be made pretty!

I brought it up to the counter. What followed was the most awkward conversation I had all week. And all for an ice bucket, friends.

Me: “Hey! I found this on the shelf over there, but noticed it didn’t have a price sticker on it.”

Cashier Guy: “Yeah, we stopped putting prices on anything, because folks were just swapping out the stickers.”


Me: *Looks at Cashier Guy and raises eyebrows*

Cashier Guy: *Stares blankly*

Was I really going to have to force him to tell me the price of this thing? Or should I just stay in the pause until he learns how to pick up on basic social cues?

Me: “So…”

Cashier Guy: *Staring Blankly*

Me: “Um…How much do you want for it?”

Cashier Guy: *Looks at me, narrows his eyes, then looks at the bucket, then back to me*

“I’ll give it to you for $2.”

Me: *Sigh of relief to be near the end of this transaction*

“Awesome, Thanks!”

Harrowing stuff, right?

Anywho…I now had my prize in my possession, but had no idea how I was going to upcycle it.

Everything idea I had seemed wrong.

Should I paint it? No, the paint wouldn’t adhere well to the slick surface, and I wouldn’t be able to wash the thing.

Should I use spray adhesive to cover it with fabric? No, because then the exterior could get stained and gross, and would also not be waterproof.

Then it hit me! I could just make a removable cover for my new ice bucket! That way I could wash it throroughly after each use, and the cover could just be thrown in the laundry if/when it ever got splashed with a cocktail at one of our soirees!

For some reason, I had been holding on to this fabric scrap for years.

refashionista fabric scrap for ice bucket
Pretty, innit?

It was part of a large remnant I thrifted and made use of by making a couple of throw pillows and a cute little curtain for my dining room.

refashionista fabric scrap pillow
Look at that sweet little Benson!
refashionista fabric scrap valance
Scrap Bustin’ Curtain!

I could not believe my luck! I had exactly enough fabric left over to make one final project that would make future party guests think I was super fancy/hired an interior decorator or something. Who else has an ice bucket that matches their curtains and pillows?

I cleaned my ice bucket thoroughly. Then, I measured.

Refashionista measuring ice bucket for upcycle
You have such a trim little waist!
measuring ice bucket for upcycle
And you’ve grown so tall!

I traced these dimensions on a piece of pattern paper, adding two inches to the width and one inch to the height for a seam allowance.

Refashionista making template for upcycle
Cut once. Measure twice!

Since I only had the tiny scrap of fabric, I could not afford to get these measurements wrong, friends!

So, after cutting out my template, I made sure it would fit around my ice bucket, like so:

Refashionista testing template for upcycle
A perfect fit!

Then, I laid my template over my fabric scrap, making sure to align the pattern.

Refashionista laying out template for upcycle

I used my tailor’s chalk to outline my pattern.

Refashionista tracing template for upcycle
Tracing right along!

I cut out my pattern, and then started making my hems!

Refashionista adding hems for upcycle
It’s coming together!
Refashionista sewing hem for upcycle
See? It’s easy!
Refashionista adding hems for upcycle
Leave these edges raw. You’ll see why in a sec!

To make this ice bucket sleeve easily removable, I decided to make a velcro closure. I only wanted to fold the vertical sides over once, since the velcro additions would add bulk to that part, and I didn’t want it to be too bulky.

Refashionista adding velcro for upcycle
When I say “Vel”, you say “Cro”!

If you’re attempting the maneuver at home, make sure to put the velcro on opposite sides of the fabric, like this!

velcro for upcycled ice bucket
I did it wrong the first time and had to re-do it!

After my seams were nicely pressed, my DIY Ice Bucket Upcycle was complete!

refashionista diy upcycled ice bucket after

Here’s what it looks like from the back:

refashionista diy upcycled ice bucket back
Super Secure!

I’m really happy with how this project turned out! And all from a $2 thrifted ice bucket!

Time to celebrate!

refashionista diy upcycled ice bucket after fancy
Even fancier!


refashionista diy upcycled ice bucket before and after main image
Refashionista's DIY Upcycled Ice Bucket
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44 thoughts on “A DIY Ice Bucket Upcycle to Match Your Decor!”

  1. How did I never see this before? Arrrrh-I inherited one like this from my dad-I kept it because of the retro-vibes. Never occurred to me to make a slip cover for it! I could make a one to suit the occasion whenever I use it!

  2. Wow! Awesome idea! I’m mentally thinking of different things I could do this to. I love it when I know I held on to some fabric for a good reason!

  3. I Love it! You know what’s best? Okay, there’s 2 BEST things! First, you leave us with so many options that way….. a birthday sleeve, a Christmas Sleeve, A Valentine’s Day one……. SECOND! and awesome! Is how you show/tell us your “mistakes” or opportunities for learning! Incredibly inspiring & gives me the belief we can all try these fun ideas. I look forward to all your new posts

  4. Awesome! it’s funny how there seems to be a cultural element to the ubiquitousness of certain items. I don’t think I have ever encountered an ice-bucket in Dutch thrift-shops. Maybe we are just not fancy like that?

  5. Genius! Not only am I reminded to appreciate my stash of fabrics, not despair of its size, but now have fresh, fun ideas for Easter baskets, Christmas, and more. The Velcro is the game changer for me. That makes everything click. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the energizing post and great tutorial.

  6. Great idea. I got an ice bucket a few years ago. My kids think it looks like rich old guy stuff, but hey, it is better than the nothing I had before. It has a coat of arms looking thing on the front, but if I made a fabric cover, and put the crest on the back side, it would probably work.

  7. I love love love this!!! I don’t think I would have ever thought to put on a removable cover! Brilliant and that fabric scrap is gorgeous <3

  8. so cool! at first when i saw the picture, it looked like you painted it…but love the idea more that it can be changed out!
    i love anything lucite or tortoise shelled! and the story at the thrift store is hilarious…one thrift store locally won’t sell an item without a price tag on it….it goes to the back to get repriced and then you have to wait until the next day to see how much it costs… frustrating when i actually like something

  9. Love it! You have so much vision….I would have just seen an old ice bucket LOL So thankful I can get ideas from you.

  10. This turned out so well!! I would love to see more small projects like these- this seems like something I could actually complete!

  11. I have always believed you were so Clever! This was a Clever Idea & I know why you kept that fabric…..It is a happy creative Print…and helps bring Inspiration….So I think

  12. This looks fantastic. I love a good fabric/velcro project. I did a similar thing with fabric inside the glass paned doors of my DVD cabinet.

  13. One less thing for the landfill pile if no one bought it. It’s so cute. You could swap out covers made for the holidays.

  14. Great job on the ice bucket… It was a find from the beginning… the sort of thing a thrifter hates to pass up… but what you’ve done with it really takes it to a new level. The way you sewed the material and had everything fit so nicely is awesome!

  15. Great idea! Now the next time I see an ice bucket at the thrift store I’m going to rescue it and do the same!

  16. That turned out so well! Great idea. Looks like you had a small bit of fabric left? I saw a tutorial on YouTube recently for a fancy wrist pincushion by Annika Victoria. She used a jar lid and some elastic plus a really small scrap and some extra fabric scraps as filler to make it. I’m planning to make one myself. That fabric is so pretty it would make a pretty one.


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