Welcome to my blog!

I used to blog here mostly using local photos about my neighborhood or Washington DC or other places I visited. But I took a break from the blog for a few months and then found myself posting about crafts and sewing projects I have done or are doing. These involve fabric recycling or re-use and refashioning of clothes, or other frugalities. I've left up the previous blogs and may occasionally revert to those topics again. May your days be blessed with miracles, surprises and creativity too!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Pillow from scrap fabric


When no longer needed, I think baby blankets make useful fabric pieces to make into other things and this fuzzy blue giraffe blanket just begged to be made into a soft pillow.  First, I embellished one side with some left over brown satin ribbon from the stash pile of fabric and findings that accumulates each time I do a clear-out of a closet or drawer.  I used brown ribbon as this blue pillow was to be paired with another pillow, also brown.  Putting right sides together, I then stitched three and a half sides, leaving half a side open for later insertion of the pillow stuffing.  After turning to right side out, I squeezed in the pillow stuffing (acquired on sale at in Walmart), then hand-stitched the opening and lo and behold, had another cute pillow for my son's bed. This project took hardly any time at all as I did the laundry at the same time, making for a very productive Monday morning.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Embellishing Old Blouse For More Use


After stitch witchery
Determined to use up some bits of old white and black lace and a shiny ornament, I went into my closet to see if there was some blouse or shirt that could use some embellishment to get me to wear it again. I found a somewhat worn white and grey printed blouse that I hadn't worn for two years and thought this was a good candidate for some scraps. It turned out I had just enough bits and pieces to make a fairly pleasing square shape out of the strips of lace. I stitched them on with the machine but hand-stitched the metallic diamond shape as I might have damaged it with the presser foot.  I think it came out all right and I've worn this a few times this summer and got some use out of something I might otherwise have cut up into rags or something.
What blouse looked like before

Blue jean pocket becomes charging station for wireless phone


Inspired by all the crafty stitch witchery on Pinterest boards, I ripped off a pocket from an old pair of blue jeans and turned it into a little hanging bag for re-charging of my wireless phone.  This was a simple 20 minutes or less craftie and I like how it came out. When I ripped the pocket off the blue jeans I left about 3/8" of fabric around the pocket that I then turned over with some iron-on seam fabric to finish the back and give it a little stiffness. For the hanging handle, I just used a thick seam from the outside leg of the pants and stitched it to the back of the pocket. All I had to do was locate a cup hanger and screw it into the wall to get this craftie done.  I'm quite pleased with it since I now can hang the wireless phone for re-charging at a plug that doesn't already have half a dozen other things plugged in.



Turning a Square Scarf Into an Infinity Cowl Neck Scarf

Red floral cowl scarf laid out
Finished square scarf next to original red cowl
34"x35" square scarf beside red cowl
Pin sides before cutting
There's a couple of large square scarves in my closet that have been hanging in there, quite useless, for a while.  The trend now is for infinity or cowl neck scarves so I thought I'd convert the square ones. This turned out to be far easier than I thought and I was able to stitch up a couple of these in two hours. First I found the red floral cowl scarf I owned already, to use as a pattern or model. I saw right away that the square scarf just needed to be cut into two halves that I could then stitch together to make the cowl.  So after cutting, putting right sides together, I stitched it together and then stitched the bottom to make it a loop.  I then roll hemmed the long "cut" side of the scarf. Since the square scarf came with finished edges, there was not a lot of other finishing to be done to the seams. I'm quite pleased with the end product and quickly turned another big 35" by 34" printed square scarf into a cowl neck scarf as well. So now I'm ready for fall!
Square scarf cut in half

Roll hem on long side
other square converted to cowl

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Zippered Bag Made from Old Blue Jeans and Scrap Fabric

Determined to bust through some of those blue jeans sitting in my fabric stash awaiting re-use and recycling, I ran up this zippered bag on the sewing machine last month. It's your basic blue jean bag made out of the top of a pair of elasticized waist pants, added a zipper and lining with pockets and put on a shoulder strap. I just cut off the pants legs and stitched two pieces together after re-seaming the curved seams into straight seams. Before adding the lining, I stitched on a couple of floral scrap fabric pieces to decorate it a bit.  I made a complete other bag to insert as a liner and which included some pockets and pouches. The liner was also made of some scrap fabric I'd accumulated. The lining's interior pockets and pouches were cut right out of other fabric from my recycle stash. So they just were stitched into or onto the lining.  I also had an unused heavy zipper and put that across the top to make this bag closable and more usable. The shoulder strap was also just another piece of blue jeans from the legs, just cut and stitched into a long ribbon and then turned right sides out before stitching into the bag between the lining and bag exterior.
This bag has become a great extra travel bag for us as it's squishy and fits on the plane floor or in the bus or train overhead bin easily.  We've used it for all kinds of things like snacks and medications, or suntan lotion, or books and papers, you know, that stuff you just gotta carry with you that you don't want to check or pack in your fancy suitcase. And it's washable!


Little Girl's Pillowcase Dress

I'd read about making a little girl's dress from an old pillowcase on Pinterest and other websites so I decided I just had to try one and it came out all right, don't you think? I found a pillowcase in the closet that didn't seem to have a mate -- another one of those things that disappear in the laundry. Once I figured out the heavy end seam was the bottom of the dress, I then cut along the top and cut out the arm holes.  I quickly trimmed the armholes and then turned over the top with a large seam that could hold a ribbon.  Since I'm working on busting through my bag of scrap fabrics, I found this rather pretty pink satin fabric that was once the lining to a jacket, and stitched into a long tube that became the ribbon. I then threaded this ribbon through the top seam and eh voila, pillow case dress! I added on a little pocket using the leftover fabric from the arm hole cut out and stitched it as a patch pocket right onto the dress, using some pink zigzagging as decoration.
Overall, I was quite happy with how it came out and was very pleased when a little 7 year old girl came by and when I showed it to her she said she wanted it!  I adjusted the tie ribbon for her height and she said she was going to use it as a night dress!  I am so pleased to have done this project but just a little miffed with myself for not taking of photo of the little girl in the dress, er, nightgown!



Friday, September 4, 2015

My Trusty Powerless Kitchen Tools


serrated knife
carpet sweeper
meat thermometer
can opener
funnel
Since I've already blogged about my Trusty Kitchen Appliances, that is, the stuff that works with electricity that I use all the time in preparing food and cooking, I decided to look at all the kitchen tools I rely on to get things done, that is, the tools that don't need electricity. So here's the list: a serrated knife, oven thermometer, a funnel, a carpet sweeper, a garlic press, a measuring jug, a gravy separator, a small sieve, can opener, spatula and spoon, roast potato nail, and timer. I expect there's a few other things but these are used the most and seem to me to be the most useful non-electricity-using items that I use over and over again.
What got me thinking about these items was our visit to a museum last year where they showed a lot of items that were used in homes and yards a hundred years ago. What was startling was that in several cases, they simply didn't know what the device was for or how it was used.  I'm sure everyone knows how everything in this blog works, but what about a hundred years from now? Will there still be manual can openers? Hand pushed carpet sweepers? Will anyone still use potato nails or garlic presses? And surely spoons, spatulas and sieves will still be in use?  Or will it be the case that in about 20 years from now I will look at these items and say, "Gor blimey, what did I use that thing for?" Or "whatever happened to that gravy separator?"

potato nail
garlic press


gravy separator

sieve




Pyrex measuring jug

spoon and spatula

 









Flower arranging vase using several plastic bottles


I got this idea from a library book about upcycling where the guy took
a bunch of used plastic bottles of varying sizes, glued them together, spray painted it and then stuck flowers in it.  Instead of putting five of those little plastic shampoo, pill and lotion bottles into the recycle bin, I glued them together with that super duper E6000 glue -- that I got in Walmart for less than $5 and can be used to stick anything together -- then spray painted the cluster of little bottles when the glue had dried (overnight). I probably put on two coats of paint before deciding it was green enough, letting each layer dry overnight. I then stuck and glued some salvaged fake yellow flowers onto straws (you will probably recognize this re-use of green Starbucks straws) and placed them into the bottles which arranges them for you. This ended up being another cute item in my basement living room.  P.S. I just recalled the library book where I got this idea among others: it was "Upcycling: create beautiful things with the stuff you already have," by Danny Seo and has great illustrations and artsy crafty tips on how to do stuff that isn't too complicated and doesn't require a lot of tools and know-how.


Clock Made From Chip Tube and Oddments


Inspired by all the artsy crafts projects I see on Pinterest, I made a clock for the basement living room out of a cardboard chip tube, some spare spray paint, some ribbons and a clock face I'd bought to fix another clock but it was the wrong size.  So for this one, after spray painting the inside and outside of the chip tube, I cut out the circular shape for the clock face using an exacto knife after drawing a circle around the clock onto the cardboard tube.  Then I wedged in the clock face and put some weights in the bottom of the tube so it wouldn't tip over easily.  I used those glass beads you put in flower vases but any weight things would do. Then I put the lid back on and then decorated the tube by gluing on some salvaged gold and blue ribbon pieces. I quite liked the overall effect and it's good to have a clock in this room and when the battery fails, I can just open it up and pop in a new one.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Couch Blanket Made From Airplane Blanket And Prom Dress Lace

Actually I made this couch blanket over ten years ago but am posting about it now as it helps me realize I've been into re-use and recycling for a long time. The story about this creation is that, by mistake, or should I say inadvertently, I brought home one of those airplane blankets -- I think this might have been from Delta airlines. It sat around a while and then I knew I just had to do something with the blue and pink lace yardage that I'd taken off some old 1960s prom dresses (yup, I'd kept those a long time and salvaged the lace and satin bits). So I cut these lace pieces into the shapes of various letters from the runic alphabet as they are interesting shapes with interesting meanings and something I once studied. I stitched them on directly onto the outer blanket surface, turning the edges of the rune letters as I went along. Not being perfection oriented, I just scattered the rune letter shapes in a rough design around the edge of the blanket. Then going back to the fabric scrap pile, I found an old worn sheet and taking the best bits of that and stitching them together, I created the lining or backing for this couch blanket, just overstitching it on and using some more leftover strips of the lace as a binding around the edge. Over time, this has gotten washed and so the navy  blue has gotten a bit purple in places and the pink and blue laces pieces have faded out somewhat, but I've always received quite a few compliments from visitors when they see it tossed on the back of a living room chair. And, of course, it's a comfy thing to have in the winter when there are a few draughts about.




Book Tote Bag Made from Scrap Fabric

This past year I decided to bust my pile of scrap fabrics and unfinished sewing projects and this book tote bag was among the first to be finished.  The green fabric is from an old pair of jeans, lined with some dress fabric I found in the trash, and decorated with some old floral sheet material. To get the basic green fabric I just cut the jeans legs off and opened the seams and created panels that I then stitched together. Before putting in the lining, I cut out squares and circles of the floral sheet material and stitched them on as decoration, using red thread and the zig-zag stitch setting. I also created two handles making ribbons and then stitched them inside before adding the pink check lining.  This  makes a great bag to keep and carry library books in and although I haven't done this yet, I know it's washable!
As you can probably tell, I don't spend a lot of time measuring and patterning and cutting things exactly, but rather do a lot by eye and as the mood strikes me, to give the whole thing a bit of a hobo feel. If it looked manufactured, it wouldn't be home-made, would it?



Ever Changing Wreath on Front Door

I'm really into re-use, reduce and recycle so for my front door wreath I used an old twisted twig wreath form that I got years ago in a Michaels Arts and Crafts store and that I update seasonally.  This summer I used red and yellow fake flowers that I found thrown out in someone's trash in the alley (thank you very much!). First I cleaned them up a bit, cut off the extra plastic twiggy bits and then stuck them into the wreath.  The plaid green and blue ribbon I also found in the trash, someone had tossed the unfinished roll out, and you can be sure I spied it and commandeered it for re-use. The ivy leafy vine wrapped around the wreath I got years ago also, probably at The Dollar Store,  great source of cheap arty crafty bits and bobs. I'm quite glad how this colorful wreath brightens up my front door for these late summer days.  Soon, of course, I'll be changing out the flowers for the autumn, that is, once I gather some orangey yellow bits and pieces together.....