ShabbyShe

I like upcycling, repurposing and crafting with my kids

Archive for the category “Homemade gifts”

WIPs – Denim and more Denim

This week I have been mainly trying to complete a couple of WIPs (works in progress) without getting distracted by the fantastic crafts I’ve seen on some of the blogs I follow! Ideas like The Renegade Seamstress’s beautiful sweater boots which are so tempting with the cold snap we’ve been experiencing recently in south east England, or trying free machine quilting as demonstrated so cleverly by Sewchet.

However, I recently started wading through my ex-denim jeans stash to make up some more denim pocket purses and I really want to get something finished!

Firstly this cute mini pocket which belonged to my daughter’s age 3-4 jeans.

Denim pocket upcycle with scrap fabric flower

The flower was an experiment with a new method for making scrap fabric flowers: using a circle of fabric, I sewed a running stitch around the perimeter then pulled it as you would a drawstring bag and knotted the ends. Then I pressed it flat and it made this lovely effect – almost like a pinwheel I think! The button already had a nice bright cover which complements the fabric.

Not exactly finished, but on its way!

I had more success with this denim purse, which I have Actually Finished!!

Purse made from upcycled clothing

The slowest part of making these mini bags is hand sewing the fabric patch onto the back, as it involves stitching through a layer of denim and the fabric itself using tiny stitches to keep them as invisible as possible. I can’t wait until we have the long, sun-filled evenings of summer to work by, instead of squinting in the gloom at tiny stitches …

Fabric flower using recycled clothing

I used the same upcycled fabric on the front of the purse to make a little flower – this one uses the hem of the original t-shirt and stitched it into a coiled flower shape. I was rather pleased with the effect.

A thin ribbon strap was the last piece of the jigsaw and the denim pocket purse is complete. Hurrah!

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So one WIP now complete, one still ongoing – but whoops! – my friend gave me some jeans of hers and I accidentally started a new project involving an apron and some ruffles. Eek! More on this soon…! x

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Handmade Greetings Card – a fabric scrap project

handmade greetings card with appliqued fabric

I made this greetings card for a wedding. The couple’s theme included Shabby Chic and butterflies so I came up with this delicate design with simplistic running stitch to add to the Shabby charm!

I simply drew the butterfly wings and used a scalpel to carefully remove the shapes. I drew in the butterflies’ bodies with a Sharpie pen, then inside the card I placed my scrap fabric pieces so they more than covered the cut-out wing shapes and secured with tape. The fun part was sewing with thread around the wings to bond the fabric to the card and finish the look. There is something about sewing into card that reminds me of being a small child, with those pre-punched cards in one hand and my huge needle and wool thread in the other 😀

For a professional finish I cut a rectangle of card just a bit smaller than the front and glued it over the taped fabric to tidy it up inside the card.

You might recognise the fabrics I used for this project – the blue and white fabric which always reminds me of those lovely Willow china plates was used in both my charity sweetie jars and fabric flowers and butterfly brooch. The other pretty fabric was one I actually bought (as opposed to repurposing from clothes or acquiring from a charity shop suitcase purchase!) to make my mum’s messenger bag.

An easy fabric scrap-busting project to use those last little pieces of favourite fabric, and I think it makes a charming keepsake card for a special occasion, but I’d love to know what you think!

Hand stitched fabric scrap greetings card

I’m linking this post up to Creative Jewish Mom and the other link parties I join in with – have a look at some of the talented people over there if you have a few minutes! x   ——>

Doing the Etsy thing…

The Lunchbags go live – now available for purchase

Hello lovely readers! Long time no post, I know: I’ve been busy making these little numbers ready for a Christmas Fair and now Etsy – do pop over and have a look at my shop. Your feedback is welcome! I’m hoping these eco-friendly lunch bags will inspire kids and parents alike in the quest for interesting packed lunches! They are great fun to make and I have an unfailing supply thanks to the fantastic recycling efforts of the dinner ladies where I work!!

My shop is here – I’m hoping to continue stocking over the coming weeks with more recycled, repurposed and upcycled loveliness. Watch this space! x

Upcycling Clothing: Jumper Dress Bag

Girl's jumper dress for upcycling into a bag

Pretty knitted jumper dress, sadly a bit stained

We are so fortunate to have several lovely friends with older girls who pass on their sweet clothes to us when they’re outgrown. I love this stripy pink jumper dress but unfortunately it has several stains on it which I couldn’t remove with washing – a hazard of raising young children!

There are several ways to recycle clothes that look a bit too sad – a great way is to give them to your favourite charity shop as they can sell the items by weight to textile recyclers for bedding etc. Another even better way is to refashion or upcycle them into another item of clothing, a keepsake soft toy (like we did here) or in this case a bag! I do have a bit of a thing for bags, as regular readers will know…!

I decided to keep this bag quite soft and floppy as the fabric is soft and cuddly itself. It’s lined with a man’s shirt (husband’s cast-off) and I decided to also use the shirt fabric for the strap.

Here’s what I used to make this very simple bag…

  • jumper dress & old shirt
  • medium-weight fusible interfacing
  • sewing machine & thread
  • rotary cutter and board (these are optional, but make cutting straight so much easier)
  • iron (you really can’t skip this bit, even if like me you really want to!)

The fun part is cutting it all up…

To get a clean straight edge and a matching size on my shirt lining fabric, outer bag and interfacing I used my self-healing mat and rotary cutter with a wide ruler. Once the inner bag fabric (the shirt) and the outer bag (jumper dress) were cut to size I ironed on fusible interfacing to the shirt fabric to give it more structure.

Then just sew it all together…

I made the strap from the shirt’s placket (the button hole strip on the front of a shirt). This has the advantage both of being already shaped & straight and having interfacing inside so it has a stiffer texture, useful in a strap.

I stacked the pieces together and pinned ready for sewing in the following order:-

  1. first lining piece, right side down
  2. first outer bag piece, right side up
  3. second outer bag piece, right side down
  4. second lining piece, right side up

Then I sewed the top ribbed part onto the bag and attached the shirt placket strap

Reusing shirt as bag strap and lining

Shirt placket strap is sewn onto the bag

Hand sewing recycled bag

Some bits have to be sewn on by hand


The resulting product is a soft bag, ideal for a little girl (or even a big girl like me!). I really liked the buttons feature on the original dress so used them to embellish the bag. A fun way to recycle pre-loved clothes into something cute and useful 🙂

Jumper dress turned into a bag

I’ve linked this to Craft Schooling Sunday by the fabulous Creative Jewish Mom – have a click to see the awesome craft shares 🙂

Reverse Appliqué Phone Cases

OK, first things first – a confession! I polled loyal blog followers (and anyone else who happened to drop by!) to find out which eye you preferred for my bird phone case. Opinions were divided, but the largest bead won the popular vote and I pledged to go with the majority….Hmm….

Meanwhile, the large bead went missing! This is very strange, as I had put all three eye options, needles and the phone case itself in a plastic tub to keep it safe. However you may remember there are 2 small people living in the Shabby household, and one in particular has a penchant for collecting pretty things she finds around the house (my earrings in particular..!)

So, not wishing to cast blame, I believe someone played with my materials and consequently all three eye options disappeared! Luckily I have a stash of small beads and buttons and although I couldn’t find a match for the large bead I did find an identical small black bead. Hence why the bird ended up looking like this…

Felt handmade phone case

The bird has an eye!

I must admit, having favoured the largest button eye originally I’ve come round to the little bead instead. I think it’s quite cute!

The collection is growing, with a view to eventually doing a little craft fair at some point when I can squeeze it in! I think these would also make nice little stocking fillers for Christmas…

Handmade felt phone cases

Reverse applique felt and upcycled fabric phone cases

It’s quite therapeutic making these little cases and felt is such a nice fabric to work with. The stitching is done by hand using embroidery silks.

Repurposed clothes phone cases

Another view…

DIY mobile phone cases

And finally…

I still haven’t found the secret bead stash…!

Happy Thursday all x

Kids’ Easy Sewing Projects – Teddy and Keyring

Picture the scene – the children are happily playing downstairs. You slip upstairs to the “do some housework” and fire up the sewing machine. Peace reigns supreme – we are all in our happy places and doing what we enjoy most.

But hang on, here they are, buzzing around like flies, picking up pieces of fabric and cotton reels and begging to use Mummy’s sewing machine. Darn it!!

This happens frequently in my house and I usually bat them away with a snack and drink, maybe some TV, and a “Later – just let me finish this first”. However I had to finally cave in and allow my children to have some of the sewing machine fun 🙂

Easy first sewing projects for kids

Easy does it – the children display their makes!

They decided they wanted to make a gift for each other, how sweet is that??

I established 3 basic ground rules to ease them into sewing toys on the machine which would be useful for any project involving young children:

1. They could choose their own material, but only from recycled fabric, not Mummy’s Best Stash – after all, there are plenty more used and outgrown t-shirts & jumpers where these came from!

2. We would start with a basic pattern or shape and one I have tried and tested before (typically my son chose a teddy shape which is a bit grander than I expected, but we managed it together!)

3. They had to sit carefully, keeping fingers, eyes and feet where I showed them and c.o.n.c.e.n.t.r.a.t.e.! They managed this amazingly well and really listened!

On previous occasions when one of them has wanted to “help” with my sewing, I’ve allowed them to press the foot pedal with their hands while I guide the fabric. This time they both took it in turns to take the helm and I just told them when to stop and start so I could help rotate the fabric. We had to pile some boxes under the table so their little legs could reach the pedal 😀

My 5 year old chose to make her brother a soft keyring using some denim jeans fabric and her old stripy jumper which regular readers might recognise from a certain teddy bear I made for her! I helped her draw an oval shape and cut it out with pinking shears to avoid fraying. She then stitched round it, sewing the denim tag in the top, and leaving a small gap for the stuffing (adding the stuffing was almost as much fun as using the sewing machine!) Then we stitched it all the way round again to seal it all in.

Easy kids sewing craft - DIY keyring

Pretty pleased with her first machine-sewn project!

My son’s brainwave was to make a teddy bear for his sister from an old pink t-shirt – a bit trickier as we had to stop and rotate the shape more and it took a lot of self-control on his part not to go nuts with the pedal (boy racer in the making!!) He did so well though – here he is proudly sporting the finished shape, prior to decoration with a Sharpie pen.

Easy teddy toy on sewing machine

Look what I made Mummy! His first soft toy project.

We found some pink ribbon for the teddy’s bow tie and my son drew in some features to finish the toy. He later added his initial and a couple of stars to his keyring gift too and it is now featured on his school bag!

They both did so well and it goes to prove that I don’t have to be a control freak with them ALL the time – they’re actually pretty good at stuff when I trust them to do themselves 🙂

Sewing with kids - easy first makes

We love our presents!

I’ll be linking this up on Threading my Way and Handmade Harbour’s Handmade Monday – do pop over to them and have a look at other people’s fantastic creations – Happy Weekend to all! x

A Bird’s Eye View…?

Ok bloggy friends and readers, I need some advice!

I’m continuing my obsession with making little bags and phone cases with this birdy reverse appliqué phone case, made from felt and (naturally) upcycled children’s clothing.

The problem is the little chap needs an eye, but I can’t decide which one. This is where you come in – thoughts please!

Option 1: Button and little beady eye

Bird design DIY phone case

Button & bead eye bird

Option 2: Large beady eye

Felt and fabric applique phone pouch

Large beady-eyed bird

Option 3: Little beady eye

Phone case using upcycled fabric from clothes

Small beady-eyed bird

So far two friends have voted for option 3, one for option 1 and my daughter likes option 2!

It’s the Viewers’ Choice now – I need your bird’s eye view (groan!!) ….

I promise to go with the majority vote. Thank you x

Upcycled Clothing Phone Case

Another fabric scrap project to add to my growing list. I just can’t bear to part with bits and pieces of fabric or clothing that look like they will upcycle into something fabulous!

A friend recently gave me a lovely pale green top which sadly didn’t fit her or me, but the fabric was too pretty to pass it on to the charity shop! The solution: some more upcycled clothing projects!

repurposed clothing made into phone case

A new phone case from old clothes

Luckily the top featured a ruffled edge detail which looks really cute on the case I think.

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The button is, of course, from my stash. I used felt to line the inside of the case to give it a cushioned look and protect the phone as it clunks around in my handbag! The cord is a simple chain finger-knitted from embroidery silks. Remember finger-knitting? It’s still fun! 😀

Teacher Totes – a Thank You gift

It’s that time of year again when the summer holidays are beckoning and children and teachers are worn out and longing for the break! (I can say this with confidence as I was a teacher!)

I usually put some cash in the class whip-round but the children’s teachers have been so lovely in every way this year I wanted to make them a little gift to show our appreciation. If you remember, at Christmas I made the teachers some personalised knitted mug cosies.Hopefully these have kept other people’s mitts off their cuppas in the staffroom as well as keeping their tea warm! 😉

Now Summer is here with a vengeance in South East England I wanted to make something both useful and summery. These tote bags are based on instructions from the excellent Molly’s Sketchbook Twenty Minute Totes.

Teacher appreciation totes

Handmade teacher gifts – tote bags

I hasten to add that 20 minutes is I’m sure achievable for a more experienced and less faffy seamstress than me, but they took me over an hour! Still, they were easy to assemble with fab instructions and visuals from the Purlbee and I think are super cute! I can’t wait to give them to the teachers!

Gift for teacher - pretty tote bag

Little tote bag with fabric flower

I bought some fat quarters from Hobbycraft in coordinating colours and used thread from my stash. They’re mostly *new* (rather than upcycled) apart from the fabric flower on the teal striped bag which is made from a repurposed dress and top of my daughter’s. A warning word about the fat quarters: I thought they were a standard size, but apparently can vary depending on the width of the original fabric. The tutorial above uses fat quarters that are larger than mine, so I had to adjust my measurements down from 14″ x 16″ to 11″ x 11″ – quite a difference, but the resulting bags are maybe sweeter for it as they’re little!

The flower on the red striped bag is a ribbon which I used the sewing machine’s different tension settings to snag or gather, then I simply coiled and stitched it to the bag. I used a patch of upcycled denim jeans inside to cover the messy stitching with my Sewing Cheat (fabric glue!!)

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I’d love to say the children helped with more than just selecting colours but they’re that little bit too young to do serious sewing yet (i.e. in a straight line!) It won’t be long though, they’re both filled with enthusiasm for my sewing machine 😀

Scrap Fabric Project – Denim Pocket Purse

Another lovely upcycle project for all those sweet little pairs of jeans which are no longer worn by the children – denim pocket purses!

Here is the Prototype…

Denim jeans upcycle - purse

Upcycled denim jeans pocket purse featuring a ribbon flower and strap

I made the strap from a piece of hot pink decorative ribbon I had in my stash, and used the remainder to make a little flower featuring a double-button centre. The back of the purse looked a bit unfinished as it was just the inside of a pair of jeans, so I traced the shape onto card and made a fabric patch the same size to finish the back.

Upcycled clothing purse

Repurposed girl’s dress makes up the fabric on the reverse of the purse

The fabric on the back was another crafty repurposing of fabric – it was a beautiful Chinese-style dress which my daughter point blank refused to wear!! However even though it was lovely the very narrow fit hardly suits a typical D-shaped toddler tummy!

The fabric is very delicate and sheds easily so I carefully hemmed it before stitching it to the denim pocket.

Naturally as both items of recycled clothing were hers originally my daughter instantly claimed the purse as Hers! It makes a nice little purse for a few coins to spend as a treat and she feels so Grown Up wearing it round her neck. Bless ❤

Scrap fabric and reused jeans bag

A Girl’s Best Purse… 🙂


I'm going to make several more in different fabric finishes and possibly try a craft fair later in the year – especially if I can team up with one of my crafty friends. It makes it much more fun!

Have a good week everyone & Happy Crafting! x

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