I like upcycling, repurposing and crafting with my kids

Archive for the tag “flowers”


Oh my goodness, I can’t believe I have neglected my beloved blog since August! I had the urge to write today, logged on and find that it is 3 years to the day that I started this little project. I love coincidences like that 🙂

My only excuses are the usual: 1) work and family life taking over (happy with family doing that, but as for work…!) and 2) I’ve been busy with craft fairs and my Etsy shop.

Let me show you my latest upcycled makes, on a Christmas theme …

burlap hoop with rustic heart design

This embroidery hoop art is made using hessian (burlap) and scrap fabric, which I’ve upcycled from curtain fabric samples. I used free machine embroidery to applique the hearts to the hessian and make the strings. I love the cute rustic look of this piece, ideal for lovers of shabby chic decor.

embroidery hoop art using upcycled fabric

This green spotty fabric is the perfect backdrop for my cute birdcage hoop. Again, I sketched the birdcage design using the sewing machine without a presser foot. It’s quite hair-raising when you first try it, but I’m addicted to this technique now! The flower is a piece of scrap ribbon and a little bead, and a bead also makes the upcycled fabric bird’s eye!

Here are my most Christmassy designs, which I’m hoping will attract someone’s eye at my forthcoming craft fair next weekend (details here) or on my Etsy shop.

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To make these Christmas themed hoops, I used both free machine and hand embroidery and some felt. I love using felt as it’s such a versatile fabric and of course non-fraying.

So that’s what I’ve been up to, how about you? Promise I will be back soon, I’ve missed this! x



Upcycled Lovelies – Tissue pouches and Sunglasses cases

How about a basket of springy cheer in the form of these tissue pouches and sunglasses cases? Both of these makes are fantastic scrap buster projects and also nice beginner sewing projects to use just a small amount of fabric and test your skills (and your sewing machine!)

Tissue pouches and sunglass cases made from scrap fabric

The tissue pouches are made from fabric remnants from previous projects; this supersoft knit fabric pouch is mostly upcycled clothing – made from one of my daughter’s outgrown tops…

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I love the print on this fabric and the little sequins!

These spotty and flowery fabric ones incorporate one of her cotton tops which was so pretty but only worn a handful of times, as it was sleeveless and rather a chilly summer that year!

Flower print pretty tissue pouch from recycled clothes Tissue pouches using upcycled fabric in pretty coordinating fabrics Tissue pouch - spotty green fabric with upcycled clothing Tissue pouch reverse - pretty cotton top upcycle

This is a rather addictive craft as it’s quick and easy and great practice for sewing straight lines on your machine, something I’ve had to work at myself! There are some great tutorials and patterns online but my favourite is this one from Notes from the Patch

The sunglasses cases are made using flex-frames – I spent ages googling to find out the name of these pinch-open pouch closures!!

flex frames - used to make pinch-open pouches

Flex frames – picture courtesy of

Again there are stacks of great tutorials online – I used this one from Fabric Yard (where you can also buy sewing supplies) as it’s got great step-by-step pictures and instructions. By the way, this tutorial says to spray baste the wadding to the fabric – I used a light smattering of fabric glue which seemed to do the trick. Always use what you have to hand, I say!

The glasses cases are also good practice for quilting – a technique that’s quite new to me. It was a fun way to try out different styles of quilting on a small area of fabric before trying a bigger project.

Most of the glasses cases pictured here were made with repurposed fabric from clothing – there are pieces from two men’s shirts, a little girl’s dress and a couple of tops in use here, plus some gorgeous stripy turquoise fabric from a sample book.

What are your favourite scrap-buster sewing projects? I’d love to see your ideas too 🙂

Tissue pouches made from scrap fabric

Jeans Upcycle – Cute girl’s apron

I’m feeling very pleased to have finished another recycled denim jeans project this week – I’m on a roll now!

As I mentioned in my last post, my friend gave me two pairs of jeans she no longer had use for, knowing my obsession with repurposing clothes! At the same time, my niece (a budding seamstress herself) sent me this video link to a great re-use for jeans – cutting the backside and waistband off to make a garden apron.

The video tutorial shows you how in seconds you can create a little garden apron from your jeans. I immediately took the shears to my friend’s old jeans and reproduced the apron, but decided to “girlify” it a bit by adding a little ruffle.

Apron made from old jeans with added ruffle

Rather cuter now I felt – but probably more of an “indoors” apron that a gardening one. In which case, it needed a bit more work. You’ll notice the cut at the side seams left a rather frayed raw edge that needed some attention.

Cut edge of denim jeans for making an apron

Hmm, that edge won’t do at all…

So I added some binding with a pretty fabric to contrast the ruffle fabric. Then I had a dilemma – should I top-stitch from the front of the binding, to neaten it up, or should I go for a cleaner look?

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I’ve no doubt everyone has their own view; I put it to both my sewing circle and Twitter friends (I take part in the excellent #makedoandmendhour on Twitter on Thursdays 8-9pm UK time). Needless to say opinion was fairly evenly divided. In the end, my horror of unpicking stitching led me to conclude it was better with! 😀

A bit more ruffling (who doesn’t love a good ruffle??)

Denim apron with double ruffle

and one of my favourite fabric flowers later…

Fabric flower with button centre

and I’m pretty happy with the result!

Jeans apron with ruffles and flower



Now you can all tell me off for stitching over my binding – I can take it 😉 x

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

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

Upcycled Pallet Garden – an update

How weird is this…I decided to update my Vertical Pallet Garden with some fresh Spring-into-Summer flowers and as I checked back on how it looked last year I find it’s exactly a year ago to the day that I posted about this garden upcycling project!!

Spooky or what?

Here’s an update on this season’s pallet garden look and a comparison with last May’s planting…

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As you can see, the pallet itself has weathered in nicely over the year giving it an even nicer Shabby / antiquey look. Since planting last year I moved it to lean against the garden wall where it can enjoy more shade than its previous south-facing position. As our soil here is so light and sandy and doesn’t hold onto moisture, small plant containers like the ones we created in this pallet need all the shade and water they can get!

I decided to go for just blues and whites this year, reminiscent of Royal Doulton blue and white china which I just love. They look so blue in the evening light, in which the picture above was taken, but looked more vibrant and purple in the brilliant sunshine we had over the weekend.

Pallet planter with flowers

A sun-drenched view of the newly-planted pallet garden

Repurposed pallet as garden planter

Newly-replanted repurposed pallet 🙂

Recycling pallets in the garden

Blue and white flowers in the sunshine

Coming soon…more pallet upcycling ideas, this time indoors! Happy Upcycling everyone 🙂

Scrappy Fabric Project: Fabric flowers

Scrap fabric upcycle project

Fabric flower made up entirely of repurposed materials

How about this cute way to use up scrap fabric? This simple flower is made using scraps from the children’s outgrown clothing, a button from an old jacket and some fabric from an ironing board cover (also featured in our decorated jars…)

Each petal is a circle of fabric (I used a jar lid as a template) which is folded into quarters and sewn with a continuous running stitch along the curved edge: the same thread is used to join all petals together and then gently pulled tight to make the flower shape.

I finished this flower with a button and safety pin to make a simple but beautiful brooch for my plain denim handbag (not made by me, only embellished!)

Upcycled clothing fabric flower brooch

Fabric flower is made into a brooch with a simple safety pin and decorates a plain bag

Scrap fabric brooches

Handbag embellished with butterfly & flower scrap fabric brooches

I then used the same fabric to create a complementary butterfly brooch using some silver-plated jewellery wire I’ve had about 20 years (not kidding!) and some little beads.

Upcycled clothing butterfly brooch

Butterfly made from 4 circles of fabric stitched & squashed together

A nice way to create something new from scrap fabric – what do you think?

Upcycled Wine Bottle Vase

This project was really fun to do as it allowed me to play with the glue gun. Simply take an old wine or other glass bottle, some thin sisal rope and a glue gun to save another treasure from the recycling bin!

rope wrapped bottle

Upcycled bottle – now a unique vase

The bottle I used was an unusual shape which I think adds to the appeal. I just wrapped and glued until the rope covered the bottle.

upcycled wine bottle craft

Bottle wrapped in rope but awaiting further decoration

I was quite happy with the result, but as it was a gift I decided to further embellish it with a fabric flower (another latest obsession – using fabric scraps to make flowers!)

Click on any picture below to see how the flower came together.

(By the way, I missed the photo step about stitching the petals: I just folded the circles into quarters and did a running stitch along the curved edge, then pulled it tight to pull the petals together to form a flower shape).

I finished it with what I hope are realistic-looking fake flowers from the garden centre.

A simple unique gift made from recycled materials – have a go! x

Upcycled Wooden Pallet – Vertical Gardening ideas

As you might suspect, I find it quite hard to throw away things that look useful. These pallets came to us with a delivery of DIY materials and have lurked half-buried in the shrubbery for months! We couldn’t get rid of them (and I could barely move them!) and we knew we wanted to do some sort of upcyclage with them – but what to do?

Wooden pallets before upcycling

These pallets were crying out to be lovingly converted to a new use!

This beautiful reuse came to my attention and I decided to make vertical planters with them: However, having carefully prepared the first pallet with landscape fabric and started to add soil we found it was going to be quite an involved process, as you have to lie the pallet flat and pack it very tightly with compost and plants to prevent soil leakage. This method also requires patience (in short supply in my garden!) as you should ideally leave the pallet flat on the ground once planted for a couple of weeks or more for the plants to take root.

OK, so that method is definitely good but on hold for now here as we need to get loads more plants and have one or two weekends of more clement weather! The taller of the two pallets is therefore prepped but not yet planted.

For the smaller pallet we adopted a different approach, which in a nutshell was this:

1. We removed every other slat horizontally to give better spacing for planting
2. Using plastic trellis (the kind you get on a roll) we stapled small basket shapes into the frame
3. We lined the baskets with green landscape fabric to hold the compost in place
4. After trimming the fabric a bit to hide it (quite fiddly) we planted the baskets up.

Wooden pallet planted with flowers

With makeshift trellis baskets added and planted up

It was quite easy and I think the resulting display is really cool. If you wanted to you could secure it properly to a wall as it’s quite heavy, but we have leant it against the wall of the house on the decking where it gets lots of sun (when we have any sunshine!)

Bear in mind as with all small containers in the garden it takes a fair amount of checking and watering during dry spells but if you’re too heavy-handed it will pour muddy water all over the decking!

My friend pointed out you can add crystal soil or water beads to the containers to help retain moisture, which I will definitely do when I replant. I think it makes a stunning addition to the garden and the shabby-chic look is right up my street 🙂

Wooden pallet planted with spring flowers

Beautiful spring flowers show off the pallet’s new life as a garden display

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