ShabbyShe

I like upcycling, repurposing and crafting with my kids

Archive for the tag “homemade”

Easter Egg Hunt (without chocolate!)

Upcycled greetings cards into game

Fun Easter Egg hunt game using upcycled birthday cards!

This is a fun game you can play with the kids over Easter – an Easter Egg hunt without the chocolates!

I took some of the children’s birthday cards and used the back of one to draw an oval to use as the template.

I then chose some brightly coloured cards and traced the egg shape onto them (checking there was no text or other markings on the back).

Recycling birthday cards for an Easter game

Choose cards with lots of bright colours and details to make effective looking Easter Eggs

I then created two larger egg shapes for them to use as answer cards as they went round hunting for the little eggs.

Recycled card for Easter game

Numbered lines on the answer card “eggs” for the mystery word

On the back of the little eggs they found a number and a letter, which they had to write on the corresponding numbered line on their answer card eggs.

Recycled cards as Easter egg game

Eggs have numbers and letters for the children to find and decode the Mystery Word…!

I stuck the little eggs around the house (it was a bit chilly outside for this game) and they had fun hunting for them and filling in their cards.

Best of all, the eggs make a sweet Easter decoration after the game is finished. We will definitely be doing this again ๐Ÿ™‚

Easter egg decorations made from recycled birthday cards

Easter Egg display – a dual purpose activity!

Happy kids (even without chocolate) and a fun Easter display, what’s not to love?? Happy Easter everyone ๐Ÿ™‚
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Mixed Media Decorated Eggs – Fun Easter Craft for Kids

Painted egg kids craft

Blown egg decorated with acrylic paints

We’ve been playing with various materials and techniques to make some fun decorated eggs for Easter.

First we blew an egg and decorated it with acrylic paint. There are lots of good tutorials on how to blow an egg – my favourite is at the excellent Red Ted Art. Obviously I did this part as it’s quite tricky, plus I’m too much of a control freak!

blown egg before painting

Blown egg mounted on a cocktail stick and play doh

I put the blown egg on a cocktail stick and used some play doh to stand it up (homemade, naturally – see my previous post aboutย Homemade Play Doh). It kept swivelling round on the stick as she painted it but this added to the swirly effect. My daughter loved painting with acrylic paint as she was allowed to daub the paint all over and mix it up.

Decorating egg with acrylic paint

My 4 year old painting her egg with acrylics

Look at the focus on that face. This is Serious Fun!

Next we hard-boiled some eggs and I allowed the kids to choose their own media for decoration. They had all sorts of sequins, stickers, paints, glue, scissors, ribbons and pens at their disposal, but both went for the trusty old felt tip pen! The googly eyes were a hit though – they both decided to make Egg Heads…

I ended up using my hot-glue gun to glue everything firmly in place once they had finished their designs as PVA glue doesn’t stand up to the job. So the children got to do their eggs how they wanted and I still got to play with my glue gun – everyone was happy!

Which is your favourite? x

Tech Bag for a Boy – Upcycled Clothing

How about this for a great upcycling project: a bag to carry little man’s essential tech around when we are out and about?

Manbag made using recycled clothes

Cool upcycled t-shirt man-bag – every kid should have one!


This project came about after I was presented with two problems which are, I’m sure, familiar to many a mum…

  1. ย My son is old enough to prize his own “tablet” (a DS) but still young enough to most likely drop and break it
  2. ย He hates getting rid of old outgrown clothes.

Solution: an upcycled T-shirt Tech Man-Bag!

Upcycled T-shirt project

We started with a much-loved outgrown t-shirt

Having established there was a top in need of repurposing and a need to make a bag, I then did some highly technical (ahem!) measuring – ie. plonking the game console onto the item of clothing to make sure it will fit!

[As you can see from the picture, my daughter’s old jumper is soon to get a similar treatment!]

Upcycling old clothing into bags

T-shirt and jumper are “measured” – yes, their consoles will fit!

The next step was to cut a piece from the front and back of the t-shirt using a template – I just measured the DS in its case and added a generous seam allowance, as I wanted to pad the bag with felt for added structure and protection.

I cut a piece of paper and made sure I lined it up straight so the stripes front and back on the bag would match up (this is highly out of character – I usually take a more slapdash approach but I’m learning to be more patient…slightly!).

I also wanted to ensure I could get the whole shark motif onto the bag (this is called fussy cutting I believe.) My trusty rotary cutter tool was perfect for this!

I sewed 3 sides of the bag by turning it right sides together and popping it on the sewing machine, then I did the same with the felt. I used 2 colours of felt here so it wouldn’t look too red (his fave colour, but we don’t need to overload it!)

I then put the bag together and stitched around the top to finish it. I probably should have hemmed the top, but as it’s t-shirt fabric it won’t fray…and this is ShabbyShe after all ๐Ÿ˜‰

The straps were from another pair of outgrown children’s jeans, which I just stitched madly together to get to the right length (32″ for my son’s frame) – just a simple zigzag stitch on the sewing machine to join the pieces together, and then I stitched it to the front and back of the bag for a cross-body strap.

Upcycled t-shirt bag for tablet

I think he likes it!

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?

Sewing from an actual pattern…the Messenger Bag

I took an important step recently in my new sewing obsession: away from cobbling stuff together using an idea in my head – remember these?

to using a tutorial, with proper measurements and a pattern to work from!

In the Shabby Spirit of recycling, I borrowed a free pattern from this lovely lady over at mmmcrafts. There are lots of great (free!) tutorials online but I liked this one best as a complete beginner.

Here is the result, my first ever messenger bag – a gift for my mum’s birthday.


I have to say despite the flaws I’m well aware of, I’m really pleased with how it turned out. It wasn’t that hard, especially with a great step-by-step guide, and it is so satisfying creating something gorgeous!

The pattern called for a yard of each fabric and was in inches. I stuck to inches for ease but bought a metre of each (being a Brit!) so had plenty left over for lovely fabric scrap projects (post to follow soon on this), including this sweet tissue holder which made a nice addition to the gift.

Easy quick sew gift

Tissue holder using fabric scraps

This was another Pinterest find – click on the image for the pin & website.

I’m looking forward to making another messenger bag and tissue pocket for myself next…! x

Homemade Gift Ideas: the mug cosy

These heartwarming little numbers are the perfect gift for the tea lover or coffee addict, and you can knit or crochet one up in a jiffy. I made them for teachers and a colleague for Christmas – ideal gifts for busy ladies who probably never get to drink a warm cup of tea ๐Ÿ˜‰

I knitted mine using 2 different methods with interesting results – the reddy-pinky one is a simple moss stitch (knit one, purl one) and the blues are knitted in a smocked stitch which I found on this excellent Youtube tutorial by iKNITS

For both styles I cast on what I thought would be the right number of stitches (around 60) and knitted vertically until I liked the height of them (rather than fewer stitches and knitting it long enough to go round the mugs). The result was that the smocked stitch cosies were perfect as I followed someone else’s pattern, and the improv moss stitch was way too long!! I panicked as it was a gift and had to be given the next day (the previous attempt went wrong too!) My level-headed hubby then suggested just wrapping it further round the mug and adding a big button. It worked, hurray! (and phew!)

The felt labels are decorated with embroidery silks and stitched onto the cosies. I added a ‘string’ of wool to complete the tea bag look. The buttons, in true ShabbyShe tradition, are reused from my button box.

For my next cosy (for me, obviously!) I’ve pinched my sewing circle friend Heidi’s suggestion and knitted horizontally. Now that is good advice ๐Ÿ™‚

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 Gift Wrapping for men – The Shirt Sleeve

Upcycled shirt gift wrap

Stylish gift wrapping for blokes!

Men are notoriously tricky to buy for – they just don’t seem to like “stuff” as much as women! This was part of a gift I gave to some friends recently, a couple both celebrating big birthdays, so a bottle of fizz is always a fairly safe bet ๐Ÿ™‚

I wanted to personalise it and add a touch of homemade upcyclery, so I reused one of my husband’s old shirts (which he had already decided to get rid of, I hasten to add!) I sewed a straight seam across the cut sleeve – but you could always use safety pins or some tape if you’re really sewing-averse! Then I popped a nice bottle of the fizzy stuff inside and added some decorative ribbon to finish.

Easy peasy DIY gift wrap for men (and women!) x

Christmas Heart Garland: Felt craft

Vertical hearts garland using felt

Christmas garland of felt hearts

This pretty garland in Christmas colours is a quick and easy decoration I made for this year’s festive season. It is so simple that even the most reluctant sewer could cobble it together in no time!

Here’s the How to…

1. Simply take two felt rectangles in contrasting colours – I used red and green to give it a Christmassy feel – then fold and sew your first piece along the longest edge to join it. (I used my sewing machine for speed, but you just do a quick running stitch by hand).

Felt rectangle is sewn together

Step 1: Fold a felt rectangle lengthways and sew along the long edge to join

2. Next, you need to cut a straight line along the other long side (not the side you just sewed) – so you now effectively have two rectangles joined on one side only.


3. Now, open the newly cut edge and fold the felt around through 180 degrees, and sew this edge together.

Felt heart

A cut heart – by folding and stitching the fabric back on itself a heart shape is created.



4. You now have a sort of heart shaped tube – all you need do to create the hearts now is to cut this folded & stitched felt tube at 1.5cm (or 1″) intervals.

Easy felt hearts

Red and green felt heart pieces, ready to be strung together.



5.Follow the steps above for your other felt piece and you have two colours of hearts which you can attach to eachother to make a garland.

I used a needle and thread and simply strung them vertically, but you could fabric-glue them side by side to make a horizontal garland just as easily.

To retain their perfect heart shape I recommend fabric-gluing them to stiffen the heart shape as there is movement in my design, but I quite enjoy the imperfection so am leaving mine as is!

What do you think? x

Adventures in Advent Calendars

Painted wooden advent house

Re-recycled Advent House, ready for some Advent Adventures!

Time to wheel out our huge advent calendar again (recycling in action!) It’s lovely creating new Christmas season traditions when you have a family of your own, and this one will continue as long as the kids want to do it! Last year if you remember I tried giving them little Advent Activities to enjoy instead of gifts, sweets & stickers (see https://shabbyshe.wordpress.com/2012/12/01/advent-season-already/) – it was a massive hit with them and my son actually asked if we could do the same again this December!

It’s such a nice alternative to those chocolate calendars which have them baying for more sweets at breakfast time! Plus whoever heard of an Advent calendar having 25 doors – it should be 24, right?

For this Advent season, I’ve used my heart shape cutter to make little hearts and written an activity or event on each one.

Paper hearts with advent activities

Paper hearts for the Advent Activities

This requires careful consultation with my diary to make sure I don’t plan something we’re doing something else. Now they are both in school, we can include some school activities such as Christmas parties which makes life easier!

I then folded up the hearts and wrote the date, all ready to stick in the little numbered windows. Easy as pie!

What are you doing for Advent this year?

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