ShabbyShe

I like upcycling, repurposing and crafting with my kids

Archive for the tag “recycled”

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!

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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 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

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?

Hand-stitched Gift Ideas – Fabric Bookmark

I made this fabric bookmark for a friend in my sewing circle. It’s simply stitched together felt and gift-wrapping ribbon, finished with a tassle and pendant from an old necklace.

Fabric bookmark with recycled jewellery

Handmade bookmark gift using recycled jewellery

It’s such a simple but nice little gift for any book lover, and a great way to use fabric scraps and repurpose some pre-loved jewellery ๐Ÿ™‚

Bookmark tassle with green pendant detail

The tassle and jewellery detail is my favourite part!

Crafty Halloween!

We’re busy getting ready for our little Halloween tea party tomorrow at ShabbyHQ! The children were able to help with these simple Halloween craft ideas and they are so excited about the spooky celebrations to come.

Halloween ghost lanterns

Recycled jars and fabric make great spooky ghost lanterns

These ghostly lanterns are a brilliant 5 minute craft which even the littlest hands can make unaided. Just take a few strips of bandage (we improvised with left over curtain lining fabric!), glue, googly eyes and a glass jar. Pop a tea light in and they make a great Halloween deco.

Meanwhile, inspired by the need to upcycle these stripy tights from an outgrown Halloween costume, plus some fab ideas on Pinterest, we thought a little welcome from the Wicked Witch of the East would let any little Trick or Treaters know we are Halloween Friendly ๐Ÿ˜‰ ย These are just tights, rolled brown paper (from inside a roll of wrapping paper) and inadvisable shoes.

Wicked Witch of the East legs

It has been a bit windy here lately…!

Happy Halloween everyone! Enjoy your celebrations ๐Ÿ˜€

Easy Kids’ Craft – Upcycled lid Suncatchers

My little ones love making crafty bits and pieces too. These suncatchers are so simple but look lovely hanging in a sunlit window. As they require mainly things you already have at home or bits from the recycling bin they are super-cheap too!

Suncatcher craft

Simple suncatcher to decorate a bedroom window

Suncatcher hanging in window

Evening sun shines through the colourful suncatcher

We saved plastic lids from the tops of large yoghurt pots and houmous, washed and dried them, then glued torn or snipped pieces of coloured tissue paper on. We then used a permanent marker pen to outline the design to give it a “stained-glass” effect.

Decorating upcycled suncatcher

Glueing tissue paper to the suncatcher

I got to do the most fun part, which was making a small hole for the wool to hang it up using a blown-out match – my children won’t be allowed to use matches until they’re at least 35 ๐Ÿ˜‰

Decorating the suncatchers

The focus achieved by a 4 year old when doing something easy & fun is amazing!

Recycled Clothing Rag Rug: Done!

Phew that was a bit of a time-consuming task but really enjoyable and now my rag rug is finished I can enjoy its soft fluffy loveliness underfoot.

Recycled clothing rag rug

Completed rag rug, made mostly from fabric scraps using a rag rugger tool & hessian


I had originally planned to make a huge rug but I have learnt that there is too much fabric and too many hours involved in a modest-sized one – this one is like a large bathmat basically – as demonstrated by my four-year-old…
Rag rug showing proportions

The new rug gets the seal of approval from my daughter!

It would probably be quicker to make a woven rag rug but I liked using up little scraps and small clothes my children wore when they were babies. It’s a piece of family history now as well as a pretty and practical home item which is about 50% recycled ๐Ÿ™‚

Shabby Teddy Part 2: Upcycled spotty t-shirt

Teddy made from recycled clothes and buttons

Hi there, I’m Spotty! I’m 99.9% recycled ๐Ÿ™‚

This craft is so easy, it’s just a case of drawing the right teddy shape and stitching around the picture onto the fabric. I’m very pleased with how Spotty turned out and now both my children have favourite toys made for almost 0 pence! ๐Ÿ˜€

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