I like upcycling, repurposing and crafting with my kids

Archive for the tag “Repurposed”

Back to School – Upcycled Juice Pouch Lunch Bag

Let your child be the Green Hero of the school with a fun recycled lunch bag!

diy upycled juice pouch lunch bag

Lunch bag made from recycled juice pouches

This is a quick and easy upcycle that older children can get involved in making for themselves: a lunch bag made from repurposed foil juice pouches of the likes of Capri Sun.

There are loads of tutorials online for stitching these juice pouches into fun upcycled items such as wallets, totes and pencil cases – all of which I will attempt at a later date as this is such a quick and fun craft! My favourite tutorial is here at which requires only the following items:-

  • 14 juice pouches (used!)
  • sharp knife & scissors
  • sewing machine and thread
  • ribbon (I used webbing strap instead, as you’ll see)
  • Optional – velcro closure ( didn’t bother with this)

First things first: get your children sugared up to the eyeballs by drinking their way through 14 Capri Suns or similar juice pouch drinks! This is obviously best done over a period of time rather than all in one go or they won’t be able to concentrate at the sewing machine very well 😉 For our lunch bag, we had managed to acquire 12 pouches and then as luck would have it we met up with friends and they were drinking Capri Sun from France (how exotic!) so we added their two pouches to the mix!

Reusing juice pouches

French Capri Sun adds some Chic to the Shabby!

First things first – Getting Started

The pouches need to be slit open so they can be cleaned out thoroughly with hot soapy water and left to drain dry. I have to fess up to a slight bodge here à la ShabbyShe – I slit mine at the top (above the straw hole) instead of underneath (in the hidden pouchy part) where it would never be seen! As a consequence I had to be careful to overlap my stitching to close the opening I had made.

Making the front, back, sides and bottom panels

As you can see from the pictures, I started by sewing 2 pouches together (top to bottom) and making sure I overlapped them just enough to close the (incorrectly applied!) slit at the top. To these 2 pouches I added 2 more to make a front panel of 4 pouches, then did the same for the reverse of the bag. Lining up was easy as the straight lines are all there for you, and even though I used 2 different brands of juice they were a standard size.

For the sides of the bags I did the same but just used 2 pouches. The bottom required slightly more effort as you have to join 2 pouches but cut them to the width of the front panel. I joined mine bottom to bottom as the Aldi juice pouches have cute apples with eyes which are more interesting than the logo 🙂

Attaching handles

The handles I’ve used for this bag are webbing strap which you can order online or buy in a fabric shop – I have this one in red, green and taupe and had a hard time choosing my favourite for this project! I zizgzagged the straps onto the bag then added a cross box type of stitch to secure (not sure if there’s a proper name for this? Do let me know if you know!)

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Once the handles are on, all you do is stitch all the parts together – easier than I thought it would be. I started by attaching the front panel to the bottom of the bag by joining them wrong sides together – this was not specified in the Instructables tutorial but I felt in contrast to “normal” bag making it would look better with external seams – the picture above of the sewing machine shows me doing this part. The picture below, however, shows the hazards of working with quite thick materials and a rather blunt needle…. Oops :S

Broken needle on sewing machine

Disaster strikes – a squiffy needle!

New needle in place, I soldiered on!

Inside recycled juice pouch bag

All parts attached, ready to whizz up the sides to finish 🙂

This is how it looks inside before the final side stitching is done. I have to say here that I doubted my methods briefly looking at other people’s bags online – they all seem to have plain silver inside and I wondered whether you are supposed to cut the juice bags open and remove the backs. But I decided that maybe American Capri Sun pouches don’t have all this stuff on the back. The ones pictured here are from Aldi mostly, as you can see.

So that’s it, it’s so easy and fun! The hardest part is getting enough pouches for lunch bags for everyone, although the kids do enjoy that part!! They didn’t help with the construction for this project but I’m sure in a year or so my eldest could. I might get him to wear goggles though, in case of needle-breakage!

Repurposed juice pouch bag

My lovely upcycled lunch bag!

Lunch bag made from recycled materials

Recycling fun 🙂

Happy Tuesday everyone – we are Back to School tomorrow – boo! x


Spice Rack made from Upcycled Cot

More making something new and useful for the home from something old and no longer needed: a DIY spice rack made from our old cot.

You may remember a while ago I discovered a bit of upcycling ingenuity from ShabbyHe in the form of some hanging storage for the garage – which I wrongly described as the cot base – it was in fact the side of the cot, which gives the baby that whole “zoo animal” look 😀

The same cot used by both our babies has had further repurposing treatment with this wall-mounted DIY spice rack, made using the slatted cot base. We needed a large spice rack to house our many herbs and spices – they had taken over a drawer, the top of the microwave and half a cupboard and enough was enough!

Recycled repurposed cot base

Spice rack made from repurposed cot base

I feel I should apologise at this point for the decor in our kitchen – we had the kitchen damp-proofed and replastered when we moved in (quite a long time ago!) but as we’re hoping to extend and redecorate the kitchen next year (hopefully with lots of shabby chic/vintage and upcycled bits) we haven’t bothered to improve it yet!

You may also notice that my herbs and spices are not in nice matching pots or even arranged by colour/brand – this is because:

1. I can’t throw out or replace perfectly decent jars until the contents are used up (not v. green)
2. I arranged them alphabetically so I can instantly put my hand on the ingredient I need – and see when it needs re-stocking 🙂


We used the cot base and attached slats to the front along the length then screwed on horizontal slats at 12cm intervals. The front horizontal slats hold the jars in place as they effectively lean against them and stand on the cot slats behind – this picture hopefully shows more clearly what I mean…

Handmade large wall-mounted spice rack

Spice jars are held in place by leaning against the front slats

ShabbyHe finished by fixing the rack on a wall which doesn’t get any direct sunlight – quite important as this really impairs the look and flavour of most herbs and spices.

I’m really pleased with the finished result – all the jars are now arranged in order in one place and I can find what I need straight away instead of checking in several places. I might paint it at some point but not until our kitchen makeover next Summer!

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This post is now featured on Handmade Monday over at Handmade Harbour – do pop over and see the other fab link ups! 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

Pallet Upcycle – Smallest room re-do!

Recycled repurposed pallet storage idea

Storage unit and art work display made from recycled pallet wood

I’m very excited about this upcycle project as it combines the several favourites of mine:

  • reusing and repurposing pallets
  • storage solutions
  • displaying the children’s “art work”, and…
  • fabric decoupage – who can resist a bit of mod podge fabric fun after all??

It also showcases the talents of ShabbyHe, who created this clever toilet paper storage shelf…

Shelf unit using repurposed pallet

Upcycled pallet toilet roll storage


Wooden peg decoupage

Fabric decoupage decorated clothes pegs

My contribution was the wooden clothes pegs which I decorated with fabric and mod podge (a brilliant glue and sealer for those not in the know) – a process known as fabric decoupage.

We then used a strong wood glue to bond the pegs to the pallet wood. Adding some recent (a-hem) “masterpieces” by the kids was the final touch 😉

Upcycled pallet and peg art display board

Art display – pallet wood and decorated clothes pegs

What do you think? 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 🙂

Upcycled Clothing Tooth Fairy Pillow Toys

Upcycling clothes - tights into toys

Q: What to do with daughter’s cute stripy tights when they’re outgrown?

Tooth pillow toys from upcycled clothes

A: Upcycle them into Tooth Fairy pillow toys!

How cute are these little toys?? They’re made from two pairs of woolly tights which were otherwise due for the fabric scrap heap. There’s also a small amount of felt, some toy stuffing, embroidery thread and a recycled cloth nappy liner (which looks just like white felt).

My daughter’s Owl Soft Toy…started out as me not wanting to throw out these gorgeous navy & pink tights. But once I’d cut the foot off them, stuffed and stitched it up, it just looked like a foot…!

Recycling clothing into toys

Stuffed foot of tights, but what to do next?

I decided to fold the footy part in on itself and the owl shape just evolved from there! Then it was just a case of cutting out eyes and a belly and embroidering owly designs on them.

The more observant amongst you will notice that the finished item has an embroidered beak instead of the yellow felt I originally cut out. I just preferred the homemade look of embroidery, plus I thought a felt beak might get in the way of the pocket. The owl’s belly is a tiny pouch (unstitched at the top) for the all important Tooth to go in, ready for the tooth fairy to collect 🙂

For my son’s Monster Tooth Cushion…it was a little more complicated (but not much more).

Tooth fairy toy - monster

Tooth fairy pocket monster

I wanted to make the monster’s mouth a pouch or pocket for the tooth, so I sewed a sausage shape for the body and folded the fabric up a bit, sewing in the teeth and stitching the sides to hold it in place. The arms and legs are made in a similar way and tacked on rather haphazardly to the body.

There are some lovely tutorials on Pinterest for sock monkeys, which this is roughly based on, but with several short-cuts as you can probably see from the pictures! But “homemade” and “rustic” are badges of honour here at ShabbyShe. We don’t do perfect 😉

This was my third foray into making toys for the children from their old outgrown clothes – see this post and this one from last summer.

The kids love them and I have to regularly put them back on a higher shelf so they don’t fall to pieces before another tooth fairy visit is due!

Upcycled Shoe Storage Ruffle Tote Bag

This project brought together 3 of my favourite obsessions interests – sewing, upcycling and making bags!

Upcycled shoe storage bag

Ruffle tote bag with upcycled pockets

This tote bag started life as a humble Bookstart bag which we got free with some books for my son (Bookstart is a UK charity which gives books to all children – see this link for more info). It was lovely to have a free bag but it was starting to look a bit faded and in need of a funky revamp, hence the ruffles!

I added simple ruffles using this excellent tutorial from Crazy Little Projects and finished it with a piece of ribbon I already had (which by a miracle matched the fabric perfectly!)

The shoe holder part of the process was my own innovation: I wanted some pockets so I could find things more easily when using the bag as a handbag/purse. I already had this fabric hanging shoe storage which originally came as a detachable addition to a tallboy wardrobe, but I have since removed the wardrobe’s cover and hence wasn’t using this shoe hanger. I simply cut it to size and sewed it into the tote bag. Happily two shoe pockets fitted perfectly on each side of the bag. I love it when a cobbled-together plan works out perfectly!

upcycled fabric shoe holders

Inside pockets made from fabric shoe storage

So there you have my upcycled ruffle tote bag – along with some of my other bag projects…

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