ShabbyShe

I like upcycling, repurposing and crafting with my kids

Archive for the tag “Sewing & Fabric”

Hello April – News Blackout is over!

Is this what Being An Adult feels like? I’ve just upgraded my website to ShabbyShe.com (no more clunky .wordpress. gubbins). I’m feeling very Official now!

The prolonged News Blackout for most of March is at an end, as I was focussing my efforts on producing some items for a new local craft market and my Etsy shop. Now the craft fair is done I can breathe a sigh of relief, and maybe even start making some bits for myself & my family again! I had rather limited sales at the market despite it being well-attended – possibly March / Easter is more a time to browse for pleasure rather than buy. I’m hoping to do more markets and fairs around Christmas and put my efforts for now into online sales and updating my blog (my first love!)

On the Easter theme, I made some cute egg cosies to keep the world’s best breakfast warm on these cold Spring mornings…

Basket of egg cosies made from felt

The Happy Easter cosies are for my children – they begged me for these and I promised they could have them if they didn’t sell on Saturday 😀

I can’t decide which is my favourite – I like the cute chicks but I’m also really pleased with how this bunting design turned out – these were literally tiny scraps of fabric. This is why it’s so hard to part with even small off-cuts!

Felt egg cosy with scrap fabric bunting

I also added my new-style shoulder bag totes to my Etsy shop. I’m really pleased with this design, I think the ribbon trim sets off the colour nicely, don’t you?

Shoulder bag totes from upcycled juice pouches

Happy Easter everyone, see you soon! x

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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

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   ——>

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

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 Instructables.com 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

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 😀

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