I like upcycling, repurposing and crafting with my kids

Archive for the tag “Sewing & Fabric”

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 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…

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.  My son is old enough to prize his own “tablet” (a DS) but still young enough to most likely drop and break it
  2.  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 😉

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

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 🙂

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

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 🙂

Bookmark tassle with green pendant detail

The tassle and jewellery detail is my favourite part!

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