Tag: repurpose

Sewing: a bunch of bibs

I try to wear my clothes as long as I can before buying new ones.  I don’t like trying on clothes, I don’t like spending money, and when I do I almost always go the consignment route.  Not only is it cheaper, it’s also eco-friendly.  Despite the fact that I’ve been able to refashion a couple tops, there’s only so much life you can get out of a hole-y garment.  

I had relegated a worn pair of jeans into work jeans – wear ’em when painting, doing yard work, etc.  I wore them canoeing the other day, and I guess sitting down in them for the long canoe ride made the holes near the pockets worse.  When we stopped for ice cream afterwards, I noticed the hole had spread into a gaping view of my rear-end. *sigh*  And let’s just say, even if were inclined to wear such a fashion (which I am not), my butt is not Daisy-Dukes-worthy.   Luckily I had a sweatshirt to tie around my waist. 

Needless to say, I wouldn’t be mending that pair of pants.  I hated to throw them away, however, so I cut off the worst parts and saved the legs.  Then I looked for some ideas for repurposing jeans.  I found some cute ideas for turning adult jeans into toddler jeans and creating cute kids’ shorts from their worn jeans.  Then I stumbled upon these denim bibs.  Ooh, I loved the idea!   

I immediately thought of the tractor fabric I used on Josiah’s crayon roll and decided to make one and see how it turned out.  Then I made five more, assembly line style, using the Purl bee’s Liberty Bib as a guide. 

I got six bibs out of my pair of jeans and I. Love. Them.  When I finally get my Etsy shop up and running again I’d love to sell these.  I like them in sets of three, like I did here – three boy bibs and three girl (or gender-neutral, like the green polka dots). 



I have so many feminine prints, it was hard to decide which to choose for the accent pieces.  I finally decided on all floral, which came out nicely.  Each set is backed in different fabric – a bright blue corduroy for the boys and a pink and white polka dot cotton for the girls.  I tried to pick a complementary thread color, and each one has a different color.  And for the finishing touch, a pretty pearl snap at the back.  It’s all in the details! 

I’ve been working on a few more things here and there and have been contemplating listing some of my handmade items here beforehand, if anyone is interested.  Feedback?

For those of you interested in the recipe I posted recently for the Peanut Butter Bliss Pudding, I have something exciting on the horizon – so stay tuned!  Let’s just say it involves a certain cookbook.  And a review.  And maybe a giveaway.  Of said cookbook.  ***squeal!!!***


Refashion: sweater into pleated tank top

Inspired by my last refashion I decided to revisit my mending pile.  A while back I got this pretty, open-weave sweater at a consignment store and have gotten a lot of use out of it.  Little by little, however, I noticed some snags and holes in various places and I threw it aside, full of good intention to fix it within a reasonable amount of time.  And there it sat.

I finally decided to seize the day and eliminate my mending pile!  icandy handmade has this neat little sweater-into-cardigan refashion (also on an open-weave sweater), and I set out to do the sleeves in the same fashion in order to save the pretty ruffled cuffs that match the hem at the waist.  Well, I didn’t take into account the fact that the cuffs are rather fitted at the wrists and ended up being a wee bit too snug on my upper arms. *sigh*  So… I cut off the whole sleeve, leaving a bit of raw edge to turn under and hem at the armholes.

With the sleeves, I cut them open and laid them flat, cutting them into little strips.  Then I put them right sides together at the short ends and sewed all the little pieces into one long piece, after which I folded it in half lengthwise and sewed down the entire length of it, creating a tube.  After turning it inside out, I made little ruffle pleats all along the front neckline and a bit down the front.  I overlapped the edge of the current neckline, sewed at the edge and – voila! – a cute little tank top! 


I love how it turned out.  I showed Phil and he said I’m getting really good at this – awwww!  tatertots & jello has another sweater refashion using a scarf and some trim that I’d love to try.  I actually don’t have very many sweaters so I may have to go thrifting.  Have you jumped about the refashion/repurpose bandwagon?  I’d love to see what you’ve created! 

Refashion: long-sleeved t-shirt into ruffled tank top

It’s been a while since I’ve worked on a sewing project.  I have little stacks of fabric around the house and I’ve been itching to create something with them – especially since I got my new rotary cutting set for Mother’s Day – but I keep putting it off because it doesn’t always jive with my schedule.  Either the kiddos want to “help” or I know I won’t be able to finish it during their naptime and the unfinished project will just sit out, taunting me.

Lately I’ve noticed that many of my clothes have been getting worn – all my jeans are tearing at the knees and pocket seams and many of my shirts are getting little holes on them. *sigh*  I’ve mended some of them but there’s only so much you can do.  Not only do I hate clothes shopping, I don’t feel like spending the money.  The other day I noticed another shirt in my wardrobe was getting little holes all along the arms seams, so I put it aside, planning on turning it into underwear or something. 

You know how you can get on all sorts of browsing tangents online?  I saw Chic Envelopment’s cute t-shirt refashion which got me looking around for more.  Well, I started getting inspired by the myriad t-shirt refashions and – despite the late hour – stayed up and took a pair of scissors to my shirt.  It was already fitted so I didn’t need to mess with the side seams.  I cut off the arms, cut them open and laid them flat, then cut 2″ pieces.  I sewed all the pieces together to create one long piece then did a long basting stitch to gather it.  Since it was so long I worked in sections, gathering as I went along and pinning it just below the existing neckline.  I started in the middle of the front, worked around the neckline and finished just below in the middle of the chest  Then I went back and sewed it on right over the basting line.   


I love it!  Since it’s a bit chilly today I paired it with a sweater and tried it with a blue jacket – perfect for layering! 


I may try something similar on a pile of t-shirts I have specifically for re-purposing.  It’s a very versatile project, depending on how much you gather the ruffles and where you put them.

Some of the other refashions on my to-do list:
another t-shirt into tank top
a climbing cowlneck
a hooded tunic, if I can piece together enough material
maybe pair jersey with some new fabric for a scrappy skirt
a new-sew draped vest
little girl ruffle skirt
girls’ ruffled dress

and maybe somewhere down the line…
a rockin’ baby gown and some cloth diapers

It’s exciting being able to breathe new life into old garments, knowing I’m creating something with my own hands.

Upcycled Layer Skirt for Gwen

Once I started learning how to use the sewing machine I started looking at some of my worn threads in a whole new light.  Things I couldn’t bear to throw out but just had lying around.

After buying some fabric and making Gwen a simple skirt, I decided to try making one with repurposed fabric.  I had this knit jersey-like nightshirt that was getting worn on the top, and with this girls’ knit layered skirt tutorial in mind, I took the scissors to it.

I cut it just below the armholes and used the remaining fabric for the skirt.  It was slightly flared, so the pieces I cut didn’t match up perfectly, but it just added to the “character,” if you will.  After sewing a hem and sewing the waistline (leaving an opening for the elastic), I set to work cutting strips for the layers.  I only had about four to five pieces that were long enough for the main layers, but I filled in the gaps with smaller pieces that I randomly sewed between the full-length pieces.

After sewing all the pieces on – phew! – I added the elastic, sewed the opening closed, then made a little twill tape tag with Gwen’s name on it (for fun and so she’ll know where the back is).

Aside from the undies, I’m not brave enough (yet) to try clothing for myself.  The kids are so much smaller so their projects require less fabric!  It’s so rewarding to make Gwen a piece of clothing, especially when the project involves repurposing and is virtually free.


It helps that she loves it, even more so when it qualifies as “dress up” clothes – that means it must be fancy.

Sewing Frenzy

There was a time when I told myself I’d never be able to knit.  I picked up the needles, tried to follow the directions, and threw them down in disgust when I just couldn’t get it.  And now look at me!

But the sewing machine eluded me.  There were times when I sat down to use it, threaded the damn thing, only to have the thread bunch up under the fabric.  Despite keeping a positive outlook and telling myself that I’d learn how to sew One Day, I just knew it would never come to fruition.

Until recently.

I finally sat down with the manual for my mom’s old Singer Touch-Tronic 2000.  Doesn’t that sound so high-tech?  In fact, listen to the first line in the manual:

“Congratulations… You are about to sew on the most advanced sewing machine in the world… the model 2000 machine.  It makes sewing so simple, so foolproof – and so much fun! – you will be astounded.”

I can just picture a 1950’s housewife all dressed up, presenting a perfectly baked dinner to her family, saccharin smile beaming from ear to ear, showing them the entire wardrobe she managed to whip up in one day.

So, while my sewing may not be “foolproof” – and I’m not necessarily “astounded” – I am thrilled to be using the sewing machine.  Just thought I would share some of the projects I’ve been working on.

When we did our P is for Pirate week of preschool, I had hoped to make Gwen a bandana pirate skirt but just didn’t get around to it.  That was one of my first undertakings, and while the waistband was a pain in the butt because of the fabric I used, it was otherwise super-easy and adorable.  I used a scrap piece of the bandana and appliqued it into one of her plain shirts to make a matching set.  She loves her twirly skirt.


Then I thought, what else can I make for her?  I’ve had this peasant-style tank top for a couple years, the straps on which broke the first time I put it on.  I could have just fixed the straps and used it as-is but decided instead to turn it into a dress for Gwen.  I just cut out the basic shape using one of the dresses already in her closet and went from there.  Note to self: Do not attempt pockets until you’re ready.

Unless they’re worn and threadbare, I can’t stand throwing clothes out when they get a tear somewhere.  It seems all my jeans have started getting worn through the knees or near the pockets, but I just couldn’t bear to throw them away.  With the sewing machine, mending them was a cinch!

I also have this stack of flannel baby wipes that I’ve used in rotation every day since Gwen was born, so you can imagine how worn out they are.  I cut off the frayed edges and re-seamed them.  They may be faded, but they look a lot better and are no longer falling apart!  Similarly, I took some thin baby washcloths and sewed two together, making a more substantial washcloth.  I am never buying cloth wipes again!


The thing that had me determined to figure out my machine once and for all was a desire to use more eco-friendly feminine products.  I have some Lunapads that I use in conjunction with my Lunette cup, but I don’t have a very good stash and I’m sick of buying disposable pads all the time.  Buying them can get pretty expensive, even for the simplest of pads.  So I got myself some fabric (a couple pretty flannels for softness and absorbency and jersey since it’s thin), stocked up on some free patterns and got to work.


I’m very pleased with how they turned out.  I like the basic two-layered flannel pads for pantyliners and made the circle pad with snaps as a holder.  Check out my Eco-Friendly Pinterest board for more resources.

On a roll, I found the cutest tutorial for a Bapron – a cross between a bib and an apron.  I whipped up three of them and I love how they turned out.  I had trouble the first time catching the seam binding underneath, so I opted for a zigzag stitch instead of a straight seam and I love the character it adds.  They fit Josiah, and he wore his for the entire day!  I got a soft brown velvet for the backing, and when he saw it he excitedly said “blankie!”




Gwen really wants me to make one for her so I’m trying to figure out how to best enlarge the pattern; figured the kiddos could use them as art smocks.  I have a whole bunch of hospital receiving blankets that I currently use as drop cloth bibs for Josiah so I may just repurpose those into an actual bib.

A while back I bookmarked a super-cute produce bag tutorial and was pleasantly surprised how cheap and easy the project was.  I even made some nifty stamped tags using twill tape – such a simple idea but it really adds character and an element of fun!  The mesh was a pain to handle, but I paid under $2 for the whole thing.  From one yard of mesh I got four big produce bags and made three smaller ones from the leftover scraps; sometimes I get only a few jalapeno peppers or garlic bulbs and don’t need the big bags.  I’m curious to see how these hold up to regular handling and may make a few more.  Hello Mother’s Day gift!


Along the same lines I decided to try my hand at some snack bags.  I didn’t want to deal with lining, so I went alone with this unlined, reusable snack bag with French seams tutorial.  I love how she used linen and found the instructions very clear, but I had problems going over the edges with my machine.  I don’t know if it’s the needle, the pressure or tension, or of it’s just my machine, but I couldn’t sew around the edges and couldn’t get the velcro all the way to the ends.  I still love how the bags came out but want to try another snack bag tutorial.

I told Phil – Just think, if I can learn to sew… who knows… maybe I can conquer a stick shift!  He just gave me a look.  Up next on my sewing list are a pair of pants for Josiah, a skirt for Gwen and… wait for it… wait for it…. underwear for me!  I am simply dying to see how easy it can be to make my own undies because I hate buying them.  I’ve already raided my closet for some things I can repurpose.

Do  you sew?  Please share some easy, rewarding beginner projects for me!  And take a gander at my Sewing & Needlework Pinterest board for more inspiration.