ShabbyShe

I like upcycling, repurposing and making stuff

Kids’ Easy Sewing Projects – Teddy and Keyring

Picture the scene – the children are happily playing downstairs. You slip upstairs to the “do some housework” and fire up the sewing machine. Peace reigns supreme – we are all in our happy places and doing what we enjoy most.

But hang on, here they are, buzzing around like flies, picking up pieces of fabric and cotton reels and begging to use Mummy’s sewing machine. Darn it!!

This happens frequently in my house and I usually bat them away with a snack and drink, maybe some TV, and a “Later – just let me finish this first”. However I had to finally cave in and allow my children to have some of the sewing machine fun :)

Easy first sewing projects for kids

Easy does it – the children display their makes!

They decided they wanted to make a gift for each other, how sweet is that??

I established 3 basic ground rules to ease them into sewing toys on the machine which would be useful for any project involving young children:

1. They could choose their own material, but only from recycled fabric, not Mummy’s Best Stash – after all, there are plenty more used and outgrown t-shirts & jumpers where these came from!

2. We would start with a basic pattern or shape and one I have tried and tested before (typically my son chose a teddy shape which is a bit grander than I expected, but we managed it together!)

3. They had to sit carefully, keeping fingers, eyes and feet where I showed them and c.o.n.c.e.n.t.r.a.t.e.! They managed this amazingly well and really listened!

On previous occasions when one of them has wanted to “help” with my sewing, I’ve allowed them to press the foot pedal with their hands while I guide the fabric. This time they both took it in turns to take the helm and I just told them when to stop and start so I could help rotate the fabric. We had to pile some boxes under the table so their little legs could reach the pedal :D

My 5 year old chose to make her brother a soft keyring using some denim jeans fabric and her old stripy jumper which regular readers might recognise from a certain teddy bear I made for her! I helped her draw an oval shape and cut it out with pinking shears to avoid fraying. She then stitched round it, sewing the denim tag in the top, and leaving a small gap for the stuffing (adding the stuffing was almost as much fun as using the sewing machine!) Then we stitched it all the way round again to seal it all in.

Easy kids sewing craft - DIY keyring

Pretty pleased with her first machine-sewn project!

My son’s brainwave was to make a teddy bear for his sister from an old pink t-shirt – a bit trickier as we had to stop and rotate the shape more and it took a lot of self-control on his part not to go nuts with the pedal (boy racer in the making!!) He did so well though – here he is proudly sporting the finished shape, prior to decoration with a Sharpie pen.

Easy teddy toy on sewing machine

Look what I made Mummy! His first soft toy project.

We found some pink ribbon for the teddy’s bow tie and my son drew in some features to finish the toy. He later added his initial and a couple of stars to his keyring gift too and it is now featured on his school bag!

They both did so well and it goes to prove that I don’t have to be a control freak with them ALL the time – they’re actually pretty good at stuff when I trust them to do themselves :)

Sewing with kids - easy first makes

We love our presents!

I’ll be linking this up on Threading my Way and Handmade Harbour’s Handmade Monday – do pop over to them and have a look at other people’s fantastic creations – Happy Weekend to all! x

Lampshade Revamp – A Map Upcycle

DIY lampshade update

Lampshade in need of a revamp!

This sad little lampshade was posing a problem: it is such a dull colour, not enhanced by age or dust, but I couldn’t throw out a still serviceable object…

The shade in question is from our downstairs loo, recent recipient of the makeover treatment with a pallet wood and peg upcycle project and a good old lick of paint. However, the pendant light fitting has remained naked as this lampshade was both ugly and seemed to be the wrong size compared to the huge energy-saving bulb!

I’d seen several lampshade revamp projects on Pinterest and other blogs using either fabric, printed paper or maps which look great. This lampshade was a good place to start as if the worst came to it I wouldn’t have ruined a nice lamp! The tube map was a bargain I spotted a few months ago in a card shop: although I have lots of maps at home from past travels which would be great to upcycle, they are both too thick and have too many creases to apply smoothly to a rounded surface such as a lamp shade. (I have to admit, although I love maps I have a slight horror of opening the folded, booklet kind as I can never work out how to close them correctly again! There’s probably a name for map phobia…)

I assembled my supplies:

  • lampshade
  • map
  • sellotape
  • cutting mat
  • craft knife
  • scissors
  • pencil
  • Mod Podge
Lampshade re-cover project

Map cut to approximate shape

 

Tracing and Cutting the Decoupage to size

I forgot to take a “Before” picture of the map prior to cutting, but you get the idea! I just aligned my starting point on the map with the seam on the lampshade and rolled it slowing, tracing the shape top and bottom with a faint pencil line. I left a generous margin for folding the map in to leave a nice finished edge.

If I were doing this again I would take time to smooth the map flat first as I had to weight it down (as you can see from the picture) – a cool iron and tea towel would be good for this. I carefully cut the shape about 1.5cm (1″) outside the pencil line to allow some overlap for a tidy edge.

Applying the New Cover

Removing fabric trim from lamp shade

Gently peel off the fabric trim to avoid a lumpy edge when refinished

Having cleaned the lampshade and removed the thin fabric trim top and bottom, I taped the map onto the shade and rolled to make sure it would be a correct fit. This picture also shows the wire frame edge with the fabric trim removed.

lampshade revamp with upcycled map

Checking the new cover will fit

I applied matte Mod Podge to both the outer shade and the back of the map cut-out and rolled the map on. I then smoothed the map towards the outer edge to remove any air bubbles and ensure a smooth application. Next I quickly re-painted the overlapping edges with more Mod Podge, tidied them up a bit with scissors and snipped at regular intervals in order to fold them tightly over the edge.

Another generous lashing of Mod Podge all over the decoupaged map sealed it in and gave it a nice slightly sheeny finish. I left it to dry by standing it on a jar so none of the wet edges would get smudged, and then …

Decoupaged map lampshade cover

Revamped pendant lampshade added to Loo Re-Do :)

I hung it up! I’m really pleased with how it turned out. It goes nicely with our recently redecorated downstairs toilet complete with pallet wood upcycle loo-roll holder. The only slightly, well, ME-thing about it is that I was intending to hang it the other way up (as it had been before I removed it) hence why the map is actually upside down if you look closely!! However, even with a smaller lightbulb it still looked all-bulb-and-no-action – I want the outside to be displayed not the inner part. So I hung it upside down and I think it looks quite funky :)

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What do you think? I might give some more lamps this treatment now I’ve had a go…

This post will feature in Handmade Monday on the lovely Handmade Harbour – check it out :)

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

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 :D

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! :D

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 :D

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 <3

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 :)

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