Category Archives: upcycling

Embroidery on a sweater

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This project was inspired by a bout of lusting after all the clothes in Sundance Catalog. All the nice (expensive) basics in that catalog seem to be just good quality but ordinary things with a creative twist that make them unique and special. I was at Costco after drooling over that catalog one day and I saw this pink sweater, which looked to me like something the catalog would have sold, but with cute embroidery along the front and at a markup of about 400%. So I bought the sweater for $29.99 and decided it wouldn’t hurt to try and give it the twist myself. I used Curio yarn from Knitpicks and some instructions from this booklet because I am absolutely not a person who knows how to hand embroider. I had to pick out at least as many motifs as I stitched on, but I was happy with the final product. I probably should have practiced some stitching on something that wasn’t my sweater first, but I didn’t, and really it turned out fine. One of my concerns with this project was how well it would wash, but I did launder it on gentle and hung it to dry and it doesn’t seem worse for wear. I’ve been keeping a Pinterest page now of “plain sweater rehab” ideas, so maybe I’ll do this again on a thrift store cardigan or even a tee. It’s always fun to learn a new crafty skill! I’m amazed by the lovely embroidery that some people can do; I hope to learn how to do it better.

Freezer paper stencils and knitted mitts

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mom-mitts

Today I’m sharing a couple gifts I made before Christmas. These were mitts I knitted (knooked) for my mother. They were for her birthday in November, but as is occasionally the case with handmade gifts they were a couple weeks late. (Because nothing says, “I love you Mom!” like exactly one knitted glove, right? Oops.) Mom was gracious about the wait. I made these out of sock yarn though the pattern called for heavier. I find that my gauge in knooking is often a little large when the pattern calls for ribbing or something with a lot of stretch. But these worked up quite nicely in the sock yarn, and they’ll be warm and washable. I used the Vineyard Lace Fingerless Gloves pattern and thought it was a good one, but wasn’t sure my choice of yarn showed off the design to its best advantage.

lila-shirt

This is a long sleeve shirt I painted. I did one for each  of my two nieces, personalized with their initials. I sketched the laurel wreath design on freezer paper, then cut it out to make a stencil. To make the letters I just printed off the lettering I wanted and traced them in good light. As always, I used Martha Stewart craft paint, which works very well and knit shirts and washes quite nicely.

Christmas t-shirts

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I try not to miss out on opportunities to dress my three kids alike while they are still willing. It does get a bit harder, though, as they get older and their ages more diverse. This year I chose red t-shirts for all three (Children’s Place offered free shipping on all orders for months last summer/fall. Wish they’d kept that up!) and created ornament shapes out of a gender-neutral striped print. I machine embroidered their names on the front and then attached the ornaments to the shirts with fusible web and zig-zagged around them with the sewing machine. I bought Daphne an adorable tutu made by an Etsy crafter, but sadly she refused to ever wear it again after the picture. So I guess I have a used Christmas tutu for sale! The shirts, at least, got worn many times over the holiday season by all three kids and I used these cute pictures for my holiday cards.

In which I apply paint

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I needed a cute outdoor-friendly salt and pepper set for our new patio area. I bought an inexpensive set and personalized it.
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Whoa! Bad head-cut-off selfie! Maybe it was better before I had the phone, when I could only post about projects for myself that warranted enlisting husband’s help. Anyway, I used fabric paint and more freezer paper stencils on a t-shirt. I felt really brave doing this one because it was a shirt I kind of liked as it was, but thought would be improved with a design. Painting on a nice Eddie Bauer shirt requires a lot more fearlessness than painting on the cheapy Costco tee, but it turned out well once I braved it.2015-06-02-10.49

And I was just experimenting at this point. I sleep in this old pink shirt, and now I’ll sleep in it more often!IMG_9256And my husband bought a new (to him) car, and to surprise him I quickly painted shirts for all three kids so they could wear them when we went to pick it up. Fabric paint dries quickly and freezer paper stencils are reusable, so I got them done! It’s fun to make a big fuss out of a little family deal. This is what they’ll remember when they are grown, right?

 

Arrow shirt

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arrow-shirt arrow-shirt-onI think I’m reaching new lows here with the mirror selfie. Apparently if I have time to document my projects at all, the best I can do is with a cell phone selfie. But since the point of this blog is just to be a diary for myself of my projects I’m going to go with it. Project recorded! I bought a plain gray t-shirt at Costco and embellished it with a freezer paper stencil. I’ve used and loved freezer paper stencils before (t-shirts for the kids, a bat table runner, Worth’s pocket friends come to mind immediately) but never used the technique to make a shirt for myself. I was downloading some feather and arrow embroidery files for another project (check them out if you are on Pinterest) and I got to thinking that feathers and arrows are kind of like the new owls and chevrons but I like them better. Which led to me thinking that maybe I needed some cool feather and arrow stuff myself, but all the embroidery files for my machine are a little small for adult apparel, and then I thought that maybe I needed to spend $100 buying cool feather and arrow fabrics on Fabric.com (because, you know, it’s like Target–you can’t ever check out with less than $100 even if you only needed one thing), and then I decided that maybe I should just try to use fabric paint and save my $100. And so I did.

I used an Xacto knife and straight edge to make the arrows and just freehanded the rest with the knife. I’m not very artistic when it comes to two dimensional stuff but feathered arrows aren’t too complicated. I used the multi-surface Martha Stewart craft paint and the kids’ paint brushes to fill in my homemade stencil, and that was that. I’m pleased with the shirt and the stencil is still intact after peeling it off, so I think I may put my design on a tote bag next.

A spring bag

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The change of seasons got me hankering for a new handbag. I saw a Pinterest pin for bags made from vintage linens and it provided the inspiration for my new spring bag. I drew the pattern to be similar to the Pinterest bags but bigger to meet my needs. The main body of the bag is made from 2 vintage tablecloths and an old flour sack towel. The flap is black quilting cotton that I’ve done machine embroidery on in the style I was wanting, and it is lined with a thrift store sheet. The bag is nice and roomy to hold Daphne’s diaper change things and is nice weight because I added fusible fleece to the body and flap. Fusible fleece really is the best for bags, I think. The fabric doesn’t want to pucker like it does with regular heavyweight interfacing, and it is more stable and smooth than just adding a layer of flannel. It would have been nice if I’d had vintage tablecloths that didn’t have white backgrounds because it is going to be hard to keep the bottom of this bag clean, but that is the nature of old finds, right? At least they were already stained anyway, and the only supply I purchased just for this project was the fusible fleece.

I’m happy with the way this turned out. The bag seems like it’s going to be functional, with a nice shape, two interior pockets, and easy magnetic closure. And it’s pretty and springy, vintage and new, all in one. I like seeing it hang on the hook by the door because it puts me in a picnics and flowers frame of mind!

Canvas shoes

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The bigger kids and I decorated canvas shoes as a school art project recently. I bought them inexpensive canvas high-tops (green, because that’s what we found cheap in their sizes), and I got white slip-ons from Amazon for myself. We decorated the shoes with Sharpie markers. I thought we might spray them with rubbing alcohol to get the fuzzy effect, but once we were done we were all too attached to our line art as it was to spray it. The kids immediately wore their shoes until the grommets fell off and one of them got a hole in the toe. I didn’t love mine; the black pen on the white shoe just wasn’t doing it for me, and the stark contrast called too much attention to my I’m-not-an-artist pen work. Then my daughter and her sleepover friend were decorating t-shirts with fabric paint, and I got the idea to give a similar treatment to my shoes. I watered down multi-surface craft paint, then sponged the color all over my shoes. Even watered down, the paint covered my pen drawings a little too much, so I ran the wet-paint shoes under the faucet, and then I thought they looked just right. The color kind of settled into patches like it’s supposed to look like that, and now I’m pleased. This was a fun project and the shoes fit comfortably and feel just like my Tom’s.

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Here are Dorothy’s, before the hole in the toe. 🙂