Author Archives: jane

Save Money And Time: Make Your Own Vintage Inspired Apron From Second-hand Dress

green crafter hester jane in recycled dress apron

vintage inspired dress apron - back view

Altering a dress into an apron requires less work than making an apron from scratch. If you shop wisely, you can easily spend less for the dress than you would pay for new fabric. That isn’t even the best part. The best part is all the really unique styles you could work with. You can be really creative with these. Start looking at second-hand dresses in a new way. The result: a one-of-a-kind apron.
I love vintage clothing and aprons are no exception. I designed this apron to look like an apron from the 1930′s. After removing a stain, I transformed this simple dress into a vintage looking full bib over the head apron.
How to:
MYO dress apron step 1

Find a dress that inspires you. Search yard sales, thrift stores or even your own closet. You don’t even need to find your own size; it just needs to be big enough to do the job. Keep in mind that you will be wearing your apron on top of your regular clothing. Picking a dress with a print rather than a solid color fabric has the benefit of hiding stains better. The first thing you will probably want to do is wash the dress and iron it. Next, cut up the back of the dress. Remove the zipper (if there is one) and save for another project.

dressapronbo

Cut strips from the back center of the dress to use as the apron ties. I cut my strips 3 ½ inches wide which resulted in 1 ½ inch wide ties. (Sometimes it is better and/or necessary to cut a strip of fabric off the bottom of the dress to make the ties.)
Fold each strip with right sides facing and sew along two sides leaving one end open. Turn the resulting tube right side out.

MYO dress apron image C

Use scrap cardboard such as from a cereal box or brown paper bag to trace the shape of the top of the dress. Cut out this shape.

MYO dress apron image D

Now put the cardboard on top of the dress and sketch on it the desired shape you want the apron. This is your chance to be creative. When you have the shape drawn out the way you want it, cut out the shape. Trace the stencil you have just made. Flip the stencil over and trace on the other side of the dress. Remember to make it ¼ inch larger (for a seam allowance).

MYO dress apron image F

Turn inside out (if the dress you are using has a liner) and sew the back edges. If there is no liner you can turn over the raw edges and machine sew.

MYO dress apron image G

With the apron right side out, top stitch along the edges; stitch the apron ties on as you go.
Embellish with buttons from your salvaged button jar. If you don’t have one, start one today. Whenever you have a piece of clothing that is ready for the rag pile, remove the buttons. Store all these salvaged buttons in a jar or other designated spot.
On the top of the back of the apron, I attached the sides together by sewing on buttons. If you want, you can make button holes- so the buttons really work. Make sure that your head can get in and out of the apron before permanently attaching.
Sweet!
Now you are ready to go bake something.

My daughter came up with the idea to use a dress to make an apron first. If you would like to see her handy work click here.

Repurpose White Waste Paper Into Doves For A Beautifully Wrapped Wedding Gift

dove gift wrapping

Be creative and make your own dove embellished wedding gift wrapping. This white gift wrap is really “green.”
You can find supplies for this project in a surprising variety of sources. Bumper stickers often have a really nice glossy white side and the back is often white paper that you can trace a stencil on. Another thing works well if you come across any is thin white plastic that is stiff yet thin enough to cut. I found a white plastic tray from a game. You can also find white cardboard in packaging from dress shirts to toys. You could go out and buy some white paper/ cardstock but that wouldn’t be a challenge and you would miss the point. I save all kinds of white product packaging and other waste materials and used the best pieces for doves.
dove gift wrapping detail

The paper I used for this dove was stiff: I wanted it to stand up for a 3D effect that would take the place of a bow. To hold the dove in place: I cut out a rectangle, folded it in half and glued half onto the back of the dove. The other half of the rectangle can be slipped under the ribbon and discreetly glued or taped to the wrapping paper.
I wrapped this gift in discarded office paper (poster size). The other side had last month’s office presentation on it. It was too good to waste.

dove gift card on box
Use a nice quality ribbon to add a touch of color. It can later be used on another gift or reused in some other project.

dove gift card
Dove gift tags
To make a gift tag, you will need to fold scrap paper and place the stencil along the fold so that the top of the head and part of the wing will be on the fold. Write a message of love and peace. Use salvaged paper that is about the thickness of card stock. I’ve provided stencils of two different doves that I sketched.

dove gift card with message of love

This is far from looking like trash.

view of dove A stencil

dove A stencil

view of dove B stencil
dove B stencil

Easy To Make License Plate Bookend

license plate bookends

They say necessity is the mother of invention: that is true. My daughter needed a bookend so I did a little brain storming and dug through the house/garage for inspiration. I easily transformed these license plates into bookends.

bookends made from license plates

How to:

Recycle a license plate by making it into a bookend. All you have to do is bend a license plate over the edge of a table. Easy.

I like the vintage look of these plates left as is but you could be creative and paint them for a modern look.

How To Make A Bird Nester: Like A Bird Feeder But Contains Nesting Materials

home-style bird nester

I call this a bird nester because it is like a bird feeder but with nesting materials instead of bird seeds. I designed it out of recycled materials and made it look like a charming cottage complete with a chimney that has a wisp of smoke coming out.
How to:

You will need to save a plastic berry basket, a box type milk carton, scrap yarn or salvaged twist ties, and nesting material (see below).

milk carton roof for bird nester

Use a box type milk container to make the roof: cut out two adjoining sides as shown in image.

chimney for home-style bird nester

If you want to make a chimney, print out the chimney stencil I provided. Use the stencil to make a chimney out of the left over piece of milk carton or another scrap piece of cardboard. Add a small piece of white stuffing extending out of the chimney to simulate smoke rising. The chimney stencil makes a nicer chimney than the experimental one in the photo. Use the bottom tabs to glue the chimney to the roof or make two slits (with an exacto knife) in the roof and insert the tabs through.

Fill your bird nester with left-over odds and ends.
Suggestions: bits of left-over yarn, sheep’s wool , wool roving (ask a spinner), dryer lint (especially when you are drying a wool blanket or are felting a wool sweater ; but I wouldn’t recommend using fabric softeners, because the birds don’t need the added chemicals.) You can also use: fur, human hair, horse hair, snake skins(sure why not), leaves, feathers, plant fluff from a cattail plant or from a milkweed pod, straw, tree bark, pine needles, moss… For fun add: small colorful pieces of scrap yarn (4 inches more or less), strips of cloth, shredded paper… Experiment and see what happens.
Use a hole punch to make a few holes in the roof along the edge. Attach roof with a bit of scrap yarn or twist ties (salvaged from toy packaging etc. or from produce).
You may also be interested in checking out a similar post at FunInTheMaking : Bag Of Nest Building Material, Great Gift For Birds Or Bird Lovers
The following is a note I received:
“I’m not sure if you know or not, but dryer lint is not a suitable product for bird nests.
If it becomes wet it is dense and takes a really long time to dry out thus keeping fragile babies cold and wet.
If conditions are not fixed in time, they will perish.
My vet has confirmed and if you search long and hard on the Internet you may also find a stray post or two.
Better materials would be soft WHITE feathers, human, cat, dog or better yet horse hair, thread only 2″ long at most, 100% cotton 3″ long by 1/4″ wide etc..
.”
-Debra
(Thank you for your input Debra.)

Make A Super Cool Tipi Fort Using Recycled Materials

teepee

Although tee-pee is often spelled tee-pee (t-e-e-p-e-e), tipi (t-i-p-i) is considered the correct spelling. Tipi is a Sioux word formed from the word meaning to dwell or live- ti, and the word meaning used to live in -pi. Regardless of the spelling, they make a super cool fort.
Tipi poles:
1. I made my poles out of bamboo from a friend’s property. Start asking around to see who might have some. Bamboo grows quickly and spreads easily. I bet people with bamboo on their property would be glad to have you come by and harvest some. Use a hand saw to cut down and use clippers to cut off any side branches. Alternative: use straight thin trees with few if any side branches. The diameter of the poles should reflect the size of the tipi: a larger tipi will need thicker poles than a smaller tipi. Use your judgment: poles should be thick enough to support the cover without bowing in. You will need 11 or more poles for this extra large tipi; each pole should be 11.5 feet long. If you plan to use your tipi inside, like we do, make sure to make it a size that will fit. I have high ceilings so I was able to make a really large tipi. Smaller tipis don’t need as many poles. The toddler tipi fort I made had only 6 poles that were 64 inches long. Poles for a toddler tipi could also be made out of newspaper. Make long thick rolls of newspaper. Connect these rolls with some masking tape. Then add more layers of newspaper to reinforce the places where the tubes connect.
Making your tipi cover:
1. I used blankets from the thrift store; it took me several months before I found enough for this project. I think I pieced together about four blankets. I thought that these blankets looked vaguely like animal skins and had the benefit of not needing to be hemmed along the edges. To make it look more authentic, I hand-sewed the pieced together with imitation sinew, which is thick waxy cord, using a large upholstery needle. Sinew is what Indians traditionally used to sew skins with; it is made from the tendons of animals.
Sheets would also work well as a cover. The benefit of using sheets is that they are easy to find at second-hand shops; you might even have some old ones around your house. Also, especially if you are using white or another light color, the cover could be painted as many tipis often were. In addition, you may like that you can sew the sheets together with a sewing machine.
2. To make the shape of the cover:
paper tipi 1

paper tipi 2

To make it easier to visualize, I made a paper model. Note that the tipi shown here is in the shape of an inverted cone. Usually a tipi would be in the shape of a tilted cone: the floor would be in an egg shape and when viewed from the side you could see the back was steeper then the front. We ignore this fact for purposes of this play tipi. To make the cone-shaped cover you will first need to decide how big you want your tipi. Remember that the height of your tipi will not be as tall as the poles, ie: make the poles longer than the desired height plus extra to extend out the top. Determine the length of the tipi side (A to B in image). Your fabric can be folded in half like in the image or you can lay the fabric out and cut out the resulting semicircle. I had someone hold a string (cut to the length of the tipi side) at point A. I then marked the distance while swinging the string in an arc.

Add smoke Flaps, for decorative purposes, if you like. Smoke flaps were used to help direct the flow of smoke. If it rained, the smoke flaps could be closed. Also cut a door. A smaller door would have been more authentic but I thought wildly playing kids would have an easier time getting in and out.
3. You can make a door out of some of the left-over cover material and two sticks. Turn over the fabric and sew a channel for the stick (as I did on the top of my door) or slice small holes and weave the stick through (as I did on the bottom of the door).

tipi door detail -sticks

tipi door open

Flip door to the side if you want to leave the door open.

Setting up your tipi:

tipi setup 1
2. Tie four poles together about 18 inches from the top (traditional tipis had a lot more pole extending out the top). Then stand the poles up. (Smaller tipis can have less pole extending out.)
tipi setup 2

3. Arrange other poles (11 or more total) for a x-large teepee.

tipi setup 3
4. Apply the “skin”. (Have your covering folded in half with the good side on the inside of the fold. Placing center back into place first then unfold the other side.

tipi setup 4
5. Arrange the cover. I used large safety pins to close the front (not authentic of course but easy). The next time I set up our tipi I think I’ll try “pinning” it up the front with sticks in the traditional way.

tipi setup5 with door

Fake Christmas trees are perfect for this imaginative play. I got mine second-hand of course.

tipi door detail

Tie the ends of the top stick to the tipi.
I couldn’t capture in pictures how cool it feels being inside. Furthermore, it is surprisingly spacious (an adult can stand in it and sleep inside) yet it has a very cozy feel. Your kids will want to make up their own Indian names like: Eagle Feather, Big Bear, Dancing Deer…