Category Archives: gifts from recycled materials

How To Make Fun Recycled Sweater Produce Pillows

Don’t be limited by the designs I have here. Have fun! Be creative!

For detailed instructions including ball stencils, check out my post called How To Make Fun Recycled Sweater Beach Ball Pillows.

Be creative and design your own leaves or use the Leaf Stencils for Produce Pillows

To make the leaves on these clever pillows you will need to score a wool sweater from a thrift store, friend or yard sale. It is not uncommon for people to accidentally felt their sweaters by machine washing with warm or hot water. During the felting processes, the sweater will shrink; thus, they end up at donation spots. Sweaters with a hole or stain can easily be worked around. Another good idea is to use an old army green wool blanket. I didn’t use it for any of these leaves but it works great.

Felting Wool Sweaters
You can intentionally felt old sweaters by putting it in the washing machine and wash with hot water and detergent. Not much to it.

Delicious looking Red Apple Pillow
To make an apple pillow, you will need a red sweater or a T-shirt, a scrap piece of a brown sweater and a small piece of a green felted wool sweater. Follow the general instruction on how to make a beach ball pillow only sew on a green leaf cut from the wool sweater. Felting instructions above.


Vine-Ripe Tomato Pillow
To make a tomato pillow, you will need a tomato red sweater or a T-shirt, and a few small pieces of a green felted wool sweater. I used a very thin red sweater. Follow the general instruction on how to make a beach ball pillow then sew on three green leaves cut from the wool sweater. Felting instructions above.


Berry Blue Blueberry Pillow
To make an blueberry pillow, you will need a blue sweater or a T-shirt, a scrap piece of the blue sweater for the top circle and a piece of a blue felted wool sweater. Follow the general instruction on how to make a beach ball pillow only sew the circle on top of the felted piece as in the picture. Felting instructions above.


Autumn Pumpkin
To make a pumpkin pillow, you will need an orange sweater or a T-shirt, a scrap piece of a brown sweater and a small piece of a green felted wool sweater. Follow the general instruction on how to make a beach ball pillow only sew on a green leaf cut from the wool sweater. Felting instructions above.

Orange Grove Pillow
To make an orange pumpkin pillow, you will need an orange sweater or a T-shirt, a scrap piece of a brown sweater and a small piece of a green felted wool sweater. Follow the general instruction on how to make a beach ball pillow only sew on a green leaf cut from the wool sweater. Felting instructions above.

How To Make Fun Recycled Sweater Beach Ball Pillows

Girl in a pile of beach ball Pillows

Fun with recycled sweater beach ball Pillows.

I made a whole bunch of these pillows; they make great gifts!

Beach Ball Pillows made from recycled sweaters.

Add a little fun to your home decor. Perfect for children’s rooms!

Beach Ball Pillow with Nautical or patriotic look.

Using the right sweaters you can create a pillow with a nautical or patriotic look.

 How-to:
1. Set aside unwanted or damaged sweaters in desired color(s). Keep in mind that thinner sweaters are easier to sew.

2. You will need a Beach Ball pattern.*

*Because it takes a tremendous amount of time for me to develop projects like this, design and draw a pattern, test ideas, make, take pictures, edit pictures, write the how to, etc… I’m asking for a mere 2 dollars (see side donation button for quick payment with paypal). E-mail me and I’ll e-mail you the pattern in two sizes (large and small).

 Print out the ball stencil that I made and use it to make your own stencil out of a cereal box or other scrap cardboard.

Size: The large ball is about 11 to 12 inches tall and the small pillow is about 6 inches tall. The size of your pillow will depends on how stretchy the fabric is and how much you stuff it.

3Make your own recycled sweater beach ball pillows..

Use your stencil, a rotary cutter, and a cutting matt to cut out the pieces of the ball. If you don’t have a rotary cutter yet, trace the stencil and use fabric scissors to cut them out. You will need 6 pieces per pillow. In addition, you will need two small circles: one for the top and one for the bottom. I just free hand cut the circles two at a time so they are the same size. Alternatively you can trace a small glass or other small round circular item. Keep in mind that the circles have to be bigger than the desired finished size because the raw edges are turned under.

4. Lay out the pieces in a flower shape to help you visualize the pattern and to see how the colors look together. I suggest you find 3 colors that look nice together and then cut 2 pieces of each color or pick 6 colors one piece of each color.

Sewing a Beach Ball Pillow.

5. Stack the pieces in the pattern order of your choice. Take the first two and sew (right sides together) along one side leaving about ¼ inch seam. Then sew the next piece on and the next until all 6 pieces are together. Don’t bother to place pins because sweater fabric is so stretchy and each piece might stretch a different amount. Also don’t worry if you have a bit of a hole on the top and bottom of your ball because these spots will be covered up by the circles.

6.Sew up the last seam (ball should still be inside out) leaving about 3.5 inches un-sewed.
7.Turn your ball right-side out and add stuffing through the hole you left.

8.The last part is to hand-sew the stuffing hole closed and hand-sew the “buttons” on the top and bottom. Turn under the raw edge as you sew along.

Firefly Lanterns Powered By Bioluminescence: Made From Glass Juice Bottles and Salvaged Wire

Catching fireflies is the quintessential children’s summer evening activity. Every new generation is captivated by these magical blinking moving lights and instinctively wants to know the source.
Make one today or If you are having a summer party that will continue after dark, make a bunch for your young guests.

How to make a firefly lantern:

Save your empty glass juice bottles. Take off the label and clean it.
Use scrap electrical wire to make the handle for your lantern; you will need a piece about 30 inches long. We had some pieces left over from an addition to our house. You might try calling an electrician in your area; maybe they could give you some scraps that would otherwise just go in the dumpster. How-to make the handle:

1. Start on one side of the lamp (point A), go half way around (point B).
2. At point B, bend the wire up for the handle. After you form the loop for the handle, you should end up on the other side of the bottle (point A; where you started).
3. At point A, bend the wire end around the handle loop to secure it.
4. The wire will continue around the neck of the bottle and attach at point B. Use wire cutters to trim off extra wire.

It is a lot easier done than said.

You will want to cover the top of the bottle to prevent the fireflies from prematurely escaping. You could put holes in the cap and use that. Or trace a large cup on a scrap piece of fabric and cut out with pinking shears if you have them. That circle of fabric is held in place with an elastic band. I have a little stash of elastic bands that came off of vegetables or other packaging. You will find a second use for them in projects like this and many others.

Did you know that there are thousands of different species of fireflies? Fireflies blink to attract a mate but some mimic the blinking pattern of a different species of firefly in order to lure them near so they can eat them. Yikes!

Did you know that Fireflies produce light via a chemical reaction?

Find out more about fireflies at The Firefly Files or National Geographic.

Have any other bright ideas or a clever variation? Send me an e-mail and I will pass on your great ideas.
Are any of the directions unclear? If you have any questions about this project or any other, send me an e-mail. -Jane

Egg Heads with Grass Hair

These fun to make Egg Heads were done by my kids. They liked making them so much, they went on to make many more creative characters.

How to: The next time you are making scrambled eggs, save the shell. The fastest way to get the insides out is to give the side of the top a whack with a knife (a butter knife will do) and then give the other side a whack. The idea is to make a big hole in the top. Next draw on the face; make funny, cute, and/or wacky characters. Fill with potting soil and sprinkle on grass seeds. I used Rye grass seeds. Add water and place on a windowsill. Next time I’m going to dye the egg purple and make an adorable green-haired monster with one eye and wings- a one-eyed, one horn, flying purple people eater!

Creative Rockets For Play or Display Made From Recycled Junk

I’m not going to give you step by step instructions, rather, I hope to spark your imagination. I will, however, supply a few tips.

Start collecting supplies. Over the next week (more or less) keep an eye out for rocket parts. Ask friends to check their recycle bin for you.

Note: Keep an “arts and crafts junk box” for kids’ projects. Inside the box add bits and bobs of “trash” such as plastic bottles that have been cleaned out, Styrofoam trays, bottle tops, thread spools, used but clean popsicle sticks, toilet paper rolls…

This rocket was made from all recycled parts

Adjusting the circumference of your cylinder is easy.

The above rocket needed the toilet paper roll to fit snugly in the top of a paper towel tube.

The nose of a rocket can be made this way.

Design your own spacecraft. I call this The Penguin for obvious reasons.

Make a space themed mobile . Don’t forget to add a few asteroids or some silly aliens.