Category Archives: home décor (recycle and upcycle)

Quilt-like Winter Curtain With Landscape Design: Keep The Heat Inside The House

This cool curtain will keep the heat in the house. I made it to cover sliding-glass doors. I wanted something to not only help keep out the cold but to also be pleasing: necessary during the coldest, bleakest time of the year. It’s eco-friendly because it reduces energy costs and because it was made almost entirely with repurposed fabric that I already had. I especially like this curtain because it is functional art.


How to: Tips for making one for yourself
Get a piece of fabric or a sheet to be the front. I used a black flat sheet that we weren’t using anymore. Design on paper your scene. You could make your curtain depict a pond with ducks or anything you like. Use scrap pieces of material and hand or machine sew the pieces on (appliqué). I prefer to hand sew in this case. I pieced together some vintage white sheets: the sheets were thick and very nice quality but there was a tear and some damage I needed to work around. I did not quilt through both pieces of fabric. I turned the edge under as I sewed it onto the background. When done with the front, add a back and then a boarder. The boarder fabric is the only part I bought new. I did not use any batting. Remember to leave open the ends of the top boarder for the curtain rod to go through. You will also notice that I cut the curtain in half. You may or may not have to do this.
Another option is to use a blanket or quilt that you already have and then fashion it into curtain(s). Crib sized patchwork quilts might later be used as charming winter curtains.

How To Make A Greener Pet Bed: Use Reclaimed Fabric And Recycled Fiber Stuffing

Try creating a pet bed out of a stained coat, damaged drapes, unwanted jeans, or an old wool blanket. Avoid the damaged areas when cutting out your pieces. Alternately you could use fabric remnants from fabric retailers. These scraps are usually sold at a discount. I made this bed out of a second hand curtain. The thick, neutral color fabric was perfect for the job. It is a good idea to pick sturdy fabric if making a dog bed. Make one for your cat too and she will shed on it instead of on your favorite chair. This project is easy enough for beginner sewers.

How to:
Determine the size you would like to make your pet bed. I started by cutting two squares of fabric 29 by 29 inches. With right sides together, sew around three sides (as indicated by the blue line) leaving one side open. Use a ½ inch seam allowance. Trim the corners off (also shown in blue) but be sure you do not cut your stitching. Turn your pet bed right side out. Now fold in the raw edges of the opening (about a half inch) and iron. You must do this before you sew the tunnels.

You could measure your pillow and do some division and re-measure and mark your tunnels… or fold your pillow in half and make a nice crease. Open it out flat. Fold the sides to the center this time (see photo) and crease. Use some pins to hold things in place then sew using the creases as your sewing guide lines. Depending on the size of your pet bed, you may have to do more folding first.

This is what mine looked like after I sewed the tunnels.

Stuff the tunnels. I filled mine with a soft recycled fiber stuffing (made from industrial textile waste). You might want to recycle the stuffing from an old pillow or stuff with scrap fabric pieces (collect the pieces that are too small to do anything else with.

All that is left to do is sew up the open side.
Because pet beds are so large I recommend you spot clean only. A carpet cleaner with an upholstery attachment works great!

To make a pet bed out of jeans, see my post on how to make recycled jean pillow covers.

Only a few modifications to those directions are needed. You will need to leave one end of the tunnels open for stuffing. Also, make the strips 6 to 8 inches wide for medium to large beds.

Fun To Make Autumn Leaf Mobile

Fall is such a pleasant time for me. I really enjoy the cooler temperatures and the changing colors of the foliage. When a gust of wind comes along and the leaves rain down, I smile. I guess that is why I like these mobiles so much. It is like being outside even when I have to be inside.

Try using the leaf stem called the petiole (if long enough) to tie the leaf to the branch.

Salvaged copper wire can be used to hang your mobile or use whatever you have on hand.
How to: Spend a pleasant afternoon collecting your favorite leaves. Take a walk perhaps with your son or daughter and search for the best specimens. Your theme could be one kind of tree or a variety of trees and colors. Also, find a small branch from which you will hang your leaves.
During your walk you could introduce a few vocabulary words and a bit of science. Mention deciduous plants are the plants that drop their leaves in preparation of the coming winter. Evergreen plants like pine trees and hollies stay green throughout the winter: they lose leaves too but not all at once. Abscission is the process by which leaves are shed.
When you get home, and if the leaf isn’t completely dried out, you can use the leaf’s petiole (the stem part) to tie the leaf to the branch. Alternatively, glue the leaves directly onto the branch. Clamp with a cloths pin until the glue dries.

These ginkgo leaves are so beautiful. On that day the ground was painted yellow from fallen ginkgo leaves. The shadows are beautiful too.
Another option is to hang the leaves from pieces of string, thread or fishing line.  You might be able to salvage some fishing line. I’ve found some in the past near fishing spots and saved it for projects. Plus, I feel good about picking up litter.

I wish I had made this ginkgo leaf mobile with thread instead of this string because the thread would be almost invisible.

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.