Category Archives: reuse fabric from drapes or other

Thrift Store Coffee Table Turned Princess And The Pea Inspired Bench: Altering Bench

Princess and the Pea inspired bench group picture

I was looking for a bench for my daughter’s room when I came upon this coffee table at a local thrift store. When I saw it I liked its clean lines and decided that it could also be used as a bench.
Located near a sunny window, this bench has become a prized spot in our house.
It has even inspired imaginative play. How could it not?

Altered Princess and the Pea bench
This bench is for my reader and writer: hence the vintage typewriter, books, and writing journal.

How to convert this rickety old coffee table into a nice sturdy bench:

altered bench before
1. Some of the pieces had shifted out of place over time so they needed to be tapped back in place and glued.

glue the bench
2.  The legs were wobbly so the wing nuts were tightened but not before the washers were replaced by larger ones. The smaller ones were getting squeezed into the wood and therefore not doing their job anymore.

alter bench washers
3. To create a lip, you’ll need to cut the long edge off of what will become the back side of the bench. This lip will help keep the pillows in place when the bench is complete but is not needed if your table/bench doesn’t allow for it.  Measure and clamp a guide board onto your table. This will allow you to cut a nice straight line.

alter bench cutting guide
4. Run the skill saw along the edge of the board; cutting a strip off one of the long sides.

alter bench cutting
5. Turn the strip up on end (becomes the lip) and glue into place.  Also add a few screws from the bottom. This allows the table (now bench) to go up against the wall and also adds a bit of a design element.

altered bench back
6. Paint if you like or touch up with stain.

Find out more about the mattresses and tips on how to make them:
Thrift Store Coffee Table Turned Princess And The Pea Inspired Bench: Making Mattresses

Thrift Store Coffee Table Turned Princess And The Pea Inspired Bench: Making Mattresses

After finding and altering a coffee table into a bench, I set to work making it cozy. It needed to be a comfortable sitting and/or reading spot. That meant a pillow of sorts but then I got a clever idea: to add a pile of mattresses like in the story “The Princess and the Pea.” How fun! My girls liked the idea too. The idea was to have the mattresses look home-made like a pile of Grandma’s quilts. I wanted them to have lots of playful variation, yet still look nice together. And, of course, I wanted it to be made with lots of recycled materials.

Princess on Princess and the Pea inspired bench

This “princess” has discovered something under her mattress.

Making the mattresses:
1. Make a pattern by laying a piece of salvaged packing paper on the top of the bench. Run the edge of a crayon around the edge of the bench: marking on the paper the outline of the bench shape. If your bench is rectangular in shape then your job is easier: just measure your bench.
2. Add about ¼ inch all the way around to allow for the loft of the mattress and another ¼ inch for the seam allowance.
3. The mattresses are made like basic pillows.
4. To fill mattresses, I encourage you to use recycled materials.
-an old comforter: layer the pieces to achieve desired loft
-stuffing from salvaged pillows
-recycled fiber stuffing (I’ve only seen this sold in bulk). or even dryer lint. (try asking at industrial drying places for large amounts)
-down from salvaged comforters or jackets

Girl on Princess and the Pea inspired bench

The top blue mattress (picture above) has been given a quilted look by tying it off at regular intervals with super soft alpaca yarn (left over from knitting project).

Princess and the Pea mattress: blue quilted

This mattress was made from scrap fabric from another project. It is filled with two layers of an old comforter of ours that had become faded and torn. It is made like a basic pillow then I hand quilted it using embroidery floss.

Princess and the Pea mattress: striped shower curtain

This mattress was made from a cotton thrift store shower curtain (not the liner). I used the curtain’s own hem to edge it.

Princess and the Pea mattress: orange plaid

This mattress was made from a second hand tablecloth with a bleach stain on it. No problem, I was able to use the un-stained piece. It was made like a basic pillow then I machine sewed all around the edge. It is filled with recycled fiber stuffing.

Princess and the Pea mattress: striped curtain

This mattress was made from left-over fabric from the curtains I made for that room. Although this fabric was not recycled, the stuffing is. Inside is two layers of an old but clean comforter.

So far I’ve made 6 mattresses for our bench. This pile of mattresses will continue to grow as I come across other fabric to recycle.

Cat sleeping on Princess and the Pea bench

Find out more about the bench and tips on how to alter it:
Thrift Store Coffee Table Turned Princess And The Pea Inspired Bench: Altering Bench

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…

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.