Category Archives: reuse fabric items

Gifts You Can Make Yourself: Neck Warmer And Muscle Relaxer

These neck warmers/ muscle relaxers are especially nice in the winter but are useful all year. Heat one up and put on your shoulders to relax tense muscles. Warm yourself when coming in from the cold or use it to warm up your feet when crawling into bed on chilly nights.

They work well as a cold pack too. Store one in the freezer in a sealed plastic bag. Your kids will likely prefer a cold “rice” pack over a bag of frozen peas. The rice bags are softer and not as cold. You might want to make a smaller bag for this purpose.

Heat it up in the microwave for a minute or two. Check after a minute to see if it is the desired temperature. Don’t over-heat because the filler can burn. Be careful that you don’t overheat because it can burn your skin.

My young students made these for gifts at my recent December “green” craft workshops. This is a great project suitable for beginner sewers.

Think Mother’s day gift, Christmas gift, get well gift…

How to:

Fold and cut. However you fold your fabric, you should end up with a rectangle that is about 18 inches long and 5.5 inches wide. You need a top and a bottom. You can custom make yours longer or shorter.

Sew with good sides touching. Make sure you sew all the way to the edge. You don’t want the rice to fall out the corners! Clip corners.

Turn right side out. Use a knitting needle to gently poke the corners out. Be careful not to poke a hole in the corners while doing this.

Add rice. I use about two pounds of rice for each neck warmer. You can also use oat wheat berries, flaxseeds or dried corn. You can also add a little lavender if you like or scented oils.

Tuck in the raw edges. Pin and then machine sew the opening closed. Hand sew if you prefer.

You can sew it in sections if you like to keep the filler from going all to one side. I don’t think this is necessary however.

There rice bags are also great to use as a hand rest when typing. I love to use it when I’m getting chilly working on the computer.

This one was made by re-purposing the fabric from unwanted flannel PJ’s.

Decorative Trees Made From Scrap Fabric

When I think winter, I think evergreen trees. Here are some easy to make stylized evergreen trees made out of fabric. They can easily be made by children and given as a charming Christmas gift.

Here are some of the trees done by one of my students from my winter sewing/crafting workshop 2010.

Make the tree stump(s)

Find a tree branch of the desired diameter. Cut tree stumps using a miter saw if you have one.

Keep in mind, if the stumps are too small in diameter, the trees will fall over.

Make the tree top

1. Cut Fabric

Use a plate to mark a circle on your fabric and cut out. Next, cut the circle in half. Each half can make a tree.

2. Sew

Fold the semicircle in half with the good side of the fabric facing in. Use a sewing machine or hand -sew a straight line up the side as shown in the photo. Make your cone wider or narrower by adjusting your sewing line.

3. Turn and Stuff

Cut off the extra fabric. Then, turn the cone right side out and add stuffing.

4. Stitch

Using large stitches sew all the way around the bottom of the cone.

5. Gather

Pull the thread from both ends until the fabric is gathered together and the hole is gone.

6. Tie A knot

Knot the thread.

7. Glue

Add glue to the stump and glue in place.

8. Let Dry

Use a glass or another object to weigh down the tree top until the glue is dry.

9. Done

10. Make More

Make a whole forest of trees!

MYO Charming Mushroom Pincushions Made With Recycled Shirts and Wood

I designed these charming mushroom pincushions out of recycled materials and pieces of branches. If you change the design a bit, you could make a forest of trees in a similar way. –Another day perhaps. These pincushions could also be adapted into cupcake pincushions. Just scrape off the bark and paint the stump with lines like a cupcake bottom.

I know that mushroom pin cushions are old news but I’ve put my own spin on the idea (using wood for the stumps). The wood bottm makes them very stable.

Incites on how to make your own:

Gather supplies as seen in picture. –jar lid, wood stump, fabric, stuffing, plate for tracing. You will also need needle and thread and glue. Sometimes I use wool roving for the stuffing. The natural oils from the wool help to keep needles from rusting.

First, use a plate to trace a circle on a salvaged knit shirt. You want fabric that will stretch like a t-shirt.

The size of the plate will depend on the size of the jar lid you are using, which will depend on the stump size. The fabric will need to be bigger than the jar lid by about two inches extra all the way around. Smaller mushroom tops will require less, so test it out.

Using a straight stitch (put the needle up then down, up, then down through the fabric) to sew all the way around your circle. Sew near the edge. I like to use a metal jar lid to help shape the mushroom to have a flatter bottom.

Pull the thread to gather the fabric. Add the jar lid and the stuffing and gather some more.

Knot the thread to hold the gather.

Glue the mushroom top to your stump. I used a branch that I chopped with a miter saw. You could use a hand saw. Put something heavy on top until the glue dries.

I made the tall mushroom out of a second-hand infant hat. I like to use it to hold threaded needles for quick access.

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