Category Archives: sewing

Make Your Own Christmas Dove Ornaments

lovely beaded Christmas dove ornament

Have a pleasant afternoon making lovely dove ornaments with your family. When provided with the supplies, even kids have fabulous results. I have a shoe box full of salvaged beads from unwanted necklaces etc. and this is a perfect time to make use of those little treasures.

This dove ornament was designed and made by my nine year old daughter. All I did was supply her with a pattern, scrap felt, and a box or salvaged beads. The gold beads came off a retired Christmas sweater and some of the others came from unwanted necklaces.

How To:

Print out and use the dove stencil provided in the make your own dove card post (see link below).

Trace and cut out two doves (one for the front and one for the back). It doesn’t take much fabric/felt to make so check your supply for scraps. Use felt or fabric that doesn’t fray very easily.

Sew on any embellishments (beads) before sewing the dove halves together. (This is a good idea but not absolutly necessary.)

Start sewing around the dove near the edge. When you are nearly done sewing all the way around, add a bit of stuffing. Then sew the hole closed.

Optional, add a string of beads to dangle below.

You will also need a bit of ribbon or a metal hook for hanging up.

If you like doves, you may also like this post on MYO dove cards.

Make Your Own Simple Yet Adorable Tea Cup Mouse

Making your own charming Tea Cup Mouse is easier than you think. I designed this project to be suitable for even beginner sewers. And you can adjust the project according to skill level.

This is a sweet way to use a lovely tea cup that has no matches. A cup with a chip or crack would be undesirable for drinking tea but these signs of wear would only add character to these little beds.

Sewing workshop: if you live locally (Southern Maryland) you might be interested in my Tea Cup mouse workshops for children (and adults too). Click on the Classes link above.

Tea Cup Mouse takes a break

This is Leo. He was made from a retired linen shirt. His bedside table was made from a slice of a tree branch and an old wooden spool of thread. The rug was made by cutting a rectangle from an old sweater. The tea cup was from a second-hand store.

Tea Cup Mouse snuggles under handkerchief

Leo loves his super soft handkerchief blanket. The handkerchief is vintage and the tea cup was a thrift store find.

Playful Tea Cup Mouse On The Move

This adorable mouse loves to play!

 MYO Tea Cup Mouse Kit

Three ways to give.

1. Make and give the finished mouse for a special gift.

2. Give a kit with pre-cut pieces and all the rest of the supplies, tea cup and all for a child to make for his or her self. Precutting the pieces might be necessary for younger children. Work together with him or her.

3. Give a kit with the pattern and all the rest of the supplies and let them have the fun of making a mouse friend just the way they want it. You might supply a few different pieces of scrap fabric for them to choose from. Give support as needed.

How to:

The first thing you will need to do is gather supplies.

You will need:

Salvaged fabric for the head and body of the mouse. No need to go out and buy any fabric; you only need a little from a past project or salvaged from an old pair of pants or shirt…

A washable marker for tracing your stencil on fabric.

Scissors for cutting the fabric.

Scrap pieces of felt for the mouse’s hands, feet and ears.

Embroidery floss of some type to embroider on the whiskers, nose and eyes and an embroidery needle. Or a black permanent marker to draw on the face. Tiny black pompoms could also be used for the nose and eyes.

Tea Cup Mouse can't wait until Christmas

This is Leo’s friend Lola. She can’t wait until Christmas! Her mouth, whiskers, and nose were drawn on and the eyes are pins that have the tip cut off. The pins make cute eyes but are not appropriate to use as a toy. Ears, hands and feet can be glued on for easier construction but I like to sew on pieces for a more secure attachment. Her scarf was made from a sweater that I felted. Just snip the ends to make the ends fringed. I included a felted wool blanket as well. She snuggles in a second-hand cup.

Some piece of thin rope or leather cord to use as a tail.

Some kind of stuffing. I used dryer lint and a little dry rice.

Needle and thread for hand sewing.

A sewing machine for sewing the main body and head pieces.

MYO Tea Cup Mouse cutting fabric

Cutting out the pieces.

You will need a Tea Cup Mouse 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). Send me an e-mail and I’ll send a pdf file with the pattern right out to you.

Use stencil to make your own card board stencil. A cereal box works well. Trace the body and head on your fabric. Cut two at a time if possible.

MYO Tea Cup Mouse machine sewing

Sew the head. Sew the two head pieces (right sides together) using a sewing machine. Use the edge of your foot (sewing machine foot) as a guide. Keep the edges of the fabric running along the edge of the foot. You only want a narrow seam.

MYO Tea Cup Mouse body and head

Sew the body. Again with right sides together, sew around the body leaving a hole for the head. You will want a narrow seam allowance here too (not to exceed 1/4 inch). 

Trim the corners (A’s in the picture). Be careful not to cut your stitching. Also, clip the inner curve a few times (at B in picture).

Turn the pieces right side out.

MYO Tea Cup Mouse adding tail

Add the tail. Use a mechanical pencil or other sharp object to make a hole on the backside of the mouse. Tie a knot in the cord. Put the tail through the hole you just made. The knot should be on the inside of the mouse and the tail should extend out the back of the mouse.

Stuff the body. Next add some rice into the body of the mouse until it is about 1/4th full. The rice isn’t necessary but I like the way it gives the mouse weight and help it stand. Loosely fill the rest of the mouse and the head with dryer lint.

MYO Tea Cup Mouse adding a head

Connect head to body. Tuck in the raw edges of the body and stick in the head. Pin in place. Hand sew together sewing around the head.

MYO Tea Cup Mouse adding hands...

Sew on the hands, feet, and ears.

MYO Tea Cup Mouse adding smile

Embroider facial features. Use an embroidery needle and some black embroidery floss to make the mouth, nose and eyes. Use a French knot for each eye. Alternatively use a permanent marker to draw on the mouth, nose, eyes and whiskers.

MYO Tea Cup Mouse complete

Have a blast making the mouse a quilt, pillow, clothes, scarf, hat, whatever.

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 Cut-off Shorts And Extend The Life Of Your Favorite Pants

flowered cut off shorts
Recycling 101; take your pants with the worn out knees and make them into shorts. This practice of re-using pants to make shorts is especially nice for kid’s cloths due to the tendency for children to prematurely wear holes in the knees.
How to:
Cut at the desired length (add extra if you want to leave a cuff).
Sew a hem, add a cuff or just leave it raw so it will fray.

These shorts were made from a pair of pants that my daughter loved. They had developed holes in the knees so I cut them into shorts and rolled up a cuff and hemmed the new edge. In addition, I cut out the flower detail that was at the bottom of the pants and re-sewed it on the shorts. It looks like I bought them this way.