Category Archives: sewing

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.

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.

Recycled Sweater and/or T-Shirt Pennant Swags

Front view

Back view

Pennant swags strung between poles.

Liven up a birthday party, beach party, or child’s room with these easy to make pennant swags!

How-to: Gather some thin sweaters and/or t-shirts in lively colors. Make yourself a triangle stencil out of an old cereal box or whatever. My triangles were 7 ¼ inches along the top edge and about 8 ¾ inches along the sides. You can make your triangles bigger if you prefer. The easiest way to make all your triangles is to use a rotary cutter. Using one is not necessary but sure is fast. Unlike the rotary cutter, when using scissors, you will need to trace your stencil before cutting. I liked to use the hemmed bottom edge of a shirt as the top edge of the pennants. I think it gives it a little bit more of a finished look to the swags. Work around any stains or worn places. Lay out your shirt flat on a cutting mat. You will be cutting two triangles at a time. After cutting out all the triangles, arrange them in the order you would like. You can be creative here. Next use a sewing machine to make one long running stitch attaching the pennants to the ribbon. Leave room at each end of your ribbon to make a loop or leave enough extra ribbon for trying.When using outside, I tie them to bamboo poles.

Jeans Recycled Into Durable Pillow Covers

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Fabric sewed together to form a long strip.

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View of pillowcase inside-out.

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Detail of the flap and the snaps.

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These jean pillows also look good on my fading denim couch.

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Casual comfort for your bed. If you are ambitious, a recycled jean duvet cover would look fantastic too! A duvet cover is just like an extra large pillow case.

Here is a quick guide to making durable recycled jean pillow covers.
First collect old jeans. Don’t worry if there are holes in the knees or frayed bottoms, you can work around those areas.

Second, you will need to cut the jeans into strips. I made a stencil four inches wide out of cardboard. It doesn’t matter how long. I traced the stencil on the jeans, making the strips as long as I could. Slide your stencil up or down to lengthen or shorten the strip.
You can choose to make your strips wider or narrower, whatever works for the jeans you are salvaging and the design you wish to make.

Next, sew the strips together end to end to form a long strip. This method results in a random pattern and allows you to get the most out of your fabric strips (reduces waste).

Then, figure out how big you would like your pillow cover. At this point you should consider whether to have the stripes go up and down or across. Cut the strips to length, remember to leave extra for seam-allowances- a half inch for each side is good (width) and add about 4 or so inches extra so you can fold the fabric over forming a flap (length). Sew your strips together to make two rectangles (the top and bottom of your pillow),

Last, simply sew your pillow pieces right sides together. Leave one side open. Finish that edge (fold over and sew). Try it on your pillow, use extra fabric to make a flap. Add snaps.
E-mail with your questions or comments.