Category Archives: Uncategorized

Cleaning Rags Made From Old Clothes

It’s not like I came up with the idea to make clothes into rags: people have been using damaged clothing and other textiles as rags forever. This post is just a reminder. Have you been buying your cleaning rags? If so, why? I ask because cotton cloth rags work great and are easy to make.
I made nice cleaning cloths out of a pair of worn out flannel pajama pants. Old towels, worn flannel sheets, damaged blankets, cloth diapers ready to be passed on, stained or torn linens, old t-shirts and socks all make good cleaning rags!

Pick flannel or other cotton fiber clothing because it is soft and absorbent and usually lint free. Use it to wash your windows or clean your kitchen floor whatever…. It’s also great at polishing the chrome in the bathroom or dusting your bookshelf.

How to: Cut or tear the piece of clothing in manageable sized pieces (18 x 18 inches more or less). If you want to tear the fabric, sometimes it is easier to use a pair of scissors to cut the first half inch than tear. If you have never tried this before, the fabric will tear in a straight line following the weave. Quickly cut out any buttons, zippers, waistbands, hem, or anything else that might scratch whatever you are cleaning.

Save any buttons for future projects or give them to someone who can use them.

Made-made material like polyester, spandex, and nylon aren’t my favorite for cleaning because they are not as absorbent. I use worn out clothing made out of this stuff for rags that I don’t plan to wash and use again. They would be good for paint rags or auto maintenance.

Keep a pile(s) of rags on hand. I have a stack of cleaning rags with my cleaning supplies and another stack of “disposable” rags in the work shop.

Adorable Doll Quilt Project For The Beginner Sewer: Or Keepsake Quilt For Sentimental Mom

Quilting is the mother of eco-friendly crafting in my option. Nothing should be wasted and people of past generations knew that instinctively. I designed this project using scrap fabric for my eight year old daughter. She wanted a blanket for her 18″ dolls. I was so proud of her; she did all the sewing herself.
How to: I’m going to explain the parts that I helped her (Helper) and the parts that she did herself (New Sewer).
1. New Sewer (NS) Choose fabric: decide on a color scheme.
The helper could give good options to choose from.
Material needed: Use scrap fabric (lightweight cotton works well here). If you don’t have any, ask around. Fabric can also be salvaged from unwanted clothing.

2. Helper (H) Using a plastic square as a guide (found at a crafting store in quilting section) and a rotary cutter, cut out 20 squares. You could cut out the squares with scissors but it is so much faster and more accurate this way.
Size of squares = 3.5 inches by 3.5 inches

3. (NS) Layout the squares in the desired arrangement. You could use a checkerboard pattern, diagonal stripes, or randomly arranged. My daughter went with a random pattern but she had to check to make sure no square was touching a matching square. She used six different fabrics.

4. (NS) Place right sides facing (that means the prettier side of each piece should touch) and using a sewing machine; sew strips leaving a ¼ inch seam allowance. Sew in groups of four squares end to end. When done you should have 5 rows (strips) with four squares in each row.

5. (NS) Iron the seams of the strips you just sewed. (Parental guidance!)You can iron the seams allowances open (B in photo) or you can iron the seam allowances all to one side (A in photo). If you iron them all to one side it will be easier to sew with the sewing machine. If you iron the seams open you need to be very careful to not let them get bunched up as you sew over them. It will be obvious what I mean when you begin sewing.

6. (NS and H) Pin two strips together right sides facing. Line up edges the best you can. Then draw on a sewing line with a washable marker. This is very helpful to someone new using a sewing machine. Because the strips were not sewed by professionals to begin with, the squares will not be exactly lined up.

7. (NS) Machine sew the strips together. Then pin the next strip onto the end and sew, then pin another…

When sewing, try to have the seam allowances open towards you. When you run the machine over them, they will not bunch up.
Note: when the strips are all sewed together you may find that the corners of the squares don’t all meet up. No worries, it will still be super cute. We’ll leave that ambitious outcome to experienced sewers.

8. (H) Cut a strip of fabric for the top and bottom boarder. The size of these boarder pieces will be the size of one of your strips x 3.5 inches.

9. (NS) sew on the top and bottom boarder just as you sewed the other strips together.

10. (H) Now you need to cut a strip of the border fabric the length of the unfinished quilt x 3.5 inches.
11. (NS) Sew on the side borders. Now you have the top of your quilt complete. Iron the quilt top.

12. (NS and H) Cut a piece of batting and a piece of fabric (for quilt back) each the same size as your quilt front.
Material needed: use a piece of scrap batting. I had a scrap piece of 100% cotton batting left over from another project. If you don’t have any, ask a quilter or two. This small quilt will use up pieces that would otherwise be wasted.

14. (NS) Stack the layers like this: back then top of quilt right sides facing, then have the batting on the very top. Line up edges the best you can. Pin.

15. (NS) Machine sew around the edge of the quilt but leave about 3 ½ inches un-sewed. This hole is where you turn the quilt right side out. This part is a lot like making a basic pillow.

16. (NS) Hand-sew the hole closed. (H) Helper might need to demonstrate how to make stitches. (whip stitch)

17. (NS) Quilt the blanket by hand-sewing along the border starting at a corner (see A in photo). Use a running stitch. (The top side of the quilt should be facing up when you are making your stitches so you can see where to sew. Also, quilt means to sew through all layers of the quilt). Then sew along the lines between strips (see B in photo). Normally quilters quilt between the squares in the other direction too but that is left out here for two reasons: one because the new sewer will probably be tired of hand-sewing by now and two because the squares may not be lined up perfectly.

This quilt fits the American Girl Doll beds, as well as, similar sized doll beds.

Finished quilt size: approximately 18 ½ inches X 15 ½ inches.

Alternative project: A sentimental Mom might want to make a keepsake quilt made out of baby clothing when her little-one outgrows them. Just use more squares to increase the size of the quilt. This will give an added sentimental value to the quilt. I’ve saved some clothing from when my girls were babies/ toddlers. I’d like to make a small quilt out of their little dresses someday.

MYO Outrageous Party Hats: Lampshade or Purely Outrageous

These party hats are so much fun!

Just leave one of these hats out and who can resist trying it on. Make sure you have a mirror nearby. You’ll see, the quietest person in the group will be wearing it by evenings end.

Great for New Year’s Eve parties!

Lampshade Party Hats

How to:
Pick up a second hand lampshade from a thrift store or yard sale. Next, embellish is with leftover notions, pompoms, whatever, even monopoly money. The tackier the better! I used an extra large second hand lampshade and hot glued on this icicle fringe that I had leftover from a child’s costume I made.

Purely Outrageous Party Hat

How to:

Find a hat to be the base. Don’t go out and buy a hat, just dig through your closet or ask a friend; whatever. Next, gather all sorts of junk. Cheesy stuff like plastic bugs… Anyone with kids could give you handfuls of “junk” to adorn your hat. Anything goes. My inspiration for this hat was from the popular children’s book “Go Dog Go”. At the end of the book, a dog is wearing a wild party hat. I like that hat!

Take pictures
Take pictures later on in the evening when everyone is having fun.

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 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.