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I want to try this!

I saw this on the “Recycled Crafts- trash to treasure” blog. What a really awesome idea. This would make a great gift for a house warming. It could be a bathroom or entryway mirror. You could cover a  paper mache box with it and put recipes or business cards in it…

Endless possiblities!


Things to save from secondhand clothing

The Native Americans and other cultures that had to do more with less didn’t waste anything. Bones became needles and beads, bladders became balloons. I admire that. I am always trying to find ways to use up every last bit of towels with holes, old sheets. and packing materials from when we order books on Amazon. That’s one of the reasons why my craft room so often looks like the asteroid belt orbiting a trash heap.

There are plenty of things we donate to Goodwill that have just been outgrown and would be a terrible tragedy to cut apart when someone who needs the bargain would love to find that article of clothing for $2 at the thrift store. But there are so many things that have holes, stains, missing parts, etc. that they just wouldn’t work as a complete article any more. These are the things that I cut up and save in bits and peices.

When you’ve butchered something keep the notions. Elastic can be saved and used again. Likewise, velcro, buttons, snaps, zippers, felt appliques. Those are obvious things, it seems, but so often end up in the trash. And keep in mind that not everything needs to be used as it’s original purpose. I made a quilted busy book for Elise’s second birthday out of fabric scraps and notions. There are zippers to pull, buttons to unfasten, buckles from overalls to work, laces to tie and belt buckles to fasten. She really likes to work on it, actually even Olivia really likes to work on it, and I didn’t pay for anything except the thread to stitch it together.


Like I mentioned above, these are obvious things to save. But there are things that I use all the time that are less obvious repurposings. The batting for this busy book is a cheap and uncomfortable comforter that Rob and I got when we were married. It was such poor quality that it faded in the sun through our window after one summer. Lame.

But the polyester batting inside is just as good as any that you’d buy in the craft store, and I’ve washed it clean so why not use it? I’ve used that polyfil for this busy book, raggy flat dolls, fabric ball stuffing, toy fabric blocks, and many other small projects. That’s at least 10 toys made from one comforter and I still have half of it left. So it is worth it to buy an ugly comforter at the thrift store for 3 bucks just to use the polyester fiberfil on the inside for crafting.

So the moral of the story is,  don’t throw anything away until you’ve decided it can’t be used in any other way. Maybe you’ll be living in a cluttered mess but you’ll never have to shell out 8 bucks for 4o oz of polyfil at JoAnn’s, and that nasty comforter (once washed) will be all manner of awesome play things for your kids and friends’ kids. Maybe someday I’ll even find a way to keep it all organized and when I do I’ll write a post about that, too. Then we’ll really be living!

How to make a simple kid’s paint smock

Being a thrift store junkie I have fallen victim to the fifty cent impulse buy of colorful cotton handkerchiefs. I love them! I’ve used them for bias tape, I’ve used them for appliques. Most adorably, I’ve used them for aprons and paint smocks. I’ve sold these in my store, I sold a few at my Lehmann’s Hardware show, and I’ve made a couple for my own kids.


For this tutorial I chose a very kid friendly, Valentines Day friendly heart hankie. I picked some coordinating scraps and lace and got down to business.

Continue reading ‘How to make a simple kid’s paint smock’

Free Toys! Just add mess…

If I weren’t afraid of what all that glitter would have done to my camera lense I would have taken some pictures of the afternoon’s activities. We downloaded some fairy wand patterns from the Toymaker and then I gave the girls glue sticks, glitter and a cookie sheet to catch the mess.


Some of the mess got caught. Much was dumped on Elise’s feet right before she peed. That was difficult to clean up.

We’ve used the patterns from The Toymaker many times in the past. Mostly we’ve used fairy items, the fairy house, the wand, etc. But we’ve also done some of the cool action toys, like the spinners and pinwheels. I just print them out in black and white on scrap paper and let the girls color them. If the project becomes a favorite toy I cover it with packing tape and it lasts longer, otherwise they usually last about one play time, which is pretty good for free.

I’m not awol

I just spent a lovely long weekend with my very dear friends the Stagers. It’s always a hard thing to leave them since they have become much more family-like than just friends.

Nothing recycled has been made. I don’t know if it is the change in the year, or the awesome sale at JoAnn’s when I went to buy thread, but I have been making thing with NEW MATERIALS. Crazy. I’ll have to post the leggings I made for the girls today. They are SO cute, they look like rainbow-heart long johns. Love them! Very little girl. I asked Liv if she wanted them to be Jammies or Clothes and she said clothes. So that was what they wore today.

Hopefully I can find a picture, but JoAnn’s website is truly awful. AWFUL!

I know that I have fallen victim to marketing, because I am so sure that I remember a shockingly similar fabric from when I was a kid. They are stroking my nostalgia nerve, I can feel it. I did use recycled knit bindings for the leg openings, so I guess I’m not sewing completely out of character. It is fun to just find a print and say, I need to make something out of this. I still saved money, 2 pairs of leggings with half a yard of fabric left over for $5. Not bad!

Is it recycling if it has never been used before?

Or is it repurposing? I have been knitting fingerless mittens all day with kabob skewers because I can’t find any double pointed needles anywhere. I would have just gone and bought some but we’re all sort of sick and we just paid $170 to fix the dryer.

I’ve been pulling little splinters out of my fingers all evening.

Save Handmade!

Way to go Government! This is Olivia’s explanation of the situation:

“The government wants to tell Mom that she’s not allowed to sew. They made a mistake in their law and Mom needs to write them a letter so that they will let her sew again.”


The new law, H.R.4040, to go into effect on February 10th will make it so that I will not be able to sell my hand made clothes, dolls and slings without submitting each batch (every item being individual means each item will be a batch) for 3rd party lead and phylate testing. I agree that these items should not be in toys and clothing. That’s one of the reasons that I prefer to buy handmade and wooden toys. The other reason being my support for small and cottage businesses like my own. But H.R.4040 will place such stringent requirements on these businesses making it almost impossible to operate.You can find out more about this law and its possible repercussions here.

I’ve already contacted my Congress Person and Senator requesting a provision in the law to protect small businesses. Sherrod Brown (D- OH) has replied, though not very satisfactorily. If anyone is interested in his response leave a comment and I can email it to you. My biggest frustration is that no one is offering a step by step solution for how to bring my goods into compliance with the law. As it is right now I have to decide whether I’m going to quit selling slings and children’s materials or if I’m going to be a quality-goods bootlegger. Please contact your respective elected officials and emphasize the need for a simple way for small and cottage businesses to comply with the law.

Like I said, way to go Government! Way to make criminals out of people just trying to make their own way.

Creating unique fashion from fortunate thrift store discoveries. And otherwise making our house a home, on the cheap.

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