Since my little girl started “scuola materna” which I suppose is similar to kindergarten (3-5 years) this year, I was inspired by Maya Made to make a reminder of home. So, inspired by another blog, I don’t remember which, I decided to make a heart out of an old wool sweater. Since I have been thinking about sewing by hand for a while, I took the opportunity to sew and embellish the whole thing by (free)hand. The pocket contains one drawing of the whole family made by me, and one drawing made by her little brother. The colors of the heart are a bit murky, but that’s what I had in my drawers…My daughter chose the color of the embroidery (hence the different colors of the heart in the center). I’m not sure how much the heart has helped my daughter during the first weeks, but it felt good to make something special for her.
I have loads of fabric strips that I made while making my first, and so far my last, quilt, and I was trying to find a suitable use for the least pretty ones when I stumbled on this tutorial on making a braided rag rug. So I tore the strips I had in half (they were 5 cm wide) and started braiding.
Then I started thinking that I didn’t really need a rug, and instead I decided to use the braid for replacing the straw in an old children’s chair. I am planning on writing a howto on this, but in the meantime here’s the before:
I can tell you that there was a LOT of braiding involved, and the braids are not as sturdy as the straw, but it worked out quite well anyway.
Basically, I needed some small hangers for my children’s clothes and got this great idea to reuse some wire hangers that I had instead of bying new ones. I simply bent the ends of the hanger as shown in the pictures, using my bare hands, but probably the result would be nicer if using a plier.
Here’s a before and after shot:
Just bend the ends with your bare hands:
And here’s the hanger in action! I took the opportunity to show off a beautiful dress that I bought from Florin. The vintage fabric is very special to me since I had it on the wall in my room as a baby.
Here is a post with some inspiration to show that fabric scraps can be used for making really beautiful and colorful clothes. I have not tried to do anything like this because it requires some more time and planning, but I really love these clothes.
The first picture is from a swedish book “Sy till barnen” by Elsebeth Gynter which is out of print, but there should be a new version out in danish called “Børnetøj du selv kan sy 0-4 år”. It was written in the seventies and while the patterns are not that great, it has so much inspiration for using quilting and patchwork techniques as you can see on the picture below.
A more recent swedish book, Baby cool is more aimed at reuse of old clothes in a very colorful way.
A fantastic blogger, Kokalal, makes great children’s clothing, and although she uses new material a few of her creations can be inspiring for digging in to the pile of scraps.
Another blogger (sorry, all swedish), Naima’s design, buys second hand fabric and makes incredible creations mixing and matching with lots of colors and patterns.
Last but not least, using fabric scraps does not have to be limited to children’s clothes, here is a beautiful example from another swedish book “Kläder” that is also out of print. I just realised that there is an english version of this book called “Klader, creating fantastic clothes”, by Nina Ericson. I really love this book although it is a bit 80’s so if you can get your hands on a copy I really recommend it!
Luckily, before slaughtering my second pair of jeans, I found this great tutorial on how to mend jeans, and since the hole was not that big after all, I was able to mend the jeans so that they will live a little bit longer. My only concern is that since I used iron-on fusing, it will be more difficult to reuse the fabric once the jeans are beyond saving. Anyway, here is how I did it (check out the tutorial for a better description!)
This is the hole, fortunately not too big:
And here are the materials needed: iron-on fusing and some fabric.
As it said in the tutorial, I did my ironing with care and then I ironed on the fusing. I decided to “mend” the other leg as well, hoping to avoid any creation of holes in the near future.
Then I did my basting – this is really necessary since it is quite messy when you get to the sewing machine.
Now to the hardest part: stitching around the whole patch. Be sure to start in the most difficult part, which in my case would be the part closest to the knee. Be sure to insert the jeans from the waist, otherwise you will be in trouble. Stop often, with the needle down, and check so that you are not sewing more layers than you should.
Then comes the fun part – sewing with a zigzag over the hole. I also chose to enfore an area that was getting worn-out. I found it best to use a quite narrow zigzag.
And here you see the whole area. The seam around the patch is quite visible, but I hope that you will not notice much when wearing the jeans.
Two of my favourite jeans have big holes on their knees, so I will try to recycle them the best I can. First out is a small container that I use as a trash can for trimmings etc when I sew. I already had a smaller one which has been moved to my partner’s working area so that he can use it for throwing away receipts etc that he otherwise usually tend to keep on his desk…
These containers can be made of any fabric that is fairly sturdy. I used jeans both inside and out because I was too lazy to make it in another fabric, but of course I broke a needle when sewing through all the layers of jeans.
1. Cut off the hem of the jeans, and make another cut below the knee so that you will have two cylinders of the desired height (consider that it will be folded when calculating the height).
2. Cut two circles in the same or another fabric. The diameter of the circle should be two times the width of the leg divided by pi (or 3 to make things simpler). Add a couple of cm of allowance to this, if you cut it too large you can always trim off some of the allowance afterwards.
3. Sew the circles onto the bottom end of each of the legs.
3. Now you have two containers, leave one as it is and turn the other one inside-out and put it inside the first one.
4. Sew them together, but leave a hole, about 5 cm.
5. Now pull out everything through the hole that you left until you have a container with the right side out.
6. Make a stitching around the top of the container in order to close the hole, fold down the upper part and you are done!
8. Now use your imagination on how to make these containers more interesting, e.g. by embellishing them with needlework, applications etc. or using other fabrics. In the container I made, I added a small piece of fabric when sewing in step 4. I have seen some really nice containers on the web, e.g. by MayaMade and Little Miss Fix It.
My partner had an extremely ugly t-shirt that he bought during his first visits to Sweden (obviously before we met!), and it has been lying around the house without being used for many many years util I finally came up with an idea of how to reuse it – as a pajamas for my daughter! She loves it, and often talks about how it was daddys t-shirt and really BIG, and now it is her pajamas. I used a pattern for a children’s t-shirt, but you could just trace a t-shirt that fits.
The idea is to reuse the hem, so you should cut the pieces aligning them to the hem. The size of the t-shirt will decide how long the sleeves and pajamas will be – my sleeves ended up 3/4 which works fine. I will just put up the pictures here:
How to cut the pieces:
and here’s the result:
So how did this start? I already considered myself quite aware and was buying organic products when possible, using cloth nappies for my second child and so on. Then I was listening to a few swedish radio shows about crafting and ecology, and I realised that I was often missing the first step in ecological thinking – even if you buy ecological/organic, it is even better not to buy at all!
I have always been sewing and fixing things but usually I would take into account the economical (do I save or gain something from it?) and time aspects – if it took too much time, then it was not worth it. Now I have decided to put the ecological aspect in the first place.
We live in an apartment that was inherited by my partner’s parents, so we definately have lots of things to reuse, recycle, upcycle, revamp, you name it. So, here are my vows for the time being (they will probably be improved later on)
1. Do not buy anything unless necessary
- mend broken objects
- DIY with material I already have
2. If I need to buy something, choose recycled, ecological, and local products (in that order)
3. When I need to get rid of something, first try to find them a new home (sell, give away), and if that is not possible then do my best to recycle as much as possible.
I had promised myself never to start a blog, and here I am… The reason is that I have been thinking a lot about how to become more eco-friendly e.g. by using my crafting knowledge. Instead of keeping a journal on my computer, I decided to use a blog so that I have something to refer to when communicating with other people.
I will be writing about ecological aspects of my everyday life, wich currently mostly rotates around my two children, 2,5 years and 8 months old. This leaves little time for blogging, so I expect to update the blog around once a week.