DIY Plastic Shopping Bag Dispenser | Recycled Tissue Box

plastic shopping bag dispenser

As you know, I’m all about recycling and upcycling items when I can and when I use a plastic shopping bag, I save it. Although I do have a fabric plastic bag holder in my pantry I like having some bags accessible in my kitchen as well.  It is really easy to just stuff them in a drawer, but this can get a little junky and before I know it, I have a big plastic shopping bag mess. Do you have a drawer full of unruly shopping bags?

plastic shopping bags messy drawer
recycle

This plastic shopping bag dispenser is a quick and easy remedy that will be a game-changer when it comes to your bag organization and recycling efforts.

This plastic shopping bag dispenser will:

  • Save storage space
  • Create organization in your kitchen, pantry, and wherever else you store a plastic shopping bag
  • Give you easy access to a bag when you need it
  • Help reduce waste by recycling both a plastic shopping bag and a tissue box

Since the 1980s, disposable plastic shopping bags have provided a convenient way to bag groceries and carry purchases home. These plastic bags are relatively strong, incredibly cheap, waterproof, and, perhaps most importantly, made to be thrown away. HOWEVER, whether it is in your kitchen cupboard, the landfill, or the ocean, this plastic is piling up. NOT GOOD!

If you want more information about the current plastic recycling process that is going on, which is very enlightening, check out this post HERE.

What can we do as individuals? Reduce and reuse!

Here are some ideas

  • Purchase items with as little packaging as possible. 
  • Bring your own reusable plastic or fabric bags. MAKE YOUR OWN GROCERY BAGS OUT OF AN UPCYCLED T-SHIRT
  • Opt for recyclable glass and metal options when they are available.
  • Eliminate plastic wrap by using containers or “bees waxed” cloth.
  • Reuse the last of the old plastic shopping bags you’ve got in that drawer at home AND organize them with your new tissue box dispenser!
plastic shopping bag tissue box

How to make a plastic shopping bag dispenser

All you need is an empty tissue box and the bags you are going to put inside. You don’t even need a pair of scissors.

plastic shopping bag dispenser

1-Take a plastic shopping bag and stuff it in the tissue box horizontally WITH THE HANDLES STICKING UP.

plastic shopping bag handles

2-Grab another plastic bag by the bottom and stuff it through the handles of the bag you just put in the box.

plastic shopping bag

3-Fold the bottom of the plastic shopping bag over the handles by about 3 inches.

plastic shopping bag drawer

4-Continue this process until you have placed all the plastic shopping bags you have into the box.

I was able to get 18 bags into the box with no problem and enough room for plenty more

plastic shopping bag pulling

Now every time you need a plastic bag you can just open your drawer and pull out a bag and it will feed the next one up just like tissue in a tissue box.

Ta-dah! Now wasn’t that simple! Look how much room you have created in that drawer and doesn’t it feel better?

Play Video

Let me know if you have any other great ideas on how to re-use and recycle a tissue box or a plastic shopping bag.

Other posts you may be interested in:

DIY Upcycled T-Shirt Bags | SEW and NO-SEW Methods 

 

UPCYCLED T-SHIRTS: 

 

Repurposed T Shirts – Cutting Out Tips

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Jan Howell

Jan Howell

My intention for this website is to share tips and tutorials that I have found on my journey of life that has brought me joy, improved health, and peace, in hopes that it will do the same for you. I hope you'll join me on this journey!

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DIY Upcycled T Shirt Bags | Sew and No-Sew Methods

DIY Upcycled T Shirt Bags

Recycling and upcycling is one of my passions, and making these t-shirt bags is another way to reduce waste and find another use for unwanted clothing. I love these bags! They make great grocery bags, activity bags, and you can even use them as a purse if you want. You will be surprised how durable they are!!

Making and using these DIY T-Shirt bags is great way to reduce waste and recycle unwanted clothing. They make great grocery bags, activity bags, and you can even use them as a purse if you want. You will be surprised how durable they are!!

These bags are super easy and quick to make (10 minutes), and it will help to reduce the pollution of shopping bags. Did you know that one hundred billion grocery bags are used in the United States each year?  This means that the average American family gets 1,500 bags from shopping trips. That’s NOT OK!

That’s a lot of bags. Even if they make it into the garbage, 100 billion bags take up space. Whether they’re stuck in a tree, floating in the breeze or sitting in a trash pile, these bags don’t decompose. Because they’re made from petroleum, toxic chemicals can seep into soil and water.

 

Pollution on land is a problem, but what about these bags when they get in the ocean?  It’s dangerous to animals. Sea turtles, marine mammals and fish confuse the bags with prey, such as jellyfish, and eat the plastic imposters. Ingestion of these bags can lead to malnutrition, and eventually, starvation. Bags can also become caught on waterfowl or coral and wrap around the animals, causing injury or death.

Ok, I think you get the picture. Making and using these upcycled t-shirt bags will help reduce plastic bag pollution. I love that, and I love upcycling t-shirts as most of you know.

I am going to show you two different methods. A no-sew method (in case you don’t have access to a sewing machine) and a simple sewing method.  I prefer the sewing method myself because it is a lot faster!

Let’s jump right into the tutorial.

Upcycled T-Shirt Items & Materials Needed

  • T-shirt
  • Scissors
  • Masking tape (optional no-sew method)
  • Sewing machine/serger (sewing method)
  • Fabric clips/pins (sewing method)

T-Shirt Bag Instructions

NO-SEW METHOD

  • Turn the t-shirt wrong side out.
  • Cut off the sleeve just inside the arm seam.
  • Fold the shirt in half lengthwise.
  • Cut out the bag opening by cutting a deeper neck line. (About the depth of the armholes).
  • Decide how deep you want the bag to be +3 inches/7.5 cm. Cut the bottom off if you want it shorter. You’ll really only need to shorten if you are using a very larger t-shirt.
  • Measure 3 inches/7.5 cm from the bottom of the shirt, take a piece of masking tape or painter’s tape and apply it to the shirt to mark this point.
  • Cut little slits along the bottom of the shirt up to the tape line, ½ -3/4 inches/1 cm apart.
  • Starting from one side, tie one strip from the front to the adjacent strip on the back in a double knot. Continue tying knots until the bottom is all tied.

There will be little holes between the knots. To close those up, take one tie from the first knot and tie it to one of the ties of the second knot in a diagonal manner. Do this to all the knots.

Reinforce the end knots by tying them again.

Flip right side out and there you have it.

T-Shirt Bag Sewing Method

  • Follow the steps for the no-sew method, but instead of cutting the strips, simply sew the bottom closed.

 

  • Set your sewing machine to a LIGHTNING BOLT STITCH or SMALL ZIGZAG STITCH. (SHORT & NARROW).

You can use a serger if you have one.

  • Make a tuck/pleat in the bottom of the bag by folding the sides of the shirt over about 4 inches/10 cm. Clip or pin in place.
  • Use about a ½ inch seam allowance. Sew across the bottom, backstitching at the beginning and end of the seam.
  • Turn right side out and ta-dah you’re all finished. Such an easy project.

Get in your closet and find some t-shirts you no longer want or need and MAKE T-shirt BAGS!

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My intention for this website is to share tips and tutorials that I have found on my journey of life that has brought me joy, improved health, and peace, in hopes that it will do the same for you. I hope you'll join me on this journey!

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Cool Zipper Upcycling

zipper recycling youmakeitsimple.com

As many of you know I’m really into upcycling and recycling items, and clothing is one of them. In this tutorial, I’m going to show you how to deconstruct an item of clothing for some really cool zipper upcycling.

Benefits of Zipper Upcycling

  • You can save a little money
  • Avoid a trip to the fabric store
  • Recycle material (which is always a good thing for the planet)
  • You can have a better selection of zipper colors
  • Add a professional and unique look to your sewing projects by using zippers with zipper pulls that have a little character and charm. It’s hard to find zippers at the store with cool zipper pulls.

What Kind of Zippers To Look For

  • As mentioned before, look for zippers that have unique ZIPPER PULLS.  (There are some cute vintage, leather, metal, beaded, and fabric pulls out there on existing clothing). Keep your eye out!
  • Unique colors of zippers    
  • Good, sturdy zippers for projects that require a DURABLE ZIPPPER
  • All sizes of zippers (short, long and extra-long)
  • Zippers that are in good condition and are free of stains
  • Separating zippers and non-separating zippers

Items To Use For Zipper Upcycling 

If you are getting rid of an item that you no longer want or need and it has a COOL ZIPPER in it, save it!  I have been known to buy items at the thrift store just for the zipper. YEP! There are all kinds of items that you can find a zipper in.

  • Clothing
  • Bags & purses are a good place to find heavy-duty, DURABLE ZIPPERS.
  • Couch and chair slipcovers have LONG ZIPPERS.
  • Jacket & Coats
  • Sweaters can even have fun zippers in them

How To Deconstruct Clothing For Zipper Upcycling

All you’ll need is a pair of FABRIC SCISSORS, a SEAM RIPPER, and YOUR ITEM OF CLOTHING.

  1. zipper upcycling cut out of clothesCut the zipper out of the clothing. This makes the process so much easier! There is less bulk to work with and if you don’t feel like unpicking right then, you can save it in your zipper bin and unpick it later.
  2. zipper upcycling seam rippingTake the end of the zipper and pull the fabric away from the zipper to expose the stitches. Slide the tip of the seam ripper into one or more of the stitches and cut the threads. Pull the zipper tape away from the fabric to expose more stitches. (The first stitches are the hardest to navigate).
  3. Zipper upcycling unpickingContinue ripping threads and pulling all the way down the zipper. (Sometimes you can rip both sides of the zipper seam at the same time).  Remove any cut threads that are lingering on the zipper and place the zipper in a bin or use the zipper straight away on a fun sewing project or craft.

Zipper upcycling is the BEST! Stay tuned. I’ll be sharing some fun ways to use your upcycled zippers both on sewing and craft projects! If you haven’t signed up for blog updates, you can do that HERE. Let me know what you want topics you want to be notified on.

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Happy Upcycling!

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My intention for this website is to share tips and tutorials that I have found on my journey of life that has brought me joy, improved health, and peace, in hopes that it will do the same for you. I hope you'll join me on this journey!

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Upcycling Love | Thrift Store & Consignment Shopping Tips

upcycled love thrift store items

Upcycling and recycling used items is one of my passions and something I do frequently. Thrift stores, consignment shops and garage sales are just a few places where you can find items to repurpose. In this post I am going to give you some awesome tips on what to look for, and some ideas on how to use the items you find.

Upcycling, recycling, repurposed; what does that mean and what’s the difference?

These words are thrown around all the time and in ways mean the same thing, however there are a few distinct differences. Let’s go over them.

RECYCLING

Recycling is the process of converting waste materials into new materials and objects. This process usually involves breaking the product down and making something else with it.

Some examples include: changing glass, paper, cardboard, metal, plastic, tires, textiles, batteries, and electronics into something else.

UPCYCLING

Upcycling, also known as creative reuse, is the process of transforming  useless, or unwanted products into new materials or products of better quality and environmental value. The keyword here is TRANSFORMING.

I love transforming things! There is something so fun about taking an item that is normally used for one thing and using it for another purpose.

Some examples include:

Taking a wool sweater, felting it down and making mittens from them. The sweater was originally used as clothing to keep you warm, and the new product is still clothing, but now it is used to keep your hands warm. Another example would be to take a piece of furniture and changing the paint color or even altering its size or shape.

REPURPOSING

Repurposing is simply using a product to serve another purpose.  Some examples include:

  • Tin bucket as a plant pot
  • An old tin mug normally used for drinking and using it to put paint brushes or pencils in.
  • Using a metal garden rake to hang jewelry on.
  • A wire bike basket to store and display magazines.

What are the benefits of recycling, upcycling and repurposing?

  • Keeps the Earth beautiful
  • Conserves natural resources
  • Saves money and energy
  • Reduces harmful greenhouse gases

Although there are small differences between each of these processes, they all share a common goal of being environmentally-friendly. Upcyling and recycling will not only save you money and save the planet; you can add some cute authentic style to your wardrobe and your home.

Here are a few ideas and tips on how I go about upcycling and recycling.

BE SURE TO WATCH THE VIDEO FOR SOME GREAT UPCYCLING IDEAS!

UPCYCLING CLOTHING

It’s pretty obvious that you can take a used piece of clothing and instead of throwing it away; you can either give it away or sell it for someone else to use. On the flip side, instead of buying new clothing, you can purchase used clothing at a lower rate and save it from being put in the landfill.

Thrift stores, consignment shops and yard sales are all great places to shop for used clothing.

TIPS:

  • Look for stains, holes and strong smells, and avoid these items.
  • Check the fabric content. I personally avoid clothing that you have to dry clean.
  • If you need a pair of shorts, you can always cut off a pair of pants and hem them. (It really is quite easy to do) I have an old tutorial that shows you how. I will be recording a new tutorial soon, so watch out for that.
  • Look for unique style and colors of clothing. (The knit shirt in the photo above, has the cutest grommet snaps)
  • Thoroughly clean items before wearing.

USING CLOTHING FOR FABRIC

What? Yes, I do this all the time. You can simply take an item of clothing and cut it up and make something else with the fabric. Some examples:

TIPS:

  • The bigger the item of clothing, the better. Depending on what you are making, you are going to get more yardage of fabric if you buy the XL or XXL (if you’re lucky).
  • Check fabric content. If you are making a felted wool project, you’ll want to at least have 70% wool. Get more tips on that here.
  • Large dresses and skirts have a lot of fabric yardage.
  • Check clearance racks at stores for new clothing as well as used clothing. I buy a lot of nice new clothing that are on the clearance rack to make other things with. It can be cheaper than buying new fabric.
  • I recommend getting a large bin to put clothing you will be using for fabric and label the container so you don’t get them confused with out of season clothing.
  • Thoroughly clean items before disassembling for sewing projects.
  • Here are some more ideas for upcycled jeans.

HOW TO GET RID OF THRIFT STORE SMELL

Vinegar

Add 1 cup of white distilled vinegar to your normal wash cycle, either hot or cold water. It will freshen and deodorize all of your clothing in your normal wash. If the clothes still smell, repeat. It may take a few wash loads to clear some smells, but it does work. (No worries, your clothes will not smell like vinegar once they are dried).

BAKING SODA

Baking soda is a great way to get rid of smells everywhere. (This is obviously okay for cotton and polyester, but you may want to do a patch test with other fabrics, such as rayon or cashmere sweaters.).

  • Lay the clothes on a towel or sheet, then sprinkling baking soda all over the clothing.
  • Add the piece of clothing to a large zip top plastic bag. Add baking soda to the bag, seal and shake to coat the clothes.
  • Leave the baking soda on at least an hour. Wash the clothes afterwards.

BUYING CLOTHING FOR ACCESSORIES

You can find some cool accessories on clothing to reuse. I’ve been known to buy pieces of clothing for the buttons, zippers, or even the trim. It doesn’t make sense to do this unless the item is on sale or free.

Before I throw a piece of clothing out, I always check to see if it has any cool accessories that I can take off and save.

TIPS:

  • Look for zippers that are unique. Zippers can easily be removed from items of clothing. Using a stylish zipper can really add a lot of charm to your homemade clothing and accessories.
  • Store disassembled hardware in a box where you can easily find them.
  • Keep button is a big jar. Not only will you have some fun buttons for sewing, but you can use them to embellish a lot of craft projects.
  • You can use the hardware from used purses and bags.

UPCYCLING JEWELRY & ACCESSORIES

You can find a lot of cute jewelry at consignment shops and even thrift stores.

This is a good place to find used belts and hats.

TIPS:

  • Look for items that are unique and good quality.
  • Don’t be discouraged by tarnished silver items because they can easily be buffed with a special cloth or liquid.
  • Thoroughly clean items before wearing or using.

UPCYCLING FURNITURE

I must admit that most of my household furniture is either upcycled or purchased on clearance or from the “scratch and dent” section. We always buy new mattresses, and couches, but almost everything else was a DIY or an upcyling project. I guess that’s what you get when you come from a family of ‘DO IT YOURSELFERS”.

My husband and I have transformed some pretty cool furniture over the years. I’m lucky to have a husband who is so handy.

TIPS:

  • Look for good quality both in materials and how it was made.
  • A lot of new chests of drawers are built so poorly and with cheap materials. That is one item that I like to buy used and refinish.  
  • Look for furniture that has “good bones”. By this I mean, has good form and style. It may not be the right color, but that is something that is can easily be changed.
  • If you don’t like the hardware on a piece of furniture, you can purchase new and change it out. Putting a new set of drawer pulls can really change the look of a chest.
  • My husband took this huge television cabinet and cut it down so it wasn’t so deep and made a cute cabinet for our bathroom. We put new handles on it and cut out a section in the doors, gave it a new color of paint, and look how cute it turned out. (The orange cabinet in the photo above).

KITCHEN GADGETS AND BOTTLES

There are a lot of fun ways to use old kitchen gadgets and bottles.

  • I used this old tin to put my paintbrushes in.
  • I have a thing for tall skinny bottles. They make really cute vases and can also be used to store small sewing supplies and office supplies.
  • Canning jars can be used for all kinds of things. In my kitchen, I use the pint size for drinking glasses. They also work well to store nuts, seeds and other pantry items. A pint size jar works well to store pencils and pens in. I have one on each of my desks.

TIPS:

UPCYCLING SHOES

I’m not one to buy a lot of used shoes. I know everyone has their own thoughts about this one. I will purchase used shoes that have been VERY lightly worn. You can find a lot of good, lightly worn shoes at a much lower price.

Where is a good place to shop for used items?

Some of the places to look for used items are: consignment shops, thrift stores, yard and garage sales.

Here is my receipt for my purchases at the consignment shop. (Watch the video below to see what good finds I found this day at the consignment shop).

  • 3 pairs of nice shoes
  • 2 adorable shirts
  • pair of aqua color jeans that I’m going to cut off and hem for shorts
  • 2 pair of earrings

Not bad! 

What is the difference between a consignment shop and thrift store?

THRIFT STORES

The majority of thrift stores are donation based and center on a charity or non-profit organization. Although donating truly ruined items is discouraged, damaged, heavily worn, and flawed items are relatively common. Items are sorted and priced by volunteers, then sent to the sales floor where they are bought by shoppers.

CONSIGNMENT SHOPS

Consignment stores are where members bring in gently used items for evaluation, and the buyers look them over to determine if they are likely to sell well from that particular shop. If the items are deemed a good risk, the shop will sell them and the shop owner takes a percentage of the sale.  Some shops will pay up front.

Play Video

If you’ve never been in a consignment or thrift store, I encourage you to open your mind and take a step inside. Upcycle, recycle and repurpose, you’ll be glad you did.

I hope this was helpful and that you have some new ideas for upcycling.

Please feel free to share some of your upcycled ideas on my Instagram. Tag it #fibersandtwigs

HAPPY UPCYCLING!

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Jan Howell

My intention for this website is to share tips and tutorials that I have found on my journey of life that has brought me joy, improved health, and peace, in hopes that it will do the same for you. I hope you'll join me on this journey!

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DIY Dog Sweater: Simple Upcycled Sewing Project

Keep your pooch warm with style in an upcycled dog sweater. I know some dogs really don’t need a sweater to go outside, but they sure look cute don’t they? My border collie actually likes wearing a sweater, even though with all that fluff, he really doesn’t need it. However, there are some breeds of dogs that could use that extra layer in the cold winter months.

So if you have an old sweater kicking around, this is an easy sewing project that you can make in no time at all. Even a beginner seamstress can make this. I give instructions on how to make this with a regular sewing machine and a serger.

Here are a few before and after shots.

I suppose you could make a sweater for your cat as well.

 

You can use all types of sweaters. The top sweater was made using a cotton sweater and the little red and black one was made from a felted wool sweater. You can also use upcycled sweatshirts and regular fleece fabric as well.

Sizes included in the pattern:

*Measure around your pet’s chest. Breeds indicated are for reference only as breed sizes may vary.

dog sweater Items and Materials Needed

  • Pattern downloaded and printed.
  • Upcycled Sweater, or sweatshirt (fleece fabric could work as well)
  • Sewing machine, Serger (optional)
  • Pins
  • Scissors
  • 2 inch strip of fleece for binding (optional)

Watch the full video tutorial HERE

Play Video

You may also be interested in some other upcycled sweater projects, check them out HERE.

Let me know if you ever have any questions or comments below. I would love to see what you’re making! 

Have fun sewing!

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My intention for this website is to share tips and tutorials that I have found on my journey of life that has brought me joy, improved health, and peace, in hopes that it will do the same for you. I hope you'll join me on this journey!

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Upcycled T Shirts – Ideas and Tips

Do you have a t shirt that you love, but it doesn’t fit anymore or has gone out of style?  Give it a second life by making something else out of it. Here are some great upcycled t shirts ideas and tips.

Knits are “sew” fun to work with and there are so many fun things you can make with them, especially children’s clothing. Although, nowadays, little kids t-shirts are usually cheaper just to buy already made, than to purchase a pattern and fabric (not to mention the time involved). However, if you already have an existing shirt to use for fabric, and an EASY pattern, then making something can be quite fun and save you a lot of money!

Have you priced good-quality interlock knits lately?  They are not cheap and the selection is usually poor.

This piece of knit with 5 % spandex was $12.99 yard.

So if you have a shirt that has good quality fabric, good colors, and design, and you don’t wear it anymore, MAKE SOMETHING COOL WITH IT!

Here are a few ideas of what to do with upcycled t-shirts:

Here are a few before and after photos

 

polka dot knit shirt upcycled t shirts

I used this polka dot shirt to make a skirt……..

repurposed t shirts before

……….. and this shirt to make a comfy double fold yoga waistband for the skirt.

Ta dah!  I added a cute green pom pom trim on the bottom and look what a cute whimsy skirt these upcycled shirts made.

You can get the pattern for this skirt HERE.

Felted wool sweater strips make up this cute skirt. (pattern can be purchased in my Shop).

I used this shirt for the waistband.

This purple turtle neck wasn’t the most attractive shirt to wear, however, it was good fabric and worked really nicely for the yoga waistband on this simple fleece skirt. So instead of going in the trash, or to the thrift store, this shirt came in real handy!

I love cutting strips of t-shirts and winding them up into a ball. Not only do they look cute sitting in a basket, but there are a lot of fun things to make with strips of knit shirts. Here is a link to a video tutorial on how to cut up the shirt into t-shirt yarn.

Go to Pinterest and type in the search ” t-shirt strips” and you’ll find all kinds of fun things to make.

If you haven’t seen my post on how to make these adorable baby beanies from upcycled t-shirts, you can find it HERE.

In a previous post, I show and give some tips on how to cut out t-shirts to get them ready for projects and how to use the fabric for other things.

So, that was a mouth full. I hope you find it inspiring and gives you a few ideas.

Have fun sewing my friends!

 
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My intention for this website is to share tips and tutorials that I have found on my journey of life that has brought me joy, improved health, and peace, in hopes that it will do the same for you. I hope you'll join me on this journey!

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Upcycled Denim Jeans – Ideas and Tips

Do you have a bin of denim jeans that you have been saving? It’s time to get them out and make something fun with them. There are so many simple things that you can make using Upcycled denim jeans. It is a durable fabric that can add a lot of classic style to quilts, bags and other fun projects.

Here are a few fun upcycled denim jeans projects I found on Pinterest.

This was one of my most favorite projects to make with upcycled jeans. I have made two of these. You can find the tutorial for the patchwork quilt in the link below.
Upcycled Denim Jeans

 Skirt

 

The list of things you can do with a pair of  denim jeans is ENDLESS.

Upcycled Denim : How to deconstruct a pair of jeans for recycling projects

Play Video

To get the most yardage out of a pair of jeans, I came up with a system on how to cut them open so they are easier to work with.

Lay the pair of  jeans out and cut along the inner leg seam, just on the outside of the seam allowance.

 

Keep cutting around the crotch and down the other side.

 

Now cut the front open, along the side of the zipper.

 

Cut the back open, cutting up along the side of the back center seam.

 

You will have two separate pieces that lay open and flat.

 

Now you have better access to cut out whatever it is you are making with your denim pieces.

I like saving the cute tags form jeans to embellish other sewing projects.

Simply unpick and top stitch on other projects.

Get yourself a bin and start saving the jeans that no longer fit or have a few stains or holes, and give them another life.

Keep Smiling,

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My intention for this website is to share tips and tutorials that I have found on my journey of life that has brought me joy, improved health, and peace, in hopes that it will do the same for you. I hope you'll join me on this journey!

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A Good Day at the Thrift Store – Wool Sweaters

I have been driving around with a bin full of donation items to take to the thrift store for about a month now. Today while I was out and about I decided to drop them off. It felt great to let that stuff go, however I just couldn’t pass up a quick stroll through the store. I had to go in and see if they had any “good” used wool sweaters for all my upcycling projects. I am afraid it is an addiction. An upcycled wool sweater is the best!

It’s not very often that I find a lot of “good” wool sweaters, but today was my lucky day. Not only do I rarely find a lot of nice sweaters to felt, but GREEN ones. I love green, and a green wool is even better! Shades of green just come in handy for so many of my upcycled projects and designs. Today I hit the jackpot.

The best time to pick up sweaters is in the summer at garage or tag sales. Stores will start putting them on sale in the spring.

So what defines a “good” sweater?

Well on my terms, a good sweater is:

  • One that has at least 70% wool content. (This allows them to shrink up real nice and tight).
  • Has unique, rich colors
  • The bigger the better (Men XL size sweaters give you more yardage).
  • Has fun stripes or simple designs on the sweaters.

Things to avoid when purchasing a wool sweater:

  • Look out for holes.  Especially when purchasing wool sweaters.
  • Really bulky sweaters. When you felt the sweater it will get even bulkier. Depending on your project, too bulky sweaters can be hard to work with.  However, sometimes there may be a need for a real thick nap).
  • Too thin of a sweater. (Again, depending on your project)  Cashmere sweaters are usually thin and very soft. This type of sweater is great for hand warmers and ponchos, but not so great for a pair of slippers.
  • Think about your inventory. Don’t overspend on colors you already have a ton of or on sweaters that are just so, so. Resist the need to buy every wool sweater you find or you will end up with bins and bins of sweaters. (Believe me, sweaters take up a lot of room).

If you are not familiar with how to “felt” (shrink and tighten the fibers of your sweater), here is a link to a FREE online course that I teach. You’ll love it!

This is such a great time of the year to get out your felted sweaters and make something fun. If you live where it is cold right now, like I do, there are tons of things to make with felted wool.

Mittens, HATS, Scarfs, HAND WARMERS, slippers, Valentine Heart Hand Warmers and HEARTS, Bunnies & Bears, Baby Toys, flowers, BAGS, and even birds.

Don’t forget to save your scraps when cutting out your upcycled wool sweater felted wool projects. There are a lot of fun things to make with this crafting gold!

 

So get out your wool sweater stash. (If you don’t have one yet, after one felted sweater project you soon will have one). An upcycled sweater is fun stuff to work with!

Get out your scissors, sewing machines and turn on some soothing music, or a good podcast, and enjoy a day of creation!

The patterns to make most of these projects can be located in my Etsy shop or here on my website.

here are some more sweater upcycled wool sweater posts you may be interested in.

Let me know if you have any questions or any great tips to share.

Jan Howell

Jan Howell

My intention for this website is to share tips and tutorials that I have found on my journey of life that has brought me joy, improved health, and peace, in hopes that it will do the same for you. I hope you'll join me on this journey!

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Sweater Mittens – Easy Sewing Project for Your Favorite Valentine!

sweater mittens

Valentine’s day is upon us and these sweater mittens are a great sewing project for your favorite Valentine!

Keep your hands warm with style!

For those of you who follow me, you know how much I love making things with upcycled wool sweaters. Mittens are one of my most favorite things to make.

I have two different mitten patterns. One is for adults and a large child. The other pattern is for children and infants. The patterns are in PDF format and you can downloaded them INSTANTLY.

Not sure which size you will need? Check out this post which will help you measure the hand you are sewing to get the correct size.

sweater mittens size chart

Adult Size sweater mitten pattern

The pattern includes adult sizes XS,S,M,L,XL,XXL and XX small (child size large).

Infant & Child sweater mitten pattern

We can’t forget the little hands!

Same cozy design as the adult sizes, but this pattern has been modified for small hands, including a basic infant mitten without the thumbs. Made for hands smaller than 5 inches.

Where can you get the sweater mitten patterns?

The easy to follow, printable sweater mittens pattern can be purchased here in my craftsy shop, or in my Etsy shop.
 

Is it easier for you to learn by watching a video tutorial?

I’ve got you covered with this video tutorial! I have three platforms where this video is available.
  •  Skillshare. Read more about it here. (Skillshare membership required).
  • Teachable (no membership required)
  • YouTube  
 
For information on how to measure your hand correctly, you can check out the post here.
 
If you are interested in making some other upcycled sweater projects, you can check these out.
 
 

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Upcycled Sweater Hearts

I love Valentine’s Day!

Here is another idea for you to use up some of your old sweaters, and better yet, the scraps from your other upcycled projects.
Here is a tutorial showing you how easy it is to make these upcycled sweater hearts and  patchwork hearts.  You will have a bunch made up in no time.

Upcycled Sweater Hearts

Cut out fabric pieces using sweaters of your choice.

Upcycled Sweater Hearts

With Right Sides Together (RST) sew piece 1 to piece 2.  Open that up and place pattern piece 3 (RST) and sew together.

If you want to hang your heart, baste a ribbon, jute or thick string on the right side of the heart back piece.

Gather the string or ribbon up and pin in the center of the heart, so it won’t get caught in the seam.

Place the pieced heart top to the bottom piece (RST) and pin in place.  Sew all the way around leaving about a 2″ opening to stuff the heart.

Turn inside out and stuff firmly.

With a needle and thread, slip stitch opening closed.

Ta Dah!

Sew a bunch up for all your Valentine’s, or just fill a basket full of hearts for a fun holiday decoration!

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My intention for this website is to share tips and tutorials that I have found on my journey of life that has brought me joy, improved health, and peace, in hopes that it will do the same for you. I hope you'll join me on this journey!

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Diy Baby Beanie Hats from Recycled T shirts

baby beanie

Repurposing clothing is something I get excited about, and it’s not only from sweaters. There are a lot of things you can do with an upcycled T SHIRT as well. How about a baby beanie?

Baby and toddler clothes are so fun to make with upcycled t shirts because they don’t require a lot of fabric. These beanie hats are so fun and easy to make.

Although I don’t have any little ones around at the time, I was preparing some baby gifts and wanted to add a few beanie hats to what I had already purchased. I got into my t-shirts box (yep, I save a few nice t-shirts as well as sweaters) and found some cute t-shirts that would work for beanies. They were cut out and sewn in 30 minutes.

This pattern includes THREE different types of hats and THREE different sizes.

Supplies & Items Needed

  • Stretchy knit t-shirts or knit fabric

Look for soft stretchy fabric that would feel good on the little ones’ heads.

  • Pattern (downloaded and cut out)
  • Scissors
  • Pins or fabric clips
  • Iron
  • Sewing machine (single needle or serger can be used)

**If using a single needle machine, set the stitch to a small zigzag stitch to prevent seams from popping. 4 widths and 1 1/2 length.

 

1-  Choose an existing t-shirt or purchase 1/4 yard of knit fabric

Remember that this fabric will be touching a baby’s head, so find something that is cozy and soft to the touch. (Most knits are).

2-  cut out the pattern size and pin  on fabric

Make sure the stretch of the fabric is going horizontal as indicated on the pattern. To make things quicker, double fabric so you only have to make one cut. You need two top pieces.

3-  Fold fabric in half and place cuff piece on the fold where indicated on the pattern.

Pin in place and cut out. You only need one cuff.

4-  Place top pieces Right Sides Together (RST).

Pin in place and sew the top sides. Do not sew the V pleat yet.

 

5-  Fold the cuff in half horizontally with (RST) and sew the side seam.

6-  Sew top piece darts.

Fold the top piece together so the side seams you just sewed are in alignment. Pin in place. Sew from the dart end all the way over the top to the end of the dart. Angle off slowly to prevent seam puff. Clip threads.

7-   marking 1/2 way points with pins

With the top piece folded in half, mark the outer points with pins.

8- Hat cuff

Fold the cuff piece in half, with (RST) to form a band. Now place a pin at the half way point.

9-  Putting it all together

With the WRONG side out of the top piece, take the cuff and align 1/2 way points. Make sure the seam of the cuff is not on one of the side seams of the top piece. (You’ll want the seam to be in the back of the beanie not on the side.

Secure in place with pins and sew all the way around.

10- Press seam allowance towards the top piece

Take an iron and press the seam towards the top piece. This will allow the cuff to fold nicely.

11- Press cuff fold

Turn the right side to the outside and fold cuff in half. Press inner fold.

Ta-dah!  Now wasn’t that a snap.

Instructions Top knot beanie

1-  Place (RST) and sew around beanie top, leaving the bottom open.

2-  Follow the same basic instruction from the basic beanie.

3-  After pressing the beanie, tie a knot in the top hat tail.

Isn’t this adorable!

Instructions for Baby bear beanie

1-  With (RST) sew around ears and cuff side seam.

2-  Turn earns inside out and fold pleats, then pin in place.

You can baste to hold in place or just pin.

3-  Place the ears where indicated on the pattern.

Take the other top piece and put it on top of the ears. (RST). Line up edges. (The ears will extend past the edge). Pin in place and sew the two sides.

4- Line up the side seams and sew the dart seam, just as with the basic beanie instructions above.

5-   Apply the cuff.

Press seam allowance.

These beanies make great baby gifts or whip some up for your own little one.

Here are some other fun baby gift tutorials.

Patterns can be found in my website shop.

Some other T-shirt repurposing posts

Upcycling T Shirts 

Repurposing T Shirts – Cutting Out Tips

Happy sewing!

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Jan Howell

My intention for this website is to share tips and tutorials that I have found on my journey of life that has brought me joy, improved health, and peace, in hopes that it will do the same for you. I hope you'll join me on this journey!

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Upcycled Sweater Birds

I love birds and especially at this time of year.  They are starting to appear in my yard and I can hear them chirping when I open my windows to air out the stale house air.  It has been a long winter here in Utah and the gray days are about to put me in the loony bin.  Seeing them flit around on the blossoming trees makes me so happy that SPRING is finally here.  HOORAY! It has been a while since I posted about these fun little upcycled sweater birds, so I thought I would re-post.

Upcycled Sweater birds

If you haven’t noticed already, I enjoy making things out of recycled and felted wool sweaters. I thought it would be fun to see if I could use up some scraps and make a robin, after all I had the perfect orange sweater that would be ideal for the belly.

Upcycled Sweater Birds

It was so much fun making the robin that I drew up a few other birds and after a few prototypes and some funny looking birds, this is what I finally came up with.  I just love my feathery (well felty) friends.

Upcycled Sweater Birds

Bluebird

 Do you have any blue sweaters kicking around that you aren’t wearing? These birds are really quite easy to make.

Upcycled Sweater Birds

Cardinal

Upcycled Sweater Birds

Sparrow

Upcycled Sweater Birds

You can stick a piece of paddle wire to their bellies then attach them to a basket,  plant, or wreath. They make a great PIN CUSHION, and kids love to play with them. I don’t have any cats, but I am sure they would go crazy, especially if you added a little catnip while you were stuffing them.

All you wool sweater groupies, get out your felted scraps and get sewing.  You can use fleece and even just a cotton woven fabric would work.  The pattern is available in my shops.  ETSY shops and Makerist.

 
Happy Sewing!
Upcycled Sweater Birds

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Upcycled Sweater Christmas Stocking Tutorial

My felted wool scrap box is getting a little out of control so I thought I would make up some new Christmas stocking and use up some of the scraps. They turned out pretty cute.  I am going to walk you through this fun Upcycled Sweater Christmas stocking tutorial and let you download my Christmas stockings pattern for free!

If you don’t want to use felted wool sweaters, you can make the stockings out of regular woven fabrics.

Let’s get started

To make a striped Christmas stocking, you will need to cut out some strips of sweaters. You will be sewing the strips together and then cutting out the stocking, just like you would with a solid piece of fabric. I recommend cutting strips that are 2 1/2 inches- 5 inches in depth and 8 inches wide for the upper stocking and 11 inches for the foot part of the stocking. There are no rules here. The color schemes and color patterns are endless.

 

You can also make solid color Christmas stockings from this pattern. Check out some ideas here.

Get the Christmas stocking PATTERN HERE

1) Download, print and cut out the pattern.

(Due to the size of the pattern, you will need to assemble the pattern first) Easy peasy!

Upcycled Sweater Christmas Stocking

2) Cut out strips

Cut out various sizes of strips, or you can cut them all the same size. Just depends on the look you want. Arrange the strips in the order you want them. *HINT (Take a picture with your phone, so you can remember) Then stack them in order.

Upcycled Sweater Christmas Stocking

3) Sew strips together

You can use a single needle sewing machine or a serger. (If the fabric you are using will fray, you will need to use a serger or finish the edges using a zigzag stitch on your sewing machine.

4) Cutting Out front piece

Open up the strips you just sewed together, and press all the seams so they are all going in the same direction. (Decide if you want the seams exposed on the outside or not, and cut out accordingly).  Lay the pattern on top to see if you have enough strips and that they are wide enough.

Pull the fabric taught and pin in place. Cut out.

5) Back piece and lining 

Choose a fabric to use as the back piece. I used a pair of recycled denim jeans. You can use corduroy, sweater fabric or any woven fabric. You only need one backing piece.

Decide which fabric to use for the lining.

Line the pattern up with the grain of the fabric and cut out two

6) Sewing outer stocking

Place the outer lining strips on top of the back piece (Right Sides Together). Pin in place.

Sew all the way around, leaving the top open.

Turn the right side out.

*Make sure the strip seams are all facing the same way as you sew. (You may have to stop sewing and push the seam down as you sew over it).

7)  Inner lining

Place the lining pieces (RST). Pin in place and sew around, just like you did with the outer pieces.

Do not turn inside out.

8) Cutting out & sewing stocking cuff

You can make the stocking cuff out of an existing sweater cuff, or you can use woven fabric as well.

Fold the cuff in half and place pattern on fold where indicated and cut out. (I wanted this cuff to be a little shorter, so that is why is looks a little funny in the photo above).

9) The cuff

With (RST) sew the cuff seam. Turn the right side out and fold in half so the seam is in the center. Mark the outer folds with pins.

10) Stocking loop

Cut out loop on the fold where indicated on pattern. Only cut out one.

Sew the seam, and turn inside out. * HINT use a safety pin as shown to help turn inside out.

Fold the loop seam to center and press in place.

Now fold the loop in half with the seam on the inside.

11) Sewing on the cuff & loop

Take your hand and stick it in the stocking lining. Stuff the lining into the outer stocking.

Line up seams and upper edges of the outer stocking and lining.

Place the loop on the stocking lining, just behind the side seam toward the back. Pin in place.

With the WRONG side of the cuff facing out, place it inside the stocking, lining up pins with the side seams. Pin in place.

Sew all the way around. Take your time to line up the edges of all three layers as you sew. Back stitch.

12) Finishing

Flip the cuff to the outside. Ta-dah!

Stick you hand inside the stocking to push the edges out. Press upper cuff seam and all around the stocking edges.

There you have it!

If you have any questions while sewing, you’re welcome to send me note.

Enjoy!

jan1

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My intention for this website is to share tips and tutorials that I have found on my journey of life that has brought me joy, improved health, and peace, in hopes that it will do the same for you. I hope you'll join me on this journey!

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Make It With An Upcycled Sweater

Do you have an old sweater kicking around that you never wear? Perhaps you can give it a second life and upcycle it into something fabulous. You can make a cozy pair of mittens, slippers, a hat or even a skirt. For those of you who follow me, know how much I love making things with an upcycled sweater. I think creating something from a felted wool sweater is just one of the best things ever! Cotton and mixed fiber sweaters can also be used to make fun projects.

In this post I am going to:

  1. Show you how to make the most out of your sweaters by properly cutting out your projects to minimize any fabric waist. (After all, felted sweater material is like CRAFTING GOLD).
  2. Give you some great tips on what part of the sweater to use for what kinds of projects.
  3. Show you what you can make with the SCRAPS.
Play Video

Let’s begin with some wool sweater BASICS.

In  previous posts I have shared information on

Check these out if you want more information on these topics.

Cutting out

Maximize you sweater fabric by placing pattern pieces as close together as possible. SAVE YOUR SCRAPS! I will show you what to do with the scraps later in the post.

If using felted wool, most likely you do not have to worry about placing pieces on the grain because felted wool stretches both ways equally. (not always). Unless the pattern says to place on the stretch or grain, you can place the pattern pieces any which way to not waist fabric.

What part of the sweater should you use for what?

Here is a little sweater anatomy.

Bottom & Sleeve Cuffs

The bottom cuff and sleeve cuffs are great to use for Slipper Boot cuffs, Pilot & Pixie Caps, Mitten cuffs and Beanies.

To use the bottom cuff for projects like these I cut off 4 inches from the bottom cuff and store in a bin for future projects.

* If you think you will be making beanies or caps, hold off on cutting the 4 inches off. Leave the sweater intact.

The rest of the sweater can be used for all kinds of fun projects.

1 Beanies & Hats

2 Mittens

3 Slipper Boots & Boot Socks

4 Slippers

5 Heart Hand Warmers

6 Baby Balls

7 Mitten Cuffs

Patterns to make these items can be found in my store, my Etsy and Craftsy shops

Get the FREE DIY UPCYCLED SWEATER COURSE here. (NO MEMBERSHIP REQUIRED)!

Here is the link to my Skillshare online video classes.

Sweater Thickness & Texture

An upcycled sweater  will vary in thickness and texture. Some sweaters are good for some things and not so good for others.

Thick, Heavy Weight: Good for slipper soles, bags and anything that needs a little more structure. Not good for mittens, slipper tops or hats.

Medium Weight: Good for most projects.

Thin Weight: Good for lining things like mittens & hats. (Cashmere sweaters work really well). Not good for projects that need any kind of structure to them.

I like to use the inside of the sweater as the outside on a lot of my projects. This adds a different texture and gives some character.

What to do with the felted wool sweater scraps?

You will be amazed at what fun things you can do with a small piece of felted wool.

Mini sweater balls, mistletoe, Valentine hearts, laundry dryer balls, hand warmers and so much more!

Click on the links above to see the whole project tutorials.

When you cut out all your sweater projects, DO NOT THROW the SCRAPS AWAY! Get a bin to keep all your scraps in, you never know when a little piece of felted wool will come in handy.