Archives for category: projects

I think we’re starting to get into wedding season. I’m never really sure though – it seems like people get married all year round nowadays, but maybe there are still seasonal times to tie the knot. Does anyone really know?

Anywhooo, I think weddings are a perfect topic to address in the context of upcycling, eco-friendliness, and budget-friendliness. When P and I got hitched, we were pretty proud after the clean up cause we only had 1 bag o’ trash for 40+ people. If you’re looking for some ways to green up your day, check out these tips.

We also did everything for less than the cost of most wedding dresses (YIKES)! According to the president of the Association for Wedding Professionals International, US weddings average $21 to $24,000. That’s more than my graduate stipend…GULP.

My take is that you really have 2 options here:

Pay the money for someone else to take care of things for you OR rein in some of that DIY spirit and get to work!

I chose the latter when it came to my dress (a $40 vintage beauty I bought on Etsy and upcycled!!), plus there are a few more brilliant ideas floating around out there that crafty guys and gals should totally check out.

Here are some neat crafty ideas to inspire for your wedding flowers ‘n things. Fun bouquets, boutonnieres, and corsages made from everything BUT fresh flowers are all the rage right now.

Check out some cool options like this tutorial for making amazing folded paper flowers for a very DIY bouquet!

Be inspired by some of these handcrafted eco-conscious bouquets, like this sweet pink and green bit from Hundreds of Buttons, or this chic paper flower bouquet made from re-purposed magazines!

For all your suits, how about these classy black and white button boutonnieres?

Don’t forget about Moms and Grandmas! Make them feel special with these cool paper rose corsages or (shameless plug), these upcycled flower corsages
by Yours Truly! These make great gifts and they can be re-used for other special events because they are everlasting blooms.

Here’s to DIY wedding inspiration! Stay tuned for more possibilities… 🙂

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This post is dedicated to crafters who:

1. love making crafts for their furball pals

2. love buying crafts for their furball pals

OR

3. have furry critter friends who like to help with craft time!

With 2 gray-striped critters running around the house, there are plenty of snuggle patches to be sewn, yarn to be braided, new catnip toys to come home, and, as P likes to say, lots of “kitten help” whenever I go into my crafting lair. Anyone else’s cats go crazy for piles of tulle and sewing patterns? Or are mine just weirdos? 🙂

Regardless, if you have a critter friend in your life, you will no doubt come across something crafty for pets that’s just begging to come home with you! So, without further adieu, here are some  sweet (and eco/budget friendly) ideas for that special furry someone in your life:

Use up some of your fabric scraps to make a toss toy or something else fun-filled (i.e. catnip filled) to chew on!

Make a ready-to-travel snuggle patch out of an old suitcase

OR a packing crate !

These look WAY comfy, even though my cats will sleep on just about anything. Little Roo is really partial to napping on paper…

Fancy up your furry friend with one of these upcycled flower collars !

It’s possible that my two gray-striped little things USED to have the sweetest little black and white bell collars, but they were frequently removed during the night by collar bandits…

And, for the grande finale…what’s cuter than a little pup with monkey ears? I’m impressed that this picture was taken on an actual puppy! 🙂

http://www.etsy.com/listing/61623140/monkey-pup-hat

I will admit, for all the “kitten-help” I get, on days when they’re too snoozy I do miss them plowing through my craft piles and trying to eat my thread. In fact, here comes my Boo-boo now, demanding to be let on my lap 🙂

If you sew or are crafty in any way then you probably end up with LOADS of scraps lying around staring at you. I have bags and bags and bags of scraps sitting around waiting for some inspiring use. I just discovered a bag recently that I haven’t opened since P and I moved in together (unusual for me since I love opening all of my boxes after moving – it’s like Christmas!!!).

I always keep my scraps because they just seem so useful! But…you know you have a problem when half your fabric supplies are itty bitty scraps. So what can you do? Well, my first thought with super small scraps is to use them as stuffing for other projects. I recently stuffed a small pillow for the chair in my office.

*WARNING: this is not the best idea unless you are fond of lumpy and slightly weird pillows…

If you are not fond of lumpy, weird pillows and other lumpy things, what else is a girl to do?

Well, if you have time, patience, and skill, there seem to plenty of ideas out there. Or if you know someone else who has time, patience, and skill, donate your scraps to them! Here are some of my favorites that I am SO doing…right after I finish writing my lecture and revising that dissertation chapter…

You can use your little bitty scraps and make them into cute embellishments to jazz up your throw pillows .

Or make a whole pillow cover piecing together larger scraps, like this sweet vintage scrap one.

You can turn them into little fabric flowers, and put them on EVERYTHING!!! Well, maybe not everything, P might not be so pleased with that idea…

You can turn them into something like this super cute wreath to fill your house with a bit of cheer all year round (LOVE this!).

Or zip them up into a sweet patchwork bag.

Got any more fun ideas for little scraps and big scraps and scraps of every color? Let me know! Or, I can always fill the world with lumpy weird pillows…:)

Shoes, shoes, shoes! I love shoes! But, in the effort to creatively re-use things, foot wear is one of those categories where ideas are definitely hard to come by.  Shoes get smelly, dirty, faded, fall apart, broken down…how on earth do you magically transform them like some of these other crafty ideas we’ve seen?

Well, if you are totally lacking in ideas but feel the genuine eco spirit, you can recycle some types of old shoes by sending them to various shoe companies, check out this link for more info.

**I sent my old tennis shoes in to recycle because I thought maybe that was better than throwing them away or trying to donate them – they were GROSS! Hopefully they are on their second life as part of a jungle gym or cool playground slide! But, for those of you who are looking for a bit more inspiration than mailing them away, how can we reuse our shoes? See the rhyming skills there? Eh? 🙂

Well, for starters, we can be less wasteful about how much life is actually left in a shoe and RE-ENERGIZE it! Check out some of these neat-o footwear makeovers from crafty people:

Some handpainted vintage boots!

Some chic vegan spats !

Maybe add some beautiful shoe clips !

For the city girl who broke her fabulous heels, maybe try turning one into a …. stiletto planter !

For the country girl, try turning your old cowboy boots into… a fun purse ! Also gotta love the store name: PurseinBoots, heehee!!

For the bookish crafter,  use your old boots to make these teeny tiny book earrings !! Even though I’m a vegan, these were definitely calling my name…  🙂

OK, so once you start looking, there are so many cool ways to re-imagine your old footwear. Got any neat ideas? Let me know!

Note: Do not be confused, the picture attached to this post has NOTHING to do with the content. I am not writing about cool re-uses for funny street signs :), but pictures of t-shirts are a bit boring…

If you’re like me, you probably amass t-shirts without really meaning to. I’ve managed to pick up free t-shirts from buying textbooks, opening a bank account, going to summer camp (loads of t-shirts there), and, of course, being a former girl scout (yikes, you get a t-shirt for just breathing in girl scouts). I even have some old t-shirts from grade school read-ins.  Ok, we are a t-shirt happy nation!

T-shirts are great for tossing on when you go to the gym, dink around the house, chop firewood, and play in the mud, no argument there. My problem is more what to do when I have too many to fit in the dresser drawers, or, if you’re P, when you have too many with holes in them…

So, following the theme I started in my previous post, this entry will focus on creative projects to make (or buy if you have two left crafting hands) from old t-shirts that still have some life in them. My first thought when my t-shirts are too old is to make them into rags to use around the house (thanks Dad!). But, what other fun possibilities are there?

Well, you could make your old tees into yarn
for crochet and knitting projects. This is pretty cool, I have NO idea how to do this.

If you have little ones at home, you can send your tees into this Etsy shop and they’ll be crafty for you. Can I get this made for furry little things too? 🙂

You could turn them into cute little pouches and use them for gift-giving and such (hey now, that’s a good budget-friendly idea!):

If you need something a bit snugglier, you could turn your old tees into… a cute scarf!

Or check out this neat pencil skirt to spice it up a bit.

And, for the finale, drumroll please….You have to love this rainbow hoodie dress, made with an upcycled Carebears t-shirt.

So if you have loads of old t-shirts stockpiled in your house, like Yours Truly, maybe try your hand at one of these cool project ideas. Or donate your fun old tees to the thriftstore so crafty people can make them into fun things on Etsy :).

My major, fun, eco/budget-friendly crafting approach is “re-ware-ing,” so for the next few posts, I’ll be concentrating on creative re-ware uses for particular items that you have in your household. Today, we will contemplate…the sweater. Deep breath in…and out. Move into downward facing dog – ok, on second thought, that’s a terrible position to read a laptop or to try and craft from, so maybe not :).

The sweater – what can you do with your old, worn out, perhaps slightly hole-y (yes P, I’m talking ’bout you), sweaters? I have been wracking my brain trying to come up with creative re-uses because I frequently come across poor misshapen sweaters at the thriftstore from people who apparently are illiterate or impatient when it comes to garment care tags. HELLO, buy a bottle of wool wash and do it in your bathroom sink, don’t ruin that beautiful purple merino cardigan…

Regardless, when these incidents do happen, or you just wear out your old sweaters, here are some neat things to try (or buy if you are so inclined):

Turn that frown upside down and make yourself a new pair of…slippers! Cute, cute, cute!

http://www.etsy.com/listing/64349313/hand-appliqued-felted-wool-slippers-warm?ref=tre-4d28dbc9043b6d91154ff10f-2

Or make some cute little pouches for carrying around little fun things:

http://www.etsy.com/listing/65456766/trio-of-valentines-pouches?ref=v1_other_2

How about this amazing jewelry tray?

http://www.etsy.com/listing/51191798/jewelry-tray-container-wool-felted?ref=sr_list_19&ga_search_query=felted+upcycled&ga_search_type=handmade&ga_page=&order=&includes[0]=tags&includes[1]=title&filter[0]=handmade

Or these happy heart mittens?

http://www.etsy.com/listing/65518056/happy-heart-mittens-for-her-fully-lined?ref=sr_list_24&ga_search_query=felted+upcycled&ga_search_type=handmade&ga_page=&order=&includes[0]=tags&includes[1]=title&filter[0]=handmade

This cozy pillow?

http://www.etsy.com/listing/25491782/upcycled-sweater-pillow-with-needle?ref=sr_list_29&ga_search_query=felted+upcycled&ga_search_type=handmade&ga_page=&order=&includes[0]=tags&includes[1]=title&filter[0]=handmade

Or this lovely festive felted garland?

http://www.etsy.com/listing/65510310/felt-garland-with-super-bright?ref=sr_list_3&ga_search_query=felted+upcycled&ga_search_type=handmade&ga_page=2&order=&includes[0]=tags&includes[1]=title&filter[0]=handmade

I am so inspired, I want to make one of each RIGHT NOW!!! But first I need a good thriftstoring trip to find me some old sweaters. Dang it, I just hate when I have to go to the thriftstore :).

Hopefully these cute and creative crafts inspire you to salvage your old sweaters, or give them to someone crafty who might make you something neat and sweet. If you want to try your own hand at felting old sweaters, check out this handy dandy tutorial:

http://www.craftstylish.com/item/2259/how-to-felt-sweaters

Crafts away! Got any other neat ideas for what you can with old sweaters? Let me know!

Ok, so I am always looking for new ways to turn trash into treasure. It seems like we have so many things that we encounter on a daily basis that get discarded or downcycled because of one major thing: lack of imagination. So I went in search of some inspiration for crafty-crafts to make out of all the products I (or P) used today. Yes, yes, I know what you’re thinking: “You can’t possibly a) remember everything you used today and b) make something super-cool out of everything you used today!!!” Ok, so you’re probably right, but here’s the inspirational collection of items I did manage to find. Maybe try your hand at these or maybe order them from a creative crafty person on Etsy or somewhere:

1. Instead of sitting in our recycle bin, that can of ginger ale P drank (because his tummy hurt) could be…a pair of EARRINGS! Wow – so did not see that one coming:

http://www.etsy.com/listing/49675708/recycled-soda-can-art-dr-pepper-sun?ref=sr_list_4&ga_search_query=eco&ga_search_type=handmade&ga_page=&order=&includes[0]=tags&includes[1]=title&filter[0]=handmade

2. Instead of throwing away that old seed corn sack (ok, I am slightly embellishing the truth regarding the products I used today), it could be…a cool market tote!

http://www.etsy.com/listing/55845997/large-grainsack-market-tote-bag-purse?ref=sr_list_13&ga_search_query=recycled&ga_search_type=handmade&ga_page=&order=&includes[0]=tags&includes[1]=title&filter[0]=handmade

3. Instead of tossing that old bike tire into the dumpster it could be…a neat-o clock!

http://www.etsy.com/listing/64537709/clock-made-from-a-recycled-bike-wheel?ref=sr_list_3&ga_search_query=recycled&ga_search_type=handmade&ga_page=2&order=&includes[0]=tags&includes[1]=title&filter[0]=handmade

4. Instead of putting that old wine bottle out for collection, it could be…an awesomely engraved sign! I do like my glass of red wine at night…

http://www.etsy.com/listing/65277442/man-cave-sign-engraved-recycled-melted?ref=sr_list_8&ga_search_query=recycled&ga_search_type=handmade&ga_page=2&order=&includes[0]=tags&includes[1]=title&filter[0]=handmade

5. Instead of littering the world with old Scrabble tiles, they could be a…cool pendant! This one is really cute, I think. But, for the record, I will NEVER be rid of my Scrabble game–NEVER.

http://www.etsy.com/listing/62627651/sale-recycled-scrabble-tile-pendant?ref=sr_list_14&ga_search_query=recycled&ga_search_type=handmade&ga_page=4&order=&includes[0]=tags&includes[1]=title&filter[0]=handmade

Ok, I’m thinking you get the drift by now. Crafty creative power –> less trash and waste in the world, and cool new things that we can feel good about.

My big contribution to the vision is the simple tin can. What can you do with it? Let me count the possibilities:

1. Poke holes in them (after freezing some water in them) and string them up as mini lanterns. Mine came out horribly ugly, but I’m sure yours will be beautiful…

2. Remove the tops and bottoms and make them into pretty little ornaments like Yours Truly did last Christmas and gave away to everyone. Isn’t that clever? Hmmm

3. Make the tops and bottoms into nifty button pins to go on your market tote – this I have not yet tried, but am still contemplating.

4. Use the ones that have pretty gold coloring on the inside, like mini green chili and olive cans, as fun tea-light holders. OK, pretty idea, but these also get really HOT. Just beware. But they did sparkle oh so nicely on top of the stove at P’s birthday party.

5. ???

Your turn, what else can you do with an old tin can? Actually, are they aluminum now? Got a neat idea? Let me know!

Ok, so this soon after the holidays has me still thinking about better-ing my holiday wrappings. Christmas mornings now aren’t quite the aftershock they used to be when I was a kid — the living room floor a sea of wadded up wrapping paper balls –but I know we can still do better if we channel a bit of creative gift-wrapping spirit.  I had a dream last Christmas that all the little girls and boys would receive their toys in eco-bamboo gift bags and wrapping paper that turned into non-toxic environmentally friendly bubbles once it was torn away…ok, well I suppose that scenario seems unlikely, so what CAN you do?

1. Have a partner who detests gift-wrapping, so they give you all your gifts covered in afghans, pillow cases, and (GASP) plastic bags you’ve brought home from the store because you always forget your tote.  *I wouldn’t mind, but maybe some of you would, so on to #2!

2. Have someone at the mall gift-wrap for a charity donation so you feel less guilty – it balances out, right?  *Ok, well, you get an “A-” for lame philanthropic effort, and a “C-” for eco-friendliness because while you were killing more trees with your wrapping paper I’m sure you didn’t carpool or ride your bike to the mall…Did you? Be honest now!

3. Make dozens of fabric gift-bags from all of your sewing scraps with your endless free time as a grad student. *Yes, my original plan, but it never seemed to come to fruition…

4. Re-use old gift wrap. *Confession: I have ironed wrapping paper before to make it look pretty again. And I intend to  do it again if need be!

5. Find a neat-o seller on Etsy that specializes in cool fun gift bags n’ things. Like these cute hand-made gift boxes:

http://www.etsy.com/shop/ecovintagevegan?section_id=5851963

Or these fun bags/wraps:

http://www.etsy.com/shop/SewPlayfulBoutique?section_id=7589728

Before the next great consumer holiday, here are some #’s to think about (courtesy of http://environment.bluepanestudio.com/sustainability/conservation-tips):

“Americans send two billion holiday cards each year, so just a 1 percent reduction could save fifteen thousand trees.”

“Two-thirds of households buy new Christmas decorations each year […]. If these households diverted just $6 of their decorating budget to reusable items,  the money saved could pay to heat 5.9 million New England homes for every hour between Christmas and New Year’s Day.”

“Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, Americans produce an extra two billion pounds of garbage per week, much of which is gift packaging.  If 40 percent of US households reduced their holiday paper consumption by just two sheets this year, the savings could gift wrap Manhattan Island.”

And that’s a wrap!

Re-ware-ing (verb): To take something old that would have been discarded/dumped/sitting in a landfill and transform it into something new/different and re-usable. Synonyms: upcycling, ???.

Ecofriendly? (check), budget-friendly? (definitely check)

I thought I was brilliant – about 6 years ago I dreamed up this idea that I would launch a company with products made only out of re-cycled clothing. All I needed were some backers, some interns, and a hiatus from grad school (which was just starting…). I kept thinking: “I know there’s no one doing this! I will totally transform fashion consumption!” Oh yeah, I was wrong. LOTS of people were on the DIY/upcycling/reware-ing bandwagon before I even thought about it. But, maybe they didn’t have the clever name I came up with (yesss, clever clever): “ReWare.” No, not a typo. Not meant to be ReWear, but ReWare, so I could stretch it to other things besides just clothing. I envisioned my new ReWare empire, how we would turn every last thing from the thriftstore into something beautiful and new!!! Ok, well that didn’t happen… but 6 years later I’m slowly launching my own little ReWare line on Etsy, bit by bit. I’ve decided I still like the name ‘ReWare’ (even though apparently everyone else has decided to use that name now too) and I am totally on board with the ethos of it.

My general re-ware project starts with a trip to the thriftstore. You have to retrain your vision for re-ware. It’s not about what something already is, but what it has the potential to become. One of my favorite things to upcycle is the basic plaid wool skirt. You know, the old Pendleton skirts that your elementary school librarian wore? Or at least my librarian grandmother did… Discarded, slightly frumpy, lumpy, pleated to excess, but oh so much fabric and beautiful plaid lines! After a good wash, I spend a little quality time with a seam ripper and an iron on steam setting and…VOILA! A beautiful stretch of wool begging to be made into something new. My first project with an old skirt was a sweet little jacket with a sailor collar. I was hooked, more jackets (including one I wear every day in the fall), then a few capelets and some scarves. Then I started making cuffs. Glorious cuffs! They are so versatile and fun…I will fill the world with cuffs.

Need a little inspiration for what you can do with old clothes? One of my new favorite stores on Etsy does totally upcycled things like really cute hats and bags:

http://www.etsy.com/shop/sparkyjones

For wikipedia’s rather dry entry on “upcycling,” look here (and maybe spice it up a bit if you are so inspired):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upcycling

Shameless plug (well, it’s my blog isn’t it?) for my new fun cuffs made out of an old wool skirt that caught my eye at Goodwill:

And here they are on Etsy…

http://www.etsy.com/listing/65083142/plaid-for-you-cuff

So go forth and reware away! Better yet, tell me what fun projects you’ve made from re-ware-ing. I love being amazed by human creative power!

Happy 2011, everyone! New year, new things to do!

This is my humble attempt at creating a space to share things with the world. I’m a grad student by day, amateur (aspiring) vegan cook and eco-crafter with a nascent Etsy store by night. I hope to share some of my successes… and failures (goodness knows we all can learn from mistakes!!)…and little tidbits that pique my, and hopefully your, interest.

My major project this year (already started) is to find budget-friendly ways to make my crafting and gift-giving more eco-friendly. I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve already, but I’m setting out to discover more!

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