Category Archives: repurposed

Thriving on thrift

I’m seriously addicted to thrift stores, and I don’t want a cure.

I found a girl’s pink t-shirt for a quarter. I knew I would repurpose it for doll clothing. I wish I had a before picture, but here is the after:

  • one doll’s tank top
  • one knit ruffle scarf for dolls
  • one knit ruffle scarf for girls
  • two knit braided headbands for dolls

Just think what I could have made with a larger t-shirt! I also saved a bit of pink knit fabric to use later, and the sparkly M (for Missouri) to applique on something else.

This past weekend I found these two 18″ dolls at a thrift store, for a combined total of $6.50. I already cleaned the skin of both of them using lens cleaners for glasses. I figured (correctly) the alcohol would rid them of most of the smudges. I need to figure out something to use on the purple marker that wasn’t easily removed. The picture above is an almost-before picture of the dolls. I have to do something about their hair, and I’m going to use the ONE shoe as a pattern for making shoes for dolls.


Making do with what it is

I love thrift store shopping, and crafting. The two go hand in hand, quite often.

I am an elementary reading teacher, and right now I have 50 students. I always put up a small Christmas tree in my classroom, and usually have ornaments on the tree that students can choose to keep.

I found a bag full of small round “gold” rings, and my thought was that they were snap-together frames for a craft project. Knowing there were plenty in the bag for one per student, I bought it. Little did I know, they were actually curtain rings. No snap together parts.

No worries. I got them home, fiddled around a little, and decided there was plenty of gluing surface to cut paper in a circle and glue to the back. I got out my new crafty circle cutter and found 1 5/8″ is the right measurement.

I plan to print a photo of each student to put in the center of 50 of the rings.

I counted out 50, and found at least that many remaining in the bag, so I found some scraps and this is what I did. Simple, cute, and I may revise it at some point.

I had a small scrap of pine tree fabric and it covered the backs of three of the rings. A little bit of ribbon, and it’s a simple ornament. I will probably work up a small tribute on the back saying it’s a gift from Mrs. M.

Circle quilt progress

I’m making slow progress.

I’ve worked a bit on the circle quilt. I decided, with a small-throated sewing machine, that I must work from the center outward. The reason it makes a difference is the center 12 blocks have personalized embroidery on plain fabrics, instead of the shirt fabric. To preserve the surprise for the ones who will receive the quilts, I did not photograph the embroidery.

I found that I didn’t actually need to have drawn the square on all 150 circles! Now I figure that out! When I work on the next one, I will draw on only half of the circles. Once two circles are sewn together, the entire outline helps to line up the piece to the next one, and so on, until I have a complete column sewn together.

circle quilt

When I finish sewing the squares with batting to the inner columns, I add one column to each outer edge. Then I press the circle parts down, and I can start placing squares on the columns next to the outside columns. I need the outer edge free for sewing the next columns onto.

If you look at the photo above, you can see the grainlines are all over the place. My bad. I highlighted them in bright green so you can see them too. Yes, the circles tend to stretch when I sew the long line. Next time I know better.

I also love to see the design the stitches make on the back side of the quilt. The stitching looks purple but it’s the same color blue as the fabric. That’s due to lighting, I think.

circle quilt from the back

Something I want to tackle as a future project is to take apart this purse and construct a clone. I love this purse and it’s starting to wear out in places. I don’t think I’ll sew with vinyl, so I’ll be looking for a fabric I think will hold up and look as good.

3 projects going at once

I have several projects going right now, and three that I’m trying to work on through this long weekend.

santa tree skirtFirst, I had copied the pattern pieces for this Christmas tree skirt from a book, Deck the Halls. I currently can’t find the book, so I’m winging it when I have to. The background is blue felt, with Santa’s face curving around the circular edge. The directions say to use small wooden stars, paint them gold, drill a couple of holes and attach them as buttons for the stars in the night sky. I plan to use my home embroidery machine to embroider gold stars in the sky. This is an overdue wedding gift for a nephew who was recently married. I figure the gift isn’t late until Thanksgiving, and I plan to have it completed and sent well before then.

I also have circles. Lots of them.

I had cut these circles about a week ago for my friend’s quilts for her daughters. Instead of using her late husband’s jeans for these, since he didn’t have the numbers that 4 quilts would require, she had bought blue cotton fabric. I need to mark the squares, purchase and cut the batting, and start cutting the shirt fabric squares.

The other project I sewed on today was a doll quilt. I haven’t made one before, but I have the occasion to do so now. My stepson is marrying soon and will acquire a stepdaughter of his own. She’s only 4 and I look forward to meeting her. They are expecting a baby, and because the big sister will likely feel a little left out of things, I planned to make her some doll accessories.

I had bought some “quilter’s grid on point” and I couldn’t wait to use it. The amount I bought was the perfect size to cut into four pieces and each can be used for a doll quilt.

I used pink fabric and some of the floral bedsheet fabric I still have, and made 16-patch blocks. I broke up the blocks with solid blocks from the sheet fabric. I fused the blocks to the grid.

After I took this photo I realized the one-way direction of the white blocks would be going the wrong way. I found that I could peel each off, reposition, and press again. Good to know, I often have to adjust something as I go.

This is the back view of the grid. It is “grid on point” and would be very handy for stitching on a line, but I didn’t use it that way. I folded it between the blocks and sewed each direction. Incredibly fast and easy! I think I may love using this stuff.

I backed the quilt with white flannel, used low-loft batting scraps inside, and bound it with plain pink fabric.  I think Lamb Chop got very comfortable and I think my new step-step-granddaughter will enjoy it as well.

Small Bits

I worked a little bit this weekend on small bits. Sample blocks to see if I want to go further and make a whole quilt.

jigsaw puzzle quilt

I’ve seen this quilt pattern  in photos on the internet. It intrigued me because I love tessellating patterns. I decided to figure out the dimensions and try it out, thinking I wanted to make it for a baby quilt for an expected grandchild.

After doing this much sewing, and the concentration it takes to keep the tiny pieces organized, I decided this little mug rug would be my only use of this pattern. I finally understand the importance of making a test block! Each jigsaw puzzle piece is 3″ by 2″, and the tiny “head” part of each puzzle piece finishes to 1/2″ by 1/2″! Too tiny for me to repeat!

A friend recently lost her husband, and wants a memory quilt made from some of his clothing. I tried describing this method to her, using denim from jeans and scraps from shirts in the centers, and she requested a sample block so she could see what I was talking about. I whipped this up this weekend. Please – don’t ask me how to figure out the size of the square that goes inside the circle. I guessed big, then cut a square of fabric progressively smaller, until I found a size that worked for me. The directions for this quilt can be found here.

Today I’m working on a tessellating star quilt, paper pieced, with only star patterned fabrics. I had started it several years ago and got frustrated with it. I have a half a baby quilt size top done, and I’ll add enough to finish a baby quilt.  No pictures yet, someday when it’s complete.

Three tops and a quilt

No, not quilt tops. Clothing.

First, the quilt. The fireworks quilt is finished and given away.

When I mentioned to my husband that I needed a different fabric for a narrow border, he promptly scrutinized the fireworks fabric and suggested a bright green. I think he was right on with that suggestion, it brings out the brightness in the colors. The mother and father-to-be laughed when they realized I had used fireworks for their July baby.

This top I’m very happy with!

I made it from a thrift store sheet, purchased for $1.25. I have plenty of fabric left over to make something else, like a skirt, or summer pajamas, or incorporate it into baby quilts. I love it when a plan comes together like this!

Two more tops finished, and I’m not as pleased with them, but they will do. The dark floral print below was yardage purchased at a thrift store.

I followed the pattern according to what would be my size, and it ended up far too big to wear. I’ll have to adjust a couple of things.

This plaid fabric was also yardage from a thrift store. The sizing is right, but I think the pattern was a poor choice for me. I may wear it around the house only, or I may grow to love it.

Free for a limited time!

A tutorial for my book purses (my own design) has been requested, and those of you waiting for it have been rewarded. For a limited time, you can download a FREE copy of the pattern for my top-opening, box-style book purses. Click the link below to open a window and you can then save to your computer or print yourself a copy. Please note that the pattern gives you permission to create these purses for yourself or to give as gifts, but not to sell.

Book Purses

If the link no longer works, you may go here to purchase the pattern in my Etsy store.