Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween and Happy Birthday Dear Daughter Cora!

Cora's white kitty costume upcycled from two cashmere sweaters. Little Juniper's Totoro costume was originally made for Cora's first birthday, and the fabric used for the white part of the belly was upcycled from a thrift store found bathrobe. May add more to this post, but it's been an extended three evenings of Halloween activity and birthdays, and I am pooped.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


For some time now, years I guess, I have wanted labels to put in the things I create. So that one day, when my daughters are digging through the boxes of old textiles I saved for them to pass on to their children, that they will know which ones were lovingly hand stitched by me. I think it also adds a personal touch when giving a handmade item as a gift...sort of like a signature on a painting.

Today I finished a group of tags I had in the works a while far back as May 2010 that is...and then our printer died.

Originally I had all these pieces of cut up photo transfer paper organized in little plastic ziplocs and was just going to iron a label as I needed it, some I thought would just be ironed directly to the garment rather than on a tag. These started out in a grid like form on an 8 by 10 sheet of paper and then I printed them on photo transfer paper. I think I used an address label template on a word program and then printed in each block what I wanted...each one different. I like to experiment. I cut close to the words and that seems to keep the labels softer, rather than stiff. According to the directions the tranfer will soften with washings also.

These are the finished tags. Some are loop style, and others will be sewn on like a flat piece. Since it has been a while since I looked at these, some of the name ideas seem silly and not at all me. But that is what experimenting is for...and maybe a few years from now, my tags will evolve and be different. For now, this is what I could do with a printer, transfer paper, my grandpas old chrome sunbeam iron, and some twill tape.

I am mostly leaning towards the ones with 'Ragshini', pronounced rag-shee-nee. It's pretty simple and has a simple personal story behind it. For those who know me, I am open to suggestions for new names. I tried coming up with something redhead in the name, but nothing is hitting me like a brick so far.

I had the idea of using a continuous length of twill tape, and wished I'd have thought of it sooner in my pressings. It could work well to store them on the twill tape this way and wrapped around an old wooden spool, especially if the labels were consistent in their design, which eventually I should do for simplicities sake, and when I decide what I like the looks of best.

It was fun to see the final product of these labels with my daughters name. Next time I might do her full name including last, as I always find it remarkable to find a piece of history like an old crazy quilt, with a full name written in ink somewhere on the fabric.

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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Birthday Bag!

Cora's friend Ella turned six recently, and for her birthday, I made her a little bag. I am not good at thinking of what a kid might want, and like even less going to look in a big box store for toys. I thought a multi purpose bag would be the answer. It could carry art supplies, toys, a picnic lunch, or be used as a beach bag, and it won't ever be mistaken for someone other than ella's, since it is 'one of a kind'. This was a really fun project to make. I loved the challenge of making the letters, and Cora helped by picking out colors for the straps from my 'worms' pile.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Technical Difficulties....

Having some technical difficulties with my photo program, blogger, and e-mail, hope to be back shortly....

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Caught Up In The Details...

It has been exactly a month since i posted on this sweater. The reason I haven't finished it, is because I got caught up in the details. It hasn't taken me all this time to stitch every little pussy willow bud, but since i always have a number of projects in my work basket, I just work on them in bits as I find a few minutes here and there. When I dreamed up this was going to be entirely different. I had a silk tie picked out that I was going to use to trim the sweater, and it was going to be a cardigan with vintage buttons. After playing around with it for a while though, it took an entirely different path.

Baby sweater in progress...

I wasn't sure how I should attach the pussy willow flowers, so I experimented with a couple different variations. The bottom one looks like an albino coffee bean, and the second one up is fine , but in the end I decided to do a stitch that wouldn't show. The top three are stitched on using a hidden stitch, which I just made up as I went, but I think there is really a stitch called that. I used Nymo beading thread, and ran it through beeswax each time I applied a new flower, however I think regular thread would have been adequate.

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Saturday, May 7, 2011

'Out and About'-Spring Shorts From Pants

My daughter recently had the opportunity to spend time with her good friend Connor for a playdate. When we arrived at their house, Connor came running down the stairs in the most perfect pair of kids least in my book. What started out as a pair of cargo pants that had endured a long hard winter and school year....turned into these fun shorts with the help of some cropping and hemming restoration by his mom Heidi. Connor then created his masterpiece using Crayola Fabric Markers.

Cora's friend Connor modeling his awesome one-of-a-kind-shorts!

What a great alternative canvas for kids!

Fun details on the reinforcements of the pockets.

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Spring is the time of year to reevaluate last years spring wardrobe and clothes worn from the past school year, for the potential to upcycle them into a garment that will last through another season. These shorts are a fantastic project for kids, and a great way to teach them about upcycling and reviving something worn. Thanks to Heidi and Connor for the inspiration. All Photos by Heidi Eyestone.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Upcycled Onsie into a New Dress

The other day as our family was getting dressed and ready to head out for the day, I realized that both my daughter and I were wearing the bottom half of a cashmere sweater, but upcycled in different ways. Pictured here is me wearing a cowl that is the bottom half of a cashmere sweater, and the skirt part of my daughters dress is also the bottom half of a cashmere sweater.

I just finished the dress, hat, and bottoms last week...still have to finish the booties...

Notes on the Dress: This was a really fun project to tackle, but also sat on the back burner for a while after I had started it, due to running into questions regarding the stretchability of the waistline once the basting stitch was in, and uncertainty in what stitch to use with the gathers so that the skirt and onsie together could stretch. I never did figure that out, and near as i could figure, i would have to pull out the basting stitch carefully after sewing the gathered skirt to the onsie if i wanted the whole works to stretch. also my gathers slide back and forth slightly. why is this? Is it because I am using a loose knit fabric? Perhaps a second time around, I'll experiment a little more and see what i can figure out. It turns out that my onsie was wide enough to not have to be concerned about the skirt having any stretch to it.

Notes on the bottoms: Originally I cut the bottom of the onsie with enough extra on top with what i thought would be adequate to just add elastic to the waistband, but i decided to attach a wide waistband for the comfort factor. I cut fabric from a t-shirt to make the waistband.

Notes on the hat: The hat was made utilizing the short sleeves of the cashmere sweater if i remember right, so i didn't have to hem the edge of the hat. In the photo she is wearing the hat so that the seam is down the midde of her forhead which makes it look like a peter pan pixie hat. It was made intending for the seams to go on the sides.

For the dress project, the sweater was not felted, but after cutting it up, I lightly felted some of the smaller remnants for the hat, and booties. For the cowl, the sweater was also lightly felted.

Photo story below, and showing the bottom half of the onsie.

Discovering mama's sewing drawers for the first time.

ooooh, what are all these colorful things inside?

Beginning to empty the thread drawer. (notice large stash of merino sweaters for upcycling on the side of cabinet)

I have been challenged with picking a name for this post. Here is the list i have come up with:
Upcycled Onsie Dress
Two Rectangles(this one's a little more abstract)
Extend the Life of an Old/Outgrown Onsie
Juniper's New Dress
Transform an Old Onsie into a New Dress
New Life for an Old Onsie

Sunday, May 1, 2011

MayDay Parade 2011-'Out & About' in Minneapolis

I am trying out something new on my blog, and calling it 'Out & About', where I will feature upcycled wear or upcycled things that I see while we I am out and about. I would like to make this a regular weekly feature, however, for now I will post from time to time as I make new discoveries.Today we ventured up to the MayDay Parade in Minneapolis. I won't elaborate too much on this since there are people who can write much better about such an event than i could and you can probably find oodles of photos and articles on the internet by just typing in a few key words. But let me tell you...what a feast for the eyes, such a lively celebration and wonderful way to welcome and celebrate Spring. Coming from the small town that we live in now, I just LOVE seeing all the eclectic people that the MayDay parade brings out. I personally think the people watching is as good as the parade watching. If you want to read more about MayDay Parade, visit

Happy May Day!!

One block into our hike towards the parade after parking our car, we spotted this...

You can see the inside of the car vaguely in this photo. the seats were heavily decorated with pins all over. Since i was taking the photos i didn't have a lot of time to really look carefully at all the detail on the car. I also didn't notice the sign in the window until viewing my photos later.
I could've spent a really long time studying all the detail of objects adhered to the car.

Cora spotted one of two little pet shops found on the car.

I spotted these legwarmers from a distance walking through the crowds of people. I suspected that they might be sweater sleeves, though they looked convincingly handknit, and had me wondering...she confirmed that they were indeed sweater sleeves.

Close-up on the legwarmers...I love the earthtones and subtle stripes in these.

How's this for "up-cycling"?

A jackelope made from cardboard boxes...

This kind hearted and artful woman obliged twice for photos, once, when I spotted her awesome patchwork scarf, which she handmade as a gift for her husband...upcycled from felted wool sweaters...

and later, I spotted her unique patchwork hat. I had a chance to learn a little bit more about her and found out that she is the artistic director for Procession of the Species in Madison, Wisconsin. Here is a link to their webpage,, and an interesting article on Laurie's involvement in being the founder of the Madison Procession of the Species, here.

From what I could tell the hat was made up of felted sweater pieces that were zig zagged stitched together which she also handmade, and which I am now inspired to make something like this for my own noggin.

What a great day to be surrounded by such vibrancy and individuality. The weather was biting cold, but back home after and hour and a half drive, our rosey red cheeks flushed from the cold, reflected a day well spent, enduring the elements and gaining new appreciation for the beginning of spring.

That's all for this weeks 'Out & About'...hope you've enjoyed the content as much as i enjoyed pulling it all together.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Nelco 310B

Of all the things i hadn't planned to do...I bought a sewing machine at a rummage sale today...and tonight, here it sits on my kitchen floor, after a thorough primping and awaiting an oiling...and best of all, it seems like it's in good working order...and it was $5.00! be continued


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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Leggings for Cora...

I finished a second pair of long johns or leggings for Cora the other night. for some reason the crotch area is bunched in a funny way in the photo. Leggings are upcycled from a merino wool sweater.
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you can see my unique seam across the middle of the butt. i used orange thread to contrast the pink. The challenge in doing the butt, was that i wanted the ribbed collar of the original sweater to be the waistline for the leggings, but without having to cut it off and resew it back on. After folding a few different ways t achieve a good butt shape, and trying the leggings pinned up on cora, the inside of the leggings was looking like i was experimenting in origami. wished i had thought to take a photo of that. After cora wore these for a day, i noticed the vertical seam in the but was coming apart. ah ha, when i started sewing these a couple months back, i sewed using a straight stitch. i have been in the process of learning about sewing with knit fabrics, and read that there is a steep learning curve when using a sewing machine, perhaps vs. using a serger? i now know that a straight stitch is not adequate for knits, since the fabric needs to be able to stretch, and if you stretch a straight stitch in a fabric that wants to stretch, it just wants to pull those threads apart. It needs boinginess. think of it like a straight stick vs. a coily slinky. the slinky has stretch, and can be extended. if you pulled on the stick, it can't stretch. the stitch has to be able to stretch with the fabric that is also stretchy. there, i said it in a number of different ways, and hope some of that makes some sort of sense to any readers.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Warning: Super Long Post Ahead!

I had the opportunity to attend the "World's Largest Textile Garage Sale" over the weekend in St. Paul. I met some awesome women, saw some awesome fiber arts, and came away with some awesome finds. Did i mention this was an intensely awesome sale? To learn more about the sale, go here, and to see more photos of the event, check them out on facebook.

Update 4/20/2011: I just found this wonderfully written blog entry from another woman who attended the sale. Neat to see a different perspective. Since i can't yet figure out how to do links, here is the address,

So much stuff! "A Room Full of Dreams"

Another view of the fabrics! This is just a third of the room. You can't see the tables of yarn, notions, patterns, or odds and ends. There was also a room dedicated to books, knitting patterns etc. and the silent auction room with all the sewing machines, sergers, paper maker, looms, spinning wheel, etc, etc.

My pile of fabric from the first night...i could've gotten more though I was trying to not acquire too much, and not to mention the piles were overwhelming and i had a limited amount of time to see everything the first night.

Except for the top fabric which was labeled JoAnn's, I think the rest in this pile are vintage fabrics. The bottom bluish fabric in the pile and the background for most of these photos, is the thickest softest flannel. I wonder how old it is? It was labeled as a quilt backing material, and is sewn together down the middle in a funny way on one of the two pieces that i got.

This is such a unique and funky fabric, vintage i am sure...this one probably would have been snatched up right away at the sale, however it was folded inside out and hard to tell what the design was. my eye caught the detail, and i am happy to be the new owner of this fabric.

More lovely wool sweaters....the green lovat is my favorite. it is wool, with 5 percent cashmere...and has shoulder pads of the same fabric sewn in. The arms of that sweater will most likely become toddler pants.

The orange sweater looks like peach sherbert in this photo, but it is really orange. One lady who was shopping was eyeing the brown sweater in my cart, she was also a redhead. If i would have thought sooner, i could have cut the sweater and given her half, since i mostly wanted the brown for a smaller project.

I got all of these wool sweater scraps plus more not pictured for $1.00! There are some large remnants here, and sleeves! The diamond scraps are gorgeous tweeds. The cabled sweaters almost look like cotton, instead of wool, and are really soft...i have not come across wool of this texture and now am curious about it.

Buttons....oh buttons...what can i say...i certainly didn't need any more vintage buttons, however their scuptural appeal and detail was just too irresistable. This was my biggest purchase at the textile sale.

The biggest celluloid buttons are huge if you cannot tell by the photo. The stars will probably end up on a dress for Cora...the unusual septagon shaped donut will be turned into a unique necklace for me...

Beads, more buttons, and a pretty mother of pearl buckle.

Between the two days there, these are the tools i found...I had been wanting the rug braiding crimps for a while but couldn't bring myself to buy new, so that was an unexpected surprise to find those. There are measuring sticks and tapes, various needles including felting, leather, and doll needles. I also found a selection of various size bias tape makers which i had already bought a couple smaller ones at JoAnn's, but didn't have the really big sizes yet. Vintage hoops that have early patent dates on them, and directional quilting pins that I will use for regular sewing, not necessarily quilting. I have come to really appreciate using flat head pins for sewing, so i was happy to find these, especially since they are expensive to buy new.

Practical notions...The cuffs are vintage, and a wool/cotton blend. Snaps, a zipper, various size elastics, and snap tape. You just never know what you'll find that you didn't know you needed at one of these sales.

The beads from the previous photo all layed out. These are all glass.

Fun stuff for Cora...fabric scraps, yarn, googly eyes, a crochet hook, some pretty shells, a belt weaving loom, and fabric pastels. I remember using fabric pastels when i was in elementary school, and i still have the shirt that i made in Kindergarten.

Loved finding this knit fabric, since i am really into making comfy waist bands for my girls pants. I did a burn test on little bits of each of these to see if they were synthetic or natural. i was hoping for cotton, which the top two seem to be...but my big hope was that the bottom raspberry fabric would be a knit wool, however according to the burn test. it is not...will have to figure out if it is at least part wool.

Chambray...I have a love for simple chambray fabrics. they have an old timey appeal... This piece will probably become a dress for Juniper. I already know the pattern i want to use.

These unique scraps of fabric I found between two days of shopping. The ice cream cone piece is a little bit loud for my tastes, but could make a funky kids apron.

A vintage UFO. I learned something new. There was a whole table of UFO's at the textile sale. UFO stands for Unfinished Object, or outfit, i think. This was one of two that i picked up. It is a pair of vintage pajamas. These are cute, but i am looking forward to upcycling the fabric into something else.
Posted by PicasaYummy yarns, all wools. Below Photo: 100% mending wool.
At 3:00, the bag sale had to get a timed ticket to reenter, and i didn't know this so i ended up being in the last group of people, which meant much of the tables were swiped clean...i still found some goodies, some natural cotton, vintage iron on letters, a vintage child's pajama pattern, and some more odds and ends of fabric, all for $1.

i love this little piece of fabric that i found loose on a table during the bag sale...i will use it as a patch, but i would love a larger piece to make some kids pants or a funky hat for one of the girls...
the quality of this fabric is only seen up close in is a heather gray sturdy, and quality 100% cotton knit. It was the other UFO that i found, and came with a pattern, but i left the pattern behind for someone else to play with.
After a long day of meeting lots of new people who had great big smiles of adoration for me and talked to me lots, and getting toted around by mama while she shopped, and gave me odd things from the tables to play with, I am pooped. Now that i have just had a really good nursing from "mama bao bao" I will just pass out here so mama can enjoy one last hurrah at the bag sale...

one last thing i wanted to mention was something i overheard in a conversation between two woman as i shopped the bag sale. Referring to all of the piles of projects, tools, and mounds of fabric in the room, she said, "...This is a room full of dreams....someone had ideas and plans for all of this stuff..." I can't remember her words exactly, but it was something like that. I love thinking of all of that "stuff" as "dreams"....and now those dreams can become anothers dreams or their dreams come true...