Upcycled Crocheting

I have been waiting a long time to finally get the motivation and time to work on this project! Floating around Pinterest are tutorials on “no-sew” rugs. I was particularly drawn to these two:

Both are crocheted rugs – the first using rope and the second using old sheets. Last summer (so long ago!) my mother-in-law gave me several old sheet sets. Some sheets went to my classroom (many uses for them there) and others were reserved for this crazy crocheting project. I was a little intimidated by cutting the sheets into strips and crocheting. I have always admired crocheting, but have never mastered it.

I started a little smaller – with a trivet (for sale on my Etsy). The fabric is yellow jersey knit that I found in the remnants section of Jo Ann’s. I had tried to make a dress from the fabric, but when that failed, I cut to fabric into 3 inches wide strips and sewed the ends together with 1/4 inch seam allowance. I crocheted the circle in double crochets with a size S hook.

My problem with crochet has always been that I pull the stitches too tight, which results in warping. I love the large hook because it is plastic and really easy to work with. The jersey knit, however, was a little challenging due to the elasticity. Also, some strips of fabric were wider than 3 inches, which resulted in a lot of bulk. After a practice round with the trivet (actually, I probably unraveled it at least 3 times before I was happy with the final product) I gave the sheets a go.

Flannel Sheets
Shredded SheetI used a top sheet and fitted sheet in the pattern pictured above. The sheet set is flannel, so I though it would feel great underfoot. I started by removing the hems and elastic from the two sheets. Then I made small cuts, every 2.5 inches along the top. Along each cut, I ripped. Ripping the sheets into strips was way faster than cutting – especially working with queen or king sized sheets. I didn’t even bother sewing the ends together like I did with the yellow knit, I just tied the ends together.

Starting The Rug

HalfwayFor the rug I used my size S hook again, this time working a rectangle is doubles. The second photo is after I used up the sheet. At that point the rug measured 28 by 12.5 inches.

Rug TextureI love the texture of the rug. You can see that as you work the stitches, sometimes the wrong side of the fabric shows. Also, the ripping leaves raw edges, but I like that.

Finished RugHere’s the finished rug in the kitchen. With two sheets the finished the rug measures 35 by 20 inches. I am really happy with the finished product. It’s fun to walk on! I am not sure about these colors in the kitchen though…

Foyer Rug in FoyerI really love how the rug looks in the foyer. I think the speckled colors of the rug pull in the floor, walls and window coverings. The only problem is that the rug is so thick the door can’t open!

I really enjoy working with the sheets. It was much easier than crocheting with yarn. Of course, that might also be credited to my giant hook. The rug took about 4 hours to make, while watching some TV, of course. I build up a good rhythm with the double crochets.

Anyone else crocheting with unusual materials? Crocheting tips for me? Where should I put this rug?

Mama’s Got a Brand New Bag

Well, that depends on how you think of it.

CaprisI had this old pair of capris that I wanted to do something with. I love the fabric, and they are in great condition, but they were a few sizes too big for me. They were my grandmother’s. I thought about tailoring them to fit me, but I don’t know much about pants, and that would involve a lot of deconstructing. Instead, I decided I could use a new purse.

LegsFirst I cut the legs off, as close to the crotch as possible. One leg will be the outside of the bag, the other leg the liner. I took the liner leg and took in the side seams 1/4 inch, to help it better fit inside of the other leg.

Reused Zipper

Zipper PocketOn the liner leg I attached a zipper pocket. I like a zipper pocket for holding my phone and chapstick inside my bag. The zipper was one that Jeremy removed from an old duffel bag he deconstructed and disposed off. I used half of the one pictured.

To make the pocket, I used my typical zipper pocket tricks (as seen here). I first attached one side of the zipper to a rectangle of fabric (cut from the butt of the capris). Then I attached the other side of the zipper to the liner leg. Usually these pockets are formed by being sewn into the seams of the bag, but in this case the side seams were already closed. I just stitched around the perimeter of the fabric with a strong zig-zag stitch. To hide the ends on the zipper I folded over a small rectangle of fabric and stitched its perimeter. You can see how unattractive the uncovered right end of the zipper looks.

Bottomd of Liner and PurseI cut these two rectangles for the bottom of the bag – grey vinyl for the exterior and capris for the interior. To determine the size of the bottom (3″ x 14″) I held open the wide end of the leg by the side seams, in a rectangular shape and measured the opening.

Bottom AttachedHere is the exterior of the bag. The open end of the bag is the ankle of the pant leg. I cut off approximately 4 inches of the open end.

StrapThe strap of the purse is also a reuse. It’s a black corduroy strap that buckles on both ends. It was on the bag I was previously using. I damaged that bag pretty bad, so I figured I would at least rescue the strap for this new purse.

The installation of the strap is pretty easy, all I have to do is attach the two buckles. I inserted the lining into the exterior of the bag (wrong sides together). I folded down the tops of both fabrics, and inserted the buckles between their folds. I then stitched along the end of the fold.

Attached BuckleHere is an installed buckle. It’s difficult to see the stitching, because I used grey thread.

Finished BagHere’s the finished bag! It’s a little strange shaped, but I like the overall look.

Inside of Finished BagFinished BagThis project was fun because it challenged me to reuse as much as I could. Also, it is a different approach than I usually take when making bags. I normally attach the lining to the exterior of the bag and end up turning the whole thing right-side out through a little hole in the bottom of the lining at the end. This time I just inserted the finished lining into the exterior of the bag.

Anyone else working with unusual materials? Trying old projects a new way?

Pallet Shelf and Nautical Wall

I’ll just cut to chase:

Nautical WallAfter updating the bench with a new cushion cover and relocating it, I wanted a way to make the bench blend in more with the media room. Jeremy received the octopus/squid art for Christmas and we had not yet found a place for it. The art is printed on plywood, so it compliments the wooden bench. I also have my ship art (that I made here) so I decided to seek out other elements for a nautical themed wall.


BarometerThe barometer and weathered pulley are from an antiques shop in Annapolis. The barometer is British made. It’s difficult to tell if it is working properly or not, but the hands have moved (on their own) over the past few days as the weather has changed (it reported that today was windy and cool). There was a larger, way cooler barometer at the shop, but it was $235 while this one was $35. The man at the shop estimated that the more expensive barometer was WWII era. There were several pulleys at the shop but I like this one best because it is wooden and metal. Most of the others were completely metal, and more rusted. This one is weathered, but not damaged.

While selecting pulleys Jeremy and I brainstormed how to display the pulley. Hang it by the hook? Lace rope through the pulley and hang the rope from the ceiling? Then we decided we could display it on a shelf. Then Jeremy got the crazy idea to make a shelf from a pallet.

PalletYou might remember last week I mentioned that a pallet was one of the many things crowding our garage. Now that the garage was organized, Jeremy decided to put the workspace to use. He started by lightly sanding the rough pallet with his orbital sander.

Sanded PalletJeremy sanded the boards just enough to smooth them out, but not enough to remove the great texture that’s pictured. I liked that you could see the blade marks from when the boards were first sliced. After some sanding, Jeremy just chopped off a section of the pallet to form a shelf.

Pallet ShelfHere is the sanded pallet shelf, ready to be treated. In this photo, the top left corner of the shelf has already been treated with Behandla polish from IKEA. We purchased this sealant for my table in the craft room. It seals and protects the wood without needing to be sanded like varnish. It is also less toxic.

One Coat Two CoatsJeremy gave the shelf (top, bottom and sides) a coat of the sealant. As you can see, it brought back the rich colors that were “lost” with the sanding.

Hanging the shelfTo hang the self, Jeremy inserted a small 2×4 block into the shelf. He pre-drilled three screw holes into the block for mounting. Then Jeremy attached the block with three of the original pallet nails through the top of the shelf. I held the shelf in place while Jeremy screwed the block into the wall. The center screw is in a stud and the other two are in drywall.

Finished ShelfTo hide the mounting mechanism, Jeremy wedged in another piece of wood from the pallet.

Pulley on the ShelfThe pallet shelf is rugged and weathered like the pulley. I love that the shelf is imperfect. A shelf like this would be great for an entryway. Below the overhang you could mount some hooks for jackets or keys. Jeremy likes the shelf because it cost zero dollars.

Nautical CornerWe’re really happy with how everything turned out. There are so many interesting things happening in that corner of the room. All the different wood tones bring a warm element to the cool greys, blues and greens in the room. The nautical theme continues a little onto the mantel, where the ship art still resides with our vases of stones from the beach. Definitely still keeping my eyes open for an anchor or small ship’s wheel to add to the wall. A wheel would look awesome over the mantel.

What do you think or this nautical arrangement? Totally love Jeremy’s pallet shelf?

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”TheManic Mondays at Serendipity and Spice

Scrap Flowers

I love sewing, but I have accumulated a lot of scraps. I picked up the book Fabric Leftovers by D’Arcy-Jean Milne for ideas on how to use up said scraps. I decided to try the fabric flowers project.

The petals for the flowers are made from squares. I started by cutting my cotton scraps into squares of different sizes – ranging from 2″ to 4″. To make the petals you fold the squares along the diagonal to make a triangle, then you fold the triangle in half. Then you baste along the raw edge and gather the bottom of the triangle to make a petal shape.

Next, you string the petals together. The book recommends 5 petals per flower, but I made a few with 4 and 6 petals.

Use a button and floral wire to make the stems. Lace the wire through the button holes, and insert the wire through the center of the flower. I used hot glue to secure the button to the center of the flower.

With my collection of blue flowers I put together a basket arrangement:

I made leaves by gluing single green petals to floral wire:

And put the arrangement together with the following supplies:

Baskets, dry foam (oasis), and Spanish moss. I picked up these items from Michael’s, for about $15. I plan on making 5 arrangements, so that’s around $3 per basket of flowers. I’ve only finished one so far:

But I am halfway to completing my cowboy arrangement:

I think the arrangements are super cute. It’s fun to put the different color combinations together. Are you a fan of these scrappy flowers?

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Skinny Ties

You might not know this, but Jeremy is a fashionable dude. He sent me this blog and asked me to try transforming some of his wide ties into skinny ties.

Jeremy let me practice with this red silk tie. It’s not one of his favorites, but it was one of the widest. We researched online that most skinny ties are at most 2″ wide. So, I found where the tie was 2″ wide, and unstiched the back until that point.

From here, I followed the instructions in the post  – I cut the tie form first, then cut the excess fabric from the silk. Then I folded the fabric back over the tie form and used the iron to form new creases.

Next was the worst part – slip-stitching the new seam closed. For me, it was difficult to keep the stitches hidden under the seam. I also had trouble keeping the silk pressed. The end result is that the fabric is not as taught as it used to be.

Here is Jeremy modeling the revamped tie (and his new tie clip). The 2″ wide tie is a better compliment to his thin frame.

So, after I got really annoyed with the silk tie and slip-stitching. I decided to make a tie out of a fabric that I know how to work with – flannel.

The flannel fabric is from the remains of the flannel shirt used for the hot water bottle cover. For the tie innards, I used 1.5 yards of firm stabilizer (possibly too firm). The tie starts 1.25″ wide and widens to 2″. The flannel starts 4″ wide and widens to 6″. I did have to piece the flannel fabric together.

I used my mitered binding tool to make the 90 degree points at either end of the tie.

At either end of the flannel, I folded the fabric in half, and sewed it closed, right sides together, with a 1/4″ seam. When turned right-side out, a nice point is formed. I trimmed back the fabric at the point, and pressed everything nice and flat.

From here, I can follow the same steps as the red tie. I inserted the tie form into the flannel fabric and pinned it at either end to keep it centered. Then I folded over one side of the flannel and pressed it flat. I cut back any excess fabric that hung over the tie form.

Here is the narrower end of the tie. The second side of the fabric has been folded over the tie, and under itself. Now it is slip-stitchin’ time! Periodically I would iron the seam to keep it crisp (and avoid pinning). This time I had to hand stitch the entire length of the tie (unlike the red tie).

Truly, this flannel tie pulls together the jeans and gun belt buckle. I am really happy with how the flannel pattern turned out in tie form. The flannel was easier to manipulate than the silk, but this tie is a bit more difficult to knot. This is primarily due to the stabilizer that I chose.

What do you think of the flannel tie? I plan to make another (or two) from a flannel shirt my grandfather gave Jeremy. Do you have any tips for working with silk? It seems to be a very unforgiving fabric.

Upcycled Organizing

As you may know, Jeremy is a “computer guy”. Not only is he a software developer, but he also enjoys building computers. Hence, we have a bin full of old computer parts.This weekend we dumped out the box in an attempt to organize the components better.

In the photo you can see some keyboards, a monitor, solar panel, various drives and a giant pile of tangled cables. You might also be wondering about the cardboard tubes. Jeremy saw a tip online about using old toilet paper and paper towel tubes to wrangle wires.

First we spread out the mess by categorizing the wires into piles. I am sure that you don’t really want to know about all the different types of wires. Some of the wires actually belong with the A/V wires (yes, we have a box for that too), and other wires were trashed. This freed up some room in the box.

Here are the same wires – only now they are neatly bundled. We have a fun assortment of power cables and adapters. Next it was time to put everything back into the box. I started by putting the lowest priority items on the bottom – namely CD drives and power cables.

As you can see, I stood the taller tubs in the corner of the bin. The shorter tubes formed a layer of the strata:

With the improved organization of the wires, it should be easier to retrieve exactly what you are looking for. Also, through this process we disposed of some items (like finding excess keyboards a new home) and were able to put more computer related items into the box. Jeremy’s mantra is that as long as all his computer parts fit in one box, he can keep whatever he wants. This “one box” mentality cuts down on hoarding. We have a similar rule for Christmas ornaments.

Anyone else tackle some small yet important projects this weekend? Upcycle some cardboard tubes in an exciting way?

Buckle Belt

I’ve had this seat belt buckle in my craft room for about a year and a half now.

It’s from an old Thunderbird. I picked it out from the junkyard when Jeremy and I went searching for a nice seatbelt for his messenger bag. I decided it was finally time to clean it up and make a belt with it. First I scraped the old plastic off with an x-acto knife.

Here is the buckle looking shiny and new, accompanied by the plastic ick. I previously picked up nylon webbing to use as a strap for a bag. Instead I used the webbing to make my belt.

I used coordinating thread, an upholstery needle and a zig-zag stitch to secure the nylon webbing to the buckle pieces. Let’s see the belt in action:

I like the chunky look of the buckle. It makes me feel all “Back to the Future”. The belt is functional, but perhaps a little too bold for dress pants. It feels good to finally put the buckle to use. I can’t wait to show it off with some jeans.