Make a Pillow - From a Thrift Store Dress

This used to be a dress...

Inspiration - too $$$$

When I found this CUTE Chaps pillow that matches my bedding, I scooped it up.  Then I took a look at the price tag and put it back.  Off to the Thrift Shop I went in search of a similar blouse to upcycle.  I can easily make a comparable pillow at a fraction of the cost.  
I hit the jackpot when I found a black and white pin dot dress that buttoned up the front.  When I got it home, I stuffed a pillow form inside it just to see how might work.  I was feeling a tad lazy and didn’t want to put in much effort but I sure did want instant results.  So, I simply rolled up the neck edge, tucking in the sleeves and tied the corners with a cute little ribbon.  Then I did the same with the bottom edge.  Pretty cute!  A quick and easy NO SEW project.

First Try.  Rolled Up - No Sew Version.
After living with it for a couple of weeks, I wasn’t quite satisfied and I guess my energy and inspiration returned as well.  So I took it apart (that involved untying 4 ribbons ha ha!) and started over.
This time I used a smaller rectangular pillow form. I wanted to keep the little “pigtail” corners tied up with ribbon.  So I cut off the excess, made a narrow hem across both top and bottom edges; turned inside out and stitched the top and bottom together leaving about 4” open on each side.  It was easy to stuff the pillow in since the buttons opened.  Then I simply tied up the corners and my upcycled pillow was perfect!


Trash to Treasure

A moth-eaten sweater and the cut off bits of hemmed sweatpants come back to life as this handsome and soft upcycled pillow for my bed.

Oh dear... Lots of moth holes

My friend asked me if I could fix the moth holes in her soft lambswool sweater.  I took a look, but the moths had been way too busy and there were holes all over the front.  She snatched it out of my hands and threw it into the trash.  “WAIT!!!!” I exclaimed.  I’ll make something with it.  It has been sitting in my craft room for a while now but when I was hemming several pairs of black and gray sweatpants, my ideas developed.  Who knew the cut off pieces of sweatpants could be so cute!

Here’s what I did:
Cut various circles from the sweatcloth.
Pair them up, mixing the color combinations.
Fringe the edges about 1/4” – 1/2”.
Starting in the center, machine stitch a spiral out to the edge of the fringe.

The sleeves of the sweater were untouched by the moths so I cut them off the body of the sweater and opened up the fabric.  I laid it out, matching the sleeves and cut out the largest square(s) I could create from the pieces.

I rearranged the circles until I was happy with the look and pinned them on the top of the pillow piece. 

The real fun began when I sorted through my button collection and selected a combination of vintage favorites and some newer ones to finish the center of each circle.

Sew the circle to the sweater fabric as you sew on each button.  (If your circles are on the large side, you might want to stitch it down a bit toward the edges so it won’t curl too much.)

Now finish your pillow by placing wrong sides together and stitching around three sides.  Take care not to catch your circles in your stitches.

Turn the pillow, stuff with a pillow form or Polyfill and hand stitch the opening to finish off your new Trash to Treasure creation!


Personalize Your Family’s Christening Gown

Embroider the baby's name in the slip of the christening gown.

Your gown may be new to your family or passed down from another generation.  Whether it is siblings, cousins or multiple generations who share the gown, be sure the history is recorded by embroidering each baby’s name and the date of the christening in the fabric of the slip.  

CLICK HERE for a tutorial on how to embroider without marking on your fabric.

Keepsake Party Hat for Baby’s First Birthday

Make an party hat!

1.  Use paper to make a cone shape pattern template in the size you want. 
2.  I chose white satin for the background.  Use your template to cut the fabric.  
3.  Embroider the Birthday Boy or Girl’s name and “1st Birthday". (see tutorial)
4.  Add any other ribbon, trim, buttons or other decorations.
5.  Stitch up the seam in the back and finish off the raw edges.
6.  Add a piece of elastic to go under the chin.
7.  Stuff the hat with polyfill batting or tissue paper to give it stability.

When I made my first hat I used plastic needlepoint canvas inside to support the hat.  Then I tried using cardboard.  Ultimately, I found that it really doesn’t need anything other than the polyfill or tissue stuffing.

Picking the trim is the most fun!  I loved being able to use the small scraps and odds and ends that have been collecting in my craft room. 

CLICK HERE for a tutorial on how to embroider without marking on your fabric.

Embroider a Name or Word Without Marking the Fabric

By using organdy, you can achieve just the look and size you want without actually marking on the primary fabric.

Here is the best way to do it! 

  • A piece of organdy fabric (slightly larger than you want your finished embroidery)
  • Plain paper (at least the same size as organdy)
  • Pencil - a soft lead works best but isn’t critical
  • Basting or plain thread
  • Embroidery hoop
  • Sharp embroidery needle
  • Embroidery floss
  • Small sharp scissors
  • Tweezers

1. Using plain paper and pencil write the text you want to embroider. Handwriting gives it an even more personal touch but use what ever pleases you.
2. When you are satisfied with the look and size, place the organdy over the paper and trace your words on to the organdy with the pencil.
3.  Position and baste the organdy on to the primary fabric.
4.  Install the embroidery hoop.
5.  Using a small backstitch, embroider over the pencil lines through both fabrics. (For most lightweight fabrics use 2-3 strands of 6 strand floss.) Learn the Backstitch from Martha Stewart
6.  When you complete the embroidery, remove the hoop and pull out the basting stitches.
7.  Using small, sharp scissors, trim away the organdy.  Leave enough margin so that you don’t risk clipping your embroidery stitches.
8.  Use tweezers to pull out each lengthwise strand of organdy.  Some strands might require a LITTLE tug.
9.  When all the lengthwise strands are removed, you will be able to easily pull out ‘clumps’ of the shorter vertical strands of organdy.

Pulling out the organdy is not nearly as tedious as it sounds.  I actually find it rather fun and satisfying.  The results are so nice and very personal.  You can use this technique for any small line drawing as well.

Some Project Ideas:
1st Birthday Hats

Christening Gown

Make Sentimental Pillows from Grandfather’s Clothes

Cleaning out the closet after Grandfather died, my sister and I felt like we had found a “Thrift Shop Bonanza”, only better.  It was better because of the sentiment we felt about so many of the pieces. 

I set about making a bunch of pillows for all the cousins out of some of the sport coats that still had usable fabric but were too worn to pass along.  I used his ties for the cording and embroidered his name and dates on the back.  For a more casual looking pillow I appliqu├ęd a logo cut from a favorite sweater.  Everyone was thrilled. 

My sister’s FIL came from a dairy farm background and was more of a flannel shirt kind of man.  So she used the button plackets from his flannel shirts to decorate pillows and also used some of the old farm logos to give it even more meaning and personality.  She also decorated tee shirts, aprons and pillows for all the family using the farm theme and the flannel shirts.  

What a great sentimental gesture and a great way to remember the Grandfathers.

CLICK HERE for a tutorial on how to embroider without marking on your fabric.


Another Upcycled Lampshade

I’ve been dreaming about lampshades lately.  I have a stack of thrift shop shades sitting in my craft room just waiting to be upcycled to a new life.  This one is made from the hem of a thrift shop sundress.  The moment I spotted it, with the cute embroidered hem, I knew it would have to take on a new life as a lampshade.  I was so excited to get started that I forgot to take a picture of the dress.  Oops! 

• First I stripped off the fabric on the old shade.  The lining on this one was in good condition, so I left it intact. 
• I cut the hem of the dress to fit the bottom of the flared shade, then stitched it into a tube.
• Next I stretched some elastic across the top edge and stitched it on.  You could also use a gathering stitch to do this part.
• I glued the top edge to the top of the frame of the shade.
• I was going to sew the ribbon trim on to the very top but decided to place it a little below the top for a cute look and it also gave it a little more stability.

I love my new upcycled lampshade! 


This Pillow Used To Be A Sweater

Wanted this Pottery Barn pillow

Found this sweater at a Thrift Store
Created this in about an hour
When I saw this pillow at Pottery Barn for lots of $$$$$ I knew what needed to be done!  The next stop was the Thrift Store where I scored the perfect sweater for $3.76.  I've never cut a sweater apart before so I was a little uncertain what to expect.  I laid the sweater out flat (inside out with right sides together) then stitched three sides of my pillow to size.  I cut the edges of the sweater and was pleasantly surprised that nothing started to unravel. Usually I stuff my own pillows but I had a pillow form on hand so I simply slipped it in then stitched up the bottom edge by hand.  Done! 

I used my sewing machine to stitch up the first three sides.  My machine is pretty sturdy but it was still laboring over the thicker bits of sweater.  When I broke a needle, I replaced it with a heavier duty one and that helped.  I did need to go very slowly and at times help the feed along.  Since this is a rather thick sweater, I think it would be just as efficient and effective to stitch it by hand. It was a fun and quick project so I will be off to the Thrift Store again soon for more fun sweaters to upcycle.