Upcycle! Make Pillows from Thrift Shop Clothes

I can’t stay out of the Thrift Shops and I can’t stop making upcycled pillows!  Thrifting for upcycling is so much fun because I can look at ALL the sizes with “new eyes” in my quest for fabrics and patterns to transform.

Upcycled to a Pillow
I knew I had hit a home run when I found this sweater with giant polka dots!  It was destined to be a pillow.  

The blouse had a hem that I liked but wasn’t sure what I would use it for until I started putting things together.

Used the lacy hem for the
ends of the bolster pillow

The polka dot pillow was simple.  I used the entire width of the sweater, so I only had to machine stitch the top edge, then turn it, stuff it and close up the finished bottom edge.  Fast, easy, inexpensive and a great accent with the black and white theme.

The bolster pillow turned out great too.  I can’t even begin to explain how I did it….  I just kept fooling around until I was happy.  The black background was from my friend's discarded sweater with moth holes and the lacy end sections are the hem of the white blouse.  I really like the results!

Check out the other pillows I upcycled. 
Transformed a moth eaten sweater, the cut off bits of hemmed
sweatpants and added some interesting buttons.
Talk about 'trash to treasure'!

This one used to be a dress.

Similar to a Pottery Barn pillow for a lot less money.
Remembering Grandfather!
I used his worn sport coats and ties to make
sentimental pillows for all the cousins.


Make Jewelry With Legos

If you are already proficient at jewelry making with beads, you will find this project a breeze.

I recently came across this funny definition…
Feet (noun): A device used for finding Legos in the dark 
So true!  However when your feet DO find the Legos, pick them up and put them in them in the bead and jewelry section of your craft room. 

I have a lot of experience at jewelry making and bead stringing and I wanted to combine my beads with the colorful Legos.  My ideas were plentiful; all I needed to do was to “score” some Legos (hopefully NOT with my feet) and learn how to pierce holes in them.

I used a flat piece for the pendant so I can swap out the layers on the top
and change the colors.  I also made coordinating earrings by gluing on an
earring back to a black flat piece then change the look by adding a red layer.
Since I hang around with a bunch of little boys, Legos tend to be a constant part of the “d├ęcor” around here.  While the boys are working on their creations, I’m thinking more in terms of creating jewelry out of those colorful little bits of plastic.  I finally gave it a try.

Here is how I did it:

• Shallow baking pan (or other metal surface) for your safe work surface.
• Candle – use a votive or jar candle
• #13 or #14 Tapestry Needle (or another type of stout needle)
• Plyers to hold the needle
• Plyers to hold the Lego (a vise or other clamp will work as well but I found the plyers gave me more control and flexibility)
• Rasp or file for smoothing the edges

Determine where you want the holes to be in the Lego and grip it in your non-dominant hand.  With your dominant, hold the needle to the flame.  It doesn’t take long to heat it up. 

Gently touch the hot needle to the plastic and watch as it begins to melt.  Push the needle through and turn it gently to keep the hole round and to achieve the size you desire.  It is a quick process – so do not leave the hot needle on the plastic for too long.  If (not when) you start to smell the burning plastic odor, remove the needle.  If it gets too hot, it will discolor.

The Lego will cool rather quickly and the hole will probably be a little bumpy.  Use a rasp to gently smooth the rough edge.  In a pinch, an emery board will probably be sufficient; give it a try if you don’t have a suitable rasp.

Your Legos are now ready to string!

I’ve had lots of fun comments from the adults but the little boys really LOVE my new jewelry.  A few of them were actually jealous and asked if I would make them something – but more “manly” and they want to incorporate the minifigures.  When I asked them to bring me the figures they wanted to use, not a one of them would give any up.  I guess I will be off to the Lego store to procure some minifigures and surprise them.  Considering I’m always preaching non-violence to these children I don’t think I can bring myself to pierce the heads of the minifigures with a hot needle.  It just seems so wrong.  So I think I will probably wire them up somehow and make a pendant necklace.  Check back, I’ll post the results.


Upcycle a Lamp With Ribbons and a Skirt

I seem to be dreaming about lamps and lampshades lately.  Every old fashioned, broken or damaged lamp or shade I come across speaks to me as a project just waiting to be upcycled.  My son understands this about me and “gifted” me with a lamp to fix up.  It has nice lines and a pewter finish.  It used to have a purple glass globe forming the column.  But it became a bit wobbly, fell over and broke.  Well once again, ribbon to the rescue! 

First I had to stabilize the base so it wouldn’t wobble anymore.  Most wobbly lamps simply need to be tightened.  You might need to remove a covering on the underneath side of the base to check the nut that holds the lamp assembly tight.  If you tighten that and your lamp still wobbles, look for other nuts closer to the socket that might need tightening.  It is such an easy fix!  Inspect the wiring to be sure there are no breaks or tears that could be a fire hazard.  If it looks troublesome, you can pick up a re-wiring kit at the hardware store and do it yourself.  It is a fairly simple project.

I wrapped the column with a length of ribbon to cover the metal.  Then I simply tied on 6”-8” lengths of ribbon clustering them closely to fill it out.  It was fun, inexpensive and very easy!

For my shade, I used another fabulous Thrift Shop linen skirt.  What a find!  The cutout design around the hem of the skirt was just perfect for the look I wanted to achieve.  I had to fiddle with it a bit to get the fullness that looked proportional.  I left the lining of the skirt intact for extra support.  At the top edge I made a narrow hem, then a casing.  I was going to pull ribbon or string through the casing to draw it up but ended up using a piece of 1/4” elastic.  That provided it a little give and made it easier to adjust the fullness.  When I had it looking the way I want, I simply stitched around the elastic and the top frame of the shade to keep it secure.

I am so happy with the results!

For more fun with Lamps and Shades
Make a New Lampshade

Upcycle a Dress into a Lampshade


Make a Ribbon Ceiling Medallion for Your Chandelier

I Love Ribbons!  I have tiny scraps and large stashes and I love them all.  My sister, my favorite crafting partner, and I were looking through my ribbons to embellish her sweater.  That’s when inspiration struck. 

Using a few yards of ribbon, a paper plate and a stapler you can make the cover plate of your chandelier a focal point.

We had just picked up a lovely pewter chandelier at the thrift store.  It is in great condition and has lovely lines but it needed a little embellishment. Ribbons to the rescue!  Inspired by the Ragamuffin Garland from The Nester, I decided to tie lots of ribbons on to the arms of the chandelier.  What fun!  The more ribbon I tied, the cuter it became.

Well, we couldn’t stop there.  Next we set out to fashion a matching ceiling medallion using the same ribbon. 

Here’s how:
1.  Pleat or gather the ribbon and stitch down.  You can do this with the machine or by hand.  Be sure you have enough to make three concentric circles around a paper plate.

2. Slit the paper plate along the radius and cut out a ‘doughnut hole’.  This will curl around the opening for the wiring.

3.  Beginning at the slit on the outermost edge of the plate, begin stapling the pleated ribbon.  Work inward, making three circles.  Take care to overlap so the stitched edge is hidden. 

4.  Tuck the raw edges around the slit edge to the back side and staple or glue securely. 

To install:
If you are hanging your chandelier, tuck the edge of the plate just under the rim of the cover plate.  This will hold it in place and cover the raw edges.  Take care to trim away any excess plate and be sure it doesn’t interfere with the wiring.  We certainly don’t want to create any fire hazard!

If your chandelier is already in place, you can install your ribbon ceiling medallion a couple of ways.  You can loosen the cover plate and tuck the ceiling medallion underneath, then tighten the cover plate.  Or, carefully measure the cover plate, trim your paper plate to the precise size, finish off the innermost edge with a binding or other decorative feature.  Butt the edge of the binding up against the cover place and then just tack the ceiling medallion up using thumbtacks, glue or any other suitable method.

Enjoy your new look!  What fun…