recycled bath mat

recently the towel that my husband has been using since college (!) sustained some injuries that made it unusable:

unusable as a towel, that is. as the base for a new bath mat, it was perfect. and so i embarked on a project to dress up our bathroom.


- an old towel
- a yard or so of fabric that you'd like to place your just-out-of-the-shower feet on [i used the ruffle from an old bedspread]
- pins
- needle and thread, or sewing machine


1) cut your towel into two equal-sized rectangles, at whatever size will fit best in your bathroom.


2) iron your fabric, and cut it into strips that are 4-1/2" wide, and 4" longer than the sides of your rectangle in length (so, unless you've cut squares out of your towel, you'll have 2 strips of one length and 2 strips of another).


3) iron down a 1/4" fold on each of the long sides of the strips, then fold in half and iron the whole strip flat, until it looks like this:


then fold back 2" at the short ends of each strip, and iron down.


4) place the two rectangles of towel on top of each other, lined up neatly. then place the strips of fabric under the edges of the towels and fold them over at the crease that you ironed in, so that they create a border. follow the photos below to make neat corners:


5) if you like the way it looks at this point, just sew a straight stitch along the inside edges of the border, being sure that you catch both the front and back edges, and you're all done!


6) however if, like me, you're not crazy about the color of your towel, or just want more of the fabric in the design, or just want to make life more difficult for yourself, you can keep going. i decided to fill in the middle with a lattice design, like the back of an old lawn chair. if you are going to go this route, don't sew that broder fabric down just yet....


start by cutting a bunch of strips of fabric in a width that looks appealing to you (i used 2"). remember to add a 1/2" to that width for finishing the edges. measure the open space of your mat that you need to fill, and figure out how many strips you need to cut to fill it. for length, cut them an inch longer than the open space, to allow for them to overlap (or, acutally, underlap) with the border fabric.

iron down a 1/4" on each of the long sides of the strips, then sew them down with a straight or zig-zag stitch.


**if you are working with a fabric that's prone to fraying, add 1" to the width that you decide on for the strips, and fold the edges of the fabric over on themselves again before sewing down.

7) weave the strips together...

CIMG1098 them around the edges, and baste them to the towels.

8) then put the border fabric back in place, fold it over the lattice, and pin it down. sew a straight stitch along the inside edges of the trim, being sure that you go through both the front and back edges.


and that's all!


- cakehouse

my green craft: cakehouse

though i knew that i wanted to start my own business after graduating from design school, it took me a rather ridiculously long time to settle on what that business would be. i had studied textile design, so i knew i wanted to work in the fabric medium; then i figured out that i wanted to do home accessories, and to silkscreen. okay, good! but i couldn't get past that point. only when i realized that i should work with recycled fabric—incorporating my love of everything vintage and secondhand, and my ever-growing want to make my life greener—did my business really start to take solid shape. of course, i still had to decide on a product to launch with, so i upped the eco ante by choosing to make cloth napkins.


i now make napkins and coasters, out of fabric that i find at thrift stores all over the city and sometimes beyond—whenever we go on vacation, i manage to work in a trip to the local thrift stores (there's a great website that makes this possible). i mostly work with bedsheets, curtains, tableclothes, and the occasional housecoat. i cut them up, sew them back together, and print on them with nontoxic water-based inks.


i try to keep with the green/recycling ethos at every level of cakehouse, not just in terms of the products themselves. i wash all my fabric in natural detergent, and dry it on the line in my backyard (9 months out of the year, anyway). my sewing machine is from 1965 (via ebay), my ironing board came from freecycle (and is possibly from before 1965...), my cutting and piecing table came from a family in my neighborhood that was giving it away. i just recycled some unwanted shutters into fantastic displays for when i sell at markets and fairs. not only is it great for the earth to re-use instead of buying new, but it really satisfies me on an aesthetic level to look around my studio and see things with a history, things with a little wear and therefore, i think, more personality.


[you can read more about my adventures in greening my life on a more personal level here.]

- cakehouse

Recycle NYC - March 16

Tomorrow morning is the Manhattan electronics recycling and clothing donation day event at Union Square North Plaza (southeast corner of 17th St. and Broadway). They will be excepting electronics donations of computers & laptops, monitors, printers & scanners (desktop only), keyboards & mice, TVs, VCRs, DVRs & DVD Players, and cell phones.

They will also be accepting gently used clothing with tax deductible receipts available upon request.

It's only from 8am until 2pm, so get out there early!


Wardrobe Refashionistas

Like a lot of people, maybe you've been looking for ways to be more green. You've ditched the Clorox and the Lysol for the Seventh Generation and the Method, you're filling the fridge with organic apples from Long Island instead of strawberries flown in from New Zealand (and carrying them home in cloth bags instead of plastic), you're keeping the thermostat set low, you've filled all your sockets with the twirly lightbulbs.

But how eco-friendly is your closet?

I'm not talking about buying organic jeans from Bono—I'm talking about a way to apply your creative and artistic talent to reducing your fashion footprint. Wardrobe Refashion is an online community of people who have pledged to "abstain from the purchase of 'new' manufactured items of clothing" for 2, 4, or 6 months. Instead, they promise to "refashion, renovate, recycle preloved fabric, yarn or other medium for the term of [their] contract." You're also allowed to buy new fabric and yarn to make clothes, and to buy handmade clothes, so Etsy shops are fair game! Shoes are exempt, as are underwear, though you're "encouraged to have a go at making those." (Hey, if Daniel Day-Lewis can do it, so can you.) Members then post their projects on the Wardrobe Refashion site, which makes it great for novice sewers, as there are lots of tutorials and inspiration.

Wardrobe Refashion was started by an Australian woman named Nicola Prested. She "wanted to save money, make less of an impact on the environment, increase my sewing skills and define my own style rather than buying off the rack what everyone else is buying," so made a personal decision not to buy new clothes for six months. She wrote about her experiment on her blog and asked if others would be interested in getting in on it—and got 60 takers. One of them suggested she start a group blog for everyone making the no-new-clothes pledge, and Wardrobe Refashion was born. A Refashion Flickr group has also been formed, if you'd like less text with your photos.

So check it out, maybe start light with a 2-month pledge..... I'm on month 8 and not looking back.

- Kristen