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

One Forlorn Glove to Five Finger Puppets

This is a very easy project and the possibilities are endless.

What you will need:
-Left-over used gloves
-Bits of felt
-Needle and thread

Five digits from one glove = 5 finger puppets!

When you are done with playing with the puppets, they can be turned into marker cozies.

The finger-less glove is still good for working in the cold weather.

Send in your creative samples if you have any.

- May Luk,

My Wedding Favors

I knew from the beginning that I wanted a unique and creative wedding favor. I did plenty of research but didn't find exactly what I wanted so I went ahead and made it myself. My vision was quite simple: I wanted to give something that was fun yet practical.

My solution: Altoids tins, Japanese candy & scrapbook paper!

The final result: The perfect wedding favor. (After my wedding, I started offering this in my shop and it has become a very popular item. Unfortunately, I've bought out all the tins on Ebay (just kidding) and now use metal tins that are very similar)

Wai Sze

An Eco-Friendly Accessory

Alright ladies, you all know you do it, and some of you men too out there with your ties. Someone gives you a gorgeous silk scarf or tie, and you love it, but does it ever see the light of day? My guess is not so much. I’m guilty too! Those scarves are so amazing, but how to wear them? So we just tuck them away in our closets or drawers in the hope that someday they may be used. Or we lie to ourselves, saying that we will make a pretty cushion cover out of it, or wrap our hair-dos in it. But instead, the scarf makes many friends back there in that drawer since chances are, we’ve collected more than a few of these treasures.

Well have I got a solution for you! Not only is it eco-conscious, it’s also fashionable, can be sentimental, and has a catchy name too! The Original Beadscarf® is a great way to recycle your gorgeous scarves into a beautiful one-of-a-kind accessory that you can wear anywhere!

I can use any size scarf for these creations. By carefully manipulating a scarf around recycled beads, I create an adjustable length accessory that can be worn as a necklace.

You may have seen similar styles before. However,
The Original Beadscarf® can be custom made from scarves and ties that carry sentimental value. I have been commissioned to create Beadscarves with materials that previously belonged to grandmothers or late husbands.

Since it is made from repurposed materials The Original Beadscarf® is an eco-friendly accessory. It's environmentally responsible, and it makes a statement that everyone can relate to.

So go on, dig up those ties, scarves, skirts, blouses or other silk fabrics you’ve tucked away for a special project. The Original Beadscarf® is the special project they’ve been waiting for!


'Green' Clothing Collections

As part of a conscious approach to Design I have opted to use unwanted fabrics in the clothing collections I design and create. Every season is different and every garment is unique. I begin by scouting the fabric stores in the garment district, 35th, 36th, and 37th streets between Broadway and 7th. You’ll see me diving under tables, and inside giant cardboard boxes to look for fabric that is in usable condition, by usable I mean I can wash it, rip it, sew it and/ or paint it. Once I find fabrics I coordinate color stories including the various fabrics mixed together and the trimmings I will add later. You can see this in the pictures below. The colors are approached as if they are finished garments on the rack, how do they look next to each other? what is the presence of the colors as a full collection? what is most attractive to a customer? This aids me in making a decision on whether I use the fabrics as accents or as full garments. Once this is set I usually choose 1-4 items, tops, bottoms, or dresses, which I will make with variations on silhouette or trimmings. Creating a few items is useful because I want to be at an affordable price and make my producing time smooth. This also allows me to design smaller capsules within each color or trim idea, with minor variations like a big shirt with a square, scoop, or a u neckline. Also in this manner the collection can be expanded and items can easily be mixed and matched.

I approach the Design process by being inspired with fabric and trim first, I then do lots of research on style and finally I add my favorite crafting finishes. The silhouettes are kept simple to allow the craft details to stand out. Part of the ‘think green’ movement is not just to create instead of buying for yourself or others but to also cut down on the demand of more fabric, try finding unwanted fabrics, and also trimmings, that will stand the wear and tear of creativity and keep them from being dumped in a landfill this is a truly conscious way to Design and craft.

A {NewNew} How To: Patchwork Blanket - Combat Global Warming with Style

While I was thinking about what to contribute to our Earth Day blogging, trying to come up with a project that anyone could do, the idea of patchwork blankets kept coming to mind. I thought maybe it was too late for a tutorial on making blankets as it is almost May, but here in NY it has still been very cold, and we just had a blog posts on Salvaged Designer Fabrics and on our Pre Earth Day Team Swap. It actually seemed to make sense. I have made these simple patchwork blankets for myself, for friends and family and so I decided to share this “how to that anyone can do” with you.

As a scenic and costume designer for theatre I have always had lots of bits of fabric from various projects around. Many of the pieces of fabric I had were too small to make anything out of, but too nice to throw out. Some reminded me of specific shows I had designed and I wanted to give them all a new life and save them from the garbage.

If you have access to a sewing machine and can stitch a straight line you can do this project. No patterns, very little measuring. Easy. Eco-friendly. Fab. Here’s how:

1) Gather your fabrics and decide on a theme or color palette. You can use any kind of fabric – You might have things around the house just dying for a new life. Here are some ideas:

Leftover fabric scraps
Vintage fabrics
Favorite shirt or blouse that got ripped or got a stain (concert t-shirts, etc.)
Your favorite sweater that you accidentally shrunk in the wash.
That article of clothing that doesn’t fit anymore. (must have shrunk too!)
That gift item that you were given but never used.
Any nice fabric bits that need a new life

2) Decide on the size of your squares. For this blanket you don’t need lots of the same fabric. For the blanket pictured I cut 7 & ½ inch squares based on the scraps I had available. I only have 1 square of some fabrics, 2 or 3 of others, it doesn’t matter – you can use whatever you have. To decide the size of your squares just look at the smallest scrap that you want to use and don’t make your squares smaller than that – it’s that simple.

3) Trace out your squares & cut. I cut a square template out of the cardboard from the back of a used notepad. Trace around your square template to get all your squares a uniform size. If you are careful in keeping your squares the same size everything will line up easier when you stitch it all together. Cut your squares out on your lines. (To see how many squares you will need see step #4)

If you are a beginner – here are some tips to keep this project simple: Use fabrics that are somewhat similar in weight and consistency. Don’t use fabrics that are too thick or heavy or too thin. Or, if you want to use a lighter weight fabric back it with something more stable, like a basic shirt-weight cotton. You can attach them together with a fusible product like “Stitch Witchery” or just attach them together as you zig or surge the edges. You can also back fabrics if you want to use something that is sheer or lacey. It’s best to keep woven fabrics “on grain” – this just means place your template so that the threads of the fabric are going the same direction as the edges of your template. This isn’t an absolute must, but will make it easier to stitch as your fabrics will be more stable and not give and stretch.

4) Decide on the size of the overall blanket. You can make this type of blanket any size you want. The one pictured is 8 columns/10 rows of squares - about 48 inches by 62 inches. It is narrow enough that I was able to use a single solid width of fabric for the backing. You can decide on your overall size based on what you want to use as your backing and how much fabric you have available or the size of blanket you want. Once you know the size of the blanket you want to make you can easily do some basic math and find out how many squares you need.

5) Zig-Zig stitch over the edges. Once you have cut out all your squares I recommend doing a zig-zag stitch around the edges or serge them if you have access to a serger, but don’t trim the size down as you surge so they will still all be the same size. This will help keep them from fraying and make the blanket more durable.

6) Compose your blanket design. I just lay mine out on the floor. If you have a tile floor you can use the tile grid as a guide to help you layout all your squares. I usually start by spacing out my lightest and darkest squares and then fill in with the other squares, but you can compose your blanket in any way you like. I like mine to be somewhat random, but I generally avoid having two squares of the same fabric very close to each other. You can arrange them in any way you like.

7) Stack it. Once you have placed all your squares to compose your blanket you are almost ready to start sewing. Take the first square of your first column and stack it on top of the next square down, then stack those two squares on the third one, and so on. This will make sure you keep it all in order and maintain your composition. When you have stacked your first column, just pin it all together with a large safety pin through a post-it note and label it “column 1” and continue to the next column. Once you have all of your columns stacked in order and labeled you are ready to sew.

8) Stitch your first stack into a long strip. Place you first square from the top of your first stack on your table and place the second square on top of it, with the faces together. (If there is a pattern or top/bottom to the fabrics be sure to maintain this as you stitch things together.) Stitch the two squares together ¾ from the edge. (the bottom of square #1 to the top of square #2, face to face) Continue like this going through your stack top to bottom until you have one long strip of squares. You may not even need to pin these if you are comfortable with sewing and depending on the size of your squares. If you are a beginner a few pins doesn’t hurt. (keep each of your columns marked with the number so you can maintain your composition.)

9) Repeat step #7 for each column/stack.

10) Press your seams open. From the back of your strips just press all of your seams open flat so that the seam allowances are pushed out away from the actual seams.

11) Stitch your columns together. Place column #2 (now a long strip) face to face on top of column/strip #1. You will probably want to pin things together here. As I pin things together, edge to edge and face to face, I make sure that I am matching up the four corners nicely. Once it is pinned, stitch the two strips together, ¾ inch from the edge as before.

12) Repeat step #10 until all of your columns are attached and you have the front side of your blanket as one nice, big patchwork.

13) Press your new vertical seams open, as you did before.

14) Top stitch (optional) At this point you may do some top stitching if you like, it’s a nice detail, but not necessary. From the front of your blanket stitch straight top-stitch lines to both sides of your stitch lines. As you stitch, make sure that your seam allowances stay pushed out away from the seam. Top stitching like this will keep those seams nice and flat. Top stitch both your vertical seams and your horizontal seams. It will look like this:

15) Attach a backing. At this point you are ready to attach a backing to your blanket. I have often used an interesting textured corduroy or something else soft with a little body in a similar weight to the front of your blanket. All you have to do is lay your backing fabric out on the floor (or table) face up and place your patch work face down on top of it. Line it up nicely and pin the edges together. Trim your backing down to be a little bigger than your patchwork front. Then just stitch around the outside, (with ¾ inch seam allowance as before) leaving about 12 inches open on one side. You now have an inside-out almost finished blanket. Pull the blanket through the opening so that it is no longer inside out. Admire.

16) Press the outside edge flat and make sure your corners are pushed out. You may need to trim the seam allowance at the corners down a bit to make them less bulky and then push them out with something pointy (but not sharp) so they are nice and square and crisp.

17) Stitch the opening closed by hand with a nice tidy stitch.

18) Top stitch around the outside as you topstitched on each side of your seams.

19) Admire your new fabulous eco-friendly hand-made one-of-a-kind blanket.

20) Make popcorn & get cozy under blanket. Enjoy!

HOW TO: Eco-Friendly Label Making!

As a new member of The {NewNew} York Street Team, I decided to offer up a quick and fun little tutorial on one way of making eco-friendly tags or business promotional pieces, all from scrap materials... What follows is my tutorial:

What You'll Need:
•Scissors or an X-acto Knife
•Scrap paper (with a blank area for writing)
•An old magazine or other reading material that might contain interesting designs and be easy to cut out and use.
•Something to trace with (This should be the size and shape that you'd like your tag to be...Look for something around your house that you could use)
•A pen/pencil for tracing and writing
•Scrap string
•A staple-less stapler or appropriate adhesive

What You Need to Do With All That Stuff I Just Listed:
1.) Take the old magazine or other scrap reading material you've found and find an interesting design/drawing/background in it that could make for a cool looking tag. For me, I thumbed through an old Wired that my fiancée gave me the go-ahead to use (the last thing you want to do is cheese someone off by cutting up something they have no intentions of getting rid of). I found an interesting design inside, grabbed my tracing object and pencil, and traced around exactly what I wanted contained on my tag. In this case, I chose a genetically modified bell pepper because he looks pretty badass.

2.) Grab that scrap paper now, and trace on a blank portion of it with the same tracing object you chose to use in #1, and then cut everything out!

3.) Here's where staple-less stapler fun is to be had... Simply line up your design cut-out with your scrap paper cut-out (make sure the blank portion of the scrap paper is showing on one side, and your cut-out design is showing on the other), and slap em together with the wonderous staple-less stapler. If you don't have a staple-less stapler, you might opt to use an appropriate adhesive here instead.
4.) Grab a pen or pencil now, and write whatever the heck you desire on the blank side of your tag. For mine, because I don't have official "business cards" for my eco-friendly shop, I simply wrote out my message and shop address with the best penmanship I could muster up, and will use it as both a tag and business promotional material.

5.) Scrap string will come in handy now, to slip through one or both holes you've created with the stapler. I used scrap yarn from old knitting/crochet projects that I save. A crochet hook comes in handy for grabbing the string through the hole of the label and pulling it through, if you have one of an appropriate size lying around.

That's pretty much it!!!

If you want a more professional look you might opt out of the staple-less stapler and go for some adhesive or tape to hold the two pieces together. You might also have a stamp made that you can use to stamp these promo materials with your url, shop name, etc. Also for smoother edges, use an X-acto knife, by all means, when cutting these suckers out.

Here's my finished result. Frankenstein Bell Pepper looks a little worse for wear, but he's wearing it well.


HOW TO: resuscitate that old t-shirt!

as i've mentioned here on the {newnew} blog before, one of my favorite forms of recycling is wardrobe recycling, aka wardrobe refashioning. instead of heading to h+m when you feel like you have nothing to wear, why not shop in your closet instead, and re-make something that doesn't fit anymore—or just doesn't fit your current style?

one of the easiest places to start refashioning is with t-shirts. we all have them: the t-shirts we don't wear but can't seem to let go of. here's what i did with one of mine.

this was part of my college uniform:


not only is it ridiculously big (as all of my clothes were back then), it had developed some issues in the back....


...and so had since been relegated to the pajama drawer. but i never wore it, because i was afraid it was just going to keep ripping and completely fall apart. clearly, it was time to dismantle it myself.

i started by removing the sleeves, then cutting across the back horizontally at the spot of the enormous gaping hole, leaving me with this:


then i cut down the sides vertically, making two pieces, and slit the part of the back that was attached to the front down the middle, comme ca:


i decided that those two pieces coming off the top of the front piece would become straps, so i trimmed them a bit to make them slimmer and equal widths, and hemmed the edges. i also turned the neckband under in the front and stitched it down to make a uniform hem all around.

then i put it all together: pinned the side seams and sewed them up, hemmed the top of the back piece, attached the straps to the back, and hemmed the front piece— which had ended up longer than the back—at the bottom. and this is what i got:



putting it on, i realized that the part where i had hemmed under the existing neckband stuck out...


...and i was going to fix it by turning it under one more time and re-hemming, but then i realized that i liked it the way it was. i also love that the finished product retained some of the pinholes and frayed edges of the original shirt.

and so something destined for the scrap heap became a fab, totally original "new" top.

- cakehouse

From Aluminum Cans to Jewelry

Every day at lunch, my friend drinks an Arizona Green Tea. And every day, I look at the cherry blossoms on the side of the can and think about how awesome they would look incorporated into a cute pendant or pair of earrings.

So I took home a couple of the cans, and with some other stuff I had laying around the house, turned them into this:

What you'll need:
-any soda/juice/iced tea can. There are so many different drinks with pretty cool designs on them.
-a Sharpie (or any other permanent marker)
-eyelet setter
-a disc or stamping, any shape you like
-hole punch
-earwires or chain, depending on what you'd like to make
-an x-acto blade (or plain old scissors if you're a reckless crafter like me)

Use the X-acto blade to cut off the top of the can, then use the scissors down the sides of the can to cut out the parts you want to use. Be careful, the edges of the cans are pretty sharp! I usually cut the can into more manageble square shapes.

Next, use the marker to trace the shape onto the piece of can. I find that it's easier to trace from the front, to make sure I get the exact part of the design I want. In this case, I traced a circle to mimic the shape of the disc:

Take the cut out shape and arrange it on top of the disc/stamping. I taped mine down to prevent it from sliding around. Use the hole punch to make holes wherever you would like to set the eyelets. I made one at the top and bottom, but you can go crazy if you want!

Set the eyelets in the holes, add a jump ring and chain, and voila! You could also make earrings, keychains, or a bracelet!

HOW TO: Paper flowers

In the spirit of DIY and recycling I bring you a big ole pile of postcards (!) Remnants of the last Brooklyn Homeshow advertising that I could not just throw in the recycle bin. I mean - come on - postcards are expensive to print and the paper stock is just great for all sorts of things, right??
Things like what?!
And that got me thinking of all sorts of great projects to make. This project will use these postcards, some acrylic paint, a scissor and some ribbon to make paper flowers.

To begin a quick template on paper of a simple four petal flower shape, then used this shape to cut out many many flower from this nice heavy postcard stock.

Then I painted them red on one side and black on the other. This took several coats as the acrylic paint on the postcards was a bit streaky, so I did one coat in one direction and the next coat in a perpendicular direction to try and reduce one way streaking. I think you can see a little bit of it in that photo. After the paint was dry, you can take an awl to cut holes in the centers of the flowers, I used my handy leather punch.

And now we are all set for assembly! I thought they would make a nice special accent to my packaging. But you can make them into pins, string them together to make a lei, no limits! Here is a picture of the final product used as a nice special way to package my tee shirts.