Recycling Ideas On Pinterest

Readers, are you all clued in to the wonderful world of Pinterest? If you aren't, I highly recommend that you get an invitation and join. As with every online site, you should review the guidelines carefully and make sure you want to be part of the site. If you do, you'll see how it is a great tool for inspiration, marketing, business development, and creativity.

But I've digressed, of course! The reason I'm talking about Pinterest today is because I found an entire world of recycling ideas and crafts and it makes me so happy and I think it will for you, too!

My board on Pinterest where I keep my favorite recycled/upcycled ideas is called "Upcycled Ideas" (hardly imaginative, I know).  As of now, it only has four items, but I'm looking forward to collecting more and referring back to them at various dates to use them as needed.

While I love all of the ideas on the board and definitely intend to use the toilet paper roll options, my favorite of  is the "Holder for Charging Cell Phone" by Make it and Love it.

What I love even more is that they give you the step by step process on how to make your own. Seriously, how awesome is that?! Of course tutorials are the rage on line, especially for craft lovers like you and me, but when you combine the exchange of ideas on how to make our lifestyles more eco-friendly, it's even better! I encourage us all to take our favorite recycled/upcycled ideas and share them with the ever growing community of pinterest users. You never know what impact you may have just from sharing something as simple as reusing a lotion bottle to charge your cell phone.

If any of you have recycling/upcycling ideas that you want to share, please drop them in the comments section, especially if it has a URL and/or get them on pinterest for others to discover and share.

Happy pining, creating, and recycling!


On Being a Saver, Part II

In my last post I confessed to saving a couple of really raw materials --- so raw, in fact, that it's difficult to imagine how exactly I might use at least one of them (metal lampshades). This time I'm revealing a couple of things I save (or collect) for their obvious utility, regardless of whether I actually capitalize on that utility (i.e., use them).
These and the other type of saved items highlight the dilemma faced by all city-dwelling up-cyclers: the potential for joyous transformation or economic/ecological conscious practice versus space to live and work in. With regard to the first set of items, the balance is out-of-whack, with the items clogging up space while I figure out how to use them. This second set of items needs management but doesn't yet pose a serious threat to my habitable space.

The reason these items don't pose a threat to habitable space is in part because they're relatively few in one case, and because I have actually used them to good effect in the other case. They are just too obviously potentially useful (and/or even joyously transformative -- the categories are not mutually exclusive) to toss. They just are. Specifically, these items are:

1. Popsicle sticks, and 

2. Baby-food jars

Popsicle sticks are great for scooping, dolling, propping, and stopping (among other things for sure). And you can use them to make neat boxes. Every one of the sticks in my collection comes from a popsicle I actually ate.

I really like popsicles.

Who can argue against the utility of baby-food jars for storing all manner of tiny things? No one. You can also use them to make neat things, perhaps, for example, snow globes.

My collections of popsicle sticks and baby-food jars were sitting in a box collecting dust and verging on becoming a threat to my habitable space until I brought them together to write this post. I did it for the sake of a photo but liked their pairing so much that I kept it.

Now my jars have a use and my popsicle sticks are within easy reach for creative or mechanical purposes. No more threat to habitable space. Yay.

Until next time --


On Being a Saver

As I've mentioned before, I'm a saver of things that might rightfully be considered trash and thrown away --- felt scraps, for example. But, per the felt scraps example, I save these things because of their potential to become something not-trash. I see their possibility for transformation. I know I'm not alone in this among crafty types.

Perhaps you can relate to the inherent quandary in being a crafty saver in the big city, namely, a lack of space to keep saved items. I often wish I could strike a better balance between my visions of possibility or intended use and the reality that saved things will likely hang around a good long awhile before I use them, thus contributing to the increasing clutter amid which I consequently live. Alas. Two illustrative examples of this:

1. Milk carton screw-caps, and

2. Lamp shades.

I started saving milk carton screw-caps with the intention of making wristlet pin cushions (they form the base). This was many, many months ago. But the caps are small so it's not a major burden on my space to keep saving them---yet. And the chances of my actually using them as intended are good: Wristlet pin cushions are well within my likely future crafting ventures. So this save is reasonable, if a little annoying when the caps overrun the area above the sink.

I have a harder time justifying the second save, two metal lampshades that I salvaged from floor lamps that pooped out on me. (Am I alone in going through floor lamps like nobody's business?) I saved them with the idea that I could use one or the other as a sun-shield for my scrabble-tile pendants when selling at outdoor craft shows and markets. But I haven't figured out how exactly to rig them up. As with the the screw-caps, it's been months and months since I had this idea, but unlike the screw-caps, these things take up space. I'm constantly moving them around so I clearly don't have any to spare for them. So this save really isn't justifiable: Major space burden coupled with only a vague idea for their use. But, oh, the potential! It's almost intoxicating. Help!

In addition to things I save for their potential transformative use, there are things I save because they're just so obviously useful, whether or not I actually use them. You can relate.  I'll discuss these in my next post. Enough confessional for one day!

Until then --

 Linda // Purty Bird

How-To: Making a Miniature Artist's Canvas

I have always been obsessed with creating miniature versions of the things I use in my everyday life. I think the extra focus required to make miniature objects imbues the tiny things I make with a special quality--as if they are more charged with meaning than they would be at their regular size. Another reason to spend your time making tiny stuff is that it doesn't take up a whole lot of space, which, if you have friends who live in small apartments and want to give them beautiful handmade things but don't want to burden them with a lot of clutter, is a very good thing!

This tutorial will teach you how to make dollhouse-sized blank artists' canvases from empty tissue, granola bar and cereal boxes, which you can then paint and add to friends' art collections. I am hoping I can spark a whole trendy miniature painting craze!

Here's what you will need:
-empty boxes made from thin cardboard that you otherwise would have tossed into the recycling
-muslin fabric
-white glue
-acrylic gesso
-a normal size brush for applying the gesso, plus teeny tiny ones for doing the actual painting
-acrylic paints
-a gridded acrylic ruler is helpful for making accurate right angles when cutting up your boxes

Step 1: Figure out what size you want your miniature canvas to be. You can just eyeball the size if you like, but if you want it to be the perfect size to fit into a dollhouse, you'll want to do a little math. The standard size for dollhouse accessories is 1/12 scale, which means that you want to divide all your regular measurements by 12. If the full-sized painting would be 18 by 24 inches, then you want to make your mini canvas 1 and 1/2 inches by 2 inches.

Step 2: Once you have cut your cardboard to size, spread it with a thin layer of white glue and stick it to a piece of muslin. Make sure that the sides of your canvas are parallel to the grain of the fabric.

Step 3: Fold the fabric around to the back of the canvas and glue it down.

Make sure the folded fabric edge is glued slightly inside the edges of the cardboard so it can't be seen from the front.

Step 4: When your glue has dried, paint your canvas with a thin layer of acrylic gesso. You want to make sure not to put the gesso on too thickly, because being able to see the grain of your muslin is crucial to having a miniature painting that looks like the full-sized version. If you want to have an especially texture-y canvas, try different types of fabric and see which one looks best.

Paint gesso on the edges & back as well.

That's it! These miniature canvases are so easy and fun to make that you can create hundreds of them in nearly no time, then invite some friends over to have a painting party.

Then you and your friends can have a miniature art show:

Stella (lookcloselypress)

How-To: Re-Purposed Pants -- The Yoga Sling Bag with 2 Pockets

I’ve yet to find a yoga sling bag to tote my yoga mat around that will suit my needs at a reasonable price! I want one with pockets for a MetroCard, some cash, and keys. It should be comfortable to carry, have a little extra room for a small towel, and not cost 50 bucks!

So I have these cargo pants that I haven’t worn in a while and decided that they will make a GREAT bag to carry and store my yoga mat. AND I can incorporate the pants' pockets in the redesign! You can make one too, and here’s how…

You’ll Need:

An old pair of pants or jeans
A good pair of scissors
Sewing machine (preferably)
Webbing (for the sling strap)
Shoe lace or other means to close the bag

How To:

1. Fish out an old pair of jeans, preferably boot-cut and big enough to fit your rolled up mat. It should have a little wiggle room, but not be too roomy.

2. Cut the pants/jeans in half so that the two legs are separated. Turn the half you will use inside out.3. This is how to cut up the pants if you want to use the button fly as the opening for the yoga mat sling bag.4. Sew the button fly back onto the pant leg.

5. Next, put the yoga mat into the pant leg to measure how long the bag should be. The top of the yoga mat should sit where the waistband meets the pant leg. Cut off the bottom portion of the leg. You can use this remnant for the base of the bag.

6. Measure the diameter of the pant leg bottom. Using the leftover pant leg fabric from Step 5, cut out a circle with the same diameter plus a 2 inch seam allowance. This will become the base for the sling bag. I traced a circle around a cordless electric kettle for a perfectly shaped base.

7. With left sides facing out, pin the circle to the bottom of the pant leg. Decide where you want the strap to run across the bag and position one end of the webbing between the base and the pant leg.

To recap, the pant leg should be turned inside out with the left side facing out and the webbing should be inside (touching the right side) of the pant leg with one end positioned between the circle base and the pant leg.

Sew the base to the pant leg with 2 or 3 seams to attach the strap and the base securely to the sling bag.
8. Turn the bag right-side out. Secure the loose end of the webbing by sewing it to the opposite end of the bag with an “X-shaped” seam.9. To create a drawstring closure at the top of the bag, carefully cut two slits in the exterior part of the pants' waistband. Do not cut all the way through the waistband! Pull a shoelace or other heavy string through the waistband "tunnel." Pull the ends of the drawstring tight to tie the bag closed.10. If you are so inclined, go ahead and embellish the pocket with an “ohm” for extra credit :)
You’re ready to go!By Lorina Pellach-Ladrillono of The Original Beadscarf and

Upcycled Book Tote

There is one New Year's resolution that I'm really looking forward to, and that is to read more books. Motherhood and my home business keeps me so busy, that I rarely reach for a book now. There is nothing more satisfying to do on a frosty January evening than cozying-up on my couch wrapped in warm blanket with a cup of tea and reading a great book.

My kids really enjoy trips to the library, and check out tons of books to take home. To keep them safe and prevent loosing this precious cargo, I decided to make a tote from an old pair of jeans.
For this project you will need:
~ pair of old jean pants
~ machine thread
~ scissors or rotary cutter
~ measuring tape
~ needle
~ embroidery floss
~ buttons
~ fabric pencil or chalk
~ sewing machine
~ cutting mat
~ omnigrid ruler

1. Using side seams of the pants as a guide, make a cut all the way to the bottom.

2. Lay out back of the pants flat and tuck any excess fabric under the back seam until flat and pin it in place.

3. Measure 13 inches from the top of the pants and mark it with a fabric pencil or chalk in two places, then connect them drawing a line all the way to the edge of the fabric.

4. Cut with scissors adding 1/2in for seam allowance.

5. Using upper corner of each pocket as a guide, mark vertical seam lines and cut adding 1/2in of allowance. Make sure, that the distance between the pockets and edge of the fabric is the same on both sides.

Please note, if you are using pants in smaller size and would like to make your tote larger, add strips of fabric on each side.

6. Lay out leg part of the pants flat on your work table, pin down piece of the tote with packets on top and cut out with scissors using edge of the ready piece as a guide adding 1inch of seam allowance on top.

7. Measure bottom and the side of the tote piece without the pockets, and cut out one 5inch wide strip of fabric for the bottom of the tote, and 2 strips for the sides.

8. Cut out also two, 4in wide strips of fabric for the handles, I would like them to measure 30in and will add another 3in to the length to secure them in place.

9. Using fabric pencil or chalk, write the word "BOOKS" on the larger piece without the pockets, and hand stitch the outline using any type of stitch you'd like.

10. Time for sewing! Remember that axcess fabric we tucked under the "butt" seam? Using your machine, make a stitch on the edge of factory seam securing excess fabric.

11. Pin down two side strips of fabric to front and back of the tote, and sew all the pieces together. Your extra seam allowance will be sticking out on top of the tote. Make sure also, that the inside of fabric is facing out.
12. Using zigzag stitch finish edges of the seams.

13. Pin together and sew front and back pieces to the bottom strip of fabric between side seams. The bottom piece should have a seam allowance on both ends. Sew the short ends of the bottom piece and side pieces together and finish seams with zigzag stitch.

14. To finish the top edge of the tote, use zigzag stitch or double fold bias tape ( I had some leftover from another project). Fold the edge to the inside and stitch 1/2 in from the top edge.

15. To make straps, sew edges of previously cut fabric, iron the seams, turn them inside out and iron again.

16. Secure the straps to the bag and finish embellishing it with buttons.

Embellishing part is so much fun, so go wild! Let your kids make drawings of their favourite book characters with permanent fabric markers, use buttons to spell out "BOOKS" or "READ". Use ribbons, patches, beads or scraps of colorful fabric.
Have fun reading!!

Upcycle How-To: Holey Sweater Hats, Batman!

It's a fact that one of the best ways to keep warm is to cover your head. Unfortunately two other things are also usually true by this time in the winter. I've gotten bored with my current hats, and I've managed to ruin one of my favorite sweaters. Here is a simple sewing "How-To" to turn a holey sweater into two fun new hats.

Roughly cut up the sweater into useful pieces for both hats like this:
Now we're ready to start on Hat #1. So far this has been described by onlookers as "Asian-inspired" or "Modified Pillbox," but I figure that a hat by any other name will look as sweet.

Cut your large circle, and two pieces of the 3" band which are each 1/2 of around your head plus 2".

Pin and stitch (using a zig-zag or serger stitch to allow the hat to stretch) with 1" seam allowance at the finished edge diagonally to no seam allowance at the point of the unfinished edge.

This might give a slight point at the seams, so just cut at part off to make an smooth band.Pin band down to round with finished edge facing the center onto your large circle. There will probably be way too much seam allowance on the round, so just cut it off to match the edge of the band. wherever it makes a nice circle. Stitch with just 1/4" seam allowance (again using a zig-zag stitch or serger) around the circle.
Turn it right-side out, and put on your finished hat and show off your eco-friendly handywork.

Let's begin on hat #2. I refer to this style as "Mob Cap," but some others have insisted it's "Chef."

Cut your large circle, and 1 piece for the band which goes around your head plus 1".
Pin and stitch band (using a zig-zag or serger stitch to allow the hat to stretch) with 1/2" seam allowance to make a ring.
Sew 2 rows of shirring (either a large running stitch if by hand, or a straight stitch on the longest stitch length of your sewing machine) around your large circle. Leave long tails to pull the shirring tighter. Pull the threads until the edge of your circle is the same size as the band. Pin into place (wrong sides together, of course), and stitch around with 1/4" seam allowance.
Turn right-side out, and model it for anyone willing to look!

Now that you've finished two hats in the same fabric, you could get a hat accessory that could play double duty. Since my hats are orange, I'm partial to this threaded pin by urbahnika.

Hope you enjoyed this tutorial, and continue to let the NewNew blog keep you warm!