Redress to spend less

This year I decided not to buy my girl any new dresses. I might not have made a full buying stop, like Vivian Westwood keeps saying, but I can at least attempt not to buy any dresses, as there is nobody to pass them on to within the family. It so happened that my husband wore a few tees out, so I wanted to see if I could make dresses from those. I’ll share you my attempts, I made 3 different ones.

First up is a T-shirt that I only have vague memories buying. But it is a nice shirt, there is only a small hole near the pocket.

This Tshirt had only minor damage after years of wearing.

With the help of a dress that fits her neatly now I just went and cut. I wanted to conserve the hemline as it has a nice pressed seam, and a label. The width of the T-shirt is only just enough so I made sure not to cut anything off the hemline. You can do this by stiching the new sideseam over the sideseam and than off the fabric all together about 2 cm or so before the end of the fabric/hemline.

Cut out of a basic dress-shape.

After stitching the side seams, front fabrics together, only 1 stitch was needed to insert elastic into.

Some elastic in the waistline, to create a bit of shape.

I added an extra part of the purple fabric to the, lets say ribbons, at the shoulders. When she decides to wear it I can cut them off at exactly the right length.

The final result!


Now the second is actually a shirt. We bought it at a store (Zara…) and after one wear it shrunk. I wont say what store it was from (Zara) but it was a bit of a disappointment. Anyhow, all the more reason to upcycle it into a nice dress!

This picture is photoshopped! I didnt have a decent picture…

When I cut it in pieces it became clear the whole shirt was a-symmetric. I decided to use it and again use the hem of the garment as the hem-line of the dress. Make sure you stitch close the closure in the front of the garment. It might otherwise be a bit too sexy!

The hem will be a hem still.

I covered elastic in the fabric for the neckline. Make sure there is enough length in the elastic so it will go over your kids head easily. (Kids heads are in comparison to adults very big!) Please also make sure the elastic is not too narrow as it might than turn into a choking hazard. Ad a tunnel at the top of the dress, where it can go trough. Fasten it at least on one side so that is will not rotate whilst wearing or washing.

Elastic band/neckline.

I stole the idea for the shape from many dresses and tops now in store. This is a refreshing neckline for a dress as well as easy to do yourself.

She still hasnt worn this one…

Last but not least, two T-shirts that I changed into two tops, or two dresses, or a top and a dress. However you like it.

These T-shirts were special to us, one was bought on a trip to Australia a long time ago. The other one was my design, at the very least a few 100 pieces sold back in the days. Unfortunately after many years the elastic in the neckline gave in, and did not look good anymore. The print still does, and because these two prints matched, not in subject but in technique, I decided to combine them.

The girl looking at you comes from Australia!

Now the idea for this dress comes from a top that I originally bought for my son, in a size suitable for 4-5 year old. But I than dressed my daughter in it, who was at the time nearly 2 and wore the same top as a dress. I think it might be funny to dress both of them up in the same garment, only styled slightly different.

Bought as a top, worn as a dress now converted into a pattern.

Because it was difficult fitting these patterns together on the panels of the tees I had to make 2 patterns of that original top. This was also needed because I wanted to do a cut and sew. A diagonal line trough the pattern. I dislike seeing a garment in store where the front has all the goodies and the back is 1 layer of single coloured fabric, so I decided to make the back interesting too.

This is what I posted in order to get feetback about what to use for finish.

A short survey amongst friends on Facebook and Instagram helped me deciding on the binding…

Front and back of the two one of a kind, tops!

I hope you liked these ideas, there is a lot more you can do with old clothing than just trow them out! Have fun with it!

The final pieces together… Which do you like the best?

Patching it up.

Only one of my kids is almost completely responsible for wrecking all the pants we have. He can do it so quickly the rest of the pants looks almost unworn. And no matter how much I like shopping, I do not like to throw things away. So, knee-repairing it is!

These pants were all bruised by the same knees.

I will first show you the quickest way to fix a hole, by just using a ready made patch from the store. Than more tedious ones, by cutting them yourself. Than I will show you how I put a piece of cloth behind the opening, so you can show the unfinished broken parts of the fabric. Seems to be a trend nowadays.  Last of all I have opened up an entire pants front panel, and added a few new (very thick) parts of fabric. This will certainly cost you more time but you will see this pants got a completely new look.

With the first pants it is very much possible the pads look familiar to you? These kind of knee-pads you can still find anywhere. These particular ones have been used over and over again. After the pants disintegrated they were reused on a different pair. I liked the old fashioned cord combinded with the old and original version of these knee-pads.

Golden oldies…

With the next blue sweat pants I have selected pads very close to the original colour. These can be found anywhere, and are the easiest to use. They can just be ironed on! I wanted to add stitching for a bit more of a playfull feel, but for the fastening it is not necessary. I matched this stitching thread with the numbers to have a new look for the pants. These knee-pads have readymade hole so the stiching was easily done by hand and quick to boot.

Ready made iron-on knee pads

If you like a bit more novelty than oval shaped knee-pads, try cutting a nice fabric in the shape of, for example, triangles. If you like you could always add two sided fusing between the two layers of fabric, they might hold better but I have not seen any proof that mine let go too quickly. Anyway, get creative! I have made sure that the finish of this pad is, well, unfinished. I took a thick tread and went round the shape. The first washing left its lovely mark.

Even easier to cut than oval ones…

Truly upcycled are these crosses. They come from a different garment I took apart after it got damaged. It is even safer for the kids during nightfall!

These crosses mean, these pants are tired of damage!

These pants are the repair work of a friend. It works so well because the knees of this pants have many different layers. You could always add a layer of fabric on the back of a pair of pants and start stitching.

Just keep stitching, just keep stitching!

The next few knees have been repaired by adding a layer on the back. The smaller the size of the pants the more difficult this is as you cannot run down the inside of the pants with your machine easily. You could play with this, and add a knee-pad with a different colour or even a pattern. If you fastened the pads only on the top and the side you leave a bit of room that will make sure when the kids sits or runs the hole will change and the position of the leg will show more or less of the layer of fabric on the inside of the pants. Make sure you make this layer long enough inside the pants!

The inside has a layer, fastend only above and the sides of the hole, so it will widen when walking.

Now, the last leg. It took some time to open up the entire front panel of this garment as it was stiched trought with a thick yarn multiple times. I cut the front panel off and replaced the part that was broken with a new thick layer of fabric. You can really get creative with this one.

He called this his work-pants!


I am sure you can also see there is much much more that can be done to make pants look like new. Or atleast have them wear broken pants a bit longer, untill they grow out of them. Or what about fixing pants in such a way it turns into girly pants where it were boys pants? Just dont toss them away right away. This way you can make sure your kids are wearing unique items!

Half a year later, I have a few more knees that broke. I will just keep adding pictures here, for inspiration-sake…

The next pants has fake leather knees taken from an old legging somebody thoughtful gave me. I have added red hand sewn tags throughout the garment. Just because I liked giving it a little bit of an update!

Red tags!


A new baby-gym.

I learnt a lesson on buying cheap. It is this; we bought a baby-gym, the cheapest. And, well, after a few lovely babies playing in it, I still don’t really like it. Now I made him a new one, at lot prettier! Yey for me! It should also work better for him now that he is bigger. Yey for him!

baby gym, mind the bow-ties!

So, the old baby gym has sides. I wont do that as this is what made the thing too small too soon. I will use the sides of this playing-pen instead so he has all the room he wants. I will first make the overhead-part of the gym, with different kind of loops that hold the toys. Than I will make two bow-ties to knot it too the pen in a novel way. I will explain this, and how I adjusted the bow-tie pattern, in the end of the blog.

not a nice view

What you need for a start, arguably the most important part, is a nice piece of fabric. I tried to match it with a quilt my grandma made from old pieces of fabric. This quilt is always in the bottom of the paying pen.

grandma-made quilt and blanket, sister in law made Amigurumi (mirror/pig/cow).


While I was doing this, I also kept an eye out for complementing and colourful scraps of fabric to use for the loops that, when finished, hold the toys. This is like with any other baby gym. I obviously made these beforehand so I could stitch them into the seam when finishing the entire thing.

Fabric in pieces…


Now this is were you can start to be creative, but only as far as safety allows. I do not want to make a list that is pretty much the same on any kids toy. Probably the two most important rules to follow are: do not create loops that can scoop up heads/legs/hands. The baby won’t be able to get out as the child doesn’t understand these things yet. Last but not least, make sure everything is fastened. If you can not guarantee it is really very sturdy, do not use it. I am talking about things like buttons/bells etc. This might make it look very pretty, but you never know when they can reach them and swallow them the wrong way. If it is anything I have learned, it is that kids can be unpredictable. Okay, I am going to stop here. Please know the safety of this baby-gym is entirely up to you, eveybody is responsible for their own creations!

Make sure the loops are attatched really well, if the baby pulls them from the fabric it is tedious to get them back in place.

As you can see from the pictures I also put in some elastic, these parts I like the best. It means a kid can reach for a toy, can drop it, but it will always stay close at hand, to drool over it again! But make sure the fabric surrounding the elastic is wide, so getting entangled in it is difficult. I also added two stings of fabric that are more like cord. These should not pose a risk when they are not knotted. And I need make sure when I add a toy to knot it tightly at the top of the baby gym and not lower, so it does not create a loop. Please note that these things are definetely not on a safe-for-babies list. But I took some liberty here.

While I am sure the main bar could work without anything in it, I had a piece of foam left from some packing we received. You could also try filling it with fabric, or rolled-up paper.

Now for the bow-ties! I took a quick look at http://www.tie-a-tie.net/bowtie/ in order to find how to tie a bow-tie. It has a nice clear description. Even better, it has a pattern! If the pictures I have here inspire you to also close you baby gym with a real (!) bowtie, head to this page: http://www.tie-a-tie.net/make-a-bow-tie/ and download it form them like I did.

back of bow-tie


Now the pattern has a part that speaks about inches. On a regular bow-tie this is the collar of the shirt you make the bow-tie for. Naturally I make the bow-tie for a wooden-bar rather than a neck. So this part should only be as long as the wooden-bar is thick. Now, make one pattern part like the tutorial on the aforementioned website, and one part you make in two, with seem-allowance. This way you can neatly stitch the fabric-bar into the bow-tie!

happy chappy

He seems to be happy with the product of today! I sure think his play-pen looks better than before and he can have fun with this one from now on, as he can crawl and turn himself over as much as he wants. I am sure, though that at one point also this new product will no longer be interesting to him!

Not en-tire-ly new

In this blog I will let you in on how I changed a painting we barely looked at into one we do not want to miss. By means of magnets I will be able to keep changing the pictures, echoing either the scenery of the room, or adding the new pictures we keep taking over time. I might actually be able to include some small elements on the inside of the canvas! This will become clear in a bit…

New life to an old canvas.
New life to an old canvas.

The painting that we barely looked at was the result of an amazing view on a trip that I was unable to capture nicely. Already right after having it printed we concluded that this wasnt the best picture for this frame. After some time and moving house a few times the canvas was damaged. This damage I would ideally like to keep for some character in the canvas.

Damaged canvas, cerveral moves and replacements.
Damaged canvas, ceveral moves and replacements.

Because the pictures that I chose this time were chosen because of the colour-scheme they had rather than being chosen for what is depicted. Black or dark grey would be preferred over any other colour as that would never suit all the pictures in this particular frame. You might ask yourself: “Why not white?”; it is because it meant changing the frame around the canvas back to white. I would rather have a new black frame if I would have done white. Besides, there are many people in the arts that prefer a black background behind a painting rather than white because black absorbs all the colours of the spectrum.

Colour sceme was the important factor, but not as if the subjects of these pictures aren’t worthy!

So, to work! Together with my daughter I painted the frame black. She was unable to handle the pencil properly, which resulted in even more characteristic damaged parts. Lovely as I was unable to keep all the parts that were damaged unpainted.

Painting just like mum!
Painting just like mum!

Now, in the past I have done something similar. For our wedding I painted the oceans in multiple hues of blue leaving out the white of the canvas for our guest to sign. After that day I used small cube-shaped magnets, 3mm, to fasten the pictures.

The magnets make a playfull arrangement of the photos possible.
The magnets create the possibility  of a playfull arrangement of the photos.

I tried to use different shape magnets this time, cylinders. Magnets come in many shapes and sizes, so you can personalize away. These cylinders did not work as well as the cubes because they seemed to be not as strong. The magnets I bought are called Neodymium. I got them from the website magnet-shop.com. They ship just about everywhere, so it seems. Their shop is in 4 different languages.

Two shapes of magnets on black painted recycled canvas.

Now, to complete this panel I tried for an old (racing bike) inner tire to be the way of fastening. It worked! I just pulled the tire around the canvas, no need for attaching it to the canvas because of the stretchiness of the tire. The screw I used in the wall is a particular big one, as you can see. This so it holds the rubber properly. This way of hanging it to the wall means you can turn the canvas around and decorate it differently.

Backwards display.
The tire is about 20 cm smaller than the canvas edge, it will stretch bigger due to the weight.

But right now it is in our bedroom, with all the pictures together. I do not need to warn you about the small parts in this project. Currently it is not safe to have this painting in any other room in the house. It is not a problem for us, as we are the ones in this house that appreciate it the most!

Seems to have worked well!
Time for bed!

Wrap Work

We have a Dutch tradition, Sinterklaas. It is on December 5th; a tradition of tossing things. Out. Of the window. And after that, for Christmas, another pile. I am talking about gift wrapping. With the help of fabric, I want to try and half that pile, this year, and possibly the next years too?

It is wat is inside that matters!

In order to halt that afore mentioned pile you could of course reuse the wrapping paper. Also there are plenty of wrappings available that you can arguably use again. But made of paper you will see wear on them. Also, this year our family needs to fly with our presents. So even if we do use new wrapping paper it will look second-hand by the time we unpack!

So I am going to use fabric bags to wrap the gifts in. And because of the important part of unwrapping, I need at least a 3 second delay between trying to open the gift and having the gift in your hand. Therefore I will be making the closures a little bit fiddly. Make a zipper, hiding a zipper. Use twenty different buttons. I am thinking about stuff like that. Lets see if I can use bags but keep the anticipation of unwrapping?

So, off I go in search of fun coloured fabric leftovers or used up clothing. As best I can I make a selection of bright colours and make sure I have enough meters. The sizes of gifts nowadays are notable, since there are more and more little kids in our family and the smaller the kids, the bigger the presents. Besides that, making teeny-weeny bags is no use, as the probability of fitting in next years gifts becomes smaller the smaller the bag is.

But there appears to be something missing. I need to make sure it is clear this gift wrapping is in the appropriate theme! There are plenty of X-massy fabrics, but we give our gifts for the Dutch tradition of Sinterklaas… And gift giving for Sinterklaas but in Christmas paper is a no-go. So is there fabric with the Sinterklaas theme? Sure, at my (!) Spoonflower store. I didn’t really have any other choice…


Now, next up is your box of buttons, ribbons and other leftover things, make sure you keep it near. Yes, now you can reach out, find the colours on the bottom of your yarn box! Grab them patches of fabric you haven’t seen in years! Take them all out, baby!

Now for some play-time behind my machine! I am making two almost identical bags at the same time, “on the go” withouth much planning. Identical bags, in order to see how the bags work for different sizes of gifts. “On the go” because I like to give room to the unexpected side of this creative process.

Identical bags
Identical patchworked bags, the Sinterklaas-pattern working together with the other fabrics nicely.

As you can see, I patch worked together some fabrics, to create a fun feeling. Than four fabric ribbons. Now some clever wrapping…

Two very different size gifts in idential bags.
Can you see the shirt I reused?

Next up are two big bags, for big gifts. I want to make a kind of a corset-closure by stitching a two ribbons “zig-zag” on a piece of cloth, after which I stich it unto the bag. If you are also giving it a go, make sure the “entrance” of your bags are finished. I have put in an extra piece of fabric so you can not see inside before you have completely opened the bag.

Lace it up!
Lace it up! With these two I particular like the bow.

For some smaller items, I am making two enveloppe-style bags. They are very long, when I want them smaller I just roll over the opening of the bags and voila, a smaller bag!

The row of buttons make that the bag can be made smaller.
The row of buttons make that the bag can be made smaller.

So, there will be a big pile of gifts, together with the paper wrapped gifts.  I will hear in a week’s time what the unwrappers think of the presents like this. I’ll get back to you on that!

Top view of the pile of fabric gifts.

This was a lovely project! If you are going to make “bags for Christmas” than you might find yourself adding some juice to the sacks by using the stitches of your machine that you have never used before. If your audience is a little older than mine, use colours that are more sensitive, for a sleeker look. Maybe use velour or glittery fabric, to make it look contemporary or fancy. It is a lot of fun to make. And hopefully a small success at the Christmas table, this year or next. In any way, I will be wrapping up. (Whoeps)

Crocodile wear ‘n tear

This week I turned old green towels into a crocodile. I’d say it worked well, because this croc is scaring my 2 year old when it is in the hands of my 4 year old. So if you, like me, have things in the house that go into the category of “might come in handy sometime” keep on reading for some inspiration of what that handy might be.

Finished crocodile cq washing mitten

So, meet the model! This is the alligator we brought from our holiday in Florida. For you animal lovers out there, I know this is an alligator, but changing it into a washing mitten makes these features unrecognisable, so I will use crocodile and alligator as I please.

Croc matching towel colours.

My starting point was looking through my stuff, and see which colours I had. I found a lovely match with the dark green one, combined with the light green one. I could have gone for a snake, but since I know crocodiles are a hit in this house, I decided to go with that. If you are lucky to find an old yellow one you might go with a giraffe? This would work really well if you make the mitten extra long, like the neck of this particular animal! Or a lion?

When you go though your old towels, keep in mind this is only for the big surfaces,. For the smaller add-ons (like teeth) you will have to go for a single layer fabric that can be cut without fraying, like fleece for example. Towelling is quite thick, you need them to dry as fast as possible.

Croc tongue and one layer fleece tongue.

Before starting, try and get a clear image in your head of the shape of the animal. The model I had worked really well, so make sure you have a model or even pictures from the web might work. Than draw the features of the animal, what you would think works. Just on a piece of paper, very simple shapes.

Apart form the general shape, think about the following; what kind of animal do you want it to be? A funny one, with extra large ears or eyes? Making eyes bigger has the effect of making an animal look cute, or baby like, which is what I went for. Making it realistic is also an option, but a very difficult one as you are working with said thick fabrics. Much detail will be lost.

Espresso cup assisted round shaped baby eyes.

Just after that you will need to draw again, on pattern paper this time. I will try and explain more detailed how I did the mouth, because that is what is setting this beast apart from other animal type of washing-mitten!

I started by using a mitten I already had. One side will be the top of the head, the other side the mouth & bottom. You need to draw the bottom with a seam, horizontally, a little below the centre which will be the mouth. Than make a shape in 2 layers that will be the bottom jaw. This might be easier to understand through the pictures.

Bottom jaw and mouth stitched together. It helps to stich the crocs cutlery unto the surface before you add the final layer.

Now, as you are cutting and redrawing the flat patterns anyway, you might want to add a few more features of the animal. For example adding a bit of room where the shape of an animals head is thicker or higher. I added a little room where the eyes of the animal are. At the same time trying to shape the side of the crocs head. The nose is a lose part, but I needed this seam to attach it. The nose is a round shape with a flat bottom. After I folded it double I stitched it half a centimetre from the centre until a little over half. That makes it standing up after I sew the seams of the head together. How I did the nose might also be a good way to do an ear on your animal?

Alligator top head, along this seam will be the eyes and the nostrill.

Take care in what order you close all the pieces, as you need to make sure your thumb can get into the bottom of the mouth. The eyes I attached manually, whilst shaping the black of the pupil. Depending on your animal, you can go crazy on the eyes, think of a cat eye for example. Or the teeth for example, maybe you should make one gold!

The tongue was supposed to be the funniest part of this particular alligator. But the teeth turned out to be much more ridiculous than I expected as you can see on the pictures.

Anybody looking for a croc with baby eyes and ridiculus teeth? Also, find the orange-blue fabric at my spoonflower store: http://www.spoonflower.com/fabric/1052779-submission-urban-sightings-by-lijlijlijntje

It was much fun doing this, please let me know if you are going to give it a try. I would love to think with you on what to make and how to give it the best shape!

Soap-water crocodile alert!