A bit more than just an old coat.

Een zware oude jas…

This coat is pretty old. With broken zippers, and sun bleached patches. It is very clear it has been worn a lot outdoor. It is just horrible. But it is not. My husband (AKA Ben) has very fond memories going for this coat. I hate it, but whatever, life would be boring if we liked all the same things. We kept it in a closet for a long time, and than Marie Kondo* came and we moved it to a place where he could see it. But it was just not right for me. It was still gathering dust but in a place where we could see it, rather than someplace hidden.

In deze jas heeft mijn man Ben jaren teams gecoached. Dat kun je ook wel zien. Ik vind het ding niet om aan te zien. Maar nadat we netjes alle afleveringen van Mari Kondo* hebben gezien, is het item in kwestie verhuisd van de kast naar een haak op de muur. Zo wordt Ben wat vaker aan die mooie tijd herinnerd. En ik aan een stoffige orange jas. Ik had dus al snel besloten dat ik er wat aan moest gaan doen….

So I send him a shocking picture! I was going to turn it into a bag, as he keeps his sportswear in bags. Wanting to preserve as much as I could from the original jacket, I kept the pockets, and the bottom had a elastic band that I could use for the top of the bag.

Ik wilde zo veel mogelijk het gevoel van een jas blijven houden. Dus de ritsen en de zakken moesten blijven zitten. Er zat een elastiek in de onderkant, die wilde ik houden en aan de bovenkant zetten als afwerking. Ik moest eerst even nog het elastiek er opnieuw doorheen halen en afknopen, het functioneerde eigenlijk niet meer. Maar wanneer de tas af zou zijn weer wel!

The most fiddly thing was trying to get the sleeves to go flat without completely destroying the seams. I pinned them flat and later sewed from underneath. The sort of the same thing had to be done with the inside, but that could be done a little less pretty.

Natuurlijk moesten de mouwen plat. Dat was het grootste puzzelwerk maar is uiteindelijk prima gelukt door het gewoon meerdere keren op andere manieren te spelden en het vervolgens dicht te naaien.

The is the result on the inside. There is even the spare button! The zippers, apart from the broken front zipper, are all functioning. It really is still a coat!

Hier de binnenkant, de elastiek van de onderkant zit nog niet aan de bovenkant maar verder is het zoals ik het hoopte.

Here I put together the sleeve to create the bottom, unfortunately the parts of the sleeve that will not be the bottom have to be discarded. But that is all of the parts that will be gone, while using no new materials, so my planet-loving heart is happy.

De twee losgeknipte mouwen zijn zeker groot genoeg om de bodem van de tas te worden. De bodem is gewoon een ronde vorm. Ik heb een emmer als mal gebruikt om het mooi rond te krijgen.

The loop to hang the coat-bag (or maybe Bagoat?) is from the part of the sleeves used to close up the sleeves even further in a case of bad weather. I just stitched them together, in between two layers finishing up the zipper. The zipper was raw so it needed an extra layer.

Deze elementen, die de jas hanger vormen, komen van de mouwen. Je kon ermee de mouwen wat verder dicht trekken. Ik heb ze gewoon op elkaar gestikt. Weer een stukje van het originele materiaal kunnen gebruiken!

So this is the end result! The hood positioned like this means it still really looks like a jacket when hanging. I am happy it worked so well like this because this idea only formed when I was already cutting the coat up.

De jas-tas hangt nu op een mooi plekkie in onze slaapkamer. Zodat Ben er regelmatig aan herinnerd wordt. En ik heb er ook meer vrede mee, al is het wel een lelijke oranje vlek. Het is in ieder geval een functionele oranje vlek.

This was all that was leftover from the coat. Not too much, right? All I used for new materials was the stitching I used in my machine.

Dit zijn alle materialen die over zijn, ik ben erg tevreden dat ik geen nieuwe materialen heb gebruikt naast het stikgaren voor in de machine. De kleur had ik nog van een ander project.

(*) Marie Kondo, wij zijn hier thuis wel even in de ban geweest van haar methode. En als je, zoals zoveel, moeite hebt met de hoeveelheid spullen die je opgebouwd hebt dat is ze zeker de moeite van de aandacht even waard. Opruimen is atuurlijk mooi, maar ik vind dat we met zijn allen beter stil moeten staan bij de dingen die we kopen. We zouden ons moeten afvragen bij de dingen die we kopen of ze voor ons op de lange termijn ook nog een “spark of joy” brengen….

(*) Marie Kondo, a new living legend, I guess. But she likes tossing things away and I think we should be more caring about our products in the first place. Make sure you only get things you really want, so you will be able to store or display them in you house visibly. That way you can use what you own.

Baby-doll carrier.

My girl has her b-day. She is fond of dolls and fond of backpacks. So, I am making her a baby-doll carrier. She has got to like that!

Friends in a bag…

One of my friends’ kids has one, and it is handmade. First time I saw it I thought it was from a store, that’s how great it looked. I like to learn from the best and I got a head-start because I got her pattern and some advice on how to go about it.

This is a head-start!

So, as I set out to make this I wanted to make it from materials that I already owned. If you look closely to the original, this is the purple with yellow one, you will see that this fabric is more heavy/sturdy. It looks more like the grown-up baby-carriers. I want to work with my scraps but if you have more thick material go for the thicker version.

For the closures and straps, I found out I had a few from a suitcase that I had to throw away a while ago. I do not have enough for the entire length but with the pattern of the fabric that I have chosen I think it works well enough.

selected scraps and recycled closures.

With this carrier the difficult part is just to establish the order in which to sew everything. You could do the following. Start by making the straps. After the straps you should make the fabric parts, first the shoulder part than the back part and lower back part.

Close-up of the original

Try to make the straps in such a way that both close in the same way. Pull the straps through the closures and fix them as much as possible, which makes it easier to attach later.

straps in the making

After that you can start with the shoulder parts. It looks great if you line them with something that is a bit thicker. No need to have stuffing or anything like that. I used some sweat, you could probably also use some towelling. After you made these parts pin them on one part of the back panel, so you can sew them directly into the fabric when you are ready to start making that part.

At this time I forgot to pin the straps that come from the side of the back panel. It was no big problem to attach them later, but off course it is easier if you do it the right way.

Hmm, better luck next time!

At the moment you still have a top and a bottom part of the baby-doll-carrier, you should consider to do some topstitching. This will make the backpack look nicely finished. Just a few millimetres from the edge. If your machine can handle it, try thicker tread!

Now, please note a difference between the two backpacks. Where the original has two darts in the “bum-area” to give the sack a bit of shape, I created 2 holes. The reason is a tip given by the original maker. Real babies will be put in the backpack with their legs wide. But many dolls have rigid legs. They can’t rotate freely from the hip or bend at the knee.

Meet (the backs of) teddy and doll!

My friend has made a bit of fun attaching a plastic ring to the back of the doll-carrier. I had a bit of reflective tape that I attached in the final seam. Sorry kiddo, safety first!

Picture before fastening the last seam.

Hope you liked what I had to share, but it actually doesn’t matter because Jenna sure loved it!

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!


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!