Upcycled Gift Tags

Is this an original idea? No. Is it something we maybe need reminding to do? Maybe. Christmas is a wonderful time of year but it is also a time when we all generate a lot of waste unfortunately. Instead of just tossing all those lovely cards and gift bags we receive why not cut them up into pretty tags to use for next year!

Make use of any prints on the front of the gift bag or card such as Merry Christmas or cut out around pictures such presents or snowmen. For gift bags the first thing you need to do is remove the ribbon handles (keep them to use next year too)

Once I cut open my gift bag I ruled up lines on the back. I roughly did them about 2″ x 2.5″ and cut them out. If you have a cutting tool such as guillotine this would be super easy to slice them up but I did mine by hand. Some are a little wonky but that’s ok no one is going to complain! You could cut them into any shape or even use craft cutting machine such as Sizzix Big Shot but it would generate a little more waste around each shape.

Don’t just use the fronts/backs of gift bags. Make use of the folds in the sides of gift bags. Once the bag is cut open you can easily fold the card the other way to make tiny Christmas cards. I again cut them roughly 2″ tall. These would be super cute to add to any gift

This idea isn’t just for Christmas you can use this idea any time you get a card or gift bag. I will confess this isn’t a zero waste project as some parts needed to go in the recycling bin as I cut them out. Some had marks on the reverse side of the cardboard and others were jagged edges from when I cut the bag open along the folds. Compared to just tossing the bag in the bin the waste was minimal. I was just thinking this year I was running low on tags for my presents but now I don’t have to go out and buy more which saves money and I have reduced waste. I’m keeping my cards in an old ice cream container which I will label so I know exactly where they are for next year.

Merry Christmas


Upcycled Polo Shirt Pillow


Mr StitchNSew needed a new pillow, I could have easily just gone and brought one but instead I made him something that I promised I would do at some point. Both Mr StitchNSew and I went through our wardrobes before we moved culling items we no longer wore or were past their prime. Most items were easily to let go of but Mr StitchNSew had one shirt he couldn’t wear but didn’t want to toss out so I said I would turn it into a pillow like I did last year for a friend.

This wasn’t a straight forward project of washing the shirt and stitching up a pillow. For a simple project there was a few steps involved and I am actually counting this as my “More Involved” project on my Sewing Bingo 2020 Card. The first thing was to soak the shirt to try and remove the stains, unfortunately they didn’t all come out.

The next step was to mend some tiny holes in the front. I used my darning mushroom for possibly the first time. I got it a few years ago at a craft show. I think I only paid a few dollars for it or it was possibly given to me for free as charity organisation had made some to sell and people weren’t buying them. Up until now I had never worked on a project where I needed to use. It worked well to help me oversew the holes.

Before I could square the shirt up and cut out my rectangle shape I needed to adjust the button placket. The first step was to slip stitch it shut on both the outside and inside of the shirt and remove the buttons. I didn’t want it to come open or tug from the inside. There were a couple of holes that couldn’t be mended shut so once I cut out my square rectangle shape for the pillow using some of the sleeve that I cut off I made a placket cover which I slip stitched into place over the top of the placket. It does make the area feel a bit bulky but not uncomfortable. I think it looks better than if I had tried to cover up the hole but still had the button hole openings.

To insert the zipper I used the method where you mark the zipper placement then sew the entire seam but put large basting stitches where you want the zipper to be. You then lay the seam open flat, place the zipper in the centre of the seam and sew around it. Afterwards you remove the basting stitches. I’m still working out my lighting in our new place. In my old place I knew where I could sit for certain jobs. I don’t have as much natural light in the new place and I’m still learning where I can sit do certain craft jobs. I actually went and sat on the balcony for all my hand sewing of this project as with my dodgy eyesight and lighting I couldn’t see inside navy on navy. It was a good easy project to learn my light source on.

I made my own pillow insert to go inside. Once the case was finished I just measured the size an cut out a pillow form to match. Fabric is very subjective and I don’t mean to offend anyone who likes this print but I’m calling it my ugly fabric. I can’t be certain if this was fabric that was my mum’s or if I picked it up in fabric swap day for charity pouches. It isn’t fabric I would buy myself but it was in my stash needing to be used. Actually it had just been upacked from a box of yarn where I used it to cover up the gap in the top of the box. For a pillow insert no one will see it was useful fabric. I haven’t unpacked my fabrics yet so for adhoc projects I’m kind of just grabbing any fabric that I can and using it.

Mr StitchNSew is happy with his pillow. I don’t often make things for him (or I say I will but never get around to it) Everything in this pillow came from my stash so it was free pillow and decluttered a few supplies too.



Upcycled T-Shirt Pillow

Upcycled T-Shirt Before

In the decluttering that me and my best friend have been doing she found an old t-shirt she doesn’t wear and asked “Can you make this into a pillow?” I had never upcycled a t-shirt into a pillow before but thought sure of course I can.

Upcycled T-Shirt Front

I didn’t follow any tutorials I just looked at the shirt and thought of it as a piece of fabric. I started by cutting off the neck area so it was straight at the top. I didn’t realise the shirt had no side seams, it was one of those tubular shirts. I ended up slicing down the shirt straight on either side which removed all of the sleeve area and gave me 2 squares of fabric. At the time I was making this I had no overlocker as it was away for service. I decided to keep the bottom hem as is because the edges were finished and I could install a zipper into it without too much issue. I used the method where you mark out where you want your zipper to be placed then sew a standard seam with regular stitch length either side of the marking but have a long tacking stitch in between the marks where you then place your zipper and sew around it. As I was sewing 2 flat pieces of fabric it was easy to lay the seam open flat to place the zipper. The first seam I did I didn’t leave enough room for my zipper to lay flat so I unpicked it and redid it.

Upcycled T-Shirt Back

The rest of the outer pillow construction was very basic. After ensuring I left the zipper open I just stitched around the big square. As I mentioned I had no overlocker so to finish the raw edges I used the overlocker stitch on my machine. The stitch eats a lot of thread and is a slow process but it is worth it.

Upcycled T-Shirt Side

I am actually super happy with how the outer pillow turned out. The same image is repeated on both sides of the shirt so I didn’t have to be exact with my side seams but they matched pretty well.

Upcycled T-Shirt Bottom

Instead of trying to buy a pillow insert to fit I made one. I just measured around the finished shirt and using those measurements I make one from white calico. I tend to make my turning/stuffing gaps too short so I made sure it was large enough to get my entire hand in. I have plenty of stuffing in my stash and this pillow ate about 500g. I made sure all the stuffing went down into the bottom corners and worked up from there. Before I finished stuffing it completing I put inside the pillow casing to ensure it was going to fit but also so I didn’t over stuff it. It fits snuggly. I ended up sewing the stuffing gap closed whilst still in the pillow as I was too lazy to pull it back out.

Upcycled T-Shirt Home

Now that I have rambled on about all the technical makings of this pillow I’ll let you in on a little secret. This pillow was more than just upcycling a shirt. It was sewing as therapy. I generally don’t get emotional, particularly when sewing. I might be happy sewing but I don’t put emotion into it. Creating this pillow made me feel connected to my best friend who had gone through a tough week after the death of her mother in law. The death brought back emotions for both of us as we both no longer have our mums. Creating this pillow I was sewing for my mum, her mum, her mother in law. My friend and I don’t live near each other so I couldn’t give her a hug but this pillow was my way of giving her the hug I couldn’t physically give. Once it was finished I messaged her to tell this and I explained this isn’t a sad pillow but a happy pillow. To be honest this is probably the best thing I have ever made. It turned out perfect. I am super happy that the most perfect thing I have ever sewn was for her.



Upcycled PJ Pants

Satin Sheet

I have a small problem in winter when I have flannel sheets on the bed and wear flannel pj pants I stick to the bed which is a small issue when I need to turn over every 30 – 60 mins. I wake myself up as I have to really put effort into moving and the bed really jerks around. My solution was to make some pj’s in some silky fabric that would slide against the flannel. By chance when I was clearing out my linen cupboard I found a queen size polyester satin top sheet that I never use. It was just the thing I needed to make my pants. I love the idea of upcycling and it is something I really want to do when I get the chance.

Simplicity PJ Pattern

PJ pants have been on my todo list for ages, months ago I drew up my pattern Simplicity It’s So Easy. I did the size XL It is a nice basic pattern and that was all I needed.

Simplicity Cutting Board

I’d never worked with any type of satin before but that didn’t faze me. It was very slippery as I was trying to place my pattern pieces on the fabric but I had a solution last year I purchased a foldable cardboard cutting board at the Simplicity Industry Day. Laying that on the table first than placing my fabric on top instantly made it more stable to work with. This was the first time I’ve used my cutting board and it won’t be the last so if your ever thinking about one I can recommend them.

Pinned Pattern

I overlocked all my edges first then stitched it on the regular sewing machine. I cut my fabric a little larger than the pattern as I wasn’t sure how much would come off when I overlocked it. The pattern says you can easily make it on the overlocker and to be honest next time I will. It took longer the way I did it this time but never mind I still ended up with the same result. I did have a laugh just before I stitched up my side seams I looked down and thought “Oh crap I’m making scrub pants” If you have ever had to wear scrubs that tie at the side you’ll know what I’m taking about.


For the elastic I went through my stash to see what I had. I decided to go with the a knit elastic I found, it was the right width and felt nicer than the woven elastic I had of that same width. I stretched the elastic around my waist until it felt comfortable and marked it with a pen I then added about 1″ to the pen line before cutting. Silly me forgot to measure how long I cut it out of curiosity. Once I threaded it through the casing I tried the pants on to check the fit before sewing the elastic together. Threading elastic through casing is one sewing job I just don’t like. A nappy safety pin is now going to live by my sewing machine for this purpose as I struggle with anything else.

Upcycled PJ Pants Marking

I wasn’t sure how I was going to determined the front and back of these so by chance I left my elastic gap in the back (I never checked when making the casing) So I did some decorative satin stitches to close the gap and identify which way they go.

Upcycled PJ Pants Hem

Originally I tried to use the border pattern at the end of the sheet as a feature at the bottom of the pants, however when I tried on the finished pair they were miles to long. I should’ve actually cut the them and fixed it properly with a double folded hem but I just folded the ends up and hemmed them that way. As you can see I had to take them up a lot.

Upcycled PJ Pants

These pants are by no means the neatest sewing I’ve ever done. There are pleats in my hems and a few other tiny flaws but it doesn’t matter I still ended up with what I wanted pj’s I could wear that would slide on the flannel sheets and they cost me nothing. I’ve tried these out and yes they work. The pattern is unisex and I’m really happy with it. The fit does look a little bit loose but if you adjust the elastic to your waist you’ll be fine. These aren’t fashion items they are functional comfy pants to wear at home. I live in pj pants summer and winter, I don’t want tight ones I just want ones that stay up without my having to hold them. I’ll be making these again but I will be adjusting the length. Also next time I think I will just do them on the overlocker and only do the hems and waistband on the machine. I need to get more knit elastic too as it is perfect. They still do look a little like scrubs but I’ve never seen scrubs this fancy or this flammable 🙂


May Sewing – Upcycled Child’s Cape

Old Sports Coat

This was the mens sports coat that I had planned to upcycled into the Big Little child’s cape this month. The coat is merino wool and I thought would be perfect for the outer layer of the cape. Sadly I’m not going to be able use it and make the cape. Once I printed the pattern out I couldn’t sit the pattern pieces easily within the fabric panels already within the coat. I could’ve completed pulled the coat apart and stitched it together to be one piece of cloth but I ran the risk of having seam lines where I joined the pieces of the jacket on the cape in places I didn’t want, besides I’m actually doubtful that I would’ve had enough fabric anyway as the jacket was on the smaller side. At some point I do wish to still make the cape, I have some wool knit in my stash that could be used for the outer layer of the cape (and it is pink) I’m going to hold onto the coat. It wasn’t suitable for this project but I’m sure I’ll be able to find something to make with it.


I’ve Decided To Castaway

C2C Logo

Castaway To Couture 2016 is a competition being held by the Australian Sewing Guild where participants are challenged to bring new life into old garments. The rules are pretty simple you either purchase an item/s from an op shop (charity / good will shop) or you raid your own stash for clothes you don’t wear for whatever reason and you alter the item into something new. It is a nationwide competition with some fantastic prizes for the winners including a sewing machine, gift vouchers and patterns. Winners are awarded by judges on the most transformed item but there are also viewers’ choice winners.

C2C Skirt

I’ve decided to enter this competition. I’m not in this to win some of the fantastic prizes, but who would say no a Craftsy voucher. I’m going to do this a personal challenge. Bringing new life into old garments is something I have wanted to do for a long time, it’s about time I gave it a shot. The first item I have chosen was an article of clothing I have culled from my stash just this week (thanks CC for the inspiration) This is a nylon/polyester velveteen stretchy long tube skirt. After picking it up for the first time in years I discovered that some of pile had started to come away from the fabric. It has been dragged on the ground or caught in shoes. It was time for it to go, I was going to add it into my fabric stash thinking I could use it in a toy. 2 days later I discovered this competition and thought perfect I have something already.

C2C Pants

The 2nd item I’m using is some polyester imitation suede pants. I had culled these about 12 months ago, it was only during a night of insomnia and hot weather that I remembered I hadn’t actually taken these to the op shop yet and they were still sitting in my spare room. I’ve had these for a good 10 – 15 years. I stopped wearing them due to a) they are really hot to wear and b) they sit low and there isn’t much room in the crotch area. Looking at them now the hem has come undone on one leg and I never bothered to fix it. Also they don’t have pockets, I can’t wear pants without pockets. These have a funny story. In a department store once I went past the baby section and happened to see pants that were exactly the same as these! Same fabric, same stitch detail above the knee. I remembered thinking I have toddler pants. I have a feeling I never wore these again after that day.

C2C Before

Both items have pasted the first test, the wash test. Both say to hand wash separately but I stuck them both together on a cold water wash and they survived. I dare say that’s how they’ve always been washed all this time as I don’t do fancy washing. I have a few ideas of what I want to do. Not sure if all will work but you never know if you don’t try. I can say during my night of insomnia I pretty much planned it all out at 1:30 am and wrote all the ideas down later. With the ideas I have in mind I don’t see myself winning most transformed item, however hopefully I’m going to have an item that I can wear. An item that I have created using principles that I feel strongly about – upcycling, recycling, simple living by making it myself. It will be a free item as I’m not planning on purchasing anything extra for this. All materials will come from my current stash or the item itself. I love a good challenge and this is my challenge to me. Watch this space and no matter the outcome I’ll share this with you.


Recycled Tea Towels

I never know if the term is recycling or upcycling these days anyway I’ve turned a batch of old tea towels my friend was going to throw out into a batch of cloths for her that she can use to wipe up spills or clean with. My friend isn’t a sewer so I happily made these up for her. Old tea towels are so useful.

Upcycled Tea Towels

I cut each tea towel into quarters. As each piece already had 2 hemmed sides all I needed to do was do a double folded hem on the other 2 sides and secure it with a row of zig zag. I checked to see if my friend wanted me to use a matching thread but she didn’t care so I went through all my half bobbins and used them up. I left the spool I currently had threaded in my machine as my top thread. This was a great way to declutter all the half full bobbins.

Upcycled Tea Towels 1st Batch

Previously I’d made a batch of these cloths for myself. I however never stitched the sides leaving raw edges. Mine were also cut smaller. Warning if you don’t hem them they tangle in the washing machine and the sides do fray. I was being lazy at the time. Mine sit in a basket on my bench top and I use the cloths like paper towels. Before I made these I was going through a lot of paper towels now I only grab a paper towel only if its a really icky mess that isn’t hygienic. I wash the cloths regularly when I was my tea towels and dishcloths.