The Lesa Bag - a free tutorial

This bag I made on a request from one of my girl's swimming coaches - Lesa - hence the bag's name!
 She had an old favourite bag that was falling to bits, but she wanted to replace it with the same style bag and couldn't find one.
So I got the old bag and worked out my own pattern and made her one just the same - from an old pair of jeans:

Good tough fabric - and lined with a pretty maroon - also upcycled, from an old dressing gown!

When figuring out the pattern for this bag - I made a few trial versions - one went to my mum and one is the bag I use myself most day to day!  A great selection of pockets, the perfect size - and nice and sturdy in either denim or upholstery fabric!

The pattern does cut out nicely from an adult sized pair of jeans, so it's a great upcycling project! 
 (You may need to join two pieces of fabric together to make the larger back panel for the bag, or cut across both sides of one of the leg seams as I did here:)

Or, pick your own pretty fabric to make this great bag!

To download your own FREE PDF version of this pattern and tutorial,

If you like this bag - there are plenty more bag patterns available on my free tutorials pages.

Weekend clothes upcycling

We all have clothes in our wardrobe that we never wear. Perhaps they don't really fit, or perhaps our taste has changed since we bought them.
Those of us with kids also know how fast they grow out of their clothes - but equally how they have their favourite t-shirt or shorts that they just don't want to part with.

Upcycling or refashioning clothes is a great way to extend the life of these types of clothes - either as a 'changed' item of clothing or as something completely different.

You can break down clothing upcycling into categories:

  • Alterations - where the item of clothing remains the same item, but is changed or altered in some way to make it 'better' or more suited to the wearer.

This could be as simple as adding embellishments to hide stubborn stains or holes.

Or altering the size of the clothing item to fit - perhaps when someone has lost weight, or your style tastes have changed:

 - or kids have grown..

  • Next comes upcycling clothes into a different clothing item.

For example - a shirt to a dress:


a t-shirt to a dress

or even a sweater to a skirt:

  • Finally there's upcycling clothing into something completely different.

There are heaps of examples of clothes upcycled into bags.

Then there's quilts that are made from clothing with special memories.

Jewellery made from old clothes:

And even art.

Upcycling has always been around. Initially it was done out of financial necessity, for example using old worn clothing items to make patchwork quilts.  Think of "The Sound of Music, when Maria made clothes for all the children from old curtains! When people couldn't afford to just go out and buy whatever they wanted - they used what they had, upcycled, refashioned and created their own!

Nowadays if your shirt is worn, torn or just just decide you don't like it any more - chances are you'll throw it out and just go and buy a  new one.

What a waste! 
Not only is clothes upcycling thrifty, but it's also eco-friendly - reducing landfill, chemical pollution, energy consumption and huge amounts of water usage from new fabric and clothing production.

Next week I'm starting a new series of clothes upcycling posts that will look at individual clothing items in turn and ways in which they can be upcycled.  I will also add a linky to each post so others can add their own projects and ideas to each theme.
My aim is to create a useful resource that is easy to navigate and find ideas and information to encourage clothing upcycling.

Next week - on June 1st, I'll kick off with looking at upcycling jeans.

In the meantime - please do have a look at the general clothes upcycling linky which has over 600 ideas and projects to browse! A great source of inspiration!

So why not take a look in your wardrobe and clear out some clothes that you never wear! Then come back each week for ideas and inspiration as to what you can do with them!

Cloth rice bags - several different creative uses!

Ta Da...

Last week I mentioned that I had several of these cloth rice bags:
And had decided it was time to stop hoarding them and find uses for them!

Here's what I came up with..
A Rice Bag for aching muscles, joints or just for keeping us warm in winter!
I just snipped off the bottom portion of one of the bags, filled it with rice and sewed up the top!

Then I made...

A Mug Rug
Using the front and bag of one of the bags, with a layer of scrap fleece sandwiched between and plan scrap fabric sewn together to make a strip long enough for the binding!
(Please don't look too closely at my binding - it's shockingly bad, and one day I'll knuckle down to practice till perfect!)
Notice the cute mug which I was given for my 40th birthday last week!! :)

I also made a set of...
(using my own tutorial and a pair of back jeans pockets)

And finally these bags are great for...well...just plain bags 
- with an added touch of a handi-pocket
 (see my tutorial for the Christmas Handibag as to how this pocket works) 
so they can be slipped in bags or the car glove-box for emergency use!

I also used a couple of the bags to store various left over plastic party plates, cups and napkins we have..

Much neater and easier to put away in the cupboard now!

AND I sent my daughter off with one of these bags to her school camp!  On her list of things to take was a 'dilly bag'

dillybag or dilly bag is a traditional Australian Aboriginal bag, generally woven from the fibres of plant species of the Pandanus genus.[verification needed]. It is used for a variety of food transportation and preparation purposes. 
She needed one of these 'dilly bags' to keep her camp plate, mug, bowl and cutlery in when not in use - and one of these bags fit the bill perfectly!!

So now I have three solid zips, from the bags I used the fabric from, and a two and a half bags left over!

Not a bad attempt at using up these bags!

Thanks to those of you who commented last week with suggestions of what I could do with these bags.

Megan from Meggipeg said:

"I use these rice bags for my picnic set. Plates in one, cups and plastic wine glasses in another and cutlery in a bag that I cut to size and restitched. It keeps the sand out and it's easy to find everything in my big picnic basket. I look forward to seeing what you do with them."

and Sassss said:

I love doing things like this! A few ideas of the top of my head would be cloth napkins, herb filled eye bags (to keep in the freezer for a cool compress for fevers, burning, aching, puffy eyes), hot compresses, filled with dried kidney beans (to warm in microwave or oven), sprouting bags for growing your own wheat grass, alfalfa sprouts, broccoli sprouts, etc. All things to save money & theplanet, lol. 

You can melt 1 part beeswax & 4 parts thin, food safe oil (peanut oil would be good for this)together & 'paint the bags with it. Allow them to dry & use in place of plastic sandwich bags.

Although I did come up with a few different uses for these bags - I realised that I just thought of uses that involved things I've done before - ie  pot holders, handi-bags and mug rugs, and a rice bag.  I don't feel that I was overly creative - perhaps I'm getting a bit stuck in a creative rut......

I definitely do feel like I need a 
fresh outlook 
and a
burst of creativity
Time to explore a little more and see what can help me with that!

Any suggestions very welcome!

Little Jems - free tutorial and pattern

What is a 

Little Jem?

This is...
You might recognise this little character from my old profile picture!

I started making these Little Jems a few years ago, when a friend and I had a market stall to sell some of our handmade goods.
My Little Jems were always a best seller. They were popular with both girls and boys - and were also bought as novelty gifts for adults too!

They are made with scraps of PVC drainpipe, fur, velour and a little stuffing - although other fabrics can be used!

They aren't just cute little cuddly creatures - they are also little storage containers..
They can be used as desk tidies..

Jewellery holders...

or even as drinks holders:

They can be made in any colour and have been well loved and a big hit with the many kids who have bought them or received them as gifts over the past few years.

So, why am I telling you all this?
Well, I've decided to make a pattern/tutorial so that others can make  these little Jems for themselves.

I no longer have my market stall, having decided to put all my efforts instead into my blog.

But these Jems are too cute to stay hidden in Far North Queensland, Australia.

 My tutorial and pattern to make these Little Jems is now available for FREE here on Creating my way to Success.

It also includes the templates for the tags I used to sell them - and ideas for developing the pattern too.


Would you like your very own Little Jem? or do you know someone who would?

They are a tried and tested item to make for sale in markets..

Loved by kids for their soft cuddly fur, cute faces and neat storage inside!

Their uses are many and varied:

Limited only by your imagination!

To get the FREE tutorial and pattern download,

I do hope you have fun making these little guys - and if you do, please do send me pictures! I'd love to see them!

Happy Sewing!

Weekend clothes upcycling - a new plan and challenge

As part of my renewed focus and drive to grow my blog, I've decided to delve further into the world of clothes upcycling.
As you may know, I have a clothes upcycling linky party, which now has over 600 projects and ideas linked up.

This resource is constantly growing and is a great source of inspiration.
However, what I would like to build up is another resource where you can easily look up types of clothing and get ideas and inspiration of what to do with that particular item of clothing.  For example you may have a favourite t-shirt that has finally worn through and is no longer really wearable, but you still can't bear to part with then you could search this resource for ideas for upcycling t-shirts.

So week by week I'm going to research and collect all the information I can find about upcycling particular items of clothing. Then I'll collate each post together on an easy to navigate page so each post is easy to find for future reference.

I'm also going to do a ruthless cull of my own wardrobe, and use the information I find to help me upcycle my own clothing, so I will have some extra examples of the ideas and inspiration put into practice!

To keep me accountable and make sure this resource gets made - here's the plan - week by week and clothing item by clothing item.
A post each week on Saturdays.

1st - jeans
 8th - jeans part 2
 15th - dresses
 22nd - dresses - part 2
29th - tank tops

6th - swimwear
13th - t-shirts
20th - t-shirts part 2
27th - skirts

3rd - shirts
10th - shirts part 2
17th - underwear
24th - trousers / pants
31st - baby clothes

7th - pyjamas
14th - hats / caps
21st - shoes
28th - shoes part 2

5th - sweaters
12th - shorts
19th - socks
26th - leggings

2nd - track pants
9th - jackets
16th - scarves
23rd - belts
30th - cardigans

As you can see, these posts will start in June - giving me a little time to start researching and making them as packed full of information and ideas as I can. 
If you notice any items of clothing that I've missed - or you have ideas or projects that you'd like me to feature or include in these posts then please leave me a comment, or email me (you can find my contact details here).

Next week I'll post any revisions and or additions to this plan!

So for now - I'm off to clear out my wardrobe and see what items of clothing I have to work with - and also start searching the internet for even more ideas and inspiration!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend - and that you'll come back each Saturday to join me in exploring the fascinating world of clothes upcycling even more!

Giant fabric origami bag

One of my most popular tutorials is for this fabric origami bag:

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed a lot of pageviews on my blog coming to view this tutorial from a forum in Holland.  When I went to look at the forum, I found a picture of a larger version of this bag.  Unfortunately, although I bookmarked the page, it now won't show up in my browser, so I can't credit the inspiration behind my own larger version of this bag!

I used some pretty fabric that my girls chose.

Then I simply followed my own tutorial for this bag, but cut the fabric 80cm (approx 31.5") square.  Then instead of drawstring ribbon, I cut 2 strips of the outer fabric, 118 x 10cm (46.5 x 4"); double folded them lengthwise and top-stitched to hide any raw edges; then threaded one through each side of the bag casing and stitched each strap together in a loop.

I'm really pleased with the result:

I think it would make a great beach bag, or just general tote!

I also had some fun playing around with the effects I can use on my new birthday camera...

I've only had my camera for 2 days, but haven't had a chance to explore all it can do yet!  Looks like it might save me some time editing the photos on the computer, with all these cool effects on the camera itself! Can't wait to get snapping!

Have you ever tried any fabric origami?  This bag is very simple to make - equally easy large or small.
For the tutorial so you can make one for yourself - go here!

Many creative uses for a single object

As I've been looking at creativity over these past few weeks I've found in several places the idea of brainstorming as many different uses for a single object as possible as a way to encourage and stimulate your creativity.

This made me think of something I did a couple of years ago.
I had several old silver windscreen shades that I kept because I just knew they would come in useful one day!  (we all have things like that in our cupboards, right?)

Well, I decided it was time to finally use these things - and so I came up with several different uses for them:

(the silver shade provided the insulated lining for these)

A little Space Jem!

And even a shiny clutch purse!

 I think I managed to find some good creative uses for these old windscreen shades - and used up most my stash - although I do still have some silver scraps left!

So - I thought that it was time to flex those creative muscles again with something else I've been collecting knowing I'll find a use for them one day!

Rice bags:

Last year I found these in our local supermarket.  Previously we'd only been able to buy rice there in large plastic bags, so when I saw these lovely cloth ones I changed to buying them straight away - more eco friendly to have a cloth bag rather than a plastic bag. Plus they have a sturdy zip and are re-usable......for something!

However - I'm now amassing quite a collection:
13 bags and another in the cupboard still with some rice in!

So - rather than just endlessly saving these bags - I think it's time to do something with them!

Putting it out here on the blog should push me to actually do something!  
By next Wednesday I want to have made at least one thing from these bags!  Come back then to find out what I've come up with!
Meanwhile - any and all suggestions and ideas are very welcome! Please do leave me some comments!

Update - to see what I made with these bags...go here.

What have you been saving that you need to get around to using - come on, I'll bet there's plenty other out there hoarding things - let's get creative!!