Witchy Messenger Bag

One of the last clothes upcycles I did for my daughter's carnival stall was this cute Witchy Messenger Bag.
I made it from a pair of jeans and an old shirt and used my own messenger bag from jeans tutorial here.

I was really happy that I found a great use for the collar of the shirt - as a skirt for the witch.

 I think this collar-skirt works well and will definitely be using that idea again in the future!
 I also love that I found another use for the green and black socks. I made a sock monkey from the main part, 
but there was still some of the socks left over as they were quite long - that's what I used for the witches socks appliqué!

And the purple shirt fabric works really well for the lining of this bag. And the rustic look of the worn jeans pocket is another feature I really like!

Well that's my final Halloween project for this year!
I shall share a final few Halloween features from the Round Tuit party tomorrow - in case you want any last minute spooky inspiration!

Tomato Pincushions

When browsing the internet, deciding what kind of pincushion to make for my girls, I found lots of pictures of tomato pincushions. I'd actually never seen one before, but have since learned that many original pincushions were tomato shaped, and many people still have tomato pincushions passed down through generations of sewers!

So not only are they a traditional type of pincushion, but I also learned that a red tomato at a window helps ward off evil spirits, and one on the mantel piece attracts wealth and abundance! (Source)
So this definitely seemed a good choice of pincushion to make for my girls.

I found this brilliant video tutorial from Martha Stewart showing how simple it is to make one. Take a look...

Aren't they just the cutest, simplest pincushions ever?

I made one each for my girls 

as part of sewing kit bag gift sets that I made for each of them

I gave them these gifts to say thank you for being such awesome pattern testers for my new e-book.

Have you ever seen a tomato pincushion? Or do you have one of your own perhaps?

Halloween Drinks Coasters

With Halloween fast approaching, I'm getting out our spooky decorations etc in preparation.

One thing that comes out every year is our Halloween Drinks Coasters. I made these a few years ago. They each have a silly Halloween joke on them, and since we only get them out once a year - we all seem to have forgotten them and still get a giggle out of them!
If you'd like to make some Halloween Drinks Coasters of your own - you can see the tutorial here.

I'll have to make a few of our regular Halloween decorations too - like these mummy candle jars..

And I'll be making my girls favourite - marshmallow eyeballs!

Do you have a favourite Halloween decoration or food that you make or cook every year?  Tell me in the comments!

Upcycled Life - school carnival stall report

Last weekend was our annual school fair - The Coconut Carnival.
I've spent the past few months upcycling clothes into things to sell at the carnival.

What was I doing?

I wanted to show a way to create things from the resources we have to use as a fundraiser at the carnival - an alternative to buying plastic trinkets and sweets for the lucky dip or bottle stall! And it was a way to promote upcycling in general!

I've had enormous fun creating things over the course of the year from this pile of clothes I got that were left over from last year's carnival stall. Go here for more details of things I made.

I've shared what I've made here on the blog and on my Facebook page - also creating and sharing many new tutorials to help others upcycle clothes too. So before the carnival even started I feel like I've already achieved a lot!

School carnival day, and my stall

I set up my stall and was really pleased with the finished look. I had over 150 items for sale (someone did ask!) ranging in price from $2 to $30. 

Plus all the gorgeous unique wrist cuffs that the kids helped to create.

The Coconut Carnival is a huge affair each year - with so much going on. I had a lovely view from my stall.

I could see the rides and the helicopter taking off and landing!

But back to my stall...


Things sold slowly and steadily throughout the day and I had plenty people coming over to comment on things and show an interest.

In the end I made $150 profit for the school, which I think it pretty good from a bunch of old clothes! 
I've done a few market stalls over the years and think this was actually the best I've ever done in one day!

Reflections and thoughts after the day

Overall, I'm glad I did this upcycled clothes stall for the school. I learned a lot and am really pleased with what I produced and that I could help raise some funds for the school.

However, I won't be doing the same next year. 

I want to make a difference, but I don't think an upcycled handmade stall at the school carnival is the way.
I will continue to upcycle clothes, and this week will be opening an etsy shop stocked with all these upcycled goodies I now have!

But at the carnival, watching and listening to people I found that - there were those who commented that my things were overpriced, as you get often with people looking at handmade goods. They cannot compare in price with things churned out from factories in China for example.
I totally get this. I mean why buy a handmade soft toy at my stall, when round the corner you can go to the white elephant stall and find decent donated cuddly toys for $1?  
People want a bargain - and when kids are buying things themselves with their pocket money - of course a $1 bear is going to be their choice rather than a $15 handmade turtle, or sock monkey.

I was also asked as the evening wore on, when I was going to start reducing my prices, to clear things out. Well I didn't. For a start it's not fair to those who have just paid full price, but it also devalues what I and others have spent time and effort making.

As I mentioned, this carnival is a huge affair. Sadly - I was only too aware of the waste produced by it - not just the endless food and drink containers and bottles that are just discarded and not recycled, but also the huge amount of plastic toys, glow sticks and other plastic fantastic won in games and bought for a dollar or two.

People come to the carnival to have fun, play games, go on the rides and eat and drink. I don't believe it's the ideal place for a handmade stall. People don't really come to 'shop'.

So what's next?

So I shall have to get my thinking cap on for next year. Something that fits the bill better, but is still eco-friendly and has some upcycling in there somewhere. Any suggestions welcomed!

For now - I shall continue to share on my blog my upcycled and sewing creations, tutorials and ideas. It's always rewarding to have comments and emails from people who have used my tutorials or been inspired by what I do to upcycle their clothes!

An encouraging story

One of the best comments I had at the carnival stall was from a friend whose daughter did some pattern testing for me recently of my new 

The other day her daughter had come out of her wardrobe carrying the old pair of jeans that still fit her Mum, asking if she could cut them up to sew with! Needless to say Mum said no, but took her to the charity shop where she bought an enormous pair for $1 and is now looking forward to making lots of things with them!

It's nice to know I am inspiring others to "Use What You've Got", which is really what I'm passionate about and feel that society as a whole needs to do more of and move away from constantly buying new and spending money. We need to make full use of the resources we already have, rather than using them once and then discarding them.

Thank you if you've read to the end of this post, and to those who have followed this clothes upcycling challenge of mine this year.  It's been a lot of fun and certainly a huge learning experience.

Now it's time to set myself some new goals and challenges!
I shall leave you with a picture of the fireworks that ended the night at the school carnival - and ended my clothes upcycling challenge for 2015!

Final preparations for the upcycled stall - another pair of jeans upcycled.

Tomorrow is our school carnival - The Coconut Carnival.
All this year I've been upcycling clothing that I picked up at the end of last year's carnival - some of the unsold clothes from the second hand clothing stall.

I've made heaps of things from sock monkeys to bags and turtles to mini notebook folders.  I still have a few clothes left over and some bags of scraps, notions and seams etc. But I've now run out of time and will just have to save those for another time - maybe next year's stall!

All this week I've been promoting our stall at the school, by upcycling a pair of jeans, a shirt and a pair of socks little by little each day and displaying another one or two items made every morning in the school office window to show what our class stall will be all about.

I first made a sock monkey

Then a pencil case and tissue pouches.

A witchy messenger bag

A turtle 

and a pretty necklace with some scraps and buttons.

The kids at school helped make lots of pretty unique upcycled designer wrist cuffs.

My girls and their friends made the main stall sign yesterday, using fabric scraps and a hot glue gun!

So today and tomorrow morning will be spent labelling and pricing and sorting out the display.

I've spent so much time working towards this carnival stall - to show what can be made and done using the resources we have.
I hope I manage to inspire some people tomorrow and sell lots of upcycled goodies to raise funds for the school!

I shall be posting pictures and updates throughout the day on Instagram and Facebook if you're interested!

Wish me luck!

Witchy Bag - Upcycled from Shorts and a Top

With the school carnival in just 2 days time, this is one of my last upcycles for the class stall.

It's a shoulder bag with a zip and a witch appliqué on the front. All made out of a pair of (long) shorts and a top.

Here's how you  can upcycle a pair of shorts yourself to make one of these bags.

What you will need:

You will need a zip - I unpicked and used the one on the pair of shorts which was 20 cm (8") long. You could use one that was longer, but not any shorter.

Also cut 2 scraps of both the outer and inner fabric approx 10 x 5 cm (4 x 2"). this is for the ends of the zip.
2 pieces each of inner and outer fabric, 32 x 6 cm (12.5 x 2.5"). This is for the sides of the zip

Main bag part
Cut from your shorts or main fabric:
2 pieces 32 x 28 cm (12.5 x 11")
 Cut the same 2 sized rectangles from your inner fabric.

The strap
Carefully cut the waistband from your shorts for the strap.

Witch appliqué
Fabric scraps and fusible webbing
Sitting Witch Template - click here to download.

First take one of your outer bag main bag rectangles and your appliqué pieces. Use the fusible webbing to iron on the back of your fabric scraps and trace the parts of the witch template onto each fabric you have chosen. Cut the pieces out and iron into place in the centre of your main bag part.

Use a tight zig-zag stitch or the appliqué setting on your machine to stitch around all parts of the witch.

Now place this main bag part and the other main outer bag rectangle. Place them right sides together matching the edges and pin then stitch around the side and bottom seams.

Box the corners of your bag out to make a flat base for the bag. To do this, put your hand up inside your bag to one of the corners.

Pinch the corner flat so that the side and bottom seam are in line together. Pin across the 'triangle' shape you have made.

Repeat this with the other bottom corner of your bag.

Stitch across the corners where you have pinned. Your line of stitching should be 2.5cm (1") in from the tip of the triangle.

Trim off the end of this triangle close to the stitching. Repeat for the other corner.

Now to add the strap. 

First take your waistband and either unpick each belt loop to remove or stitch the other ends down and trim as I have done here.
I like the belt loops as an extra 'feature' on the strap, and a place to perhaps clip on keys or a small pouch!

Turn your bag right sides out, and pin the ends of your waistband strap to the sides of your bag - matching it up with the side seams.

Make sure your strap goes down about 6 cm (2.5") from the top edge of the bag.

Stitch each strap into place with a square and a cross stitched across the centre of the square at the end of each strap.

Inner Bag
Now take your inner bag pieces and place them right sides together. Pin then stitch them around the side and bottom seams as you did for your outer bag, but this time leave a gap of around 10 cm (4") in your side seam. You will need this to turn your bag right sides out when you finish your bag.

Box the corners of your inner bag out just as you did for your outer bag.

The Zip
Take your zip and the scraps for the ends.
Place one scrap from your inner fabric and one from your outer fabric on either end of the zip. Place these fabrics right sides together on either end of the zip. The outer fabric should be facing the front of the zip. Pin at the ends.

If you gently pull your fabrics back from the zip, this is what is should look like.

Stitch across where you have pinned, then trim the ends of the zip and fabric outside your stitching.

Pull back your fabric to expose the zip and trim in line with the long zip edges.
You now need this zip plus the four side zip pieces.

Place your zip face down on top of one of your outer pieces, then lay an inner piece face down on top of this. Match up the top edges.
Pin then stitch along the top edge, using your zipper foot.

 Now pull back both fabrics from the zip and top stitch along the edge of the zipper teeth,. This will prevent the fabrics from catching in the zip teeth when you open and close the zip.

Now lay this piece face down on top of your other outer piece, and then place the inner piece face down on top of the whole thing. Line up the top edges.

Pin, then stitch across the top edge with your zipper foot.

Then once again pull back the fabrics and top stitch close to the zip teeth.

Trim around all 4 edges to neaten.

Putting the bag together
Take your zipped rectangle and your outer bag which is still inside out.

With the right sides of both outer fabrics facing each other, pin these two pieces together around the edges of the zip rectangle and the top opening of the bag. You may need to pinch the corners of the zip rectangle to fit. Stitch all the way around.

No take your inner bag piece - right side facing out and push this inside your outer bag. The right sides of both inner and outer bag pieces should be facing.

Again, pin, then stitch all the way around the top edge

Turn your bag right sides out through the gap you left in the side seam of your inner bag.

Then pin and stitch this gap closed.

Finally top-stitch around the opening of your bag to hold the inner and outer fabrics together in line.

And there you have - a witchy bag made out of a pair of shorts!

A perfect upcycled bag for Halloween don't you think?

For the free downloadable PDF version of this tutorial, click here.

I hope you liked this tutorial. If you did, there are plenty more to browse through - from other bags and upcycles to things to make for kids or the home. I have over 100 free sewing tutorials available for all levels of sewing ability on