I love Christmas cards! Whether I make them myself, or buy them (usually the year before on-sale after Christmas) I love picking out a sweet design and mailing them to friends and family far away. Traditional Christmas cards seem to be a dying tradition, with many people opting for photo cards or e-cards these days, but I do still receive a few old fashioned cards in the mail.
There are some really pretty card designs, and I always hate to recycle them after the holidays, so last year I saved all of the cards I and my family received, and upcycled them into gift tags to use this year! I love wrapping gifts, and it was nice to be able to reuse the cards, coordinating the wrapping papers and ribbons to go with each tag. This was such a quick and easy DIY, it’s can’t even be called a tutorial, yet I did want to share the idea with you, in case you also hate to toss greeting cards!
I used my Creative Memories oval templates and blades to cut the tags. This is the cutting system I got a long time ago…maybe 18 years? After all these years, it’s still going strong and I love it!
Centre the template onto the artwork and cut it out.
Punch a hole in the top of the card, and then string a piece of twine or ribbon through. I used the Fiskars small holepunch. A few of the cards had writing on the back, so I cut out an oval the same size out of green paper and then glued the two ovals together to cover it up.
That’s it! As I said, not really a tutorial, but more of an inspiration for gift wrapping. I know Fiskars makes some large tag punches, so that could work if you don’t have oval/circle cutters. Or, if you don’t have any punches, you could cut the fronts of the cards off, measure a 45 degree angle across the top corners and cut them into traditional tag shapes.
I wrapped all of my gifts this year in reused kraft paper bags and wrapping paper. I also reused old pattern paper as tissue paper.
I even wrapped one gift in an old parchment paper document. And all of the ribbons were saved from previous years as well…these are very zero waste packages!
Do you like wrapping gifts? How did you wrap yours this year?
I’ve never been much of a slippers person. Usually in the winter I go around barefoot in the house because I’m in danger of being too warm, not too cold. However, there have been a few cold days so far this winter where the house has felt rather chilly and I’ve been trying to bundle up rather than turn up the thermostat. I don’t have any super warm socks, so I decided that the next item I would make would be some felted wool slippers out of a sweater. So far I’ve made mittens, a beret, and some baby boots and shoes, so it follows that the next item to make would be slippers.
I actually ended up making five pairs of felted wool slippers, so the technique was pretty well perfected by the time I got to this pair. I didn’tlove how my first attempt turned out, so my sister took that pair. Then I made a pair for my mom. Then I attempted another pair for myself, but they ended up too small, so I donated them to the women’s shelter. Then I made a pair for my brother-in-law. Finally I made this pair and, after all that practice, they turned out pretty nice.
I estimate that they took about 1-2 hours to sew, so they are a relatively quick afternoon project. (Not including the time to felt the wool) If you’re looking for a Christmas gift for someone, then these would be the perfect handmade option!
To Make Your Own Felted Wool Slippers, You Will Need:
A 100% old wool sweater. Make sure it is real wool content, so it will felt for you. I know you can also use blends that have a high wool content, but I’ve never done that myself, so am not sure whether they felt differently or not.
Needle & thread/ sewing machine
Button to cover, or a decorative button of your choice
Elastic to make the slipper fit tighter around the ankle, optional
The first step is to felt your wool if it isn’t already. You can put it in your washing machine on hot, with a bit of detergent and then wash as normal. If you put in a few sweaters, they will felt faster, because of the agitation. Check your wool once washed, and see if it is felted enough- if not you can repeat the process until it is. Then let it dry.
I would not recommend that you take a perfectly good wool sweater and felt it, because it always seems like a waste to cut up something in good shape that someone could actually wear the way it is. However, there are so many wool sweaters in thrift shops that are no longer in good condition. Whether it’s due to the previous owner accidentally shrinking them, or they are full of moth holes and runs, the thrift shops are full of them. This project is a perfect way to recycle and refashion those sweaters that are completely ruined and useless into something new! I’m using a green boiled wool coat and the binding from a grey cardigan.
To make your pattern, trace your foot and then round out the curve. You can make a “left” and “right” sole if you’d like, but it isn’t really necessary because the wool will mold to your foot. You can make one pattern piece with 1/2″ seam allowances and one without, or you can simply trace the pattern piece, adding the seam allowances on your fabric. My sole pattern piece measures 3.75″ wide by 9″ long.
The slipper top pattern is shaped like a “U”. Measure across your foot at the widest part and draw a semi-circle with that width. My foot is 5.5″, so my pattern piece is 6.5″ across with seam allowances. For length, I made it the same as my sole, plus 1/2″ for seam allowance (finished length 10″). You can double check the measurements of the outside edge of the piece with the outside of the sole. This isn’t super exact and the wool is a rather forgiving material to experiment with (if you make it a bit too long, you can always shorten it). Make the “U” cutout inside the semi-circle piece the width of the opening you want for your foot. Or, measure how high up your foot you want your slipper sides to be, and make your “U” in those dimensions. My upper pattern piece measures 10″ long and 6.5″ across. The cutout inside measures 5.25″ long by 1.25″ across. I’m a size 8.5 for reference. These dimensions include a 1/2″ seam allowance around the outer edge of the upper pattern piece. (For the pair I made my brother-in-law I added an inch to the length of the sole and then replicated that length onto the top piece.) Also note, I angled the back edge a little bit so it would slope into the heel.
Cut 1 upper piece for each slipper.
I’m sure you could make the slipper soles with one layer, but I did two layers of wool for extra warmth. Cut 2 insoles using your pattern with no seam allowance added. Cut 2 outer soles with the seam allowance added- see the picture below.
Felted wool doesn’t have a grain, so you can cut your pieces wherever they fit.
Place your insoles (the grey pieces) on top of your outer soles (the green pieces), smooth them flat and pin around the edge. Using a zig zag setting, stitch the two pieces flat around the edge to create one piece.
Next, stitch the top heel ends together. I lapped mine rather than using a normal seam, so as to reduce bulk.
Now take your top piece, and pin it to the sole, easing the fabric around to distribute the bulk. Make sure that the right sides are pinned together: this means that your insole is facing outward. I made my mom’s with the smaller insole on the outside, but I think they look better with that raw edge flipped to the inside of the slipper.
Once you’ve pinned the life out of them, sew around the edge with a zigzag stitch, following the edge of your insole. (I realized when looking at these photos that I added a 1/2″ seam allowance to the pattern, but sewed my seam at only 3/8″. It turned out OK though.)
Turn the slipper inside out and try them on to see how they fit. If they fit well, then you can grade the seam a bit to reduce bulk.
If the slippers fit well as they are, depending on the thickness of your wool, you might be able to finish the slippers off at this point with a blanket stitch along the top edge. If they are too loose to leave like that, then you can move on to the next step which is adding a cuff to the top.
I cut the binding off of the collar of a sweater to create a cuff at the top of my slippers. You can also use the hem of a sweater. (I used all of the hems we had on the other slippers, so all I had left was this one grey piece!) Cut the binding piece 1-2″ smaller than the opening of the slipper.
Stitch the ends of the binding together to form a loop.
Next, with right sides together, pin around the top edge and stitch the binding to the slipper top.
Then, fold the seams to the inside and pin it liberally! (If you think that you will want elastic around the top, you can add it now, which is a bit tricky, or you can thread it through at the end like I did.)
Now, for the trickiest part of the process, from the inside, stitch the pieces “in the ditch” or slightly onto the top slipper piece. This is hard to describe, but if you look at the photo, it should make sense. If your binding has a finished edge, you don’t have to fold your seam under, which makes this step a bit easier. However, my binding was a cut edge and I didn’t have enough length to felt it, so I decided to fold the edge under for neatness. I probably could have left it raw, but this worked out OK.
It isn’t perfect in all places, and the stitches show through on part of the cuff on the front of the slipper, (it must have shifted during sewing) but it is sturdy. And as my brother says, quoting one of the creators he follows, “It’s not just good, it’s good enough.” I’ve been trying to embrace that philosophy a bit more in my projects. I tend to be a perfectionist, but sometimes that means that projects don’t get done. I’d much rather that there are a few stitches showing, but I have usable slippers, than a pile of unused felted wool in a basket on my shelf.
Once I put the slippers on, I realized that the cuff was a bit too loose for my foot. While I could have tried wetting the slippers and shrinking them a little bit, I was afraid that they’d end up too small again, so I decided to instead add a small piece of elastic to the top of each slipper. I cut two pieces of this small round elastic, and then threaded them through the top of the slipper. I simply sewed the ends of the elastic together and then hid the end inside the seam.
Then for the final step, because this sweater had all these cute embroidered buttons, I decided to add one to the top of each slipper, just for fun!
And there are my cozy warm felted wool slippers perfect for the cold days this winter! Of course we only had a few really cold days since I’ve made them, but I’ll be ready for the next cold snap! They’ll be perfect for Christmas morning too.
I’m really enjoying making projects out of felted wool; it’s such a great way to use up old sweaters. We’ve had a bin of sweaters for years, and making all of these actually used up quite a bit of them- what will I do when they’re gone!?
Are you a slippers person? Do you think you’ll try making your own felted wool slippers? What project should I make next out of the wool? What other projects have you made with felted sweaters?
The sewing project I’m sharing with you today has taken me years to complete…literally, and there were two things that sparked the idea for this project. One, I read a news report several years ago, right when the Canada Goose winter coats were super popular, about a company making counterfeit coats filled with factory floor textile sweepings instead of goose down. Aside from the fact that they were scamming people, I thought that using up fabric scraps as insulation was actually a pretty ingenious idea. Then, right about that same time, I saw a blog post by Brittany of Untitled Thoughts (I can’t find the specific post) about a pieced scrap pouf which had been filled with cotton quilting fabric to use as a means of storage in your sewing room. So, I melded the two ideas and now several years, and a LOT of scraps, later I have finally finished my (almost completely) zero waste pouf!
What exactly is a pouf and what makes it different than an ottoman or a footstool? Well, an ottoman or a footstool has legs or is made of a frame with a padded top, whereas a pouf is just like a giant pillow, without any kind of base structure. So are you interested in making your own? Here’s how I did it!
First, you will need to start saving scraps, and this is the longest part of the project. I saved everything including synthetic fibre clothing such as t-shirts, hoodies, jeans and pantyhose which couldn’t be used for rags. I also saved the seams out of the garments that we did cut up for rags. And, of course, I saved sewing scraps of all sizes, like I mentioned in my post last week. I saved these textile scraps in a giant black garbage bag and though I initially thought I had way too many scraps, I actually ended up using all of them plus more. In the image above, that is a metre stick for reference.
Once you’ve gathered about 1.5 times the amount of scraps you think you’ll need, it is time to start readying your pouf lining!
Figure out the dimensions of your pouf. I made mine 20″ across, so the circumference was approximately 63″ around. I mapped out my pattern pieces on a grid paper determining what size of pieces with seam allowances would fit exactly into the fabric I was going to use. Also note, depending on which kind of fabric you’re going to use, you might want to make the bottom out of a more durable (and affordable!) fabric like canvas since it won’t be seen anyway. Originally I was going to make my pouf out of mustard velvet, and pleat the top into the centre like a vintage round pillow, but once the fabric arrived (from Etsy)…it was not the right colour of yellow, so I ended up changing my plan.
Cut out 2 circles, with seam allowances, to use as the top and bottom and then either one piece or 2 pieces for the sides.
I used cotton canvas as the fabric for my lining bag, and I did a double layer with an old worn out mattress cover to prevent any lumps from the stuffing from showing through. You could use fleece, a wool blanket or towel as an interlining. If you are using a thick upholstery fabric, I don’t know if this step will be as important, but if you are using a thinner outer fabric, then I would definitely add that second layer. Sew the two layers together and then work them as one piece.
Sew the side piece together at the ends. Then measure the bottom circle and side piece into 4 even quadrants and pin together at those points and sew together. Do not sew the top circle on, because it will be added later.
Now it is time to stuff the lining bag! You don’t want to just wad the fabric in, otherwise it will get very lumpy and misshapen. Here is the method I used to avoid as much lumpiness as possible.
First, sort your scraps into piles of soft materials like fleece etc. that you will use to smooth out lumps, bulky and heavy or large pieces of fabric, and any tiny scraps. This step of sorting through and cutting the scraps will definitely make you feel like you are one of the children in the pawn shop in the 1951 movie “A Christmas Carol”. Take your small scraps and cut into 1″ or smaller pieces. I did this over several days to avoid my hand cramping.
Once you have a large batch of shredded pieces, place a layer several inches thick across the bottom of the bag.
Then, take your larger scraps and fold them. Lay them flat in the centre of the pouf and keep stacking until you have a layer several inches thick. Take more of the small shredded scraps and sprinkle them in between the centre folded “pillar” and the lining bag to create a bit of soft insulation. (Folding the pieces into the centre means that they won’t compress too much over time, so you won’t end up with a lopsided or deflated pouf.) Keep folding pieces into the bag and adding the small scraps around the outside. Once you’ve reached the top of the lining bag, it is time to attach the top.
Again, make sure to pin on four equal quadrants like you did for the bottom and pin the top circle to the side piece. Hand stitch the pieces together. You can use any colour of thread for this since it won’t be seen; I used up a bunch of old spools of red thread that had only tiny amounts left on them not enough for a larger projects.
Once you’ve stitched the “lid” halfway around the circumference, knot your thread because it’s time to start stuffing again!
This is the time to use any fleece, batting or other soft materials, so you’ll get a nice smooth top to your pouf. Fill in any gaps with more shredded pieces. Keep pushing scraps into the bag; it will take more than you think you need. Once you’ve got the one half pretty well full, then sew another quarter of the top closed and with that final small section, push as many scraps as you can into the bag. Then finally stitch the last section closed.
You are not quite ready to cover your pouf, though. It is time to sit on it and squish it down and punch it into shape and let the pieces settle for a while. It will be pretty solid, but after while of use, it will slightly deflate and then you can add more scraps to the top. I left mine for a couple of months (because I was trying figure out how I wanted to cover it once the velvet didn’t work out) but it actually worked out perfectly that way, because it really gave time for the scraps to squish down. I would recommend leaving it for a few weeks, making sure to sit on it every once in a while to press it down.
Once the scraps have settled as much as they are going to, open up a quarter of the seam in the top and add more scraps! Use more tiny shredded scraps to fill in the top and then once it is stuffed to overflowing, stitch the top back together. You will now have a very solid (and heavy) pouf form ready to be covered.
There are lots of ways you can make a pouf (like a Morrocan style or gathering the top like I mentioned earlier) but I ended up doing a simple 3 piece top, side and bottom since I chose to cover mine with a quilt!
This was the quilt that I had on my bed for about 14 years, and it has started to show it’s age. Now that I have a new quilt, it was time to retire this one. At first I was debating dyeing it, but then I realized that white would actually be the perfect colour for my very light and bright bedroom. Maybe if I eventually get the sofa of my dreams (vintage yellow and cream floral) I will recover the pouf in yellow velvet and put it with my sofa, but in the meantime it works quite nicely in my bedroom beside my closet. And since I’m not actually putting my feet up on it, like if it was in front of my sofa, the fact that it’s white should be all right. (I hope!)
My quilt had a border pattern which I utilized as the side piece- I cut one long strip 15″ wide the full length of the quilt. Then I cut the top and bottom circles out of the middle diamond quilted section. (PS. There was just enough fabric to use the end pieces of that strip to make a square cushion cover too!)
Cut your outer pieces the same dimensions as the lining. Sew the top and side pieces together, again pinning in even quadrants and easing it all the way around.
Once I placed my cover on the pouf, I realized that the fabric had stretched out quite a bit and the top edge was hollow, so I brought it back to the sewing machine and sewed a 1″ seam allowance all the way around, instead of a 5/8″. Make sure to test the fit of your outer fabric, just to make sure that it fits well.
Next stitch a seam guide along the edge of the bottom circle and the side pieces (in the same colour of thread as your fabric) so when you hand stitch them together, you will have a guide to follow. I stitched a 1″ seam allowance guide from the edge.
NOTE: This time we are sewing the top and side pieces by machine, not the bottom and side pieces as we did with the lining, because we are going to hand stitch the bottom this time, not the top. If you are using a fabric other than your upholstery fabric for the bottom, then that is the piece you will be hand sewing later.
Again, measure your 4 quadrants on your bottom circle and side pieces and mark with pins or chalk. Place your cover onto your pouf and then flip it upside down. Now, line up your 4 points and pin together. Then work your way around between the 4 points and pin together, easing as you go.
Your stitched seam guide will help here because now you’ll know how much to fold under for your seam allowance. If, once you’ve pinned the pieces together, it looks like it’s going to be too loose then you can fold it more as needed. It’s OK if your bottom circle is a bit smaller than the top, because then the seam will tuck underneath the pouf and be hidden.
Now it’s time to start hand sewing again. This is best done while listening to an audiobook or podcast (I listened to A Tale of Two Cities)! When stitching, don’t start at one point and work your way all the way around, but instead start at one point, sew about an 8″ section, then rotate the pouf 180 degrees and sew a section directly across. Again, sew a section and then turn 90 degrees and sew a section and so on, until all of the sections meet. This way you can ease your fabric pieces together without ending up with bubbles, and, if needed, you can make adjustments- pulling the fabric in tighter etc.
Once you’ve knotted your last thread and turned the pouf right side up…then you are done. Congratulations, you have managed to save a huge amount of textile waste from the landfill and turn it into something both useful and beautiful!
I love how this project turned out and I had a lot of fun making it. It fits perfectly into my bedroom, and I am very pleased that I was able to use mostly salvaged materials; it was the perfect way of using up fabric scraps! The worst part about finishing this project is that I already have a bunch of new textile scraps…what on earth am I going to use them for?
Do you think you’ll make a project like this? What fabric would you use to cover it with? Do you have any other ideas for ways of using up fabric scraps?
I love houseplants! While I’m not a collector, I do like having a variety of them with different leaves, colours and textures. Asparagus Fern, Chinese Money Plant, Purple Shamrock, Marble Queen Pothos, Hoya…those are some of my favourites. (You can see some of them here…)While houseplants are fun, the not-so-great part is that the more you get, the more pots you need to put them in, which can get pricey. If you’re buying pots from plant stores, then that can very quickly add up and if you’re going to big box stores you can usually get them for a lower price, but you are limited in selection. Of course you can always go the even more affordable terra cotta route which gives you a lovely earthy palette and patina over time, but that’s not everyone’s style, and it doesn’t suit every plant either. This is where it’s time to explore some homemade options! Here is how with a coffee can, some leftover paint, baking soda and twine I created this coffee can plant pot with a dimensional minimalist look.
You will need:
-A coffee can
-Paint. I used eggshell latex paint that I had leftover from my room (Benjamin Moore Acadia White). You could also use dollar store acrylic paint.
-Hot glue (optional)
-Liquid tacky glue
-Twine or rope- I needed 10 feet to wrap 5 times around my pot
-A paintbrush that isn’t too precious
Start by removing any labels and glue that you can. Not all of the glue spots came off of mine, so I’ll just make sure that side faces the wall.
Next, measure out 1 part baking soda and 2 parts paint. I did1 tbsp of baking soda and 2 tbsp of paint which was enough for three coats.
Blend the paint well to make sure that there are no lumps. The baking soda in the paint will give a textured finish when it dries, kind of like a pebbled or adobe clay sort of look.
I didn’t prime my can first, but you might want to if you’re using craft paint to help it adhere well to the metal. Paint the can with one coat of paint. Make sure to paint a bit under the rim on the inside of the can too, so that the silver won’t show after you put your plant in it. Sit the coffee can up on another can or jar and leave it to dry.
Once the paint is dry, it is time to attach the twine. Originally I was going to paint it and leave it like that, but it just looked like a coffee can that had been painted white, so I added kitchen twine and sisal to make it look a bit more interesting. Dab a little hot glue to secure the end of the twine quickly. You don’t have to use hot glue if you’d rather just use the liquid, but you’ll have to wait longer for it to dry, so it won’t slide around on you as you wrap it.
After the hot glue is in place, then use a thin layer of liquid glue to attach the twine the rest of the way around the can. When you get to the end, trim the twine to meet up evenly.
(Ps. Another idea I had, for a totally different look, was instead of wrapping only in the grooves, you could wrap the can completely with rope to make it look like a basket. Then either leave it unpainted and natural at that stage, or continue painting. And if you did grey, it would probably look like textured concrete!)
I had two different kinds of string- sisal and kitchen twine. I couldn’t figure out which look I wanted so I ended up making two different planters to try both ideas out, and then gave one to my sister.
Once the glue is dry, it is time for a second coat of paint. This is why you don’t want to use a good paintbrush; so you can really work the paint in all angles of the twine to fully coat it. Let the second coat of paint dry, and then inspect to see if it needs any more coverage. Mine had a few spots showing through that needed a few extra touch ups.
Once the paint is dry, decide if you’re going to put a plastic pot inside or plant directly into the can. Depending on the size of your coffee can, you might be able to fit a 6″ growers pot directly inside, in which case you are done!
However, if you don’t have a growers pot and are planning to plant directly into the coffee can, then you’ll need drainage holes. (Using rocks at the bottom of a planter to stop soggy roots doesn’t work, by the way, so if you’re planting directly, you will need proper drainage.) Turn the can upside down and using a hammer and a nail, punch a few holes. (You could probably also use a drill.) After I punched holes with a nail, I then used a screwdriver tip to enlarge the holes. (Yes…I always use very professional techniques in my projects…)
At this point, because the holes dish upwards and into the can from hammering, the water won’t necessarily drain out well. Turn the can the right side up and hammer them the other direction; downwards. I used a screwdriver tip with a flat surface. The water will now be able to easily drain out, and this also flattens any sharp, jagged edges.
And now you’re done and ready to plant!
I took some pictures with my Hoya to see what it worked like with a pot inside it, but I actually ended up planting my umbrella tree directly into the coffee can. If you decide to plant directly into the pot, make sure to place it on a dish so you won’t get any water damage onto the surface below.
I like how it turned out; it has a good visual weight to it because it’s cylindrical rather than narrow at the bottom as many pots are. It works for the umbrella tree, because it is very tall and skinny and the pot it was in before was much too small looking for it.
And the best thing about this coffee can plant pot is that it was basically free- using up materials I already had on hand. Aren’t those the best kind of projects?
Do you like houseplants? Which is your favourite? Do you think you’ll try making your own coffee can plant pot?
“Happy New Year” Dear Readers! Does it feel like it should already be 2022 to you?
I’ve had an enjoyable and productive last few weeks of 2021, how about you? Above, I received this lovely pottery dimensional candle holder for Christmas, and it’s so nice to have it sitting on my windowsill reflecting the light in the evenings.
I like to change out my wreath depending on the season, so I put gold stars on it for New Years, just for fun!
I don’t often get up before dawn, but the last time I did I was met with this beautiful sight. I haven’t gotten up that early since, though, I guess it wasn’t enough of an enticement to leave my cosy warm bed.
One of my mom’s succulents is blooming. I have no idea what this plant is- it didn’t have a tag. Do you know what it is? We call it the “alien plant” since it has long stems with round leaves and spines that look like antennae.
As for projects lately, I’ve been enjoying some more embroidery. This time a little pouch for my sister. I’m really enjoying making these, and I’ve been contemplating adding some to my Poshmark Shop.
I’ve really been wanting to make things with my hands lately- embroidery, sewing etc. However, I haven’t felt like sewing anything for myself because fitting patterns is the worst part of sewing, so instead I’ve started making other things- like baby clothes. Not because I’m having a baby anytime soon, but because kid’s clothes are so fun to make! I plan on creating a bit of a stockpile of them to gift to families in my church who have little ones on the way, as well as bringing some pieces to the pregnancy care centre.
These little felted boots are so adorable, aren’t they? And little hair bows are a quick and easy (and cute!) project to whip up in an afternoon. I’m having so much fun making these, that I may have been dedicating just a bit too much time to them lately…. well, it’s the New Year now so time for a fresh start!
Do you make New Year’s resolutions? I make a list of 3-4 goals for the year, whether personal, creative etc. Last year I planned to finish organizing my hard drive and compiling a photo album of all of my Instagram photos…but I didn’t get to it…so, it’s back on the list for this year. Other than that, I haven’t thought of any other goals, but I’m sure I’ll come up with some in the next few days.
I hope your 2022 is off to a great start! Happy New Year!