Friday, May 29, 2009

Finish It Up Friday

A wise woman named PEACHES said that if you start something new on a Friday you'll never finish it. So I'm declaring it "Finish It Up Friday" and the list (okay, PILE) of things to finish is longer than they allow in these blog posts! I think there should also be a "one sock sunday" or something too cuz I've got a few single socks about to be finished before starting into the second.

I think I may be officially done knitting things that have to be seamed. This is not a fun part of knitting for me and I am paying a lot of attention to all things knit in the round on my future projects. The lovely, tweedy, unfinished looking sweater above is actually cotton and will make a nice addition to my summer wardrobe. But first I have the arduous task of putting it together and adding the button band - another non favorite part of knitting. I'm considering making some buttons from poly clay so I can say that the entire garment is made by moi.
Spent a cool and lovely evening in my workshop last night playing with paint and mixing media in new ways. Found a bamboo tray at Salvation Army this week that I am upcycling into a really cool serving piece for saki or tea - or wall art if that's your decor. Stay tuned, it'll be up soon and over in the Etsy shop for a great bridal shower or birthday gift.
On The Menu Tonight
Well, since it is Finish It Up Friday, I'm using some cooked chicken meat to make a chicken pot pie with fresh coleslaw to go with. I'll use crack-open crescent rolls for the top crust and a bag of mixed veggies instead of chopping my own. A bechamel sauce (2 Tbsp butter melted with 2 Tbsp flour cooked to thickness) gets 1 cup of chicken stock, 1 tsp thyme, the frozen veggies and chicken meat and it's made! Arrange the rolls on top and bake at about 350 for around 20 minutes, or until the rolls are nicely browned. It's a real time saving recipe, but I'll need that to get all those projects FINISHED today! They key is to have the cooked chicken meat on hand. You can use a store bought rotisserie bird or cook up a few bone in chicken breasts and bag up the meat for the freezer for future needs. Either way, it can be a quick meal that everyone will love.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

There are just so many things to make from treasures found in various places. Whether it's a fern to press into a book from the earth's floor during a Memorial Day hike, or a three footed box at a yard sale, the ill fitted designer shirt from the back of your closet that's just too good to part with, or a thrift store treasure that no one else can see the value of but you; the possibilities as they say, are endless. Today's treasure was small in its inventory, but my stash is starting to take over a spare bedroom, so I had to be somewhat picky. This dress, OMG what can I say, the amazing trim, with beads and bells, goes all the way from the shoulder/neck to the hem (mid calf) and then there's more around the sleeves. The fabric is heavy and gorgeous with a great mixed print of indigo, plum, and gold. I can not wait to play with it. I'm thinking a bag, or an apron, or both - there's that much. Let me know if you've got ideas.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Treasure of the Day

So how much do I love 50% off Wednesdays at the Salvation Army?  Way too much.  Here's a picture of this week's treasure.  Now this is not something that will be upcycled into something new, but can be pressed back in to service just as they are.
These lovelies will come out on Tea Party day when I treat all my chickie friends to an afternoon of lady like activities - pinkies extended and everything!
As you can see from my blog's banner, I'm all about the butterfly.  Nothing to me signifies transformation better than they, so these dishes found their way to my shopping cart and the rest they say, is history...

I'm off to the woods with Dave and the dogs.  We both need some time with nature.  The man has been traveling for 9 1/2 weeks and is drained. 

I've an issue of Cloth, Paper, Scissors for hammock time and I'm bringing along my flower press to pick up some woodland treasures as we hike along the lovely trails of Pennsylvania.

Check back with me on Monday and I'll be talking about little girl skirts -- but not to wear.  You'll see! 

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Lunchbox Napkins from Shirts - Part 2

After washing your shirt, and ironing if necessary, cut away all the pieces that you won't need for this project- collar, sleeves, front button bands, and back yoke.  And in the spirit of Miss Julia Child who said, "Save the liver!" please save your buttons and bits of fabric that can be stashed for future endeavors.  What you're left with will be some nice large flat pieces and you can fit a square template onto them wherever they fit in order to cut.  A men's large dress shirt should net at least 5 napkins and you can slice open sleeves to get a couple more.  
I happen to have a nice quilters template about 9 1/2 inches (but it should be noted that I don't have a serger! but I digress...) but you can easily use a cardboard template or just measure.  A template is good if you plan to make a lot of napkins and want to cut quickly.  I also use a rotary cutter (it's fun and I happen to have one - though I do not own a serger...woe is me.)  A rotary cutter allows you to cut through 3 or 4 layers at once, improving your efforts - like a serger does when it comes to sewing... (There's no way my husband's going to read this and get the hint about the serger, so it's futile to go on about it ya know?)
If you do own a serger (I hate you first of all,) you can now simply surge all edges and you are done.  I, on the other hand, will be moving to the next steps?  Hmm.  Let's proceed:
Turn each edge in about 1/4 to 1/2 inch and press all around.  I like to turn my corners in first, making a little triangle in each corner and then turning the side edges under.  This way you get nice mitered corners.  But it's your call.
Using a zig zag stitch, buzz around all four edges catching the rough edge to prevent fraying.  
Give a nice press, fold and stack and you're done.
I'm sincerely grateful that my very adequate sewing maching has a zigzag stitch.  Some machines don't.  My inner brat is now silenced and you are on your way to making eco-friendly napkins to carry to work and school.  Rock on!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Tutorial for Lunchbox Napkins from Men's Shirts. Part One -Select and Cut

Start with men's shirts. I like to scour Salvation Army on 50% off Wednesdays as well as yard sales - go toward the end of the day when shirts go for a quarter!  Here's what to look for:
1.   Look for quality fabric and interesting prints.  Stains will happen!  So prints and stripes are your friend.  Put your hand inside and see if you can see it through the fabric.  If yes, pass on it.  A light weight denim, or tightly woven cotton works well. Think bandana, not hanky type material.  Should feel heavy for its size.
2.  Check the labels.  I find the manly man designers always work:  Eddie Bauer, LL Bean, Faded Glory, Gap, etc.  And if you find that occasional superstar like a Ralph Lauren or better, by all means get it, but consider if you might not want to use it for something better than face toilet paper!
3.  Avoid polyester.  No more than 20%.  It doesn't abosorb.  Whenever possible, cotton or linen is best.
4.  The larger the better.  A men's size small or even medium isn't going to make a lot of napkins, but if it's good quality and a great price, get it and mix it with a sister fabric to complete a napkin set.  I like at least 5 in a set - one for every weekday at school or the office.
5.  Look for stains in key places and sniff for BO.  I'm not kidding.  Check the inside of the shirt for a yellowish stain.  If it's there, walk away- you're putting these napkins into your face.
6.  Check for rips and holes. If they are in the button area, it won't matter, if they are on the back where the most fabric lives, you're not going to have many napkins.
I like to look at fashion sites and magazines for inspiration on color.  This season seems to be showing a lot of citrus colors - bright orange, yellows, and greens.  But these colors aren't often found in menswear, so consider tropical print shirts in fun designs.  Consider who'll be using the napkins - conservative man or woman, child, teen, youself, gift, to sell.

You can also use women's skirts or shirts for napkins.  There isn't always much yardage, but it depends on the find.  Again, check the label for fabric type - cotton and linen are what you want.

Come home and admire your treasures!  And note the money you still have in your pocket - these babies are everywhere and they are cheap.  We Americans seem to think we need to keep hundreds of these shirts in our closets at one time.  Good for you for repurposing them into new life and keeping them out of the landfill.

Wash everything and dry it in the dryer - if this is how you'll be washing the napkins. 

And now, we cut.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Today Is the First Day of the Rest of My Blog Life

So to celebrate...we're making lunchbox napkins of course!
These beauties were once a man's dress shirt and I found it on half price day yesterday at the Salvation Army for a mere $.99.
Come back tomorrow for a complete tutorial on how to make them yourself! If you too are one of those wonderful people who walk to school and carry your lunch and want to stop using paper napkins to save those awesome things we like to call TREES, here's something fun and easy to make. Lunchbox napkins are smaller than a dinner napkin, but bigger than a cocktail napkin - about 9 inches square. There will be a selection of them for sale this weekend on my brand new Etsy Shop. So this next pic looks like guy shirts hanging on the line on laundry day right? NOT. These babies will be sliced up into lunchbox sized napkins to take to work - I make them in packs of 5 (okay, do the math, 1 for each week day) and they get tossed into the laundry on the weekend ready to go for Monday again! (Note: If you are fortunate enough to only do laundry once every 2 weeks, you might want to buy/make 2 sets...)

So in the mean time, let's take time to get to know each other. I welcome your comments and emails!
Day 1 and there's a LOT to do and talk about. The purpose of this blog will be to provide me (and now you) with an inspiration station on
the train ride of crafting life with upcycling in mind.
As I dreamed up this blog ( I had a false start with a blog already and ran it off into a ditch somewhere, but I think this is way better and it's got a purpose.) anyway, as I dreamed up this blog I filled three pages of a spiral bound notebook with ideas for transforming (or upcycling to use the buzz word) things from our stash, trash, and treasure hunts that we can transform into beautiful, and hopefully really useful new things. I know, right? Isn't that great? I am very excited. If you love to shop, have no money, and long for more creativity in your life - welcome!

So let's get started. (Note to self: I may need to add a website to all this, cuz there's a lot of categories and things to cover. But we'll see - I don't know how yet... )
And please note that I am CLUELESS about this social networking Internet technology. Wish I had a 7 year old who could teach it to me. But I am spending massive amounts of time on line trying to pick it up here and there and I've got the beginnings.
Stopping by (and hopefully subscribing to) this blog means you are hungry for inspiration, the meaning of daily life, humor, recipes for food - cuz we gotta eat right? and you have no idea what to have for dinner cuz you've been crafting all day, and especially to reuse what you may already have, or can hunt for in cool and interesting new ways.
I know everyone likes visuals, so there's going to be plenty-o-pictures expressing how I really feel and can't say in words. I am a visual learner, so will pass that on to you by using lots of pics in my tutorials. Always wanted to be a teacher, but was told by Mr. Madden (el Guidance Counsellor in 1973) that they were a dime a dozen. Heavy sigh. And go figure, here's my big chance. Let's hope I don't blow it!
Catch you tomorrow. Dust off your sewing machine, paint brushes, and workbench.