Tuesday, 20 November 2012

How to make a soft octopus out of an old glove: upcycling while watching TV

I really couldn't resist today, I had to post immediately about my little un-winding activity from last night: making a little soft octupus from an old glove!

We will be moving to a bigger house next week, so this week is all about packing and decluttering (and working 9 to 5, of course).
Yesterday was my wardrobe's turn to be emptied and decluttered. Mountains of old woolly hats and gloves and scarves attacked me as soon as I opened the door...half of them ended up in the charity shop bag as I haven't worn them for so long (can you picture me with a pink, sparkly scarf? Brrr...me neither), but while I was closing the bag I noticed a spare, holed wool glove...mmmm...the eco-warrior in me rebelled...and a lightning bolt of an idea hit me (well, almost...)!
Anyway, I sat on the sofa in front of the telly (you can see the glare from it below) and placed next to me my sewing box.

I started stuffing the glove's fingers with stuffing stuff :) - from a cushion's interior material
(Yes, I'm wearing yellow Crocs, so what?!)

With stuffed fingers, it was easier to mend the holes (there were a few of them)

Once the fingers were mended and firmly stuffed, I started sewing right at the top of the fingers, all around the glove, with the purpose of narrowing the "neck" of the octopus. The fingers are its tentacles.

It's important to try and sew the thumb at the same level as the other fingers (as illustrated below), so there won't be difference between arms, when the octopus is finished.

Then I simply pulled the thread at both ends, made a knot and stitched a few more times across to secure the "neck".

A bit more stuffing...A LOT more, actually, to make a round, firm octopus head

I sewed around the base of the glove (at the wrist), then pulled and knotted the thread to close the head.

Ta-dah! it does look like an octopus, doesn't it? But let's make it cuter...
Using some felt, I cut white circles (and blue coloured for the pupils) and hand-sewed the eyes on the head.
...and the extra fancy bit: I applied a felt star I previously made by dry felting
(a technique I've just learnt, using felted wool and cookie cutters as forms - really liberating activity, with all that furious pricking the felt with a needle!), but you can use normal felt or any other decoration/material that tickles your fancy
What about some buttons (just a bunch of old, mismatched ones did the job) as tentacles' suction cups?
And there it is, a cute little octupus ready to be played with (...after Christmas Eve, that is!)


Friday, 16 November 2012

How to upcycle a canvas bag

If you, like me, have a day job (that's why my posts are unfortunately a little rare these days...), you may also go to conferences and exhibitions. Even if you don't have a job, you may anyway go to places where now the "eco-gadget" of choice is...a canvas bag.
I found at home at least 10, and more in my office...I work in the environmental industry, so you would expect us to have LOTS of canvas bags laying around...
So, how to upcycle these bags and make them prettier - since they usually have branding printed on the front, and they are not very pretty?

This what how I have done it.

1. I wanted to cover completely the printed branding on the front of the bag, so I've chosen enough fabric scraps to make a panel to stitch on it, some applique' birdies, and some ribbon for decoration.

2. I cut the background fabric to the same size of the front of the bag, plus hemline. I then chose and cut the other contrasting fabrics to add to it. I pressed the hemlines (speeding up the process to make a clean hem without basting...) all around. I chose the fabric for the applique' birdies, cut the outline shape (you can find the original idea and pattern for the birdies in the delicious Country Kitty's blog here), and pinned them on the main panel.

3. I then applied the birdies to the main panel, using a very dense zig-zag for the main body, and a loose regular stitch for the wings, beaks and legs. My mum helped making the birdies' eyes by hand-stitching french knots on them. Finally, I stitched the ribbon and block-coloured panel to the main panel.

4. After my failed attempt to stitch the work on the bag by machine (I haven't got the right machine to reach the bottom of the bag with ease), my mum very sweetly offered to hand-stitch it (what would I do without my mum...???)

...and that's it, really!

The bag has now been given as a present to my little sister who is using it as a lunch bag.

If I survive this end of year madness (including work over-load, moving house and pre-Christmas frenzy) I'll make more of those as little presents...they are so sweet, aren't they?