Fun with recycling, part 2

There is a scene in the movie Never Been Kissed that has always haunted me a bit. Drew Barrymore’s character is having a relaxing evening at home, alone, working on some needlepoint. She is making a cute little pillow. She finishes the pillow and takes it to a bedroom where she sets it on the bed and admires it with love. Then you realize there are a LOT of other cute little pillows! This woman obviously has no life. On the one hand I think, “What a loser!” and on the other hand I think, “Hey, I resemble that!” It wasn’t too many years ago you could find me curled up in my one-room basement apartment, watching endless re-runs of Stargate and quilting till I had no feeling left in my fingers. Talk about nerdy. =) (Hey – I wasn’t always an urban homesteader!)

Anyway, I’ve been making some pillows and I always think of that movie and hope I’m not that bad.

I couldn’t be, because these are cool pillows! I had a bunch of leftover men’s ties from a tie skirt project and – in another flash of inspiration – realized these could make cool pillows. I was looking at the skinny part of the tie and realized here was all this fabric already in perfect 2” strips. So I made some pillows in the Log Cabin Style.

The first step is to pick a few ties. For a traditional Log Cabin you want one value for one side and a different value for the other side – light and dark, or just two distinct colors. And I pick a tie end for the center that is different from the rest of the ties.

I use a zig-zag stitch to topstitch all the ties together. Yep, the whole tie with the stuffing inside and all. It gives it a nice puffy feel at the end.

Each piece is just a little longer than it needs to be (and I cut as I go). This is because silk is shifty and sometimes you’ll find it’s a bit shorter than you remember!

I don’t sew down the tie tip, so when you get this part hold that tip up.

and then…


…keep going!

At some point this might happen – the tie suddenly gets thicker! This is usually where I stop. But you can go ahead and sew it on; the extra bit can be trimmed off later (unless you want a really wacky shape to your pillow, which is fine).


Here are some others I made:

Even after all those, there are still lots of beautiful silk scraps to use, in which case you can try the crazy quilt method.

You just cut out random shapes (often triangular) and sew them down on a square of fabric.




The cool thing about silk is that it can be forced into some curves that are too difficult with cotton.

Done! (The curve in the blue tie in the upper left was a little too extreme and left a couple puckers. Oh well.)

Here’s another one:

I should note that most of these aren’t actually made into pillows yet – they’re just the tops.

All of these will be heading to Kansas City with me (along with the bags) and if there are any left, they’ll be up on Etsy!


Fun with recycling, part 1

I started making reusable shopping bags last winter when I was raising some funds to go on a trip. I kept making them for sale at the farmers market. I’ve had some success with them despite the fact that they aren’t cheap. (I can’t compete with 99-cent bags from Target!) But they are fully lined, have pockets, they’re sturdy, and they’re unique (and you aren’t acting as a walking billboard for some store!).

After making these for several months I started making smaller kid-sized ones. Might as well get kids into using re-usable shopping bags at an early age. And they need those smaller bags. I’ve seen more than a few kids helping with the groceries and dragging bags along the ground because the bags are so big!

Anyway, this post is supposed to be about recycling. Most of these bags have been made with new material and I’ve been trying to figure out how to do this more recycled. I got some great curtain scraps from a friend last year and made a couple bags out of those. A month or so ago another friend gave me a huge pile of old drapes from her house. They are very sturdy, almost like canvas, and the only sign of wearing is that parts of them are faded by the sun. I thought these would make great bags. And then somehow (I don’t know where these flashes come from) I thought it would be fun to line these with shirts!

I had gotten a small collection of men’s and women’s shirts from a bulk thrift store a year or two ago. I reasoned they would be great for fabric since people wouldn’t use them for clothes (due to holes or other problems). I sewed the fronts together, removed the buttons, and sewed the shirt together into the shape I needed for the bags. Sleeves and collars became pockets on the inside and outside.

this was a smaller fitted one, so you can see the fitted part and where the arms would be going out. This is the inside of the bag…

And here’s the outside, with a bit of sleeve for the pocket.

Yes, I would have given this shirt to the thrift store too!

This pocket is part collar and part sleeve

In the end I think they turned out very well. These won’t be turning up on my etsy page just yet. I’m going to an Earth Fair in Kansas City in April. There is a group down there putting together some tables of crafts and things made with recycled materials, etc. So the bags will be there, and if there are any left they’ll be up on etsy soon after.