Recycled Blue Jeans Project: Cat Toy

Toy Mouse Tutorial

The best part about this project is it uses all scrap materials or recycled blue jeans. Personally, I like using recycled jeans because the cats can’t tear them up nearly as fast as other weaker fabrics. We have a few in perfect condition floating around the house, and some with just normal kitty ware-and-tear. Out of all the cat toys we’ve made over the years, I’m pretty sure only one or two became subject to total destruction.

This summer, my daughter and I are planning to create a Kindle book together. I figured this would be a fabulous “bonding” activity for us to do, plus help her earn some money while she’s away at camp. One of the projects to be included is the blue jean cat toys we have made for our cats in the past.

Please note that I really dislike sewing machines, so this tutorial involves all hand sewing. If you prefer to use a machine, I’m sure it is possible. However, with the tiny stitches and pieces involved, I do recommend it be hand stitched, at least in some places.

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Sewing Up a Storm ~ The Great Fabric Hunt

Whenever I see a sale from Joann.com, I’m on it. Doesn’t matter if I need fabric or not, I buy it anyway. It’s in my head that eventually I will need it for a project, and that it’s just too cute to pass up. This obsession really has come in handy many a time for my random project and ideas. Such as when I finally latched on to the perfect fabric for my cousin’s baby, a cute collage of giraffes and baby boy decor.

A baby blanket seemed easy enough. I had batting left over from a project years ago, so that was no issue. Scraps from other projects worked for making it a “real” quilt instead of just one straight piece of fabric. It was all coming together beautifully, block by by block, hand-sewing each piece. The problem started when I started the hunt for another yard of fabric I knew I had purchased over a year ago.

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Our Halloween Costumes 2012

Oh yes. It’s my favorite time of year and we are busy digging up plans for Halloween. The first on the list, as always, is the Halloween costumes. I’m so sad my oldest (now age 12) wants no part in Trick-or-Treating, but we still have a good month and half to convince him to at least dress up.

My fantastically creative daughter has picked her costume for the year and we are already beginning to piece it together.

This year’s pick: ZOMBIE CLOWN!

Ugly Scraps

We started by picking out the fabrics we planned to use, which included the ugliest jumper we’d ever seen (shown above). As luck would have it, this almost fits my daughter. It’s a bit tight, so we plan to leave it unzipped and unbuttoned, using additional ugly scraps to fill in the gaps. You can see from the picture we also found an ugly tie to go along with the hideous costume. We plan to dye her hair red (she has the most perfect short curly clown hair) and paint her face in zombie-style.

Costumes of Halloween Past

Halloween 2011

Last year my daughter won 3rd place in the Prairie City costume contest. I suspect it’s because the costume was homemade (far left is my daughter, far right is my son, and in the middle is my teenage cousin who visits on the weekends). She was a “She-Devil” that year and we used mostly clothes she already had that fit the role. The pitchfork was from my son’s costume last year (shown below) and the horns we purchased.

Halloween 2010

Zombie Cheerleader and Demon Boy. Loved this year, the makeup, and the ideas. Again, my daughter wore mostly clothes she already had with a few extra accessories and dead-looking make-up. She even had a scar that year pained on her forehead.

Other years we have made good use of scraps, cheap fabrics on sale, and clothing they already own. We are proof that costumes can be cheap, easy, and way awesome with just a bit of creativity.

What costumes are you planning for this year?

Recycling Clothing

Did you know the average American throws out 68 pounds of clothing per year?

Recently I took a class in Global Change, and the emphasis was on how much we pollute our Earth. This sparked me to look up that scary titbit of info mentioned. How wasteful we are!

Since I have a passion for sewing and ability to wear out blue jeans, the only natural thing to do was “Reuse, Reduce, and Recycle”.

It started with the discovery of my worn-out favorite jeans. Wanting to keep them in my clutches forever, I decided to make a blue jean purse out of them. It got my creative juices flowing and I couldn’t wait to make more of them. I began digging for other jeans once deemed “favorite” long ago worn out, and found quite a few. Fabric at Joanne’s started jumping out at me too, as “perfect” for a jean purse.

It wouldn’t be long before other projects and ideas would come to mind. For example, over the summer we adopted a new kitten, so naturally he needed a few toys. A quick scan of the cat toy aisle in various stores had me saying “I could make that”, or at the very least, something like it. I’ve always done better creating my own patterns and instructions (I don’t do well following orders!), so I made one for a cat nip mouse. Planing every detail of the toy was so much fun! My creativity jumped several notches after a trip to Hobby Lobby in search of cat-toy parts.

El Senior Mousey

A few useful items had to be worked in, such as my daughter’s lunch bag and a organizer made of scraps (still being completed, piece by piece!). After finding a fantastical fuzzy fabric at Joann’s, I got carried away making pillows for anyone that wanted them.

While my hobby will never be more than just that, I can at least feel good about saving money and taking pride in items I make myself. Isn’t that kind of the point? I do hope you’ve gotten a few ideas on ways to recycle clothing and a jump start on your current projects. Please feel free to share! I’m always curious to see what others are making themselves. 🙂

Sewing Jean Purses – Blue Jeans Recycling

A few years back, I became flat-out too busy to sew. Plus I never did get the hang of using a sewing machine (didn’t help my only two sewing machines are older than I am!), and my attempts at clothing weren’t so great.

But a few weeks ago I was cleaning closets and sorting clothes, when I came across an old pair of jeans I deemed my favorite ever. Sadly, they are torn to the point they just aren’t wearable anymore. I’ve never been able to find a suitable replacement for them, so for the last several years I’ve hung on to them for some unknown reason. I’m so glad I did. Since these were my favorite jeans, I decided to give them a second life by making a purse.

I made one long ago for my mom, which she used for years and got a ton of compliments on. I figured it was time to make myself one, especially since I’ve been on the hunt for a perfect purse to fit my netbook.

I started by cutting the legs off the jeans like so:

Now you can see, I don’t cut as straight as I could. The jeans were torn in weird places, too, so this was about as good as I can do.

Next, I cut a piece of fabric that will be used as the lining. Again, I did the best I could cutting it, even though the jeans were an odd shape….

The fabric my daughter found at Wal-Mart one day, with a request for a pillow, that I figured I’d get to someday. She’s a little mad I made my purse out of it first instead of her pillow, but I’ll make up for it soon (more on that project in a bit).

Very carefully I folded the edges back and pinned them to the inside of the purse. Then I sewed the fabric to the jeans by hand, followed by the edges. For a strap, I used a piece of the legs from the jeans. I still have a few embellishments left to do, but here’s the mostly finished purse…

These are so super easy, it makes me want to make more. We have no shortage of worn jeans around here what with two kids, that’s for sure, so why not make something useful with them?

This project has made me want to sew more, too, and I’ve come to realize there is nothing wrong with hand-sewing everything. It gives me a greater sense of accomplishment when I don’t use a sewing machine, and I don’t have to fight when the machine gets jammed. Also, my significant other and I have a new habit of watching instant-play TV shows on Netflix in the evening, so I’ve got the perfect time to sit and sew.

Right now I’m working on a pillow-case of sorts, made using the zipper bag a new pillow came in. Next up will be a few pillows made with regular cotton prints (including the fabric I made the purse with) and really cool fuzzy and snuggly black fabric I found at Joann’s over the weekend.

I absolutely love Joann’s, and it’s a miracle I made it out of there only spending $25. The upside was we got a yard of the expensive-ish black fabric, and a yard each of 4 cotton flannel prints for a blanket my daughter requested. That’s less per yard than we spent at Wal-Mart, and most likely better quality. Hurray Joann’s!

What projects are you working on? What else have you made with old blue jeans?

Free Shipping at Joann.com!


Free shipping at Joann.com! Code: MARFSA935
I am such a sucker for Joann’s. No matter if it’s online or locally, I’m like a kid in a candy store. So when I see deals like this, I just can’t help but pass them along!

From now until April 15th, get Free Shipping at Joann.com on orders of $35 or more. Be sure to use this code: MARFSA935.

Even though some of you may be like me and not sew a whole lot when the weather is nice, it’s a great idea to go shopping while the shipping is free. I LOVE this store and don’t have any problem finding $35 worth of fun stuff to play with. 😉

Have fun!

Easy Pattern to Sew a Teddy Bear

With my best friend’s baby shower coming up soon, I’ve been on the lookout for some interesting handmade baby toys to make. But while looking at patterns in Joanne’s today, I decided that a teddy bear might be fun to make. I really didn’t want to spend something like $8 on a pattern I probably wouldn’t use more than once, so came home to look.

After carefully scanning loads of patterns, I found the absolute perfect one. This one is four pieces – all body and no little “parts”. This to me is huge, since I have a hard time assembling things like arms and ears. But THIS pattern is so simple I think just about anyone can do it. (Warning – the above link is a .PDF file, so may take a few extra seconds to load).

One small tip though – it took me a few minutes to realize when you are sewing together the pieces in the first step that you only sew the side of head and belly, NOT the whole thing. Most people might already have assumed it, but I didn’t at first. I only realized it after I looked at the pieces a few minutes and tried to imagine how they would look all put together.

I’m making this bear right now with fleece, and it’s SO EASY. I hope you have fun making this bear as well!

Last Minute Quilt Sewing

Yesterday I was out shopping and came across the Garfield Chia Pet, so quickly snagged it since I’ve had a heck of a time locating it up until now. My son absolutely LOVES Garfield, but unfortunately there isn’t as much stuff as there use to be. He also loves messing with plants, so this was perfect for him (it’s so hard to buy or make things for an 8 yr old boy!).

Well, now I’ve realized I’m behind two gifts for my daughter. They are at that age that yes, they will count. They will also notice size if one of them happens to have the biggest gift. Luckily I took care of that with two jumbo coloring books that are about as tall as they are.

So anyway, I have to come up with two more gifts for my daughter that are a reasonable size. I have no choice but to finish the quilt that I started. With only a one full week left, I’m really cutting it short. Not to mention I’ve still got to finish a dress for her that’s already on her list. Even with the dress and quilt, I’m still short one gift. *SIGH*

I’ve done a little poking around on the internet for quick quilting tips, but haven’t come up with many. I think I’ll be doing this the same way I did my son’s quilt, simply by putting together all the blocks and then putting the back on. This seems to be the easiest way to sew it and also the fastest. At least the back of the quilt will be easy – my friend gave me a tip years ago to use a twin sheet for the back. Which I do believe I’ll do, but I haven’t decided just yet.

If anyone has any short cuts for a quilt, I’m all ears. Time is running out and FAST!

Sewing for Christmas

It’s that time of year again! Time to pull out the fabric, hunt for deals on sewing supplies, and make a list of who’s getting what. As much as I dread this time of year, I do enjoy making all kinds of different projects.

For the last few years I’ve been sewing pillows for my kids. It started with just picking up fabric of their favorite characters, but now it’s taken on a life of its own. Last year I took quilt blocks and made pillows out of them, which they thought was pretty cool (for my daughter I had found a block that looked like a cat, which she thought was special). This year I thought maybe they were getting tired of the pillows, and thought maybe I should do something else. Imagine my surprise when my daughter says to me one day “Am I getting another pillow for Christmas? I want another one!”. So that sealed it. What started as just a neat gift idea has turned into a tradition.

This year I found Hanna Montana fabric, and decided to make a heart-shaped pillow out of it. It didn’t turn out perfect, but I think she will like it all the same. I folded both sides of fabric in half and traced a tear-drop shape so the heart would be even, so that part was fine. Actually it did come out pretty good, and I may just post pictures.

For the boy I haven’t decided yet. Since he’s now eight, it’s hard to find fabric that’s “cool”. He’s informed me he’s too old for Disney’s Cars, and I assume Spiderman as well. So what I put together for him will most likely be solid shapes in some unique fashion. I may end up doing another quilt block pillow for him, since that would be the easiest way to make something “cool”.

My mom told me she wanted a new purse made from old blue jeans. I went on a hunt last night for a pattern or instructions, which I did find. Actually it was so simple that I had it done in just a matter of minutes. All you do is cut off the top part of the pants, sew the bottom, then use the extra fabric left over on the legs for the strap. It’s a bit difficult to sew on the straps because the fabric is thick, but a hot glue gun works nicely to secure lose ends.

The majority of our family is getting something my daughter found in her Highlights magazine. I’m sure most of you have heard of gift jars, which make excellent gifts. This is the same concept, but uses a paper bag that the kids decorate and a hot cocoa mix (2 cups instant dry milk, 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa, and 1 cup sugar with a recipe card that says 3 Tablespoons of the mix with one cup boiling water). I’m taking this a step further and will be sewing gift bags and putting the mix inside them. We’ll use an easy gift bag that uses a pretty bow around it.

That’s all I’ve got on my list so far, but I’m sure I’ll be adding to it!

Diaper Bag Sewing Patterns

I’m on a mission.

Since it’s fall, I have a sudden interest in sewing again. Right now, I really want to make a diaper bag. Not for me, but for someone else. I’ve searched the internet high and low for a really good diaper bag.  What surprises me is I haven’t found much.

I’m not looking for something “different” and “stylish”. Regular diaper bags are invaluable, and in my opinion, nothing can top them. I like pockets and lots of them. I also like easy to sew stuff. So you can see why I’m having problems here.

There was one style I really like, although I’m not sure I can sew it based on the instructions. I read over them carefully last night and *think* I can do it, but it makes me nervous. But I really, really like this style, and want to give it a try. (If you have experiences with the Bundles of Love pattern, please let me know how it went).

The other one I found that would be acceptable was a Simplicity pattern for sale. The price on it was $12, but a quick search at Ebay and I found it for $6 (including shipping). That’s more than acceptable for a pattern I’d probably use again that also includes patterns for other baby items. I almost bought it, but figured I had better give the other free pattern a shot.

If you know of any others, please feel free to post them in the comments. Just know that I’m kinda picky and the bag has to look nice but easy. 😉