Those who know me understand that one of my personal missions is to educate people in how to live in a frugal but comfortable way. I developed my mission to educate others years ago when I learned a simple lesson the hard way: You can't live with champagne taste on a beer budget. After living way too long doing it the hard way I finally figured out creativity and imagination are free and, when combined, they make living on limited income bearable (sometimes fun!). My parents taught me that lesson early on but when do young adults listen to their parents?
| |You Should Know This First
An important part of successfully living in a frugal way is having the skills to DIY. Without specific skills it will be difficult at best to turn old things into new (repurpose). Thankfully, I learned my DIY skills as a child and have used them so long they come natural to me. You will need specific skills in sewing, tool use, creativity and imagination - all of which you can get for free!
Between You Tube, eHow and other sites, you can learn the basics in cooking, sewing, using tools and gain ideas that will spark your creativity and imagination into working for you.Intro to DIY for Beginners
As a follow up to my previous post, Oh, This Old Shirt?
, I bring you a short series walking you through how to repurpose a sweater with as little waste as possible. Wrapping up the series (sorry, bad pun) you will be shown how to repurpose yarn from an old afghan, blanket or sweater and how to make your own t-shirt yarn. We will start with a few basics on taking apart and reconstructing crocheted or knit items before you tackle tearing apart the hideous sweater or blanket you won in a raffle years back. Quick note here - this series is targeting the beginner.
The end is where you begin. Confused? You will be if you begin unraveling any blanket, knit or crochet, at the beginning. Most people would think to start there but you will need to begin at the end, or the last point where the final stitch was made. It can be a little tricky to locate.
Beer budgets? No such word for little Princesses! It doesn't matter where it came from, it's sparkly!
Repurpose Sweater into Fingerless Gloves
Click picture for PDF.
Tips to Unraveling Blankets:
Tips to Unraveling Sweaters (helpful for sectioned blankets as well):
- Wind into a ball or around a card as you go otherwise you will spend hours untangling knots or worse, tossing it out.
- On blankets, look at the corners and follow the loose thread (usually woven in) to the last stitch made. Begin unraveling there by untying the knot and gently pull yarn as you wind.
- Sections or colored rows may be a little easier to take apart. Again, look for knots in seams and woven in ends to start your unraveling.
| |The Beginning of Something New
Okay, time for a few helpful things to know when reconstructing items from cut crochet or knits.
- They will fray/ravel horribly when cut! Use bias tape or seam binding to hold in cut edges in place temporarily.
- Try and match weights of yarn, cotton threads, knits or woven materials. This will help you avoid ugly puckers at seams.
- If you do not have an Overlock machine, use your standard machine stretch stitch or the zig-zag stitch when sewing pieces back together.
- Block your pieces before you begin seaming (sewing). This helps flatten pieces and controls any rolling of edges.
- Pin your pieces together once blocked. Claw clamps (for paper) help hold bulkier pieces in place. Remove once you have a good start on the section being worked.
- Consider one of the 3 joining seams shown when working with crocheted or knitted items. It may be easier than your sewing machine.
Invisible Seam Stitch
Details on these 3 joining stitches:
The Real End for Today
I'll be honest with you. This is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to repurposing know how. Basic skills in sewing, construction of apparel, hand sewing, and using other tools are essential. That is way more than anyone wants to type out in one blog post or read in one sitting. I've briefly glazed over the topic giving you a few good to know tricks and tips to get you started on your first sewing makeover (See Part 1: Repurpose Sweater...). If you have questions, as always, email or call! Let me know how your project turns out? Have fun!
Wishing you success and inspiration,
We all love compliments, especially when they are about our appearance (Ladies, you know we do!) or attire. Women dress for other women, so when we give another woman a compliment you may hear something like, "Oh, this old shirt?" followed by a polite "Thank you". Flip the story around; the same two women in the same exchange of compliments but one woman has made or repurposed her outfit. "This old shirt" suddenly turns into, "Well, thank you! I made it with..." followed by details of her skill and rightly so.
Tote made from tank top.
Over sized t-shirt turned into tunic with accessories from ...you guessed it! T-Shirts!
Repurposing brings on a whole new feeling of accomplishment on several levels:
- First, there is the idea of something new. Several worn out shirts, jeans or dresses are new again after a bit of thought and recon.
- Second, you are not tossing perfectly good clothes out. Money is tight; not many can afford to shop for new clothes every time something fades, tears or wears out.
- Third, you are enhancing your self - esteem. The feelings of accomplishment show in your smile and walk when you are wearing your new clothes you made in public for the first time.
No skills at sewing? You can still repurpose clothing with one of our best friends - accessories!
Here are a few no-sew ideas to get you started:
- Belts from scrap fabric or old scarves to add dimension to an over sized t-shirt or dress shirt.
- Men's ties draped and left untied make a great accessory for color and lines.
- Old t-shirts cut into 1/4" strips and tied make an awesome piece of art & apparel! Add beads for more flair and weight.
- T-shirt vests are quite easy and popular to make.
- Make pocket accessories for t-shirts - flowers!
Neck scarf made from t-shirts and used to accent a plain black shirt.
Whatever you decide to do with your old shirts or other attire, you will create a "Wow" as long as you have fun while opening your creative side to color, dimension and redesign. Write me if you need a little info on how-to's for the suggested ideas. I'm happy to help!
Wishing you much success and inspiration,
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I like the KISS principle. It reminds me to keep my focus simple for all I do. Do you KISS enough? Most of us tend to over complicate everything and fail to look for the opportunities around us to apply KISS to ourselves or others. Einstein stated once his 3 rules to work. His rules apply to much of how I choose to live my life as an optimist and KISS when I can.
"Out of clutter, find simplicity; From discord, find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity."
"Out of clutter find simplicity"
Something wonderful happens when you volunteer. Once you have experienced a few challenges faced each day by those who are homelessness, hungry, teen runaways, and veterans live with the realization comes to you that your life is not so complicated or stressful after all.
Take out the the clutter of red tape, too many decision makers or reasons why you can't volunteer time to a worthy cause. Are you the only one holding you back from keeping your "it" simple?
Does the decision to volunteer or offer support to a cause take this much? Source: Wikipedia Manual Decision Tree
"From discord, find harmony"
Fill the empty spaces in your life with harmony that you believe are filled with complications. Confused? Think of the glass of water that is half full. Which do you see - half full or half empty? Your perspective may be the answer to what you fill your empty space in life with. Volunteer? Work together with others to solve a problem? Be an active part in your community? Apply KISS and your glass will be half full. Either way you see the glass, there is room for harmony in the remaining half.
"In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity."
Sadly there are people we live and work with who like to complicate things. Everything has to be an argument or filled with details to the point where discord is created, and clutter prevails. This is not only about co-workers or your boss. Teens and Toddlers are so very good at turning a half full glass into completely empty!
Opportunity is always in the middle of difficulty. Teaching moments are brief but miraculous times to change the chaos into a place where KISS prevails. Volunteering at shelters, youth centers, day cares, schools and non-profit organizations will provide you with great lessons in teaching moments - how to recognize and use them to the benefit of the "student" (metaphorically speaking).
Opportunities are FREE. Why complicate things?
Look for the opportunities to turn the glass from half full to full in someone's life. There is an opportunity to help with a project right here on this site (see the blog post - Selling an Idea to Give Hope
). Being aware of the opportunities in life is not complicated. The only requirement is to pay attention to enough KISS in your life. I wish you inspiration and...KISS!Sher
I love the burst of excitement and passion when, without warning, I see a picture or a phrase that allows for just a brief time the window of inspiration to open. The ideas of plans, missions and designs that were building in my mind spill out onto the pages of my journal, images appearing in the form of frantically scribbled words and crude attempts to draw. It does not matter to me what anyone else may see on the pages of my journal. It only matters that I can see my idea on paper as clearly as it was in my mind - selling an idea to give hope.
Buying and Giving a Concept
The people who firmly believe they can buy anything do exist. They believe they can buy happiness and have bought more money, bought, sold and traded people, and some have paid for life. I suppose if you have enough money you could try to buy anything including faith, but can money buy a person hope?
Hope is faith and faith is intangible. What we believe in and cannot see is done with faith (a concept). Hope does not fit into any of the physical senses, so how it it be bought or sold? You may answer through products or tangible items we give to people which is a valid argument, but, it's still not giving hope; it's giving a concept.
Many times we as adults forget a child or an adult in crisis may experience a temporary lack of ability to process concepts. They are in black and white (concrete) thinking mode for survival and protection of their emotions; however, they will process something tangible that represents the promise of hope. Something physical to remind them of a special memory, moment or of their home.
In the right form, yarn and other materials can bring the promise of hope and happiness.
Windows of Hope Quilt
A Promise of Hope
The impact of a child being removed from their homes to a strange place is beyond my ability to express. They experience fear, self-blame, shame and some continue to experience these emotions for many more years. The same impact exists for teens and adults when they are removed or forced to flee their homes for their safety and safety of their children. Shame and fear grip a person so tightly it becomes almost too much to move, think, speak or plan. Trauma becomes their world.
Fortunately, research has moved administrators, advocates, and those in the medical and mental health professions forward enough to understand the impact of trauma on children and adults. Some studies have found the trauma may be reduced when a person has a form of the promise of hope.
I have seen the difference a bear, a blanket, a doll or other special item given to a child when they are placed out of home can make. I have experienced personally the joy of giving and receiving items some of you may take for granted: nice clothing, body sprays, special jewelry, a music cd, books to read or cosmetics. Each person reacts differently to the gifts, but most will recognize these gifts as a promise to them - that hope is theirs. If they have nothing else, they have the promise of hope to hold onto and wrap around themselves when they feel lonely, lost and afraid. An invisible message is given with the items, "Have faith, keep hoping. WE will get through this."
In the right form, yarn or other materials can create something tangible that brings the promise of hope and happiness. I created Aware Bears in the efforts of providing the promise of hope to others, and more recently, the Windows of Hope Quilt. Did you know from each Aware Bear sold I donate $2.00 to the cause the bear represents? The thought crossed my mind I can be giving more, doing more with this concept. This is where selling an idea to give hope becomes my dream. While designing the quilt, I was able to place the pieces of my dream together beyond images and create a plan.
My Dream is to Give Custom & Repurposed Clothing, Quilts & Other Items to Persons
Placed in Care Out of Their Homes
or Residing in Shelters For Safety.
| |Please email if you are interested in learning more about how you can help with Promises of Hope. firstname.lastname@example.org | |Wanted: Many Hands, Hearts & Minds
Taking action is what will turn this dream into a reality with help from volunteers and donations of their time and skills. Can I do this alone? No.
A project of this size needs many hands, hearts and minds. A project of this size will need a lot of fabric and donated clothing to make Promises of Hope happen. It will take a little time, planning and most of all people working together.
My dream begins with you in your community. This is a call to action. I am not seeking money - I am asking for:
- Donating clothing: coats, suits, dresses, jeans & shirts in all sizes;
- Requesting donations of the materials needed (yarn, fabric, etc.)
- Accessories for Work Attire
A favorite song of mine, "One Voice" ,
comes to mind as I make my bold public request for volunteers. I am one voice reaching out to the large communities of crafters, organizers, philanthropists, businesses and others asking for your time and skills to be applied in a nationwide collaborative effort. Selling an idea that can't be seen is not easy, but together we can give what can't be seen - hope.
I wish you much inspiration, today and always.
I mentioned in an earlier post I am not fond of making frilly or unnecessary gifts, crafts, etc. I don't see the point in them. Sure they look nice for a little while and I, like many women, tend to be attracted to all things lacy. Unfortunately, in comes the dust, drying or cracking glue, fading fabrics and out to the trash goes the once lovely craft item. My determination to not make such items along with wanting to do my part with re-purposing leads me to look for useful things I can make. I have several criteria I follow before I make an item. These are not all the questions I ask of myself but they are my basics.
- Is it useful? Would I use it more than twice in a year?
- What is its purpose?
- Can it be made with recycled materials?
- Is it thrifty? Can a single mom or struggling family make and use this?
- Who will want/use this?
That all may seem to be what I call full of myself (BS) but it's not. It's important to me to make sure what I make is helpful, useful and families could work on the projects together. PLARN is one great way and I've stumbled across another that I believe is helpful and fun to do for those just learning to sew or more experienced persons can knock this project out in no time. What is it already?? Fabric Curlers.
Not a new idea, but a fun, use up the scraps idea. You can make them in green fabric but as for our environment, you can use:
- Old t-shirts (They are FANTASTIC for making these!)
- Scrap fabric of most types (Don't you have some tube socks with holes around?)
- Need no electricity as blow dryers and curling irons do (Also they don't use any counter space!)
- Hand and Machine washable
- You can re-purpose those buttons you have been saving (C'mon - Give 'em up!)
- Require little stuffing and the stuffing can be recycled
Green projects can be fun and useful. Not everything we use needs to be, but why not work with what we have , buy less and spend more in time with our kids? Here is the link to the tutorial and pattern.
It's free, and I encourage you to share the project with others! Do you have other green crafts or projects to share?
Wishing you much inspiration and success!