From dinosaur to…

…possibly the cutest “up-cycle” project I’ve ever completed.

Over a year ago, I was trying to help my mom sell an entertainment center via craigslist and Facebook. It didn’t fit her new television, so it had been moved to her garage. Well, we couldn’t sell it, we couldn’t even give it away — literally — our local salvage/resale shops won’t take them. So, it became a dinosaur taking up space in my mom’s garage.

But then I saw this, the piece in the before pic is almost an EXACT version of my mom’s dinosaur, shown here:

EntertainmentCenterI sent the pin to my sister and a plan was hatched.

Just before Christmas, we moved the entertainment center from mom’s garage to my garage, and we started painting and remaking it as a surprise for my niece.  We had a lot of fun brainstorming ideas… the sink is a cheap plastic mixing bowl, the faucet is the top of an m&m candy cane that we spray painted, the oven “rack” is a shelf organizer, the burners and stove and faucet knobs are all from the unfinished wood aisle at Hobby Lobby. We used leftover paint from other projects, and  bought kitchen cabinet knobs to use as handles. The inside of the fridge is painted all white, and the shelves are repurposed as refrigerator shelves. The investment in this project in terms of dollars was pretty small.

CollageForBlogWe cut a piece of MDF for the “wall” of the kitchen, my sister didn’t want a cut out (like the Pinterest piece had) in it since it would sit up against the wall in their play area, so I painted an outdoor scene, blue sky with fluffy clouds, flowers and a bunny in the yard, framed it out with 1/2″ trim board for window “mullions”. I also painted a grocery list on the “fridge” door, and a kitty and puppy magnet. (Her grocery list reads milk, juice, candy, bacon — likely a list Zoe would come up with if you asked her what we should buy at the grocery store!)

ZoeKitchen3I made a valance for her “window” out of this yellow Sunkissed fabric by Sweetwater, and trimmed the wash clothes my sister bought for “towels” in the same. The “towel ring” is a plastic scarf ring from Target that I made a little leather holder for. We added cup rings to the opposite wall to hold her utensils.


ZoeKitchen1We moved it fro my garage, over to my sister’s basement play area on New Year’s weekend, while Zoe was napping. When we had it moved it, I went into her room to wake her up, and I carried her downstairs to see her surprise and she woke up in a BIG hurry when she saw it! (Her brothers were just as excited) A few weeks later, I finished the little apron I made her to match–once she tried it on, she wore it the rest of the day!

ZoeApronCollageShe loves her kitchen, our mom loves that it’s not sitting in her garage anymore, and I love that we didn’t have to send it to the landfill. Win-win.

Happy creating,



Holy Masquerade, Batman!


(That’s an actual Robin quote, btw)  So, the big reveal… no one got both correct, but it would have been an impressive guess if you had–

We were the Joker and Catwoman (based on the 1966 television portrayals by Cesar Romero and Julie Newmar).  The originals:

and us, as Joker and Catwoman:

And yes, I made the costumes.  How?  It started with a trip to Goodwill where we bought:

And then a stop into the supermarket two doors down from Goodwill to buy some Rit Fabric Dye (the green dye was intended for Joker’s shirt, but we ended up not using it):

I started by washing everything, the Linen capri & blouse set and the green shirt were washed in a bath of Color Remover (which didn’t really do a thing); then I soaked the linen set in the purple dye for several hours (washing machine method).  After it dried, the color was very uneven, but I got to work anyway.

I removed the short sleeves from the linen blouse, cut long sleeves from the capri pants legs, and attached the new sleeves to the jacket.  Then I cut the bottom of the blouse off, made a pointed hem on each side in the front, and added tails to the jacket (which you cannot see in the pics, sadly)–so it looked just like The Joker’s tuxedo jacket. From the scraps of fabric I had removed from the blouse and the leftovers from the pant legs, I made a collar and lapel and attached them to finish the jacket.

THEN… sweetie went back to the supermarket to buy another box of purple dye, and we did the dye bath again, this time on the stovetop–worked great, we got a good solid cover of vibrant purple!  The only problem was, I hadn’t reinforced my seams and the linen blend raveled like crazy and I had to re-sew. every. single. seam.  Ugh.  Disaster averted–one purple Joker dinner jacket complete.  We decided the shirt wouldn’t take the dye anyway, because of the sateen finish, so we left it as is.  Same with the pants, they fit perfectly. Win! I did his makeup, which made the costume, I think:

On to Catwoman.  I cut the bottom of the dress off, removed the belt loops, and attached the “leather” belt at hip level to create the Mod-look 1960s “catsuit”.  The sleeves required slight adjustments to make it fit more closely — maybe a half hour sewing time, tops.  Add to that a pair of black leggings and boots from my closet, and I bought a long red wig at Target for $8.00, and the cat ears and mask from our theatrical shop (painted the mask with black glitter paint and it was good to go), added elbow length black satin gloves, and a necklace from my jewelry box, and voila!

To finish off the Joker costume, we purchased green hair paint and re-painted a wig from last Halloween, and bought bright purple gloves.  I cut the hem from the black dress I cut up for my Catwoman top, and tied it on him for his necktie.

Blogtoberfest Day VI–Necktie Social

So, I learned from my friend Shelly’s website that a Necktie Social was a Old West cowboy term for a public execution by hanging (gulp.). But it could also be used literally, referring to a social event where neckties were donated to be auctioned off for charity. Shelly hosted a modern necktie social, you can read more about it here.

When I made the Suits Me Just Fine Quilt as a commission this summer, my client and I discussed making a quilt from her father-in-law’s ties as well. Even though she decided to hold off on the necktie project for right now, I thought I’d share some of the inspiration quilts I found online. It’s amazing what quilter’s have created with these discarded, or left behind, items of clothing. I say left behind, because many times these are created in memory of the loved one who used to wear them.

This first one has the most creative border… more about it here, including the source for the pattern she used:

This fan quilt is a clever way of taking advantage of the natural shape of a necktie. Made by Pat of Bird Nest on the Ground. She added some great details to it, and the quilt honors a generous friend who is no longer here.

The one above, with the stars, is called Memories of David, and the one below is His Ties, both made in memory of someone special, and found here. She fussy cut two ties with special meaning, which form the two dark stars. What a great tribute:

The patchwork pillows were also made by Terry, of Quilted With TLC–what a great idea to use up the extra neckties or make a smaller project with fewer ties!

And look at this one, with such a modern feel… (from here)

Have you seen other clever ideas for re-using neckties? I’d love to hear your ideas…

and…there is still time to get in on my Aurifil Giveaway!

That Suits Me Just Fine

I set a goal of Father’s Day to finish this commission project, made from the suit jackets and pants of my customer’s father-in-law.  I finished it Saturday, the day before Father’s Day and delivered it to the happy customer the following day.

The borders and the binding are a batik, in steel grey, slate and rust colors… very masculine, and it set the suitings off just perfectly.  The center squares are two different alternating fabrics, one is a blue linen/poly blend and the other a synthetic blue suede.  On the reverse is a tweedy flannel, rust colored to pull out the browns in the quilt…

I considered many different options for quilting, but decided on a straight line grid, echoing the lines of the blocks themselves.  I used a grey/slate variegated Aurifil thread on top, that seems to compliment the colors of the quilt just enough.

When I delivered the quilt, the new owner immediately carried it into the formal dining room (that had served as her FIL’s bedroom before he passed away) and threw it over the back of a large, stuffed, rust leather chair–where it will live.  It looked like it had been made for that spot, and I’d never even laid eyes on the room before that moment.

Polyester Parade

 Well, not just polyester, but wool, rayon, suede…  It’s a quilt for a customer of mine, made from her father-in-law’s old pant suits.  He passed away two years ago and she saved his suits and ties to make quilts with.  This is the first one, now basted and ready to be quilted:

I mentioned the heat yesterday, there was no way I was going to have this baby laying across my lap when the outside temps were pushing 100 degrees.  Did I mention the backing is flannel?  Needless to say, it didn’t get finished last week as planned.  But I’m quilting it now, and hope to deliver it to my customer by Fathers Day, this weekend!

When I started sewing these blocks at a retreat this Spring, I kept referring to this as my “ugly quilt”.  But now that it is coming together, it’s really starting to grow on me…  I think it’s those flashbacks of the fabrics of my 1970s childhood that bothered me at first!