Friday, September 26, 2014

New Site

This blog has moved to Although still under construction, all of the Upcycle Shed tutorials to date have been moved to this new site.

Please join me! Follow me using wordpress, or join on facebook via the left side widgets!

Here is a preview of the newest tutorial:

Join me next Friday. Uncycle Shed will have a spooky decor tutorial worth waiting for.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Inspiring Vacation

My family took a vacation over the summer to a little town called Steamboat Springs, Colorado. We drove through a whole lot of farmland, and also a whole lot of nothing. Suddenly we came to Steamboat Springs and we are at a tourist destination.

Steamboat Springs is the cutest place! It has a free little shuttle bus that ran through the town. There were galleries, shops for browsing, gardens, and a great Saturday Farmer's Market.

The family met Abraham Lincoln,

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and Ben.

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Little Bear played cowboy.

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His older brother thought he was much too big for that! In fact, he refused to be in any pictures at all.

Saturday happen to be the first day we were there. We visited the Farmer's Market.

The Farmer's Market was such a cool experience. There were lots of people and vendors of all types. There was live music.

My jaw dropped when I spied a 10' by 10' tent full of recycled goods. I begged Mr to watch both the kids so I shop. I would have purchased half the booth if I could have!

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I had to decide on my favorite item. I love this skirt! I get complimented on it all the time. It is a reversible wrap skirt. It was made from recycled sari dresses by village women in India. I believe that income is beneficial to their village, and besides, this is just beautiful!

As I was purchasing it, I was chatting at the poor woman at the booth about how I used to do more upcycling. I made bags, shirts, arm warmers, etc., and was featured in a publication, (but all that is a whole other story!)

We went home from our trip and I kept thinking about upcycling. My ADD brain was totally persevering on it! Many weeks went by and I could not stop thinking about it. I formulated a business plan of publishing a upcycling book.

I made samples and approached a publishing company. They are interested in my "Upcycle How-To" syle book idea, but they want to see more. More upcycles, more upcyclers being inspired.

This is my mission with To spread upcycle awesomeness! Upcycle Shed is the spot for inspiring tutorials and ideas! Come see my blog every Friday for a tutorial on making an upcycle project that is functional, and often quite beautiful.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Tutorial: How to Make an Owl Stuffie

Fabrics for my owl stuffie are brought to you by a tweedy old pair of mens pants. The outer eyes came from an old pair of mens corduroys. The inner eyes came from an old worn out pair of my jeans. Two buttons came from my son's old school uniform shirt. The beak, from an little old fleece baby blanket.

Step 1: Cutting out the parts

The body piece I cut out of the pant leg is 10" long, 8" wide at the top, and about 6.5" on the bottom. The top is also slightly curved in about 1/4" to help with the pointy owl feather look once it is stuffed.

My largest eye piece is 3.5" in diameter.

Cut out an interior eye piece that is smaller. Use a scrap that has circles as the print design, or do as I did here. I used plain worn out jean fabric and added some buttons to help the eyes "look."

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Step 2: Sew on the eyes and beak

Decide where you want the eyes. Mine owl eyes start at about 4 inches down from the top.

Pin the largest eye piece on, allowing for seams on the sides of body.

Sew eye pieces on. Often I use s straight stitch on the eyes, 1/3 inch or so in from the edge. It leaves a raw look. Zig zag stitch can also be used.

Pin and sew on the inner eye piece. Sew buttons on, if using. Pin and sew on the beak.

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Step 3: Sew the front and back to eachother

Place right sides together and pin.

Sew them together, leaving a 3 inch wide section in a side unsewn.

Trim the top corners.

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Step 4: Sew a one inch square on each bottom corner

I do this the easy way by flattening the bottom corner. I feel through the fabric to make sure the top and bottom seams are lining up right next to eachother.

Then I sew the seam about one inch in from the corner.

Repeat on the other bottom corner and trim.

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Step 5: Stuff the owl

Turn the owl right side out through the hole in the side.

Sharpen the "ear" corners by turning them using a blunt object, such as the eraser end of a pencil.

Start sticking the stuffin' in the side until you like the way that it looks.

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Step 6: Stitch up the side

I used a regular sewing needle and a whip stitch.

All done!  photo ed4a4d4a-d100-42c6-a3e6-cac90cd4e870.jpg

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Dreaming of: Upcycle Living Room

This is my best upcycle show-off of the week. I really am pleased with it.

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Your guests will never know that your stylin' hostess apron is made from upcycled edges of old linens. It looks so stinking cute on, I am really regretting not having a model for this pic.

I have been kicking some decor ideas around in my head. Can you believe we moved into our home last May, and my living room still looks like this-

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I am ok with that. I am grateful, in fact. When we moved into our last place, we didn't even own a couch. My challenge now though is those blank white walls.

The picture I have in my head is of a neutral tan coat of paint.

Vintage shutters on the inside of the windows in a vintage orange or green color. Maybe red.

Shelves on the walls made of painted old dresser drawers and wooden silverware drawers to hold our family pictures and our little upcycle ornies.

Our framed art of Multnomah Falls, Oregon, a large linocut by a favorite artist.

How about the grill of a really old truck? (Can those be hung on a wall?)

We were driving through town one day. I was talking to my honey and then pointed,

"Cool old truck!"

To which he responded,


Thanks, honey. Thanks.

I have often wished I had a camera handy when I have come across an old truck. Rusty, restored, it does not matter. I love them all. They take me back to my childhood. One of my childhood old trucks moved my family from Birmingham, Alabama, to Portland, Oregon. I was four years old.

I was so happy this week to get this photo from a favorite reader! It is similar to my How to Make a Star tutorial. She made hers with her kids and also added more "limbs" to it. I love it!

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You may have noticed some changes to this blog. It is kind of a construction zone right now. I am determined to make this blog as user friendly as possible. That's the way we get upcycling done around here! Changes will take place over time. I am not going to interrupt regular postings and tutorials. The tutorials will improve, so they will be easier to follow.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Tutorial: How to make a Milk Carton Sketch Book

This little book is the perfect little take-along. Mine is for lists and notes. A pocket brain! Fill it with the type of paper that will suit your needs best. Glean through old spiral notebooks and old sketchbooks, (mine always have some unused pages in the back....)Look for colorful flyers and empty planner pages that can be thrown in the mix.

Step 1: Cut out the covers and pages.

Cut the front and back panel off of a clean half gallon milk carton. The front of the carton will be the back. The back will be the front of the book.

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Cut your gleaned pages into rectangles that are 7 and 1/2 inches by 3 and 1/2 inches. You will need 20 to 30 pages this size.

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Step 2: Create the enclosure.

Line the covers up and trace the inside of the spout on the back cover onto the front cover.

Using a craft knife, cut an "x" in the middle of the circle you just drew to allow you to get a pair of scissors in. Cut the hole out. Keep trimming slightly until the hole fits easily onto the back cover spout.

Trim the top of the front cover with rounded edges, keeping 1/2 inch of cover between the enclosure and the edge. Put the covers together and trim the top of the back cover to match the front.

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Step 3: Give the spout a backing. (Optional)

Cut out a rectangular piece of the side of the milk carton that is 2 and 1/4 inches wide. Trim it to match the back of the back cover.

Glue it on, flush with the rounded top of the back cover. Placing no glue where the spout goes. I have used hot glue for this, as well as super glue, whatever holds my vending machine quarters inside.

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Step 4: Make the Binding Holes Template

Grab one of the book pages and draw a vertical guideline ½ inch from the left hand side.

Then mark the holes on the guideline in fairly equal increments. For this one I did the first one ½“ down, then the rest are ¼” apart leaving a ½” space at the bottom.

To create the actual holes, you can use either a heavy duty hole punch (with a small hole) or an awl.
If using a:
a) Small hole punch-punch a hole where the lines meet.
b) Awl-cut wedges on the bottom left of the guidelines. This makes makes it easier to see where holes are going.

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Step 5: Make binding holes in cover and pages.

Place template flush with the end of the cover and centered with the top and bottom. Make the holes in the front cover.

Use the front cover as the template for the holes in the back cover. Make sure to line up the correct sides.

Make holes in your paper, using the template as your guide. With an awl, I could easily punch holes in 3 pages at a time.

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Step 6: Start sewing.

Place the pages inside the covers, lining up holes.

Thread an embroidery needle with embroidery floss and thread through the back of the book. You may need to go through afew pages at a time with this first hole.

Leave 6 inches of floss hanging out the back to be able to tie it off later.

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Step 8: Sew across one way.

Make sure papers are flush with the spine.

Loop the floss around the long side of the book, and then back through the hole you started from.

Loop the floss around the spine, and back through the same hole. (Tip: if it ever becomes too difficult to pull the needle through the hole, use a pair of needle nose pliers to pull the needle through.)

Thread it into the adjacent hole. Loop it around the spine, and back into the same hole.

Continue the "step over to the adjacent hole and the loop it" for the next three holes.

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Step 8: Sew back to starting point.

Loop floss around the long side of the book and return it to the hole it come out of.

You will now be repeating the same steps of crossing to adjacent hole and looping until your floss meets the 6 inch tail that was left in the back.

Tie a tight square knot with the two ends, as close to the binding and the starting hole as possible.

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Step 9: Finish up.

Using needle, pull the loose ends of the floss through the hole to the front of the book and trim them closely.

Score the front cover for ease of opening. Hold a ruler perpendicular to the binding, about 1/8 inch away, towards the enclosure.

Run a blunt tool like the side of awl tip or back of craft knife so that there is an indent, (but not a cut.) This makes the cover easier to open.

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Stuff the spout with your snack quarters or a bit of artist's gum eraser.

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Upcycling Fabrics

Cotton fabric is made from plants and grown in a massive, mass produced kind of way, just like alot of our food is. This is common knowledge, but it wasn't too many years ago that I really became aware of the amount of insecticides/pesticides used to produce conventional cotton. (As a side note, I eliminated all products containing "cotton seed oil" from my family's diet when I made the discovery.)

Make a quick internet search and it will become very clear that cotton is likely our "dirtiest" crop. On several websites I found similar statistics, although not all were the same, they created a picture kind of like this; cotton accounts for about 2% of what we grow, and about 25% of all pesticide use. It really is quite shocking, isn't it?

This is the force that drives me to upcycle fabrics. It seems like almost everyone wears blue jeans and cotton shirts, and when they are holey and worn out, they cannot be donated to charity and need to be thrown out, right? Wrong! Upcycle those old clothes and other household fabrics into something useful, and/or even beautiful, and let me help you do it!

On Upcycle Shed blog I will have tutorials showing how to upcycle all kinds of materials- usually common ones that are found around the house. I will have a new tutorial every week, and at least very other week the tutorial will be on upcycling fabrics. Upcycling fabrics holds a special place in my heart because fabric is not one of those materials that can be thrown into the recycling bin, (if you are lucky enough to have one,) and melted down to make new things. Whether you have conventional or organic fabrics available to you, you are using sustainable practices and doing good things for the earth by reusing them.

Stop by on Friday for a tutorial to help you keep upcycling and creating.

Here are the projects I was working on last week, so if last week you guessed that owls + handbags= Owl handbags, you were right!
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Friday, September 5, 2014

Tutorial: How to make Gatorade Gunny Sacks

Last night the critters and I were at the Pleasant Grove Promenade again for the last event of the season. I had afew of my Gatorade Gunny Sacks there, and people were wondering what they were for. My suggestions were colored pencils, gum, and change. What more does a kid need to tote around, right? Plus, it's a green way to do it.

Tonight and tomorrow some of my gunny sacks are at the Rehive event I mentioned in the last post. I just took the critters over there this morning. The place looks great, and if you are in town you have to stop by at least just to see the facilities the event is in. So cool and full of vintage awesomeness!

This project can be made from a clean Gatorade bottle, or I have found that Powerade works as well. For this project, you will need a good box knife and an awl. I got my awl several years ago for a college bookbinding course. I was surprised that even though I had never heard of it, the tool was a common find at the fabric store.

First, notice the first indent in the bottle design down from the cap. This is where you use the box knife to cut the bottle. Using caution, run the knife along the indent all the way around the bottle. photo 1caabff3-e1d5-491f-aa11-d3391afb8323.jpg
Second, using caution, use the awl to make evenly spaced holes all the way around the bottle on the next remaining indent in the bottle. This will be the indent just down from where you cut.
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Third, cut from a scrap piece of fabric a rectangular piece that is 11.5 inches long and 5.5 inches wide. Folding over one of the long sides twice, create a hem that is about half an inch wide. (Make the hem about twice this size for a Powerade Gunny Sack.)  photo 148500a1-52ad-4bea-b3e6-f804fb196028.jpg
Fourth, on the opposite side of both short ends, you will be folding over a quarter inch of fabric and sewing it to about 1.5 inches long.
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Fifth, place the found string or ribbon across the top of the fabric the long way, about half an inch from the top. (Side without the long half inch hem.) Fold over the fabric. The string should now be enclosed in the small hem you made on the short sides of the cloth. Pin and hem, being careful not to catch the string as you sew.
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Sixth, fold over the short sides of the fabric to match the short hem. Place them together, squared, and sew down the outside on the right side of the fabric, only from the hem stitch that goes lengthwise across the top by the string all the way to the bottom.
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Seventh, put the lower hem around the top edge of the cut bottle. It should be a fairly snug fit. Use embroidery floss to sew the fabric to the bottle by putting floss first through the fabric just above the hem, and then through the hole made with the awl. Continue around the bottle and tie it off.

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Then you are done!
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Here are some of my gunny sacks made with Powerade bottles. photo e331118a-e777-46e1-b313-5bd5d4e06073.jpg
Thanks for ucycling and enjoy!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Beehive + Recycled = Rehive

This week, on Friday and Saturday, Upcycle Shed will be at Rehive! It is a reused clothing and accessories event put on by the folks at Beehive Bazaar. It is running from 12pm to 11:30 pm on Friday and from 10 am to 5 pm on Saturday in Downtown Provo at Velour 135 N University Ave. See their website at It is not clear how well the critters will play with others at this event, but I am going to give it a go and I am excited for the opportunity!

I have friends to thank for all of this. If I didn't get old household fabrics from others who wish donate their holey jeans (and other old household fabrics) instead of throwing them way, I wouldn't get to make as many critters. Thanks so much to Jon and Sheri, Kelly, and of course, my mother, who supports me in all my crazy creations.

There is a new critter in the works for the Rehive event. They are not completed yet, but here is a hint... they are this:

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Plus this:

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I am excited to show the finished critter!

Although it is a busy week, Tutorial Friday is coming up. Keep posted.