Posts Tagged ‘upcycled crafts’

I’ve mostly been revising my syllabus recently, but I still have two things to show you today.

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Handmade present:

Denim clutch (upcycled from the leg of an old pair of jeans I'd cut into shorts).

Details. Hand-stitched because I am horrible with a sewing machine.

Doubles as its own gift envelope!

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And something edible:

Caramel Apple Galette

The recipe is sort of a mix of the pastry technique from Chez Pim’s rustic fruit tart, and the way my French (now former) roommate M does the filling for her delicious caramel apple tart. I used a thinly sliced pink lady apple and drizzled hot caramel sauce all over the top once the galette had finished baking.  The caramel doesn’t make it taste extremely caramel-y, but it adds moisture and shine and a nice note of flavor. M usually uses store-bought pastry, but I decided to make my own this time; it turned out pretty good — nice and flaky — and was easy enough to make that I was encouraged to try making my own crust again a few days later when I made quiche for a lunch date. I think I’ve finally begun to conquer my fear of ruining delicate pastry doughs!  Unfortunately, I don’t have pictures of the quiche (I used a variation of this recipe from Tartine Gourmande, with ham, spinach, scallions, and swiss cheese for filling instead of her kale, zucchini, & spices), or of the chocolate mousse I made (which was also inspired by M, though the recipe I found online was a little too rich; I’ll have to ask M for her recipe, which is much lighter).  Whatever was left over was consumed very quickly by my family in the ensuing 24 hours.  Which I’m not complaining about — it’s always a good sign when a new dish you’ve tried out disappears really fast!


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Do you remember this post from a few weeks ago?  Well, that little mess eventually turned into this:

It’s a brooch, made of yo-yo’s I sewed from an old sheet that had ripped in the middle.  I embellished them with pearlescent beads and swarovski beads, sewed them to a felt backing, and added pins.  So far I’ve only worn it once, in a manner inspired by a shirt I saw at Ann Taylor Loft:

I was so excited about jazzing up my old and slightly careworn blue oxford shirt (I’ve literally been wearing it since high school).  I can’t wait to mix up the brooch with other outfits.  I think it’d look really cool on a tee of some sort, or perhaps on a sweater or cardigan.

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In Progress . . .

Yo-yo’s and fake pearls. I’m working on a brooch to embellish cardigans and t-shirt necklines. (Please ignore the egregiously messy desk). I’ve been cutting up a fitted sheet that ripped the other week while I was stripping my bed (don’t worry, I washed it before cutting it up to use in other crafts). Turning in my sleep + old sheets + years of abuse from university-issued plastic mattress covers = ripped sheets (apparently). The sheet wore really thin in the middle, where my body is, and the fabric just gave, I guess. (The material at the sides is still usable). I’m also trying something new with the image alignment. We center-align most images at the LR blog and I like the effect. So I’m trying it here.

I do not have time to be crafting.

I do not have time to be blogging.

I do not have time to be sitting at my computer, unshowered, not-yet-medicated, not-yet-caffeinated, looking at things which do not involve either LR or schoolwork (TONS of reading, and impending thesis deadline).

Nevertheless, I am

Thinking about crafts I don’t have time for (esp the one I should NOT have started last night),
Wandering from task to task,
Still in my pj’s
With no food, drink, or medicine yet in my system,
Staring out at the gloomy snow,
Bummed that my sun lamp time is over for the day,
Not working.


Enough of this. Time to go shower and feed/medicate/caffeinate myself, then back to work, posthaste!

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It’s been forever since I last posted, and the New Year has long since swooshed past. (I can’t believe it’s already the middle of January!) Nevertheless, I promised photos of the things I made at home this past Christmas, so photos it is. I didn’t have the time to do a lot of handmade gifts this year, but I made an effort to use upcycled gift wrappings or wrappings with reusable elements whenever possible. I ended up taking a lot of photos, so I’ve combined them into little mini-montages here to save space.

Wristlets / hand warmers for my roommate M. Knit with some worsted wool yarn left over from one of my grandmother’s previous projects. I modified a basic pattern (for some reason I can’t remember which site I found it on anymore, but I think it might have been this pattern, or something like it) by using a mock cable for the hand sections of the warmers, and asymmetrical stripes in the wrist sections. I cast on fewer stitches than the pattern calls for, but even so, the wristlets were a little big on me (which is why I added the bows – to make the wrist sections adjustable). Fortunately, M has larger wrists than me, and they actually fit her quite well even without the ribbons pulled taut. I guess she may have to go without bows, but at least now I know that my gauge was not way off! (I just have abnormally small wrists). *Unrelated Note* The hat that partially appears in the top left of the largest image is a cute new cloche that my mother bought for me from Target.  I added a vintage clip/brooch that my grandmother gave to me when I was little, and was very pleased with the result!

Gift for my friend L, and wrapping. I found this awesome vintage brooch in the Salvation Army at the end of last semester, buffed it up, and pinned it to a fat ponytail holder, making sure not to stab the elastic (just the fabric covering) so that L can choose either to wear it in her hair, or to remove it and use it as a pin. I was quite proud of what I did with the box, which is a triangular cardboard box that once held a couple of Ghirardelli chocolate squares that were sent to my parents in a gift basket. I undid all the glued seams of the box, flattened it, and traced it out on a page of an old Ikea catalog. Then I cut out the traced shape, glued it over the original outside of the box, and glued the seams back together in a slightly different formation so that you could open the box and see the pin/hairthing lying flat on its little bed of polyfil. I then tucked the flaps in, tied the box up with a thin ribbon (which I’d retrieved from another gift that I’d wrapped and given on Christmas Day!), and I was ready to go.

A roundup of some other gifts I wrapped at home this Christmas. Starting at the top LH corner and going clockwise:

  • [for my bf’s brother and sister-in-law] Gold paper, wired ribbon, with a personalized ornament for a nametag (One year my mom had her small group make ornaments on New Year’s Eve with things they were thankful for and wanted to remember about the previous year; this is one of the leftover blanks that I still had floating around in my bedroom.  All I did was decorate it with a gold paint pen and thread a ribbon through as a hanger.  P & C just got married in 2009, so I thought it would be an appropriate add-on to their gift, should they choose to keep the tag and use it on their tree).
  • [for my parents] Envelopes (which I purposely did not write on or seal, so that they could be reused!), ribbons, and gift tags made of construction paper, computer paper, and bits of images from a Costco catalog (the red dots – which were from a cranberry juice ad) and the same Ikea catalog I used for L’s gift (the green knit pattern – from an image of a throw or rug or something like that).  In retrospect, I wish I had used a slightly fatter ribbon for my mom’s gift because I liked the bold effect of the polkadot ribbon on the one I used for my dad, but we did not have any other sizes of olive green ribbon in the bins in the basement.
  • [for my bf D, who visited us for Christmas this year!] Each layer is wrapped in a different couple of pages from a Costco catalog.  He likes computers so I drew a computer on the tag and used computer themed pages (the bottom one is actually a Mac ad).  I had to do some clever taping and seaming together of pages (I used a double spread for the top box, which kept the pattern consistent, and for the DVD on the bottom, whose Mac ad was about half an inch shy of being able to fully cover the box, I cut a slip of another page with a fun contrasting image to fit in the gap, and kept it on the bottom of the gift.  Tied up with two kinds of gathered red ribbon (wide grosgrain in the middle, and thin satin on the outside).
  • [for A, a friend of D’s and mine] This one I was kind of proud of.  Ikea’s catalogs are very prettily designed, and so they often have several pages at a time whose color schemes are vaguely similar. I chose two that coordinated, and taped them together, then arranged the gift so that the image of the vase and flowers would be on top.  I then strategically tied on a green grosgrain ribbon to hide the prices on the page, and made up a matching gift tag with construction paper and marker / pen on computer paper.
  • [for my grandparents] No recycling and not much homemade here, but my grandma really likes sophisticated-looking, new things (she doesn’t go in for the upcycled look; I guess it’s a generational thing), so I used gold paper, full, classic bows (made with the same two-color wired satin ribbon, which I simply flipped to the other side for the second gift I wrapped), and simple tags that kept with the same white-on-black circle design of the other gifts, but included only a name and a short handwritten message.
  • [for my brother] also a mash-up of two Ikea pages.  One of them had a quote relating to something about having a lot of things not meaning as much as making the most of life, which I thought was appropriate for him since he has a big heart for social justice and is serving at an urban missions organization this year.  The other was just a random page in monochrome colors, which I arranged so that you could see a little of it on top, as a sort of “pop” of interest.  Tied up on the diagonal with a red grosgrain ribbon, and with a color-coordinating tag. (That’s supposed to be a Christmas star on the gift tag, but it ended up looking more like a compass, or even a strange sort of cross-with-draped-vestments from far away . . . )

Finally, I did bake over the break, too.  Lime meltaways (which I royally screwed up somehow and turned into flat, little pancakes of cookies instead of tender, melting rounds with a bit of body to them . . .  fortunately they ended up tasting good and I was at a loss when my grandmother asked for the recipe because I didn’t know what I’d done “wrong” to make them turn out that way; I eventually gave her the original recipe), and a gingerbread bundt cake (gingerbread baked in my mother’s bundt pan), which D and I made together one afternoon.  I didn’t take pictures of the weird lime-meltaways-turned-soft-crackers, but I do have a photo of the cake, which I’ll leave you with:

Still trying to figure out how to make it more moist, but this version was pretty good! I like this recipe because it uses fresh ginger, which you can really taste in the finished product. I think it baked up more dry this time because of the added surface area of the pan and the change of oven. I may also have added extra molasses last time, but I can’t really remember. I’ll have to fiddle around with it next time (this time we made it true to proportions).

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Ever since seeing this post on Apartment Therapy a while ago, I’d been itching to try making a garland of flower lights for my own room.  One of my apartment-mates eats a LOT of eggs (she is a marathon runner), and sometime back in early November, I convinced her to save me one of the cardboard inserts that go between the layers of eggs in the crates she buys.  Of course, me being me, I did not get around to actually doing the project until just before I left South Bend for the break.  As I’m a bit behind in terms of things I want to blog about but don’t have time to do much before I leave for my short (New Year’s) vacation in France tomorrow,  I thought I would share the photos I took of my completed light garland now (i.e. before I forget!).

I first envisioned the garland above my bed, where there are some ugly nail holes and chips in the paint:

But after hanging it up over the headboard, I began to worry about the lights being a fire hazard, so near to my bedding.  So I moved the strand to my mirror, and decided that I liked it there much better:

Close-up of the “blossoms”:

Have a joyous New Year’s celebration! I, for one, can’t wait to arrive in France!

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