Monday, February 16, 2015

Upcycling, Part trois

More upcycled pillows:

This was made of a designer fabric sample, backed with raw silk, which I purchased new.

The matelass√© I made this pillow from was gleaned from a discarded bedskirt.
The doily was from the thrift store. Don't you know the woman
who made this beauty was proud of it.
It's gorgeous!

This tea towel was a thrift store find more than fifteen years ago. Because the towel  
pattern is so yummy, I made the pillow so the towel could be
restored if anyone should choose to do so. The zipper is 
hand-picked, a couture technique.

This pillow was made from a cutter quilt I picked up somewhere ages ago
 and thrift store lace.

All the pillows in this post are currently available in my Etsy store. In the future I might do a post on pillows from the past, but not today.

Tomorrow I'll show tea cozies from upcycled materials.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Upcycling, part deux

Today's pillows are all made from recycled fabric/vintage towels, one of my fave kinds of pillows.

This one was a gorgeous linen tea towel that had a big hole in it. 
Couldn't be darned or else I'd have tried. I used it and a piece 
of new chenille fabric bought as a remnant. The flower
is from a silk bought as a remnant from a
design curtain/upholstery firm.

This was a kitchen towel. I'll admit I didn't buy it at a thrift store; 
it was new from Dollar Tree. The buttons though are
vintage, as are most of the ones I use.

The doily's the upcycled bit here, that plus the wool for the flower and 
the linen itself, which also came from a thrift store. 
Ditto on the button. 

Again a doily was the upcycled bit, but the glass for the 
button was a thrift store find too. I used new
linen for the underfabric.

This was a Battenburg tablecloth from a thrift store. It had a hole,
which could have been darned but the tablecloth
 wasn't unique enough to warrant doing so.

That's all for today. Check back  tomorrow for more upcycled pillows. Oh, and all but the top pillow, already sold, are available at my Etsy store.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Upcycling, part one

Do you recycle/upcycle?

I admit it's an obsession with me, taking something old and making it new again. I love redoing pillow covers, and I admit recycling isn't always necessary with the ones I find. But--since I have an Etsy shop and they only allow items made by others if they're more than 20 years old and I can't actually use all the pillows I come across, I find recycling necessary.

In this part of the country, pillow covers/pillows can be had for a song, and, with a little creativity--and a certain amount of  work--they can become truly magnificent. (That's my opinion, of course.)

This was a Crate and Barrel pillow, in excellent condition. I bought it originally because it was a cheap price to pay for a down pillow form. Then, well, I couldn't discard the cover, now could I? So I added a flower, made of an old cashmere coat I'd felted, and needlefelted the center to tie in with the pillow itself.

This was a Calvin Klein pillow cover, again in excellent shape, again with a down pillow form (which I can pretty much ditto on every one of these). It took me ages but I stitched the buttons into the ampersand shape. I'll admit this is one of my faves.

A grape silk cushion cover, this. Need I say I bought it for the down form? This one had stains, which I thought I might be able to get out. And I did, after hand washing it. Then I stitched the buttons into the etc. shape. It's another one I like, though neither this one nor the Calvin Klein, nor even the Crate and Barrel work in my home. The first two have sold, this one's still up for grabs in my Etsy shop.

This is upcycled merely in that it was a vintage tea towel I made into cushion cover, then monogramed with buttons. It was my first button project, something I made probably six or seven years ago. It too can be had for the taking .

This last is also not a reclaimed cushion cover. It's made from a vintage sampler I picked up somewhere in my thrifting and remnant fabrics. The design is one I saw, again many years ago, at a semi-local way cool fabric store: Cowgirls and Lace in Dripping Springs, TX. They were asking $125 for theirs. Mine's in my Etsy shop for $50.

That's all today. Check back in tomorrow for more upcycling.

Sunday, November 23, 2014


Do you have routines? I confess I do, and Tuesday's my thrifting day. Why Tuesday? Well, like the calf path that went askew, I had a good reason once. Now it just feels right. Besides, one of my fave stores is half-price on Tuesdays. Nuff said.

Last week, I was in the midst of a 24 hour stomach virus on Tuesday. Coulda waited a week except I had a coupon from Goodwill that was about to expire. All things considered, best choice scenario, I made Friday my Tuesday.

I found this brass gondola dish at our local Goodwill--also the ornaments I used to stage it.

Made in Mexico, it's really quite fabulous!

These poinsettia candleholders came from the same place.

Pretty cool, aren't they?

This brass pear dish also was a Goodwill find.

As was this AnnaLee Mrs. Santa doll. Her, I'll be keeping.

At the Library Thrift, I found these wreath trivets. This is the smaller of the two, made of brass and marked Rubel '81.

The larger, silver-plate and marked Italy.

For me, I found a gorgeous handbag--M Z Wallace--in like-new condition. I saw a similar one online at $375. I couldn't pass it by. Besides, it's perfect for Christmas.

Lastly, these Christmas stamps.

They've obviously been used but the rubber stamp part is clean and if you were to buy them off the internet right now, they'd come to around $70.

All in all, it was a lucrative day.  

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Easy Peasy Nut Roll

I spent my 20s in Pittsburgh Pa and look back on those days with sweet nostalgia. I especially loved the abundance of bakeries. I think it's different now, but back then it seemed you hardly had to go a block without finding one.

My favorite memory of those bakeries was the nut roll. Growing up in Texas, I'd never seen them before, and they hit all the bases for me: nutty and sweet. So when I found a nut roll recipe in one of the local papers, I squirreled it away. I had no need of it when I could buy one so easily but once I came home the recipe was golden. Over the years, it became a Christmas staple.

Then I stopped making them at all. I'd think about it before the Christmas season started but somehow time would get away from me.

Last year, I tried something new: an easy way to make a nut roll. Now, don't go comparing it with the Pittsburgh bakery-made product, ya hear? It would fail by comparison, but it satisfies me, and more importantly, it satisfies the hub, Pittsburgh born and bred.

The recipe actually calls for ground walnuts. I simply chop them.

First melt 3 T. of butter with 2 T. of milk. (I use almond milk because that's what I drink, though I keep whole milk in the house--for my cat, doncha know. I imagine the almond milk contributes to the nutty flavor.)

Combine the 1 1/2 c. chopped walnuts with 3/4 c. sugar. (These pictures are horrible. I don't get the morning light in my kitchen.)

Add the butter/milk mixture and 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla. Mix well.

Lay the crescent rolls onto parchment paper and pinch into a rectangle. I'm using a small tin because that's all I had when the hub asked for them. And yes, that's the shadow of my fingers as I photograph. Very graceful looking, innit. Not.

Spread the nut mixture over the dough leaving the edges free.

Roll it up.

Pinch the ends together and transfer, parchment paper and all, onto a baking sheet. Trim the paper to fit the sheet and bake in preheated 375° oven for 15 minutes or until brown. (I use the small oven in my double oven range, which takes longer to cook, so 14 minutes might work for your oven.)

Allow to cool.

Slice and enjoy! (These pieces hadn't fully cooled; it holds together much better if you wait a while.) 

Package the remainder of the filling and freeze for the next time. Or add a frozen hunk of them along with a chopped apple next time you make oatmeal.  Yummers!

Easy Nut Roll

For filling:

1 1/2 c. chopped walnuts
3/4 c. sugar
3 T. butter
2 T. milk
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Heat butter and milk in saucepan until melted. Combine nuts and sugar in medium bowl. Add melted butter mixture and vanilla. Mix well.

For roll:

Pinch 1 tin of crescent rolls into a rectangle on parchment paper. Spread filling over rectangle, leaving edges bare. Roll up. Transfer, paper and all, to baking sheet, trimming edges of paper to fit.

Bake in preheated 375° oven for 15 minutes or until brown.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Getting Older and Changing my Focus

I'm finding that there are things I used to be able to do with ease that elude me anymore. And no, I'm not talking physical things, though of course it's a given that they too will become more difficult as I age. I'm just not there yet. But simple little crafty things, like putting in a zipper, or hand stitching evenly, or even making pretty embroidery stitches--somehow they've become more difficult than when I was younger.

I've always felt I could do anything I put my mind to, and generally I did. I haven't totally lost that feeling but more and more I'm disappointing myself. 

One thing, at least, I can still do: sew on buttons. Here are a few cards I made a while back using buttons as decoration. I'm seriously thinking of making more of the same to satisfy my creativity without mucking things up.

Since I've never been a collector of stamps and rarely have ones for whatever design I come up with, I find graphics on the 'net to use instead. With this one, I printed the words and the balloon graphic. Maybe next time I'll upload the graphic to Pixlr and blank out the balloons, leaving only the baskets.

This one took advantage of the banner fad a while back. Has that passed? It looked good on a card. I did use a stamp for the words.

For this one, I use a stamp, masking off the flowers that were a part of it. I think the buttons look better than stamped flowers.

Mother Teresa's words. Not much one could do to mess up a card with that on it. But I'm thinking next time I'll do more paper layers beneath the saying.

Love the button bicycle wheels. Again the bicycle--and the words--were printed off the 'net. 

So this is where I think I'll be going in the days to come--once I finish the pillows I'm fighting to get zippers into and the footstool that needs painted and recovered. Maybe this winter I'll focus on working with paper. We'll see.

Ta, y'all.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Unearthed Treasures

I'm cleaning out my office closet. The plan is to relocate storage of Etsy listed items from my studio to the office closet, clearing up the studio for what it was designed: a space to create. I have, of course, three piles: keep, toss, and give away. Right now, my give away box is the fullest, mostly because the other two aren't really piles: whatever I keep gets stored right away and whatever I toss gets tossed the same.

But I'm turning up some good things I'd pretty well forgotten about

I bought this lamp base about 15 years ago when I was in a lamp-making mode. There was a cool antique store in Dallas--it may still be there--that had a warehouse of antique stuff behind the store, one floor being entirely lamp parts and such. Loved that store! But only two finished lamps ever came out of my lamp-making days. This base, and the lamp part below, I never got around to using. They've been stored ever since.

I bought this at the same time. They're not matching pieces but they don't look bad together.

This pic of the two of them together shows why I never made a lamp from them. Another piece is needed to bridge the two and since I no longer have access to that cool store in Dallas I've stopped looking for something to fit.

This too was tucked away in the office closet. I have another  somewhere; I think it's in a bureau drawer in the guest room but I wouldn't swear to it. Isn't it gorgeous? I'm not sure what it was used for. I started with three but have since given one away. I picked them up at an antique store sidewalk sale in Plano ages ago.

Ditto on this one as to where I got it, but there's only one of it. In one of my old houses, I had it hanging above a picture. I twisted some wire around that center section to make it hangable.

This last piece came from a thrift store in Ft. Worth. I know it's a little odd to have something like this, even more odd to treasure it, but I do. I have no idea if it was on a crypt or what. It's certainly worn.

I'll most likely be cleaning this closet all weekend. Who knows what goodies I'll find? The first two on today's list I've currently listed in my Old Stuff shop. The rest I'll be keeping for myself, just because I really like them and they're not big enough to take up significant space.

Ta, y'all. Hope you have a good weekend.