Category Archives: Re-purposing and Re-fashion

Play dress. Re-purpose project

I like giving things new lease of life. And that makes me a hoarder. Here’s my new little project.

It pains me to know that kids are going to play with something messy in some nice clothes that most likely will now wash off and will be covered in stains. But if I make something out of something else, especially if I hadn’t spent masses of time on it – I don’t really mind them getting messy in that. Most of the times however it becomes their favourite item and they wear it all the time 🙂

I saved this baby-grow because no-one really worn it for too long – they were out of nappies by the age shown on it, and I liked the colour. So I just cut the bottom off it, added a couple of bottom layers from my old t-shirts by just cutting bottoms of t-shirts straight and slightly pinching them together to sew up to the top layer. All in all – it took me just a couple of evenings.




Tags: , , , , , , ,

Crafts on AGA

We have a lot of candle wax lying around and multi-coloured crayons that we made from broken bits of crayons (which completely ruined my silicon moulds and did not captivate girl’s attention for long).

So, inspired by some Instagram videos, I suggested we make a candle.

First – we needed to pick a wick. We needed a tread that burned well and didn’t melt. I cut few lengths of thread from different materials and let Neva have a go burning each one to see which one suits our need better. We used a metal nut to attach the wick to and oiled the plastic pot we were going to use for the mould.

We chopped some crayons and wax from an old candle and put some in a metal measuring cup to melt and other bits in the candle mould for the colourful bits.

In our new house we have a range cooker which I am still figuring out how to use, but the hot plates on top seemed like an ideal temperature for this. So we poured the melted wax into the candle mould and left it to cool. Small person was very proud of her candle and took it with her to “listen and share” in nursery.


Neva got experimentation bug going and she wanted to see how things melt, we put baking paper on the hot plate and started dropping bits of crayon and wax on it, then decided to draw on the next bit.

Neva discovered that once cooled – the wax comes off very easily, so she had fun peeling it off the paper.

For the picture to stay intact – try doing it on a plain paper – the wax soaks in and doesn’t fall off, making a nice picture to keep. If you like this craft but don’t have an AGA with big hot plate – I think a big frying pan will do, you’d just have to cut circle to fit to the bottom and check that the temperature is not too high, so that child doesn’t burn her hands accidentally.




Tags: , , , , ,

Workout for little fingers

This year we went to the PYO farm to get a pumpkin, but I was unorganised and we were too late – the ones on the fields were all rotten, but we were already there and kids wanted to PICK SOMETHING!

So, we found a lot of crops that were not being picked and were going to waste and we took a few things home. Our loot included few sunflower heads, some corn ears and some broad beans that were lying about in the field. Girls were particularly excited about these ones once they have discovered that under the dried out brown pods were very brightly coloured pinkish -purple beans.

We brought our treasure home and without delay they started peeling and shelling things. That was a good workout for their fingers!

We are going to throw in some conkers and some acorns and later on I’ll make them an autumn sensory bin. We haven’t had one for a while and girls love them! Hopefully the beans and corn wouldn’t start rotting. It’s quite peculiar thing happening in this neck of the woods – seeds tend to stat growing at the harvest time instead of saving their energy till next year.  I don’t quite understand it. Some of the corn that we picked started sprouting right on the cob, beans were sprouting inside their pods and acorns in our garden are rooting themselves to the ground! I need to look it up, I am pretty sure that’s not how plant’s self-preservation supposed to work…

After a while of shelling beans I matter-of-factly put some cocktail sticks out and engineering began! I started them off with building a square-based pyramid, hoping to go through some of the other 3D shapes, but they had their own plans, and I didn’t mind. (beans were very soft, freshly picked – this wouldn’t work with dried ones)


Tags: , , , ,

Favourite activities. Bath mats and fine motor skills.

For quite a few of our favourite fine-motor skills activities we have been using ordinary bath mats. We started with small ones of different colours and used them for coloured bead sorting. The younger person started doing it with fingers, then progressed to measuring spoon/melon ball spoon, the older one first was using sugar tongs, then progressed to tweezers. Tweesers are not so easy with wooden Pony Beads, and we broke few plastic tweezers, then I started giving my older daughter smaller, plastic beads and this seems to work.

We also used coloured water and pipette to fill the suckers.

After a while I thought a challenge was in order, so I pulled out a big transparent bath mat and filled up some pots with food colouring, laid some pipets out (mine are re-purposed from some baby medicine) and quietly left it in the middle of the patio…

Smaller person wanted to have a go immediately, she was just experimenting with how much droplets can one sucker cup hold, then she tried mixing few different colours of droplets in one cup and so on.

Her sister came in from school and wanted to have a go too. She first was working on making colour patters, then decided to make a picture.

All in all – good concentration and maths (patterns) practice! And creativity of course!

beads and bath mats

Arranging pony beads on bath mats


Chalks in the garden

If your kids like drawing with chalks but apart from a chalk board you have no space for them to go wild and your garden is covered in grass like ours – pick up a large cardboard from a recycling centre – this will do the trick!


Stained glass crafts

Here is an easy and fun craft you can do with bits of clear plastic and permanent markers.

I have collected clear plastic trays from fruit and other groceries and yoghurt pot covers for this craft and a massive set of Sharpies was going cheap at supermarket.

To do this you need to draw the outline of your drawing on one side of the plastic and let the child colour on the other side (otherwise the outline will be smudged by other markers).


If you are not good at drawing – you can trace over a picture in a colouring book like we did, or just let kids do their own design.

We drew butterflies and glued them to some thin bouncy grass-type sticks and kids were playing with them all day “flying them around”.

Additionally you can do some nature studies and print real butterfly designs to trace and decorate.

Girls couldn’t get enough of this, they’ve drawn on all the plastic bits I’ve collected.

Just make sure you protect your work place because they are permanent markers, and don’t let kids draw on themselves. Good luck!


Tags: , , ,

The brightest dress she owns!

Mya picked out of my Craft box these polo shirts and stated that she would like a dress from all of them…


I have accepted the challenge.


I picked a Polo shirt with the smallest collar to use as my base for the dress. I planned to make the top out of it, then attach all the other bits to it – skirt, sleeves. I turned it inside-out and traced the outlines of my t-shirt template onto it (see my previous post on how to make easy template).


I cut it out but unfortunately the length of the top was finishing just where all the logo’s on the shirt were. The logos were embroidered so they wouldn’t have behaved well in a seam or with another applique over them – and I didn’t want any logo’s on the dress. So I cut the strip with the logos off on the front and back of the top, then traced the cut-off strip on the sleeves of the blue polo shirt and stitched it to the top of the dress – this is how it happened to be two coloured instead of one colour.

I wanted a long-sleeved dress, so I cut the sleeves of the orange shirt and used the whole length of it including the hem. Then I traced the rest of the sleeve on the blue polo shirt and stitched the blue bit of the sleeve to the seam of the orange sleeve on the inside using zig-zag seam on my machine.

I opened up the top of the dress and stitched the sleeves to it, then starting from the cuff of the sleeve pinned the sleeve and side together and stitched each side.

Then I measured the waist width and cut out a rectangle for underskirt from an orange Polo shirt – this is where all the ruffles would be attached. I had quite a few orange shirts – they were used for uniform, logos were cut-out, and fronts were heavily stained and unusable, but the backs were perfectly fine, so I used a few of these on this project.

To make ruffles a bit puffier I used 3 widths of a T-shirt for each colour. I used a straight stitch on my machine then gathered it by pulling one top side of the thread as I did here, but I divided the width in two and pulled from both sides to avoid putting too much stress on the thread, so it doesn’t break when gathering.

I then attached the first ruffle to the top of the skirt rectangle, and pinned the skirt to the top of the dress. I used zig-zag stitch to attach the skirt and also a straight stitch just to make sure. I was helping myself with a screwdriver to flatten the ruffles and move the material along because it was stalling sometimes and not moving along in the machine.

I wanted ruffles to gradually get longer so to each new tier I added 1cm in width. I then attached ruffles to the skirt to make sure that the top of each ruffle was about 1cm under the bottom of the top ruffle.AS you can see from the picture I was helping myself along with a screwdriver to flatten the material and help it move in the machine when doing ruffles, it was stalling a bit.

I only hemmed the ruffles with cars as it was not a knit so it was fraying at the bottom, the rest I left as they were – these knits don’t fray at all.

My daughter likes cars and trains a lot, so I bought a piece of fabric with cars which I used for the top ruffle. Then I found this nice applique of a camper van and I hand- stitched it to the top of the dress.

The dress was ready. One happy little girl wore it for a few days in a row after school!


Polo shirt dress

This long-sleeved Armani Dockers shirt was waiting for its hour for a while as well. I really liked the feel of fabric and its texture, the neck line and long sleeves.

I had to be a bit braver than with the previous dress because: a) the neck was too deep and wide; b) I wanted to make something on the front of the dress to bring out the fabric more and “spice it up” since there aren’t any other colours; c) It had some imperfections that I had to hide – i.e. – I had washed it with something not so colourfast and it left stains and d) the design of the bottom of the shirt was short at the front and longer at the back. You see how much I loved the fabric – I had to cut it up to bits.

I couldn’t trust myself to just trace the old shirt on it, so I traced the old Mya’s T-shirt on a piece of paper – body and sleeves separately. Then I cut the sleeves of the polo shirt off.

I cut the seams of the Polo’s shirt’s shoulders off – didn’t want to bother unpicking them. Then I put the paper template (without the neck) on the back of the polo shirt and close to the shoulder, traced it and cut it out, adding 1 cm for the seams.

The front was trickier – because I wanted to make the pin tucks and reduce the size of the neckline. So I didn’t put paper template directly against the shoulder of the shirt but lowered it a bit, making sure that when I connect the front and the back the neck trims will align. I then cut it off horizontally where I thought the bottom of the front will end.


For the sleeves I placed the paper cut out on the sleeve slightly at an angle to the fold of fabric as I needed a bit more material on the top to make pleats. Cuffs of my polo shirt sleeves were ruined so I placed my paper cut-out closer to the top – but if your cuffs are still ok – place the bottom of your paper cut-out to the edge of the cuff – it will save you making cuffs yourself. It would be best to measure the correct length of the sleeve on the child (place your sample T-shirt on your child and measure the length of the sleeve you want on it, then transfer on your paper template) as it would be difficult to adjust the length of the sleeve if you are keeping the cuff.


Then I looked up how to make pin tucks – it was easier than I thought (I have an excellent book I bought recently – “Sew it up” – it’s got answers to any sewing tricks) – you measure and draw vertical lines 1cm for the pin tuck 2 cm for the space between them. This shortens the width of the fabric, so I didn’t cut the front out at this point, just the bottom line – so I don’t have to drag remains of the polo shirt everywhere.

I pinned and sewed them up, then laid out the material and traced and cut out the front of the dress (make sure you keep the buttons on the placket closed at all times, and if you already cut them off – pin the two bits of placket together. I have to say – for some reason the pin tucks had affected the  length of the material as well (don’t ask, I’m not an expert) so I had to cut a bit off the back part of the dress to make front and back even length. Next time probably I should not cut the length of the front and just deal with leftover material. I added some yellow ribbon on the front from my craft box (probably saved from some present wrapping). I sew the back and front shoulders together.

I then hemmed the cuffs, pinned both sides of the sleeves to the front and back of the armpits and to the shoulder so I know how much material I have to work with and when start making pleats for the puffed sleeves. When I worked it out I pinned the pleats and the rest of the sleeve and sewed the sleeves to the top of the dress.

Then I sew the sleeves from the cuffs to the armpit and closed the side seams of the top of the dress.

I had to turn the material for the skirt on the wrong side – the good side had colour run stains on it. So I cut the side seams off and the bottom seams as well because of the shirt’s design, sew the seams back again on the good side and done up the hem (I tried to match the stitch of the original hem as it looked nice). I then pinned the sides of the skirt to the sides of the top and also marked with a pin the centre of the material on the front and back of the skirt – this way you know how much material you have to work with on each side. Then I folded some pleats and pinned them on the skirt and to the top. Then re-arranged directions of the pleats and size and amount of them few times to find the best look (turn the dress on the good side to see what it’s going to look like and re-arrange pleats if you don’t like them).

Then the top and skirt was sewn together, same way as in previous post. Make sure you go round twice so it doesn’t come apart easily.

I steam-ironed all the seams, added some buttons and made a decoration from some scrap ribbons.


When Mya was trying it on she spied a ribbon in my box that she liked and she asked for a belt from this ribbon, so I added the belt.

She was quite happy with the outcome, but I think it looks a bit big  – maybe because the template T-shirt was not a tight-fit. She’ll grow into it.

Girls’ doll has got an outfit out of that too.



If you are making one – I’d love to see your final pictures in the comments or email them to me and I’ll make a gallery.

Now that Mya has figured out how things work – she went to my bits and bobs box, pulled out these and requested a dress made from them. I’ll see what I can do 🙂 Watch this space.



Child’s dress out of old Polo Shirt. Re-fashion project

I couldn’t take this shirt to the charity shop because I liked the colour combination and Mya absolutely loves stripes. I didn’t know how I was going to use it as in the past I botched up a few projects, but then I found this tutorial and looked so simple to me. I wasn’t sure if it’d work with Polo shirt, but I thought I’d try and see.

So, here’s a before and after pictures and the full step-by-step tutorial follows if you are interested in making something new for your little girl out of nothing. And if it goes wrong – which is very difficult in this one – it was only an old unloved shirt, so give it a go too!


First – I tried it on Mya just to see how long it was and if the collar looked ridiculous – it was a man’s XL size after all. It was perfect length and collar was fine. Sleeves looked to be good length too (because the length of the sleeve you have when you put it on your child is what it’s going to be). I was not prepared for too much tweaking.

Next – I took her long-sleeved t-shirt that still fits and not too tight on her and laid it out on top of the Polo shirt and traced it, roughly marking the place where you want your ruffled skirt to start (some might prefer it quite low – not as a skirt at all, but just some ruffles, others might want a high waist – depends on preferences and material availability). Sleeves might seem tricky, but just lay child’s shirt over the existing shoulder and sleeve – it doesn’t matter if there’s no shoulder seam on the dress. I didn’t pin it or anything like that – I’m lazy J


Then I added (mentally) about 1cm allowance for the seams and snip, snip, snip! There’s some kind of satisfaction in going through the material with scissors, this crisp, final sound – point of no return J

I pinned the sides together and used a straight stitch on my machine to stitch it up. It would be better to use an over-lock stitching to close up the material and prevent from fraying but I couldn’t be bothered – besides I always get confused what to do when seams meet.

Then I took the remaining bottom part of the T-shirt which I just cut straight horizontally and made the length of the stitch longer on my machine and sew from one seam to another, repeating on the other side. Next thing you need to do is turn the skirt inside out and pin the side seams of the skirt to the side seams of the top (if you don’t have seams on the T-shirt – mark the sides with a pin or pen to know how to align them. Then start gathering your skirt by simply pulling on the top tread of the stitching you’ve just made – it should pull out with a slight effort but not too much otherwise the thread would break. Line it up with the edge of the top part from time to time to make sure it’s getting to the same size, and try to distribute the gathering evenly along the skirt.

When you gathered it to fit the top’s width – pin the top of the dress to the skirt all around, and sew the two together (don’t forget to change the length of the stitch back on your machine). Stay clear of the gathering stitch at least 5mm – you don’t want to see it on the right side of the dress. I advise to go round twice as it would be more difficult to fix the tearing than prevent it.

Then turn your dress on the right side and enjoy the results! Ta-da!

I didn’t like the buttons so I changed them and new buttons were too big to fit the existing button holes, so I just sew the placket closed– child’s head fits comfortably through it without opening up the buttons. I also thought the collar was too plain for a girl’s dress so I found a nice decorative stitch on my machine and went around the outside of the collar. The butterfly on the dress is something I hoarded from an old garment (I can’t even remember from where).


The whole project took me one evening. Mya was one very happy girl in the morning!

If you iron the seams – it would look a bit more professional.

If you are making the dress – I’d love to see the finished result’s picture in my comments.

Happy re-purposing!

P.S. – I got blinded with this success (something I started and actually finished and it didn’t look shocking!) so I had a go at a more complicated (but not too much) dress, which I will write about soon.


Tags: , ,

%d bloggers like this: