Recycled t-shirt animal pillows

These little pillow pets are the latest addition to Miss Eight’s room. They began life as adorable t-shirts from Mini Boden that I bought for $.50 each at a consignment sale. Miss Eight loved and wore them until she outgrew them, and we saved them for this little project. To beat boredom on the fourth day this month that school has been cancelled due to weather, it was nice to work on this activity with Miss Eight.

At first we thought we’d make little square pillows, but then I saw these cute examples from H&M and Etsy, and we changed our plan.hmbunnypillow

Because Miss Eight wanted to vary the colors on the backs of the pillows, I cut the t-shirts apart at the side seams. Then I paired a pink front with a green back, and vice versa. I cut around each image, leaving a good inch border all the way around.

I pinned them right sides together, and stitched all around, leaving an opening at the bottom. We turned them right side out, Miss Eight got busy stuffing the pillows with fiberfill, and then I hand stitched the pillows closed. The entire project took 30 minutes, tops, and cost us absolutely nothing.

Aren’t they cute? I can say that without reservation, since these pets don’t need to be walked or have their smelly cage cleaned out.



Upcycle that moth-eaten sweater to a pillow or mittens–or both!


Last winter we suffered a moth infestation in our closet. Not that we actually saw the little pests, but we certainly discovered the holes in our wool sweaters. I couldn’t bear to toss them all out, so I stuffed the nicest ones into a bin on my sewing table until inspiration struck.

This sweater was a particularly nice wool from the Brooks Brothers outlet. It was a men’s medium or large, and the worst holes were in the ribbing at the bottom of the sweater. You don’t have to wait until the moths attack your closet before taking on this project. You can use a sweater that’s outgrown or suffered a laundry mishap, or you can wander the aisles of your local thrift store for pretty sweaters to transform.

Pillow cover

  1. Examine your sweater and identify where all the moth holes are. Find the biggest area without holes and lay your pillow form on it to make sure it fits.

2. I decided to make an envelope style opening, with the ribbing as a decorative detail in the front. See how I tried it on the pillow to make sure it fit.

3. Then I stitched the two pieces together, wrong sides together, at the wide end to make one larger piece.

4. Fit the piece around the pillow, wrong side out, pinning the sides to fit.

5. Stitch up the sides, turn the cover right side out, and try it on your pillow.

But wait! There’s more!

There were still those nice sleeves left, so I decided to make myself a new pair of mittens. I always have cold hands, and mittens hold in the heat better than gloves.


1. Lay a mitten that fits well onto the sweater sleeve as a pattern. Cut it out, adding about a 1/2-inch all the way around for a seam allowance. I added a little length to the bottom, too. I didn’t even cut one side–less to sew back up!


2. Turn the new mitten inside out and stitch all around the open edges.


3. Use the mitten you just stitched as the pattern for the second mitten. Sew it up just like the first.


4.  Trim the seam allowances about 1/4-inch from your stitching. Turn the mittens right side out and enjoy your warm hands!

Homemade Halloween costumes

I’m the first to admit that I don’t get that into Halloween. I don’t keep bins of Halloween decor in the basement and I still haven’t hung the single string of ghost lights that the kids love so much. Carving pumpkins is about as crazy as it gets. In fact, I get annoyed just thinking about the glut of candy that the kids will bring home next week. Candy that I will have to police and hide and manage its consumption. Lest you think I am some kind of Halloween Grinch, let me assure you that I let the older kids regulate their own sugar intake. They eat a few pieces a day and make it last until Thanksgiving. But Little Four has no such restraint and will inhale as much in a sitting as he can get his grubby hands on. The fallout is not pretty.

However, I do enjoy getting a little crafty with Halloween costumes. Nothing too elaborate, but if we can make a costume at home in a reasonable amount of time for less than it would cost to buy one, I’m in. It’s a great opportunity for me to use my haphazard sewing skills. No need to fuss with patterns or perfect fit. The kids don’t care if seams are puckered or the hem is crooked. I hunt around for some simple instructions and then wing the rest.

This year, Miss Seven is dressing up as a black cat. She suggested recycling the black witch’s robe that I made her last year into a tunic to wear over black leggings. Perfect–didn’t even have to buy any new material. I cut it shorter and fashioned a belt with a cat’s tail attached. I also attached some felt ears to a headband. On Halloween we’ll draw some whiskers on her face (and make sure she’s wearing a warm black sweater under her costume when she goes trick-or-treating).

After some conversations with his grandpa, Little Four settled on Frankenstein as his costume. I found a tutorial for this wonderful Frankenstein hat, which was not difficult at all. Cheap, too–what little fabric I had to buy cost me less than $3. You could even hand stitch it if you don’t have a sewing machine. I found some spare hex nuts floating around the house, so I stitched those on instead of trying to make bolts out of fleece. As soon as I finished it, Little Four put on his Frankenstein hat and wore it through an entire piano lesson and several hours of play. We’ll add some green face paint and some ragged clothes for Halloween. He’s already mastered the monster walk.

Have you gotten crafty for Halloween?

Kid’s travel neck pillows

Like many of you, we’ll be doing some traveling with the kids this summer. Planes, trains, automobiles–we’ll be doing it all. I’m glad we won’t be toting any bulky baby gear, but big kids in booster seats don’t have those nice headrests to prop their heads up during a nap on the go. But nothing passes the time better on a long travel day than a nap, so I made the kids some travel pillows.

I almost bought them something like this or this, but didn’t really feel like spending almost $50, since I need one for each child. This was a project that fit my mediocre sewing skills and short attention span, and it cost me nothing. I used fabric and polar fleece remnants from other projects. As usual, I searched for an online tutorial, and found several to choose from (here’s one and here’s another). I traced out a pattern on newspaper, cut out all the pieces of fabric, stitched, turned and stuffed. I invested at most an hour for all three pillows. I’ve got other things to spend $50 on, thank you very much.

Are they perfect? No. Perfectly functional? Absolutely. The kids are excited to have their own special pillows, and maybe…just maybe…they will take a little nap.