Objects old, vintage, hand made or upcyled, and old techniques with a modern twist

Archive for the ‘Customising clothes’ Category

Friendship Bracelets/Knotted Weaving

I haven’t made a friendship bracelet since I was at school, but decided to experiment with the method as I have plenty of embroidery thread in lovely colours.

As you can see, I experimented with a few different colour combinations and patterns. The free-form pattern below I made up as I went along, experimenting with changing direction.

I wanted to use the finished piece as something other than a bracelet, so decided to make a short length to use as a zipper pull on a jumper.

As I had cut longer strands of thread than I required for the pull, I left a gap and then knotted a second section below the first to use in another project.


I trimmed the ends and cut the top section free from the bottom section.


The top section became the zipper pull, with the loop used to thread it through the metal ring on the zipper.

This was a good way to use up some of the odds and ends of thread that I had in my stash: now I have to decide on projects for the other pieces that I made…:-)


If you fancy having a go for yourself (and didn’t learn how to make these as a child) then there are plenty of helpful guides and how-to videos to be found online.

Easy DIY Project: Making Mittens from Socks


After accidentally slightly shrinking some wool socks in the wash, I thought I’d give them a new life as a pair of fingerless mittens.

This easy upcycling project would also work using the sleeves from a wool jumper.STRIPY-SOCKS

All you need is a pair of wool socks (or a pair of jumper sleeves), a needle and thread, and a pair of scissors.

First cut your socks to the desired size- you will be using the leg section, not the foot section.


I thought I’d take advantage of the length of these socks, and make cosy mittens with a long wrist/arm section- they can be worn long, or bunched up at the wrist. The original cuff of the socks will form the cuff of the mittens.

Next, using your hand as a template, cut a small horizontal slit where you would like the thumb hole to be.


Now try the mitten on, and enlarge the thumb slit if necessary. Decide how long you want the hand section to be and trim accordingly, allowing approximately 1cm extra to turn under for the hem. Take the mitten off, and sew the turned-under hem in place.


At this stage you could just hem the thumb hole using a blanket stitch, but I chose to add a thumb section using a piece cut from the foot of the socks. I sewed a small tube that comfortably fit my thumb, and then attached the tube to the mitten.


Now the mittens are ready to be worn… probably ensuring the swift arrival of warm spring weather!



Simple Jacket Re-Styling


I recently bought this (very reasonably priced AND in the sale!) wool jacket,  but felt that it needed a bit of jazzing-up. The lining is a lovely bright pink, but the pink woven stripes of the tweed are quite pale making the outside of the jacket look a little dull.

With the help of some pink velvet ribbon and a bit of hand sewing I livened the jacket up. As the jacket was already assembled, spending the time on hand sewing meant that the stitches were invisible from the other side, which was particularly important where the ribbon runs down the inside of the jacket fronts.

Apologies for the poor pictures, I got a little very over excited that I had finished the sewing and couldn’t wait for some decent light for proper photography…


This was a really easy project, and I was able to reduce my ribbon stash by using a piece that I already had. Projects like this are great for upcycling old trimmings, and the ‘make do and mend’ ethos can make a lovely garment out of two items that weren’t quite so fantastic on their own!

Dyeing Vintage Lace DIY

Dyed Lace 3

Dyed Lace 2

As you may have noticed in some of my previous posts (here and here) I have a habit of collecting pieces of vintage and antique lace when I spot it in charity shops, or at car boot sales. A lot of the lace I use in sewing projects, depending on how old and fragile the lace is, and how intricate. When buying lace from cheap sources (rather than nicely washed, pressed and expensive from textile or antique dealers!) you often can’t tell how good the piece will look until you’ve taken it home and submitted it to a good wash.

Some old pieces still don’t look their best even after washing: often they are an odd grey or yellowish colour due to being washed with something unsuitable in the past, or they have some pale (but obvious on white lace) stains on them. I have some lovely pieces that aren’t are no longer their original white or cream, and have given them a new lease of life!

Dyeing Lace 1

In this project I used:

  • Vintage and antique pieces of lace
  • Dylon Fabric Paints
  • A ceramic plate or suitable work surface (to work on to avoid making too much of a mess!)
  • A paintbrush
  • Water

As I wanted to colour the whole piece of lace and wanted a soft finish, I first got the piece of lace thoroughly wet, and only lightly squeezed out the excess water before laying it on the plate. The next step is to wet the paintbrush in the water, and then use it to pick up a small amount of paint, brushing it into the fabric. For particularly pale colours the paint needs to be diluted with water before brushing on to the lace.

Dyed Lace 1

I used the strips of handmade crocheted lace above to test out colours and effects. When going for an ombre look, having the lace wet before applying the paint makes it possible to blend or fade-out colours.

Dyed Lace 4

To dye a whole piece of lace in one colour, a small amount of paint needs to be diluted in water, and then the lace is placed into this diluted paint and squeezed so that it absorbs the dye. The lace can be left a uniform colour (like the green and mint green pieces on the left in the above picture), or detail can be added (such as with the three pieces of lace on the right in the above picture, where a darker colour has been painted along one edge).

Dyed Lace 5

To make the dye permanent follow the manufacturers instructions (in this case the lace had to be left to dry, and then ironed on a high heat setting).

The once sad old vintage lace is now has a new lease of life, and is all ready to be upcycled and used in a sewing project!

Monday Mood Board

Feathers are such magical things, so light, soft and delicate, as well as being functional- aiding flight and providing insulation. I have enjoyed using feathers in some of the jewellery that I have made, as well as using them in some clothing upcycling projects- such as adding a feather trim to the collar of a coat.

Mood Board- Feathers

The ‘painted’ feather on the right hand side was an experiment- the designs were drawn on using permanent marker pens (‘Sharpies’ in this case). The drawn marks stayed quite sharp on the surface of the feather, with less ‘bleeding’ of the colours than I expected.

My favourite DIY project using feathers is the necklace in the centre of the picture: it combines three of my favourite materials, a peacock feather, an opal, and gold. I constructed the pendant in such a way that the feather can be removed and replaced if it becomes damaged, but it has proved to be amazingly resilient. I made the pendant about six years ago, and despite regular use, the feather has not yet needed to be replaced.


Cut-off Denim Shorts

As an addition to the post I made on Sunday about DIY cut-off jeans, this is a pair I made into shorts last summer, and below are some more fabulous ideas from other crafty bloggers:

 DIY shorts with pompoms

Click here for the amazing ideas below from Ko-te

How to color shorts

How to decorate the shorts


Check out this link for these lovely yellow cut offs below (I love the decorative zips!), and bright multi-coloured beauties from Keep.

Zip Decorated Fluorescence Color Denim Shorts

Gradient fluorescent flash tassel tie dye denim shorts



And take a look at the Dishfunctional Designs  blog for some imaginitive ideas of what to make with the denim that you have cut off, including toys, decorations and quilts!



%d bloggers like this: