Monday, April 24, 2017

20 Fabulous Ways to Repurpose Linens

If you read my blog often, you may remember that I inherited a lot of vintage linens several years ago. I was challenged to refashion them instead of letting them sit in a cupboard for another 40 or more years. Well, I've still got a few left to refashion, so I  searched the internet to see what else I could do with these vintage beauties. Turns out, there's a lot of ideas out there... 

I've put together a list of my favorites to bring you 20 fabulous ways to repurpose vintage linens.  

If you're wanting to try a new project with your vintage linens, then check out these projects and you may just be inspired too because I certainly was. I've attached a link to the inspiration for each project.

  1. Miniature Sized Doll Accessories.  This is one of the projects I made for my daughter's miniature doll house. I used a vintage hankie. The accent pillows are  1.25" x 1.25". The miniature bedspread is 4 1/8 " x 4 1/4 ". Each accessory was sewn with a 1/4" seam. I've never written a post about this idea and I made these so long ago that I can't even remember where this inspiration came from. But they sure are cute, aren't they?

2.  Accent Pillows from linen napkins.  See Garden of Daisies for more inspiration. 

3.  Add pizzaz to a pocket by using vintage linens. Link here.

4.  Make a child's dress or skirt from a pillowcase. Link here.

5.  Turn a linen napkin into the yolk of a child's sundress. Tutorial here.

6.  Turn a hankie into a burp cloth, the above is what I made after reading this post by PolkaDot Chair. She backed her burp cloths with chenille and edged them with rick-rack. They are beautiful!  The one above was trimmed with pink and white gingham bias tape and lined with baby fine terry cloth fabric.

7.  Add trim onto baby leggings from the edges of linen napkins.  Inspiration here.

    8.  A peasant shirt from a linen table runner. Post found here.
    9.  Two placemats into a sunhat.  Tutorial found here.

10.  Doll apron from a linen napkin.  Found here.

11. Covered buttons from linen napkins.  Inspiration found at Isa Creative Musings. Tip: Use spray adhesive onto the back of the cut out linen to keep the middle of the design in place while putting the backing onto the button.

12.  Linen napkin into a small bag.  Tutorial found here.

13.  Purse from a doily and jeans. Tutorial found here.

14. Doll Top refashioned from a lace trimmed hankie.

15. A Clutch linen napkin made by Rubyelle from About: Cakies.

16.  Hanger Covers from pillowcases were made from My Salvaged Treasures.

17.  Pin Cushions from vintage linens by Isa Creative Musings. She has an amazing variety of these and I love how she puts the pin cushions into vintage Jell-O molds.

18.  Valance  from a variety of handkerchiefs colorful and light add a light, airy feel to a room were created by Bev of Flamingo Toes.
19.  Bunting Garland from a variety of vintage linens by Pink Roses and other passions.

20.  Clothes For Stuffed Animals created and sold by Ashlee at My So Called Crafty Life.
    For more ideas, check out "Vintage Handkerchiefs & Scarves Upcycled and Repurposed" found  at Dishfunctional Designs here.  My favorite idea was the quilt.  The detail on her quilt is over the top amazing!  If you want more ideas for sewing projects using vintage linens, see "Sewing With Vintage Linens.
A couple of weeks ago, I gathered my dwindling pile of linens and made a few of the buttons, one burp cloth and an accent pillow.  These projects were super easy and who doesn't love easy projects?!

I saw a table runner that used a lot of vintage linens and scraps of trims and I could kick myself for not saving the photo of the project when I first discovered it. It was lovely. So, until I find it again and get a lot more motivation for a tougher project, I'll stick with the easy ideas. Which project do you like the best?   xoxo Grandma

For more ideas on sewing with vintage linens go here:

Monday, April 17, 2017

Linen Napkin Into a Bag - A Tutorial

If you follow me, you may remember that I inherited quite a few linen napkins several years ago. When given these napkins, I was challenged to use them and transform them into something else. So, here is one of the ideas I created... a darling linen hand bag.

To create this small, fully lined zipper bag, I used one of those linen napkins for the front of my bag.

I wanted my pocket to hold my cell phone. When I go on international trips to visit a few of my grandchildren, I take a backpack onto the plane.  I wanted to use this little bag to tuck into my backpack so that when I'm at their homes I still have a smaller bag to take with me shopping and sightseeing. This bag is the perfect size.

To make this project, you'll need:
  • Fabric scraps at least 8 1/4" square
  • Light weight batting
  • 1) 7" zipper
  • Coordinating thread
  • Bag handle - 12" long (I found mine at the 100 yen store in Japan called Daiso.)
Cut as follows:
  • 3) 8 1/2" squares - fabric bag back & bag lining
  • 1) 6 1/2" long x 8" wide - fabric rectangle cell phone pocket
  • 2) 6 3/4" long x 2 3/4" wide - fabric pocket flap (The lining can be from a different fabric.)
  • 2) 8 1/2" square - batting
*All seams 1/4"
  1. Right sides together, fold the pocket fabric in half and pin.  Sew the 3 sides together leaving an opening to turn the pocket right side out and iron.
  2. Round the bottom corners of the flap.  Right sides facing, pin the flap together. Sew the flap leaving an opening at the top of the flap.  Turn the flap right side out and iron.  Top stitch around the sides and the bottom of the flap.
  3. Center the pocket onto the bottom portion of the linen napkin an at least 1" from the bottom.  Pin the pocket in place and top stitch around the sides and bottom.  1/2" above the top of the pocket, pin the flap.  Top stitch along the top of the flap.
  4. Unzip the zipper and sew one side of the zipper into the linen napkin.  Make sure the zipper pull is facing the right side of the napkin.  Turn the napkin over and on the right side of the napkin, top stitch along the edge.
  5. Turn the project over and add the other side of the zipper to the back of the bag.
  6. Take the bag linings pieces and baste the light weight batting to the linings. Sew one side each to the top, wrong side of the zipper. 
  7. Top stitch one more time to keep the lining and the front of the bag from getting caught in the zipper.
  8. Another detailed look at the top of the bag.
  9. One last detailed look of the top stitching on the back of the bag.
  10. Turn the front and back of the bag right sides together and pin.  Sew together pivoting at the corners.  Clip the corners.  Make sure the zipper is open for this step.
  11. Repeat step 10 with the lining pieces only leave an opening to turn the whole bag right side out.  Clip corners and turn right side out.  Tuck the lining into the bag.  Either machine or hand sew the opening closed.

12. Clip the bag handle onto the zipper's pull tab.

I hope you have fun repurposing your linen napkins! Maybe your own little linen bag will get to go on some fun adventures too!  xoxo Grandma

Monday, April 10, 2017

Japanese Scroll - Wall Mural

This is the second fabric art mural I've completed in just a few weeks. 

I got the inspiration from a pattern I found in the book, "Kake-Jiku."  As I mentioned last week in my post Paper Lantern Festival, the author/fabric artist told stories about each of her murals and why she created them. I love that idea and thought I'd do that with this Japanese Scroll mural!

When I saw this mural it reminded me of taking calligraphy classes in high school. During the 1940's there was a revitalization of the art of calligraphy. (No, I wasn't in high school during that time period! I'm not that old). Lloyd Reynolds was a local, Oregonian artist that helped bring this art form back, he taught at Reed College. My own calligraphy teacher took calligraphy classes from Lloyd Reynolds. I loved the beginning calligraphy class so much that my senior year, I took an advanced class. We even went on a field trip to see Lloyd Reynold's calligraphy. We used this book as our instruction manual. The Japanese calligraphy on the fabric I chose for the scroll reminded me of my days learning this art form.

To make this mural, I used a Japanese fabric with calligraphy on it for my scroll.  I searched quite a while until I found it. I wanted the perfect one. Before I cut out my scroll, I asked a cousins' daughter, who is a professor of Japanese, if I had the fabric facing the right direction. She confirmed I was good to go. 

The bamboo fabric I used for the border reminded me of my next door neighbor's home in Portland. Mr. Glyde always had the nicest yard in the neighborhood. In the corner of his backyard, he grew bamboo. He and his wife didn't have any children. My parents had 8 children, and looking back, I'm sure we drove him crazy! One funny memory of this neighbor is that when I would be in my backyard playing, Mr. Glyde would meow like a cat at me. I wonder if he knew that I really wanted a cat and once even set a bowl of milk out hoping one would want to live at my house? Nice man! 

You can find this bamboo fabric here.

The flowers on the mural are dimensional. There are great instructions in this book on how to make these origami-type folded flowers.

If this art form interests you, make sure you get a copy of the book Kake-Jiku found here.

I've got one more wall mural to finish before I ship these off to my daughter.  Pop on over here next week to see the final mural in this series. They've been so much fun to create!
xoxo Grandma

You can purchase some of these products here:


Monday, April 3, 2017

Paper Lantern Festival - Wall Mural

In January, I spent time in Japan visiting my daughter's family. While there, we attended the the Ryukyu Lantern Festival, which display around 5,000 Chinese lanterns that adorned the premises of Murasaki Mura in the village of Yomitan.

In the dark night sky, the paper lanterns glow and sway in the light breeze.

Murasaki Mura is a popular cultural theme park, hence the funny panda pretend ride with one of my granddaughters. This theme park features a typical Ryukyuan town from the 14th and 15th centuries. 

It was so pretty to see all the variety of illuminated lanterns. 

When I came home, I discovered a book called "Kake-Juke" where the author, Kimiko Sudo, a fabric artist, told stories of her life using fabric textile scenes.

When I saw her Japanese lanterns scene, (pictured above) I got a little excited and wondered if my daughter would like her own lantern wall mural to remind her of this festival. I sent my daughter a photo of the design I saw in this book. She said she liked it and if I wanted to create this scene for her family, to go ahead and make her whatever I wanted. So, I did. Of course.

I used the artist's designs but instead of only quilting the lantern on the left, I used my Japanese fabric scraps to make the black, floral lantern too.

In the book, the artist hangs her murals on a bamboo hanger, exactly like the one above that I found on Amazon. Here is the link if you want one too.

I love the details achieved by using the Japanese fabrics. The black cording made perfect hangers for the lanterns. I burned the edges of the cording hangers so they wouldn't fray.

I've completed one more mural which I'll show you at a later time. Until then, enjoy this little video from the lantern festival. I'm sure it'll give you more of the flavor of this beautiful paper lantern festival. 

Happy sewing! xoxo Grandma

You can get some of the items I mentioned in this post from Amazon:

Friday, March 31, 2017

Fabric Bunny Basket - Free Pattern

Spring is my favorite time of year. When I was a kid, I always equated it with my birthday and Easter. Two celebrations that meant lots of treats and lots of family time. 

So to kick off this Easter season, I'm sharing with you how to make this cute fabric bunny basket. It's perfect for filling with treats or goodies and giving to a grandchild or anyone else. 

Bonus, this container also works great as a bread basket for your Easter meal. Since it's lined with batting, the batting will help keep bread warm. Keep reading because I have a rare treat for each of you. 

Here is the free downloadable fabric bunny basket pattern. Print the pattern at full scale or if you want a doll bunny basket, shrink the pattern down by at least 75%.

Supplies needed:
  • batting
  • coordinating thread
  • embroidery floss, white, black and pink
  • (1) 3" white pom pom
  • 1 /4 yard of fabric
  • 1/4 yard fabric for lining
  • 1/4 yard of light to medium weight interfacing
  • 1/4 yard of heavy weight interfacing for the bottom of the basket


Using the pattern above, cut out all the pattern pieces.

For the handle, cut out a 5" x piece from the lining fabric.
*1/4" seams unless otherwise noted.

1.  Sew ear lining to ear fabric, right sides facing.
2.  Turn right side out and clip the curves.  Iron. Top stitch around the ear.
3.   Fold the bottom of the ear in half.  Sew 3/4" up from the bottom & 1/4" from the edge.
4.  Your bunny ears will now look like this.
5.  Hand embroider the face onto the bunny's head. Pin interfacing & then batting onto the head.
6.  Baste in place.
7.  Pin the sides to the bunny's head.  Sew in place.
8.  Baste the ears onto both sides of the side seams.
9.  Pin the bunny sides and head to the bottom, easing as necessary.

10. Trim interfacing & batting down by a little less than 1/4". Baste interfacing &  batting onto bottom of lining. Add batting & interfacing to the sides of the lining. With the lining fabric, repeat steps 7 & 9.
11.  Add interfacing to the handle fabric.  Take the handle fabric and iron it in half width wise.  Fold the width in toward the ironed fold and iron the raw edges. When finished the handle's raw edges will be in the center of the handle. Top stitch both edges of the handle.
12.  Sew the handle edges onto the middle of the fabric basket.
13.  Right sides together, handle tucked into the middle, pin the lining to the basket.  Sew around the basket's top edge, leaving a 2" opening to turn the basket.
14.  Turn the basket right side out.  Iron the edges.
15.  Top stitch around the edge of the basket.
16.  Hand sew the pom pom to the back, bottom edge of the basket.
17.  Completed front view.
18.  Completed back view.

Now it's time to fill that basket with old fashion goodness.
Here is my little treat for you (so thanks for reading if you got this far)! This recipe is my husband's grandmother's recipe for potato yeast rolls. And they are divine!

My husband remembers having contests with his cousins and brothers to see who could eat the most rolls. These rolls are soft, light and melt in your mouth kind of good. (Add butter, cinnamon and sugar and the dough works great for making cinnamon rolls too.)

Grandma Cox's Potato Yeast Rolls

1/3 c. warm water
2 packages of yeast
3/4 c. sugar
2 c. milk
1/2 c. shortening
8-9 c. flour
1 medium potato
2 tsp. salt

Add yeast to warm water.  Stir until dissolved.  Stir into yeast and water the sugar. 
(This is a great way to test your yeast and make sure it’s working…the sugar will make the yeast foam).

Peel the potato, dice into pieces.  Boil 1 potato in 1 1/2 c. of boiling water (until the pieces are really soft). 
Do not drain off any water which has not boiled out of the potatoes!

Add milk and shortening.  Beat until really smooth.
Add 2 tsp. salt and yeast mixture.
Stir in flour.  When the mixture is too thick & you can’t stir any longer, start kneading the flour into the dough.  Do not add too much flour, the mixture will feel a little sticky. 

Spray a bowl with cooking spray.  Add the dough into the bowl.  Cover the dough with a clean tea towel.  Let the dough rise in a warm spot.  About 1-2 hours.

Roll the dough out until it’s around 1/2” thick.  Cut out your rolls using a round cookie cutter.  Dip one side in melted butter and fold over.  Place onto a cookie sheet.  Cover your rolls with a clean tea towel and let rise again until double in size.

Bake at 400 degrees for 8 minutes.

Throw these rolls in your new bunny basket and your Easter is off to a really good, yummy start! Enjoy Easter with your family.  xoxo Grandma

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Belle's Dress & Her Cape

Right before my granddaughter's third birthday, she requested a Belle dress. My daughter ordered her one online but when it arrived, it was not at all what the product photo showed. I received a pleading phone call from this daughter to see if I'd be willing to help make my granddaughter's birthday wish come true.  

How could I refuse?

After I finished this Belle dress, I was FaceTiming with my daughter to show her how the dress turned out. I told her, "What she really needs is a cape to coordinate with the dress."  Right about then, this cutie - who was supposed to be in bed - waltzes down with a blanket wrapped around her head holding the blanket like it's a cape. We both laughed and my daughter declared that she is constantly making her blanket into a cape. So, the next day, I knew what I needed to do. I designed a Belle cape from two patterns, sewed it and then added to the birthday box. As a bonus, I made a red Belle cape for her little sister. 

Only the finest materials were used to make this dress and cape. Once the bodice was finished I felt it needed some glam, so I hand sewed cut lace and a few yellow sequins onto it. The top tier of the dress was gathered and then I added a yellow, crystal cut bead to accent the top of each of the gathers.

Belle's actual dress is a little different from the dress I made, because my daughter requested a more modest top. To honor her request, I added short sleeves to the bodice.  I like how the dress stays up on her little shoulders. 

If you have a Belle that needs yellow gloves like these, you can find them here.

Doesn't every little girl deserve to be a princess and have pretend parties in her room? I so love my grandchildren and even though I live far away, I can at least give them memories of a grandmother who can help make their wishes come true. Especially on their birthday.

Since I like to plan ahead, I used the leftover fabrics to make these doll clothes for her next birthday.  I'm pretty sure she'll still like princesses then. 

Would anyone you know like these too?  You can find these items at my Etsy shop the fur trimmed doll cape here and Belle's dress and fingerless gloves here.

I've linked my Belle creations to Project Run and Play because it's their week to show what our signature style is. My style, of course, is to make whatever my grandchildren request.  

What's your style? Are the children you know crazy about the new Disney movie, "Beauty and the Beast" and have you seen it yet? xoxo Grandma