Friday, May 15, 2009

Eco-Friendly Sewing

These days, I'm trying SO HARD to reduce, reuse and recycle, even with my personal sewing. For a fabric addict like me, that's a tall order but it's also immensely satisfying to crank out a brand new outfit made almost 100% from things I have on hand, so I am having some success.

This week I sat gazing at the mountain of fabric in my sewing room and thinking, "Amy, you really need to get a handle on this situation," so I pulled out this adorable pink skull and crossbones cotton print I'd bought for a client who later changed her mind. I had one yard to play with so here's what I did:

  1. I used 3/4 of a yard to make a bandana. That's easy as pie. You just cut out a 25" square and give it a 5/8" hem all the way around.
  2. I then decided to pair the leftover fabric with some coordinating prints from my scrap basket to make a skirt for my youngest daughter. A Simplicity pattern, #2994, fit the bill nicely, as it called for four small pieces of fabric. (One was about 1/2 yard long and the others were much smaller.)
  3. I needed a shirt to match and I didn't have much fabric left, so I found a plain black t-shirt in my daughter's closet that was only slightly worn. I glammed it up a bit with some grommets, fabric and ribbon and I had one very cute, fairly eco-friendly outfit. You don't need a pattern for the shirt. Just install a row of 8 grommets about an inch and a half from each side seam (on both sides). Space them about one inch apart. Thread ribbon through the grommets and tie in a bow at the bottom. Next, stitch a square of fabric across the front of the shirt. You can fuse it if you prefer, with a product like Heat N Bond. I just stitched back and forth in a random pattern to give it a sort of quilted look. Finally, I made bias tape from one of my cotton materials and framed the square to give it a more finished look. You can purchase bias tape or use ribbon for this step if you don't know how to make your own bias tape. Or leave the edges raw and let them fray naturally for a more ragged look. The only thing I actually went out to buy was the pink ribbon. In the old days, I would have bought black grommets too because I thought they'd look nicer than the silver, but I decided to just go with what I had on hand and it turned out fine.

If you don't have bulging shelves of fabric, or an overflowing scrap basket that's okay. You can still be a thrifty stitcher. Start in your own closet. Maybe you have an item you never wear but you've been hanging onto it because of the fabulous fabric. Cut it up sista' and turn it into something new. When you've exhausted your own supplies, go to friends and family. Most of them have things they'd be glad to get rid of. Thrift stores are a wonderful resource for yard goods, notions and alterable clothing.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What the Heck is Plarn?!?

Waste not, want not... 
Great words of wisdom we should heed in times of plenty as well as in times of  need. America has a long way to go before we can declare ourselves a truly "green" nation, but the movement is underway. Just consider plarn... it's yarn made from plastic grocery bags. The little suckers won't break down in landfills, so we need to do something with them. Why not knit them up into cute hats, bags, bracelets and other stuff. The Recycled Jeans Company gives plarn two thumbs up!

If you want to get knitting with plarn, you can make your own. There's a great tutorial at well as many patterns for using plarn at If you'd rather buy some ready-made plarn, there are several Etsy shops selling it, including and

You may be asking yourself, "Stuff made from plastic grocery bags - how great can that be?" That's what I thought when I first heard about plarn. But I've got to tell you, you can make some pretty amazing things out of Target bags. 

I shopped around on Etsy and here are a few of my favorite finds:

1. The Cloudy Day Ruffle Plarn Cuff from The Green Sea Queen

2. Recycled Plastic Nesting Baskets from reVisionDesign

3. Remarkably Colorful Creation from Arnym

I've been having a wonderful time trying to guess where the bags came from. There are tons of other great items made from plarn on Etsy, so get on over there and check it out for yourself. Or better yet, make your own. But remember to take reusable shopping bags to the store with you whenever feasible. It's better to reduce than reuse. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Mystery in the Making

I'm really pleased with how my latest project is turning out. The only problem is... I have NO IDEA what it's going to end up being. 

I've thought maybe a purse, a pillow, a backpack, but I don't know... It started with the center applique. I purchased a really cool set from BunnyCup Designs and wanted to try it out, so I dug through my scrap basket, picked out a few small pieces and stuck them on a piece of old denim.

Well, hello! For several weeks I had a square of black denim with a peace symbol applique sitting on my cutting table, mocking me. "I'm so pretty! Finish me," it seemed to be saying. Then today I was working with the rockin' zebra print and when I saw it next to my old peace square, I had a Eureka moment. So I did a little cutting and sewing and now I have a 13" x 7.5" rectangle that will probably haunt me for a bit longer. I have some black corduroy that will surely make it into the mix and a lovely solid red moire that's represented in the applique. Beyond that, it's a mystery. 

Do YOU have any thoughts on my mystery project? What would you do with it? And am I the only person who just starts sewing with no particular destination in mind? Please tell me I'm not the only one...

Monday, February 9, 2009

Drinks Are on Us!

Come on over to 1000 Markets and see our latest product offering - drink coasters. These indispensable delicacies are a fun, inexpensive way to jazz up your home decor and protect your pricey furniture at the same time.

We have several styles to fit any personality: there's the prim/country Stars N Stripes; the edgier, indie Raspberry Zebras; and the elegant Floral Fantasy. New colors and styles are being added every week.

We had a lot of fun delving into the scrap basket, sorting through our stash of old clothes and coordinating new fabrics for this new project. So let the Recycled Jeans Company show you how recycled and discarded fabrics can be turned into something fabulous, something amazing, a little something we like to call "Eco-Chic!"

Friday, January 23, 2009

What's New?

I love, love, love our latest design - The BackSack. In fact, the next one I make is going to be for myself. :-) Fairly small at only 13" wide by 15" tall, it packs a lot of punch style-wise. It's reminiscent of My Favorite Bag, with it's extra-large grommets and tie-front pocket. It sports one deep side pocket, but the other side has a handy strap from which you can hang your keys (snap included) and your sunshades. The inside has a nice, big pocket too. It's super easy to close. Just loosely knot the cords for a fun, funky look without a lot of fuss. One of the nicest features for me is the fact you can throw it in the washer and dryer.

This bag retails for $45 and is currently only available as a special order, so please email me or send me an Etsy convo if you're interested in having one for your very own. (The bag in the pictures sold already but I have more of this fabric available as well as many, MANY other great choices.)

We will be developing a PDF pattern for this bag within the next few weeks, which will incorporate a lot of tips for sewing with recycled and/or thrifted fabrics. If you're an eco-conscious seamstress, be on the lookout for that. Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Save $$ without Compromising on Style

Let's face it - the economy isn't as robust as it once was so we all have to make tough choices these days. I don't know about you, but my family isn't eating out as often; we're opting to stay at home and watch movies on pay-per-view instead of going to the theatre; and we're taking fewer vacations.

One thing we are NOT doing is letting our money escape out the windows and doors. We are using draft stoppers. And it's making a difference in our utility costs. I knew when I saw daylight peeking underneath the front door that I needed to do something to plug up the problem, so to speak. So, I tried a rolled-up towel in the beginning. Ugh! It was ugly and it was too lightweight to stay in place. 

Finally, an Etsy friend, GEEKDETAILS (fabulous geekery, you MUST check her out!) put in a special request for draft stoppers and they turned out so well I knew I had to make some for myself too. Soon, not only did my foyer look FABULOUS, but draft stoppers were my number one seller.

If you know how to sew, you can quickly and easily stitch up your own money-saving door and window guards. Or, if you don't have the time or inclination to make your own, you can pop over to The Recycled Jeans Company's Etsy store where we've got a nice selection to choose from. You can choose a pre-made stopper, or you can custom order your own fabric and size.

Whether your style is basic or bold and beautiful, The Recycled Jeans Company has got a draft stopper for you.