Category Archives: Crafty

When Worlds Collide

Isn’t that a dramatic title?

Here’s what I wrote on my professional blog, Otter of Fate, this morning.

Image by chantelle1113 on

Image by chantelle1113 on

“This is one of those mornings where two of my favorite things, stories and crafting, came together. I have a professional blog, where I write about tools and projects for teacher-librarians, and a craft blog, where I write about the sewing or knitting or whatever projects have been refreshing my soul. This morning a post on The Crafty Crow reminded me that there’s plenty of literature for young kids that almost effortlessly suggests where young readers should go when the story is over: straight to the art supplies.

The book featured in the Crafty Crow this morning was An Awesome Book, by Dallas Clayton. It’s all about the power of dreams. Click on the link and take a look at the story and illustrations. This would be a lovely book to pair with a biography on Martin Luther King, Jr. Younger kids would be jazzed about drawing a picture about a dream that could change the world: save the polar bears! end pollution! Older kids, who have learned how impossible the dream of ending segregation seemed at the time of King’s immortal speech, would understand even better the poignant message of the book.”

I’ve written more about using art to meet learning standards on my professional blog.  Drop by for a visit!


My first Instructable!

I’m very proud of myself!  I just made a set of fabric-covered barrettes with a matching fabric hairband, and took a few photos while I was working.  I just made my first Instructable! Take a look!

Skirt refashion

Second refashion of the month!  Recycling old clothes is like putting money in the bank.

I took an old cotton flannel skirt, and cut off the top 10 inches or so.  I ironed out all the pleats that made me feel as if I were wearing my old Bishop Kearney HS uniform skirt, and ended up with a big loop of fabric.

I added two darts to the back, so that the skirt fit my waist better.  Then I folded over the front, kilt-style, added a buttonhole and button, and stuck in an old kilt pin from the ’70’s (can you say “pack rat?”)  I’ve already worn it to work, where everyone laughed at my kilt pin and asked me where my knee socks were…

Knit dress refashion

The first project of the new year!

This tunic began life as an old Lands End knit dress that belonged to my daughter.  It’s been languishing in a laundry basket for about three years, but I couldn’t bear to throw it away, because it was nice knit material.  It was (ahem!) too small to wear in its current state.

I cut it down the front and added a border to the opening.  The border is made from two folded-over strips of cotton fabric that covered the rough edge.  I top-stitched the border so it would lie flat.  I haven’t decided if I’ll do anything to the sleeves, which are three-quarter length, but it’ll work in warmer weather over a tank top & jeans.   And I have that nice glow of virtue (I recycled something!) to keep me warm in this freezing weather.

Okay, everybody, that’s a wrap

wrap skirtI spent a couple of hours sorting through my fabric stash.  I’ve been very good lately, buying fabric only for a specific purpose, and not just ’cause it’s pretty.  This has been VERY DIFFICULT, because I love fabric.  It whispers seductively that the perfect purpose will arise, and if I don’t have this fabric on hand I’ll be very, very sorry.

So when an ice storm hit, I had lots of choices on hand to make a wrap skirt to wear with leggings.  I used some instructions I found on as my inspiration, and drafted a very simple pattern on heavy tissue paper.  I had to adjust the measurements I found online to fit my older  more mature curvier figure.  I used bias tape for the border of the skirt, except at the top, where I made my own.  I attached ribbon ties and voilà!…it’s a wrap.  The next one I make is going to be longer.

T-shirt refashion

In my drawer are a few Lands End long-sleeve t-shirts that I’ve had absolutely forever. I can’t wear them anywhere but at home, because of the little stains, holes, and tears. I’d been wanting to make some “half gloves” from a tutorial on Stitch Lounge, so I decided to see what I could come up with for the rest of one of my workhorse shirts.

I cut off the sleeves, and made the “half-glove” arm-warmers. Then I cut off the sides and neckline of the t-shirt (including the stains under the arms–bleah.) I added strips of funky fabric to the sides, and then made some double-fold bias tape for the armholes and neckline. The point of the neckline in front caused me a bit of worry, but I sewed that thing flat…

I’d love to report that I did this all very scientifically with measurements and all, but in truth I grabbed another t-shirt from a drawer and used it as a rough guide. I also must be truthful and say I screwed up the hemline of the shirt by (arrgh) cutting the first fabric strip even with the existing hem, forgetting about adding 5/8 to turn under. So I’ll have to put bias tape over that, too.

I’m very pleased with how it came out. Not that I can wear it any time soon, as it is currently 5 degrees F here in upstate New York. I have lots of t-shirts that I can convert this way. Next time I’ll make the armhole binding thinner, and I’ll have a better hemline. I think I need to make the top of the arm-warmer smaller, too. It won’t matter if I’m wearing it under something, but I don’t want them to slide down my arm when I’m wearing them with the t-shirt.

Sweater refashion

One of my second-hand finds was this cotton cable-knit sweater. Though very comfortable and warm, the shape is a bit strange. It’s about 3 inches longer in back than in front, and the sides are very wide. (Perhaps it was a man’s sweater? If it was, it was for a very short man!) I thought it was a good candidate for a refashion.

I was very nervous about cutting into knitted fabric, but finally decided it was ridiculous to be nervous about refashioning a sweater that I can’t wear, however pretty.

I turned the sweater inside out, and stitched a new line from the armpit to the bottom of the sweater on each side, and then tried on the sweater again to make sure of the fit. Then I restitched the same seam with a very small stitch size, so that the sweater won’t unravel.

The bottom of the sweater took a bit of thought. I considered adding 3 inches to the front of the sweater, or adding a fabric band to the bottom and to the cuffs, but figured I would have the devil of a time matching the color and texture. I finally decided to cut the extra fabric from the back, and then add cream-colored bias tape to keep the ends from unraveling. Voilà! A sweater I will wear!