Tag Archives: sustainable crafts

Upcycled Christmas Tree and DIY Ribbon Garland

I really don’t like Christmas. I like the idea of it, or the “ideal” of it. Giving someone a thoughtful gift, something you put your heart into, something you worked for that was completely for someone else. Spending time together, actually having time to sit and relax, talk and play.

Unfortunately, that ideal has been slipping from my family for a little while. Since we already greened up and minimized Easter, we figured we could do the same to Christmas.

Starting with the tree. I had many ideas…

At first I wanted to build a wood tree, but our lack of resources, experience, and power tools, made me decide against it.

Next I thought a cardboard tree would work nicely. Though it would mean cutting over 260 strips of cardboard. The husband nixed this one.

Then there was lost of brainstorming as a family, we needed something large and possibly triangular, that we could rig up to be a Christmas tree for the month of December.

We came up with this…


Our play tepee from the warmer seasons! This thing is awesome! My mom and I had made it for the snug a couple of years ago, we went to thrift shops for queen size sheets and used the Butterick pattern B4251. Be warned, it is huge, it has a diameter of 72 inches and has a center height of around 55 inches! The structure is super unfriendly PVC pipes, but they were lighter than wood. The pipes/frame is what we used for our tree.

IMG_6964TA-DA!!! IT’S A CHRISTMAS TREE-PEE!! (mind the blur). Without the fabric siding we had to drill extra holes in the middle and near the bottom of the pipes, to string ribbon and braided yarn through for support. We made it a little wider than it usually is due to the light fixture. Then we decorated.


Tinsel, a ribbon garland, strings of ornaments and, later, a feather boa.


What else do you need?

The best part. The few gifts we do give can go inside of the tree-pee and we can have tea parties in there until Christmas.

Also, it cost nothing. And we already had everything for it.

The ribbon garland we made, it took about 20 minutes max.


Take a hot glue gun and a variety of ribbon cut into 7 inch strips. Any width and type will do for the ribbon, though you might want to avoid anything smaller than 1/4 inch, as it is hard to glue.

IMG_6954Then make a ribbon chain. Same way you make a paper chain, only with hot glue and ribbon, instead of a glue stick and paper.

The snug was thrilled with this project. I let her pick out the ribbon order, which adds to the fun and time.

I really have never, ever been this excited about a Christmas tree.

Happy Christmas!

Sustainable project #9: Mermaid Costume for a doll.

What a month!!

I have sewn more items this month, than I sewed all last year.

One of the things I sewed at the last minute was a fun little, easy, slightly different from most variations, mermaid doll costume. The main difference is this pattern does not use stretchy fabric.


This little get up is so easy, you could whip it up in 20 minutes. It took me 2 hours, due to drafting.


Too long, too skinny.


Just right. After the first tail, I learned it is best to make mistakes on muslin, instead of the fabric you are going to be using.

You will need:

Decorative elastic, 1/4 elastic, non-stretch fabric a large remnant would do (I used a sparkly satin), a bit of stiff interfacing and a large piece of paper. Typical sewing tools of varying format will be necessary.


First lay your doll on the large piece of paper. We have an American Girl doll, but any doll would do.

IMG_6303 IMG_6304

Trace around your doll, but when you do, make sure you are about 3/4 of an inch away from her body. Do a second tracing around your first tracing that is a 1/2 inch away from your first tracing, this is your seam allowance, cut along this line. In the end, your pattern paper will be 1 1/4 inches away from the body of your doll.

Why so big? The fabric we are using (ahem the stuff I had on hand) has no stretch to it at all. You want to allow all the extra space you can give without losing form so you can actually put it on the doll. Beware of calf muscles and posteriors on these dolls.


Here are the sketched out measurements for my pattern. It was a little easier to show on paper, then the actual pattern. The length of my pattern was 17 inches from top to the very bottom point of the fin. These measurements have the seam allowance included.

Once you have your pattern, use it to cut two pieces out of your main fabric remnant.


Then cut a piece out of the interfacing that matches the bottom of the tail.


Pin right sides of the tail together, with the interfacing on the wrong sides of one of the fins. Sew around all edges with the 1/2 seam allowance.


Clip corners and curves and turn inside out and try the tail on your doll. To finish the top of the tail, do a simple elastic casing. Sorry I don’t have pictures, there are many great you-tubes and tutorials on this subject.


Now for the top of the costume. Cut a rectangle of fabric, 6 1/2 x 3 1/2. Hem the short ends and then fold the piece in half lengthwise and sew.


Turn inside out and grab your decorative elastic.



Tuck 1/4 inch of elastic into the band and pin. Then wrap the elastic around the back of the doll, stretching it slightly as you go, measuring the amount you will need including the tucked amount, then cut.

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Sew the ends of the band straight down along the hemlines with the elastic encased.

Try it on your doll to make sure it is snug enough.


Next cut a smaller rectangle, 2 1/2 x 1 inch.


Fold lengthwise and sew. Then turn inside out and press.


Scrunch up the middle of the band and wrap the small rectangle around it. You will need to hand sew this down or glue it.

There you have it!


Your doll is all ready for the sea!


Or some sun on the beach.


A couple of fun things about the interfacing in the bottom of the tail, your doll can still stand and it keeps the fins form.

Happy Sewing!

P.S. This is one of my first sewing tutorials, so if I accidentally left something out or if anything is worded in a confusing manner, please let me know in the comments and I will be sure to fix it or clarify. Thank you!

Sustainable Project #7: DIY Clothes Organizing tags.


School is starting back faster then we know it!! Last year was our first year of all week schooling so we decided, due to time constraints and an indecisive, fashionista child, we would make clothing tags to help get the week set.

They worked perfect and held up great!! They have been waiting in our closet to be put to use for another year.

These things are super easy to make and they take up barely any room.


Here’s what you need: leftover felt (in two colors), leftover ribbon, tacky glue, a water-soluble pen, embroidery floss, scissors, and a needle. (I made our tags all from leftover/scrap materials, also these things last forever, making this a sustainable craft). True though, the more new materials you use, the less sustainable this project is.


Take your main piece of felt. You will be embroidering on this one. You want it to be a light enough in color so that you can see your maker.


I eyeballed my pieces when I cut them out, but they are all about, 1 1/2 inches wide and 2 1/2 inches long, I did trim the Friday one after I embroidered it, also the Wednesday was much longer. Take your water erasable pen and write a day of the week on each piece of felt. We did Monday through Friday. You can also write the day of the week, first, and then cut around it.


Embroider over your writing. I did a simple back-stitch for all of mine.


Trim your embroidered piece if you like. Then measure your embroidered piece up against a piece of backing felt. Cut out a good piece with a border.


Decide how long you want your ribbon to hang from the hanger. We did about 4 inches long.


Add lots of tacky glue to the back of the embroidered piece and place the ribbon right side down into the glue. Make sure it is not twisted at the top and that it is low enough it will not slip out.


Press on the backing.


Repeat for the rest of the week.


Ta-da!!! A little organization goes a long way!

Happy Crafting!

(Note: the pictures are from last year, at night, in a very poorly lit room.)

Sustainable Project # 5: Not your Typical Tutu Pattern!


This summer the snug and I have been having character days. We pick a character from a picture book series and make a day of it! (Or two days).

The other day we did Tallulah from the Tallulah ballet books by Marilyn Singer.

One of our activities was to make a tutu. I spotted a tutu online that used fabric strips instead of tulle. I showed the snug and she loved it!

We made two. A simple starter for her doll and then one for her. It was super easy andĀ  is a great way to get rid of all the scrap fabric you have been dutifully saving, because throwing it away would fill you with a foreboding sense of guilt. Right?

All you need for this craft is: pinking shears, ruler of some sort, lots of fabric scraps, ribbon scraps, needle, thread, and elastic (1/4 inch width for dolls, 1 inch width for girls).


IMG_4815Start with lots of scraps in all the colors you want.


I had the snug separate out the ones she wanted for her tutu and the ones for Julie’s (the doll) tutu.



First you will need to measure the waist of your doll and your girl and add 1/2 or 1 inch for overlap. Cut the elastic to that measurement (or just measure with the elastic) and sew the overlapped ends together!

IMG_4820Next measure how long you want the strips to be. Start at the waist (where you measured for the elastic) and go down from there. Once you have the length you want, double the number and add 1 inch. For example Julie’s length was 5 inches down from her waist. So I did 5 x 2 + 1 = 11. All her strips were 11 inches long. For the snug I did. 12 x 2 + 1 = 25, all the strips for the snug were 25 inches long.



Once your strip is cut, go around the edge with pinking shears. OR just cut the strip out with pinking shears. I did a bit of both.


Pinking shears not only give the edge of the fabric a fun zigzagged look, it also helps prevent fraying.

To figure out the width of the fabric, I just did what I thought looked best. For Julie I did 1 inch, for the snug I did 2 inches.


Once you cut out all of those stripes and edge them with the pinking shears, your thumb should look like this. Ouch! Those pinking shears are heavy!


I ended up using about 51 strips for the snug and for Julie I used 31. I also used scraps of ribbon that were a bit thinner.


Have your kiddo line up all the strips in the order they want.


Then start tying them on. Only don’t tie them, do a cow hitch, a lark hitch or a lanyard hitch, which ever you want to call it.

Sound confusing?? Here’s how.


Start with one strip. Fold it in half, so both right sides are facing up.


Pick it up near the fold and hold it up against the elastic.


Take the bottom parts of the strip and bring them up and through the back, behind the elastic.

IMG_4875Pull the ends to snug up the strip. Be careful not to pull to tight or else the elastic will roll. Repeat, repeat, repeat until every space of your elastic is filled.



Then enjoy!!!


Another stash bash and scrap buster!!!

Happy 4th of July!!!