Remember when I shared this pic on Instagram? Today I’m going to share with you how easy this top was to make! The best part? It was basically free because I used an old t-shirt that didn’t fit me anymore!
If you are a Pinterest-er (I think I might have made that term up), then you’ve surely seen the adorable braided headbands made from old t-shirts. I was busy using some of my old t-shirts to make clothes for my kids a couple of days ago and used some of the scrap to make this headband for my 18 month old, Little Miss K.
I snapped a few pics of how I got started to share with you.
I have been reading Simple Abundance, by Sarah Ban Breathnach, for almost two months now. It has been encouraging and uplifting while I work to simplify things in my life. The book is written as a day book with a passage for each day of the year. When I first picked it up, I wasn’t sure if I should start with reading the passage for June 19 (the actual current date) or January 1. Beginning with the January 1 passage is definitely the right way to go because Simple Abundance isn’t just a day book, it is a guided journey and you must start from the beginning. I’ll continue to share tidbits I’ve taken away from reading Simple Abundance as they help me in my own journey.
One concept that really stuck with me from January’s chapter was the idea of getting your home in order. Sarah explains that “There is an immediate emotional and psychological payoff to getting our houses in order”. This quote rings true with me. Chaotic spaces make me feel tense and overwhelmed. Clean, organized spaces can either make me feel calm and relaxed or focused and productive. I had begun working on this – finishing projects, organizing (sometimes reorganizing) spaces, decluttering – before I began Simple Abundance; but the book really motivated me to become more diligent and purposeful with these efforts.
So, of course, I plan to share my “getting my home in order” progress with you! Let’s start with these storage cubes. You see these everywhere and I felt pretty good when I first began using them because now certain things had a home. I use them to store arts and crafts stuff, both for me and for my kids.
But I still found myself frustrated because while each cube housed certain items, the cubes are just big and empty inside so even though I started out with everything inside neatly stacked, everything eventually ended up sort of thrown in. I ended up with several small boxes of disarray instead of one big one. My challenge with this was that I couldn’t find the right organizing accessories at the right price (ahem, next to nothing) and I was becoming rather frustrated and discouraged with this organizing project.
Then I had an epiphany! All I really needed were dividers to give each cube smaller sections. That is something I could easily make – and they didn’t need to be pretty since they will be down inside the cubes. So I made a simple four-way divider out of a cardboard box. It’s pretty straight forward – just cut two pieces to fit across the cube (or other container); then cut slits in the middle of each piece about halfway down. Then fit the two pieces together to make a “+”. I did this with a small basket I got from Dollar Tree to make a writing utensil holder too. I’ll show you step-by-step how I made these in just a bit.
Once I realized I didn’t need to buy a bunch of fancy organizing accessories, I began to see the potential for organizing in everything! I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of this before. I love upcycle projects, so this is right up my alley.
I used some old plastic cups that I had saved from a party (yeah, I’m one of those people) that had been storing pencils and paintbrushes. I just stuck them down in sections created by the new dividers to keep storing these items, but now the cardboard divider holds them upright and just makes the whole cube more organized.
Along with saving plastic cups, I also save the rubber bands from fresh produce. I used these to bundle markers. A raisin can stores crayons. Old formula cans store stickers, beads, and buttons. The possibilities are endless!
It can be so easy to feel discouraged about your organizing efforts when you see all of these beautiful looking spaces on Pinterest. But remember, it doesn’t have to look like a magazine spread to be organized and functional. Satisfaction can certainly come from a cabinet full of cute totes and baskets, but reusing cardboard boxes and food cartons can bring you the satisfaction of a well-organized space that also didn’t cost you anything – AND helped keep trash out of the landfill! That’s a win-win-win in my book.
Ok, here is the photo version of a step-by-step on how I made the simple four-way dividers.
Clear as mud? If you have any questions on how I made these, please feel free to comment below.
Ok, here is another sneak peak at my master bedroom makeover. Just a glance at a set of shelves my husband built. I am in love with it and can’t stop staring at it. Come back next week for the full reveal!
As you may remember, I love finding creative ways to use old T-shirts. I have a handful of old t-shirts I wore in college that I’ve been trying to find projects for. These are not regular t-shirts; they are those ridiculously small “baby tees” that I am embarrassed to even admit to wearing. I swear, these shirts played a not-so-small role in the body image issues I (and many women) have to this day. The shirt I used was a size large. I wish I had taken a before picture so you could see just how small this shirt was… But I didn’t (I know – bad blogger. I’m still learning.) Just imagine a t-shirt small enough that when worn by my two-year-old, the bottom hem did not touch the ground and the sleeves hit right at the elbow. Adult – not child – size large. But I digress.
I’ve had this toddler dress project pinned for a long time and I finally got around to actually making it. I’m not going to go through the steps of how to make it because you can see all that over at Pretty Prudent. Jaime’s instructions are very easy to follow!!
Here is her before and after to give you a better idea of what you are working toward with this project.
I just wanted to share with you the end product. It is a bit big on Little Miss S. (she is in 3T clothing, just to give you size reference), but she’ll be able to wear it next summer for sure.
A couple of notes:
I do not have a surger and my sewing machine doesn’t even do a zigzag stitch, and I had no trouble with this project.
I used a ½” bias tape because I thought it would be easier to sew. It was easier, but I think the dress is cuter with ¼” bias tape.
How cool is my kiddo wearing a Beatles dress??? Yeah, she pretty much rocks.
Here is a view of the back.
And a look at the dress on a hanger.
Recycle, Repurpose, Upcycle… You may have seen these terms being thrown around, especially if you are a Pinterest addict like me. But do you really know what they mean? Well you will in just a few minutes!
Let’s start by looking at the old adage Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. These terms are generally self explanatory, but it doesn’t hurt to refresh. Reduce, of course, means that you use less of something. Reuse means that you use the same item over and over. Recycle means you take an item and break it back down into raw material and then make it into a new product. Take glass bottles for example. Reducing would mean that you simply use fewer glass bottles. Reusing means that you refill the same glass bottle over and over. Recycling means the glass bottle is melted down and made into a new glass bottle (or some other glass object).
Now let’s think about the terms “Upcycle” and “Downcycle”. As your intuition might be telling you, these are similar to recycling. Again, when a material is recycled, it is broken back down into a raw material that can be used to make the same product again. A glass bottle becomes a new glass bottle. An aluminum can is melted down and made back into an aluminum can. But with upcycling and downcycling, the end product is not the same as the original product.
Some materials cannot easily be broken back down and used as the same raw material again. Plastic containers, for example, are often difficult to recycle back into clear plastic containers. So in this case, the material is often downcycled, which is a form of recycling. In downcycling, the material is turned into something else and cannot be turned back. Our plastic containers may be turned into composite lumber, for example. That deck material that looks like fake wood that you see at the hardware store is composite lumber. It is also used for a very long lasting low maintenance fence material. Composite lumber can never be turned back into clear plastic containers, so this is downcycling. Another example is taking old tires and turning them into playground mulch.
Many times materials cannot be recycled or downcycled at all. This is often because the original product is a combination of materials that are not easily separated into individual recyclable products. Those cans that mixed nuts come in (like this) that are a cardboard tube with some foil, metal, and plastic trims on them are a good example of this. Those materials – cardboard, foil, plastic – could normally be recycled. But when they are all combined into a single container, it becomes far too labor intensive to separate the materials and recycle them. In this case, upcycling is an option. Upcycling takes a would-be trash item and turns it back into something useful. So instead of going into the trash and ultimately the landfill, our cardboard/foil/metal/plastic nut mix can becomes a small drum for a toddler or a pencil holder or maybe it is even sliced into rings and made into some kind of funky bracelets.
Ok, let’s look at one more: Repurpose. Repurposing is often what is really happening in those fun projects you see on Pinterest. Repurposing takes an item that is still useful (although it may not be desirable) and turns it into something else. All of those creative pallet projects? That is repurposing. Those pallets could still be used as pallets. When you take a few and turn them into a cool rustic bed frame, you’ve repurposed them. Same thing goes for using an old door as a table or turning an old window into a picture frame.
One last thing. Taking an old or ugly object and simply making it pretty falls into the none-of-the-above category. I mention this because I have seen great projects – furniture redos, picture frame revamps, kitchen cabinet facelifts – that are dubbed ‘upcycle’ projects. Technically, this is not upcycling. Is it a wonderful thing to do? Absolutely. Taking your old items and making them beautiful again instead of trashing them and purchasing brand new “stuff” is a great thing to do. But it is not recycling, upcycling, or repurposing. A more appropriate term for this might be “rebeautifying”.
Now that you know what these terms mean, what upcycle, repurpose, or rebeautify projects have you been working on? Share your links in the comments below!
For lots of great examples of reusing, repurposing, upcycling, and rebeautifying,
Follow Little Bits of Granola’s board New Life to Old Things on Pinterest.