Category Archives: Thrifty tips

Cross backed Aprons

Tuesday I went to  fabulous class at the Moore Botanical Gardens in Lake City. I will talk about that more in an upcoming post. I was so inspired and obsessed by my carpool friend, Barbara. She wore THE cutiest apron. It was steel grey linen and crossed in the back.  I had to have a new apron!

This was the first one I made. I used fabric scraps left over from altering chef coats. I dyed the white fabric pieces lavender, sewed them together in and stitched them down. That sounds like a lot, but I had already pieced the fabric together before my apron whim. All I did was cut one large rectangle for the apron, attached straps and added a pocket…I like the design, however the twill fabric is too stiff, I liked Barbara’s Linen fabric… so try number two:

I recycled a long linen skirt I had and instead of square across the front I made more of a neckline, which I really like… I used it last night to cook dinner and then again this morning (thus the wrinkles) and I’m very happy with this one! but…

I have a pile of T-shirts to reuse so, apron number 3:

A little reverse applique! I want to add some hand stitching, around the flower next, maybe. I think this will be my most useful one, not too long, easy to throw on, and it’s already spotted so I don’t care if more cooking splatters happen!

So… What’s under the aprons??? The dress form was already in use before I needed it to model the aprons. I’m creating another knit outfit and here’s a sneak peek, overlook dangling threads, unfinished hems etc….

Here’s a close up of the in process skirt, I have more freehand machine stitching to do to add petals and some hand stitching needs to be added…



Newer T-Shirts…

These are two new  t-shirts I am working on at present. Both are made from recycled clothing and both are the exact same design that I drew, scanned and digitized using the IQ feature on my Destiny. This is something I haven’t tried and wanted to see if it would work for what I wanted to design.


I drew out two different doodles of shapes, sort of flower-ish. I only wanted a line design to out-line the shape. dscf3141

The rest was so hand work while watching Masterpiece and waiting at the dentist….. I still have more to finish but I’m almost finished with two shirts in about a week.


DIY skirting table and sweater dryer

I needed a skirting table to sort my fleece and I also need a larger space to wash and dry my winter sweaters to put them away for the summer season. SO I came up with this idea using:

  1. portable drying rack
  2. 3″ strips of scrap fabric
  3. assorted velcro lengths
  4. netting or mesh piece

DSCF7070This is my drying rack. Measure the top width and length when opened up all the way.

DSCF7071Cut a piece of mesh or whatever fabric you have to use as the netting to the above size.

DSCF7072Sew strips of velco to a 3″ wide piece of fabric.

DSCF7073Sew that strip to the ends of the mesh along one edge. then flip the mesh and sew the other strip to the opposite end.DSCF7074Wrap and velcro around the last two bars of the drying rack.

DSCF7075Start sorting your wool…. Now, I have a smaller mesh more like a fabric screening and I want to make the exact same thing for drying my sweaters. ( I don’t want to put clean sweaters to dry on un-cleaned fleece ….) 🙂



More Business Cards

I am going to a Quilt Gala This weekend. I am demonstrating all day Friday… Lucky ME!!! I am get to sit and sew all day, at a quilt show! How cool! I needed to have some new cards to give out to ladies and here they are, new cards just for this event.

DSCF6767I started with my sizzix and a scalloped top tag shape. I recycled card pieces from an order earlier this week of Dickies men’s shirts with  the company logo embroidered . I had a dozen shirts so… 12 cardboard inserts to reuse.

The back are black, some with printing, some solid and then some with an abstract part of the packaging.I threading them all through with a spool of ribbon and simply tied them off. DSCF6770


Something different and something that stands out. I made 50 new business cards with just the information I want to give out for nothing and I re-purposed something! My Noteworthy stamp was a gift from my Mom as a house warming gift, and I ordered it  from Sassy Girl, gifts and special things at:

Vicki has tons of styles and looks, even different color inks (red and blue are on order for me now!) I have two stamps, but you only need one ‘base’ and change out the actual stamp for endless uses. There are almost too many styles to choose from! Have fun!



Beeswax Wax

This is the recipe I use for finishing wood. This can be used after a chalk finish or just a plain finish on wood that is all natural.

Start with Beewax about 1/4 of cup a shaving or in my case the honey comb remnants.


Mix that with a cup of Olive oil, You could use any oil (lemon oil, coconut oil…etc…) I just have Olive oil.



Heat in Microwave until the Beeswax is melted. About 2-3 minutes… keep checking so you don’t scorch or burn.


I have to strain my mixture you may not have to if you started with clean beeswax. Do this while mixture is hot.

DSCF6655Stir until cool and creamy.

Wipe on wood, a little goes along way and then wipe off excess with a cotton rag.

Store extra in an airtight container. I use every now and then on my wood furniture to spruce it up and protect the surface. I have a family full of people would refuse to use coasters so I have water glass marks on everything and this work wonders. It’s great for your hands too!! I can tell I need a manicure from those shots..eekk!

Necessity is the Mother of invention

Thread comes in all sorts of cones and spools in different shapes and sizes.  When sewing you want the thread to ‘spool off’ in an even fashion for the best sewing results.

I was taking a break from painting during a pop-up storm today. The only machines I have at the Riverhouse are two treadles.  Now, back in the day when ladies sewed on these I don’t think thread on industrial cones were available to home sewers…. The thread came on spool and fit nicely on the thread spindle, which fed nicely into all the guides for a perfect stitch.

I only had read thread on a cone… what to DO?? The cone will not fit on the spindle nor will it spool off evenly.

There is a sewing notion called the thread-pro. It is a base with with two spindles, one horizontal and one vertical. It goes behind the machine to guide the thread up and over for better threading…. I didn’ t have one with me… so let’s get creative……. I hope you can see this….. It got dark out side in that fast and quick storm. I had a spool of wiring and I removed the mini blinds turning bar. I stuck that bar in the center of the spool to hold it up right. I Then just threaded the cone thread by placing it next to the spool and up through the hole on the bar… I brought it around to the machine in front and thread as normal.

Here are some examples of what I have at home…

Here is a close up of the top if the bar … I added bent paperclips in the ones at home

Here is another one I have with an added bee’s wax ring I have used that a number of times for cording or gimp or yarn  in couching and decorative  machine work. The two I have at home are from broken mini blinds, the one at the riverhouse today was NOT broken and I didn’t want it to break, but it has a clear plastic hook on the end which hooks to the mini blinds. That hook is perfect for just hooking the thread and guiding to your machine.

It really is a simple fix. In my classes I have made emergency thread guides out of a liter soda bottle (empty) and a dowel rod or mini blind bar and it works wonders on tricky threads to run smoothly. Just insert the bar into something that will hold it upright.


We have a winner for my Birthday give-away!

Gail!! (I’ll be contacting you via email!!)

In keeping with my Thrifty and re-purposing theme… I made an apron from a size 0 skirt! 
The fabric is a a dreamy silk/linen blend with such a springy cheerful color palette!  I hope you like it Gail!

 This is all I have left-over for scraps.

I’m coveting the zipper….because it’s already going into a new skirt.

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you  all for leaving such nice comments and best wishes for the next year of blogging! Thanks for coming by and I hope I inspire you in some way.

I know that I am inspired to be more and do more by all of you! 25 years ago when I/We started out our adult life with a little girl and the dream to say at home and raise her by sewing and saving and being thrifty… who knew what a wonderful way of life I would have.  We raised all four children with me sewing and thrifting to make our home work… and guess what…. it did and does! I felt all alone at times so now,  so I hope somewhere I can inspire or encourage a a kindred spirit of thrift that Yes, you can….

Linen Ruffle Skirt

This is my Favorite Skirt…. It’s a black, short lightweight skirt with ruffles. I wear it with tights and black boots . I just feel good in it!

Since I fixed up my jacket I was thinking about what to wear with it??  and I knew I wanted to copy that skirt!

So I dragged out an old stained linen table cloth and some other random linens to match. I wanted a vintage-y feel so Linen seemed best. My orginal thought was to make each layer a different linen color, with the table cloth being the base fabric.  As I was trying to make that work I realized the linen was a heavier fabric than the cotton sateen of the black skirt, so I abandoned that idea for now and just used the table cloth. I love this skirt so I just wanted to copy the pattern without taking anything apart. I laid tissue paper down first then placed the skirt on top and made “pin-holes” through the skirt and on to the tissue paper. Then I just connected to dots on the paper to make the pattern pieces. I am showing the pattern piece which will be placed on the fold of the fabric. I needed the waistband, top yoke and bottom underskirt pattern. For the ruffles I cut straight lengths based on the measurements of the ruffles on the original skirt. That skirt also has a neet thing, the ruffles are different lengths. SO I went with that. Again the linen table cloth fabric was heavier than the Cotton so I took out a row of ruffles to help with the weight.I made the top section first with the zipper in the side seam. (I laid out the zipper section so you could see it… it is really in the side seam.)I like to finish off the ends of zippers since I usually never ever have the shorter sizes, I just fit the zipper in and cut the remaining length. Invisible zippers are easier to put in that way too.

I worked on the bottom half all in the round so I wouldn’t have any seams showing or ruffles  sewn into the side seams. This makes for a smoother finish. The table cloth had a hemstitch accent around the border. I just incorporated that into some of the ruffles.

I then put the two parts together…Terri's skirt and now I have a whole ensemble to wear this summer with Peggy at the    French Flea Market,  read about here…

If I make this skirt again, I would like to make it out of the lighter Cotton sateen because it lays so flat even for being ruffles.  I think because I took out of row this fabric works. I also somehow want to make a skirt with rows of different linens and maybe even lace… I just have to dream about it first….

White Fluffy Pillow made with a treadle

My Daughter has wanted a new fun pillow for her bedroom… I saw decorator pillows like this at Pottery barn, Anthropology and Target, but they were kind of pricey at the time.  Today was a dreary raining day and I finished my monogramming work early, so I cut strips and set everything up so that while my Son was doing his homework I could treadle in the same room with him.This is Belle, she is a 1886 Singer IF fiddlehead treadle sewing machine. She’s a beauty, thus the name Belle. She is so quiet and this project was perfect for rows and rows of straight stitching. I haven’t used her in about a year so she needed a dab of oil and she was ready to go!I first pulled out of my stash some knit material. This wasn’t even the good jersey stuff I like, so it’s even better! I cut with my rotary cutter 1″ strips. Then I cut those into 3″  lengths. I made hundreds and hundreds in seconds!

Then I cut a base fabric which I forgot to photograph, 18″x18″. I drew one line down the center. On that line I centered the flat strips and stitched right down the middle. After that row I turned the fabric and I folded all the ends to the one side and about 1/2″ next to the first line I centered more strips and sewed all the way down… keeeeeep sewing… I wish I would have started in a circle pattern in the center of the pillow then I wouldn’t have to have ever stopped or turned around… Maybe next time…

I found a totally cool scrap in my stash for the backing…. The reason why I like to sew on the treadle is because the machine sits flat to the long table space. I like to sew my quilts this  way also.

Boy is this a soft pillow!!!!

Multi-tasking and paper making

I Knit this sweater from re-cycled yarn. The yarn is a denim-ish man’s sweater that I un-knit and reknit into a pullover. I washed it and hung it on the line to “block” it. While I was doing that I….Was cooking dinner and cutting up veggies to store in the freezer for future meals. This saves tons of time. These are 2 of my hardest working “maids” and time savers. Not only do they save time, they save money, and to be honest what is better that a hot soup and warm fresh bread??? Next, while I was working in the kitchen I had an egg carton that I was re-purposing…… into homemade card-stock for more business cards.I first tore it up into small pieces, soaked it in water then with my food processor I  added more water and made a pulpy mix. (make it more soupy than in this photo) Then I poured and formed it into home made screens (mesh fabric in an embroidery hoop) to create homemade paper.Yucky looking isn’t it. I had enough to make two screens and one shortbread form.

I put them outside in the sun to dry…along with my sweater and lovely clothes pin holder….more sheets and towels on the line. Back upstairs to another 6 dozen chef coats to be altered and embroidered….. and (two days later) home made paper is ready…. With my sizzix and die cut I have these ready to make into my next batch of business cards…. Look how cool the shortbread mold turned out as paper…. I plan on cutting the pieces and stamping the other side and have triangular cards… Here’s a close-up

So, this weekend I have to tie in ends of yarn on  my husband birthday socks….and make two more birthday hats, bake valentines cookies for my son’s school, Boys Scouts pancake breakfast, date night and….. Wow what a week! phew!

Have a great weekend! Stay warm