Laptop case for one of California’s greenest ladies

This summer my family and I had the good fortune of joining my college buddy Karen and her family at a historic beachfront cabin on Lake Tahoe for three glorious days. Another one of their guests was Karen’s sister-in-law, Liz Varnhagen, who, along with her husband, is dedicated to leaving the smallest footprint possible on this planet. Liz and her husband, Steve, have actually been featured in the San Francisco Chronicle as some of the state’s greenest people.

Liz’s birthday was coming up and Karen was lamenting to me that it was difficult to buy gifts for Liz because she gets annoyed if she is given something “new.” I suggested to Karen “Why don’t you commission me to make laptop case out of recycled t-shirts?” (I had noticed that Liz was using well-worn bubble wrap to protect her laptop.) Karen thought that was a brilliant idea, especially because she could give me some t-shirts of Liz’s late mother, and that would make the case even more special.

Here are the t-shirts Karen sent me.
Here is the laptop case that I made.
I vowed to myself that I would put nothing new on it. The front pocket is taken from the lining of a purse my daughter put in the goodwill pile.
The straps are from a backpack I found in my daughter’s closet. (She just left for college, so I figure anything is fair game.)
Here’s the inside.
And here we all are enjoying a great dinner the porch of the historic cabin!


California girl becomes a Longhorn with upcycled t-shirt

In November, 2011, my husband, daughter, parents, and I visited Austin, Texas on a “significant birthdays” celebration trip. We spent some time walking around the University of Texas. We were swept up in the Longhorn spirit, and my husband, Michael, bought this t-shirt.
Before this visit, the state of Texas had never been on our radar, and Michael and I were somewhat surprised when our daughter Hanna, now 18, expressed an interest in applying to UT, Austin. Well, through her hard work and an amazing offer, Hanna is actually going to be a Longhorn this fall!

A few days ago, Michael announced that his Texas shirt had become “short and wide” after a few washings and was donating it to the recycle pile. Of course, upcycling this t-shirt for Hanna was the obivious course of action.

Hanna and I selected New Look Pattern 6814 for the re-make.
So here is Hanna’s first, of hopefully many, Longhorn t-shirts!

This post was shared on Sew Country Chick.

A true mixed bag

This bag incorporates many things I love. The reverse applique is inspired by the techniques in the Alabama Stitch Book. Every part of this purse is sewn by hand. It’s made from recycled T-shirts. The top layer is hand-dyed, the middle layer is a souvenir T-shirt with a kitchy seaside image and the inside layer is a well-loved sweatshirt.


I love to knit and felt. The handles and the bottom are made from felted stash yarn.

Despite the handmade nature of this bag, it is extremely durable and can even be washed!

This bag is for sale on Etsy.

Alabama Chanin tank from souvenir t-shirt

(This post is actually a repost from an old blog of mine, I felt inspired to share this project after reading recent posts from other bloggers sharing Alabama Chanin projects. I have made countless projects from Natalie Chanin’s books over the past few years and have enjoyed using her techniques as springboards for my own adaptations for upcycling t-shirts.)

I found this wonderful XL, souvenir T-shirt from Washington D.C. at my local Goodwill. I thought it would be perfect to make a hand-stitched tank top found in Natalie Chanin’s second book, Alabama Studio Style.
(If you’re interested,

I decided to dye the shirt Orchid because I thought it would contrast nicely with the gold colors in the image.

Next, I cut the pieces out for the fitted tank. I had just enough fabric from the XL T-shirt to squeeze out all the pattern pieces. XXL T-shirts are actually more suitable for this project.

The entire garment is hand-stitched. I settle in on the couch and get myself in a mediative state of mind when I’m ready to begin stitching. I decided to use red thread for the seams and gold thread for the neckline and armholes. I always use contrasting thread on these projects as the hand-stitching is part of the design, and should be featured rather than blended in.

Here’s the finished tank. My favorite model wasn’t around for me to photograph for this post.

This post was shared on Sew Country Chick.

Stretch-n-Sew skills for sewing contest

I know a lot of people are afraid to sew on knits. I am a child of the Stretch-n-Sew era. My mom was a big fan and shared all the great techniques for sewing on knits with me. I was excited when I ran across this sewing contest sponsored by Girl Charlee. The contest was to make something from their Black and White Chevron fabric.

Here’s what I made.
The pattern is Burda 7817. It is trimmed with scraps of recycled T-shirts that I dye. The model, of course, is my daughter Hanna.

This was shared on Sew County Chick.

Grungy t-shirts become beautiful little bag

I’m currently working on my inventory for my Summer’s Coming Open House. I thought a little bag made from tie-dyed, recycled T-shirt yarn would be a great addition to my collection. I had quite a stash of dyed pieces made from very worn, white T-shirts donated to me by my son.

My project started like this.



In progress, it looked like this.



Finished, it looks like this.



It’s has a silk lining.



Now my son’s upcycled T-shirts sit happily on my happily on my daughter’s hip!


Hip enough for Hanna

I’ve still been having lots of fun dyeing old white t-shirts and thought I’d design a little shoulder satchel that both teenagers and adults might like. So here is my 6 1/2″ x 6 1/2″ satchel that is made from three layers of hand-dyed, recycled, t-shirt fabric.


The bag is lined with a solid teal, recycled fabric and it has a velcro closure. The 52″ strap is a 1/4″ genuine leather lace from Tandy Leather Factory.


It hits the hip perfectly when worned diagonally on the shoulder.


This mini satchel can be purchased on Etsy.