Easy Upcycle Sewing: Boxer PJ Shorts

I’ve brought up before that I’m not a serious sewist. I learned the basics in high school, and used the heck out of a one-yard skirt pattern the first year I had a real job.

But unlike paper crafting, where I will spend hours gluing on little bits or learning how to weave hot air balloons, my patience is kind of short with sewing.

With the gift of a good machine from Mom, I’ve started over. And I’ve been working the Internet reading and sewing along with several good beginner tutorials.

Free patterns are a big help, and I’ve also found that upcycling old shirts also boosts my confidence as I sew, since if I completely botch the project, I can cut it all into rags, which is what was going to happen to those shirts anyway.

I spied this cute little pattern for boxer PJ shorts over at Melly Sews, and after reading the directions, I knew it was within my skill set. It was the first time I had used a PDF pattern, but I have an awesome oversize printer at work, so I didn’t even have to tape the pieces together, I could print it full size.

I dug through my stash of Mr. SuzerSpace’s too-big T-shirts, and found two of the same weight knit. They were different colors, but I thought that would end up with a cute look.

I followed the easy directions, although as usual I ended up having to use my trusty seam ripper to undo a section that I sewed in the wrong order. Nothing wrong with the pattern – I just got a little excited at the progress I was making and forgot to stop at the correct edge šŸ™‚ .

My plan with the two colors had some upsides and downsides. I like the alternating color blocks, but it left me with a quandary for thread color. I didn’t know “clear” was an option for thread until after I finished these, but I like the contrasting blue that I chose.

I also tried to take advantage of the fact that knit doesn’t fray so as to avoid the leg hem, just letting them roll a little as they wear. Unfortunately, I did not pay attention when I cut the pieces, so two of them are on the wrong side, which means they roll the opposite way from the others.

No matter – they fit, are super soft and comfortable. I will definitely be making these again.

 

New life for old cushions

Simple sewing and a sale on towels upgrade an old glider

My former next door neighbor was a super lovely woman with an interesting life history. SheĀ also had a love of outdoor furniture, and I had asked her once where she had bought aĀ particular set because I was looking for something similar for our screened in porch. She didnā€™t
remember, but several years later when she decided to replace that set, she gifted it to us.

Technically she said it was a loan, but we both knew she was never going to ask for it back.

The main piece is a glider, and it was probably built in the late ā€˜60s. It isnā€™t that cool vintageĀ kind of piece, itā€™s just an old glider that had seen better days. Some scrubbing and someĀ WD-40 fixed up the metal glider part, but the cushions were a whole other story.

The main fabric was stiff and scratchy, and they had bare spots from use and from where miceĀ had burrowed into them when they were in winter storage.

new life for old cushions
Here’s a before look at one of the old cushions. And this is the “good” one without all the bitten off parts

My plan at the time was to replaceĀ them, so I threw an old sheet over them and we used the glider that season. At the end of theĀ season I saw cushions go on sale and tried to find three that matched in the size I needed, andĀ that wasnā€™t possible.

I repeated this scenario for, uh, 10 years. Didnā€™t mean to, just never remembered to do anythingĀ about it, or refused to pay the price for new cushions. I really donā€™t understand why outsideĀ furniture and accessories are so expensive.

At the beginning of this summer, Mom handed down a really great sewing machine. And I sawĀ on another blog a post about how to make simple cushion covers. The technique didnā€™t reallyĀ work for the cushions I had, but it got my wheels turning.

And then I saw this tutorial on makingĀ an envelope style pillow case, and I began to wonder if I could make something like that for my
cushions. Make cushion covers, not buy new cushions.

At the beginning of the summer, Target had a sale on beach towels. Boom! (thatā€™s the sound the confetti cannon in myĀ mind makes when a project comes together).

I didnā€™t use a pattern, but the process was pretty straightforward – sew two towels together onĀ  the short end, right sides together.

Towels give new life to old cushions

Set the cushion on the new double long towel and overlapĀ the top and bottom so the tucked in envelope portion would be invisible on the back.Ā towels create covers that give new life to old cushions

I measured and pinned the sides, and sewed using the stripes as my guideline.

Envelope style cover made from towels gives new life to old outdoor cushions

 

I sewed double seams to make this extra sturdy. And while each cover is defective in itā€™s ownĀ way (I often lose track of right sides and seam allowances when I work), they are light yearsĀ better than what was there before.

Towels sewn in an envelope style pillow cushion cover give new life to old outdoor furniture | suzerspace.com

Wrestling the cushions into the covers was also a littleĀ challenging, but it was worth it, because the finished look is great, and they can come off andĀ run through the wash if needed.

And if they get super grungy or I just get tired of the color scheme, I bet Target has a towel saleĀ again šŸ™‚

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Small purse from a dress shirt

A quick upcycle sewing project

Recently I became the new owner of a really nice sewing machine (thanks mom!).

I hadn’t been sewing lately, so I didn’t really have much of a stash of fabric to work with. But Mr. SuzerSpace has recently lost quite a bit of weight, and he had a nice pile of old shirts in the give-away box. I decided to spend a rainy weekend morning cutting those shirts into usable sections. I didn’t have any real projects in mind ā€“ I was just looking to square up large sections and salvage interesting bits (cuffs, button plackets and buttons, etc.)

One particular shirt had a pocket on the front, and suddenly I had a quick project idea.

I didn’t use a pattern for this ā€“ I just centered the pocket left and right and cut straight down on the sides until the material could no longer be straight (the shirt had tapered seams, so I cut off above where that started). So the width of the bag was determined by that measurement.

To chose the height of the bag, I folded the material to simulate the bottom and then adjusted the top edge until I could fit in what I wanted (my wallet, phone, keys and sunglass case).Ā  I added a bit more for seam allowances, boxing the corners and general sewing mistakes šŸ™‚ , and then trimmed carefully.

I pressed down a hem on the short sides, and sewed it with a straight stitch. I turned the wrong sides together and sewed them on the long sides to make a bag. This quick tutorial helped me remember how to make a box corner. For the handle, I used the buttonhole side of the button placket ā€“ I stitched each short end inside to the side seam. I topstiched around the entire top to catch the handle again and to give it a nice finished edge.

This little bag is perfect on weekends when I only need essentials, or I can drop it into my backpack during the week to keep those items separate from all my other work items. I’m definitely going to make another (there were several shirts with pockets!) – next time I’m going to step up and tackle a lining.

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