Cardboard Cross Stitch

Last summer while cleaning up a flooded basement after a super heavy rainfall, I found a small plastic bin with long lost craft supplies. Most everything was past it’s prime – lots of no longer sticky stickers, crumpled and faded paper and dried out paint.

But one survivor was a cute little counted cross stitch kit.

It was a great distraction from the scheduled project of mopping and bleaching the basement floors.

After I finished up the little card, I looked for more cross stitch love, and was rewarded with a lot of cool work being done on a much larger scale – pegboards!  

While they looked amazing, that scope of project is a little large, literally. It would be hard to get something that big home without help from Mr. SuzerSpace, and I’m not sure he’d be onboard with such a project. He’d probably point out that it would be difficult to hang in the end as well, and he would be right.

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Felt Phone Holder

Mr. SuzerSpace and I recently upgraded our cell phones.

Previously, I was using the box the old phone came it as my super fancy 🙂 phone holder for my nightstand. The box the new phone came in isn’t made the same way, so it didn’t work as well. So I decided to craft up two custom trays.

I used a 9 x 12 sheet of felt from the craft store. I didn’t buy the super thin and flimsy felt, but I also didn’t buy the super stiff and expensive version either. Like a crafty Goldilocks, I chose the sheet in the middle that was just right.

I placed the phone on the felt sheet and then tested some folding and pinching to see what measurements I needed. It won’t be a phone holder if it doesn’t actually hold the phone. Turns out I could use a half-sheet to make each tray, so I cut one into two 9 x 6 sheets.

Using a piece of junk mail as my template, I drew 1″ square lines directly on each corner on my felt with a Sharpie. Normal people would use a fabric marker that would disappear, but my fabric markers seem to dry out exactly at the moment I need them. Since the felt was dark colored, I figured I could get away with this technique.

Marking the corners of the felt phone holder

To begin shaping my tray, I folded the corners and made sure the lines aligned. I wanted the corners to stick out, not be boxed in, so I did this wrong sides together.

Align the corners in the felt phone holder prior to sewing
The black Sharpie line I drew for alignment and sewing is hard to see, so in this photo I’ve added a red circle to highlight where it is.

I then sewed straight down the sharpie lines, being sure to backstitch at the beginning and end. I used a sewing machine, but if you were patient, this could be done by hand as well.

sewn corner of the felt phone holder

Once those were done, I had a bowl with pointy corners, which would have worked, but it isn’t what I imagined, so kept going.

all the corners sewn in the felt phone holder

I folded down the sides, and pinned them so they wouldn’t slip away.

side setup for the felt phone holder

And then using a zipper presser foot on my sewing machine, and my needle as far to the right as possible, I stitched a line very, very, very close to the folded edge. I didn’t try to sew all around (the corner thicknesses would have been tricky) – I stopped and backstitched at each corner and then moved the needle to the next edge and started again.

side seam closeup of the felt phone holder

This created a neat little stitched seam all around that added structure to my tray.

Bottom seam detail of the felt phone holder

Mr. SuzerSpace requested a small cutout at one end to thread his charging cord through, which I did with an X-acto knife.



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 easy 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 🙂 .

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. She also had a love of outdoor furniture, and I had asked her once where she had bought a particular set because I was looking for something similar for our screened in porch. She didn’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 ‘60s. It isn’t that cool vintage kind of piece, it’s just an old glider that had seen better days. Some scrubbing and some WD-40 fixed up the metal glider part, but the outdoor cushion covers were a whole other story.

The main fabric was stiff and scratchy, and they had bare spots from use and from where mice 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 replace them, so I threw an old sheet over them and we used the glider that season. At the end of the season I saw outdoor cushion covers go on sale and tried to find three that matched in the size I needed, and that wasn’t possible.

I repeated this scenario for, uh, 10 years. Didn’t mean to, just never remembered to do anything about it, or refused to pay the price for new cushions. I really don’t understand why outside furniture and accessories are so expensive.

At the beginning of this summer, Mom handed down a really great sewing machine. And I saw on another blog a post about how to make simple outdoor cushion covers. The technique didn’t really work for the cushions I had, but it got my wheels turning.

And then I saw this tutorial on making 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! (that’s the sound the confetti cannon in my mind makes when a project comes together).

I didn’t use a pattern, but the process was pretty straightforward – sew two towels together on  the short end, right sides together.

Towels give new life to old cushions

Set the cushion on the new double long towel and overlap the top and bottom so the tucked in envelope portion would be invisible on the back. 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 it’s own way (I often lose track of right sides and seam allowances when I work), they are light years better than what was there before.

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

Wrestling the cushions into the covers was also a little challenging, but it was worth it, because the finished look is great, and they can come off and 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 sale again 🙂

Featured at Threading My Way





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 – 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 – 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).  I added a bit more for seam allowances, boxing the corners and general sewing mistakes 🙂 , 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 – 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.

Featured at Snickerdoodle Create Bake MakeI was featured at Craft Schooling Sunday