Crafts, Sewing

Upcycle a Canvas Tote and Tablecloth into a Pillow

Why don’t you upcycle a canvas tote (or two) into a pillow? If you’re like me, you have a few canvas totes tucked away in a closet or drawer. If you don’t have a tote to upcycle, upcycle a tablecloth that has a pattern you like. I’ve re-purposed a tote and tablecloth for this pillow project.

Upcycle a canvas tote
Since the canvas tote was picked up in Amsterdam, the front of this pillow is a bit risqué; however, the other side is very tame. Each side of the pillow has its own personality!

My pillow form was 18×18 inches wide. After cutting the tote, I was left with a 14×14 inches wide image; therefore, I had to widen the sides to match the width of the pillow (plus 1-inch extra for 1/2-inch seams). I followed a great tutorial for adding sides to a square and mitering corners (picture-frame style). All corners of the pillow match – a miracle! The tutorial is very helpful!

Upcycle a tablecloth
I recycled a tablecloth to make the back of the pillow.

I love this tablecloth fabric, and its colors match those on the other side. Normally, I would have sewn a zipper into the bottom seam, but I did not have a zipper on hand that was the right color or length, so I sewed up the seam by hand. Here is an easy to follow tutorial for adding a zipper to a pillow cover. Zippered covers make cleaning so much easier.

My next project is to sew a smaller pillow with more of the recycled tablecloth material and red corduroy fabric. I’ll also add piping. I’ll let you know when that’s done.

If you recycle a canvas tote into a pillow, share a link in the comments section. I’d love to see what you’ve done.


Crafts, Sewing

DIY Rice Heat Therapy Bags

I was inspired by Little Birdie Secrets to sew rice heat therapy bags; however, I made some modifications to the instructions.

  1. I made the rice bag out of cotton muslin which does well in the microwave.
  2. My rice mixture (brown rice) includes a few drops of lavender essential oil. I found this oil in the soap making section of Michaels. It is likely available at other craft stores. It may also be available at health food stores like Whole Foods. I poured the amount of rice needed for the bag into a bowl and then I added a few drops of oil and stirred it well. Don’t overdo the oil.
  3. I made pillow cases for the rice bag. If the rice bag is going to be used for heat therapy or to toast one’s feet, I thought it would be a good idea to have a washable cover. I selected cotton fabric as a precaution. If someone puts the entire thing (bag and cover) in the microwave accidentally, you don’t want a fabric that is flammable (e.g., polyester fleece).
  4. I tested the bag in the microwave and discovered that ONE MINUTE makes the bag plenty hot! This may vary if you make large bags. Be sure to test. It’s better to start the bag at one minute and to increase time in 20-second increments if necessary.

I am pairing this gift with a pair of hand-knitted socks and a jar of homemade sugar scrub for a complete gift package.

Sew Rice Heat Therapy BagsI’ve made gift tags which you can download.

Download Free Gift Tags


Free Downloadable Gift Tags for Rice Heat Therapy Bags


Fleece Beanie – Easy Sewing Makes a Quick Gift

I’ve whipped up a fleece beanie to give as a Christmas gift. I used a pattern from The Green Pepper (Polar Beanies).

Fleece Beanie

I’ll make more than one. Those that I plan to give the gals in the family, I’ll decorate with fancy buttons (like that above). I did add extra length to the bottom of all of the beanies because I wanted a clean interior edge (the extra length allowed me to create a hem). The pattern is for all sizes. I created copies of each size by recycling large paper grocery bags. The nice thing about paper bags is they’re more durable than pattern paper. This beanie is snuggy and warm and can be completed in two hours or less. I have a few more cut out, but I’m pretty tired of making things, so those who will be missed this year, may get beanies next year.

Here’s a helpful tip when buying fleece for small projects like hats, scarfs, and mittens. Watch for fleece sales – lots of remnants are created during these sales. There is plenty of variety and you get the added remnant discount on top of the sales price. Picking up discounted fleece remnants is the way to go!