Upcycled Embroidered Mom Jeans

I wanted to sew over winter break, but did not quite have the time to commit to a full-on project. So, I grabbed a handful of embroidery threads and dug through my closet to find some pieces that I had neglected for too long.

The fun part of this project was that I sat down with zero plan. I just put on a documentary and let myself start mindless cutting shapes. I am usually such a planner, but it always surprises me what I can create if I get out of my own way.

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Embroidery doesn’t have to be complicated to look cool. I stuck with the simple blanket stitch to finish off the edges and make every cutout colorful. It’ll take you minutes to learn if you google it.

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This pocket is my absolute favorite part. I love that the denim underneath is a bit darker so it really stands out. Also, thanks to my sister for taking this picture of my butt, along with all of the others. A true team player.

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I 100% recommend trying to embellish pieces of your wardrobe before tossing them. This project was a quick creative outlet that took an old pair of jeans from neutral to unique.

Handmade and Recyled Holiday Gift Guide

For the good of humanity, I am exposing what I plan to give all of my friends for Christmas. I don’t want you to give your friends another round of body sprays you got on sale at Bath and Body Works this year. You’re better than that. Instead, take a look at how I plan to up-cycle most of the gifts I am giving this holiday season. I hope you’ll see that recycling or hand-making gifts does not have to look cheap and obvious.

Wax Food Wraps from Recycled Fabric


This is the perfect gift to passive aggressively prompt your friends and family to be more environmentally conscious! Wax food wraps have been all over the internet this year and it turns out they can be made fairly easily and almost entirely out of recycled materials. You’ll need fabric (cotton, or anything thick with no stretch), beeswax, and parchment paper. Separate them into gift sets of three or four different sizes, and add a label that explains to wash them in cold water and use around 150 times.

Do not buy new fabric to make these. Instead, turn first to what you have laying around. That bag of clothes you’ve been meaning to take to Goodwill? Search it for pieces you can cut up into squares. If you can’t find anything, thrift. Thrift store usually have tons of fabric in bags on the back shelves but you could also buy clothing pieces to cut up for this too. Just throw them all in the wash before using. I actually already own tons of fabric scraps from past projects, so this is a great way to use up fabric that might otherwise go to waste. There is a way to make these in the oven and with a clothing iron. I’m linking tutorials to both because I definitely didn’t come up with either of these methods. I’m planning on experimenting with some other kinds of waxes for my vegan pals.

Treats to Go With

If you want to try making wax wraps, some kind of baked good would pair marvelously as a gift. Even if you are not much of a baker, there are tons of classic Christmas favorites like chocolate dipped pretzels, which are impossible to mess up. However, I feel like most people have at least one recipe that they really enjoy making, so I say go with what you’re best at doing. This adds a little more depth to the gift and gives you an opportunity to show the recipient how to use the wax wraps.

Books

Books are one of the greatest gifts of all time. From an objective perspective, of course. You can buy them second hand form your local book store, and will probably be able to find almost any book you looking for, or you can take time and dig through thrift store stacks. I think a book that was picked out with the recipient in mind is such a thoughtful gift. Add a note to the book about why you liked it or why you picked it out for your specific friend. Small personal touches make all of the difference when gifting.

Mugs

I am guilty of giving mugs as gift way, way, way too often. But who can’t use another quirky mug? I love finding super weird vintage mugs at second hand stores and antique stores. They are never too expensive and are always unique. I bought my sister one that said “sisters are forever” on it, which is wonderfully ominous. These can be filled with cookies and treats, or paired with some nice tea. If you are feeling more crafty, search Goodwill for some blank mugs and design a personalized mug. Using a sharpie, draw flowers, quotes, inside jokes, or obscure tv references only your friend would understand. They Sky is the limit. Then, put them in the oven for 20 minutes at around 350 degree, and then let them cool inside.

Gift Wrapping

I may be giving you the same advice over and over again, but a lot of people do not realize the variety of things you can thrift. On the back shelves in thrift stores there are giant bags full of ribbons and lace for just a couple of dollars. All of the notions pictured above were from thrift store grab bags. (And for you nitpicky readers, I know two of those are bias tape, but they work just as well as ribbon, promise.) I think tying up a gift in a bow, with no wrapping paper, is a super simple way to make your gift pretty with out a bunch of excess. Try using book pages to make gift labels or wrap small gifts. I also grabbed some pretty colored paint chips from the hardware store to make gift labels. I don’t think this counts as recycling but it is cute and free, which is also nice.

Bonus (for the brave):

Embroidery! It is not as hard as many people assume that it is. Shirts with little embroidered phrases or symbols are all the rage. There are tones of blank t-shirts in all colors and sizes at thrifts stores. Pick one up at Goodwill, a 50 cent package of embroidery thread (that stuff you used to make friendship bracelets in sixth grade) and needles, and just spend a little time trial-and-erroring and youtubing. This is another way to make a super personal, inexpensive, and recycled gift. This video is a super simple guide to a few different stitches.

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I suppose I should end this post with an apology to my friends and family for telling them (and all of the internet) what they are getting for Christmas. I’m not going to do that, though.

Lemon Drop Dress Transformation – Handmade Fashion

Over spring break I had a few spare moments to work on a small project. Sometimes I don’t have time to sew an entire dress from scratch, but I’m always making alterations on pieces that I pick up at the thrift store. Keep scrolling to see a vintage dress transformation.

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Before:

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Personally, I would argue that there is not necessarily anything wrong with this dress in its original form. However, the length is not very practical and the sheer amount of pattern contained in this skirt is not very wearable unless I were attending some kind of clown-prom. I loved this quirky dress, but I knew that I would not have many occasions to wear it if I kept it at this length.

 

After:

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I gave my six-dollar dress a chop at the finger tips. Who doesn’t love a mini dress? Now the dress is more playful and can be worn on a daily basis.

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This was such a simple alteration. I just hemmed the bottom to a length that is flattering on me. There was so much fabric left over that I even made this cute lil’ matching scarf. Thrifting is so much more fruitful when you are able to sew. Instead of looking for items that are perfect, I often look for items that have potential and then make them perfect for myself.

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Let me know if you guys are interested in more handmade pieces and thrift shop transformations!

Tips and Tricks: Taking the Ethical Fashion Plunge (3 of 3)

Want to take the ethical fashion plunge, but not sure where to begin? I have compiled a list of my tips for getting started. If you have been following the series, you’ll know I wrote two informational posts about fashion’s effect on humanity and on the earth, which help explain why you should start being more conscious of how you’re handling clothing. Now that you know why, I thought it would be helpful for me to provide a how, as well. It may not be plausible to make all of these drastic changes immediately, but I’d challenge you to pick a couple of these to implement in your daily life.

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How to Start the Ethical Fashion Journey

  • DONATE your old clothes rather than just tossing them.

    • Take clothing to a trusted thrift store. Many of those drop-boxes on the side of the road can be misleading. They often end up throwing a lot of the items away, rather than actually reusing them. (This is not true in all cases, but try to look into it before you toss the bag.)
    • Let your friends look through your old clothes. I bet you’re pretty stylish. You know your pals would love a free blouse.
    • Pay attention to the people in your community, and give hand-me-downs to those that can use them. When I was in high school, there was never a shortage of junior high girls at my church who would happily receive the items which I had outgrown.
  • MAKE something new out of something old.

    • One of my favorite youtubers and biggest ethical fashion inspirations, Annika Victoria, has a TON of tutorials for sewing and clothing DIYs. She has varying difficulty levels, so there is something for everyone.
    • If you can’t sew your old clothes into something you’d like to wear, you can easily create dish rags or re-usable grocery bags out of them. Even if you aren’t much of a DIY-er, you’d be surprised how simple it is to up-cycle. (Let me know below if you’d be interested in a tutorial on any of these, to help you kick-start your up-cycling.)
  • EDUCATE yourself.

    • Good On You app is a great resource to find out what stores you like to shop at are ethical. It is a super easy to keep this app on your phone and check it before you head out to shop or even while you are in a store.
    • This website has a lot of information on the transparency of popular brands.
    • We have access to infinite knowledge with the internet. There are apps, websites, and something as simple as a quick google search can get you farther than you think.
    • We need to show the fashion industry we won’t stand for the way they are conducting things. They want our money, and if they realize they won’t get it if they keep abusing their power, they’ll start to make changes. You can’t stop supporting bad companies if you aren’t willing to find out who is doing what.
  • INVEST in ethically conscious, well-made items.

    • Brands that are ethically conscious tend to be more expensive by nature. It takes more money to pay workers well and keep facilities up to code. We need to change our mindsets from expecting to buy tons of items for cheap to investing in key pieces that we can keep longer. In the end, the money evens out, we just throw out less poorly made items.
    • Big Bud Press is one of my favorite brands, currently. They may be a little out-there for some of my readers, but they are full of psychedelic color and all of their items are made in Los Angeles. They are totally transparent, and often post videos of their clothes-making processes on their Instagram story.
    • Miracle Eye is a 1960’s and 1970’s inspired clothing line, which is totally ethical from start to finish. I’m obsessed with their velvet mini dresses and jumpsuits. Getting into ethical fashion is a great way to start supporting small businesses and artists who are doing great things in fashion.
    • If you are into hiking, or pretending that you are outdoorsy, Patagonia is actually one of the most outstanding brands I have ever seen. They have TONS of information on their website about sustainability.
    • There are plenty of other ethical brands online. Searching Etsy is a pretty easy way to find some, if none of my suggestions tickle your fancy, I’d encourage you to search out the locally owned stores, vintage shops, and thrift shops  in your area.

(I am not affiliated with any of the brands or other resources linked throughout this post.)

If you are overwhelmed, simply pick one or two of these changes to integrate into your life. It may seem like we are too small to make a positive change with our personal choices, but a movement always starts with individuals. If you learned anything from this post, I hope it was that there are tangible ways to make a change on the world around us. We mustn’t be idle when there is so much good we are capable of accomplishing. Are there any tips you would add to the list? Let me know!