44. Hot Water Bottle Cover made from Recycled Jumper


A couple of weeks ago I flew to Wellington to celebrate my mum's 60th birthday. I arrived late at night and as the terminal doors opened I was met with an icy blast to the cheeks. Nearly 3 years in Sydney has made me soft and I was ill prepared for just how cold Wellington can be in June. When we arrived back at my sister's house I saw that she had made up a cosy bed for me. Being our mother's daughter, she had popped a hot water bottle under the covers so that the bed was extra warm. Wrapped around the hot water bottle was a nifty little cover she had fashioned out of a woollen jumper. Yes, recycled crafty goodness runs in the family! As I was packing to go home again she gave me this very cute vintage wool jumper with a Panda bear on it. She had planned to use it for another project but thought my Ben might like it. As it turns out, it was a little tight on Ben, and after these photos were taken he said "Mum can I take it off right now?"  so I knew it wasn't going to be a winner.

So this morning I decided to turn it into a hot water bottle cover just like my little sis did. Here's how to make one yourself:

You'll need:

1 hot water bottle either mini sized like mine or full size
1 vintage wool jumper

The first thing I did was lay my hot water bottle over the jumper to get the position right. Then I drew around the shape with a pen, making sure the line was at least 2.5cm away from the edge of the bottle.

The neck was left straight because we're going to use a cuff for the neck part later on. Once it was cut out I turned it inside out (right sides together) and overlocked it all around, leaving the neck and bottom edge open. Then I stitched it on my normal sewing machine for extra strength.

The neck piece is made from one of the cuffs. I cut it off and overlocked the edge before sewing it around (again, right sides together). The bottom was closed using three buttons that were on the jumper but you could insert the hot water bottle and hand stitch the opening closed, or use ties if you like.

Mr Ben was pretty happy with it. This project took around 15 minutes to complete, perfect for a quick craft on a winters day.

Make it Monday - Repurposing old t-shirts

This Monday I bring you some great ideas for upcycling old t shirts.  I think just about everyone has a few t-shirts that are past their best. If your partner is anything like mine then you'll have a serious old t-shirt situation at your house - what is it with men and holding on to piles and piles of t-shirts?

Have a go at these ideas and you'll get to have a clear out and do something crafty at the same time.

The first cool trick is to turn your t-shirts into a usable material. Creative Jewish Mom will show you how!

Now that you have something to work with how about making one of these gorgeous Rainbow Crochet Rugs from Show Tell Share.

Too ambitious? If you're after an instant gratification project have a look at these great bracelets from Lana Red.

Now that you've got the hang of it, you need something to go with those bracelets right? Ninth & Bird has a fantastic step by step tutorial showing you how make a funky upcycled scarf.

For something more challenging try some weaving using t-shirt yarn with a tutorial from Candoodles.

For a quick and easy project have a look at these fun fruit bags by Style Baggage. They're so simple to make, stylish, and environmentally friendly!

And last but not least, there is always patchwork. I've seen t-shirts made into quilt covers and cushion covers using squares of t-shirt fabrics and they look great. Following the same idea are these kids pants from Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom.

That's it for today's Make it Monday, hope you have a fantastic week everyone!

Revamping Vintage and Preloved Clothing

Have you ever seen the perfect dress in an Op Shop that's an awful colour? Have you ever spotted a scrap of the best fabric peeking out from a crowded clothes rack only to discover that it's been made into an 1980s disaster? This post is all about how to revamp those almost perfect vintage finds that you're probably leaving behind in the shop for someone else to discover.


If you're a confident sewer there are endless ways to make a vintage garment fit your body type. You can take it in, let it out, add sleeves, remove or change sleeves, or cut off the skirt and add it to another top. If you're not that keen on doing it yourself don't discount an alteration service. It may cost you more than the vintage piece but you will end up with something that you'll enjoy wearing, and the price is still likely to be less purchasing new. Think outside the box and have fun - a dress doesn't have to be a dress.

This is a 1980s dress I bought for $2.50 at a thrift store the other day. Nice shoulder pads!

The first thing I did was remove the shoulder pads then cut the skirt from the top just above the elastic line. Then I cut the top straight up the middle  to make a little jacket.

Then I used the skirt to make a summer dress. The existing sash went through the old belt loops, crossed over at the back, then came over the shoulders to make straps. The old waist elastic worked to hold the dress up.

For more inspiration see New Dress a Day, where you'll see a vintage remake for every day of the year.


The next thing we're going to look at is colour. Wearing the best colour palette for your hair, eyes, and skin tone is the easiest way to look healthier and prettier. To discover what colours work best for you have a look at my Style Guide to Second Hand.

It's always great to know what colours look the best on you, but what happens if you spot a real bargain in completely the wrong colour?

Last week I bought a Metalicus dress on ebay for $10.95. It was described as "burnt orange" which I thought I could work with, but when it arrived it could only be described as peach. Which won't do at all. Here's the eBay photograph:

But really it was more like this:

Which is a really lovely colour on people with a warm skin tone and lighter hair, just not on me.
When buying online this happens sometimes, and it's always a little disappointing. Thankfully there's an easy and fun fix!

Off to a craft store I trotted this morning with my four year old in tow. He calls this particular craft shop "The most BORING shop ever". So as you can see, it was going to be a good trip!

I bought some iDye for fabrics with a polyester content for $12.95. Before buying any dye make sure you know the fabric content of the garment you want to dye and buy the appropriate product.

You can dye in a washing machine or on the stove top. I've used this product before when I dyed a merino wool jumper of my daughter's and it worked really well in the machine. For this one I decided to use the stove top as it promised the "best results" and I thought the polyester blend might take a bit more effort to get a good result.  I used a large stock pot on the gas range.

This is what I ended up with, an orange dress a lot closer to the photo on eBay.

It's still quite a "warm" colour for me, but I think it'll work in summer when my skin tone changes.

For a small amount of money you can change the colour of a garment really quickly. It works wonders on stained kids clothing, or pieces that you might otherwise throw out because they don't suit you. Try it!

Rules for using clothing dye:
  • use the appropriate dye for your fabric fibre content
  • don't overfill the pot - enough water to cover and allow the garment to move freely is enough
  • don't be too ambitious - a dark green garment is never going to end up baby pink. Try going a few shades darker to get a good result. 
  • if you're wanting to lighten a garment look using a colour remover first


The easiest vintage fix! As a rule, you don't want any garment whether it be a skirt, dress, or pants ending at the widest part of your legs. If you have wider calves a mid calf boot or skirt isn't going to look that hot on you. Go for knee length instead. Taking up a hem on a vintage garment is a quick way to give it a new look and to tailor it for your body type. Non sewers out there can even trim the excess then use hemming tape.


Adding buttons, lace, ribbon, a brooch, or a piece of linen to a garment can completely transform it in minutes. One of my favourite tricks is to use a vintage doily as little capped sleeves on a dress or t-shirt. You can see how to do this on my post about  remaking kids clothing and here on my Sound of Music dress. Vintage linen also works well as pockets, just cut an oval or rectangle shaped piece in half and stitch on.

The next time you're op shopping and you see something that's not quite right I hope you'll grab it and have a go at some of these revamp ideas.

Enjoy your Sunday night and don't forget to check back in the morning for Make it Monday!

Competition Time!

As a thank you to my lovely readers I have a competition running on my Facebook Page to win one of my beautiful vintage velvet cushion covers.

The cover is 40cm square and has an envelope opening in the back. The button will differ slightly from the one in the picture.

To win this cushion cover visit my Facebook page, become a fan, then enter via the competitions tab up the top under the cover photo. You'll need to be viewing Facebook from an Internet browser such as Google Chrome or Internet Explorer rather than via a Facebook app on an iPhone or iPad.

The winner will be drawn on 18 July 2012.

While you're there check out my new store featuring some cushions made from vintage kimono fabrics that I picked up while I was in New Zealand.

Good luck and please share with your friends :)

Casual Style using Vintage Finds

When I left work to have my daughter almost 8 years ago I made myself one promise. No track pants (that's sweats for my American readers) unless I'm having a lazy Sunday. I know it would be all too easy for me to walk around in trackies every day of the week. That doesn't mean that I totter off to school drop off in stiletto spikes either. My aim is to be casual and comfortable with style. And since I love vintage and I'm on a budget, most of my clothing comes from thrift stores.

Most of my time is spent at home with my preschooler Ben. We play and do craft together, go on walks, do the groceries, run errands. My clothes have to be practical and not get in the way of being a hands on mum.

In this instalment of my Style series I'll show you how I use vintage finds to dress up jeans and a t-shirt - whether it be short sleeve, no sleeve, or long sleeve as the weather dictates.

We all love jeans and a tee right? But it can come across as a little too casual and dare I say it, sloppy. These simple ideas will show you how look casual, but effortlessly stylish too.


My latest fashion obsession is Winter Kate, a label designed by Nicole Richie. I love the vintage style prints, the floaty fabrics, and how easy they are to wear. The designer is, of course, a mother with small children herself. My only problem with the jackets and tops I so love from Winter Kate is the small matter of the price tag. I've been stalking things as they come up on eBay but I knew that I could do better than that with a bit of luck.

This is the silk Eden jacket from Winter Kate. See how cute that is with some simple jeans and a singlet top? Totally wearable.

When I was home in New Zealand recently I found a shop selling vintage kimonos and scraps of silk fabric.

I found a beautiful silk short kimono jacket with a detailed floral print for $25. Yep, I was pretty excited about that.

Because the jacket has volume the key here is to make sure the other pieces are fitting. The jeans need to be a straight or slim fit (no bootleg either) and the top needs to be relatively slim fitting also. A belt also looks great with this look.

Another great match for jeans and a t-shirt is a tailored blazer. Roll the sleeves up a bit, add some red lippy, and a long necklace. Ballet flats, boots, or heels complete the outfit.

A simple cardigan in a good colour with some ballet flats can lift a jeans and tee combo. Cardigans are cheap in thrift stores, look for the colour first and don't be afraid to change buttons to update it.


I know what you're thinking. I promise we're not talking about huge crazy hats here, we're talking understated. You can do it!


When you're starting with something simple like a plain white t-shirt and jeans adding colour and interest through accessories is really important. The Wow Factor is in the detail.

I love bright, big necklaces and bracelets and I wear them often. When picking a necklace remember your colour palette from the first instalment. If you're going with something quite bright, make sure that your t-shirt is plain. Pick up a colour from the necklace and try and feature it somewhere else - your shoes, lipstick, or your handbag.

Let's talk handbags for a moment. I know some women who have a little handbag obsession. I have a very modest collection. My favourite every day bag is a vintage Ferragamo that I bought second hand for $355. Now I realise that $355 is a lot of money for something that's second hand. But I can tell you that I've had that little baby for almost 6 years now and she looks as good as the day she arrived in my post box. Whenever I have that bag on my arm I feel great. It goes with pretty much everything and the quality is amazing. I'm not saying you should go and buy a designer handbag right away, however the next time you're in the market for a new bag have a think about investing in something that's well made, elegant, and timeless over a knock off of the latest trend.


Scarves and wraps are an inexpensive way to dress up a simple outfit. Whether it's a soft cotton one or something with weight for winter, throwing a scarf around your neck can completely transform your look.


What you wear on your feet is going to say a lot about your look. Please, please, do not match big white runners with your jeans. I get that it's comfortable but it doesn't look good. It says: Seinfeld! 1990s Soccer Mom! And what do you see on the feet below?

Enough said. Now if you do like a casual shoe with jeans there are some alternatives to the big white sneaker that will work.

These are my limited edition gold boat shoes designed by Missy Elliot for Adidas. I bought them about 5 years ago. I had a thing for gold shoes at the time (still do actually).  I still wear them, and I still love them. 

This Lacoste slip on is very cute.

The Chuck Taylor is a classic that can look really cool. 

I'm not a huge second hand shoes person so I tend to buy my footwear new. When buying casual shoes online what you're looking for is Fashion Sneakers not sports shoes or runners.

  • First and foremost, buy a well fitting pair of jeans. Go into a store that specialises in denim and try lots of pairs on. Most denim stores have well trained assistants who can give you suggestions and help with sizing. Don't forget that jeans do relax so that well fitting pair can end up looking quite sloppy. In some cases it's a good idea to buy one size down - have a chat to your shop assistant about how the jeans wear in.
  • Have a think about what t-shirts you want to buy and what you'll be matching them with. If you want to use bright accessories like necklaces and bags then a plain t-shirt is best. Stick to your colour palette, and remember you can't go wrong with white! 
  • Necklines - V neck? Crew? Boat? Try on different styles and see how they work with your body shape. 
  • Don't be afraid to try something different. It might feel strange at first to wear something with colour, or to try a hat but keep stretching your comfort zone.
  • Lastly, I want you to know that you deserve the extra few minutes it takes to wear something you feel good in. If you're a mum like me it's so easy to forget about yourself in the rush of taking care of everyone else. I don't have much time in the mornings (I plan what I'm going to wear in the shower!) but I do make sure I have a couple of minutes to myself to get ready for the day.

Style Notes

1: Winter Kate silk 'Eden' jacket. 2 - 5: Op Shopping. 6 & 7: Vintage silk kimono $25; Citizens of Humanity jeans $8 from Vinnies; Something Else singlet; 1970s clutch $4 from Vinnies. 8 & 9: Tigerlily blazer $10 from eBay, Citizens of Humanity jeans $8 from Vinnies, Something Else singlet; 1980s vintage turn down boots $10 from eBay. 10 & 11: Wool crochet beanie from PeonyK; Citizen of Humanity Jeans $8 from Vinnies; white long sleeve tee from Target. 12 & 13: Vintage Red Cross hat $8 from Vinnies; white long sleeve tee from Target. 14: Vintage Salvatore Ferragamo bag $355 from trademe; stone and metal necklace from kagi jewellery. 15: Red wool wrap from Greytown, NZ. 16: Green cotton scarf from Malaysia. 

Make it Monday - Dress ups

My children adore dressing up and being in character. They can spend hours pretending they're animals or circus performers or pirates. Happily, I love making costumes! This week I made some felt animal masks. I started with a rainbow parrot for Jemima's rainbow themed party coming up next month. Once they saw it completed the requests came in thick and fast.. koala, fox, pig, cat, lion!

The masks are really simple to make. I used an old paper mask we had as a basic template then added the various ears and noses for the different animals. They all have a piece of elastic attached at the back. I've made a template to print off if you'd like to try these yourself. It's available here: Felt mask template.

Now that we have a good supply of masks I'm looking forward to adding to our dress up box in the next few weeks. I saw these gorgeous DIY bridal veils from make and takes the other day and they're next on my list:

The tulle is gathered before being hot-glued to a white headband. The headband is then covered in white ribbon. Easy peasy!

I also love these Indian headbands with feathers from Dress ups Kids. I plan on making my own version using piece of ribbon or a white headband with some painted stripes and dots and some feathers.

These beautiful felt crowns are another one on the To Do list. There's something about working with felt that's so satisfying. I think perhaps it's no no-fray factor and the way it all holds together with some hand stitching.

Jessica Levitt of Juicy Bits has a great tutorial for felt birthday crowns including a pattern.

Back in January I made these costumes for Ben's preschool. Instructions on this superhero cape and the bird wings are available here.

From my little superheroes to yours, have a great week!


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