November: Month of books at

At Home with Handmade Books: 28 Extraordinary Bookbinding Projects Made from Ordinary and Repurposed Materials (Make Good: Crafts + Life) By Erin Zamrzla, Published by Roost Books (April 12, 2011). Browse inside.

Erin Zamrzla is a bookbinder and paper artist – her love for her craft is obvious – and her skills and style are showcased in her first book – published through Shambhala in their Roost range of books under the Make Good series – which is ful to the brim of fabulous books – not a dud amongst them: This whole series is simply designed and stylishly photographed – with very easy to follow instructions.

From flutter books and idea files to various methods of Japanese binding and using lots of interesting and unusual materials along the way – including sponges, socks, fabric as well as old books, papers and cards. I love the sweetly themed books – like the secret journal which has a lavender sachet cover so you can keep your journal tucked away with your linens. I love the peek-a-book made for a child and filled with small doors revealing cut out images. A recipe book features an easy wipe cover, and a cleaning book cleverly uses a sponge as the cover. With images at the front and instructions as the back – this book serves as part inspiration and part practical manual.

The Repurposed Library: 33 Craft Projects That Give Old Books New Life By Lisa Occhipinti, Published by STC Craft/A Melanie Falick Book (May 1, 2011).

A very clever book by artist Lisa Occhipinti, beautifully photographed and presented by Melanie Falick Books – they always have stunning photography – this book could easily double as a coffee table / conversation book.

The three images above are some of my favourite projects from the book – but all the projects are clever – with a neat play on words and very creative uses for old books – both the covers and the pages are recycled in various and interesting ways. A sewing book cover is turned into a sewing box, a book with a title “five minute biographies” becomes a mirror, “and tell of time” becomes a clock. Books are turned into book shelves and birdhouses and ornaments. While the pages from old books are folded and collaged in different ways – they become a wreath, a “Novel firescreen”, and a “Literary Lampshade”. The “Pagework quilt” (pictured above) might be my favourite project from the book – I love the faded colours, the use of imagery – and they are actually sewn together. Lots to discover and delight within the pages of this book.

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Laura and Annie write to each other via their blog across the Atlantic ocean. Laura lives in Bristol, England and Annie lives in DC. I love their blog name Nimble Fingers and Steady Eyebrows – The phrase comes from Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities and it describes Madame Defarge, who knitted “with nimble fingers and steady eyebrows and said nothing”.

Recycled Shirt Cushion Cover: This is a great way to recycle an unwanted or thrifted shirt. The shirt buttons form the cushion fastening, so all that’s required is some simple sewing and as much (or as little) appliqué decoration as you like. Our final cushion was 18in x 18in (46 cm x 46cm) but you could vary the size depending on the size of your shirt and/or cushion filler.

You will need:
- an unwanted shirt (ours was a man’s cotton suit shirt)
- a cushion filler
- assorted scraps of fabric
- buttons and embellishments as required
- sewing thread

- sewing machine (optional), scissors, ruler & pencil
- paper (or print out the pattern with the house templates)
- hand sewing needle, pins, iron (optional)

Step 1 – Preparation: Cut the templates for the pattern on the front of the cushion. Remember that there is an extra 0.5cm (1/4 inch) boarder around the pieces for tucking under to leave a neat edge. You can check if they fit on the shirt and the cushion by placing them roughly before you begin sewing.

Step 2 – Cutting the fabric: Pin the templates (see below) to the scraps of fabric of your choice (we used fabric in shades of blue and green to match our shirt, but you can use whatever you choose). Cut the shapes out.

Step 3 – Sewing the windows to the houses: Pin the rectangles you cut out for the windows onto the rectangles you cut for the houses. Sew on the fabric for windows using slip stitch (to be neat and to give it a more hand made look, I like to go around the piece with slip stitch one way and then back around the other way – this creates little crosses) and sew on the buttons for door handles.

Step 4 – Placing the Shapes on the Cushion: Lay the shapes out onto the back of the shirt near the bottom and arrange as you like (remember don’t worry if they overlap as 0.5cm will be folded under. Fold under the edges of each piece by 0.5cm (1/4 inch) pinning to keep them in place. Make sure that once you have pinned the pieces on you are happy with the look of the design. This is how it will look once you have sewn it all together. Sometimes it helps to press your pieces with an iron – this keeps the folds neat and secure.

Step 5 – Securing the Houses: Hand sew the shapes in place using slip stitch and using the crossing technique if you wish. Then add the buttons for door handles. Be sure to only sew through one layer of fabric.

Step 6 – Centre the cushion: Place your cushion filler centered over the finished design and draw roughly around it, leaving a few centimeters seam allowance. Cut out the cushion shape from the back of the shirt. Pin it to the front of the shirt with the right sides facing, ensuring that the shirt buttons run straight down the middle of the shape. Cut out so that both pieces are identical in size and shape.

Step 7 – Sewing the Cushion: Using a sewing machine (or by hand, if you prefer), sew all the way around the cushion shape. Trim any excess fabric from the edges and corners, being sure not to trim too close to the stitches. If you are very keen you can even iron out the inside seam before Undoing the buttons and turning right-side out. Insert your cushion filler and button up at the back. Your cushion is complete!

Annie Sewing

Laura Sewing



I am so happy to welcome to Whipup, Cheri from I Am Momma Hear Me Roar.

Over at my blog I love to sew, paint, organize, photograph, decorate, and upcycle. I especially love boy projects because I have two little guys, but I also enjoy making something for myself here and there.

I have a simple tutorial to help you turn broken jewelry into a new hip jewelry. I had a necklace that had three strands with some orange beads on it and it broke. It was cheap to begin with, so I wasn’t surprised, but I couldn’t part with it. So, I turned it into this.

Here’s what I did. I cut strips of fabric and washed them so they would fray a bit. (I used some creme-colored canvas I had lying around.) I had to trim the frayed strips up a bit afterwards, but the dryer helped give them that frayed edge I wanted. (Tip: I like to wash my fabric strips in a laundry bag so I don’t have to sort through the whole load of laundry to find them and so they don’t get tangled with the other laundry.)

I took my broken necklace and cut it into three separated strands.

I glued the three strips of fabric together at the top, set a chain on top of each strand, and then I braided them together as shown.

The beads pop out here and there giving the necklace a fun pop of color. When the necklace seemed to be the right length I cut the strips and hot glued them together at the end. I cut off any stray strings of fray that had come out.

Lastly I glued a long narrow strip to each end so the necklace could be tied on. I love the idea of mixing different metals and fabrics to create unique jewelry.

And there you have it. Thanks for having me Kathreen. All of you are welcome at my place anytime. -Cheri


Maggie shows us how to make a toddler dinner table booster seat cushion out of a vinyl tablecloth.


I like this idea alot - turning containers into cork vases. Brittni says: “it uses recycled materials, is super easy to make (really addictive), and quite practical”.