Giving new life to old clothes – making them last just that bit longer – either old faves or new clothes too good to give up on – here are some super creative mending ideas to stretch out the life of your clothing.


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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



Welcome Sky Turtle to – a self-taught seamstress living in Barcelona, Spain. Her blog is about sewing, cooking and generally having fun.

A Fancy-Pants Tshirt Hack

There something magical in the simplicity and democracy of a tshirt. Man or woman, thin or not so much, young and young at heart, the tshirt is one design that fits all. They are comfortable, smart and they don’t ask for much.

From a crafty point of view, the shape and fabric are easy to work with (did anyone say ‘no fray’?), plus you can get them very cheaply, in all colors, sizes and prints. And what’s cooler than saying: “Oh, I made this out of a tshirt I had laying around the house.”

So today – like everyday – we hack. We cut and paste and sew and trim. And we shut up with the motivational speech and dead poet society momentum and proceed with the tutorial.

1. Get a tshirt that’s a few sizes bigger than your own.
2. Get another tshirt that fits you well to use as a pattern.
3. Turn your big tee inside out. Now, taking into consideration you pattern model, cut and shape your large tshirt. I also cut the neckline, but you can use the original one if you want.
4. I used another tshirt in a contrasting colour, cut a part of the sleeve and pinned it as a continuation of the original sleeve to make it longer. You can skip this step if you want.
5. Now pin your newly cut tee. And sew.
6. Now cut a semicircle in the shoulder area. Repeat for both sides or just cut one if you’re daring.
7. Hem your neckline and your shoulder decoupage and enjoy.
8. I decided I like it more without the green part, so I removed it in the end.

And that it. No serger, no monkey business. Just remember to use a zig-zag stitch if you’re using a sewing machine or pull the fabric a bit when you’re sewing if your machine looks like it can’t grab the thread underneath.

And keep experimenting; that’s the fun of it.


Welcome Jenny Wilding Cardon, author of ReSew andThe Little Box of Baby Quilts. Her designs have appeared on the covers of Quilts and More and Quilt It for Kids, and in McCall’s Quilting. She writes about her sewing, thrifting, and family life at the WildCards.

Own What You’ve Sewn (A testimonial. And a tutorial.)

Hi! I want to thank Kathreen for inviting me to guest post at Whipup, which I’ve been happily following for a few years now. The ideas she brings to my screen are always fun and inventive and inspiring. But you know why I fell in love with Whipup in the first place? The manifesto. Have you read it? It’s written with humor. And it speaks to what I believe in my heart about all things handmade. Because I believe handmade can change the world. Well, maybe not the whole world. Not all at once. But it can change yours. It has mine.

I started designing clothes in high school. I had no idea what I was doing. It was fabulous. The pieces I created were eccentric, oddball, attention-grabbing, and sometimes, downright wacky. Too shy to draw attention to myself, I would force my more confident friends to wear my creations to school. When people found out I had made this or that, they would ask me about it. “Did you make that?” they would say. I would look down at the ground, turn on my heel, and walk away.

I loved the stuff I made. I just didn’t have the guts to “own” it.

During my college years, making stuff took a back seat. I tossed my passion aside to focus on my degree. After graduating, I moved to Seattle and took a job as a copywriter with a book publisher. But not just any book publisher. A craft book publisher. I started making quilts alongside my co-workers. I started decorating my house with stuff I made. And then—after one of those daring fashion friends from high school reminded me—I started to remember how much fun I used to have making kooky, offbeat stuff with abandon.

The passion I had tossed aside and forgotten (much like a shrunken wool sweater) was back. And (much like a shrunken wool sweater) it was begging to be brought back to life and transformed into something I valued again. Something that would share a little about who I am. Something I could imprint my style and sass on. Something that spoke about me.

Since I started my passion back up—full throttle now—I’ve created an intention. My intention is to “own” what I make. Make no mistake about it: what I make isn’t just a piece of clothing, or an accessory, or a quilt or a rug or a bag. It’s also my voice, speaking to you. And that’s something that the big-box store down the street, sporting its racks and rounders jam-packed with the safe and the same, can’t do.

Maybe what you make speaks that way, too.

When it comes to speaking about what I make now, there’s no more heel-turning. I grind my heel into the ground. The stuff I make speaks first, on its own. But then I speak too. And here’s what I say. Family, friend, employee, coworker, stranger: “Did you make that?”. Me: “Yes”. There’s the testimonial. (Cheers if you got through it.) Now, on to the tutorial!

This is what I call a “sleevelet,” made from the sleeve of a shrunken wool sweater. (And looky above. I’m wearing it. How about that?). Read on to learn how you can make a sleevelet too. A WildCards tutorial: sleeve + bracelet = sleevelet!

What you need:
– A shrunken wool sweater (the sleeve needs to fit your wrist and arm snugly), scissors, embroidery thread, and a yarn needle.

1. (A) Cut any ribbed cuff off of one sleeve.
2. (B) Cut the remaining sleeve into at 7″ tube. (You can make the sleevelet longer or shorter if you want to incorporate part of a design or motif.)
3. (C) Turn the tube inside out. Turn one end of the tube right side out until the end meets the center of the tube. So for a 7″ tube, turn the end 3 1/2″ toward the center of the tube.
4. Repeat for the other end of the tube. Now both ends of the tube should meet in the middle. This is the RIGHT side of your sleevelet (the side with the seam showing.)

5. Thread your yarn needle with a long length of embroidery thread, using all six strands. (As an alternative, you could also use perle cotton or even yarn). Tie a knot at one end. Starting at the sleeve seam, bury the knot in between the two layers of the tube. Take two rounds of stitches. For the first round, use a whipstitch to sew the two ends of the tube together all the way around the tube, making stitches 1/4″ apart. For the second round, make stitches close together to completely cover the raw edges where the two ends of the sleeve meet. No need to stitch through both layers of the sleevelet; only stitch through the top layer. When you need to start or end your thread, simply knot the thread and bury it in between the tube layers.

And that’s about it. All done.

If you like making stuff out of stuff that’s already been made—upcycling, repurposing, refashioning, and the like—you can check out my new book ReSew: Turn Thrift-Store Finds into Fabulous Designs in this video, or at my blog, the WildCards.

Thank you again for having me here, Kathreen!


Thank you to Kathrin from Annekata for joining me here at whipup today, where she will be sharing a simple, doable fabric jewelry project from a salvaged t-shirt.

I’ve always been inspired to make things using my personal interpretation of slow design. My material of choice is usually rescued or salvaged and then transformed into interesting, functional items and accessories. I love hand-sewing, but also enjoy developing unusual designs. Born in Germany, I’ve lived in Cologne, Madrid, Barcelona, Buenos Aires and New York City (a real urban nomad). Currently, I enjoy a slower pace of life with my husband and daughter in upstate NY. For more tutorials and interesting ideas, visit my blog:

T-shirts are one of my favorite materials. In my closet, they’ve become skirts, scarves, hair bands and corsages. They’re comfortable, abundant in every wardrobe and can be found in any second hand shop. When working with a material, I usually try to use as much of the original as possible. When it comes to t-shirts, the one thing which is always left over is the neckline. Mmmh, could this small fabric scrap possibly be integrated into a project?

So I started to experiment. First by cutting out the neckline and pulling it over my head. It looked pretty….stupid. But the direction was right. The more I cut, the more the idea revealed itself. The result was a comfortable, and unique piece of fabric jewelry with the added benefit that it’s so easy to make that it can be “whipped up” by children and non-sewers alike.

– t-shirt
– scissors
– ruler (or not, if you have a good eye)
– safety pin
– thread
– glue (if you’re a non-sewer)
– trim, buttons, beads for decoration

1. Cut off the neckline and the piece which will become the necklace. It is usually surged and will not unravel. Then cut a long 1 inch wide strip “along the grain”. That means cut from the bottom hem into the direction of the shoulder, not across the shirt. Pull the strip and it will curl along the edge giving it a finished look.

2. With the help of a safety pin pull the string through the opening of the neckline. Voilà! It’s done. Now it’s time to decorate: The grey necklace features a piece of trim which was then sewn onto the neckline. The blue one has a simple ruffle sewn onto it. If you don’t feel like sewing at all, beads can be glued, which makes the necklace less flexible, but this way it is a hit among the younger girls:

There are many ways of decorating. Use embroidery thread, buttons, beads or flowers. Sew on trinkets and tasseled trim. Use velvet ribbon, make the necklace long or short, it’s your choice, but have fun exploring.