Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Re-wrap: Repurpose and Recycle Wrapping Ideas

This is a post I first wrote a few years ago. But it's one I love to rerun during the holidays because so much of what I said in 2009 is still true today... 

Did you know that most wrapping paper can't be recycled? Many communities require you to just throw it away. Especially if the paper is metallic or glittered.

Many years ago I did a few workshops about recycled, repurposed gift wrapping and each time people were surprised by how great the finished gifts looked. I think people generally have this idea that it won't look as good as conventional wrapping paper, but I think it actually looks better.

Now I'm not going to lie- it does take some extra time. And I'd love to say that I don't use any store-bought wrapping paper- but that's just not true either. But I figure, if at the very least I've cut down on what we would normally use then that's something. I also buy paper that can be recycled whenever I can. The other really wonderful thing about repurposed wrapping paper it that it's an inexpensive.

You can use some really common materials to wrap gifts. Here I've used just a brown paper grocery bag. I glued some paper punched snowflakes on it after I wrapped the box, and tied it with a scrap of red ribbon. Would you ever guess this was a grocery bag!

You could also use the scraps of paper you have left after using the paper punch as a stencil. I painted some flakes onto another grocery bag- which was certainly faster than gluing the individual punched flakes onto the bag.

This one is very quick and easy. I covered the outside and lid of a mason jar with leftover pieces of scrapbook paper. They are great for holding things like tee shirts, scarves, mittens, hats, cookies and candies. And the jars do double the work because they can be reused from year to year.

Upcycled mailing tubes also make great containers for more than just posters. Clothes, candy, even knitting needles fit perfectly into these tubes. I used a sharpie to color red lines- but you could also use paint, ribbon or stickers to decorate it. Or cover the entire tube with a pretty scrapbook paper.

Making your own gift tags is also a great way to reuse materials and they can be recycled once the holiday is over. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Felt Food: Bacon Tutorial

I don't think my felt breakfast collection could've possibly been complete without bacon.

And it was important to me that the edges curl up like real bacon (something that was easily achieved by adding thin wire between the layers of felt).

Although this was the fussiest, most applique intense, food I've made to date- it wasn't difficult. Actually quite the contrary, it's the first time I've ever sat comfortably with a sewing project. So who knows, maybe applique will turn out to be my sewing niche!

To make some felt bacon of your very own:

Cut two strips from dark brown felt for each slice of bacon. I cut a shape that looked good to me. It ended up measuring 1.25 x 5.5 inches. But really, you can make strips any size you like.

Next cut some wavy bits (that's a technical term) from light tan felt. I made these shapes freeform; some were long and curved, others were short and more angular. Cut enough tan pieces for one side of each brown strips.

Whipstitch around the perimeter of the tan felt to attach it to the brown strips.

Once you have all the tan attached it's time to add wire*. I used thin wire that was easy to bend by hand but holds it's shape under the weight of the felt. I don't know the gauge but to give you an idea- it's a little thinner and easier to bend than a paperclip. Another good place for thin wire is ribbon. I tried pulling the wire out of a few scraps of ribbon and it worked perfectly!

*A note on safety: Adding wire to a toy for small children isn't safe. Wire should only be used if children are older and parents decide it's safe. Bacon can easily be made without the wire- simply cut the dark brown strips so the edges are wavy instead of straight. 

Cut two pieces of wire almost as long as the bacon. Bend the ends of the wire into loops so the sharp ends won't poke out through the finished bacon. Don't bend the wire back on itself too tightly- keep the loops open, it'll be handy in the next step.

Take one strip of brown and sew two pieces of wire down either side of the back (non-applique side). The loops in the wire come in handy here because they help to hold the wire in place. Start by knotting the thread through the loop at one end. Sew down the wire with a shallow whipstitch (you don't want the stitch to go through and show on the applique side).  Then knot the thread through the loop at the bottom of the wire to secure. Repeat on the other side. Be sure to leave a bit of room between the edge of the felt and the wire because you'll need room to sew both brown strips together.

Place the both felt strips (one non-wired and one wired) wrong sides together. Whipstitch around the edges and you're done. Crinkle it up now or keep it flat until it's "cooked".

I didn't do it- but I bet you could also add my sizzling egg sound effect to the bacon strips. That'd be fun!
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