Don’t Throw It Out, Upcycle It!

Last month Kenmore asked for my biggest household challenge. This month, I am sharing how I overcame that challenge!  Kenmore is on the search for everyday genius & each month they are giving away $3000 in Kenmore gift certificates and a chance to have the best idea turned into an ad!


We all have them, t-shirts that we shouldn’t wear anymore, but can’t bear to get rid of.

I am going to show you how to upcycle them into a dress for your little girl or a romper for your little boy.

 Let those old t-shirts live on!

I am going to teach you how to make your own t-shirt dress.  You can do this from any old t-shirt, or even a new one.  I made a shirt for Amelia out of a shirt I bought for myself that turned out to be not so cute on me.

So, here is a tutorial for a very basic t-shirt dress.  You can make your own adjustments to make it as fancy, or plain as you want!

UpCycled T-Shirt Dress Tutorial
Materials needed:

1 t-shirt
bias tape
elastic thread (you can find this with the elastic at Joann’s or Hobby Lobby)
matching thread

For this dress I used a size small t-shirt. If your shirt is larger, you will want to cut it, then sew it back together so that it measures 20 inches across.

First you need to take your shirt and fold it in half and decide where to cut.  The shirring will take up about a 1/2 an inch or so, so take that into consideration when figuring out your cutting placement.

As you can see, I am using the arm holes that were already there for the arm holes of the dress.  If you don’t have them, just fold your shirt in half, go in about 3 inches and cut arm holes in a “j” shape.

Now you will want to either serge the top with a rolled hem, or just make a 1/4 inch hem at the top. 

When you have done that, it is time for the shirring.  This really is pretty easy, even if it seems a bit daunting.

First thing you want to do is hand wind your bobbin with elastic thread.  Keep your tension medium tight and wind.

My bobbin is not filled all the way, you will want to fill it up.

Now thread your machine with the elastic in your bobbin and whatever thread you want in the top.  Set your stitch length to the longest possible.

Lining up your rolled hem, or regular hem, with the edge of your presser foot, and sew.  When you get to the end, leave a long tail of thread, cut it and go again.  You will do this for as many rows as you want.  I typically do 4-6.

The back of it will look like this when you are done

Now you want to tie off your ends 5-6 times.  I tie two together, that is why I always have an even number of rows.

Repeat now for the back and it will look like this. Cute isn’t it?  You’re almost done now.

Cut your bias tape to 25-30 inches long.  You will want 2 of these for the ties.  Find the center of the piece you cut and pin it to the dress.

I like to make a little pleat in the center before I pin the bias tape.  I like how it makes the dress flow and look.  You can do either one.

Now you’re ready to sew your ties on.

Once your ties are on, you will want to finish off the bottom.  With this particular t-shirt, I kept the hem from the actual shirt.  Sometimes you can do that, sometimes you can’t.

I love the way a rolled hem looks on a knit fabric, so that is what I choose to do.  But again, if you don’t have a serger, you can just make a regular hem and it will look just as cute.

After you’ve finished off the hem, you are done!  You can add rick rack if you want, or pockets, or whatever else you want.  But, I really like to leave them simple.

And that is how I have solved my Design/Clutter challenge.  No more shirts that I can’t part with just laying around.  They are now clothes for my girls and they love them!!!

What is your Genius Tip?  Kenmore wants to know, and is giving away up to $3,000 in Gift Certificates and a chance to have the best Genius Tip turned into a TV Ad!  Visit their Facebook page and enter today!
Share your quick genius tip with us:

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Kenmore. The opinions and text are all mine.


Maternity Skirt 101

My favorite jeans to wear are the Secret Fit Belly jeans from Motherhood.  I love the spandex top that gives me full coverage and sucks me in at the same time.

I really wanted a skirt (or 5) that did the same thing.  However, despite my searching, I couldn’t find any.  So, I took matters into my own hands and produced this

Cute, no?  I loved making it so much, and it really was so easy, that when I made my next skirt, I took loads of pictures so you all could make this skirt too.

So, here it is, my first tutorial (which means when you have loads of questions because my instructions were clear as mud you better ask).

To make any of the pictures bigger, just click on them.

Super Cute and Sassy Maternity Skirt

2ish yards of skirt fabric – anything that has a nice drape
1/4 yard swimsuit fabric – you want something with good stretch.

First thing you want to do is either find a skirt pattern you love, or a skirt you love.  This is going to be the template for your pattern.

I took my jeans that I love so much, folded them in half and laid them out.  I then put the skirt I love, again folded in half,  on top of the jeans so I could make my pattern.

Next I got a piece of wrapping paper (my favorite thing to make patterns with) and traced the top so I could have something to pin to the fabric.

This shows my layout.  Now I knew what shape to cut the skirt part in, and how much of the stretchy fabric I would need.

Next, I pinned the top of the skirt down so that I would be cutting where the skirt hits my hips.

Now with your fabric folded in half, lay out your pattern with the front of the skirt on the fold.

Now for the back.

I did the same thing I did for the front, except I turned my jeans around to make my back pattern piece.

After cutting it out, I laid the front that I had already cut out, on top of this.

Now here is something very important.  You see how the pattern piece I cut out curves on the front?  Don’t cut that curve.  DO NOT  CUT THAT CURVE!!!  I did the first time and I had a great little V in the front of my skirt.  Just make it square as you can see I did in the picture.

Now that you have both sides cut out, serge or sew them together, right sides facing together.

Now it is time for the waistband.

As you can see when looking at the jeans and my drawing of what I wanted the top to look like, the front was going to be longer than the back.  With two little ones running around my sewing room and asking to listen to Jingle Bells, I couldn’t concentrate enough to do that.  So, I just made my waistband all one size.  It works and I love it.

For my waistband measurement, I took the fabric and measured it against my jeans to get the right width.  I cut two of these and serged right sides together.

If you don’t have a pair of jeans that you love like I do, just take the stretchy fabric and put it around your waist until it is comfortable.  You don’t want it so tight that it cuts off the circulation, but you want it tight enough to stay in place.

After I had my right sides serged together, I folded it like I would fold the top of a sock down, wrong sides together.  This makes it two layers thick.  Now you don’t have to do this, but if you don’t, you will want to make a small hem at the top.

You can see that the waistband is much smaller than the skirt.  This is good, you want it this way.

Pin the waistband to the skirt, right sides together.  I pin at each side, matching up seams and the center front and center back.

 Now baste this together.  Basting is using a long stitch, I set my machine at a 4, so that it is easy to rip out if I need to.

Try on your skirt and be sure it fits how you like.  If it doesn’t, then take out the stitches you just did and redo the waistband.  Lucky for me, it was perfect, so I was ready to serge.

 When you start to serge it (or do a zigzag stitch on your sewing machine) you will see that it is a bit bunched up.  Stretch it out while you sew, being sure that the fabric lays flat.

Now it’s time to hem this baby up.  Try it on again and check the length.  Mine was a lot longer than I wanted, so I actually ended up cutting off about 4 inches.   Pin it where you want it and make a nice hem.

This next step is extremely important.  Try it on and have your 4 year old take a picture so you can share it with the world.  Be sure that your undies are cutting into your belly so it looks like you have two.  I can’t stress the importance of this step enough.

Now, find the perfect sassy maternity shirt and show off your Sassy Self for all the world to see!

You just made a skirt and it wasn’t too painful, now was it??

Questions??  Please ask.  I will answer all questions in the comments, so everyone can see.  Share what you made with me, I can’t wait to see!!!

*With the first skirt I made, I used a different skirt as my pattern than the second.  So, the first one is a bit more full than the second.  The skirt pattern I used for the red and gray skirt is adapted from the Amy Butler Barcelona skirt pattern.

Marshmallow Making

I’ve been talking about this for weeks.  I have a mouth full of sweet tooths (or is it teeth?) and just can’t resist the sugary sweet goodness that comes this time of year.  I love making marshmallows and love this recipe from Brownie Points Blog.

While many couldn’t make my party because of the snow, those who came had a good time.

Before everyone came I made 5 pans of marshmallows.  I needed to make them the day before because they need to sit for 10-12 hours.  I then showed the girls how to make mallows and set them loose cutting, rolling in powdered sugar and dipping in chocolate.  Everyone got to take home a lot and I still have a TON left.  Looks like I have enough for Seth’s Teachers!

So….without further babbling on my part…and for those who couldn’t come, because Winter decided to rear it’s ugly head today…

Marshmallows :: The Tutorial
These are really very simple all you need is Gelatin, Sugar, Water and Corn Syrup.  As you can see I buy a big box of gelatin, but you can get the small boxes too, that works just fine.  You also need parchment paper, it is just not in this picture.
The first step is to put 3/4 C. water, 1 T. vanilla (or a capful of whatever flavoring you want) in your mixing bowl.  Sprinkle 4 envelopes of gelatin on top.  Let it “bloom”.  You don’t stir it at all, just let it sit there.  The gelatin will thicken and become what you want, promise :)
Next you will put 3 C. sugar, 3/4 C. water,1 1/4 corn syrup, & 1/2 t. salt in a heavy bottomed sauce pan.  Don’t use a huge pan or you won’t be able to take the temperature properly.  Stir just to combine everything, put the lid on and bring to a boil.
Once it comes to a boil, take the lid off and start taking the temperature.  See how my thermometer is in there?  It is balanced on the edge and the probe is not touching the pan at all, this is what you want (and why you don’t want to use a huge pan).
When it hits 240 degrees, and looks like this, it is ready.  Now you will turn your mixer on low and slowly pour this boiling hot liquid to the gelatin mixture.  It will bubble up a bit and that is ok.  If you have a splash guard on your mixer, use it.  If you’re like me and don’t, just use a towel.  Put a towel over it and turn it to high.  Let it go for 15 minutes.  Check in on it, when it is white and fluffy, take the towel off.
While this is whipping (yes, you have the whisk attachment on for this), prepare your pan. I like to put mine in a 9×13, but a jelly roll works too.  Spray your pan with cooking spray then line with parchment paper.  You spray the pan so that the paper will stick.  Make sure that all 4 sides are covered in paper.  Then spray the paper so the marshmallows will come out easily.
After 15 minutes your marshmallows should be ready.  Spray a spatula with cooking spray and scoop the yummy goopy mess into your pan.  Let it sit for 10ish hours and then you’re ready to cut!
Now I suggest duping inviting your friends over and tell them you are going to “teach” them how to make marshmallows and then show them how to cut the mallows and let them do all of them.  They need the practice, right?  Works for me!
Sprinkle some powdered sugar on the marshmallows in the pan and spread it all over the top.  Then turn it out onto some powdered sugar parchment paper.  Coat in more powdered sugar and now you can use either a big knife or a big pizza cutter and cut away!
Now, these are very sticky.  So, you want to use lots of powdered sugar (or if you don’t want that much sugar, you can use white rice flour) and coat all 4 sides of each mallow.  Sometimes I will mix cocoa and powdered sugar and use that to coat my chocolate marshmallows. Oh so yummy!
 For a super decadent treat, melt some chocolate chips and dip your marshmallows in the chocolate.  This makes a fancier treat and is great for giving away to your friends and neighbors.
Yes, they taste as good as they look.  Here are a few tips…
1. You really should use a heavy duty stand mixer.  I was asked if you could do this with a hand mixer and you could, but it would be really hot, long and you take the risk of getting burned by the liquid hot magma.
2. If you are going to make chocolate, mix 8 T. cocoa with 8 T. boiling water and make a paste.  When your marshmallows are done and ready to put into your pan, fold the chocolate into the marshmallows.  They will be stripey and oh so pretty.
3. When you add a flavoring other than vanilla it will change the consistency of your marshmallows and they will be a bit stickier and more dense.  They still taste amazing.
So…what are you waiting for?  Go make some marshmallows.  You will never want to buy a Jet Puff marshmallow again!
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