Monday, October 29, 2007

Crazy Quilts

Crazy Quilts aren't recycling, in that you're not usually using post-consumer products. But you do use the scraps of projects that you would otherwise throw away. Inspired by a piece of one of my great grandmonther's crazy quilts that has been framed, I kept all the scrap pieces from the wedding purses I have made over the past year. Now, I have made a crazy quilt wedding purse. (Perfect for a green bride).

Have scraps? Have embroidery thread? You're all set.

You can use a backing fabric (and sew each irregular shaped piece to the backing fabric) but I did without. Using a machine or handstitching, piece your scraps together. (It's OK if they don't fit exactly together, you can cut them down, or sew them with uneven seam allowances). One way to make a "pattern" is to group your pieces by similar color. Mine is all white and cream colored pieces. You can also simply go "crazy" and sew them together any which way. Once you have a large enough piece of quilt, add interfacing or a backing--a perfect place to use recycled fabric (such as from a dress that has had too many wearings). The next step is to embroider.

Although many machines have decorative stitching, true crazy quilts are hand-embroidered. Simple patterns will do, but change your color or your pattern with each turn of the quilt. This is what makes it a true crazy quilt. Some beginner pattern ideas are: stars, small flowers, zig-zag patters, swirls, or overlapping loops. My first ideas for my own embroidered designs came from textiles. Look to your fabrics for great embroidery ideas. And, if all else fails, you can find books on embroidery at Go crazy!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

It's hard to recycle on Halloween...

These are the things you can recycle on halloween: your costumes (a bear? No, I'm a MONKEY this year) your candy serving bowls (don't give in to those evil Crate and Barrel sales) your decorations (don't buy new ones unless something is broken; it's all the same stuff every year anyhow--but more on this later).
So, no recycling tips today yet. But, a great idea for pumpkin carving! (Don't let those poor pumpkins rot in their patches; if they're already picked, they might as well be carved!) This is an adoarable pumpkin made last year by my friend Yvonne. On it, she has carved "boo" in adorable rounded letters. Another idea is to carve your house number into your pumpkin so that local children know you're open for business.

And... remember that White Elephant Sale? Great place to get new (used) holiday decor! What's old is always new again in the holiday decoration world.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Ultimate in Recycling

This is my baby... Sassy. She is the ultimate in recycling. I got her from the East Bay SPCA. I found her through VirtualPetAdoptions and she has been the love of my life ever since... and of my husband's as well. She was a show cat (and man, does it show). But now, she just shows off for us. Buy a recycled pet!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Creative recycling at the de Young Museum

If you live in San Francisco, you may already be turned on to Friday Nights at the deYoung. It's five dollars, there's a no-host bar, and live music... and creative recycling! This activity is great for kids, but they let anyone do it.

Using their left-over flyers, old catalogues, magazines, etc., and glue sticks, the de Young volunteers create a collage heaven. Here are two examples from a recent night at the de Young... and here's a shout-out to them for creatively recycling.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Business Cards... possible to recycle??

Well, like all entrepeneurs (wow, I can't belive I called myself that) I need a busness card. A fabulous crafty friend has designed an awesome card for me. I'll post her design as soon as they're printed.

But... how can you recycle AND print something new? It's a bit unprofessional to have old writing on the back of your cards... not to mention confusing. This is what we did. My friend had some 8 1/2 by 11 card stock that was cut into squares. Now, what was left was just under the height of business-cards. Ta-da! So, if you want to leave a light footprint, look for materials that otherwise would be recycled, and use them for your projects. My business cards will be a centimeter or two shorter (perhaps to match my own stature?) but, the paper will be free, and I won't have to cut down any more trees.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Get rid of it--and recycle!

So, it's not spring cleaning, but we're doing some home renovations and I'm getting rid of a bunch of JUNK. Now, even I can admit when something is JUNK. Old pieces of rotting wood, wood with a bunch of nails in it, a table that's completely fallen apart. I see it; I know I can't fix it. It's junk.

So, I have the Junk General come pick up all my junk. And---they recylce it for me! Now, of course, this comes at a price. But, it's like $100. Not too shabby... or, well... you know.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

News from the Recycling Front

Everyone already knows that San Francisco and California are recycling green zones, but I didn't know quite how many cool places there are out there for finding cool crafts--used.

A friend told me about Scrap, the Scrounger's Center for Reusable Art parts. They are currently having a competition for who can make the most interesting stuff out of old Barbies. That's how fun they are. This is also a great place to find things that I wasn't sure I COULD find recycled, such as meegnetic snap closures, and metal rings and small chains for handles.

And, while I'm mentioning the coolest ever places to get crafty recycled items, I might as well mention the White Elephant Sale. This place is unbelievable. If you've never been, you must go simply because it's THE Bay Area Recycling Event (as the name implies). An especially great place for new home owners to find everything from inexpensive art and frames to a wok and a dining room table, it's also fantastic for crafters. They not only have a sewing and notions section (about the size of a regular store front) but they also have tons of used clothing, a great place to find buttons, fabrics, and forms to use in your own sewing.

Doesn't recycling make us feel good?

Sunday, October 7, 2007

What is post-consumer recylcing, anyway?

There are lots of ways to recycle. You can re-use the paper bags Trader Joe's loads your groceries in as trash or recycling bags. You can re-purpose that footstool with the spilled-on upholstery and make it into a cat bed. Those things are wonderful. But, they're not post-consumer recycling.

Post-consumer recycling is when you find or buy something that someone else has purchased, then discarded. Then, you use it.

Re-use or re-purpose is when you have something that you own, and instead of throwing it out, you use it again in a different way.

There are also a few gray areas. If you are given something that someone else purchased that would otherwise have been thrown away, is that post-consumer? I say yes. If you buy fabric samples that were never purchased by a consumer, but were indeed used, is that post-consumer? Not really, but I think it counts the same.

The purse in the photo, which I made for a friend with a camping-themed wedding, is made of some post-consumer recylced materials. The bandana, the handles and the patch are re-purposed; the interior is recycled. Is it all clear now?

Saturday, October 6, 2007

So this is me

This photo was taken by my darling husband. We were in Boulder, Colorado, visiting my friend Jenn and her husband, Justin. He caught Jenn and I in one of our famous moments of hilarity. We have so much fun together, that even after four days living in the same home with two wives, two husbands, two dogs, and one cute and crazy cat, we were still sad to say goodbye. Aren't those the best of friends? The ones you can laugh and laugh with, and to whom you are never ready to say goodbye?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Why do I use recycled materials?

It's not really about saving the planet, or making a green utopia for my future children. I use recycled and repurposed materials in my purses because it makes every one unique. And, I repurpose furniture that I already have (as much as possible) because hey, furniture is expensive. I remember when my husband first found out what couches cost. Ha! He said, "what? how could that BE?" I gave him the all-knowing wife look. "Please. We're talking about a huge piece of furniture," I said. "But, but--thousands?" His incredulity lasted all afternoon.

Monday, October 1, 2007


Isn't it amazing how we get better and better at things? I mean, the first purse I made was for a seven-year old, and she didn't mind that the seams were wonky and that the glue I used to put the ribbon on showed at the edges. She was ecstatic. And so was I. Now, though, I have a whole new level of accomplishment.

Above is the newest Ladybug San Francisco bag, and it's like, almost perfect. I mean, we always have to have someplace to go, right? But it's pretty darn lovely. I couldn't be more pleased. And, do you waht to know the best part? It's made of 90% recycled materials. I know, how did she DO it???

Well, I'll tell you. I found the fabric (well--it was a dress. A nice enough dress, but a bit odd) at one of the Crossroads Trading Company stores in San Francisco. (I think the best one is on Haight, but I went to the Irving Street one). And the interior fabric had it's first life as a lavender pillow (I'm off lavender pillows for awhile). The base is recycled cardboard and the interfacing isn't used, per se, but I did get it second-hand... that totally counts. The new bits are the lovely chain and the interior magnetic snap closure. And, ta-da, 90% recycled materials. I feel full of the new environmentalist movement.

But, looking at this lovely purse, I know that a few months from now, I will think, "oh, that old thing?" And, I'll be on to another, better, more perfect purse. And that's the way it goes in crafting. Semper Fi; Ever Better.

Etsy has Everything

Etsy is a website most crafters know about; they have individual shops where hand-made goods are sold. Much of what is on Etsy is one-of-a-kind. Which is wonderful. And, you can find most anything there.

When I was a child, I had an obsession with magnets that looked like food. My mother bought the hand-made magnets from an African-American man who lived on the street in Berkeley. We had a hamburger magnet, we had several chocolate truffle magnets, we had a banana, a cherry, and inexplicably, a broccoli magnet. But my favorite magnet was the giant taco. It was a hard shell corn taco, and it was overflowing with lettuce, cheese, and tomatoes. A little sour cream smudge graced one edge. I don't know what it wa about this taco, but I loved to look at it, and play with it, and on special occassions, try to feed it to the cat. When the taco was knocked off the fridge, and broke in half, I cried all night. And I was like twelve by then. Way too old for crying over broken magnets.

Well, I hadn't though of those food magnets that graced my childrenhood fridge for years. Probably, for over fifteen years. And then, in one moment, there they were on Etsy. My food magnets. And that's what's so great about Etsy.