Frugal Living

Cheap and easy, family friendly recipes that can be made in bulk, repurposing ideas, make not waste projects, cheap and easy ideas for things to make for your home and children.

Old Jeans Moccasin Slippers


I had a lovely pair of black denim jeans, nice thick fabric, beautifully soft, and then I accidentally sprayed them with bleach whilst I was cleaning the bathroom. It seemed such a waste just to throw them away, so I pondered what I could do with them. After examining them more closely I realized that the bleach was only from the knees down and as I needed a pair of summer shorts it seemed an obvious decision to make.

I then had a reasonable amount of soft washed black denim, not enough to make a large item from but certainly enough to do something with. I recently read an article in the newspaper about how to make a pair of mule type slippers from denim offcuts. I don't particularly like mules but thought the idea had merit, especially as wide-fitting cotton slippers are so hard to find! I remembered a sewing project I completed when I was a child, it was a pair of moccasin slipper socks, and thought that a combination of the two ideas could work.

Homemade Denim Slippers  

Firstly I needed to make two pattern pieces, one for the sole and the other for the top of the slipper. To do this I traced around my foot onto a piece of cardboard (the inside of an old cereal box is perfect) - make sure you are standing when you trace around your foot as the shape of your foot will differ when it has your body weight pressing down on it. Then draw around the outline smoothing it out to make the shape of the sole.

Cardboard foot shape Smoothed out sole shape

Cut the shape out, and turn it over. Make sure that your other foot fits inside the cardboard shape you have just cut out. This is the lower pattern piece for the soles of your slippers. Now trace around the shape onto another piece of cardboard, and cut it out again. Stand on the cardboard and mark it at the point where the knuckle of your big toe meets inside your foot, then mark on the other side of the cardboard the equivalent place for the knuckle of your little toe. Draw a straight line across the cardboard joining the two marks together. Cut across this line, this toe piece is the upper pattern piece for your slippers.

Upper Pattern Piece For Slippers  

You will now need to measure the circumference of the sole of your slipper (that is the distance all the way around it). I find that the easiest way to do this is using a scrap piece of ribbon and placing it around the outside edge of the pattern piece, the ribbon will need to overlap by about 2 inches (5 cm). It needs to be a bit generous (as shown in the picture below) because you will be gathering and stitching seams into the fabric strips that you will be cutting to this length. This is effectively your pattern piece for the sides of the slippers.

Measuring the circumference  

You will now have three 'pattern pieces', two from cardboard and one length of ribbon (or whatever you used. A piece of string?)

You will then need to use the pattern pieces as a template and draw around them onto the fabric you are using. I used triangular tailors chalk as it brushes off easily and shows up nicely on the dark coloured denim. The sole will need to be cut out four times in total, twice as the right foot and then twice (with the pattern piece flipped over) as the left foot. As I'm not too worried about the looks on the bottom of the slipper I used the section of fabric that had the bleach stains on for the underneath of the sole.

Chalked slipper soles

When you mark out the top sections of the slippers you need to make sure you have enough room for two pieces joined together. Draw around the top pattern piece once and then flip the pattern piece over so that the straight edges are touching and draw around it again. Repeat this on another section of fabric so you have two the same.

Top pattern piece for slipper  

The next stage is to cut the edge strips for the slippers. Measure a complete strip, if possible, approximately 2 inches (5 cm) wide by the length of your piece of ribbon (or string). If you can't make a complete strip then join two shorter strips together with a simple seam.

fabric join  

There are a few additional pieces that you will need to cut which add the body to the slippers. These are two sole pieces (one right and one left) to be cut from both stiff iron on interfacing and fleece (I had large enough offcuts available, but you could use wadding if you wanted), and a left and right top piece to be cut from fleece (or wadding) - the top piece is just a singular piece for each foot not doubled up like the denim pieces.

Sole pieces  

Arrange the sole pieces for each foot in the order denim sole (with right side downwards), iron-on interfacing (adhesive side downwards), fleece padding and on the top the other piece of denim (right side upperwards). You should have two piles the same, except one left foot shaped and one right foot shaped. Iron the interfacing on to the bottom pieces of denim.

Top slipper pieces  

For the top section, lay the piece of fleece on the wrong side of the denim and fold the denim over, forming a fleece sandwich.

Stitch around the open edges of the sole and top sections, ensuring that all the fabric layers are held together with the stitches.

Stitched fabric sections.  

The next section that has to be completed is the seam on the fabric strips that form the sides, front and back of the slippers. If a plain seam was used it would be rough against the heel, so I used an enclosed stitched down seam, similar to the sort that are used on jeans, only wider!

The first step is to join the two edges of you fabric strip right sides together and stitch a quarter inch (half cm) wide seam and press it flat.

Pressed seam on side fabric strip

With the seam face-up, fold one side of the fabric strip underneath and press it flat. Then fold the other fabric strip over the top and press that flat too. (if viewed from the edge, the fabric layers would form a letter Z shapewise)

Folded fabric strips  

Stitch along both folded edges through all layers of fabric (you should have two rows of stitches). Repeat on the other strip of fabric.

Stitched heel seams.  

These strips will create the edge of your slippers.

You will now need to figure out which side of your sole pieces is the bottom of the slipper. You may be able to tell from looking at the layers of fabric along the edge and spot which piece has the interfacing attached, or you may be able to tell from touch (the firmer side will be the side with the interfacing attached). Place the slipper sole with the firmer bottom (I wish!) facing up towards you. Place the corresponding toe piece on the sole and mark either side with chalk.

Mark the sole

Mark the sole 2

Do the same with the other sole piece whilst you have your chalk handy!

You will now be using the side strip and the sole. Place the heel seam at the back of the heel on the sole and carefully 'measure' around the edge of the slipper sole with the fabric strip. When you reach the chalk mark on the sole, make a corresponding mark on the fabric strip. Working in the other direction from the heel seam, match the fabric strip up to the other chalk mark and make another corresponding mark on the fabric strip.

Measuring side strip

Fold over a quarter ince (half cm) of the top edge of the fabric strip in between the chalk marks and incorporating the heel seam. Pin, baste and then stitch in place. With the sole facing firmer side uppermost, line up the heel seam on the fabric strip with the centre of the heel on the sole. Make sure that the fabric strip is right side down and that the raw edges are lined up together. Pin, baste and stitch the edge strip to the sole of the slipper all along to two edges and heel section, but not where the curve of the toe is. Leave this bit open, as shown in the image below.

Toe ready to gather

Take a constrasting colour thread and tack a loose running stitch along the unstitched edge on the slipper. Gather up the loose fabric until it is the right length to fit around the toe of the slipper. Pin, baste and stitch it into position.

Gathered toe top ready to stitch

Line up the folded edge of the slipper top with the point on the edge strip where the folded stitched edge ends. Now pin, baste and stitch both sides of the top of the slipper to the edge strip. Leave the toe section open again. As you did previously, use a running stitch to gather up the loose edge of the fabric strip until it is the right length to stitch to the slipper top. Pin, baste and stitch the toe section of the edge strip to the top of the slipper.

Slipper top ready to stitch

You should now have a completed inside out slipper, looking similar to the picture below. Perform the same steps again to create the other slipper.

Inside out slipper

Turn the slippers the right way out. They will look something like this.

Slippers turned right way out

You can use ribbons, beads, sequins, buttons, ribbon roses - whatever you like to decorate them. I used some ribbon offcuts, a couple of beads from a broken bangle and some sead beads and sequins from one of those little bags of spares that came with a garment I bought forever ago!

Decorated slipper top.

Posted by OneProudMomma at Friday, June 25, 2010 11:50 AM

Tea Cosy Craft


Brighten up the breakfast table with a handcrafted tea cosy. Top textile designer Lisa Stickley shows you how

Tea, cake and a little Herbie Hancock on the radio in the background are all particular favourites of mine. This is a nice easy project to ensure that your tea will be steamy hot even after the cake is gone!

What you need

1 sheet of paper or newspaper, A3 or larger

2 semicircular pieces of mediumweight cotton for main body (I have used a damask)

2 semi-circular pieces of lightweight cotton for lining

1 rectangular piece of cotton for loop, 4cm x 10cm or thereabouts

2 semi-circular pieces of 4oz polyester wadding for insulation

What to do

Click here to download some helpful illustrations (pdf)

Step one: Cut out the pieces

To make sure the cosy fits, lay your teapot on its side on to a large piece of paper. Draw a semicircle around the teapot, adding an extra 5cm on all sides to make the pattern for the main body and lining. To cut out an even shape, fold the semi-circle down the centre lengthwise and use the best drawn line as the cutting guide. Using this paper pattern, cut out the fabric for the main body and lining. Cut the wadding 4cm smaller than the template all the way round.

Step two: Make the loop

Fold a 1cm hem on each long side of the fabric piece and press. Fold the fabric down the middle lengthwise so the two turned edges meet. Press and pin. Stitch along the open side, stitching as close to the edge as possible for a neat finish. Backstitch at the start and finish to fasten the seam. Stitch the same line along the opposite side to finish the loop.

Step three: Make the main body

Place the two main body pieces right sides together. Fold the prepared loop in half and sandwich it between the two main body pieces at the centre top, with the raw edges of the loop in line with the raw edges of the main body. Pin in place. Pin the two body pieces together along the curved edge. Stitch together with a 5mm seam allowance, catching the loop into the seam as you sew. Fold a 1cm hem over to the wrong side around the base and press, but don't stitch this just yet. Turn the tea cosy right side out.

Step four: Make the lining

Place the two lining pieces right sides together. Pin in place along the curved edge. Stitch together with a 5mm seam allowance. Press. Fold a 2cm hem over to the wrong side around the base and press, but don't stitch this just yet.

Step five: Finish the tea cosy

With wrong sides together, slot the lining inside the main body. On each side sandwich a cut piece of wadding in between the main body and lining and flatten into place. Pin the base of the main body to the lining, making sure the pressed hem is neatly lined up and any stray bits of wadding are tucked in. Stitch the base together all the way around, stitching as close to the edge of the hem as possible for a neat finish.

Put the kettle on for a cup of tea, and I recommend a generous slice of angel cake!

• Made At Home by Lisa Stickley is published by Quadrille, priced £16.99. Buy a copy from the Guardian Book Store. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

Tea cosy craft
Posted by OneProudMomma at Friday, June 18, 2010 10:40 AM

How to embellish an outfit on the cheap.


Embellishment is bang on trend right now. Work the style on a budget by making your own bows and roses, with a little help from Perri Lewis

There are some things that I assume everyone can make given a needle and thread and a spare 15 minutes. Not so, it seems. Simple bows allude even the most handy of my friends, and as for fabric roses (you know the ones I mean - a quick rummage around the high street and you'll find plenty stuck on brooches, hair bands and all manner of accessories) - I know far too many people who have forked out far too much for them to spruce up an outfit when they could have just whipped one up for themselves.

So if you'd rather save a few pennies for ice-creams this summer, master these two basics and you can play around embellishing everything from bags to bikinis with just a few scraps of fabric. And if you're an old hand at all this, what other simple projects would you suggest for beginners who want to renovate their summer wardrobes?

How to make a basic bow

What you need

Small piece of fabric
A needle and thread
Clip/brooch back (optional)
Adhesive (for use on fabric and metal, optional)

What to do

1. Cut a long strip of fabric twice as wide and twice and tall as you want the final bow to be.

2. With the fabric right side down, fold the long top edge in to the middle. Pin it in place.

3. Fold the long bottom edge in to the middle. Pin it in place.

4. Fold one of the short edges in to the middle. Pin it in place.

5. Fold the other short edge in to the middle. Pin in place again.

6. Thread a needle with two strands of thread and sew two lines of running stitches. If you want a super-large bow, you may need to use two strands of thread rather than one.

7. Pull one end of the threads to gather.

8. Tie a knot in the end to keep the fabric gathered in place.

9. To make the middle, cut a small strip of fabric. Fold one long edge in to the middle (as in step two), then fold the other edge up to meet it. Iron to keep the fold in place. Wrap this around the centre of your bow and stitch in place.

Optional extra: Rose clip/brooch

I sewed my bow on to a clip, or you could glue it on with an adhesive that will stick both fabric and metal. You can do the same with a brooch back to make a brooch.

How to make a simple rose

What you need

Small piece of fabric
A needle and thread
Netting (optional)
Hair band (optional)

What to do

1. Cut a long strip of fabric - the longer the piece, the fuller the rose will be.

2. Fold the fabric in half lengthways. Pin in place.

3. Sew a running stitch along the bottom edge of the strip. As with the bow, for a big rose, use two strands of thread.

4. Gather the fabric up in sections along the strip (this will make the rose look better in the end).

5. Wrap this strip around and around itself to create the rose, either stitching the layers together as you go, or once you're happy with the result.

Optional extra: Rose headband

Before I wrapped the rose up (step five), I cut a piece of netting that was the same size and sewed it on to the strip. I then wrapped it up, sewing after I was happy with the shape, and added an extra piece of netting on the bottom to cover my messy stitches. I sewed this on to a gold hair band I found in Asda for a rather tasty three-for-a-pound.

• Perri writes about making stuff at © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

How to embellish an outfit on the cheap
Posted by OneProudMomma at Sunday, June 13, 2010 11:56 AM