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Repurposed Clutter

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I recently detailed 4 excuses that keep us holding on to clutter:  “I will use that someday” or “I love that, even if I haven’t worn it in years." And while I am a fervent believer in the power of donating items, I also love to repurpose items I already have on hand. I’ve repurposed bins and boxes, but recently I tried out a fun way to repurpose favorite clothing items.

During my most recent closet purge, I finally took a look at 2 skirts that have been a part of my wardrobe for years. It is hard for me to call these 2 skirts clutter. But as much as I love them, thanks to What Not to Wear, I discovered the length is not flattering on me. Items you haven’t used or worn in years that keep getting pushed to the back of the closet or bin… I don’t know what else you would call them except clutter. Beloved clutter.

Skirt Clutter (2)

(sidenote: I took a picture of these skirts laying out side by side, and then somehow promptly lost that picture. I had to hunt down these pictures from years and years ago. The pics of the final project will give you a good look at what the skirts looked like. And yes in the picture on the right, I am sitting in a Sea World dolphin stroller.)

What good are skirts sitting in a plastic container under my bed? It was time to either let them go or show them some real love and put them on display. Let’s make… Pillow clutter. Hmm, Skirt pillows…Repurposed Pillows. I’ll work on the name while you get your materials ready.

Materials

  • A favorite garment no longer in wardrobe rotation
  • sewing machine
  • pillow insert

Don’t get thrown off if you are not a seamstress, neither am I. In fact, I borrowed a sewing machine to make these. Even if you can’t sew a straight line you can make these (My seams are never straight).

Step 1

Cut out the existing seams in your garment to make a flat panel of fabric. For my skirts, I kept one side together so I had one long piece of fabric to wrap around the pillow. Similar to how you would begin wrapping a present.

Step 2

Jump on over to read Katie Bower’s tutorial on how to make pocket pillow covers. It would be hard from me to try and lead a sewing tutorial when I just proclaimed I can’t sew a straight line. Plus I don’t think I could explain it any clearer then she does. Thanks Katie!

Pocket pillow covers are easy to make since they don’t require a zipper or button and they are removable to wash. Three cheers for clean pillows!

You can see from the picture below I had to sew an extra panel of fabric on the back to get the embroidery centered on the front of the pillow. You can also see why I did not lead you through a tutorial but left the details to the pros.

pillow panel

The problem is I didn’t leave enough width for the pillow which is why the pocket cover is bowing. Thankfully you cannot tell from the front.

skirt pillow

For my other skirt, I couldn’t use the pocket pillow technique because of how I want to place the orange strip. However, the pillow insert happened to fit perfectly between the two seams of the skirt so I just had to sew the waist and end closed. So look for a pillow insert that is the exact width of your hips, it makes things super easy.  

Blue skirt pillow

I also had enough fabric left over from my fake roman shade to make a little matching pillow.

 

Step 3

Once your straight lines are sewn and you stuff your pillow in your new cover, step back and revel in your resourcefulness.

Pillow

Since I recovered pillows I already owned, this project was free. Resourceful and thrifty, a double whammy!

From Skirt to pillow

I have seen pillow covers made out of thrifted sweaters before. So even if you are not hoarding skirts for a decade you can still make repurposed pillow covers from whatever material catches your eye at your local thrift store. I am head over heels that my clutter beloved skirts can live another life on my couch.

Have you found a new life for your clutter? I’d love to hear about it! I even have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to the subject.

4 Excuses for Keeping Clutter & What to do About It

4 excuses for keeping clutter

Can we pause for one minute and have a little heart to heart? We all have excuses. Excuses that keep clutter in our lives. I don’t know for sure why we do this. I suspect some past, primal instinct tells us we need “stuff” for our well-being and survival, or that more stuff means luxury.

Whatever the reason, there are a few common excuses that pop up and interrupt our best intentions to clear the clutter and make space for living. The excuses were practically screaming at me during a recent closet clean out.

I came across a handful of infrequently used items. Most had been passed over in previous closet purging sessions. Maybe it is our lack of closet doors, but during this purge, I was feeling particularly ruthless and ready to tackle even the most convincing excuse.

As I waded through the closet, I made quick decisions about items that needed to go. But by the end, these items were banded together at the bottom of the “get rid of” pile.

Why had I been holding on to these items for years? And more importantly why was I still struggling to let them go now?  Excuses are powerful, that’s why. Tackle them with me, won’t you?

Our excuses for clutter

 

Excuse #1: I am going to do that (project) soon…

You know what I am talking about. The project, whether it is represented by an item or paper, has been sitting there for months years.

Mine is a beloved white sweater with a stubborn stain that has been sitting there for 4 years! Yes, I said it 4 years. I have tried a handful of stain busting remedies, but all to no avail. Maybe I was waiting for new technology to develop in the stain removal department.

Solution:

Time to be honest with yourself.

  • Are you really going to do it?
  • Is it even worth your time now?

For me, it was time to admit that the stubborn stain hindering me from wearing my white sweater was just not going to budge. I am not going to attempt any more stain removal rituals. And the stain prevents it from being donate-able. The sweater has been taking up enough space in my closet and on my mental to-do list. In the trash it goes.

If you decide you are going to finally tackle that project, it is time to set a deadline. Make room for it on your calendar. Label that item with a deadline written on a post-it if you have to. If it is really that important to you, you will make time for it. If not, then it is time to give yourself permission to let it go.

 

Excuse #2: I don’t wear (use) that because…

it’s too tight, scratchy, not flattering… whatever the reason, it just doesn’t work. You put it on every now and then only to remember why you don’t wear it.

If we are not taking about clothes, then you find yourself always looking for the better one. “Where are the better scissors, better pillow, better pen…etc.? Why don’t we trash the unloved item right away? Is it because we spent good money on it? We feel guilty for being so wasteful or picky? We think that next time we put it on or use it will be different?

For me, I don’t want to admit I am actually that lazy. The blue skirt pictured above was enjoyed once, maybe twice, until I washed it. Now it needs to be ironed. Every time I go to grab it I think, “Oh, that needs to be ironed.” Then I move on to pick a new outfit.

Am I really that lazy that I have avoided ironing a skirt for 3 years? Why yes, yes I am. Even though I generally avoid buying clothes that need to be ironed, this skirt slipped by. Hello, my name is Autumn and I suffer from extreme laziness (which is really the underlying cause of my organization and efficiency enthusiasm- if I had to look too hard to find an item, I’d probably just decide it wasn’t that important anyway).

Solution:

This excuse is also disgusted as “but this is a perfectly good_____.” Insert items name. Why is it so easy to say “surround yourself with only items you love”, but so hard to put into practice?

Now I am not saying throw away all the stuff you have and go out and buy the best on the market. That totally goes against my frugal nature. But if you have duplicates of an item or you just don’t use it, let’s say goodbye and give it a better home.

If you find yourself always bypassing a pair of scissors/set of sheets/pair of jeans etc… in search of the “good pair”, budget to grab an extra of your favorite brand during a future shopping trip and say goodbye to the item you don’t love.

It might sound simple enough, but it is truly time to be honest and pass this skirt on to someone who actually will love it enough to iron it. And that means in my closet, I need it to stop taking up space. 3 years is long enough for this wrinkled fabric to highlight my laziness.

**Also falling under this category, yet not pictured, is a shirt that shrunk in the wash and another unflattering shirt that has to go no matter what price I got it for.

Excuse #3: But I love this…

There are some things that are so well-loved, we just can’t seem to part with them, even though their better days are done. My old tennis shoes fall under that category. These little beauties have been in my life longer then my man. As much as I would love to keep wearing them, it is indeed time to say good-bye.

Solution:

Create a box for special items that hold meaning (Mine is under my bed). But don’t confuse every item you love with a keepsake item to be treasured. No one wants to pull out my ratty shoes and remember the good times they had. Sometimes a pictures really is worth a thousand words. These shoes have been quite well documented in almost every photo I have from college. I can safely let these go and trust that they had a good “run”.

If your keepsakes are taking over, cull them down to really and truly treasured items. Most importantly find a home for these items, so you can keep them clean, safe and accessible for when you do want a trip down memory lane.

Items you want to look at regularly could be framed or placed on a shelf. Okay, can you imagine if I framed these shoes? Maybe I might have to try that just for the look on my hubby’s face. No, no more excuses– time to let these go!

Excuse #4: I might need this…

My framed raspberry picture, just like my shoes, has also been with me since college. I would stalk the art at Ikea to fill up the blank walls of my first apartment. This print was cheap and I liked the color. Sold. But it has long since lived out its purpose. Now, I keep thinking, “What if I need this glass frame or a print of raspberries?” You never know right?

Solution

I am an advocate for keeping things you are really going to use, but don’t try to fool me or yourself.

Remember at the beginning, I said we are having a heart to heart. It is kicking into high gear now! Are you really going to use this again?

If you really believe you are, great, make a home for it. Relegate “to use” items to that one spot. Set a “use by date” if you must. I have a spot for empty containers that I believe I might use when organizing. But the containers don’t hang out there indefinitely.

If something has been hanging out there too long without being used, it is time to let go. Good-bye raspberries.

**Also falling under this category and not pictured above (but seen on instagram @space4living) is my giant pea coat from ’97 which I haven’t worn since I lived in a place with real weather and since a 2001 trip to NYC. Move along pea coat and may you find greener pastures in your next life.

 

4 Excuses for keeping clutter & what to do about it

 

Whether these excuses are made in the closet, in the kitchen or with our kids toys; it is time to be honest with ourselves and say good-bye to the un-used, stagnant clutter.

Did I miss an excuse? What is one excuse you notice yourself repeating? Are you going to donate that ill-fitting shirt now? You can do it!

Baby on a Budget: DIY Decor

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I’ve been sharing all the ways I saved money while putting together the baby’s room. From painting a used crib to repurposing items I had around house; I tried to get creative to keep the costs down. Here are two simple DIY art projects to brighten up your baby’s space!

First, I wanted to find a way to bring in color above the changing table. We spend plenty of time changing diapers galore, so something visually stimulating would brighten up and entertain in this small space.

As soon as I saw the pinwheels Kelly from View Along the Way made for her daughter’s nursery, I was smitten and knew they would be perfect above my changing table too.

pinwheels_thumb1_thumb4

I bought a $5 pack of double sided scrapbook paper and crafted away. I followed View Along the Way’s tutorial to a “T” so I won’t bother you with the details here. Be sure to check out her blog for the step-by-step.

I only strayed from the tutorial at the end when I didn’t bother to hole-punch the center. Instead, I just used clear thumb tacks to pin them to the wall.

DIY Pinwheels

As soon as she was out of her newborn stupor, my little June bug took to the pinwheels right away. I was surprised at just how much they enchanted her!

Not only are these pinwheels enthralling to little ones, they are also super easy to make. Believe me, it’s the perfect project for those last few days of pregnancy when you are just waiting for your little one’s arrival. Those last days you are so antsy to meet that new baby, but you are too big to do much of anything.

After my pinwheel adventure, I decided to find a way to incorporate June’s name somewhere into the mix. I found inspiration from the name art created by Young House Love for their daughter’s room.

See the personalized square above the coo-coo clock? Adorable!

I got started by gathering all of my materials.

  • a blank canvas
  • left-over tester paint from painting the crib
  • a printout of Juniper’s name

I mixed the teal paint with some leftover gray wall paint to give the canvas some dimension. I was going for an ombre effect that doesn’t really come across in this picture.

DIY Nursery Art

After painting the canvas, I was ready for the lettering. I know many could paint the name freehand, but since I am not known for my steady hand or artistic abilities, I decided to transfer the letters. I followed a few tutorials I’d seen around the web on how to transfer fonts.

The first step is to turn the paper over and shade in the mirror image of the letters with pencil. It was easy to see through the paper to trace the letters, since the print is so bold. You could also use chalk if transferring to a more variegated surface like wood.

 

Transfering Letters - shade

 

Next place the paper right side up where you want your letters to appear on the canvas. Trace over each letter being sure to press hard so the pencil will transfer on to the canvas.

Transfering Letters - outline

 

Once you are done tracing the letters you should have a very light pencil outline of your lettering.

Transfering Letters

 

With the outline in place, the next step is as simple as painting between the lines.
IMG_5974

 

When all was said and done, there were no signs of pencil marks left, even with my light paint.

IMG_5976

 

I love how it turned out, especially because it was so simple. It took an afternoon and most of that time was spent waiting for the paint to dry.

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I can already imagine us going through the letters in her name each night as we tuck her in.

If you are looking for even more ideas for DIY art to make your own, here is a fun collection iVillage put together for inspiration. Happy creating!

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