"Any time I make a record it's followed by a painting period. It's good crop rotation."
- Joni Mitchell

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Pinterest Inspiration to Felted Mittens

Second-hand store sweaters + Naturally-dyed wool 
+ Felting needle = Mittens

Inspired by this pin, I began turning some second-hand store 70%+ wool sweaters into mittens. I am to the point where I am ready to just sew the top and bottom mitten parts together. Here's how I got to this point:

A handful of wool sweaters from Goodwill ($3-5 each)
I felted 4 of the sweaters in the washing machine (directions below).

I then made a mitten template out of cardstock so I could do this. The template was about the size of the dashed lines in this top picture:
Pinterest photo*

But of course, that wasn't enough! I had the opportunity to felt with my talented, creative mom who gave me some of her naturally-dyed wool. We felted during a workshop at the Lillian Yahn Gallery in WingHaven, MO. My mom scored on a bunch of felting needles so I could start felting her wool onto the mitten tops: 

Mitten tops and bottoms cut out of black felted sweater; dyed wool above; foam for felting
Felting tufts of wool into polka dots onto mitten tops with felting needle
Felted polka dots and "painting" wool onto green felted mittens

Close-up of polka dots
Close-up of the wool "paint"
Now I just need to sew the mitten tops to their bottoms and I'll have my first pair of upcycled sweater wool mittens! I will be sure to share the final product when that's done, after I finish up my semester. 

Please check back for more upcycled projects and happy holidays! 

Directions for felting sweaters in a washing machine (including HE): Put up to 3 or 4 sweaters in a pillowcase, tie pillowcase shut by twisting top then securing it closed with a "broccoli" wide rubber band, wash twice with some other clothes in clothes washer in hot water with high agitation, pull out of pillowcase and dry all --- clean lint trap often!

*Except for the Pinterest Photo, all photos taken by and property of Becky Schantz (please ask for permission if you'd like to use them)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Kickstarter Crop!

Our first Kickstarter project to get our first children's book in hardcover launched last night and we're already at nearly 10% funding in less than 24 hours! YAAAAY! For more information please click here. The project ends in less than 30 days. Thanks!

The Missouri River Valley where Jack asked those math questions...

Saturday, October 6, 2012

GoGurt Tubes Pencil Case

GoGurt Tubes + Potato Chip Bag + Capri Sun Pouch = Pencil Case

Diary of a Wimpy Kid GoGurt tubes sewn together

Don't throw away those GoGurt (yogurt) tubes! Trim the ends, split open the long edge and clean for some sewing material. This pencil case I made for my son (as Diary of Wimpy Kid is his new reading obsession) was made from one box of GoGurt tubes. The inside is lined with 2 small potato chip bags, foil side out, and an inside pocket is made from 2 Capri Sun drink pouches sewn together. 

Potato chip bags for lining, Capri Sun for pocket
Back of pencil case; edges trimmed with Capri Sun pouch

Maybe I should work on patterns to share? Or.... attend my Everything But The Thread upcycling sewing class at ECC's Washington, MO satellite location in November! :-)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Cooking Crop: Tortellini Au Gratin

This is something that I only make a few times per year. The last time I made it, it was a gift for a friend who just had a baby. It's a great make-ahead meal. Oh, so yummy.

Tortellini Au Gratin


A couple to few pounds of cooked (al dente!) Cheese or Meat Tortellini, drained
1 quart Half & Half
1 pint Whipping Cream
A few crushed or chopped cloves of garlic
A couple teaspoons garlic salt (or to taste)
A few shakes black pepper
As much as you can of the following herbs: Either a few sprigs of fresh parsley, rosemary, oregano and thyme OR
            a couple teaspoons of those herbs dried
A few strips of cooked bacon (optional, but yummy)
At least 1 cup shredded cheese (Parmesan, Romano, Italian mix, ...)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a saucepan, bring the following to a simmer while the tortellini boils: half & half, cream, garlic, salt, pepper and herbs. Simmer for at least 20 min... you should be able to smell the herbs!
Cook the bacon if you wish to use it.
Cook the tortellini -- undercook it since it'll cook longer in the oven, drain.
In a casserole dish, pour in the tortellini and top it with the yummy herby cream mixture. Top it all with cheese and bacon.

Bake for about 30 minutes until bubbly and lightly toasted on top. Enjoy. Try not to salivate. Okay. I'm now really hungry!!

Note: This recipe is also really good with potatoes in place of the pasta, which makes a wonderful holiday dish. I use (uncooked) baby reds and fingerling potatoes, cut in half lengthwise.That dish needs to be cooked at 375 degrees F for about 45 min.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Writing Crop: Mommy, How Many Numbers... Hardcover?

Welcome to the Writing Crop! As some of you may know, my son and I wrote and self-published a children's book together. It's called Mommy, How Many Numbers Are There? Illustrated by Anne Mitchell, a local artist and family friend, it's currently only available in softcover directly from Mira Digital Publishing and digital format (Kindle, iphone, ipad, Android) at Amazon.com, but we are now working on a hardcover version. Thanks to Kickstarter, the platform for creative projects, the dream of a hardcover version just may soon be a reality. Stay tuned because with your support, it may be ready in time for the holidays at a special price!

It's about numbers. It's about love.

Digital version: $ Pi ($3.14)

Softcover version: $ 3xPi ($9.42)

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Salad Spinner turned Upcycling Materials Dryer!

One of the best second-hand store deals. Ever.
Closed-bottom salad spinner -- for drying lettuce AND my upcycling materials!

Note to self: Post a tutorial on tips for cutting and trimming plastic bags. Until then, I found an easy, quick, efficient way to dry the smaller plastic and foil materials for my upcycling projects. After a quick soak and rinse in the kitchen sink, I toss them into the salad spinner, spin, drain (a closed-bottom salad spinner isn't necessary, but I'll only go back to my open-bottomed salad spinner if I lose this one).

Trimmed juice pouches, squeeze yogurt packaging, bottom trimmings from bags

Then store for projects! The squeeze yogurt packaging makes REALLY CUTE material for wallets, reusable sandwich wraps, cell phone or iPod holders. 

So many things to share! Click here for information on the continuing education classes on plastic fusion and upcycling sewing projects!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Two Degrees to Nate Berkus & Plastic Fusion or "Green" Sewing Classes!

Click on picture to enlarge.
Two degrees to Nate Berkus... that's right! A huge thank you to Bao from Releve' Design for including my plastic fusion projects at his website. Bao is a designer from New York City who has been featured on DIY shows, such as The Nate Berkus Show and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. If you'd like to learn more about Plastic Fusion and you live in the St. Louis area, check out my continuing education classes offered this fall!

UPDATE! I did some "Crapht Room" cleaning over Labor Day weekend... I have TONS of extra plastic bags for fusing, batting and durable bags for sewing! If you're concerned about not having the materials for one of the classes listed below, please email me at BeckySchantz (at) gmail.com with any question or concern first. Hope you can join us in November! Details below...

If you live in the St. Louis area or near Washington, MO, consider signing up for my Continuing Education classes! You can attend all or one of the evening courses starting Monday Nov. 5, 2012 at East Central College's extension in Washington, MO. Details at this link. The classes are held the first three Monday evenings in November, just in time to make a holiday gift for a loved one or yourself. Details below.

Plastic Fusion: Mon. 11/5/12 from 6:30 - 9pm
Cost: $25
Don't go to the fabric store for your next sewing project. Everything you need is in your pantry! Students will learn plastic fusion, the process of applying heat to layers of plastic to make a stronger material that can be used as free fabric for sewing projects. Required materials: clothes iron, ironing board, bath or hand towel, scissors, a variety of plastic bags (i.e. plastic shopping bags, bread bags) and parchment paper.Note: The perfect introduction to Everything but the Thread (below) class since the fused plastic you make will be enough material for a sewing project. 

Everything but the Thread: Mon. 11/12/12 and 11/19/12 from 6:30 - 9pm
Cost: $35 (this includes two nights of instruction!)
How would you like to walk away from a class with a sewing project that used all recycled or upcycled materials? Well, everything but the thread? Students will learn how to design and sew functional items from existing materials (list below). Beginners or experts at sewing are welcome, but students must bring their own sewing machine and have knowledge of its use. Students can choose to make one or more of the following items: Messenger bag, laptop bag, iPad/tablet sleeve or cell phone case. Required items: Laptop, iPad/tablet or cell phone (or item s length, width and height), sewing machine, extension cord, thread, scissors, ruler or measuring tape, 1 t-shirt (for lining), a dozen clean plastic shopping bags (for batting), cleaned coffee bags (foil-lined), cleaned foil juice packs (such as Capri Sun), fused plastic bags (from Plastic Fusion class, for example).