Embroidered & Appliqued Sugar Skull

I like to upcycle materials whenever possible. With embroidery, that's an insanely easy thing to do. Quite often, my needlework pieces are stitched up on pieces of old clothing or vintage linens.

This sugar skull is no exception. The background fabric lived it's first life as a napkin that I rescued from a "free box" next to a dumpster at my old apartment complex, and the skull itself used to be a white dress shirt that ended up with a big stain down the front, the reason I should not wear white. His eyes and nose are made from scraps leftover from another project. Waste not, want not.

The skull's edges were sealed with clear nail polish because I could not find my Fraycheck. If you plan on using or laundering your item, you would not want to do what I did, but since I knew that this piece would live on the wall, clear nail polish worked just fine. You could also turn the edges, but I find that tedious, and just felt it was an unnecessary step for this particular project.

I blanket stitched the skull onto the backing fabric, and then blanket stitched the eyes and nose onto the skull before getting down to the REAL stitchin'. I did not have a set design in my mind, just a palette of colors I had chosen. I incorporated some sequins and metallic floss for a bit of sparkle, but I seriously dislike using metallic floss. That stuff is seriously a pain in the ass. I have heard better things about other brands of metallic threads, but I have DMC in my stash, and that shit is annoying to work with. It looks good, though, so it often makes it's way into my work. I just made up the design while stitching.

This guy currently lives on my kitchen wall.


Thrifty Crafting - Upcycling Sweaters

I bought this great sweater about a year ago when I was pregnant because it was only, like, $2.50 at Kohl's or some place like that. I really liked the color, I love cable knit sweaters, and it was sooooo soft. Also, $2.50. I figured I would be able to wear it this winter.

Too bad it turned out that it looks TERRIBLE on me. Just really, truly shitty. It just fits horribly and I know that I will never, ever wear it. Ever. Even though it is so soft, and such a great color, and has the PERFECT length sleeves. Never effing ever.

So, I will unravel that SOB and add the yarn to my stash! This is actually a really great way to add some unique or higher quality yarns to your stash. Think about how much you would pay for enough yarn to knit or crochet a sweater. Now think about how much you might pay for a sweater at a yard sale or thrift shop. Un-ravelling a sweater can sometimes be a little tedious, but for a budget conscious crafter, can be well worth the hassle.

  • Scarves, shawls, and blankets are often easier to unravel than sweaters.
  • If the sweater pieces are sewn together, it will be easier to unravel the item if you unpick the seams first.
  • Items that haven't been washed many times are often easier to unravel, because the fibers haven't become enmeshed with each other.


Frida Kahlo Hoopla

My neighbor and friend, Joi, is a huge Frida Kahlo fan, so I made her a cute little Frida for her birthday using felt applique and embroidery techniques. The fabric that I used is a recycled vintage pillowcase, which I knew she would appreciate because she likes to re-purpose vintage linens in her own crafty endeavors.

I used a bit of metallic floss, which I normally loathe working with because it is so goddamned fiddly, to give Frida little teardrop dangly earrings. For the flowers in her hair, I used DMC Satin flosses, and used plain ol' cotton floss for the other details. I like the plushness that the satin floss lends to the blooms.

I used variegated floss in a complimentary color scheme to blanket stitch a piece of felt onto the back to give it a nice, clean look, and attached a ribbon to the hardware on the hoop for hanging.