Thursday, February 10, 2011

Creative Reuse - Crafting Using Supplies on Hand and "Found" Objects

Over at Show Tell Share, there's a challenge for February:  STASH!  The challenge is to "...use materials from your overflowing stash of stuff. .... So go 'shop the house!' Create something beautiful out of what you have laying around!

"You may have to go buy just a little something, button, zipper, etc. to complete a project, but extra points it you can pull it of without buying anything.

"And you don't have to stop with one, see how much of your stash you can put to good use! You can make something completely from start to finish, or see how many of those half finished projects you can complete and show off! Then at the end of the month, you'll have so much extra room in your craft room/closet/bins."

This sounded like a great challenge to participate in - not only am I saving money by not buying new craft supplies, but I'm using what is on hand and creating space.  Below are some things I have made so far this month.


I had a couple of maps that I didn't need - one from Brazil and another from Spain.  The one from Brazil is written in Portuguese and was purchased there about a decade ago.  The other map is from a National Geographic magazine. What I like about the latter map is that there are short explanations about the significance of some of the cities or towns on the map. 

With the Brazilian map, I made folded flowers that I glued onto 5 inch by 7 inch greeting cards. 

Flower made from a Brazilian map and green copy paper

Open flower where a message can be written

The matching envelopes have a floral image from the map to tie the greeting card and evelope together.

Greeting cards and envelopes made from the Brazilian map

With the map of Spain, I made two type of miniature cards (they are 3 inches x 3 inches).  The cards themselves are made from sheets of 12 inch x 12 inch scrapbooking paper.  For some of the cards that had an interesting fact, I left the cards plain. 

Miniature greeting and thank you cards

With the cards that didn't have a fact, I placed a hand-stamped "thank you" flower in the center.  It is affixed to the card with a 3D double-sided foam piece.


I had quite a few vintage children's books on hands that the girls were done reading.  They had cleaned their bookshelves about a month ago and removed all the books they no longer wanted.  Before donating them to the local thrift shop, I pulled any vintage books that could be used in crafting. 

After removing the pages that had pictures, I traced an envelope template onto each page.  I cut each one out by hand; and then folded and glued it.  I pressed the envelopes under a couple of heavy books to flatten them.

Variety of handmade envelopes from vintage children's books

With some of the books, the pages are a bit small for standard-size envelopes, so I made gift bags with the pages.  Again, I use pages with pictures for the bags.  After removing the pages from the books, I pair pages together and then trim them so the edges match.  The edges are cut with pinking shears.  The edges are sewn on the sewing machine.

Handmade Bags with Vintage Children's Books
Gift bags made from vintage children's books


I have a lot of scrapbooking paper and notebooks that are taking up shelf space.  An idea to use both of these were to make letterettes.  I received a set of letterettes from someone on Swap-Bot awhile back.  I thought it was such a clever idea.  She used a heavier decorative paper (almost like a cardstock) for the exterior.  Since I didn't have patterned cardstock on hand, I used a lighter-weight decorative paper.


The patterned paper is 12 inches by 12 inches.  I cut the paper into two pieces - one that was 5 inches wide and the other was 7 inches wide.  The length is 12 inches.

The inside of each letterette has 5 sheets of notebook paper that were cut into smaller sizes:
- Smaller letterette:  4 7/10" x 7 3/4"
- Larger letterette: 6 7/10" x 5 7/10"

Letterettes - with one open to show where it is sewed

Once cut, they pages were folded in half and placed in the folded patterned paper.  I sewed on the sewing machine along the folded line in the notebook paper, making sure to reverse sew along each of the edges so the stitching wouldn't come out.  After trimming the thread, the letterettes are ready to use.

After writing a letter on the notebook pages, simply seal the letterette with a glue stick or decorative tape, put two labels on the outside - for the return and sending addresses - and it's ready to be mailed.   


I had a gift box that had a nice pattern on it, but I am now using fabric bags to wrap gifts.  So, instead of recycling it I used my tag punch and paper punch with a tiny hole to create tags.  Using a thicker embroidery floss, I cut and attached hangers so they can be used for gifts or for price tags for products. 

Tags made from a decorative box


I had a few pages from the vintage children's books leftover as well as some notebook paper.  So, I made some made stationery gluing a sheet of notebook paper on top of a page from the children's book.  I had debated about painting over the image that’s under the notebook paper, but I thought that it was nice to be able to see the design of that page of the children’s book as well as the image on the backside of the stationery.

Stationery with notebook paper and a page from a children's book


My next focus:  using the fabric and felt that I have on hand.  I have quite a few patterns that I've wanted to try that use these materials. So, during the next couple of weeks I'll start using sewing or embroidering using felt and fabric.  I'll do another post at the end of the month with what I've made.



patricias fabric art said...

I love the handmade envelopes and the idea of using up supplies.'Though it did remind me I paid big money for a large box of decorative paper I've never used

B Positive said...

Your work is so beautiful and professional looking. I'm really inspired by your use of recycled materials (maps and old books) this is something close to my heart :) Thanks for sharing your beautiful work! I'm from swap-bot and I will be happy to follow your blog and see what new projects you have coming out!

Dora said...


Beautiful! I just put a post up on Show Tell Share about it. Thanks for sharing you talent with us!

Shawna said...

WONDERFUL blog. thanks so much for the ideas and picture of ythe various cards, etc. Great job!

JDaniel4's Mom said...

I love these ideas! The paper you chose it great!

Bending Birches said...

this is really, really great!!!

Anonymous said...

Those are all amazing. I love the flowers that you can put a little note inside, so cute.
And gift bags out of vintage children's books? AWESOME!
Thanks for joining the Green Mama Blog Hop! Following you now.

Mimi said...

wow! amazing paper work hunny bear!!! I love the flowers! x ICHIGOSHORTCAKE on sb x

Kelly said...

I love these projects! Great ideas.

I wrote about being resourceful in my New Year’s post -- I like to be resouceful on principle, even though it saves money and recycles old objects, two more great benefits.

I also have plans to downsize my yarn stash, even though I keep contributing to it (but in meaningful ways!).

Kelly said...

I forgot to add that I used materials I already had on hand when I created my tutorial on making the perfect gift-giving container:

leecytx said...

OMG!!! We SOOOO need this kind of swap on swap-bot -- It will motivate me to clean out my craft room & get VERY productive!!! :)
leecytx from swap-bot

BK said...

I'm loving the flowers and envelopes :). Wow. New follower in from Friday Hops. Hope you have a great weekend.


Anonymous said...

those map cards are so kewl!how you you fold them like that?

Gramerly said...

So many fun and intriguing ideas and uses for stashed stuff.

Kala said...

Seeing how others reuse found objects and stash supplies is so fun. All of your projects are so creative. I love "shopping" from my stash. It's the best way to start any project.

Swap-Bot member "maybejustperhaps"

Stephanie said...

love the folded paper flowers and the letterettes :) i like the idea of what's in your stash challenge, i'll have to do that soon :) thanks for sharing @>--%----

Stefenftchit via Swap-Bot FMB#2

Saints and Spinners said...

Oh, these projects are great. You inspire me! I have scraps and scraps of fabric I've been meaning to make into potholders and the like to give as funky presents.

Kara'sMommy said...

loved checking out all the nifty things your making! <3 KAlSMOMMY {swap-bot)

Kara'sMommy said...

loved checking out all the nifty things you made! kalsmommy {swap-bot}

LifeofLoRo said...

What a great challenge! I love this idea, and all the awesome stuff you made for it. You are inspiring.

Beverly said...

Thank you for sharing your wonderful ideas. It gave me lots of "food for thought"

arianne said...


First of all--Love, love, love. Especially those gift bags from children's books. Great ideas for me to copy.

Second--Have I contacted you about featuring you on my creative mama series? I'd love to. Email me at ariannecope-at-gmail-dot-com if you're up for an interview.

Have a great weekend!