It’s amazing what a week at home and an immovable bout of insomnia/jet lag will do for my crafting productivity. I keep trying to think of this as storing up the crafting for the months to come, because once school starts up again there won’t be much time. (Of course, I also keep thinking of the summer as “vacation time” that makes up for the extra hours I put in during the year, but it really isn’t, seeing as I work 11 months at 60+hours a week and am only actually paid for 10. Oh, the myth of academic “perqs.” But I digress.)

Seeing that it is back-to-school time, I went clothes shopping last week. This meant that I replaced a couple of t-shirts in my collection that needed to be retired. I buy pretty high-quality shirts, though, so it’s never the fabric that gives out first. Almost without exception, an item is retired because there’s some cooking stain in an obvious place. (Yes, I should probably wear an apron. I know.)

I’ve had this idea puttering around in the back of my brain for a while now: I’d like to reclaim some of these items for regular use. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve had a bit of an itch to embroider lately, and it struck me that embroidery might be a way to revitalize some of these clothes, instead of relegating them to home-only use. Last weekend, Branden and I went out looking for supplies:

We got a bunch of seed beads in useful colors, a few bugle beads, and a bunch of rayon thread. (The three shirts that are first in line are over there, on the right.)

Then I sat down and drew out a quick sketch, which I transferred to the shirt using fabric marking pencil, and began stitching in the design. I added some beads for fun, and then shortened the shirt by about 3″ so that it will fall at a slightly different place on my waist. It’s looking a little tired after all it’s been through, but here’s the (almost) finished shirt:

I still have some work to do at the hem, but wanted to wait until the length was right to make sure that the new hem worked with the design. The pattern is intentionally subtle, but it does show up more in person than in photos. The stitch pattern does a great job of distracting from/covering up those nasty oil stains, and the embroidery makes it an extra fun shirt to wear. Here’s a closeup of some of the stitches:

I just love how the shiny rayon makes those leaves pop.

Since that project was so much fun, I started doodling around with some of my weaving yarns on scrap fabric. First came some cheerful flowers:

And then…a sheep!

Rumor has it that there’s also a butterfly on the way:

And who knows what else. The designs are very quick to stitch up, and it’s really fun to play around with sketching on fabric.

Of course, one of the reasons that I don’t do a lot of embroidery is that it’s hard to find things to do with embroidered objects. But looking at the flowers gave me an idea, and when I embroidered the sheep I worked him on a bigger piece of fabric. That piece of fabric became this:

…which I find rather charming. It’s a fully lined project bag,

and it has a circular bottom that’s reinforced with plastic half-rings. They give the base some structure, to make sure that it stays open:

But because they’re only half rings, they can also fold over so that the bag can lay completely flat.

I also put in a drawstring, which I made by cable-plying matching weaving yarns together to make a cord.

Actually, I had originally planned that it would be just a drawstring bag, but then liked how it lay in the tote bag position, and added handles so that it can be used both ways.

The bag turned out to be quite roomy, too. Here it is, with a sweater’s worth of yarn:

Wouldn’t that make the perfect Rhinebeck shopping bag?