Upcycling for Kids (Using Teeshirts) Part 3: No-Sew Multilayered Necklace

Here’s a super quick and very simple no-sew tutorial to turn an old teeshirt into a pretty cute multilayered necklace or infinity scarf – and it’s an easy one to do with the kids too!

Materials:

  1. Old Teeshirt (a seamless tee is best)
  2. Scissors

Instructions:

  1. Lay Teeshirt flat
  2. Cut off the bottom hem of the teeshirt and put it aside.
  3. Cut your teeshirt into 1-2 inch strips across the width of the tee. I used 2 inch strips because it was easier for Little E to manage, but I think the necklace will probably look nicer with thinner 1 inch strips. You should end up with a bunch of loops.
  4. Stretch out each loop as far as they will go until the fabric rolls inward.teeshirt-necklace-kids-craft-upcycle-recycle
  5. Join all the the loops together, doubling them up if necessary to create that multilayered effect. Make sure that you can still pull the loops over your head easily. I used three loops doubled up to make a necklace for Little E but you can use more to make more complex-looking necklace.
  6. Cut the bottom hem of shirt that you saved in half to make a long flat ribbon at least 10 inches long.
  7. Using this ribbon, tie a knot around the necklace loops to hold them in place.
  8. Wrap the rest of the ribbon tightly around the loops a few times. I made the wrapped portion a few inches wide.
  9. Tie off the ends of the ribbon with a knot.
  10. Trim the ends to look like a little bow or tuck them under the rest of the ribbon to hide it.
  11. Enjoy your new necklace!

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If you are particularly handy, you can experiment with braiding or knotting the teeshirt strands together, or mixing loops of different colours and textures!

P.S. Check out our other Teeshirt Upcycling posts here.

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Family Heirlooms in the Making

So, after A Becky Lee and The Boobook announced their engagement, I wanted to get something really special for her as a wedding gift.

My family had recently received some treasured possessions from our late Grandfather’s estate (the Aged P’s dad), which included some jade pieces that belonged to our late Grandmother who died when I was a very small girl. The minute I saw the jade pieces, which included a pair of jade doughnuts, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with them – bring them to Choo Yilin.

Now, I have been a closet fan of Choo Yilin for years, ever since I stumbled across her website years back, when J was born. At the time, she had a small site on Etsy, but I was really impressed with her commitment to sustainable luxury and the way she used her designs to communicate important social, environmental and cultural messages.

Many times over the years, I saw Choo Yilin’s jewelry brand pop up in various collaborations with environmental-awareness groups such as World Wildlife Fund and non-profit charities such as UNIFEM. I was impressed by the efforts that she made in sourcing for fair-trade jade and precious stones, going through great lengths to ensure that the supply chain is conflict-free. Additionally, I liked the fact that she worked directly with hilltribe artisans from Thailand who crafted her designs, finding ways to support and redevelop their community.

So, I booked an appointment for myself and A Becky Lee, and we headed down to Joo Chiat, where her shophouse is located.

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There’s nothing like Tea and Some Pretties

We were met by one of Choo Yilin’s in-house designers, Samantha, who chatted with us over a cup of tea, inspecting the jade pieces that we brought and showing us a variety of designs and options, each more beautiful than the last.

We were pleasantly surprised to find that the Grandma’s jade doughnuts were both type A jadeite, completely pure and untreated, which was evident in the level of translucency each piece displayed. Apparently, it is common to find jade pieces that have been artificially enhanced with colour treatments and polymer injections.

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Some of the gorgeous ready-to-wear designs available in store mixed in with Grandma’s jade doughnuts

In the end, A Becky Lee and I decided on turning the jade doughnuts into matching necklaces using one of Choo Yilin’s existing Peranakan-inspired designs, a cherry blossom branch studded with semi-precious gems.

We chose different combinations of gemstones, depending on their particular significance to us, then selected the colour of the metal that we wanted to use. Samantha told us that we could also choose the shade of each gemstone if we wanted – however, as both of us are terrible with colours, we chose to leave that part up to her expert eye.

It would take a few months for the necklaces to be completed – and I can hardly wait to see the result!

Thumper sleeping through the entire process

Samantha’s copious notes on our jade doughnuts, and a sample of the design we chose. Please note Thumper sleeping through the entire bespoke jewellery-making process!

Now the process of bespoke jewellery-making is pretty costly, but it was worth it for myself to make something truly meaningful to commemorate our sisterly bond on the occasion of A Becky Lee’s wedding. I really do hope that our necklaces will be worn often and remind us of our heritage and family.

One day, I hope to be able to take Grandma’s broken red jade bangle do something special with it…but first I will have to save up my pennies for another trip to Choo Yilin!

Pretty things from Alfie de Meow

I am a real sucker for pretty things that have just a touch of quirkiness thrown in, which is why I was absolutely over the moon when Elaine from Alfie de Meow got in touch with me to ask if I would like to pick a few favourites from her webstore!

Alfie de Meow, named for the intrepid little calico kitten that Elaine rescued from a drain that was running underneath her family home, is a homegrown jewellery label stocking cat-themed pieces, most of which are handmade by Elaine herself.

Since Alfie (or ‘Chairman Meow’, as Elaine calls her) is the shop’s muse, 10% of all merchandise sales are donated to local independent cat welfare charities such as the Love Kuching Project. This year, Alfie de Meow is supporting CATSI, a non-profit group which helps pay for the veterinary bills of rescued cats via a crowdfunding platform.

Pretty things + local mumpreneur + social responsibility = three times win!

Alfie de Meow carries a lovely selection of vintage and handmade jewellery as well as other handmade items such as cat collars (from a collaboration with Gooodcatcollars), trinket holders and camera straps. I had a really hard time choosing my favourites – there were just so many lovely things!

I have been on the lookout for a good and sturdy camera strap, so I was very pleased when Elaine sent me wonderfully comfortable camera strap with a cute design of black cats dancing to music. I love it so much! The strap itself is thick, soft and flexible, and is reinforced on both ends with leather. It’s very well-made and best of all, it sits well and doesn’t leave marks on my neck.

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Vintage and Handmade Pretties

I also chose a couple of brooches from the store to add to my collection of pins. The first is a sweet, handmade wooden brooch, the Cat Stare wooden brooch in vintage chevron from the Adopt-a-cat collection (you can see it in the picture above). The laser-cut wooden brooch is satiny smooth to the touch and the lovely handpainted chevrons in gold, black and white go really well with all my outfits.

The second pin I fell in love with is the Calico Kookie Cat, a handmade pin from eco-friendly bioresin, from the Curiokitty collection that you can see in the picture below. I like the way that the colours mix together in the eco-friendly bioresin which is all cast by Elaine in her workshop. The sweet little gold-tone ribbon detail adds a subtle sparkle. I have a soft spot for calico cats because they remind me of the Aged P, who used to keep one which was named “Meow-mee”. We still refer to all calico cats as Meow-mees in our family!

Elaine also has a marvellous selection of vintage pins in store as part of the Sophisticat collection, and she threw in a vintage gold-tone brooch of a cat teasing a bird as a special surprise for me. Thanks, Elaine!

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In memory of Meow-mi and Poppy

I also picked out the quirky looking Catch That Fish! necklace featuring a cheeky little cat tormenting a goldfish which reminded me of the Outlaw’s black cat, Poppy, who used to catch frogs from the garden pond and leave them on the doorstep as tributes.

As you can see, Little E really liked the necklace too, and since it is made out of hardy and indestructible acrylic, I’ve been letting her wear it when we go out and it makes her feel really special! I think it would be cool to get matching mother-daughter jewellery!

All jewellery from Alfie de Meow comes in a very nice little cotton drawstring bag, great for gift-giving, but also protects each piece and helps them retain their lustre and shine.

All the jewellery in store is very affordable – everything is under SGD$50 – and would make great stocking stuffers during the upcoming holiday season. Elaine also holds two-day workshops where one can learn how to cast and create jewellery from bioresin, which would be a fun holiday activity for teens!

Something Special for Owls Well Readers: From now until the 20th November 2015, Alfie de Meow is generously offering a 15% storewide discount for Owls Well Readers! Just enter the coupon code ‘OWLSWELL’ at checkout for the discount to be applied to your order! Woohoo!