Found New Life As: Upcycled Owl Bags

Tuesday, December 20, 2016
Honestly, I cannot recall exactly how this came to be. I've always liked owls though. They are perfect subjects for abstract interpretation. The way I do the ruffles on these bags is suppose to be like their feathers but I think that's obvious. The first owl bag I made I listed and sold over on Artfire.

That bag was pretty simple, it was smaller than the ones I do now. I used a vintage eyelet cotton trim that came pre-gathered. Along with that bag I made one zippered barn owl inspired bag. Main reason for that was I wanted to try out a different kind of owl. I don't remember why I never made more of it but I went back to the original owl. I started incorporating the jeans hems after I had saved a good amount of them and have kept saving/using them ever since. For the most part, earlier owls consisted of vintage and thrifted cottons. These are owls from 2011-2012:

I did try once more to make a different kind of owl, where the flap was the top of the head and beak all in one. I wasn't convinced but it was cool to try out. I've never really used patterns. Using patterns is a more recent thing with me. I have realized how much time they save. Back then, every time I made an owl the measurements of the bag would be different. Some bags would come out so big and others way small. At first it was okay because I was trying to use materials without piecing them together. Some whole pieces were just smaller than others.

One time I made this custom owl that had depth to it. Only made that design once too. As I'm going through my pictures of past owls I am reminded that I used to use Ric-rac trim around their eyes. I stopped doing that because I ran out but honestly I didn't want to keep adding it. It was a nice touch while it lasted.


Eventually I did draft myself a pattern. I want them to be more uniform in size. It no longer matters if I have to piece together materials for their faces or the backs. I try to make those seams indiscreet not to take away from the rest of the design. That hasn't been too much of problem though.

One problem I have tried my best to make better is the weight. The weight of the bags was fine at first, using mostly cottons and non-denim materials. After I started involving more denim, that's when it became an issue. If a bag starts heavy with nothing in it then it's only going to get heavier with your belongings in it. For example, the owl with the medium-weight crochet lace over lined denim wings, never again. Sure it looked pretty but I know that was added weight that could've been avoided. I wish I would've given that a lot more consideration since the very beginning. I like to think I've resolved that issue by being careful with the amount of denim and heavy materials I incorporate.

I know these bags are a novelty, boho whimsy, not everyone's cup of tea. They may not look like they are all that practical but I have always tried to make them as functional as possible, like by giving them a good amount of pockets. I love pockets. Also by having shoulder and cross body options. This goes for all bags I make, not just my owls. There has been trial and error but that's what keeps you progressing.

A while ago I had someone tell me they were tired of my owls, they were "just saying". I wasn't quite sure how to take that. I'm well aware that if we never listen to feedback, we’ll never improve but what even was that? Well sorry, not sorry, I'm not tired yet. This isn't a trendy fad. It's like my whole mission statement being completely ignored. I make these bags as an on-going upcycling effort, not to mention artistic endeavor. So as long as there is clothing to be upcycled, I will continue.

Thank you for reading. You can check out the owls I have in the shop ready to ship, here.

The Sunset Sunrise Painted Upcycled Bag Time Lapse Video

Monday, December 12, 2016
I'm calling this bag "The Sunset Sunrise Bag" because the resulting art reminds me of such. The color scheme wasn't really planned. I just kept adding colors in front of me. I used non-glossy acrylic and metallic copper/gold paints. The video isn't much but I really wanted to give time lapsing work a try. Hopefully next time I'm able to record the whole bag making process. Until then, enjoy 💜💛💙

The completed bag is available, here 👈

VINTAGE FINDS | Cloisonne and Enamel Earrings

Friday, November 4, 2016
I have a penchant for vintage cloisonne and enamel earrings. Both pierced and clip on, it doesn't matter. In fact I find clip on earrings to be more comfortable.

I especially like Laurel Burch designs. You can always tell by the signatures on the backs.

My collection is not what it use to be though. A while ago I started selling some off with the idea that I had too many. Several pairs were sold and gone. I have since regretted doing so. Luckily they're not that hard to find. The majority of mine I got from my grandma and the rest are from the flea market. Recently I've found a lot on Etsy too. I think it's time to add to the collection. Here's some of my favorites so far...

Sources from top left to bottom right: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Sources from top left to bottom right: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

12 Upcycled Crafts for Fall / Autmun Decor

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Refashion | Vintage Floral Maxi Dress

Monday, June 20, 2016

The before:

I bought this dress at a thrift store. I love the simplicity of the allover floral print and the type of material. I usually seek out this kind of fabric. It keeps really well, it's durable and hangs nicely. The brand is called Virgo II and it also has an ILGWU (International Ladies Garment Worker Union) tag. Oh and this dress came with side pockets. It's awesome.

So this dress is from 1974 - 1995 based on the colors of the tag.

"In 1974 the labels were changed to a red, white, and blue color scheme. This was in conjunction with their efforts to urge Americans to not buy imported goods: Buy American: The Job You Save May Be Your Own. The ILGWU remained active up until 1995, when they merged with another union, Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, to form UNITE." (Vintage Fashion Guide)

I didn't mind the sleeves on the dress but since I was going to take in the top part anyway, I took away the sleeves too. I used the sleeves as bias tape for the new armholes. It feels much less stuffy since it is high neck and long length. Doesn't it look a little more modern as well? I don't know but I like it much more now.

Upcycled Painter's Purses and a DIY Painted Wooden Plank Photo Backdrop

Sunday, June 5, 2016
Recently I've been making painted bags. I had painted on bags I made in the past but not like this. They're my upcycled purses adorned with acrylic abstract artwork. Like "painter's jeans" but purses. If you follow my instagram you know that's what I've been working on.

I don't usually use patterns but I really wanted to make a bag that involved little to no hardware (and I didn't feel like figuring it out myself lol). I came across the Laney Hobo bag by Swoon and gave it a try.

The first upcycled painter's purse I made, available here. At first I wasn't really sold on the shape but it has grown on me. It's a really practical bag, spacious and comfortable.

Paint splatter can get a little messy but it's fun.

The one upcycled painter's crossbody / messenger bag so far, available here. The button is vintage and just perfect because it looks like a glob of gold paint.

This is the second upcycled painter's purse I've made, available here.

I had also been wanting to make a new backdrop for picture taking. My dad found some old wooden planks and I had him come up with this.

The condition of the wood is pretty good. We're not sure how old the wood is or what it was used for but since I was going to paint over it, it didn't matter too much. I did sand out some spots though because I didn't want splinters.

So I wore gardening gloves to paint...and of course (dumb idea) the paint seeped through the cloth. It really sucks washing off oil based paint from the skin but got it all off eventually.

Finally, the new backdrop works great! In the future if I want to extend the wall to the floor I can easily add more planks. Most, if not all, my bags aren't very long though so for now it's fine how it is. I'm still undecided about using a decorative wall hook (like in the pictures above I used this floral wall hook I have). I like to keep things simple and let the bags speak for themselves but I don't know I'll probably keep doing both with and with out.

Vintage Finds | Simplicity 5082 Sewing Pattern from 1972 "Super Jiffy Wrap and Tie Pantskirt"

Monday, May 16, 2016
I posted this picture to my Instagram a while ago...

I was excited because I had found a wide leg pants design I liked for this vintage floral fabric. The excitement didn't last. According to the pattern, I don't have enough fabric. You need like 4 yards and then some. I sincerely thought I had a lot of that floral but it's only enough for like three leg parts. Sure, I could make the shorts version but I was really set on the pants.

Anyway at the same time I bought that pattern, a vintage pantskirt kept popping up in my search. It looked so cool. The best of both worlds. It looked really easy too and I was tempted to just make it by observing the picture provided on the pattern envelope. I went ahead and bought it though from While The Cat Naps, an Etsy seller of vintage and modern patterns.

How to put it on is quite the interesting process. Sucks having to use the bathroom though. Like a jumpsuit or romper you basically have to take it all off.

So I got 3 yards of this printed rayon fabric.

I don't think it gets easier than this.

I think I nailed it.

It's pants inside a skirt. Super Jiffy Wrap and Tie Pantskirt!

Earth Day 2016

Friday, April 22, 2016

It's depressing to know that no matter how much you recycle or upcycle there's still tons of garbage in existence and the worse part is there's only more to come. It's continuously being produced. There's garbage in the land, there's garbage in the oceans, there's garbage in our bodies (residues of kitchen plastics). Plastic is forever and "Life NEEDS Ziploc". There was that recent outrage over plastic wrapped peeled oranges at Whole Foods which my initial reaction was upset as well but then I read a comment saying those are helpful for the elderly and disabled who can't peel fruits on their own.

It's a constant battle though, convenience versus conservation. Things like plastic do make life easier and if used wisely, “have the potential to reduce mankind’s footprint on the Earth" For example, one study found that packaging beverages in PET (a type of plastic) versus glass or metal reduces energy use by 52 percent and greenhouse gas emissions by 55 percent. And, solar water heaters containing plastics can provide up to two-thirds of a household’s annual hot water demand, reducing energy consumption. If only everything was used wisely but it's a disposable world we live in. Things aren't, generally speaking, designed or meant to last. There's a saying in Spanish, "el que compra barrato, compra a cada rato" which translates to "He who buys cheap, buys very often." It must be the universal motto for mass manufacturers right? Such a negative vibe with this post I know but it's Earth day let's raise some awareness. No, raise as much awareness as you can. Do it every day because Earth day is every day and you inhabit this here magnificent planet.

There are plenty of things you can do to help yourself live more eco-consciously.

You try your best to recycle. Even if it feels futile, try and do. Re-use things as much as they'll allow. Buy used. Used stuff is less expensive, doesn't require new resources to be made so it doesn't generate pollution, doesn't require energy and doesn't have packaging (Top Reasons to Buy Used).

Forget the "out with the old and in with the new" mentality unless it's absolutely necessary. When you have to buy new, choose energy efficient products. Buy things that will last as opposed to a similar item that wouldn't as much. Buy things that have value because you're supporting local small business or they're artisans and authors.

Grow some of your own foods and eliminate packaging that way (also by cooking it at home and eating all of it). Prevent food waste that also ends up in the landfill by composting or donating what you know you won't use in time.

It's not easy being green but in todays world with everything so accessible, it's definitely possible.

18 Upcycled Bed & Pillow Inspirations

Friday, March 18, 2016
Because it's World Sleep Day! The slogan for this year is: "Good Sleep is a Reachable Dream" It most certainly can be with the help from these lovely Eco-friendly creations.

Sleep peacefully knowing you're helping the planet.

1. Vintage Handkerchief Rag Quilted Pillow Cover

2. Upcycled Jeans Patchwork Pillow
3. Upcycled Tshirt Pillows

4. Upcycled Leather Patchwork Pillow
5. Upcycled Pallet Bed

6. DIY Sequined Pillow from Dress

7. Eco-friendly Scrap Leather Throw Pillows

8. Upcycled Boat Bed

9. The Well Dressed Upcycled Overalls Pillow

10. Upcycled Classic Truck Bed

11. Upcycled Bed Frame Bench

12. Upcycled Suit Jacket Letter Pillows

13. Upcycled Sweater Pillow

14. Upcycled Dress Shirt Pillows

15. Upcycled Books Bed Frame

16. Upcycled Beanie and Doily Owl Softie Pillows

17. Upcycled Suitcase Pet Beds

18. Upcycled Fabric Bolster, stuff your pillows with fabric scraps! Yarns scarps also work.