Gift Giving: A Reading Pillow Tutorial

My (almost 11 year old) niece Kalli is a reader. She’s not a reader like I am, where she’ll read a new book every month or so… I mean, a READER. She’ll read, like, 3 books in a week. She’s a beast.

Eating is for the weak non-readers of the world…

Well, this year for Christmas I wanted to make her something “book-y” so I decided to make her a reading pillow. I wanted it to be small and with a handle so she could carry it around to sleepovers or just in the car. I wanted it to have a pocket so she could actually store the book safely when she’s not reading it, which isn’t very often πŸ™‚

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Lace Applique Top

November has been a bit of a whirlwind. My grandmother passed away on the 1st. Her funeral was on the 5th. On the 6th, Muffin and I ventured to Florida for our annual Anniversary trip. Not only did we have the most wonderful time vacationing at the spot we were married, I also got to wear some new refashions πŸ™‚

I picked up this 80’s-tastic purple dress shortly before our trip.


It’s stretchy; It’s comfy; It fits… what’s wrong with it (besides that awkward length)??


So, call me crazy, but I actually like this… whatever it is. I decided to work around it.

Mark and cut at an angle.

I could’ve left it as-is, but I really wanted that Floral embellishment to be a focal point.

I decided to look through my scraps. Wouldn’t cha know, I found some lace πŸ™‚


Why yes, yes that is a pair of undies (tag still in tact). I’m sure this was a freebie with a purchase… One problem, which should’ve been obvious…

Not enough material...
Not enough material…

That’s okay… I have more lace where that came from πŸ˜‰

Black. What else?
Black. What else?

The lace is see-through so I was able to follow the existing purple satin stitching and applique the black to the garment.

Just a straight this for this type of applique.
Just a straight stitch for this type of applique. (NEVER sew over your pins!) πŸ™‚

I trimmed the excess fabric from the stitching and then I got kind of carried away, maybe. I decided to use the extra lace scraps as a bias tape around the neckline. I thought it would tie the lace together better, ya know? I thought it would look too random to just have this huge black lace flower on my shirt…

Unlike my pal Marisa over at The Refash Stash, I struggle with bias tape. I really suck at using it… and to do it with lace. What was I thinking?! I didn’t even take any during pics of that just in case I failed miserably at it.

Perfect! …no one is more shocked than I am.

And I think it does tie nicely with the appliqued flourish.


How about that gorgeous Florida view, eh?



I’m rather fond of it.

It’s just a T-shirt, really. But an oh-so-comfy and more sophisticated T.

It was perfect for an 85 degree day of vacation!


More Florida Refashions to come

Refashion Runway Challenge 3: Tote, purse, or clutch

For Week 3’s challenge in the #RefashionRunway3, we were asked to make a Tote, purse, or clutch.


This proved to be especially challenging for me as I typically just use fabric laying around for this kind of thing. I’ve never actually made a purse from an item of clothing… But when I saw this suit hanging in my dad’s office, I took a chance πŸ™‚


My dad actually donated this suit to my sexy Hubs, but it didn’t fit him right so I didn’t feel too bad about cutting this up for a new Fall tote (it’ll be here before we know it, folks).

Little dissection...
Little dissection…

I’m the kind of gal who doesn’t just need a purse or tote; I need a Mary Poppins bag! I carry EVERYTHING in my purse, so I need all the pockets I can get. As such, I was very strategic with how I cut these pieces.

Front panel of new tote.
Front panel of new tote.

See how I did that? Nothing too difficult when you have the right tools.

Side panel.. my phone fits perfectly :)
Side panel.. my phone fits perfectly πŸ™‚

And so on an so forth until all the panels of my tote are cut:

After factoring in seam allowances, the final dimensions will be: 12″ X 12″ X 5″

I found some old maroon handles from a purse I wore to death. I always save any type of scrap/zipper/button that can be salvaged for a future project: I never throw refashioning items away!

Before I began constructing this into my new tote, I wanted to add applique to the front panel… just to give it a little pop of color & pizzazz.

I narrowed it down to these 2 Fall-ish scraps...
I narrowed it down to these 2 Fall-ish scraps…

I decided that the funky print went better with the handles than the red tweed.

Cut it , pin it...
Cut it , iron on some stabilizer to help it adhere better, pin it…

Then, applique it πŸ™‚


Close up of a true “Applique” stitch. (You can use a zig zag stitch too).

Use a lint brush to get those fray threads that sometimes happen on the edge…

I made sure to avoid the lining while I appliqued it

The original suit lining is going to be my tote lining... I didn't want the applique stitching to show through.
The original suit lining is going to be my tote lining… I didn’t want the applique stitching to show through the suit lining.

Now, I can assemble it together.


With left over scraps from my applique fabric, I made the tabs that would hold all the handles in place.

Fold, iron, it down.
Fold, iron, pin…sew it down that middle seam with a multiple zig zag stitch.

Next, I cut that into smaller pieces and sewed it to the hardware.


A zipper foot came in handy for the tight sewing space…

Sew to the inside of the tote.

This was pretty labor intensive; I’m not gonna lie… but the final product came out nicely πŸ™‚

The long shoulder strap is nice!
The shorter handles make for a more snug fit.
The shorter handles make for a more snug fit.

Close up


Applique personalizes it :)
Applique personalizes it… I really like applique, y’all.
Back pocket
Back pocket
Side pocket for phone is a MUST
Side pocket for phone is a MUST
Other side panel used to be suit sleeve.
Other side panel used to be suit sleeve.

When Fall comes around… I’ll be ready with my new tote bag πŸ™‚

The best part of all: It cost me nothing

It pairs nicely with my Vera Wang Adjustment top πŸ™‚

To vote for my Suit Tote or the other gals’ refashions for Week 3, click here πŸ™‚