How Having A Creative Practice Leads to an Eco-Friendly Life (plus my new white dress!)

Handmade white lace victorian inspired dress.

I’ve been pondering creativity as a concept a lot lately, wondering about who gets to be creative, how is creativity defined, and how does one build a creative practice into one’s everyday lifestyle? And ultimately, how do we be creative with buying less? A lot of my projects grow from a need, whether I need something that I don’t want to buy or I have things that I don’t want to throw away, but I know that I’m in the minority on this one. Creativity is a multibillion-dollar industry. It’s challenging for anyone with the tiniest amount of creativity running through their veins not to get caught up in a frenzy of purchasing things unto which to be creative with. It’s a problem without an answer because, on the one hand, I see the magic of buying stuff that sparks a familiar sense of whimsey unto which one sees the potential for making. On the other hand, the consumerism behind creativity is contributing to a culture of waste.

They say that necessity is the mother of invention. Growing up without a ton of money, I always needed clothes that fit my budget yet I wanted clothes that were gorgeous. So I learned how to make my own clothes, and when I ran out of fabric (and money for fabric) I started remaking clothes that I already had lying around. I’ve never felt bad about or worried too much about cutting into things, much to my mother’s dismay. I’ve ruined a lot of clothing this way, but I’ve also learned a lot and now I live a life that revolves around making and remaking. My creativity has only ever been fueled by the idea that something could start out as a dress and become a shirt. This kind of creativity is not pre-manufactured, delivered in a box with a ribbon. It comes from having a life-long creative practice, which is something I’ve always done.

Victorian-inspired sheer white dress upcycled from a blouse, dress, and curtain.

The idea of having a creative practice might sound a little surreal to the average person. It actually doesn’t take that much effort, just a little bit of participation every day. Sometimes I’ll sit in bed and look around my bedroom and think about what I could remake various objects into. Other days I’ll make whole garments, knit, draw, write, photograph. While making takes a lot more time than thinking, the thinking is still part of my creative practice because it allows me to visualize how things could be different. This is useful not only later in the making process but in how we start to conceptualize the things around us. It’s why I’m so adamant about sustainability and environmental consciousness, I simply can’t stop thinking of a world in which climate change is a minimal threat, where we’ve created more systems to ensure that micro-plastic fibers don’t pollute our oceans, and where everyone composts. That’s all creativity really is: the act of daring to imagine what could be and acting on it.

Dress bodice of white lace victorian-inspired dress in progress.

This dress was constructed from a vintage blouse, a used fast-fashion dress that my old housemate found on the street, and a thrifted lace curtain. I wore the blouse religiously between 2014-2016 but it started to wear down and I wanted to preserve it somehow. It became the top collar and mini-skirt parts of the dress. The fast fashion dress I also wore quite a bit, but it was no longer my style and I stopped really wearing it about a year ago. I loved the lace though, and it provided quite a bit of material. It became the bodice and sleeves of the dress, which I self-drafted from the skirt. I then faced a conundrum. I didn’t have enough lace to finish the project and no other material in my stash really worked. I originally planned to make a shirt, but then started fantasizing about a dress victorian inspired dress. After several months of waiting to stumble on the perfect fabric, I found this lace curtain at Goodwill, conveniently in a similar enough shade of off-white for it to work with the other lace. And thus, the dress was born.

Mid-length handmade white lace dress with bell sleeves.

I make a lot of garments like this, where several pieces of clothing will magically become one piece, immediately, transcending each item’s original purpose into something greater. It minimizes waste because I’m literally using up several items at once. It also means that I end up with more interesting clothing, like this lace skirt I made from a tank top.  I really don’t think that I would have conceived of how eco-friendly it is to use clothes that I already have loved to make completely new clothes if I didn’t have a regular and on-going creative practice that forces me to pull creative tools from my environment.

Flared-sleeved white lace dress. She made it from a curtain.

Therefore, I encourage all of you reading this to start your own daily creative practice if you don’t already have one. It can be as long as dedicating several hours to a project, or just a few minutes everyday visualizing directions you want to take. I keep a notebook that I specifically use to jot down ideas, draw pictures, and get inspired. The act of putting things down on paper can be really freeing, just make sure you allow yourself tons of room to write down ideas that you don’t think are great. It’s so important to clear the fluff out of your brain to create space for the good ideas to flourish. And if you don’t like something, try again. Don’t get discouraged when it’s not perfect. Undo stitches, and try again. Love yourself enough to grow and flourish with your mistakes. I can’t tell you how many dresses I’ve made in my life that I didn’t like. Too many to count. I’ve taken photographs I hate. I’ve written stuff that’s total garbage. But I’ve never stopped either. I force myself to persist, not because I want to be an artist but because my soul needs to create to feel alive. If you think you feel the same, never stop 🙂

Sheer midi romantic lace dress with mini skirt underneath.

And challenge yourself to step out of the cycle of buying new craft supplies so that you can be creative. It’s definitely more limited in some ways and takes greater patience, but it also builds greater creativity in the long run and you can feel good that you reused something that might have gone on to sit in a landfill.




DIY No-Knit Wall Hanging

Salvage & Stitch: If you have a scarf laying around that you never wear, make it into this super adorable wall hanging. Super easy, and great for yarn scraps!

Today I’m excited to show you all how to make this beautiful no-knit wall hanging from a scarf and some yarn, and to give you a peek into part of our bedroom! As the weather gets chillier here in the Bay Area and our apartment feels colder, I’ve been looking for some nice ways to upgrade our style and make things feel warmer by looking warmer. It’s pop psychology really, but so far it’s been working out nicely. I finally found the perfect thrifted rug for our bedroom at Out Of The Closet for only $40, which has made getting out of bed a real possibility. Our floors get super cold. That left our walls looking a little bare in comparison. I’ve been slowly adding to our walls over time; I’m a slow nester. I don’t rush into anything I don’t think fits our space because I almost always regret it.

My mom gave me this cream scarf that she grew tired of that was just slightly the wrong shade of cream for my complexion. I cast it aside for awhile, kept trying it on, and every time I picked it up and kept thinking how I really wanted to hang it on the wall instead of around my neck. That, turned out to be a fantastic idea because I was able to design this cute DIY tutorial for you all AND our bedroom has never looked better.

I’ve always loved the simplicity and intricacy of woven wall hangings, but it’s not a luxury that I find myself able to buy. I recently went to a fiber conference where weavers were doing demos. A friend and I even had the opportunity to try out a loom, and it was pretty cool! That said, I don’t think I’m the weaving type. I really admired the patience and artistry of the women who were regular weavers, but I didn’t feel inspired to take up weaving as an art or craft. I did, however, incorporate some weaving aesthetics into this wall-hanging through sewing yarn into the layers of the scarf. One could call it faux-weaving.

Salvage & Stitch: This No-Knit, No-Weave wall hanging was made from a scarf, and is so easy anyone coud make it.

About our bedroom, here are some fun little tidbits to share! The black mass on the bed is our cat, Stella. She refused to face the camera for the picture. I made the paint splattered pillow last year from canvas and acrylic paint. The fuzzy pillows I sewed years ago, also from a scarf. Amanda hates them because they itch, but I’ve never minded them.  The embroidered lampshades we thrifted but I saw them at Target a little while later so I assume that’s where they originally came from. The small wooden box on Amanda’s side of the bed usually has cough drops in it. The nightstands both came from the street. the brown and white one I found years ago not far from my mom’s apartment building. The tall white one I found while on my way to buy a nightstand, I kid you not. It was the ugliest color green and I painted it white. I’m pretty minimalist, I love simple things. My favorite thing in the world is falling asleep and waking up in a nicely ordered bed, which Amanda also thinks is quite eccentric. She could sleep in a pile of sheets and not care.

Salvage & Stitch: I made this gorgeous wall hanging for our bedroom from a scarf and yarn scraps. DIY tutorial included.

Regarding the wall hanging, any long scarf will do for this project, but one with tassels will mean that you won’t have to make the bottom row of tassels (unless you want to). If you don’t have a scarf readily available, thrift stores are full of them at this time of year. I used wool yarn. I suppose acrylic would work too but I like that wool instantly classes things up. The wooden dowel you can find at any hardware store.


Making a wall hanging from a scarf and wooden dowel.

  • 1 long scarf
  • Yarn in two contrasting colors, I chose dark gray and cream
  • Yarn needle – sometimes these are called “darning needles”
  • Scissors
  • 1 wood dowel, size of your choice
  • Needle and thread
  • Optional: Yarn scraps for weaving into hanging. You can also just use your contrasting yarn.


1. Cut your scarf in half, and then cut 1/3 off the top off the halves. Trim your smaller piece at a diagonal, and put the excess aside to use for later.

Scarf cut up for wall hanging.  Cutting up scarf.

2. Sew your long pieces together down the middle, and then your small pieces. To make your seam relatively invisible, first, thread your yarn needle with yarn. Insert your needle into the first stitch through the back, and pull your yarn through. Next, insert your needle under the next stitch above the stitch you just pulled from, and draw your needle across to the stitch met on the otherside. Pull yarn through, and repeat on the other side and up the length of your two halves.

Sewing knitted pieces together. Joining knitted pieces together.

When finished, your pieces should look like this (I laid them on top of each other, to get an idea of how the hanging will come together):

knitted pieces sewn together.

3. Use your needle and thread to sew a few stitches down the length of your diagonal smaller pieces, so the stitches don’t unravel.

Protecting cut knitted pieces from fraying.

4. Make your tassels:  I made 21 tassels, enough for the entire pointy edge of my smaller piece. You’ll need to decide how many of each color to make. I made 9 grey ones and 12 cream ones, for the design I wanted.

To make the tassels, wrap your yarn around your hand or a piece of cardboard about 15 times. Cut a long piece of yarn (longer than you think you’ll need) and tie the end around the middle of the yarn loop you just created and thread the other end into your yarn needle. Wrap your long piece of yarn a few times around the top of your loop, to make it look like a tassel. Insert your needle beneath the wrapped part going down towards the long loops on the bottom and pull your yarn through. Then, insert your needle beneath the wrapped part again, on the other side going up, and pull it through. Next, insert your needle through the middle of your bauble and wrap it around twice. On the second wrap, pull your yarn through the loop to tie it off. Cut your long loop open so you have a tassel. You can also follow this technique from Martha Stewart on how to make a tassel if you’re super duper confused. It’s a little different than mine, but…you still get a tassel.


Making tassels.  


Tassels made for wallhanging.

5. Begin sewing your tassels onto your diagonal edges of your smaller piece using your yarn needle. There’s no science behind this, just make sure that you knot off each tassel on the wrong edge.

Sewing tassels onto wall hanging.

Adding tassels to a knitted piece.

6. Lay your smaller piece on your larger piece, ends together. Take the small pieces that you cut off before to create your pointed diagonal edge, and lay them on the top of the smaller piece to make another point.

DIY wallhanging from a scarf!

With your yarn (or yarn scraps as I used), begin to sew your smallest pieces to both the large and medium piece using crude large stitches. There is also no science to this, you might find a style you like and stick with it. I started out using single strands of yarn, but switched to double strands of yarn because I liked the style better and it was faster! I left the ends on the back unknotted, and just left a long strand to hold it in place.

Sewing a wall hanging with yarn.

Salvage & Stitch: Making a no-knit knitted wall hanging is easy when you use a scarf!

Just make sure you completely sew down the edges so they don’t ravel or look sloppy.

DIY No-Weave wall hanging

DIY wall hanging from a scarf and lots of scrap yarn!

8. Sew a running stitch at the top of your piece with yarn, about 3/4 from the edge. This will hold the piece together and make sure it doesn’t unravel.

Attaching wall hanging to wooden dowel.

9. Align your wall hanging with your wooden dowel. Double-thread your yarn needle with a very very long piece of yarn. You’ll probably have to replenish your yarn a few times on this step. Insert your yarn through the back of the piece, BELOW the stitches you’ve just inserted at the top, and wrap it around the dowel, sewing the dowel to the yarn. Continue until the whole piece is attached to the dowel.

Attaching a wallhanging to a wooden dowel using yarn.

Finished wall hanging, ready to be hung.

10. Finally, tie a long piece of yarn to the dowel to hang your piece with, and put it on the wall!

Salvage & Stitch: This No-Knit, No-Weave wall hanging was made from a scarf, and is so easy anyone coud make it.

Salvage & Stitch: DIY No-Knit Wall Hanging. This tutorial will show you how to make a beautiful wall hanging from a scarf, yarn, and a wooden dowel.

DIY Foraged and Compostable Wreath

Salvage & Stitch: Looking for ways to be more environmentally conscious this holiday season? Why not make this beautiful and compostable wreath with materials found in your backyard!

The holidays are officially upon us! The holiday season always makes me simultaneously nostalgic for the holidays of my youth and overwhelmed by ALL THE WASTE. Because this is a blog about making DIY projects from recycled materials, I’m going to be perfectly honest about my discomfort around how much is wasted in the name of holiday cheer. From wrapping paper to people cutting down perfectly good trees to let slowly wither and die in their living rooms (sorry, mega downer…) to 20 bajillion tons of presents no one really wants, I spend most of November and December taking deep breaths and asking my wife, “But really, is there a way to opt out?” And yet…I’m a huge softie and love giving gifts. I love the twinkle and glitter of holiday spirit in the air when I go places. I love family. Thus, I typically end up trying to find ways to have my fruitcake and eat it too.

One thing I love the most about holidays is how beautiful people’s homes become, with decorations and lights, but I’m always trying to find subtle ways of making decorations more eco-friendly. That’s where the idea of the compostable and foraged wreath came in. I kept thinking, what if there was a wreath that you could just throw in the compost come January, where no trees were harmed in the making but was also beautiful and something to be proud of putting on one’s door? Most wreaths are made from commercial flowers and branches and use wire as a base and to hold things together. Other wreaths are made by gluing things onto styrofoam circles. The compostable wreath would have none of those things, just compostable materials.

Dried branches.

A few weeks ago my neighbor and I noticed a pile of tree branches in our building’s backyard. We don’t have an onsight manager or maintenance person, so no one is sure where the branches came from, but it looks like they were accidentally torn off by squirrels. They’ve since dried and become beautifully preserved, with withered red berries and silvery green leaves. I kept thinking they’d make a lovely wreath, and what with all the autumn foliage in my backyard there are a lot of lovely things to choose from.

DIY compostable wreath made from foraged branches.

And so the compostable wreath was born! Even though this project is made from decaying foliage and not tin cans or used clothing, I feel like it’s another layer of what I want to address on this blog. Everything we create with has an impact, but choosing even natural materials found in your backyard over commercially grown plants means less water was wasted, less CO2 was released into the atmosphere because your branches weren’t shipped from who knows where, and hopefully you’ll encounter fewer pesticides with your finished product. I really love how my wreath turned out and it was really exciting to be able to point to it and say that I made a wreath. But can I tell you a secret? I have a feeling I’m not going to compost mine at all and keep it for next year, assuming it stays in one piece.

DIY wreath made from fall leaves.

Just a suggestion on what type of foliage to use: use what you have. I know it’s tempting to go out and buy trendy eucalyptus branches for this project, but I promise it will be just as fun and gorgeous if you use what you have access to. If you live in California like me, there are tons of leafy trees that stay relatively green and full of leaves through most of the winter. I also added some oak and persimmon leaves for effect. If you live in the Northwest, you could go with the traditional pine wreath because you likely have pine in your backyard. If you’re in the Northeast, try red maple branches. If you live in England, please for the love of all that is green find a way to a make a nettle wreath and then send me a picture. You get it, use what you have on hand. Whatever you use, just remember that the branches and leaves will shrink once they are dry, so it helps to dry them for a few weeks ahead of time in a place where they will not mold. The sun is great, but inside is fine too.


Supplies for making a wreath: scissors, twine, pruning shears, and floral tape.

  • Foraged branches of various sizes, with both strong stems and flexible stems.
  • Any foraged additional elements you want to add such as dried flowers, berries, leaves, etc.
  • Natural twine or yarn (wool or cotton)
  • Scissors
  • Gardening clippers
  • Floral tape (optional)


**You may find it best to work outside, as this project can be messy!

1. Shake out any loose leaves from your branches, and begin cutting your branches away from the core stem. Select about 6-8 flexible branches to form your base.

Tree branches used to make a wreath.

2. Begin to tie or tape your branches together, overlapping the branches about every 4-6 inches. You want your base to be solid, with a wide center as you’ll fill in your wreath as you go with more foliage. If you use floral tape like I did, you can cut it away at the end of the year when you compost your wreath. Your wreath should look something like the second picture below when you’re done with this step:

Taping branches together to make a wreath

Making a wreath from branches found in your backyard.

3. Cut about 6-8 more braches and place them around your wreath where you think you might want them to be. Using pieces of twine, tie those branches to this wreath, loose enough to stick your finger through the ties and no leaves brake, but tight enough so that the branches stay on.

Tie branches to each other to make a wreath.

When finished with this step, your wreath will look something like this:

4. Start sliding more branches and foliage through the ties you just created, filling out your wreath, and using more twine to tie off loose ends as you go. There’s no science to this part, just add what you think you need to add and tie what you think you need to tie to make your wreath sturdy. When I was done adding all the branches I wanted and tieing it down, it looked something like this:

Making a wreath from foraged branches and leaves is a beautiful addition to any holiday.

5. Add additional elements to finish off your leaves. I chose to add some leaves of of a different variety and varying colors to add intrigue to my wreath, but you can add anything you want! Pinecones, berries, twigs, moss, dried flowers, etc… I just slipped my leaves through the loops that I’d already created.

Salvage & Stitch: DIY Holiday wreath made from foraged materials, all compostable at the end of the year!

Now go hang your wreath up and be proud of your gorgeous creation! Also…I had to include this behind-the-scenes photo of my cat hiding in the foliage in my workspace outside! After I walked downstairs, I sat down next to the posterboard which I was using to photograph, and she attacked me through the leaves! What a rascal!

Cat hiding in leaves.

Salvage & Stitch: If you're looking for ways to be environmentally conscious this holiday season, try making this DIY wreath out of compostable materials and branches found in your backyard! This step by step tutorial will show you how easy it is to be both eco-friendly and festive! />

Embroidery Rescued This Vintage Blouse

Salvage & Stitch: This vintage blouse was hand-embroidered to cover up a seam from a repair job, ultimately saving the blouse!

It was a beautiful autumn day when I wandered into my local creative reuse shop and found this sad but beautiful vintage blouse in pieces. Someone had cut it up in a refashioning project, became intimidated by sewing with sheer fabric, and gave up. I like seventies fashion and I like floral patterns so it seemed as though this blouse and I were meant to be. The only problem: How does one repair sheer fabric? I reattached the sleeves and carefully sewed the collar back onto the shirt with a zig-zag stitch, fully knowing the seam would show hideously. At least the blouse was back in one piece instead of in disarray. Then I was struck with the greatest inspiration: embroidery!

Cut-up vintage blouse.  Collar cut from blouse.

I’m not super experienced with embroidery. I’m not pretending to be an expert, or that I even know what I’m doing. I do happen to own a lot of embroidery floss, and I do like to try new things so I had that going for me. I also believe in slow fashion. I love a garment that tells a story of patience, one that transcends trends because it’s so cool why would one ever give it up? Embroidery does that.

Floral embroidery by hand.

So I set out to embroider the blouse. I didn’t follow a pattern, just my own heart, trying to keep with the floral theme at hand. It was definitely slow. I embroidered and then embroidered some more, pretty soon I was almost through the first two seasons of Twin Peaks and had made four flowers. But with each flower, I started to notice that I became better at what I was doing. And most importantly, the zigzag stitch was slowly becoming covered and simultaneously being reinforced by the stitches I was making.

Salvage & Stitch: Hand Embroidery on a vintage blouse to cover up a repair job.

Ironically, despite this blouse getting a lot of love on Instagram and from my wife who keeps comparing my beginner embroidery to her grandma’s EXPERT embroidery, I almost didn’t finish the blouse and this post almost never happened. This past week I’ve been in San Diego moving the embroidery-expert grandma to assisted living, up to my waist in moving boxes, old furniture, garbage bags, and cleaning supplies. While I’m grateful that I was able to help Amanda’s grandma get settled in her new home, I’ve been so absent from my normal life and feeling anything but creative. I didn’t post on Instagram for an entire week because I was too tired to think of anything but finding food and sleeping after long days of moving. Then it hit me on Thursday, after personally unpacking the grandma’s embroidery supplies that I had a blouse to finish and a blog post to write when I made it back to the Bay Area!

Salvage & Stitch: Hand-Embroidered vintage blouse. The embroidery covers up a messy repair job!

So finish the blouse I did, sleepily, lazily, while watching more Netflix. Ultimately, completing this project taught me that not only is embroidery super trendy and beautiful right now, it can practically transform repair work into something even better than it was before.

Hand-embroidered floral vintage blouse.

When I had a sewing business I spent a lot of time thinking about visible repair. Most people wanted me to repair clothing in a way where the repair was hidden and the clothing looked brand new. But visible repair as a concept intrigues me because it’s so unrealistic that one’s clothes would ever perfectly last the test of time with regular wear, so why would we try to hide this reality? Embroidery can be visible repair that is not only beautiful but also durable. The only downside is that it takes forever. From start to finish embroidering this blouse took me a month!

Salvage & Stitch: This embroidered blouse was originally in pieces, but it was repaired with embroidery!


Also, I was kind of thinking about how ridiculous it would be to pair this blouse with the lace covered skirt I recently made using the lace from a tank top. Probably too much? But I like too much. The next time you have a rip or tear in your clothes, maybe give embroidery a try!

The Cutest and Easiest DIY Underwear Tutorial From a T-shirt

DIY Underwear tutorial. Making your own underwear from t-shirts is easy!

Today we’re going to get a little wild and talk about underwear. We all have that favorite pair of underwear, you know the ones, they sit right, they don’t attack you, they don’t feel like a chastity belt and at the same time don’t sag, they hug you in all the right places, and if you could only replicate them you could. Well, you can! Luckily, I’ve made a nifty tutorial on how to replicate your underwear and it’s super easy.

Cute DIY floral underwear made from a t-shirt!

My favorite underwear are normal ones. By normal I mean, hipster boyshorts or briefs that fit snug but not too snug. Yeah, there’s a lot of gorgeous underwear out there, with lace, mesh, and satin, but I find it all a little much now that I’m definitely a fully grown woman with shit to do. I just want to put on my big girl panties and go about life. It didn’t use to be like this, looking back to high school and college, I bought some outrageous underwear. Thongs…hahahaha…I don’t know what I was thinking. Somewhere along the line I realized how uncomfortable it all was and started wearing simple underwear here and there, then, all the time, then everyday. Now I’m 31. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t like my undies to be pretty, I’m all about pretty! It’s just that I’ve lived enough life to know that uncomfortable under-things are a thing of my past and thank heavens.

Making underwear from t-shirts is awesome because a) It’s a great way to use up t-shirts you no longer wear b) You get the fit you want! The look you want! c) It’s fun to make underwear! d) It’s sustainable. Your shirt became panties, you can’t get any more green than that. I’d had this floral t-shirt kicking around for awhile and I simply wasn’t wearing it. I also kept thinking over and over, “You’d make such cute underwear!” It turns out, it did make cute underwear!

DIY underwear from a t-shirt you already own!

The best kind of t-shirts (or any other knit garment really) to use for undies are soft and stretchy. Don’t use the standard Fruit-Of-The-Loom t-shirt that you get volunteering for Habitat For Humanity, it won’t be elastic enough. Instead, choose anything that stretches in a way that reminds you of underwear. Also- whether you use cotton or not is up to you. I like cotton because it’s breathable, the choice is really your’s.

As for what underwear to copy, this tutorial is built around underwear with an inside elastic waistband, no elastic on the leg holes (which is great, because does anyone find that comfortable?) and no seam up the crotch (also, what the ever lovin eff, I hate ones like this!). If you don’t own underwear like this already to copy, do yourself a favor and go buy a pair. This is the only time I’ll ever advocate for buying new clothes on this blog, so soak it up people.

Also…..I got a dslr. Wooo! Half of this tutorial was shot with my iphone (bummer) and half was shot with my fancy new camera, hence why some pictures are great and others are so-so. So no judging. I promise you only beautiful pictures from here on out!


  • 1 t-shirt, preferably one that fits you a little loosely.
  • 1 pair of underwear that you love to make a pattern from. For this tutorial choose a pair with an elastic waistband and no elastic on the leg holes.
  • Fabric Scissors + Paper Scissors
  • Sewing Machine
  • Knit/Jersey Ball Point Needle
  • Paper to make your pattern, I used postal packing paper, but you can use anything, newspaper even!
  • Thread
  • Ruler
  • Tape Measurer
  • Pins
  • Marking Chalk (optional)
  • Pen
  • 1/2 inch elastic.

***First, a note on sewing knit fabric. If you’ve never sewn knit fabric before, I highly recommend you go to your local fabric store and buy a knit or jersey needle for your sewing machine. These needles are designed to sew knit fabric, and if you don’t use one you’ll notice problems such as bunching, needle breakage, and oddly misshapen lines and hems. ALSO: you don’t need a serger to sew knits, you just need a zig-zag stitch on your sewing machine. Yes, sergers create pretty overlock seams, and yes, they’re nice. I have one, I love it, but I also think it’s totally unnecessary as anyone can just use a tidy zig-zag stitch.


First, we make our pattern:

  1.  BACK: Measure the length of the waistband of your underwear when stretched flat and square with the sides. My waistband measurement was 14 inches. At the top of your paper, draw a line that is the measurement you just took plus a little extra. For example, I drew a line that was 14 1/2 inches. This line will be your waistband.
  2. Lay your underwear about 1.5- 2 inches below the line you just drew. It’s important to leave a decent amount of room at the waistband to account for the elastic that you’ll add later, so don’t skimp on this part! Otherwise your crack will show 😉  Measure the sides. Mine were 4 inches so I made my pattern 6 inches on each side to account for the elastic and the hem on the leg hole. Trace the outline of half your underwear leaving 1/2 inch seam allowance on all sides. How to make your own underwear using underwear you already own!
  3. Fold the outline in half and cut it out, so that you have a pattern piece that’s symmetrical. Now, you have the back of your pattern.
  4. FRONT: Making the front of the pattern is trickier than the back unless you’re willing to cut your undies open. I wasn’t! Trace your back pattern piece to a new piece of paper and add 1/2 inch extra to the crotch for seam allowance. I forgot to do this part at first, which is why my pattern piece has tape on it. Cut out this shape.
  5. Find the halfway mark of the leg hole of your underwear and measure the opening (picture below). Mine measured 3 inches. On your pattern piece, draw out your measurement minus 1/2 inch for seam allowance. Because my opening was 3 inches, I drew 2 1/2 inches. Connect the side of your underwear to the line you just drew and try to gently copy the shape as best you can. I noticed a slight curve in the top of the leghole, so I carefully drew a slight curve, and followed the the side down at nearly a 90 degree angle to where the crotch ended. Fold in half and cut this part out.
  6. Making and underwear pattern from underwear you already love is easy! Now you can replicate your favorite underwear and never buy it again.   DIY pattern for making panties from ones you already have.

6. Keep your pattern piece folded. Measure the width of the crotch at about the center of your underwear. Mine measured 3 inches. Mark that measurement on your pattern piece and add 1/2 inch. Measure out how much you still need to cut out. I still had an inch of excess paper. Extend your curve down to this measurement and continue it down to the bottom of your crotch. I know this part sucks if you don’t draw, but if you measure correctly, it’s not that bad. Don’t worry about it being 100% perfect, when you hem it will naturally just kind of fall into place.  Cut along this curve, and your front pattern piece is complete!

Making a pattern for underwear

7.Lay your pattern pieces out on your t-shirt halves, pin, and cut out. Make sure that you lay your pieces out above the hem of the shirt, as you don’t want a bulky waistband.

How to make underwear from a t-shirt.   DIY underwear made from a tee shirt.

8. Cut out the crotch lining – this is that little square of fabric sewn into women’s underwear. Lay your front piece down on a piece of your shirt- preferably with the bottom of the crotch aligned with the hem, and cut out only the crotch. I didn’t have a piece with the hem intact that was long enough so I just cut the crotch out and hemmed it.

How to sew underwear.

9. Make a sandwich of your pieces in the following order with the crotch aligned: Front, back, with right sides together, and crotch face down on the back piece. Pin the crotch together and sew using a zig-zag stitch. When sewn, your pieces should look like the second picture when laid out.

How to pin underwear together to sew them. 

10. Pin and sew the sides using a zig-zag stitch, and trim off the excess material.

11. Pin and hem the leg holes, neatly with a zig-zag stitch. Make sure you enclose the crotch piece and trim any excess fabric.

Sewing your own underwear from a t-shirt.

12. Measure your elastic. The easiest way to do this is to measure the waistband of your original pair of underwear when not stretched and add 1/2 inch. My waistband measured to 24 inches, so I cut a piece that was 24 1/2 inches. The waistband of the underwear was 26 inches without elastic so this was perfect to give them a little stretch and help them stay up.

13. Sew your elastic to the waist on the inside of the underwear, stretching the elastic a little as you sew. When you reach the end overlap your two ends of elastic and backstitch so they’re firmly sewn down.

Sewing elastic to underwear.

14. Turn your elastic over, and turn it over again so it’s hidden inside the waist.

Step-by-step guide for how to sew your own underwear.

15. Sew down your waistband using a neat zig zag stitch, gently tugging the waistband as you go so that it aligns with the elastic inside and ensuring that the fabric is taught around the band.

Sewing underwear without a serger.

You’ve successfully copies your favorite underwear! Celebrate! 😀

Step-by-step guide for making underwear from t-shirts.

So whose making underwear this week?

Salvage & Stitch: This tutorial will show you how to make the cutest underwear from a t-shirt you already own and underwear you already love the fit and feel of! Step by step process for how to make your own underwear.

Skirt + Tank Top Equals Gorgeous Lace Goodness

Salvage & Stitch: Would you believe that this skirt was once a skirt and a lace tank top? DIY fashion wins again

I think I’m in love with this skirt. Like maybe if this skirt was a person, I’d be too shy to ask it out on a date (assuming I was single) and hide in a corner awkwardly staring at it, telling my friends not to look because it might notice. Realistically, because how can anyone really be in love with a skirt, I think I loved making every inch of it.

Lace on skirt.         ochre skirt with lace overlay

The skirt’s story takes us back two years, when a friend of a friend gifted me this big back of fabric scraps. A lot of it was…not great. I get a lot of “donations” from people who want to support my craft, and I don’t mind that, but I do like the opportunity to rummage for what I would actually find useful. The most useful thing in this scrap bag was a beautiful piece of marigold linen, just enough to squeak out a skirt.

I self-drafted a skirt from the linen, cutting a lot of corners. It was cute, nothing super special. I think I was inspired by the color more than anything. It wore it a couple times, and then it lived in my closet untouched for a while. Something about it felt so yellow that it wasn’t approachable. I’m an artist, but even I have limits to what I’ll wear. There were a few other items hanging around my closet, a lace tank top that I liked in theory but couldn’t understand. How does one wear a lace tank top? With another tank top underneath? Is this 2012? Have we gone back in time?

Back of lace skirt.

I threw all the clothes in a big pile, as you do, and the lace tank top landed on top of the marigold skirt and suddenly I saw beauty, intrigue, and wonder unfold before me. I know I sound dramatic, like how could some lace and some linen really tell you the secrets of the universe? Oh let me tell you, it did, it does, it continues to do so. I knew then and there that I had to combine the skirt and the tank top, to make a skirt to rule all skirts.

Adding a lace overlay to a skirt.            Adding lace to a skirt.

I’ve probably mentioned a million times in the short life of this blog that my favorite pieces to make are ones that combine multiple clothing items into one piece. That’s why this skirt is so brilliant to me. I had to fill in the neckline and armholes of the tank top with a contrasting lace to really fit the entire tank top on the skirt, which also helped bust some vintage lace out of my stash. Laying the tank top on the skirt was a little tricky, I must have used 85 pins, and then became too squeamish to use my machine, afraid it wouldn’t lay right under the needle, so I hand sewed the whole thing. I love hand sewing so this was ok, thank heavens for Netflix.

Leaning over in lace skirt.

And now I have this skirt, is it too ridiculous to wear the same skirt over and over? I think not. If you encounter me on the street, expect me to be rockin’ this baby.

Jumping into fall leaves.

And jumping in all the fall leaves! Even in California we magically get them, though it’s still relatively not cold. What have you made for fall that you’re really excited about?

Jumping up and down and wearing lace skirt.

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DIY Fabric Covered Shoes Tutorial

Fabric covered shoes with ankle-straps.Shoes are an apparel item that most people chuck almost immediately after outgrowing a certain style, which is I’m so excited to share this DIY fabric covered shoe tutorial. I gave these flats a makeover after they’d been sitting around for too long, and I’m super excited about the results!

My style tends to shift toward minimal with a focus on pieces that tell a particular story or draw attention. I love combining prints, layering textiles over each other and materials with plush attributes like velvet or embroidered lace. That’s exactly why these made-over shoes are so perfect, I love the lush florals but also that they’re comfortable flats. They aren’t super trendy, they just are.



Black lace-up shoes next to cactus                         Floral pointed toe flat shoes.

I originally bought these shoes at a thrift store, attempting to take advantage of the lace-up shoe trend that was so popular a couple years ago. They were originally from Target, but as I figured then, the lace-up shoe trend wasn’t going to happen forever and I wasn’t exactly going to spend a ton of money on it. Then the shoes sat around for awhile as I opted into different trends, and the other day I realized that I kind of hated them. They weren’t very me. I almost tossed them into the “Charity shop/Clothing swap” pile when I realized it would be so easy to change them and probably class them up.

DIY fabric covered flats.

Covering your shoes with fabric is incredibly easy, and takes very few materials. What I love most about it as a concept is that you can take relatively cheap shoes with a good shape and make them look like expensive exciting shoes. I chose to cover my shoes in the scraps of a floral vintage dress that I had upcycled into a jacket a year ago. I loved the fabric so much I kept every last bit of it, so I had plenty to work with. I have to admit, I’ve seen other fabric covered shoe tutorials that I really like and think are fantastic. This older one from Delia Creates is one that I really like and might be helpful for you to check out if you want to cover shoes with sides to them.

DIY fabric-covered shoes.

I also cut most of the strappy parts off, simplifying the shoe quite a bit. I think that’s one of the main reasons why I wasn’t wearing them before, every time I looked down at my feet I felt like I was being turned into a gladiator. Tragically, when I removed the strappy bits, one of the ankle straps decided to fall off completely and I had to sew it back on before I could continue covering the shoes! Luckily the cheap suede that these shoes were originally constructed out of was easy to sew through using my sewing machine and a needle meant for sewing denim. Still! For moments I feared these shoes wouldn’t happen at all. Luckily, patience, glue, and some scissors, I turned them into something cute and the ankle straps still function! 😀

DIY fabric covered ankle-tie shoes


  • Shoes: It helps if they’re already fabric, leather or faux suede. If they’re faux leather use sandpaper to grit them up before you continue as it will help the glue stick to the shoes.
  • Fabric glue (I like Aileen’s Tacky Glue)
  • Fabric Scissors
  • Craft Paint Brush
  • Fabric Scraps: It helps if it’s relatively thin, opaque, and not stringy material.


    1. Prepare your shoes by trimming of parts you don’t like. For me, that meant taking off all the cumbersome straps. If you like your shoes already, you can proceed to step 2. black lace-up flats being cut up
    2. Cut pieces of fabric that are larger than the front of your shoe when you wrap the fabric around the toe.  Fabric being measured around shoes.
    3. Using your brush, spread a thin coat of fabric glue over the entire front of your shoe. It dries quickly so you must work fast! Then place your fabric over the glued area, and smooth it down, making sure all creases and cracks are covered. You might have to reapply the glue to the undersides, this is okay, just glue and smooth. Gluing fabric on shoesCovering shoes with fabric
    4. Trim the excess fabric along the base of the shoe, nice and close to where the upper part reaches the bottom.bottom of shoe with fabric around it       Fabric trimmed around shoe
    5. Here’s the hard part: use your scissors (or a razor blade if your scissors are too big) to push the fabric under need the base of the shoe so that the edge is concealed. If your blade ends up perfectly cutting the edges off and you’re left with a smooth edge, that’s ok too, just add some more glue to make sure it doesn’t fray.
    6. Trim the excess material on the top of the shoe around the opening, leaving about 1 centimeter of fabric. If your shoe has a curved opening like mine, make a cut in the center of the fabric. Glue the excess fabric under the top of the shoe. Make sure to glue excess fabric around the toe as well. covering shoes with material7. Repeat these step on the back of the shoe, making adjustments as necessary based on your shoe design. The back of my shoes have zippers, so I used the natural edges of my dress scraps like the hem for the areas around the zipper to make a clean line. If you’re using new fabric, you can create your own folded “hem” by dabbing a little fabric glue on the fabric, folding it over and pressing it with your fingers or an iron.

Fabric being glued to the back of a shoe.That’s basically it! Now you have fabric covered shoes! If you’re feeling really wild you could even embellish them, but I kept mine simple as I like a more minimal look. Have fun wearing your new kicks!

Floral pointed-toe shoes and sunglasses.

This DIY tutorial will show you how to cover your old shoes in new fabric!

My New Backpack Used To Be An IKEA Slipcover

DIY backpackOnce upon a time, I bought an IKEA slipcover to adorn an IKEA futon that we used as both a couch and a guest bed. We eventually grew tired of our butts turning into rocks everytime we sat on the futon, and having a little money from our wedding we decided to invest in an actual couch (which we got used off Craiglist, but also previously came from IKEA). Being the overly thrifty and eco-conscious people that we are, we saved the slipcover, thinking it would become something else in a matter of time. Then one day, I realized that it would make a great backpack, and thus all my dreams of using the slipcover and getting a new backpack came true.

backpack made from ikea slipcover

This is one of my favorite parts of upcycling: the inspirational moment when you know that this one thing you have is going to become something better, cooler, unique, and special because you’ve tapped into some brilliant understanding that things are not always stuck forever as what they appear to be. It’s a philisophical journey as well as an engineering problem all at once. On a more practical level, it’s just plain awesome that a backpack could be made from a slipcover. The slipcover provided the perfect material for the backpack because it was durable, lightly quilted, and machine washable.  It was your typical BEDDINGE cover, boring, surprisingly unfashionable, and oddly clunky:


The backpack warranted a trip to the fabric store for all the notions I would need, plus some sweet aqua daisy fabric that became the toned down theme for the backpack. I purchased new quilting cotton for the lining and accents because I didn’t have enough material of anything repurposed to line it. I spent quite a long time in the fabric store trying to talk myself out of the aqua daisy print, being a woman in my thirties and not an elementary school student…but then I decided that being a woman in my thirties means I know what I like and aqua and daisies together are bliss.

knapsack made from futon slipcover

inside of backpack with daisy fabric

I didn’t use a pattern, I drafted up plans by looking at a few backpacks I liked online, using those dimensions to create a blueprint of how I might construct the perfect backpack for me. I purchased the webbing and most of the hardware, except for the clasps on the front which I took from an old purse. Backpacks are rather rectangular in construction so it wasn’t difficult to figure out how one would come together, though I did take a lot of notes and really study a few back packs I liked before I came up with a solid plan.

I spread out my materials on a Friday afternoon, cut out my pieces, started sewing them together, became obsessed with the project, couldn’t sleep that night because I wanted to work on my backpack too badly, woke up early on Saturday, continued sewing, and then when Amanda woke up we took my new backpack to the grocery store. It fit all of our groceries and then some! I regret only taking two in-progress pictures, I was so determined, so obsessed, that I couldn’t be bothered with my camera.

backpack being constructed   knap sack under construction

I’m particularly excited about the back pocket, the perfect deep pocket for stowing passports and other important stuff while traveling. I also love the side pockets. Amanda keeps insisting that I use one of them for a water bottle, but I like using them for things like sunglasses, pens, those things you sometimes want handy but don’t want to unzip something for.

backpack with passport pocket



I had trouble with the front pocket, it turned out differently than I wanted and if I ever make another backpack I’ll probably just keep the front pocket flat. It was probably the most annoying part of the project, aside from sewing the really thick layers together, and it’s not a pocket I end up using that much anyway.

How has it been holding up? Great! I took it all the way to England and Wales last month for a UK adventure. It was the perfect size to fit under an airplane seat, and the secret passport pocket worked really well. It was stuffed full of gifts and treasures on the way back and didn’t budge under pressure. I love it! The only thing that I regret is stuffing so much that when we got into London and got on the Tube, I accidentally bumped a man right in the face. Not a great way to make an impression, for sure.

backpack made from upcycled ikea futon slipcover


DIY Seat Cushions from An Old Mattress Pad

DIY Chair cushion made from a mattress pad

Today, I’m going to show you how to use one of the lowliest and most unrecyclable home items to make something beautiful and unique for your home: the mattress pad, which can be used as batting to make beautiful, customized seat cushions. Because lets be honest, what the heck do you use a mattress pad when it dies or just isn’t needed anymore? And who wants to sit on a chair without a cushion? Not me.

Somehow, between merging two lives, moving, unpacking, and coexisting with each other, Amanda and I ended up with two queen-sized mattress pads. At first, we thought we’d keep both, and change them out, but that never happened. Her mattress pad was strangely more plush than mine and for some reason I hated it. It was stuffed into a closet until I finally liberated it and put it in a pile of stuff to donate.

Old mattress pad

I knew, however, that donating a mattress pad would be nearly impossible. Just look at this thing! Most thrift stores don’t take used bedding like this for good reasons like bed bugs, lice etc.. I wasn’t about to just chuck the mattress pad in the trash either, to live out the rest of its synthetic life in a landfill, so it lived in our hall way as an ugly obstruction until I realized that it was essentially just a few layers of batting with a quilt-top, and by George, batting I can use.

Geometric chair cushions

The other piece of this puzzle was the beautiful fabrics that Amanda brought back from a trip she took to Sierra Leone. Amanda lived in Sierra Leone for two years with Peace Corps, where she was expected to wear locally made clothing at various events and occasions where it was appropriate to dress up. When we first started dating she showed me all of her clothing, which she wears infrequently in the states but still keeps carefully tucked away in our closet. When she decided to go back to visit her friends and the community where she lived, she also decided that she would bring back some wax print fabrics for our home. I had some ground rules: nothing too culturally appropriative, nothing too bright as our home tends to be minimalist and decorated in blues, blacks, whites and grays, and if she could magically text me pictures when she was at the fabric stall in the market so I could see the options…this latter idea didn’t happen, but she did great! We ended up with a group of fabrics that are very pretty, don’t scream, “I went to a foreign country and brought home someone else’s culture!” and compliment our home nicely.

light blue wax print fabric

One thing we always wanted to make with the Sierra Leone material was seat cushions after we visited other Peace Corps friends and saw their seat cushions (also culturally understated, also blue). After putting this project off way too long, I finally decided to tackle it using the mattress pad as the batting and a beautiful blue wax print as the shell.

It was a simple project, easily doable for a beginning sewist, but also very satisfying. I quilted the tops of the seat covers while watching a movie, which I do think makes them look more polished. And how does the used mattress cover hold up? So far so good. I used two layers per cushion which makes them enjoyable to sit on but not overly cushiony.  You could use almost any repurposed material for the shells, think old curtains, old dresses, table cloths, pillow cases, etc… If you don’t have an old mattress pad handy, you could use a ton of other repurposed materials as batting: old towels, old fleece blankets, or even a comforter that has seen better days.

DIY wax print chair cushions with ties



  • 1 plush mattress pad, ( OR old towels, old blanket, etc…)
  • 1 1/2 yards to 3 yards of cotton, depending on how big your chairs are, and how many cushions you’re making
  • A sewing machine (preferable, but you could do these by hand if you really really wanted to
  • Thread matching your fabric
  • Embroidery thread
  • Embroidery needle
  • Ruler
  • Scissors


  Fabric cut for seat cushion  Making ties for seat cushion

sew an invisible stitch to close cushion  quilt cushion to keep layers together

  1. Measure the seat of your chair. Mine measured 15 inches by 15 inches, so I knew I wanted to make a cushion 15 by 15.
  2. Cut out your mattress pad stuffing: I made my squares 3/4″ smaller on all sides than my intended cushion size as it was easier to stuff and looked better all around. I used two layers of mattress pad for each cushion, but depending on the thickness of your mattress pad you may only need one or may need up to three layers. All in all, my mattress pad squares were cut to 14.75″ each.
  3. Cut out your outer fabric for the cushion: Mine measured 15.5″, leaving half an inch of seam allowance.
  4. Decide how you’ll add ties. The ties are necessary for the cushion to stay on the chair. I chose to add ties to the two back corners of my cushions and make them out of the contracting print at the bottom of my fabric. I made two long ties per cushion, about 15-16″ each, and folded them in half to be sewn into the back. You could also use ribbon or a variety of other trims.
  5. Sew your cushion: Pin the two right sides of your cushion’s outer material together, pinning each tie to the back corners with the tie inside with the right sides. With a half inch seam allowance, sew around the edge of the cushion, leaving a 5-inch opening. Reinforce the ties by backstitching a couple times.
  6. Turn the cushions right side out. Carefully stuff your mattress pad layers into each cushion, making sure the layers lay flat. Use an invisible stitch to close each opening. If hand sewing scares the bejesus out of you you can carefully close each opening with your sewing machine right along the edge.
  7. Quilt your cushion: If you choose to sew a quick square on your cushion, it will keep the inside layers flat and make your cushion nicer. You can do this on your sewing machine, but I chose to do it by hand with embroidery thread for a cute and chunky look. To do so, Thread your embroidery needle and knot the end. Embroider a square about 6″ by 6″ in the center of your cushion. I eyeballed my square, but if you wanted it to be totally perfect you could mark it with chalk first. Make sure when you make your stitches the needle is puncturing the same part of the cushion on the other side so that each side of the cushion looks neat and tidy. quilted chair cushion
  8. Put your cushions on your chair and sit on them! Or if you’re like Stella, gaze lovingly out the window at prey.

sew your own chair cushions

Not sure what to do with that old mattress pad but don't want to throw it away? Use it as batting for these adorable DIY chair cushions!

DIY Soy Candles From Cat Food Cans

Salvage & Stitch: These cute candles were made from leftover cat food cans!
My cat and I love each other probably too much. Heck, she’s sitting next to me as I type this right now. We buy her the best food that money can buy, I snuggle her everyday, play with her relentlessly, and clean her litter box (a.k.a The Poo Palace) every single day. While I’ve been able to make most of Stella’s basic functions sustainable, like by composting her renewable wood cat litter, her canned food practice is so so so wasteful. Even though I recycle the cans, it still feels like 24 cans per month is a lot to go through on the regular. Yes, I could switch her to all dry food, but I like the nutritional benefits of her eating grain-free wet food, and I can’t afford fancy raw food that I see at the pet store. But then, what to do with ALL THOSE CANS???? I decided, to turn a few into candles, and I’m really happy with the results!
Salvage & Stitch: This DIY tutorial will show you how to make soy-candles from leftover cat food cans!
It wasn’t a huge leap to see a cat food can and think, “I could turn that into a candle.” I really truly thought that this would be relatively easy and straightforward project that just about anyone could do, and don’t get me wrong, it is. It’s also probably one of the most involved DIY projects I’ve ever done because not only did I have to purchase most of the supplies to make the candles, I essentially had to earn a new badge in candle making to do the project and write up a tutorial for you. It turns out there is much more to candle making than picking out a container, sticking a wick in it, and pouring in some wax.
The last time I made anything that resembled a candle was in seventh grade. Those candles were kind you make from dipping a wick in wax repeatedly until you have a long candle. My only other candle experience before that was at a birthday party in elementary school where someone’s parents hired a professional candle maker to help us craft candles with real flowers in them for mother’s day. It was not my favorite craft because A) it was super complicated and involved for a birthday party for elementary aged children and I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing B) I didn’t even get to keep my candle, the peer pressure to give it to my mom was too great.
I’ve been seeing candle projects float around the internet for years, typically from upcycled materials, and I’ve definitely pinned my fair share of them. I thought after my minuscule candle-making experiences as a kid that this project wouldn’t be too difficult to get the hang of. But again, it turns out that candle-making is more of a science than an art. Regardless of the complexities, my research paid off because these candles burn beautifully. Before I lit one I was paranoid that they would burn fast like tea lights, making them unenjoyable for multiple uses, but I was wrong. These candles burn well, and after 30 minutes of burning, I only noticed a small dent. I wouldn’t expect hours and hours from them either, but it’s safe to say that they can be enjoyed. Plus, they make great gifts. Who doesn’t like candles?
Here are some things I learned about candle making that you might find useful:
  • You need to purchase the right wax depending on whether you’re making a container candle or a candle in a mold. Molded candles need a harder wax so they can stand upright.
  • The diameter of your container determines the wick size you want to purchase. I know! It turns out that you can’t just stick any old wick into your container, you need to know what your buying or your candle won’t burn evenly. This handy-dandy calculator will take the diameter of your container and the wax you intend to use and spit out the kind of wick that you want to buy.
  • If you’re using standard 4-inch cat food or tuna fish cans for this project like I did, I’ve linked to the wax and wicks that I purchased below so that you don’t have to become a candle making expert.
  • Soy wax is more ecofriendly and softer than other waxes, so I recommend it.
  • is a great resource for all your candle making projects, I highly recommend browsing their tutorials.
candle making supplies
  • Cat food or tuna fish cans, washed thoroughly and completely dry
  • Soy Wax
  • Wicks
  • Candle making pitcher
  • Hot glue gun
  • Popsicle sticks longer than the width of your cans
  • Clothespins
  • Medium sized pot
  • Access to a cooking range, stove, or hotplate
  • Decorative paper
  • Scissors
  • Wood or Metal utensil for stirring wax that you don’t care about.
  • Paper towels or old rags for cleaning up
  • 1 intact wrapper from the can to use a template for paper covering
Optional Supplies
  • Tweezers (for picking out stay debris before your candle dries)
  • Thermometer (most professional candle making tutorials will suggest having one, I didn’t use one and my candles turned out fine. Just don’t let your wax burn)
  • Essential oils for making your candles smell nice
  • Spray paint (if your cans are a boring metallic color and not gold like mine, you might consider spray painting them gold, rose gold, or silver for a more polished look before you pour your wax in.



  1. Using a hot glue gun, dab some hot glue to the base of each wick bottom and glue them into the center of each tuna can candle
  2. Place your popcicle stick against the wick, balancing it on each end of the can, and use a clothespin to hold it in place. This is done to keep your wick upright as you need your wick to be straight for the candle to burn properly.holding wick straight in container candle
  3. Fill your medium pot half way with water and place on stove. Turn the heat to med-high. Fill your canister with soy wax and place canister inside pot with water. The wax will start melting relatively quickly. I stirred it with a separate popcicle stick. When your water starts boiling, turn the heat down to med low. You don’t want to burn your wax.

soy wax in double boilermelting soy wax pouring wax into container

  1. When the wax is completely melted, take out of the pot and add your essential oils if you want scented candles. You may want to use more essential oils than you think you need, my candles turned out only lightly scented.  Give the wax a quick stir to distribute the oils.
  2. Pour wax into cans, making sure to end before the inner ridge.
  3. Repeat the wax melting and pouring until all your cans are full of wax. At this point, walk away. Go eat lunch, read a book, take a shower, just don’t watch your candles because it’s a little agonizing.Soy wax candle long wick
  4. When candles are hard and cool, cut the wicks down to size, I left mine about a half an inch.
  5. Using the original wrapper you saved as a template to cut new wrappers from decorative paper for your candles. I used scraps of paper I already had on hand.
  6. To glue the wrappers on, wrap the wrapper around the candle and dab hot glue to the ends of the paper and secure. Don’t glue the entire piece of paper, it’s unnecessary.
  7. You now have beautiful tea lights!


  • If your wax gets a hot enough, it will melt the hot glue holding the wick inside your candle, essentially ruining your candle attempt. If this happens, pour the wax back into the canister and wait a few minutes for the wax to cool. You’ll have to reglue the wick of that candle.
  • If you have pets (and if you’re doing this tutorial you probably do…) stray hairs might fly into your freshly poured candles. You can use tweezers to pull them out before the candle has cooled.
  • Your cans will be very hot when you pour the wax in, and will also be very hot when your candles are lit (just like tea lights). The paper on the outside can help make them easier to pick up, but you prefer to keep your candles bare, use caution when handling.
  • Whatever you do, don’t put your essential oils in the wax while your canister is on the burner. Essential oils go rancid pretty quickly once exposed to extreme heat and their smell will fade.
Make Soy Candles Out of Cat Food Cans! Ever wonder what to do with all those cat food cans? You can make candles easily and inexpensively with soy wax! Give them as gifts, use them to light up your home or office.
Salvage & Stitch: Reuse all those cat food cans by making this beautiful soy candle tutorial! These candles make great gifts too.