Author Archives: Anitra

About Anitra

Anitra Cameron had the good fortune to be born into a family where creativity ran rampant. Her father has authored several books and worked as a photographer and her mother hand-painted portraits. Anitra’s favorite crafts to make are: Jewelry (especially using buttons), collaged book marks, miniature cake stands, all from recycled materials. Anitra’s moto: “Use it up. Wear it out. Make it do, or do without.” Live with that long enough and you’ll never want to throw anything away, so best to turn it into art! Anitra lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband, where their combined family’s total seven children, and (so far) seventeen grandchildren. Recently Anitra became a great-grandmother of a darling little boy! You can find more of Anitra’s work at “Coffee Pot People”.

Quick! I Need a Costume!

By Recycled Crafts Contributor, Anitra from the blog Coffee Pot People.

This is the time of year for costumes, which is good for me. I never did outgrow loving to play dress-up, and I just love creating costumes. But what do you do when you need a costume in a hurry?

The costume at the top is one solution, and got a lot of laughs at our recent Cousins’ Night Out. We were supposed to dress in “French costumes”. Have you figured Mama and me out yet?

We’re French Fries, complete with the fry baskets!

If you want to go as an order of fries, or let one of the kids do it, these are the “ingredients”:

  • A red hat and scarf for “catsup”
  • Tan pants and turtleneck for the “fry” part
  • A plastic basket from the dollar store, with the bottom cut out. (You’ll be surprised how small a basket “fits”, I bet!) To put it on, just step in and squiggle it up until it hits a comfortable “staying” spot.
  • Last step, for extra fun: Get two catsup packets from your local fast food joint, poke holes in the flat edge at the top center of each one, and hang them from earring wires.

This was a fun costume to put together and wear, and we even took first prize–for sheer creativity!

Want a couple more quickie costume ideas?

This one came to me just today, as I was cutting and rolling sheets of bubble wrap to take to a local non-profit: Wear white pants and tee, wrap yourself from head to toe in big-bubble bubble wrap, and go as a bubble bath! Make a cap of the stuff, and “accessorize” with a washcloth or back brush. Just be careful if you sit down, lol!

Another one, a little more time-consuming, but fun, is to go as a Rubik’s cube. I did this for one of my girls when she was about eight. First, get a cardboard box big enough to go from the neck to the top of the thighs. If it’s more or less a cube, that’s great, but it doesn’t have to be. Cut construction paper into rectangles or squares the right size to make three rows of three squares across, in six different colors, then glue them randomly on the sides and top of the box. (Yes, it’s an unsolved cube. Never could put those things back right, myself.) Cover with clear self-stick vinyl (such as Contac paper) to make them shiny. Cut holes for the head and arms.

Another costume I created for one of my girls when she was maybe six was a caterpillar. I took a velour turtleneck she already had and lengthened it with wide bands of velour until it was an ankle-length tube. Then I went to the thrift store and bought six or seven pairs of the teensiest baby shoes (fabric type) that I could find, and safety pinned them in a double row down the front of the tube to be her caterpillar feet. We topped her off with an antennae head-band, and painted her face one of the colors of her costume, with bright lips, and a big polka dot on each cheek.

Altered Treat Jars

By Recycled Crafts Contributor, Anitra from the blog Coffee Pot People.

A lot of adults have as much fun on Halloween as the kids do. And why not? Why shouldn’t we get to play dress up, and watch scary movies, and enjoy the decorations?

Of course, not many grown-ups get to go Trick-or-Treating! So let’s make up for that a little and put together Altered Treat Jars for our fun-loving friends.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Now, this is such a simple project, I don’t think directions are really necessary. Just take a look at the photos, the one above of the front, and the one below of the back.

Let your own imagination and creativity carry you along. Cover the jar with scrapbooking paper, or an old Halloween card front, decorate it and the lid with stickers, etc., and you’re ready to fill the jar and give it away.

Need help on what to put inside? There’s always candy, of course, including such yummy adult goodies as chocolate-covered coffee beans, but you don’t have to limit yourself to edibles. My friend just happens to love Halloween, and also does collage and card-making, so I packed her jar with black, orange, and purple buttons, beads, and flat marbles, a bunch of stickers, some purple ribbon, some ostrich feather, and another black feather I found outside, and two small paper punches of a cat and a bat. Get the idea?

Now that you’ve done a Halloween jar, I’ll bet you’re getting all kinds of ideas for others. Me, too! Here’s one I made this week for a friend who loves pink:

My jar had two flat sides, so it ended up having two “fronts”:

Oh, and one last thing: When you’re filling the jar, if you’re careful you can get the contents to show through nicely, and almost become part of the decoration:

You know, I can hardly wait to empty another jelly jar!


Zip Up a Flower

By Recycled Crafts Contributor, Anitra from the blog Coffee Pot People.

I love all the embellishments for clothing, bags, and other items being made from zippers these days, don’t you? Exposed zippers are a hot trend right now and this look is very easy to get. This is a simple flower pin to make, using just three things, plus a needle & thread:

  • A brass zipper about 21 inches long; metal is best (I cut mine from a jacket I no longer wear) OR ZipR Trim
  • A pin back or small circle of non-fraying material
  • A “silk” leaf
  • Needle & thread

Begin by separating the zipper into its two halves—simply unzip all the way, if it’s one that comes completely apart, or cut the stopper off at the bottom and then unzip it. Remove the zip-up thingy, which you won’t need. If you want, you can cut off the long straight piece at the bottom. If you leave it on, use that end to begin your flower.

Before you start working with the zipper, take your silk leaf, stripped off any supporting plastic veins, and stitch it to the pin back’s pierced disk or circle of fabric. You just need to do a couple of stitches in the center, as the stitching to attach the flower will add more stitches to it, too.

My flower has five petals, and I found that about 3″ of the zipper was needed for each one, so I put a dot every three inches, and then just “stacked” the dots. Begin like this:

Then just continue looping. It’s very like making a bow for a package:

Every so often, stitch down through the stack and pin disk to fasten the petals in place. That way they won’t get away from you.

When you have about 6″ of zipper left, start rolling the center of your flower, beginning at the free end of the zipper.

As you roll, take stitches to keep everything in place. When the zipper’s completely rolled up down to the petals, stitch it to the center of the flower, going through the pin disk or fabric circle as you work. Fasten off the thread and cut, and attach the pin’s back piece to the pierced front part. If you’ve used a fabric circle, you can sew a safety pin on the back now; make sure the pin is off-center, near the top edge of the circle, so that the pin doesn’t droop forward.

You’re done! What will you wear your pin on?

How to Wear a Doily

By Recycled Crafts Contributor, Anitra from the blog Coffee Pot People.

If there’s one thing obvious about fashion, it’s that nothing stays in or out forever. For example, I haven’t seen so many ruffles at the necks of blouses and shirts since the 1970’s, and what looked dated and stale a year or two ago, now looks fresh and new. (Funny how that works.)

Here’s the easiest way I know of to grab the new style, while simultaneously using something else you may not think of as stylish—a doily.

All you need is a doily and a shirt or blouse, in matching or coordinating colors.

Put on your blouse, buttoning it all the way to the neck. Now find a hole your shirt button will fit through on the doily. The hole should be a little above the center point of the doily. Button the doily on through the hole.

Let it drape in graceful ruffles.

That’s it, and aren’t you just the picture of fashion?

Fringed Flip-Flops

By Recycled Crafts Contributor, Anitra from the blog “Coffee Pot People”.

Quick! While the summer weather is still here, let’s alter one last pair of flip-flops. This is a look you may have seen, done with a new method that makes them even easier to do, and more comfortable to wear.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A pair of flip-flops
  • Two or three scraps of fabric in coordinating colors and/or prints

Your first step is to measure the length of the thong’s strap, that narrow piece of plastic you slip your foot under. Now cut two rectangles from each of your fabrics as long as your strap and about 6″ wide.

Fold each of the rectangles in half lengthwise, and cut to within about ½” of the center at roughly half-inch intervals:

Now put one of the double fringes you’ve just created under the strap of a flip-flop, with the wrong side of the fabric against the underside of the strap. Starting where the strap goes through the sole near the heel, begin tying knots. You can tie a knot around the toe strap, or just skip over it when you come to it:

When you’ve tied the fringe on all the way across, take a second fringed rectangle and do the same thing. If you like the look, you can consider yourself done, but you can always cut a third rectangle and fringe and tie for even more color and pattern. The underside of the flip-flop’s straps will be smooth against your feet, and a tiny bit more padded with the addition of each fringed length of fabric.

One last step, if the flip-flops seem too “bushy”: Trim the fringe so that it’s shorter at the back and sides, and longer over the toes.

And one last thought: We think of flip-flops as summer wear, but picture these done with colorful flannelette or fleece for bedroom slippers!

1 Tee + 1 Tote Equals Fun

By Recycled Crafts Contributor, Anitra from the blog “Coffee Pot People”.

This is a very easy redo for a tote bag. All you’ll need for it is a t-shirt with a front or back you like, and a tote bag you’d like to dress up a bit. Your t-shirt front needs to be a little larger than the front of the tote.

First, flatten your tote bag so you can either draw around it to make a pattern, or cut around it, if you’re not worried about snipping an edge.

Now, lay your t-shirt out nice and flat. Put the pattern or tote on top of the tee, and cut, leaving ¼” to ½” extra all the way around to turn under. Turn under the edges to make the tee piece exactly the same size as your tote.

Most tote side edges are top-stitched or bound in seam binding. This makes them kind of separate from the body of the tote itself, which is why this is such an easy refurb. Starting at one upper corner of your tote bag, pin the tee piece right to that edge, and do a tight, close zigzag stitch all the way around.

That’s all there is to it–easy peasy, lemon squeezy!

(Note: My tee shirt front, as you may have noticed, was actually a bit short, so I let the hemmed lower edge be the upper edge, and blind stitched it across the top, rather than zigzagging. If you’re going to do that, make sure the shirt’’s design looks okay upside down!)

Dotee Dolls

By Recycled Crafts Contributor, Anitra from the blog “Coffee Pot People”.

I spent yesterday afternoon making my first three Dotee dolls, and what fun that was! Have you heard of them? They were invented by a lady in Australia named Dot, and they’re becoming quite the rage, especially for swapping. (Click here to see more dotees)

I was charmed by them right off the bat, and also love that they take so little in the way of materials or even skill. In fact, this would be a great craft to do with a child—a fun way to learn basics like sewing on a button, stuffing a small toy, with a reward at the end in the form of a new toy.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Scraps of fabric, roughly 8″ to 10″ square
  • A bit of white, cream, or tan fabric for the face
  • Trims for hair (optional)
  • Dangly bits—those earrings from the ’80’s you held onto work well
  • Odd bits and buttons you might use
  • Pens, crayons, etc., for drawing the face
  • Glue, needle & thread, scissors, fusible interfacing, etc.

The simplest dotees are rectangular, with no arms, legs, or even hair. They always have a hanger at the top, and a dangle at the bottom. Well, actually the dangle is optional, too!

To get started, decide about how big you want your dotee to be. Try a rectangular one first—you can make shaped ones next. Cut a two pieces of fabric the size of the doll you have in mind, plus half an inch seam allowance all around, plus about an inch more to allow for the “shrinkage” that will happen when you stuff it. If you like, round the top of the rectangles.

Now cut a circle of the white/cream/tan fabric for the face. You might want to cut a paper circle first, to gauge size. Draw a face on the circle. I used an ink pen, a fine-tip marker, and fabric crayons to draw mine. Use what you have—it’s all good!

Cut a bit of fusible interfacing the same size as the circle, and iron the face in position on the front of your rectangle.

Now sew the rectangles together, right sides facing. Leave a gap at the bottom for stuffing. Clip any curves, and trim the corners, and turn right side out. Stuff lightly, and blind stitch the opening.

If you aren’t going to put hair on your doll sew the hanger into the seam. If your doll will have hair, you can cut a length of string, tie a knot to make a loop, and sew where the hair will cover the knot.

For Plaidy Lady, I used a short length of upholstery fringe for her hair, with a button sewed to each end, and sewed it around her face, going right through the doll, and putting a French knot in several places just for pretty. I also added a bit from a broken necklace, to hand down in front. Here’s the back:

You could also just glue the fringe in place, which is what I did with the two other dotees.

Now choose a dangle—a dangly earring, a bit of a bracelet, etc.—or create your own. Sew or glue it to the bottom of your doll. If you like, cover the place where it’s attached with a button. (I put buttons on the front and back, both.)

Like many crafts, I think the instructions make these dolls sound harder to make than they actually are. Here’s the truth of the matter: I looked at pictures of a bunch of dotees, and just started making them. It’s that easy, and I think you’ll think so, too, once you’ve tried one!

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