EASY Kangaroo Pocket – Sweatshirt Upcycle

Several years ago I was wearing a sweatshirt and remembered how much I prefer hoodies for their kangaroo pockets. I decided right then that I needed to make a kangaroo pocket tutorial using a t-shirt as my material. It took me a few years to thrift a plain sweatshirt I liked and I’m finally showing you how to make a super simple kangaroo pocket to transform an old t-shirt.

When I was originally inspired for this project it was from a sweatshirt with a large print on the front (so not ideal for this upcycle). I thought a plain sweatshirt with with a pocket made from one of my kids outgrown graphic tees would be so fun. But in the end I found this grey sweatshirt with a bleach stain on the front. It was from the basement of a local thrift store where they have a fill-a-bag for $5 sale. It’s sort of a last chance for clothes that didn’t sell or are too damaged to sell in the regular section. I snagged the sweatshirt, a few other clothes to wear, and a jean skirt – new with tags, but with a busted zipper (I’ll be upcycling it in an upcoming tutorial). The sweatshirt and skirt would have likely ended up in a landfill since they are damaged, but I was able to get them both and give them a whole new life.

When I got home I dug through my “clothes for cutting” pile (the part of my stash where I keep clothes I plain to repurpose as materials. None of the graphic tees had the look I wanted and suddenly I noticed a teal and grey striped shirt from my kids that was an exact match to the sweatshirt. It was meant to be!

Once I had my supplies the project was so fast and easy to make. I started by measuring a hoodie in my closet to see what size my pocket needed to be. Below are the measurements I ended up using. I went with a quarter inch seam allowance on the sides and a little bigger at the top and bottom to keep my stitching lined up with the edges of the stripes.

Once your pattern is made you’re ready to start and you’ll be amazed how quickly you can transform a sweatshirt from drab to fab!

Watch the step by step tutorial HERE!

So what do you think? Did I save this old sweatshirt and make it wearable again? I’m looking forward to cooler weather so I can start wearing it.

Want to see how I have upcycled other clothing my kids have outgrown?

My daughter loved her cat shirt and wanted to wear it even after it was outgrown. I did some careful cutting and used it for the top portion of a pinafore dress. She loves the dress and how I was able to extend the life of her shirt. Watch that tutorial HERE!

Let me know how you like to upcycle clothing in the comments. Until next time, Happy Sewing!


Making Liz From the Magic School Bus

I love dressing up as Ms. Frizzle, but I’ve been using a generic stuffed dragon as my Liz. I want a more accurate Liz based on the book illustrations. This week I cut up my daughter’s first costume to repurpose the material as a Liz for Ms. Frizzle.

I never even thought of making Liz until I found Simplicity 8715.

As soon as I saw the pattern I instantly thought of this costume and knew I had to make myself a new Liz. The next question is what fabrics to use. I sat on it for a few months, not knowing what to use and not really ready to get started. Then I remembered the costume I made for Peyton when she was an infant. Peyton wore it two years in a row to our local Medieval Faire and Skyler wore it as well. The dress has long been outgrown and just asking to be reused.

You may be wondering, why not just buy new fabrics? Well at the beginning of August I restarted my Sew Your Stash challenge. Back in 2017 I realized I had begun collecting fabrics more than using fabrics, so I started Sew Your Stash and challenged myself to shop my stash before shopping at a store. Over the next 3.5 years I made countless projects from my stash and so many Whitney Sews viewers joined in and sewed amazing things from their stashes. Between the end of the original challenge and now I have rebuillt my stash (with new and thrifted materials as well as clothes intending for repurposing) and need to focus once again and using what I have. You can join me in the Facebook group to see what I’m sewing from my stash and share what you’re making.

Since I put myself on a buying ban I got creative and chose to repurpose the beautiful green velvet dress into my new Liz. Click HERE to see how I did it.

So what do you think I should make next using the fabrics and clothing in my stash??

Until next time, Happy Sewing!


EASY Lined Drawstring Bag

Drawstring bags are so easy to make but can fill so many uses in our daily lives! Today I’m showing how to make an easy lined drawstring bag.

This particular bag was made using the Fever Fighter fabric created by St. Jude and JoAnn Fabrics. I first talked about St. Jude in December 2021 and through the amazing generosity of the Whitney Sews viewers we were able to raise $1060 to help support St. Jude and the life saving services they provide for children.

But the fundraiser is over and today is all about how to make the actual bag. You can grab a couple of fabrics from your stash or two fat quarters plus ribbon or bias tape for the drawstring and you are ready to start.

You can follow along with my step by step tutorial HERE!

Want to make even more drawstring bags? I have several more drawstring bag tutorials you can watch HERE.

What is your favorite use for a drawstring bag? Reusable gift wrap? Small toy storage? What do you keep in them, I would love to know!

Until next time, Happy Sewing!


Saving Money With Sewing

7 ways to save money on sewing

Ever feel like sewing is expensive and costs more than it’s worth? Today I’m sharing my tips for 7 ways you can save money with sewing. Some of the tips will save money on your sewing supplies and others will help you save in other areas of your life.

One of my favorite ways to save money is to repurpose items. This is not only budget friendly, but sustainable and FUN! I take clothing we no longer need or fit and remake them into completely different items we can continue to use and love.

One of my favorite examples is when Skyler had a shirt she loved, but it was too small for her to continue wearing. I used the cute design from the shirt and a thrifted curtain to make a pinafore dress.

Another favorite of mine are the leggings I made for Peyton using my old maternity shirts. The leggings are super soft and comfy, perfect for sleeping in. One shirt wasn’t really long enough for leggings, so I added a thick cuff at the bottom to make up the extra length. This means my kids got new clothes and they didn’t cost me a penny! I only used clothing and supplies that we already owned.

I share more about this tip and SIX ADDITIONAL IDEAS in my youTube video. Click HERE to learn more!

I would love to know how you save money with your sewing. Please leave a comment and share this post with your sewing friends. Until next time, Happy Sewing!


Making Costumes on a Tight Budget

Sewing on a budget is a necessity for many sewers, but it doesn’t have to feel like a punishment! Today I want to share some of my favorite methods for making costumes on a tight budget and enjoying it.

I began sewing 22 years ago. My very first big project was a scrappy quilt using leftover pieces from my mom’s quilt project. Her fabric – thrifted plaid shirts. It was the ultimate budget project and we had a blast working on our quilts!

The first garments I made were t-shirt reconstructions. My materials – a boyfriend’s old, unwanted t-shirts.

Early in our marriage all my projects were made from thrifted sheets. I could get them for a dollar or two and make a ton of things from each one.

It dawned on me a few years back that having limited supplies forced me to be more creative. I could be creative with material choices, cutting layouts, and mixing fabrics. I loved the challenge of making so little add up to look like so much more.

So, how do you get started costuming on a budget? Below are some of my favorite tips.

Use Your Stash

I start each project at the stor(age). Yes, that is correct, do not start by heading to a store, but rather to your storage (or stash). In my case that is a storage building in our yard. We keep Christmas decor, out of season clothes, and my extra fabric in there. When I’m planning a new project (or trying to decide between a couple of projects) I will head out there with my reference photos and see what I can find. Sometimes it’s a fabric for the majority of the costume other times it’s just a trim or a sheet to use for the lining. The more materials I can use from my stash, the less I need to buy.

Stock Up on Basics

You may be thinking, but I don’t have much of a stash. So my next tip is to stock up on basics. When there is a great sale stock up on things you know you use time and again. Things like thread, interfacing, and elastic are some of my must haves on hand. Years ago I bought interfacing a yard or two at a time as needed. This meant a trip to town, possibly paying full prices, and small bits of offcuts left over each time. I realized how ridiculous this was after a while. The next time interfacing was 60% off I bought an entire bolt. Now there is less waste because I’m working with one continuous piece, I got it at the lowest possible price, and it’s always on hand for planned or unplanned projects.

Thrift Wisely

After checking my stash and my go to supplies I hit the thrift stores. I have a handful of good thrift stores in my area. I hit up each one to see if I can find curtains, sheets, yardage, and even clothing that can be repurposed. I will go to stores with specific projects in mind, but will also pick up any curtains and things I find that could work for other projects in the future. I gravitate to natural fibers when possible (linen and cotton) and texture. Texture adds visual interest and makes a costume look more expensive.

The skirt in the photo below was made from a circle tablecloth I thrifted for $2. It has a tone on tone damask design that looks much more interesting than a solid yellow fabric. The waistband was made from a thrifted bed skirt and some stash elastic.

Think Outside the Box

After I nail down as many materials as I can from stash and thrift stores I look at the items that are left. These are usually non fabric items. In the case of my female Robin Hood costume I needed eight toggle buttons and loop fasteners. It was not in my budget to buy them, so I figured out how to make them – for free! The buttons are a dowel rod from a broken clothes drying rack I had hung onto “just in case”. I cut, dremeled, stained and sealed them to have beautiful wooden buttons. The loop fasteners are scrap leather from a jacket I thrifted and used in THIS project years ago and green elastic cord from another thrift flip. My lack of budget challenged me to try new things and I gained some new skills.

BTW take note of the texture of the green fabric. As I mentioned earlier, texture adds a lot to a costume. Since making this shirt I have managed to thrift the same curtain in black, raspberry, and cream to use in future projects.

Reuse Costume Pieces

My most recent finish was a huge build with a big (for me) budget of time and money. It took about 200 hours to complete, 50+ of those hours were spent hand embroidering the bottom of the teal skirt. The costume won Best in Show at the largest convention in our state, so I probably won’t be competing with it anymore. Plus the costume has SOOOOO many pieces that I realistically don’t see myself wearing it that many times. But that doesn’t mean I can’t reuse parts of it.

I have been wanting to make a costume from the movie Brave for many years. So when one of the kids looked at the teal skirt and said “it looks like something Merida would wear” I knew it had to happen. I had about 1 yard of the material left and managed to squeeze a bodice and sleeves out of it. This coming weekend I’ll be wearing the skirt with the new bodice and a shirt I made from a thrifted sheet for a Merida costume. I’ll be sharing photos on my Instagram, so make sure you’re following me to see them.

I’m also already planning to reuse my $2 yellow tablecloth skirt in another upcoming cosplay. I didn’t intentionally pick costumes that could reuse pieces, but you definitely could to get the most bang for your buck by selecting costume with basics that can be used time and again!

Costume and Budget Breakdown

Whew, now that I have shared all those tips, I want to do a quick breakdown of my Robin Hood costume.

I started with the Cosplay by McCalls Sentinel pattern, I picked it up on sale for $1.99 a few years ago. The apple green shirt and hood lining was made from a thrifted curtain I pulled from my stash. The green velvet was a bit leftover from making THIS dress for Peyton to wear to the Medieval Fair when she was a baby. Before that the velvet was actually part of my mom’s stash. The red trim is from a theatre sale I went to years ago. I made the leather bracers from scraps I got in a bargain bag (with a coupon!) years ago at Hobby Lobby. The quiver is foam and paint I already had in my craft stash. The boots were repurposed from my Arrietty costume a few years back. The belt is Jeremiah’s and the bow and arrow were bought for a different costume. I mentioned earlier how I made the custom closures. The only two things I bought for this costume were the shorts for $2.50 (I added velvet at the bottom to make them longer and tie in better with the costume) and brown curtains for $10 for the body of the vest and hood outer. That means I made a new costume for under $15!

The biggest takeaway from this is don’t look at budgeting as something hard or punishing. Look at it as a way to kick start extra creativity, gain new skills, and be more sustainable. I won’t go super deep into sustainability right now, but I do love knowing that in addition to saving money I’m also cutting back on purchasing new fabrics and keeping existing materials from being thrown out.

I have a video coming soon all about saving money with sewing. You won’t want to miss it, so make sure you’re subscribed to Whitney Sews on youTube to catch it. Until next time, Happy Sewing!


Where I Find Books – CHEAP!

We are a book loving family and LOVE owning a LOT of books! To make that manageable I have to shop smart and find the best book deals. Today I’m sharing all my favorite sites and secrets for purchasing affordable books.

Check out the video HERE to see my favorite places to buy books!

Below are referral links/affiliate links to some of the places mentioned so you can get some rewards and I earn some points as well.

Paperback Swap

Book Outlet

You can use Rakuten (formerly ebates) to save even more on Book Outlet and other sites.

Thrift Books



Earlier this summer we got each kid a book light that clips onto their bunk bed. They are allowed to read from whenever they go to bed until 10 o’clock. It has totally changed bedtime! The kids want to go to bed earlier so they have more time to read. I have seen a huge improvement in their reading skills and reading confidence just by making this one change. You can find the ones I bought HERE.

Most people don’t know, but I actually have a youTube channel called Whitney Reads where I narrate kids books. You can check it out HERE!

Ok, that was a ton of links! I hope you enjoyed hearing me ramble on about books in my video and will check out some of the sites I linked. If you want to see more videos like this make sure you hit that subscribe button for Whitney’s Tiny Life (the channel my book video is posted on).

Until next time,

Polo Transformation

Now that I have completed my huge costume project (which by the way, I won BEST IN SHOW!) I am back to working on some other sewing projects.

First on the list was a quick pair of shorts for my youngest daughter. A few weeks ago my husband threw a few of his old polos into the donate pile. I promptly pulled them back out and said “I can reuse those!”

I used a basic leggings pattern and whipped up a quick pair of shorts. They don’t even require hemming since I reused the original shirt hem.

I’m trying out making some short form video tutorials and this was the first one. You can watch the video HERE! Let me know if you like this style of videos for quick sewing projects.

I also released my newest cross stitch pattern today! It’s the next in my Carty Party series and just in time for Christmas in July stitching.

You can find this pattern and all my other designs in my etsy shop linked HERE!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! Happy Sewing!


Sewing and Stitching

In my last update I talked a little about the costume I was working on for myself. I’m happy to say that I finished it and wore it twice already!

I used THIS Cosplay by MccCall’s pattern for the hood, tunic, and vest. It was my first time using a Cosplay by McCall’s pattern and I really enjoyed working with it. I have used many patterns (and own MANY, MANY more) and my biggest pattern complaint is how seam finishings are often not included in the step by step directions. The sewer is expected to know when and how to finish the seams. When you’re new to sewing or self taught that isn’t something you just automatically know. The Cosplay by McCall’s pattern actually included seam finishing in the step by step directions. I hope it’s something that is carried over into other types of sewing patterns.

I finished my costume in time to wear it to the local Medieval Fair and the following week to Creators Con where I hosted a sewing panel and emceed the costume contest with Jeremiah. I shared more about Creators Con, my panel, and finishing our costumes on my Patreon. You can find that post HERE.

Photo by Bane Grimm Photography

Since Creators Con I have been taking a break from sewing and did some cross stitching. Earlier this week I released another new pattern in my etsy shop. It’s a fun piece inspired by the animal puns my kids enjoy. The design incorporates only three floss colors and is perfect for a beginner cross stitcher. You can find the PDF pattern HERE.

I hope you are all doing well and have a wonderful rest of the week. Until next time, Happy Sewing!


Amazon links are affiliate and help support Whitney Sews.

This entry was posted in Blog.

Almost Spring Time and Tons of Projects

Hello everyone! It has definitely been a bit since I last shared anything here. I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had time to slow done to share any updates.

As you can see above I have been keeping up with cross stitching. Within the past week I released two new Spring stitching designs.

The first was part four in my Crop of Characters series.

I started growing strawberries a couple of years ago so I knew my Spring crop needed to be berries. I think it turned out so cute and the perfect way to wrap up the series.

Next I shared the first pattern in my new Carty Party series.

Each design will feature a cart full of goodies and a character, but instead of following the seasons, this series centers on holidays. The first design is for Easter (but isn’t too obvious, so does work for Spring as well).

You can find all of my designs in my etsy shopStitched With Whitney.

In addition to cross stitching I have done some big stitch hand quilting on a project I started last Summer. It was only supposed to be a one or two month project. But after only a day or two of hand quilting I set it aside to work on something else AND COMPLETELY FORGOT ABOUT IT! I ended up cleaning my sewing corner (while wondering why the pile was so large) and found my forgotten quilt. So during the Olympics I spent a few evenings watching ice skating and stitching.

I still have a lot of work left on it, but feels good to have made some progress. The entire quilt was a stash buster for our spare/school room bed. I’m looking forward to seeing it completed.

Speaking of our school room. Back in November we switched our kids room and school room which was a huge job. The kids got a bunk bed and because of the shape of their old room/door and window placements there wasn’t a good place it would fit where the ceiling was high enough. So we swapped the rooms. Along with the swap I promised Peyton her own sewing space in the school room. I had a little corner to work with, so I used my childhood nightstand. I cut a U shape out of the bottom and took out the drawer and drawer supports to make room for her chair and legs. I had a little wooden folding chair that perfectly fits into it. It worked out perfectly and now Peyton can work on projects in her own little sewing space. She’s using the same sewing machine my parents gave me for Christmas when I was a teen. It’s the machine I took to collage with me and sewed costumes for my friends on, started my etsy shop with, and used in the early days of Whitney Sews.

I wrote up a post on my Patreon last month about how I’m teaching Peyton to sew, books and patterns we are using, and what she has made so far. It’s fun watching Peyton think of ideas for sewing and cross stitching (she started designing cross stitch patterns too!). She has so many more creative ideas than I have ever had and I can’t wait to see where it takes her!

On top of ALL of that I have been working on costumes in every spare moment I can find. After taking almost two years off from working on my large competition cosplay, I’m finally back at it!

The cosplay I’m making is Francesca from Avalon Code (a game I have never played). I found the image a few years back on Pinterest and fell in love with the entire look. After a year or so of continually coming back to it I decided I needed to make it! I made the teal skirt and hand embroidered the bottom and created the blue purse two years ago. You can find progress pics on my Instagram profile. In the past month I have made the shirt mockup and final shirt, the body of the smallest bag from foam, the large bag’s buckle from foam, the shoe buckets from foam, the pocket for the large bag, and the back portion of the pink skirt. I had never intended on letting this costume sit for so long, but with no conventions came no motivation to work on it. But now that things are back on track I have motivation and lots of new ideas on how to complete some of the pieces I had previously been unsure about.

I also got back to work on Jeremiah’s Tenzin costume (and realized I was farther along than I remembered!) It down to mostly finishing work with is great. It has to be completed by April 9th to wear to the first convention of the year. It also happens to be the first convention where I will be hosting a sewing panel! It is called CreatorsCon and is a convention all about learning and creating cosplays and props.

I wanted to have a new cosplay to wear to the convention (but there’s no way my Francesca will be done in time) so I decided to put together a less involved costume. I decided on a female Robin Hood type look. This way I can wear it to the Medieval Faire and to CreatorsCon.

I thrifted a light green set of curtains and a dark brown curtain set to use as my materials along with a bit of leftover velvet, a scrap of leather, and a dowel rod from a broken clothes drying rack. I used the dowel rod to make my own wooden buttons and I am SO thrilled with how they turned out!

The kids are going with us to the con and Peyton requested a True costume from True and the Rainbow Kingdom. I made the bag and headband, but went easy on myself and bought all the clothes instead of making them myself.

There are still more things I’ve been working on, but that is all I can squeeze in here for now. I hope you are all doing well. Until next time, Happy Sewing!


What I Gifted For Christmas

This year I gifted more handmade Christmas gifts than ever before! The best part is I made them mostly from stash fabrics. It felt so amazing to make lovely gifts I knew people would love from fabrics I’ve had for FAAAAAAR too long.

I was at JoAnn fabrics a few months ago during a pattern sale and found two patterns that inspired me. When I got home I dug through some fabrics in our storage building and pulled out a few that needed to be used! One fabric is the underside of a thrifted faux fur blanket (the fur side was used years ago for a costume). Another fabric was bought 12 years ago for a dress (that dress is never going to happen).

I set to work making everything. This is where it got REALLY hard! I could only work on my daughter’s gift when she was at dance class. I could only work on Jeremiah’s when he was at work, after we finished school for the day and had a little down time. The fact that I’m TERRIBLE at keeping secrets made it even harder.

But it was all worth it! Anyway, enough talk. You can see all the handmade Christmas gifts I made in the video linked below.

I would love to know if you gave handmade gifts this year. What was your favorite thing you made? I can’t decide between Peyton’s gift or my Dad’s.

Until next time, Happy Sewing!


This entry was posted in Blog.