Giant Gift Bag: Sewing for St. Jude

What do you do when you have a large, bulky gift to wrap?? Make a giant gift bag that can be used year after year!

I partnered with St. Jude and JoAnn Fabrics to bring you this tutorial and tell you about St. Jude’s lifesaving work. I used three yards of the Holiday Deer fabric designed by Madison, a former St. Jude patient along with three yards of a stash fabric and a wired ribbon from Dollar Tree.

The best part about a project like this giant gift bag is you can customize it to whatever size and shape you need.

But before I get to the tutorial I want to talk a little bit about St. Jude. My favorite thing about St. Jude is the families never receive a bill for the treatment their child receives. Instead of worrying about finances and how bills will be paid, families can focus on their children and the care they are receiving. The way St. Jude is able to provide this type of care is through the generosity of donors like you and me.

St. Jude has asked me once again to participate in their fundraising campaign this holiday season. I have set a goal of $500 and hope we can not only reach that goal, but give generously above and beyond. Last year we also had a $500 goal and ended up raising an amazing $1,060!

You can donate to St. Jude through my link HERE!

Now onto the tutorial. This giant gift bag is VERY easy to make, but looks SO incredible!

Watch the full tutorial HERE!

Please like and share the video to help more people see it and hear about the work St. Jude is doing to help end childhood cancer. If you feel led to donate you can do so HERE. Until next time, Happy Sewing!


Sew Your Stash – Update

Did you know Sew Your Stash is back?!? Sew Your Stash originally began in 2017 when I realized I needed to stop buying, buying, buying and actually start using what I had. The original challenge lasted three years and 14,000 people joined in with me. We made so many amazing things from our stash fabrics!

Now two years since the original challenge ended I found myself with an overflowing stash once again. I realized it was time to restart the challenge. Six hundred people have already joined in on the Facebook group and I would love for you to join too!

Today I’m sharing ALL the projects I made from August through October using my stash fabrics. I’m so happy with how many things I made; it is a TON!! I made costumes, bags, a backpack purse, and so much more. I even started a quilt coat from scraps and am trying my hand at English paper piecing. You can see ALL the projects in my Sew Your Stash update HERE!

I mention a TON of videos and resources in the video. The links for all of them are in the video description box on youTube, so make sure to click through to youTube to find them all.

As we head into the holiday season I have partnered with St. Jude. This is my second year partnering with them and I’m so honored to help out. Last year we raised a total of $1,060 and I would love to do even more this year. If you aren’t familiar with St. Jude, they have helped bring the childhood cancer survival rate from 20% to 80% with their breakthrough research and treatment. The best part is the families never receive a bill! It is funded by people like you and me so the children and families can focus on healing rather than worrying about finances. I will have a video coming soon sharing more details and a project inspired by a fabric designed by a St. Jude patient. I have a donation page set up if you are interested in donating to St. Jude and making a difference in the lives of St. Jude patients and their families! You can click HERE to donate.

I hope you all have a wonderful week! I will be back soon with more tutorials. Until next time, Happy Sewing!


Making a Costume from the Thrift Store

This Halloween I was challenged by Central Oklahoma Goodwill to create a costume using items found at a Goodwill store. I thought it was a fun idea so I took on the challenge and made a costume from the thrift store. The costume I made is Vanellope from Wreck-It-Ralph.

Before I headed to the store I made a list of costumes I could make based on different characters who wear normal-ish clothing. So clothes I could find at the thrift store and after some small DIYs, look like what the character wears.

One character I really wanted to do was Vanellope. So when I found the aqua hoodie I was so excited! The hardest part was obviously her mismatched striped leggings. I ended up making them using two different striped t-shirts.

You can see all the DIYs I did in my youTube video HERE!

I’m so thrilled will how the costume turned out! It’s really comfortable since I made it from real clothing. Since I cosplay and attend several conventions each year I will definitely be wearing this costume many times. What thrift store costume would you put together??

Until next time, Happy Sewing


*The clothing was provided to me by Central Oklahoma Goodwill in exchange for making the costume*

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!