MHL Upcycle: Make Accessories from an Old Belt, Part 2

Hello, lovelies!  This is part two of my latest MHL Upcycle.  If you haven’t read part one, I featured a leather bag tag I made from a old red leather belt I got at Union Thrift.   Today I’ll be sharing the other accessory I made: the silver studded leather cuff.

I’m really excited about this one. 🙂  Here it is!

For this project, I used the hole-y end of the belt (haha!).

It took me some time to figure out how to keep the cuff in place.  In the end, I decided to use large snaps.  I measured the cuff and marked where the snaps should be.  I used a push pin to make holes into the tough leather (again, with lots of elbow grease), and threaded in some wire to keep the snap in place.

Then I attached the partner snap on the other end.  Now, since this is the visible end of the cuff, I added a silver rectangular bead on the opposite side to hide the wires.  This bead also gives me something to hold on to when I’m snapping the cuff closed.

To cover the belt holes, I chose more silver beads.  The first picture shows that I used more of the silver butterflies that I used for my leather bag tag, but I actually ended up alternating them with rose-engraved round beads.  I just threaded the beads this time using brown nylon thread.  Wires would have been less comfy against the skin.

Now, here’s a very good tip.  Wonder why both projects don’t show signs of having been cut?  It’s because I coated the exposed leather with dark red nail polish.  Good, eh?  It also helps protect the leather from wear and tear.

So, there it is!  My very own one-of-a-kind silver studded leather cuff!  I’ve been wearing it for the past couple of days and it’s a delight to look at.  I’m also happy to report that, so far, the snaps have kept it on my wrist even as I’m doing my chores.

I still have some parts of the belt: 7 silver animals, bits of red leather, and a silver buckle.  I have yet to think of a project for them but I know I’ll cook something up eventually.

I hope you enjoyed this project!  Have a lovely day! (Blows a kiss.)


MHL Upcycle: Make Accessories from an Old Belt, Part 1

A couple of weeks ago, B. and I went to the newly opened Union Thrift store.  I went wild at their crafts aisle and bought a whole bunch of stuff mostly for 50 cents each.  I was also able to get a dark blue suede jacket and a couple of belts.  One of the belts that I got was made of sturdy red leather.  It wasn’t really my style and it was worn out in many parts, but it had these adorable silver animal embellishments that I knew I could use for a project or two.  I bought it even though, apart from cutting it up to ‘save’ the silver animals, I didn’t really know what else to do with it.

A couple of days ago, getting tired from sewing my baby pink flowers, I took a rest and started tinkering with the red belt.  While I was removing the animals, I realized I could actually make a couple of accessories: a leather bag tag and a silver studded leather cuff.

First, the leather bag tag!

I decided to use the buckle end of the belt for the bag tag.  Fortunately, the buckle could easily be removed because it was kept in place with snap buttons.  So, snap-snap.  I’m keeping this buckle for a future project.  I went through my craft things and found a silver butterfly bead, a plastic key tag, and a ring binder.  I made holes in the leather using a push pin and elbow grease (it was really tough leather!), and kept the elements in place with pliers and some wire.


It’s simple, sturdy, functional, and very pretty.  I enjoy how the red pops against this black leather bag (which is vintage Coach, by the way, which I thrifted for a dollar!)

Watch out for Part 2: my silver studded leather cuff!

MHL Upcycle: Basmati Lunch Sack

Rice is part of our daily fare so we buy these 15-pounds of Basmati rice that comes in this burlap sack.

I think we have about 3 and I planned to make them into a huge grocery sack to use so we can cut down on bringing home plastic bags.  But, for months now, B. had been using a Trader Joe’s paper bag to carry his lunch (another small step to help the environment)and it started to fall apart.  So I made him this using one for the Basmati rice sacks.

This is a very easy project that you can hand sew (if you have lots of time in your hands) or machine sew.  I decided not to cover the existing Basmati brand design because it added charm.  I made it boxy so it wouldn’t look so much like a lady lunch sack.  I was happy that B.didn’t feel his masculinity threatened by the brand design but I think shaping it like a little purse would be pushing it.

I lined it, of course, and used some fabric I got from a Freecycler.  It’s pretty sturdy and can even stand on its own.  Teehee!

I never would have thought of making a post about this but one of B.’s students asked him about the sack and wanted to know if I was selling.  Well, I hope this inspires people to make one instead.  Let’s work with what we already do have and recycle, shall we?

Neck-Deep in Flowers

This is what have been keeping my hands busy.

Before Goodwill stashed their winter wear away for the summer, I was able to score a few wool sweaters for felting.  I found this large baby pink one that I almost didn’t get because it had a huge hideous butterfly design in front.  But I figured I could still end up with a lot of baby pink material despite of it.  The color became even lovelier after felting, so every time I see them now, I high-five myself for not leaving it behind.  By the way, this is the same sweater I used for two past projects: my pink hat and orchid cuff.

I’m not quite ready to reveal them, but I made prototypes for a flower garland and fascinator.  Whenever I have a prototype ready, I work on one task at a time.  Meaning I don’t make one flower at a time.  Instead, I finish a task then move on to the next.  Yes, for the past two weeks I’ve been a floral factory worker.

I have to work this way to be more efficient and productive.  Remember Adam Smith’s definition of division of labor and his pin factory example where each worker does one task repeatedly?  When I heard that in class I realized I could be one of those pin factory workers because that’s how I labor (haha).  The repetitiveness helps me produce more efficiently.  The downside is, and he speaks of this also, that the workers are in danger of tiring themselves mentally and losing enthusiasm for their work.  He calls it mental mutilation.  After many afternoons of doing nothing but cutting up hundreds of baby pink petals, I fully agree.  Dang, I feel mentally mutilated.

There’s another more embarrassing reason why I’m forcing myself to work this way.  If I had been left to my own devices without a deadline, I probably would have moved on after I had finished the prototype and tinkered with something else.  I tinker, therefore I am.  Other designers and artists have the luxury of staff, assistants, and apprentices to duplicate their prototypes so they can tackle the next idea.  But me?  I’m all alone.  Seriously.  Didn’t I just mention high-fiving myself?  Waah.

Not that I’m complaining.

I’m doing this because I love it.  And when I get into that mental duh state, I allow myself a quickie tinker or music break then go back to work.  I think of this part of the creative process as the scales and other exercises a pianist needs to do to be able to flawlessly play the masterpiece later.  It’s like delayed gratification, really.  I know there’s a reward at the end of this flower assembly line.

So, I’ve finished cutting up petals and hand-sewing them into flowers.  I’ve cut felt circles and am currently sewing them unto the back of the flowers.

I also made bead chains from scratch using baby pink faux pearls, purple stones and crystals, and lots and lots of wires.  Later, I will add embellish the flowers then sew on the bead chains.  Still so much to do!

Frankly, my hands hurt from all the cutting, sewing, and wiring that everyday I wake up with fingers frozen stiff.  It’s been so bad that it’s become B.’s ritual to help me unfold them in the morning.  First, a snuggly kiss, then the unfolding.

Oh boy! That sounds positively randy.  I should end this post with a wink.

What I Want to be When I Grow Up

Are you what you wanted to be when you were little?

If I haven’t been a diligent blogger of late, it’s because I’ve been preoccupied. I am determined to get things done, and to do this, I have to wean myself from my laptop.  For the past few months, I’ve been trying to settle into my new life of being married and being a legal alien.  As Zen, our badminton rocker pal, has told me: “This is America, man.  You can be whatever you want.”   I don’t fully subscribe that I can be whatever I want (or else I’d be touring with Tori Amos or receiving an Oscar by now), but I do agree that America is like tabula rasa for a lot of people who want to change their lives and start anew.

Back home, I had been a number of things but many know me as a teacher because it’s my work.  It’s like an official label.  Many, too, know me as a musician because I’ve been studying it for years.  Some, as a theater artist and actor because I’ve done that for quite a while.  A few know that I craft.  Even fewer, that I write.

Here’s a question: how do I see myself?  I know I can do all of those things, but when asked, I usually say I’m a music teacher (or was).  But every time I say it, a voice in my head chastises me for lying.  Deep in my heart, I want to say, “I’m an artist”.  But being a shy person, I don’t want to get into details and explain my life’s journey.  Because that’s what I am.  I am a living map of the places I’ve built.  I am continents and unfathomable waters.  I am peaks and trenches.  I’ve created my planet by living it.  And I like it.  It’s not Nirvana but I am pleased with what I’ve made.

And I want to do more.  I want to continue my journey in this new place. I want to teach again.  I want to continue working on my craft pieces and make a living by selling them.  I want to write again and get published.  Most of all, I want to perform again.  I miss the theatre, the crazy pace and the smell of it.  I miss being with other musicians, singing or playing an instrument or both.  I want to start composing again: to forget the songs I’ve lost; to compile anew.

And this is why I’ve been a negligent blogger.  I’ve commenced my new journey in earnest.  I’ve set the first stone for a new peak.  I think I’ve finally begun to really live again.

Tee shirt: Abercrombie and Fitch, a gift

Bead bracelet: a prototype I made years ago

Tan high-heeled sandals:  Crocs (You hear that, Time Gunn?)

Finally, this Nike golf skort.  I loved this skort the moment I laid eyes on it in the Nike Golf store back home.  It was very expensive and I just couldn’t justify buying it with my meager teacher’s salary.  So I visited it every time I went to that shopping arcade (in Greenhills, if you know it).  I waited for it to go on sale.  Fortunately, it was so expensive nobody was buying the last piece.  Then, half-a-year later, I succumbed to it.  I wish this story had a happy ending like it was 50% off or something.  But, no.  I bought it as a gift to myself with my Christmas bonus.  And I don’t regret it for one minute. 🙂

Pink, White and Blue

Look at me in pigtails and all smiley.

I don’t have a lot to say today.  I don’t know why.

Or maybe I do have a lot to say but I don’t know where to start.

Let me see… How to begin…

Can everyone leaning extremely to the left or the right raise your hands?  OK.  Good.  I have something to tell you.  Now come closer.  Closer…


I want to read about and listen to what’s happening in the world without your white noise.  Seriously, shut your yappers.  You’re all worse than children fighting in the playground.  Jeez.

White long sleeved-blouse with a pink camisole underneath.  Peek, peek…

Denims and white belt with keyboard buckle.  Very me.

Black Cyprus crocs.  Yes.

Take that, Tim Gunn. :|

Apartment Nomads

This is a silly little post.  Just a warning.

Our little apartment has three rooms: the living room/dining area; our bedroom; and my room where my keyboard and workstation is.  Everyday, we choose where to “camp out” for working or eating.  It’s part of our daily routine to ask, “Where do we work/eat tonight?”  Meaning, which part of our abode.

B. and I are apartment nomads.

Because we like listening to music (him) or voices (me, as in stand-up or interviews) while we work, and enjoy watching videos on Hulu while we eat, another part of our routine is to carry the speakers where we park.  That’s my job and I don’t like it.  Everyday, I have to move the speakers at least twice.  The wires get all tangled up and I have to untangle them, and the speakers’ shape makes them hard to hold… oh, it’s just such a bother!  (What a princess! *snicker*)

We’ve discussed getting another pair so we can have one in our bedroom and another in the living room, but that’s just against our principles.  We advocate recycling and are against buying things we don’t need.  So why buy another pair when — ding,ding,ding! you can make your very own speaker carry-box?

With this vinegar box, a couple of red garters to hold the speakers in place, and a wide black and white striped band as a strap (these are all recycled materials, by the way), the speaker carry-box came to be. Tadaaa!!!

It looks funny, I know, but it’s made my life much easier. (As if carrying a pair of speakers to another room is such hardship!)

Thanks, speaker carry-box!  (*thumbs up!*…*snicker*)

I told you this was a silly post. :D