Five Beautiful Tips on how to Upcycle Clothing…

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© Joan Currie – From blouse to bag. Simplicity pattern #2685, style D.

Upcycle definition: reuse discarded objects or material in such as way as to create a product of a higher quality or value than the original.

Last summer, I made a last minute purchase of a blouse to wear at a family celebration. Although I liked the fabric, it never really fit me properly despite my best tailoring efforts to salvage it. Yesterday, when I needed a black bag to go with an outfit, I thought it was time to put the blouse to a better use. I am happy with the result and thought I would share some upcycling and sewing tips:

  1. Source the fabric for your project from your clothes or family and friends’ donation boxes, garage sales, and thrift stores. Look for the largest sizes to yield the most fabric yardage.
  2. Be resourceful and don’t limit yourself to just clothing: wraps, and even sheets. drapes, and tablecloths can work well.
  3. Find a simple sewing pattern that will be easy to modify. I had found Simplicity pattern #2685 on Etsy. It required more fabric than what I could harvest from the blouse, so I decided to use a different, but complementary, fabric from my quilt stash for the lining. The lining fabric I selected wasn’t quite wide enough, but by decreasing the size of the lining pleats by a little, I got it to fit.
  4. Be creative by adding embellishments such as buttons and piping on the outside placard to make the bag truly your own. In this case, the fabric was so busy, I decided to eliminate the decorative placard all together.
  5. Don’t be afraid to mix and match pattern pieces from the various styles within the pattern package to meet your needs. I usually lengthen the straps, add an interior pocket for my phone, and attach a carabiner for my car and house keys.

There you have it. Happy Upcycling! xo

Simplicity pattern #2685 D.

Beautiful Bird Nests…

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© Joan Currie – One of the bird nests I found in my back yard.

Birds’ Nests by John Clare

How fresh the air, the birds how busy now!
In every walk if I peep I find
Nests newly made or finished all and lined
With hair and thistledown, and in the bough
Of little hawthorn, huddled up in green,
The leaves still thickening as the springs gets age,
The pink’s, quite round and snug and closely laid,
And linnet’s of materials loose and rough;
And still hedge-sparrow, moping in the shade
Near the hedge-bottom, weaves of homely stuff,
Dead grass and mosses green, an hermitage,
For secrecy and shelter rightly made;
And beautiful it is to walk beside
The lands and hedges where their homes abide.


When doing my yard work today, I discovered two enchanting nests in the garden and hedge. I love that the very inner layers are filled with small down feathers and soft grasses, and, surprisingly, small pieces of cording that I recognize as coming from my clothesline!

© Joan Currie – My garden Tree Sparrow

Sometimes Small Things are Just as Good as Bigger Ones…

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© Joan Currie – My art studio

It’s not about the size of the boat, it’s about the motion of the ocean.

For years I have been convinced that a larger art studio would lead to a significant increase in my art work productivity. I wanted a room for a big easel or two, to be able to work on several mediums and projects at once, and have storage for all my art supplies. I couldn’t help comparing my space to all the amazing studios featured on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and in art magazines.

But then I saw wonderful greeting cards by the talented and prolific Canadian artist, Janet Hill, who works in a space “between her washer and her dryer.” Her works, be it art prints, stationery, cards, paper decorations, books, oil paintings, etc., are absolutely delightful and highly sought-after.

I have since come across many other artists who work in small spaces and are also very productive. It seems that a passion for, and commitment to, the creative effort trumps the size of the studio. I know I can always go outdoors or work at my dining room table, but I am truly grateful for having a dedicated space where I feel creative.

Beautiful Surprises From the Other Side…

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© Joan Currie

Come to me in my dreams
so I can see you smile,
take me back to yesterday
even if only for a while…

I missed my mother desperately in the weeks before the holidays. She passed during Covid when I wasn’t allowed to visit her in the hospital. “Passed” isn’t the right word – more like “vanished, ” “disappeared” – “pouf” and she’s gone. Really gone.

My Mom had been the touchstone for my entire life. After she died, a deep grief, way beyond tears, burrowed into my marrow and appeared to be settling in for the duration. When suddenly, several days before Christmas, I started to find in the most unexpected places: photos of us together, her beautiful calligraphy-scripted book inscriptions, loving letters, birthday cards, and postcards from her world travels. These sweet and precious little Easter eggs were hidden away to be found when I needed her the most – when I needed the reassurance that she was not gone, departed, but very much with me still. Thank you, Mom!

Beautiful Mammalian Speed…

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© Joan Currie – My Pronghorn watercolor.

By the first dawn of the new year, all the stars shine in the squeegeed sky over the range and the morning is pale blue and golden, and pronghorn run in wet wilted grass. – Anna Badkhen

The pronghorn is the fastest land animal in North America – second fastest in the world next to the African cheetah. The pronghorn’s speed, grace, and agility are my inspiration for moving through the challenges of this coming year.

Beautiful Spot of Tea…

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© Joan Currie – My Royal Delft Blue teacup watercolor

There is something in the nature of tea that leads us into a world of quiet contemplation of life.
Lin Yutang

Taking a few minutes to have a cup of tea in my favorite teacup. I need to reevaluate my list of resolutions for 2023 since I breached several of them from the get-go on the first day of the new year. Oops! I think my plans were too ambitious and I need to break them down into more manageable, attainable goals – items I can check off my list with relative ease, and engender a sense of accomplishment. So, here goes…

Five Beautiful Things for Which I am Grateful…

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© Joan Currie – My sheep watercolor. Loved the Icelandic wool!

I’m glad to be here. I’m glad to be anywhere. – Keith Richards

In the last few days I have been thinking about the many things in 2022 for which I am grateful. The year started off quietly but the latter half was filled with a certain sweetness and gentleness of family connection, some exciting adventures, followed by succumbing to Covid infections.

  1. From the first of the year I made an effort to connect with my loved ones on a daily basis. The compilation of photos on my phone always brought tears to my eyes! New ones popped up every day and my family loved to receive them. I made sure to download the photos they shared with me, and added them to my photo library.
  2. One of my 2022 resolutions was to make time for a daily art practice – even just 20 minutes some days. I discovered new techniques and painting supplies, particularly watercolor. I framed a number of my landscape and animal works for my living room gallery-wall and changed out the pieces frequently.
    I was able to carve out some space in my back studio-shed to begin oil painting this last year. It was very satisfying to embrace the medium of my favorite Masters.
  3. I was very grateful to have made two trips (Reykjavik and Amsterdam) with my youngest daughter. Both places were our ancestral homes and we connected with the people and the landscape in a special way. I loved the coarse texture of the Icelandic wool and brought some skeins and fleece home with me for my knitting and rug hooking projects.
  4. Despite getting vaccinated, several family members and I got Covid this year, but I am glad we got through the course of it, including rebounds, without any longterm effects (so far, so good!).
  5. I remembered the introduction to a soap opera my mother watched years ago called “Days of our Lives.” I revisited the show’s promo, “like sands through the hour glass, so are the days of our lives,” and noticed the sand seemed to be flowing through the glass bulb at an alarming rate! It reinforced how precious time is and looking back this year, I am thankful and fortunate to have spent so much time with people who were loving, kind, curious, and supportive.
Schaap en twee lammeren in een stal by Frans Lebret (Rijksmuseum)

Beautiful Reindeer on Christmas Day!

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© Joan Currie – My reindeer watercolor.

We wish you a Merry Christmas,
We wish you a Merry Christmas,
We wish you a Merry Christmas,
And a Happy New Year!
Good tidings we bring to you and your kin;
Good tidings for Christmas
And a Happy New Year!

My best Christmas wishes to you and your loved ones!

Love, Joan xox

Beautiful Winter Solstice…

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© David Dodds

This is the solstice, the still point of the sun, its cusp and midnight, the year’s threshold and unlocking, where the past lets go of and becomes the future; the place of caught breath. – Margaret Atwood

When I was a child our family sometimes had Sunday dinner at my Uncle’s house. We younger children would be banished to the basement, while the adults stayed upstairs, doing whatever adults did at dinner parties.

The unfinished basement was the room of doom for me. In it was the dreaded fruit cellar, consisting of an interminably long and completely black space that I would be dared to enter: the challenge was to touch the end wall deep inside it. While I groped my way along, I had a weird, terrible feeling of being drawn towards something sinister. Because of its malevolent power, and because I had an inner desire to defeat the challenge of evil, I kept to task. When I touched the rough cement wall at the end of the cellar space, I quickly turned back towards the light of the room again with a feeling of utter relief, but even more, the feeling that comes with victory over an unknown terror.

This fall has been fraught with challenges. Sometimes I have had that same feeling of my childhood, of moving into the dark, and yet I know with complete certainty that, in due time and with a certain stalwartness and grittiness, the light will be right there in front of me.