Upcycled Decorator Fabric Bowls

I love making useful things out of my artwork. When I started printing my own photos and designs onto fabric it opened up a universe of options to use the material — for scarves, sachets, pillows, and so much more! One of my favorite things to make with my fabric is bowls and vases.

Fabric bowl

If you’re clever enough to come up with your own patterns I’m envious, but I need some direction, and this C&T Publishing book was perfect: Fast, Fun & Easy Fabric Vases by Linda Johansen. I also love her book Fast, Fun & Easy Fabric BowlsThat one’s out of print but C&T sells it as an ebook or you can find it used. These are two of the first vases I made using a pattern in Linda’s Vases book.

Fabric vases

When I scored a stash of amazingly beautiful fabric in decorator sample books at the Oakland Museum White Elephant sale I realized that the larger pieces would upcycle perfectly into bowls. If you’re in the Bay Area SCRAP-SF usually has a great supply of sample books at very reasonable prices. I’ve made three of the bowls so far from fabric I got out of one book. The fabric’s richly embossed and overstitched with divine floral patterns. I used a template for a 9 inch bowl with six leaves, the same one I used for the bowls in the first photo above. This is my current favorite, made from the gold-toned fabric.

Upcycled decorator fabric bowl

The red one is gorgeous too. Here’s the bottom. They’re easily reversible, all you have to do is push on the base and the bowls turn inside out.Upcycled fabric bowl red

The front of the red bowl.
Upcycled fabric bowl red

The easiest way to make these is to construct a sandwich with 2 pieces of fabric, good sides facing out, and slip between them a piece of thick stabilizer that’s fusible on both sides. Bond the sandwich by ironing to activate the adhesive. Place the template or pattern from Linda’s book on top, then mark around and cut. Depending on your template or pattern you may also have to mark the base.
Upcycled fabric bowl white

Sew up the bowl and you’re set! I double satin-stitch around each of the leaves and the base. Bowls are great gifts, perfect to hold keys and coins, dry food, beauty and bathroom items, at your bed side or on your vanity, etc.

Sorry,  I can’t find a link to show you the template I used for these because I bought it years ago, but click here if you want to see an example of one you can use to make a small basket.

Interested in upcycling?

This is my blog post about upcycling books into art.

In this one I talk about using upcycled fabric in an art hanging.

I show an envelope made from old paper in this post.



Butterfly Bliss mini-art hanging

These days my creativity is best sparked by challenges organized by groups I’m in. I haven’t made an art hanging in a while, so when the call-out came to make a piece using some art material (I’ll let you know which when the challenge is over), I decided to use it in a mini-art quilt. As it’s prime butterfly season, incorporating my favorite flying beauties into the piece was a gimme.

Butterfly Bliss

I had the butterflies in my stash. They were photographs I took of an anise swallowtail and a monarch butterfly that we raised and released. I printed the photos onto lutradur that I treated with Golden Paint Digital Grounds. When I need to print something onto lutradur, I fill the entire sheet with images so as not to waste any of the treated material.

Closeup anise swallowtail butterfly on lutradur

To set off the butterflies, I sewed them to some gauzy fabric bits that came in a flea-market home decor fabric sample book. For the background, I chose another larger piece from the sample book.

Closeup monarch butterfly on lutradur

I chose another piece from the sample book as a backing for a finished look, and slid a piece of firm stabilizer in between so it will hang without folding. I folded the top over and strung a leather cord through before I sewed it closed, for an easy hanger.

I love art quilts because they can be as simple or as complicated as you wish. If you don’t like to sew you can even just use double sided tape to add elements and make the seams. They’re a great use to upcycle discarded clothing or other fabrics. Have you made an art quilt? Post links here to any of yours that you’d like to show!