These days there’s a lot of talk about “re-purposing”. Check any decorating blog or etsy front page and you’ll find something that’s been re-purposed. A dilapidated window-pane becomes wall art (several of my girlfriends love this), a claw foot bathtub becomes a raised garden planter (if only I could talk my husband into that..), a wine cork collection becomes a message board (hanging in my kitchen as I type).
But as important as all this re-purposing is (reduce, reuse, recycle, re-purpose?), lately I have put more of an emphasis on co-purposing. Our home is not small, but it’s old. The wrong kind of old. It’s not the turreted-1880’s-Victorian-old and far from the spacious open floor plan of a new transitional home. The rooms are sharply divided with walls and doors and when you need to talk to someone, you actually have to walk into the next room, instead of just yelling up the vaulted ceiling to the catwalk or over the half-wall into the family room. Space is at a premium and storage is limited (where did people in the 1950’s put their stuff??). Because of this, the more uses something has, the better. Case in point, the wine-cooler/beer-tub. Ryan and I have wanted one of these for a while, but our kitchen is already overflowing with dishware and cake stands (go figure), so I didn’t know where I’d store one when we weren’t using it to decoratively offer adult libations to our guests. I wanted this at my next backyard cookout: But held back because I knew when the party was over, our kitchen would be one step closer to looking like this:
But we spent the weekend at a friends river house where they were doing a little de-cluttering of their own. And what was up for grabs but a metal beverage cooler. I might have been able to pass it up, had it not had several bee designs on it. Home with me it came:
Now, I’ve already established that I am a bit of a nut about shoes being off in the house. The shoe basket by the front door works well to keep the hall tidy, but the back door usually has a pile of flip-flops, play shoes, gardening clogs and the like. So in the spirit of co-purposing (and because I knew my friends would be less than thrilled to drink wine out of a dirty shoe-bin), I decided to whip up a pretty liner for it. I didn’t make anything fancy (no serging or french seams here), but I did pre-shrink the fabric so that it’s washable (an important aspect of something meant to store dirty shoes). And to any friends who are reading this- don’t worry- it will get a nice strong hosing off before any wine bottles find their way inside!
I started by turning it over and tracing the bottom on the wrong side of my fabric. Then I cut that out (with about an inch seam allowance). Then I measured the depth and width (all the way around the curve… you want half your circumference, not just the width straight through) added about an inch to the width and two inches to the height and cut two squares. I had this: Since I wanted a drawstring top, I folded over the top edge with wrong sides touching and stitched it (remember to back-stitch). When I got to the ends, I folded them in a bit right before they passed under the needle, to give it a slightly finished edge, like this:
I repeated this on the second square then put them right sides touching, drawstring holed matched up, and stitched down each side. I stopped when I reached the stitch for the drawstring hole. Here you can iron your seams open using the steam setting on your iron. Next I lined up my oval bottom piece so that the sides matched my two side seams (pin there), then matched the other two sides with the middle of the side pieces (pin again). It should look a little like this: Notice the right sides are touching of course. Next I pinned between each of those pins, allowing the looser side pieces to distribute evenly on either side of the taut bottom piece. Then I did this a final time, creating the gathers needed to compensate for the side pieces being longer at the bottom than the top: The whole mess looks like this: You might notice that I didn’t really use that many pins all the way around. I just wanted to show you in case it helped you make your gathers, but I usually just fold them by hand while using the machine. Anyway, next I went ahead and stitched completely around the pinned area and turned it right side out. Here’s how your gathers will look: Next you’ll need to make your drawstrings. Measure two strips several inches longer than your two side pieces and at least 2.5 inches wide. Here’s how mine looked: One at a time, fold it in half and stitch the length with a half-inch seam allowance. If it helps you can iron a crease or use pins, but I find it’s just as easy to fold it as it goes through the machine. Once you’re done, you’ll have an inside-out drawstring, like this: You have a few options here. Some people swear by a safety-pin to work the fabric right side out. I used to use a chopstick. Then I realized that for $1.99 I could buy a simple metal hook gadget that makes the job easier. So, using your hook (or preferred method), turn your drawstrings right side out. Then tuck the ends in about an eighth of an inch and stitch across to finish the edge, like this:
The last step is to string the drawstrings through the liner and you’re done! I used my same metal hook to go all the way through the liner, hook the drawstring, then pull it back through the liner. Now we have a pretty shoe keeper for the back door, and a wine cooler for our summer parties. Which leaves me with one conundrum: where will people put their shoes at our next cook-out?