DIYdiy projects

diy project: recycled inspiration board from maya donenfeld

by Kate Pruitt

Lately my attention has turned solely to natural materials for making projects. In sifting through my collections of linen, wooden dowels and burlap, I realized that I usually buy these materials new when I could so easily find them at thrift shops, yard sales, flea markets and the like. When a copy of Maya Donenfeld’s new craft book, Reinvention: Sewing with Rescued Materials, landed on my desk, I eagerly flipped through to see what kind of recycled materials she was using. The projects in Maya’s book are categorized by material, with an introduction to each section that describes the properties of the materials — linen, burlap and wool, for example — and where to find them secondhand for low cost.

With a section devoted to sewing basics and clear illustrations, Reinvention is a great choice for beginning crafters, or someone looking for simple, lovely designs made from organic materials. Maya was kind enough to share one of our favorites on the site: this lovely inspiration board made from coffee sacks and recycled fabrics. You can read the full tutorial below, and click here to see more of Reinvention or purchase a copy for you or a lucky friend. Thanks for sharing, Maya! — Kate

Read the full how-to after the jump . . .


  • coffee sack or burlap fabric (enough to cover cork board)
  • linen scraps or linen pockets removed from clothing, as well as lace and doilies
  • jute webbing
  • cork board with wooden frame
  • textile paints
  • stencils
  • thumbtacks
  • staple gun and staples
  • cotton rug binding tape (enough to cover the entire perimeter of the board)
  • glue gun and glue sticks
  • picture-hanging hardware



1. Measure and cut burlap.

  • Take the bulletin board’s measurements and determine which orientation (horizontal or vertical) you want to use. Add at least 3″ to both the height and width of the board.
  • Use your measurements to determine what section of the coffee sack you are going to use. Pay careful attention to graphics on the sack that might be interesting to highlight. Cut the coffee sack to the required height and width.


2. Make the pockets.

  • Decide where on the board you want to add pockets and determine how large they should be. To these measurements, add 1″ to the width. Double the length and add 1″.
  • Cut the linen to the measurements you determined in Step 1.
  • Fold the linen piece in half lengthwise. Sew around the perimeter of the three open edges, leaving an opening opposite the folded edge for turning the piece in the next step.
  • Clip the corners and turn the linen right side out. Fold in the edges of the opening. Pin the opening closed and press the linen. The side with the opening will be the bottom of the pocket.
  • Sew a finishing hem on the folded side/top 1/4” from the edge.
  • Stencil desired words or letters onto the pocket or add an embellishment, such as lace or ribbons. The sample has a vintage circular piece sewn to the main pocket as additional storage.


3. Arrange the board elements.

  • Place your cut burlap on top of the board so that you can arrange your pockets and other components. Pin each item in place. For example, you can add strips of elastic or rug binding tape for holding pens and rulers. (Make sure to fold under the ends and pin them in place.) Consider using little bits of lace for mini pockets to hold memos and other assorted items. You can hem the edges of a section of upholstery jute and then fold it in half to create a sturdy holster for scissors and other heavy objects.
  • Sew each accessory in place on the burlap, making sure to keep the top of the pockets open. Backstitch several times at the top of each side where the pockets will have the most stress.


  • After you have attached all the accessories, return the burlap to the board. Gently smooth it out with a little stretch in each direction. Place thumbtacks strategically around the sides to keep everything secure. Check to make sure the graphics on the burlap have not stretched in the wrong direction. If all seems in order for the final product, turn the board face down on your work surface.


4. Staple the burlap to the board.

  • Fold the burlap over the top edge of the board and apply a few staples along the back close to the edge of the frame. After you’ve added these staples, rotate the board 180° and do the same thing along the bottom edge. Rotate the board 90° and staple a few sections on the left side and then rotate again to staple the right side. Turn the board over periodically to check your work. Be sure to neatly tuck in the corners. Continue this method of rotating and stapling until you have approximately one staple per inch around the entire frame.
  • When the board is complete, cut off the excess burlap.


  • To protect your wall from the numerous staples, use the rug binding tape to cover the staples. Using a hot glue gun, attach a strip of rug binding tape along the right and left sides of the board. Cut two strips that are slightly longer than the length of your top and bottom sides. Fold under the ends of the strips for a tidy look and use the hot glue gun to apply the strips to the top and bottom edges of the board.


  • Add the picture-hanging hardware by going straight through the jute and webbing and into the bulletin board frame. You might need to use a hammer with a nail to get the screw holes started through so many layers.


Your board is ready to hang and keep you organized!

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