The Piano Gal Shop - Upcycled Pianos

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The Piano Gal Shop - Upcycled Pianos
"The piano keys are black and white, but they sound like a million colours in your mind"
Maria Cristina Mena

I love music, and I remember taking piano lessons. There were a lot of scales, a lot of arpeggios, and oh boy, the theory, I think the chords drove me mad.  I also remember preparing for the exams, all the way until grade 8.  Actually, come to think of it, the piano lessons were all about preparing for the exams. I felt it was like a year long boot camp but once the exams were over I could play anything I wanted and it was only then that it felt good  "like a million colours in your mind".

Nowadays my piano just sits in the living room untouched. Sometimes I give it tinkle but other days....I think no one wants an out of tune piano. But recently this lovely lady dropped me a line and I got curious. What CAN you do with an old piano?


Marta Hansen of The Piano Gal Shop is an experienced teacher, musician, and piano tuner, and she is passionate about music and strives to share that passion with the community.  Marta shared with me that other than teaching music, she also repairs pianos and upcycles them as well!

[Pssst! There's a discount code at the bottom of this post!]

An old piano as a bar, a bench or even as wall art.

upcycle piano

But Marta doesn't just upcycle the basic structure of the piano, she upcycles the keys and strings too!

upcycled piano strings

Marta upcycles the music strings of the piano into jewelry pieces, including bangles, earrings and pendants. The intricate nature of the wound steel wire (yes, piano strings are made from steel) makes the bangle my favourite piece from Marta's collection. I think it complements with my skin tone very nicely.

sustainable outfit

Apart from piano strings, Marta also upcycles the head felt of the piano hammers into necklaces. These are the tips of the hammers that strikes the piano strings creating the beautiful sound that we hear when pianists tinkle the ivories! I did think the leather cord was a little too short but I do I like how I can interchange it with an existing chain to make the necklace longer.

The Piano Gal Shop is offering all readers a lovely discount of 15%, and hope you will all look at pianos from not just a music angle but from an upcyclers point of view too!

piano gal shop

Disclaimer - the jewelry items seen in this post were sponsored by The Piano Gal Shop. I was not compensated for this post. All views are my own.

Fix It Friday - Chair Pad Repair

Fix It Friday - Chair Pad Repair

Do you have one of those chair pads from IKEA? The flat ones that you tie to your dining room chairs. The flat piece of sponge that makes you a bit more comfortable when you sit down for your meal.... We bought four a few years ago and then they started to open up at the seams revealing the yellow sponge. At first it was a tiny hole at the corners of the pads and then it grew bigger until it ripped from one end to the other.  It was very unsightly but then we thought (well, I thought) that since we would be sitting on them no one would notice anyway....  After a while they started to get rather annoying and my husband said we had to buy new ones if I wasn't going to fix them. I think that was an ultimatum!

I find chair pads very difficult to fix.
  • Do I take off the original cover and replace it?
  • Do I add extra padding?
  • Do I just cover it with new fabric?
  • Should I add a zip?
chair pad repair

I had many questions and the zipper part of the repair was giving me a headache as I really do loathe zippers. I think hate is an extreme word to use in this instance but when it comes to zippers, getting it to look nice has always been very difficult for me. But practice makes perfect, right?

What are the components?
When it comes to chair pads, there are no shortcuts. As I was going to make washable chair pad covers (to cover the torn one) I had to use a zipper. I drew out the shape, added an allowance, cut 2 pieces out (right sides together). My tip is to think about what the components are and how it will function. I had 3 parts - two panels and a zipper.

cushion pad repair‬

Sewing a zipper can be simple
With the two panels cut out, one of the first things I thought I would need to do is to sew the zipper on first. I had always sewn in the zipper first when I sewed pouches, but then I "discovered" that the easiest way to sew a zipper was to sew the two panels of fabric together FIRST.

Step 1 - Sew the side where you want the zipper to be first. Sew right sides together
Step 2 - Iron open - make sure you iron everything flat!
Step 3 - Open up zipper and sew it to the wrong sides of the seam. Make sure you alignment is correct. Use tailor pins if you have to!
Step 4 - Using a seam ripper, rip open the seam created in step 1. Only do this to the area located within the zipper area.

DIY sew cushions

DIY Sew cushions

So this is what your zipper should look like. I think this method is much better than the traditional method of lining up the zipper to 2 separate pieces of fabric.

cushion pad repair

I was extremely happy with the result!
Four chair pads saved from the bin and they look brand new!

chair pad repair

New Workshop Happening in Singapore!

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New Workshop Happening in Singapore!
After a short break from workshops, I've decided to hold another run of the Restyle Your Wardrobe Workshop. It has definitely been a while, but I have been asked about when my next one would be.
So, if you have been wondering what to do with your old clothes, or you have a wardrobe full of garments that you no longer wear, why not learn a few sewing skills and DIY upcycling techniques? Just bring over 2 to 3 old clothes and we will jam!  Sign up at this link

Fix It Friday - Fixing the Buckle of My Pants

Fix It Friday -  Fixing the Buckle of My Pants

Matter Pants fix

Have you been feeling the heat lately? The mercury over in Singapore has shot up to 30C and above. I took a look at my thermometer and it read a sizzling 35C! It's so difficult to walk out doors without your sunblock slapped on or even shades and a hat. I find it really uncomfortable to wear jeans in this heat too - I just stick to cotton tops and trousers. How have you been dealing with the heat so far?

Matter Pants fix

Speaking of trousers, mine tend to need repairing at the bottoms or at the seams so I was really surprised when the part that needed repairing on one of my favourite pairs was the ...... buckle. Yes, really! The coating was coming off and it had started to rust - maybe I was too violent when it came to washing it or perhaps it was just bad luck. I dropped Matter Pants an email asking them if they knew where I could get a replacement buckle so I could fix my pants.   The next day, I got a lovely email saying that they would pop a replacement buckle in the mail and a few days later.....
Matter Pants fix

It was really a lovely surprise to see the package with a nice note. I'm not sure if there would be any harm in having a rusty buckle on a garment but if any of you are interested in colouring textiles, you will know that rust can cause stains on fabric - sometimes nice ones, and sometimes not too nice! 

Matter Pants fix
This was a very easy fix - unpicking and then sewing on the new buckle. I had to remember to use a double strand of thread.

Fixing the Buckle

My pants are good to go now! Have you done any out of the ordinary fixes on yours? Share here!

You might like these Fix It Friday posts too


repair haversack

My first product - weave, weave, weave

My first product - weave, weave, weave

The first half of 2016 has been a bit of an adventure; there were both ups and downs on the home front but we faced them head on together and here we are today! I took on a job at Sustainable Living Lab and the position has given me the opportunity to learn more making techniques and create products. It has been a bit of a learning curve (but then what isn't unless you want to stay status quo) but it's been great fun so far, and I've been given the chance to create products, something that I have been rather apprehensive to do.

One of things I was fascinated about last year was how kids could get very excited about weaving. At Maker Faire and The Big Draw, children would sit still for up to an hour designing and weaving their own hoops. The whole process was rewarding for them, especially when it came to displaying their creations in public. So I thought why not take it a step further and bring the weaving to the kids instead of them coming to me.  The team racked our brains and decided to come up with a weaving Maker Box for the children (and adults!) to tinker with. You can weave on the go too - just pop it in your bag and whip it out if anyone feels bored - no more gadgets and no more cardboard looms, please.

What can you make? Practically anything you can think of that can be woven - bracelets, mats, coasters.

This is my first product, The Maker Box - I Looms You Forever, and it is available at

weaving loom maker box

Because life is too short to wear boring clothes

Because life is too short to wear boring clothes

A lot of women I meet have lamented that they don't have the time to upcycle their clothes. Although a refashion can be a quick project (think embellishments and dyeing), I do believe that a certain level of commitment is needed to transform your entire wardrobe when it comes to using needle and thread. I must admit that it has been a long journey for me but I have found it to be a very creative and enriching experience (not to mention rewarding) so far. But if you really can't set aside some time to reconnect with your clothes, why not explore other options that give you new clothes but in a sustainable manner? Enter StudioSG.

I met Mirte Gosker and Sacha van Ginhoven,    the lovely co-founders of StudioSG at a Connected Threads Asia talk. Based in Singapore, they founded the online wardrobe portal as an alternative to the fast fashion industry malaise that is harming the environment.  What caught my attention was their snazzy tagline "Because life is too short to wear boring clothes, but too long to ruin our planet."  It's true, many of us yearn to have new things to make us feel better, but our obsession with accumulating possessions is harming our planet. 

Mirte and Sascha
Mirte explains that the fashion industry is "an old-fashioned industry which has made very little use of the tech developments. With our backgrounds in tech, operations and design thinking, we thought of an innovative concept to actually change the industry. With StudioSG we give women access to an online wardrobe filled with high-quality, well-produced and super fashionable clothing. Obviously women around the planet love fashion and like to change their style regularly."

Mirte and Sascha want to give women access to amazing yet well-produced designs, and they "hope to eradicate the urge to buy cheap and poorly-produced clothing". 

As a member of StudioSG, you pay a monthly subscription fee of $199 SGD and choose 5 items from their wardrobe. 

"We deliver the items, the women wear and love them and exchange them whenever they feel like. The can keep the items as long as they want and even buy them in case they really fall in love with it. We take care of pick-up, delivery and drycleaning. While we can't guarantee that we will from the beginning, we strive to be a zero-emission company. "

Why Online?
"There were two reasons to go for an online concept instead of a brick and mortar variant. First of all, retail space in Singapore is too expensive for a startup. We'd need to raise a lot of capital to get started. Secondly and more importantly, we feel the fashion industry is in dire need of technology. We focus on independent women who care about more than fashion. Women who are busy fulfilling their dreams, working, traveling, raising children. These women don't have time to shop and actually most of them feel they have more important things to do. But while they live their lives, they do want to look good. So we will enable them to focus on the important things in life while we take care of the 'looking good' part. They simply select the clothing items they want via our website or app and we make sure they arrive in near-new status at their doorstep or office. We plan to even ensure they have access to clothing while traveling, so they never have to travel with a suitcase again. Our online service will bring convenience and a solution for the future of fashion." 

Why Singapore?
"We chose to start in Singapore as it's the perfect test market. Women are super fashionable and the city-state is compact enough to set-up our logistics. The all-year-round summer season is an extra benefit, it means we won't have to deal with summer and winter collections. So far, the reactions have been very positive. We have already a long waiting list of women who want to join. We work hard to onboard them as we speak. The biggest challenge right now is to get enough inventory to get onboard all those interested women. Industry-wide a third of all fashion produced is never sold. We are discussing partnership deals with fashion labels and distributors to get that one-third of clothing in our wardrobe. And we're talking about the newest collections here! We dedicate 20% of our collection to independent and upcoming designers to stimulate their route to market. We really enjoy to work with these young creatives, their vision on the future of fashion is refreshing as they all focus on sustainable supply chains and bringing back the art in fashion. "

Who is Your Inspiration?
"I find Leilah Janah a very inspiring entrepreneur. She was only 26 years old when she set up Samasource (now part of the Sama Group), a social enterprise which alleviates poverty in Africa and Asia through outsourcing project management for companies like Google and Microsoft. It's a smart business plan and very effective. Her courage and ambition to tackle such a large problem, while probably many people thought 'this girl is dreaming', earns my deepest respect. It's really cool to 'just do it'. She's a perfect role model for young changemakers with dreams."

So if you're keen on revamping your wardrobe but are not keen on hitting the stores, StudioSG might just be for you.