Mommy On a Shoestring: 4 Back to School Upcycle Projects

by Totspot Team

This guest post is brought to you by Totspot and Beth Engelmen of Mommy on a Shoestring, a friend of ours and a Totspot brand ambassador.


Help your kids be stylish and chic with these easy, fun and affordable projects. All it takes is a little advance planning, a good eye and strong glue.

Upcycled Cuff Bracelet

I love this craft that was inspired by the folks at The bracelet is perfect for tweens and teens who are looking to make a fashion statement. The bold colors and design adds a fresh twist to any outfit and since it’s made from a recycled water bottle, it’s eco-friendly too.


  • Water Bottle (cut into a 2 ½ inch-wide ring)
  • Tacky Glue
  • Denim Fabric
  • Artificial Flower (or fabric flower)
  • Decorative Button or Sequins (optional)


  1. Use glue to cover the water bottle ring with denim.
  2. Glue flower to the denim.
  3. Add buttons, sequins, or any other decoration.


Sparkle Toes Flats

A little sparkle goes a long way, which is why I love this project that adds a touch of bling to plain flats.


  • Flats (Hint: there are a number of excellent and inexpensive options on Totspot like these, these, or these.)
  • Permanent and Washable Fashion Glitter and Glue (available at craft stores)
  • Bowl
  • Paint Brush
  • Masking Tape


  1. Prepare shoes by making sure they are clean and dry.
  2. Use masking tape to cover the area of the shoes that you don’t want glittered (i.e.: everything but the toes).
  3.  In a small bowl combine 1-part glue with 1-part glitter.
  4. Use a paintbrush to paint on glitter glue mixture (1-2 coats)
  5. Once glitter glue is dry, shake off excess glitter and remove masking tape.


Preppy Headband

Love the preppy look without the preppy price tag? Get “wrapped-up” in this sweet headband that’s made from recycled candy wrappers.


  • Colorful Candy or Gum Wrappers
  • Scissors
  • Double-Sided Tape
  • Clear-Packing Tape
  • Plastic Headband (available at most crafts stores)


  1. Trim candy wrappers if desired.
  2. Arrange the order and pattern of the wrappers and place them on your headband with double stick tape.
  3. Cover headband with a layer of packing tape to ensure the wrappers are in place and sealed.

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T-Shirt Tote

Turn an old T-shirt into a cute tote that is both stretchy and machine washable. It’s perfect for holding books, gym clothes or doubling as a purse.


  • 1 T-shirt (I bought a super cute t-shirt at Totspot for $1. Check out more cute T-shirts here, here, or here).
  • Ruler
  • Chalk
  • Sharp Scissors
  • Needle and Thread
  • 10” Round Bowl
  • Pins


  1. Use bowl to trace and cut a 10-inch paper circle (to be used as a template).
  2. Use sharp scissors to cut off sleeves. To prevent fraying, leave the seam intact.
  3. Lay T-shirt on flat surface. Use circle template to trace and cut a 6-inch scoop along neckline of the shirt.
  4. Turn the shirt inside out and sew bottom closed. If the bottom seam is too thick, cut it off before sewing.  Also remember, the closer the stitches, the sturdier the bag.


Thank you to Jessica Wynne Taylor for sharing “tote-ally” cool idea.

Enjoy the end of summer and “Happy Back to School!” xo Beth