About Thrifty By Design

Thrifty By Design was born one fateful day in August 2008, I bought an old Singer sewing machine at a garage sale in Gibsons, BC for $10. My $10 included the sewing machine plus a lesson on how to use it. Just the basics but that was everything since I knew nothing about sewing.

I started a blog soon afterwards to keep friends posted on my crafty adventures. I had moved to Gibsons at the end of 2007 away from my family and friends to see what coast living would be like. My time in Gibsons really started me on my TBD path... Crafting, refinishing furniture, blogging, thrifting, hitting the Share Shed at the dump for anything worthy of an update.

Over the years TBD has become one big crafty adventure – I’ve given numerous upcycling workshops, written DIYs for my blog and other online publications, been on TV and radio... And I just authored a crafty book called “Raw Crafts: 40 Projects from Hemp, Jute, Burlap and Cork” for Lark Crafts. Through all of this, the icing has always been meeting so many awesome peeps through the Crafternoons, events and writing. Who knew crafting with “crap” could be so life changing!

About Me

I’m a community catalyst, crafter extraordinaire and upcycler of things based in North Vancouver, BC. My passion is to turn “junk” into new and funky pieces. From refinishing furniture found at the dump to repurposing discarded items like wine corks into jewelry, there is no limit to what a bit of time and know-how can create. And save from the landfill.

Sharing my enthusiasm for crafting and upcycling, I facilitate “Crafternoons” throughout Vancouver where participants of all ages and skill levels learn how to make things from unorthodox materials.

I was a featured panelist at the Craft Council of BC talk called “Craft, The Environment & Our Community”. I was also the inaugural BC Champion for the fourth annual Culture Days, a national, nonprofit 3-day event promoting culture throughout Canada. In addition, I am a Creative Expert for the Salvation Army Thrift Store sharing thrifting tips and simple DIYs.

Find me online...

Raw Crafts

The crafty book I authored in 2015, “Raw Crafts: 40 Projects from Hemp, Jute, Burlap & Cork”, is available online. The book includes 40 easy peasy DIYs using hemp, jute, burlap, cork and mixed media. It’s published through Lark Crafts.

Find book online...


Crafternoon Participants

“We discovered an upcycling workshop with Denise at our local library. We loved it! With her energy and enthusiasm, Denise makes everyone feel welcome and excited about creating. Kids from all ages come away from the workshops with something they are proud of, making new friends and helping the environment along the way.”

– Heather & Madeleine

“We have attended several of Denise’s Crafternoons, and loved every crafty second. She is a great teacher, very knowledgeable and enthusiastic; but also able to give the freedom to explore and create in our own ways. She also creates a fun community atmosphere for everyone who attends, both parents and children. It is a testament to her skills as a workshop facilitator that she can take a room full of strangers and turn them into a buzzing hive of fun, laughter and activity. Perhaps this is where Denise’s true ‘craft’ lies – in being able to share her gifts and create community for others.”

– Sampson, Tahi, Deborah & David

“Honestly, I have not got a creative bone in my body. That gene totally passed me by. So imagine the first time I go to one of Denise’s Crafty Afternoon sessions at our local library! I took my youngest child thinking it would be ‘for the kids’. Heck no, it was for ‘everyone’. I instantly met another fun adult who told me no matter what was going to be made she was going to ‘glitter it’ (fortunately Denise had bling and glitter in abundance), so laughter and smiles was the order of the day. I love these crafty afternoons, I find I can create, and even when it doesn’t work out quite as I anticipate, Denise is on hand to enthuse and point out the creative inspirational touches (we all have those apparently). Thanks Denise!”

– Clare

“Denise’s Crafternoons are fun events filled with interesting and friendly people. Denise is very generous with her time, supplies and tools. She is an enthusiastic instructor and very fun to be around. We actually made things that are pretty, useable and environmentally friendly. I even made new friends! In her events, I got to experience a sense of community, lots of creativity (mine and others) and helped the environment.”

– Carol

Crafternoon Partners

“Denise is an absolute joy to meet! Her warm personality and enthusiasm inspired even the most shy participants to create something special. Denise brings a treasure trove of supplies with her and fantastic examples of decorations that people can create and takes the time to move around the room and help individuals on a personal level. Everyone leaves with a homemade treasure and the refrain of ‘when are you holding the next one?’ I look forward to working with Denise on another crafty adventure!”

– Meghan Savage, Information Services Librarian, Surrey Libraries

“I love working with Denise because she is incredibly energetic, creative, always easy going and personable, as well as truly passionate about what she does. Her crafts are fun, accessible and catered to a diverse audience of all ages, backgrounds and abilities. She is a joy!”

– Heidi K. Schiller, Librarian, Readers’ Services & Customer Engagement, North Vancouver City Library

“Denise has single-handedly teased out the creative spirit in North Shore community members of all ages and artistic persuasions. Whether it’s at the popular library Crafternoons, Culture Days events or upcycling workshops, Denise has a special knack for helping people find their own artist within and having tons of fun in the process!”

– Barb McLean, Cultural Services Officer, North Vancouver Recreation & Culture

“When we first contracted Denise to provide crafting instruction at the library we had NO idea that not only would she deliver such consistently high quality instruction to our library customers, but that she would become one of the top draws of all our library programs, combined. Denise’s creativity and ingenuity in shaping the most unique items out of discarded material is matched only by her warmth of personality, approachability, and genuine interest in working with others. We are truly happy to be in partnership with someone we consider to be among the true gems of the North Shore.”

– Chris Koth, Head, Digital Services, North Vancouver City Library

“Denise is a pleasure to work with – a fountain of positive energy, an engaging teacher, and the definition of a ‘people person’. She’s also organized, creative and social media savvy. When our workshop hit an unexpected hurdle, Denise took it in stride and never lost her professional, positive attitude. She’s someone who actively reaches out to others and creates connections between people – a community creator in a city that often prefers to be cool and passive.”

– Kat Siddle, Board Member, Our Social Fabric

“Denise came to our school and worked with the intermediate grades (4-6) to upcycle old wool sweaters into tree ornaments. We sold them at our annual Christmas Craft fair to help earn money for our students to go to camp. The kids had such fun sewing and creating with Denise, and she really sparked a lot of enthusiasm with creating hand-made crafts! Many of them went home inspired and sewed with their families over the weekend. Thank you Denise for introducing the kids to upcycling and crafting!”

– Tina Sherlock, Librarian, Mamquam Elementary School

“I had the pleasure of working with Denise on a series of ‘upcycling’ workshops she facilitated in Habitat for Humanity Greater Vancouver’s ReStore. Denise brings an absolutely infectious positive attitude and creative zeal to every project she takes on. Not only was she professional and organized she was approachable and made sure that participants of all ages were comfortable and having a great time creating their upcycled treasure. I would absolutely invite Denise to host another workshop!”

– Sonia Bianchi, Business Development & Educational Programming, Habitat for Humanity Greater Vancouver

“Denise has been a guest instructor for an art based project I manage in the community. I have also attended one of her Crafternoons as a participant. I highly recommend Denise as she has been a sheer delight to work with! She has no shortage of positive energy and creative ideas to share. Her professional and ethical approach to affordable upcycled crafting is truly inspiring!”

– Christie Ann, Project Manager, Creative Expressions Art Nights

Share Your TBD Experience

Email me at denise@thriftybydesign.ca to share your TBD experience.

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