Category Archives: Refashions

Ten Years Blogging!

Ten years ago I designed a WordPress site and published my first post. I was at the beginning phase of learning to sew my own clothes. I started by mostly refashioning thrift clothes. My progress was slow and gradual. Now, ten years later, almost everything I wear is me-made, and I have achieved my goal.

It would take too long to go through ten years and find the highlights; I’d rather be sewing! But I will share a few examples. Beware: image heavy!

This was the first project I shared (it was close to Halloween):

These are some of the outfits I’ve sewed:

Some of my refashions:

The main focus of my blog has been sewing clothes, but I’ve also done plenty of other needle arts and crafting.

My quilted projects:

My embroidery:

I stopped knitting because of carpal tunnel and arthritis issues. Sewing by machine is much easier on the hands.

Some knitting and crochet projects:

Some of my favorite posts:

The Dress Doctor Part 1

The Dress Doctor Part 2

Thoughts on First Year of Blogging

What My Mother Wore

End of Summer Leftovers

Sewing During the Pandemic

My most popular post is Easy Fix For Too Small Skirt. That’s a great title! Subsequently, I’ve realized my tutorial is not so easy; I removed and reinserted a zipper. I also removed the waistband and sewed foldover elastic.

I ‘ve never been a frequent poster, but my goal has been to have at least one post every month. I’ve only missed three months in 10 years.

What has changed in 10 years? I’m older, ha! The traffic on blogs has decreased as the rise of the smart phone has changed the focus to apps like Instagram, which are more easily read on a small device. In the sewing world, independent pattern companies have gained a larger customer base, and larger sizes are now routinely included as a result from some heated debates on Instagram. A few of those pattern companies were started as a progression from blogging.

I have a free WordPress account. I am happy with WordPress, and would recommend the platform, although I find it harder to use the new editor. Ads are perfectly fine at the end of a post, but a few times I have seen ads in the middle of a post which I don’t like. I appreciate the free platform, and that my blog will remain up indefinitely without any action from me. After uploading 1,679 photos and publishing 174 posts, I have only used 37% of my allotted storage space.

So should I continue? Most of what I sew is pretty boring – everyday tees, pants and shorts. But the things I make are my story, and I like telling it, so I doubt I will suddenly stop at this point in time.

I’m always excited about the latest thing I’m sewing! Currently I’m working on a fall/Halloween wall quilt. I finished sewing the quilt top, and I will be back with the completed project, and the story about it.

To my readers, I hope you have found something of use or interest in these pages. You probably also know the pleasures of creating with your own hands, and together we inspire each other to make, to learn, to grow.

Seasonal Refashions and Sewing

Two fairly quick refashions from my own closet:

I never wore a jersey knit romper I sewed a few years ago, so I refashioned it into a top for summer. It took a little work because I had to remove the underlining from the shorts portion.

It was worth a try to see if I will wear it now.

The vee back is noteworthy.

I still had the last of three rayon dresses I bought at the same time about 20 years ago that I had stashed away when they became too tight in the bust to wear. I made sleeveless summer tops from two of them.

The print of this fabric has beautiful warm fall colors, so I decided I wanted a sleeve on my new top. I used the cap sleeve from a pattern I had recently printed out, and managed to make it fit with gathering of the sleeve cap.

The blue Hawaiian top pictured, one of my previous dress to top refashions, is one of my all-time favorites and I used it as a guide to cut my new top.

This refashion is not as easy as just chopping off the bottom and rehemming. I have to use the bottom of the dress and cut out new armholes and neckline. I used bias tape to finish the neckline.

I need to make pants to go with this top, or it won’t get worn.

Now for some fall and Halloween sewing! I bought some fun Halloween fabric on sale, and was excited to sew something with it. I made a few dog bandanas for Sparky and one of his friends. I’ve made many revisions to my bandana pattern over the years. This is my current favorite, 2- sided with a curved shape. I used sew-in velcro for a few of them.

After sewing a few bandanas , I was inspired to put aside my garment sewing to start work on a wall quilt with simple piecing of different size squares and applique. I’m making it up as I go and enjoying the creative process.

I hope to finish the quilt top before the end of the month, but may not get the quilting and binding done. In any case, I plan on writing a second blog post this October, which will be a special post.

Quick Summer Refashions

Is there such a thing as too hot to sew? For me, there is. My sewing area is not in my cool zone, and I don’t like to set up my ironing board on a hot day. Sometimes I try to cheat and sew without pressing when I should to avoid the iron, but that doesn’t work out so well.

Rayon is a cool fabric for summer, and I have two quick refashions to show you.

The first is from my own closet from over a decade ago. I didn’t sew then, and I bought the dress at the drugstore, which shows that I was never much of a clothes shopper. The dress was rarely worn, and became too tight in the bust, and the elastic didn’t sit in the right place. I didn’t have much fabric to work with so I didn’t use a pattern and just improvised. I made a bandeau top elasticized on the top back, and made straps fashioned from the leftover top pieces. I like the swingy shape from using the bottom of the dress.

The sun faces are upside down. I don’t think I noticed things like print placement before I started sewing.

The before photo is from over 10 years ago when I was in my late 40s.

The second refashion was of a maxi dress bought several years ago at the thrift store that needed to be resized. It’s one of those dresses with the thin ties that tie at the back to give some shaping to the waist. The length was perfect but I never properly finished the dress because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it , so it sat in the refashion pile. The border print was the prettiest part of the dress, so I decided to make another simple boxy top. I used my altered Maya pattern and black bias tape for the neckline.

Even though I also liked the dress, the top will get much more wear than the dress would have. I already have another dress with the same style but with a print that I like more that I’m keeping as is.

Using recycled fabric already in the system is also an example of sustainable sewing. This type of sewing is concerned with limiting ecological waste, and is an issue widely talked about in the sewing community.

“Sustainable fashion refers to clothing that is designed, manufactured, distributed, and used in ways that are environmentally friendly. The whole idea behind “sustainability” in general and sustainable sewing in specific is that of leaving a minimal impact on the planet. This idea incorporates issues like carbon footprint, waste creation and disposal, and labor practices.”

A large portion of my sewing is sustainable. Most of the tops and dresses I sew fit this category with the fabrics sourced secondhand, but I usually have to buy new bottomweight fabric for pants and new knit fabric. I bought three different knit fabrics last year – a ponte, a cotton knit, and a rayon knit and sewed them all. I have no knit fabrics in stash. To be honest, I started sewing with secondhand fabrics as a more affordable way to sew, and not because of the environment. I also like the creativity of upcycling textiles such as making clothing from sheets, tablecloths, and scraps. I like using what I already have, and I love the advantages of sewing this way from both from a thrifty and environmentally friendly perspective.

Angelia Shorts Hack to Cargo Pants

I wanted to make a pants version of the shorts I made last year, the Angelia shorts by Itch To Stitch. I loved the patch pockets, zipper fly, and buttonhole and buttons details. I also wanted to change the pattern to have a partial elastic waist. My fabric is a light olive mostly cotton twill with about 10% stretch.

I enjoyed sewing these pants and love the look of them, but not the fit.

When I basted them and tried them on, I was disappointed. They were very baggy and full of drag lines in the back thigh, and the crotch was not right. The rise was too low. There was not enough room for my butt, and they dipped down at the back waist. I tried to save them by adding an inch to the waistband, but they are now too long in the front crotch and still too short in the back crotch length. It’s odd because the shorts fit me better in the rise and waist, but I guess I must have made some changes to that area when I altered the pattern. I also should have extended the elastic partway into the front, because they’re too loose in the front waist. One of the problems I have with the fit of close fitting pants legs is I have smaller than average thighs and larger calves. I might try a large calf alteration to help with the hang of the legs and to see if some of the wrinkles are caused by the fabric riding up from the lower leg. I was thinking to remake them into shorts, but if the crotch fit isn’t comfortable they won’t get worn. I have made so many clothes that are favorites in the last 2 or 3 years that I’m not used to a fail, but, to paraphrase Longfellow, into each sewing life some clunkers must fall. The poem is “The Rainy Day”.

The top is a refashion from a thrift store rayon skirt that I made last year but hadn’t written about. I loved the wonderful abstract print and fall colors with brown, tan, rust, and dark green.

The shape was wider and shorter than my pattern piece, but I like the way it worked out.

I have two more fall fabrics I wanted to sew to go with these pants, but I’m putting those plans on hold. I still would like a pair of pants in this color family, preferably a drab dark olive.

No more rainy day – tick-tock, do you know what time it is? Time for summer sewing!

A Look Back at 2020

I sewed clothes! To be precise I sewed 17 clothing items: 5 pairs of pants, 3 shorts, 7 tops, 1 dress, and 1 skirt. This is 3 more than last year, despite being sick in the winter and then needing to change my sewing plans to sew masks. I think nearly everyone with a sewing machine sewed masks this year, especially early on when they weren’t available at the store. I not only sewed masks but I spent a lot of time looking up mask patterns and reading how to make masks that were more protective. Sewing to survive, literally.

I knitted quite a bit less this year due to hand problems, only completing 1 hat. I didn’t finish any other needlework, although I did start a cross stitch project toward the end of the year.

Of the bottoms I made I wore the navy ponte knit pants, the pull-on jeans, and the denim shorts the most – 1, 3, and 4 in the photos. The traditional zipper fly jeans I made were nicely sewn but the waist didn’t fit right so I never wore them. The last 2 pairs of pants were just finished in December so I don’t know their frequency of wear yet.

The tops I wore the most are the tee shirt and swing tank, 3 and 5. With tops I’m able to use more diverse fabric sources: a refashion from my own closet, a thrift store refashion, fabric from an estate sale, and a garage sale sarong.

Of this group I wore the masks the most.

Some of my stand out outfits:

I sewed 5 items from my Make Nine list from last year:

My other sewing goals were:

To buy and learn how to use a serger – I did this toward the end of the year. I haven’t used it very much as of yet.

To match stashed fabric with patterns, especially for tops – I did this well.

To buy fabric wisely, especially to buy more bottomweight fabric for pants – I did well with this, I also bought some knit fabric as I had none in stash.

Techniques I want to learn are sewing a collar and welt pockets – I only sewed a collar without a stand and no welt pockets yet, so this one did not happen.

Next signpost ahead: 2021

Angelia Shorts and Upcycled Top

I bought tan cotton twill to make shorts to match my summer tops that don’t go with blue.  I was attracted to Itch to Stitch’s pattern, Angelia Shorts, as they have details similar to ready-to- wear shorts I had bought in the past.

I sewed view B which has a zipper fly, 8 buttonholes with lots of pockets, tabs, and cuffs.

I cut a size 10, shortened the crotch extension, narrowed and lengthened the legs, and added to the rise.  I typically make significant changes to a pattern.  I prefer comparing patterns I’ve used before or measuring clothes that fit instead of sewing a muslin mock-up.  I omitted the front pocket tabs, but made the buttonholes and sewed on buttons to keep the same look.

The shorts have a curved waistband with a seam in the center back.  In the future, I would either make the waistband elasticized in the back, or use a knit fabric for part of the waistband for greater comfort and ability to fit through weight fluctuations.  My new motto is no more uncomfortable waistbands or shoes!

I had major problems with my machine halfway through.  The thread kept breaking, the machine locked up a few times, the bobbin tried to jump out of the machine, and the stitches and buttonholes became dreadful.

comparison of buttonholes

this was supposed to be a buttonhole

this is the bobbin thread

I had to stop working on the shorts, take a break, and read a book.  After about a week, I set to work on troubleshooting the machine.  I readjusted the tension,  changed the thread, rewound the bobbin, changed the needle and stitched on scraps until somehow I got it in workable condition. Whew!  I was able to finish.

To go with the shorts, I upcycled another too tight knee length rayon dress from my own closet into a top, using the bottom 2/3 to make the top.  I did the same thing last year, and used that top as a template and used ready made bias tape to finish the necklines and armholes.

More summer sewing to come!

Sorrento Bucket Hat is Tops

The Sorrento Bucket hat is a popular free pattern by Elbe Textiles.  The unisex pattern comes in XS-L sizes to fit heads between 21 and 24 inches and has 3 pieces: brim, band, and top. There are two seams in the band and brim. I traced out the other side of the band and brim pieces because I didn’t want to cut my fabric on the fold.

My head measures 22 and a half inches putting me between a small and medium. I chose to make the medium size.

The recommended fabric is denim, canvas, twill, or similar medium to heavyweight fabric.  It is a fully reversible hat so I wanted to use 2 different fabrics.  I upcycled the pants legs from 2 pairs of pants I never wore.

Even though this is not sewing in a straight line, the hat isn’t hard to sew.  There’s a lot of manual fabric manipulation involved, pinning, and cutting notches into the pieces to make them fit together. It’s like a little sewing exercise in sewing a circular object.

The pattern is well illustrated. There are 6 steps, starting with the brim. The seam allowance is 1 cm which corresponds to about 3/8 of an inch or a scant 1/2 inch.

I topstitched several circles around the 2 layers of the brim.

I became a little confused when I got to step 4, the step that attaches the top to the band creating the bucket part of the hat. The instructions mention both snipping into the seam allowance of the band, and matching notches on the band and top.  I didn’t know if that meant to cut notches like I did on the brim, and at first I didn’t even notice the notches marked on the pattern pieces.  The band seemed too small for the top, and didn’t fit together.  For a crazy second, the thought of cutting the top circle smaller flashed in my head. I think a clarification would be to differentiate between “easing notches” that are cut into the fabric,  and “matching notches” that are used to align the two pieces together evenly.  The band needs many easing notches to fit the top, and easing notches are cut into the top after sewing it together with the band to make a smooth circular shape.

I wasn’t sure whether to sew with the top side or the band side facing up. I believe the band side should be face up when sewing so the baste stitch on the band is visible and the seam can be sewn just a tad farther in from the seam allowance.

I place and remove pins with my left hand.

The wrong side of my flowered lining fabric is white.

This is messy work; keep the lint roller handy.

In step 5 the brim is sewn to the lining bucket.

In step 6 the top bucket is sewn to the rest of the hat, and two becomes one.

Done!

The fit is spot on.

So pretty with the flowered/leafy side peeking out from the underside.

 

 

Here I’m wearing the hat with the first dress I sewed back in 2013.

I really like these two fabrics together. Other fabric combinations like a classic khaki and black would work well.  I can even imagine using a print to match a top or dress. A lighter fabric could be interfaced, especially on the brim.  I made my hat without interfacing, and like how crushable it is, making it easy to fit in a bag.

I think anyone who knows how to work a sewing machine could make this hat. If you have some sturdy fabric on hand, or unwanted denim or twill pants, why not transform them to a Sorrento bucket hat?