Saving the planet... one garment at a time!

... and one upcycle at a time... Welcome to my blog: A place to have an "over the fence conversation" about sewing, altered couture, upcycling, and all kinds of crafts using found objects, beads, ephemera and other vintage finds!


Friday, June 15, 2018

Tania Tabard - Style Arc Patterns

After a bit of deliberation, I believe my next make will be the Tania Tabard from Style Arc Patterns.  There are several things I really like about this pattern.  It has Laganlook elements while retaining a certain crisp refinement.  The little center drape should hit right over a real problem area in my figure right now, which is the upper belly pooch.  


I guess I have to admit that my body type has become the dreaded apple, so the draping and the long lines should help with a leaner illusion.  Now I need to decide on fabric.  Any thoughts?


Saturday, June 9, 2018

Vintage Pattern Handling

If you've been reading my blog for any amount of time, you know I always like to think of sewing as a sustainability skill.  While perhaps not as immediate and primal as knowing how to start a fire, or use dried beans, sewing certainly comes in handy if you are trying to get the most out of your clothing and textiles.  Like so many young women of my generation, I learned to sew in home economics class and in Girl Scouts.  My mother was a home sewist, and sewing was deemed an inexpensive method of expanding one’s wardrobe.

Expand I did! I made dresses, formals, skirts and even costumes.  Here's the pattern for the first dress I ever made!  At the time, my clothing budget for school and social occasions was very small and I was a student of international folk dance with a limited budget for ethnic dance ensembles.  




As an adult sewist I have gained an appreciation for vintage patterns.  I use them to create period costumes, and also to enhance my everyday wardrobe.  I’m always thrilled when I find a pattern that excites my imagination.  The fact that the pattern is still around (and not at the bottom of some landfill) is impressive.  Even more impressive is the fact that this pattern can still be used to create a special piece of clothing evocative of a long-ago style. 




I scour estate sales, thrift shops, and yard sales to acquire vintage patterns.  I keep many for myself, and I also sell them in my Seams Sustainable Etsy shop.  When I get the patterns home, I open each one and go through it to ascertain that all the pieces and directions are present.  Some vintage beauties are very challenging because of unprinted pattern pieces and minimal directions.  In times when many women could sew, the directions seem very minimal compared to the step by step directions included with more modern patterns!  Also, they require some special handling due to age!




I then consider whether the pattern will withstand use.  Tissue paper is usually acid-free and remarkably resilient.  However, the pattern’s past use and storage play a role in its present utility.  I have encountered pattern pieces crumpled into the envelope, wadded together from water damage, and torn either due to past pinning or due to labeling perforations becoming tears. In all of these cases, I very gently peel back the onion layers and try to separate the pieces.  Some patterns will just not be salvageable, but most I find I can gently separate. 

Once I’m sure that everything is present and can be separated, I decide whether to keep a pattern or resell.  Though grading a pattern up is very doable, I generally only keep patterns close to my measurements unless I am seeking a challenge.  My sewing time is short enough without adding complex fitting problems! 

Whether I am reselling the pattern, or keeping it, I next flatten the pattern, either to fold it back into the envelope or to use it.  For this, I will often use my iron, on a very low dry setting.  If the pattern seems fragile, and I plan to use it, tracing it onto newer tissue, exam table paper, or other pattern paper will help to preserve the original for posterity.  If the pattern is made of sterner stuff, I recommend using pattern weights instead of pins to keep your pattern intact.

Enjoy your summer sewing!  Do you sew with vintage patterns?  If so, what methods do you use to preserve them?


Thursday, May 31, 2018

Completed: Hot Patterns 1226

I finally found the time to complete my Hot Patterns 1226 blouse. 


A few notes on the result.  The pattern was very easy to use and the directions were clear.  The picture on the envelope is a very accurate depiction of how this blouse fits and hangs on the body.  Can I say, there's quite a bit of wearing ease here! It's a very slouchy, casual look.  If you wanted something a little more formal, or form fitting, it would be very easy to adjust the pattern along the seam lines.  Here's a picture of the completed blouse, gracing my trusty dressform, Betsy. 


She wears it well!  Overall I'm pleased with the result, though I think I may make it again, perhaps a size smaller.  It will be cool and breezy while providing office-appropriate coverage.  Thanks for viewing my result.

I'm not exactly sure what's on deck next.  Maybe a nice summery dress!  What are you sewing this summer?



Sunday, April 29, 2018

Sunday Diversion: A Dollar Tree Craft

Still working on Hot Patterns 1226, but I needed to order some seam binding, so I took a little detour into Dollar Tree Crafting.  My local Dollar Tree is a mixed bag.  Certainly not as much fun stuff as is depicted on those haul vlogs on YouTube, but still some intriguing things.  For instance, I picked up six spools of burlap ribbon and a wire wreath form.


The resulting wreath came out quite nice, so for $7 I was able to add a nice accent to my door!


I'm pretty happy with my dollar store craft.  The other thing I've done is repair a pet bed for some friends.  I am looking forward to completing my blouse as soon as my seam tape arrives!  Until then, enjoy your Spring!


Thursday, March 15, 2018

Sewing Plans: Hot Patterns 1226

For quite some time I have been enamoured with the designs featured by Hot Patterns.  To quote their about section, "HotPatterns is an independent sewing pattern company, started in 2005, and run by two Londoners who have somehow found themselves living & working in the steamy south-west of Florida".  I was first introduced to the company's work through some free patterns but then began to look more deeply to find a very stylish line.

I recently purchased Hot Patterns 1226, described as a T-shirt/blouse hybrid, the "perfect mix of comfy T and dressy blouse".




Here is the fabric I have selected to make this top from:


The fabric is drapey and relaxed.  It will be gorgeous made up as this blouse.  Unfortunately, it was stored in a bit of a ball, so I spent a whole evening pressing out creases so that I can cut it, hopefully, this weekend.  I could also see doing this again in a plain color to maximize the number of bottoms with which it can be worn.

I'm excited to get back to sewing.  Thank you for being my accountability partners!  Now that I've let you in on my plans, I have to follow through, right?
p.s. This is NOT a sponsored post.  I have no affiliation with Hot Patterns and have not been compensated in any way for promoting this pattern.


Saturday, March 10, 2018

Grand Reopening: Seams Sustainable Etsy Shop


I've been hard at work reopening my Etsy Shop.  I'm very pleased to have about 150 items posted!  Mostly sewing patterns, but a few other items as well!


Like this really cool mid-century sewing box.  I picked this up at a thrift store, and I'm really hoping it finds a terrific new home!


I am constantly acquiring new patterns at yard sales, estate sales, thrift shops, etc.  Many are simply intended for resale, but there are very many I actually have to argue with myself to part with!  Sometimes I promise myself that if a pattern is not re-homed when the listing expires I can keep it!  Here are a few of the ones I love:





I also buy a lot of sewing references.  Here's one I liked so much, I bought it twice!  The duplicate is in my shop (oops).


I'd really love it if you'd stop by the Etsy shop!  Please let me know if there's anything you have been looking for, that perhaps I can find for you!

Friday, February 9, 2018

5 "Non-Rules" for Refashion Goddesses




Refashioning, upcycling, altered couture - a craft by many names, but whatever you choose to call it, this is a fun way to exercise your creativity while keeping older clothing out of landfills!  This is a sub-genre of sewing that I love.  It makes me feel super creative while I divert fiber waste from the dump.  Here are 5 "Non-rules" to get you started on this creative path.


1.  The sky is the limit (to your collection)!  Unless your storage space is extremely limited (ok, whose storage space isn't somewhat limited?) amass a collection of garments for refashioning.  Sometimes a garment on its own is pretty uninspiring, but when two or three of these ho-hum garments are put together, ideas for what they might become begin to flow!  Putting two or more disparate pieces together yields something I like to call a Frankengarment, because you're sewing pieces from different garments into one.  If you crave organization, put like-weight fabrics into a bin together, or group by colors.


2.  In this case, size definitely does not matter!  By this, I mean the size of the original garment.  All garments are eligible for refashion whether they are miles too small or swimmingly large.  Even a tiny baby dress can be reused in embellishment on an adult garment.  If you love something about it - the print, the color, or the hand of the fabric - you are more likely to incorporate the piece into your art.


3.  The world is your source!  Be open to traditional and non-traditional means of acquiring materials for your art.  Start, of course in your own closet, looking for garments you have not worn in a year or more.  Expand into the closets of your family and even friends!  Thrift stores, yard sales, estate sales and consignment shops are another source.  And, don't forget scavenging and dumpster diving.  With a little fortitude, you can score great items for refashioning.


4.  Forget what the garment is now!  A dress need not stay a dress, a blouse is not always a blouse, and trousers are not forever sentenced to trouserhood!  Open your eyes to the possibilities and liberate the garment within the garment.  While strictly not a refashion in the truest sense of the word, sometimes you can just re-use the fabric from one garment to create another.


5.  Start simple - do what you know!  My first upcycle was the simple addition of an appliqu├ęd dragonfly to a denim jacket.  Years later, I still wear that jacket frequently because I love it.  You, too, can start by embellishing already existing garments.  Wear them out and about.  Soon you'll be complimented on your lovely and unique creations.  Compliments are like crack to the crafter - oh so addictive!  You'll soon want more, and begin to push the creative envelope further and further.  Who knows where your creativity can take you?