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!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

1920s Gown ala Downton Abbey Style

It's been a very, very long time since I've had any time to catch up with you!  I hope you have been well. I've been terribly preoccupied with a day job which no longer fit my needs, so I'm back with you, able to blog once more!  I'm very excited about the project that I am working on for a dear friend.

It's number 5941 from the Vintage Pattern Lending Library, a 1920's evening gown.  These patterns are tricky.  As stated in the materials enclosed in the pattern envelope, "the original instructions consist of two diagrams and eight lines of simple instruction".  Sewists contemporary to the era of the pattern would have needed little instruction for constructing and finishing this gown.  Included in the envelope is a tutorial for a muslin, but there are no instructions for a finished gown, so a lot is left to me.

I cut the pattern from the muslin material (a flat King sheet I got for a couple of dollars - great source of fabric for muslins when purchased cheaply at yard sales or flea markets) last week, and began construction yesterday.  This will not be a wearable muslin (alas) as I'll be using the deconstructed pieces as the final pattern - this one's for fitting only.  It's also helpful for identifying all the raw edges that will need some sort of finish. Here's what I've got so far!

The actual fabric I'll be using is gorgeous, with a lot more fluidity and drape than the sheet.  It's some lovely Sari silk, which I'll show you in the next post on this dress.

I also realized that I have not shown you my new sewing room!  For Yule this year, my husband had a room in the basement finished for me for sewing.  Here are two little peeks at a couple of the furnishings.  The first is a cabinet we found in the basement of the home when we moved in.  All cleaned up, it make a great bookcase for many of my sewing and craft books.

Then, for pattern storage, we licked up this antique catalog from TOPS in Hudson Falls (my favorite second hand store, where estate finds are mixed in with new furniture - here's an earlier post about this wonderful business!).  I'll show you more, when the room is cleaned up a bit and more presentable!

I'm looking forward to sharing more on this gown project, the sewing room, and many other projects in the pipeline!  Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Trashed Tee to Colorblocked Dress

Sale rack meets junk T in this upcycle project!

I had a really soft comfortable T shirt (which came from Chico's, so it was not cheap either) that I was wearing during a crafting session one day.  Needless to say I ruined the shirt by getting some glue on it.

The glue spots look really small in the picture, but I always felt self-conscious wearing it.  I decided to make a dress out of it when I saw a plain black children's maxi on a sale rack at Target.  The maxi is made of a very soft knit with lycra, and is black.

After removing the elastic waistband, the cropped top and the skirt lined up PERFECTLY!  I think they were meant to be together!  The only problem was getting slippery knits to cooperate and play along.  I decided to use dryer sheets as a stabilizer (what?).  First I cut the sheets into strips.

Then, I placed the strips under my work so that the knit was not touching the feed dogs.

When the dress was completed, I clipped away the dryer sheet.  Here's the finished dress!  I hope you like it, and I hope you let me know what you are working on!

Revealing Wrap to Trapeze Top

Feels like a long time since I've sewn anything.  I finally got a day to work on some things, thanks to a day off!  Today's project:

I have a lightweight (almost scarf material) summer wrap dress I bought several years ago while on a cruise in the Caribbean.  I love the fabric, but I always felt a little exposed.  The dress draped over the front and tied like an apron, then did the same but in reverse to cover the back side.  I was always afraid my sides were showing, or that it was a little too short.

So, I decided to make a trapeze top out of it.  With this particular fabric, it will flow nicely, look great with jeans, and be a little more secure.

I put the dress on and marked where the armscye should close.

Then I spread out the dress on the cutting surface (which happens to be my bedroom floor).

Once I evened everything out and sewed the new sides together, I realized that with the weight of this fabric, only a rolled hem would do, so I for out my trusty rolled hem foot.

The completed top came out pretty cute!

Please share your latest creations!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Isn't That Pinteresting? - 8: Upcycled Skirt/Tunic

I just love upcycled clothes.  I think that's pretty obvious.  I troll Pinterest and other internet sources looking for great upcycles that I can do at home.  This one really caught my eye:

I like the colors, the length, the loose fit which is treating me so nicely this summer.  I'd love to give you the source, but when I clicked the link, I get a 404 error (link not found).  From what I could gather, this is a skirt melded with an old T, somewhat like the dress I made recently, but even cuter!  More Pinspiration!  I plan to try a copy of this one soon.  What have you been working on this summer?

Saturday, July 5, 2014

One Quick Upcycle!

My beloved machine is back from the sewing machine repair shop.  Thank goodness.  And there was some delay because the spool cap was mislaid, but my baby is back and it's all good now.  To celebrate, I completed a little upcycled dress I had been planning before the machine broke down.

I started with a black knit top that became too short over numerous washings, and a black and white linen skirt that I never wear anymore.

Next, I measured where I wanted the new empire waist to fall on my body. 

Then I marked around the whole top and cut it, including a seam allowance.

Then I removed the waistband of the skirt and pinned the two pieces together, gathering where necessary to make the two fit together.  The two pieces were sewn together and voila!  A new knee length summer dress, from two unworn old pieces!

I'm pretty happy with the result!  What recycling adventures have you been working on?

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Pinspiration: Menu Board

So, my sewing machine was in the shop... but my need to make something was great.  I often turn to Pinterest for inspiration, so I checked out some of the Pins I've been hoarding the last few months.  I had been wanting to make a Menu Board similar to one I had seen on Pinterest.  The original was from Lauren at The Thinking Closet.  You can read all about hers here.  Love the original, but wanted somthing more in keeping with my Victorian home, and wanted to spend only a little time making it, before the creative urge died with the realization that I couldn't sew!  My current method of menu posting involves a tattered piece of paper posted on the fridge.

So I headed to a craft store (but NOT Hobby Lobby whom I refuse to patronize, as we are on opposite sides of the fence as regards a woman's reproductive health rights).  And purchased:

  1. A pre-cut chalkboard
  2. Cute rub-on decals
  3. Glittered baby clothespins      
  4. Magnets
  5. Cardstock
  6. Glue (well, ok, I already owned the glue!)   

The decals were the type that you rub into place with a popsicle stick, allowing you to look like a great painter and artiste.  Once the decals were in place, I glued on my clothespins and magnets on the back to hold the board onto my fridge.  While it lacks the little pockets for holding the cards that the original had, I'm quite happy with the result.

What ideas have you gotten from Pinterest lately?  Please share!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Sewing Withdrawal

My main sewing machine is in the shop.  I was working on a little restyle (which I was planning to post) and it just refused to continue.  I opened everything I was comfortable opening and could not see any problems - no thread visibly looped where it should not have been, no obvious issues of any kind - so off to the repair shop it went.

My Euro-Pro has been my main machine for many years.  I really love almost everything about this machine, although it can be fussy in the tension department, and will bleep at me in an annoying manner if things get bollixed up.  I have sewn an amazing number of projects on this machine, with stunning results.

Now to be honest, I also own two Singers of relatively recent vintage, two antique Singers and a Brother introductory type serger.  Love the serger, too, though I'm still challenged every time I go to thread it. Without my go-to machine, I feel a little lost, and my projects are at a stand-still.

What's your favorite machine, and what do you doo when it's in the shop?