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, 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?

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Eager to Sew!

I'm back!

It's been a very long time since I've sewn anything, and I'm itching to get back on board.  In all fairness, it was a rough year.  Way too complicated to get into here, but trust me...

I'm starting out 2018 with essentially the same goals I started in 2017.  Since I accomplished none of them, it's do-over time!  I'm really excited to be setting my sewing area up for some great projects for 2018.  I'm also happy to be reopening my Etsy shop, where I'll once again be selling some great vintage patterns, notions, and books!

I've missed blogging, and I can't wait to produce some interesting content for you.  Please let me know if there's something, in particular, you'd like to see, and as always, thanks for your kind support!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Sew Committed: Sewing Goals for 2017!

2016 was a slow year on the blog.  I had some great sewing projects during the year, but it didn't feel like enough sewing time.  I'm looking forward to sewing more in 2017.  Here are my sewing goals for the year.

1.  Focus on upcycling.  I continue to be excited by reusing textiles from cast off clothing and homegoods.  I like a look that smoothly incorporates castoffs so that the finished product does not look too disjointed or over-planned.

2.  Lagenlook.  Let's face facts - I'm over 50 and I've been reading a few articles lately about styles that should be retired from my wardrobe.  Also, at the New Year's gala I attended, I couldn't help but notice a striking, slim woman wearing a lovely teal strapless evening gown.  She was probably in her 60s.  Though the dress fit nicely, it looked as though her back and shoulders were melting over the bodice of her gown.  Her skin was too slack to rock the strapless look.  Because of this experience, as well as my recent reading, I'm always on the lookout for designs that will flatter an aging figure.  The term lagenlook comes from German and means "layered look".  It can be done sleek and businesslike or ruffly and boho.  I've been interested for a while in adding more of these pieces to my closet.

3.  Vintage!  Vintage looks are always inspiring,  I love to "play dress-up", but I also look for vintage patterns that can be worn for everyday use.  Edwardian fashion, the jazz age and mod 60s looks are all of interest to me now.

4.  Perfecting techniques.  Another goal for this year's sewing is to work on perfecting some of the techniques I've used before to make sewing even more enjoyable.  Rolled hems, blind hems, lightweight fabrics, knits, hand stitched buttonholes and flawless zippers are easily called to mind examples.

I look forward to sharing my progress toward these goals with you!  As always, please feel free to add a comment with ideas about anything you might like to see me do this year.  Thanks, and happy sewing!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Corticelli Silk Thread

I became interested in Corticelli silk thread when I acquired a box of it in an old sewing basket. If you haven’t noticed by now, I am a scavenger for everything sewing when I go to garage sales, estate sales and other purveyors of old things.  Despite the vintage nature of the thread, as evidenced by the neat wooden spools, I could not believe the luster and the depth of the colors.

Since that first acquisition, I’ve amassed quite a little collection of these spools.  Once you start collecting something, it seems as though the universe arranges for you to have more of it, or make you more aware of it, or something.  Another of my interests is in advertising ephemera, particularly of the Victorian era.  I started to notice ephemera related to Corticelli threads popping up on Pinterest, on boards related to sewing, crafting, and advertising history.

The company began in the 1830s in Florence, Massachusetts.  Today, we certainly never think of Massachusetts, or any other state in the Union, as being producers of silk.  At one time, this area was very much the center of sericulture in the US.  At the time it was the Nonotuck Company.  Some time later the name Corticelli was adopted.  Corticelli was not the name of any of the principals in the company but is thought to have been adopted to create an association in the mind of the consumer with Italy, then a powerhouse in the silk industry, renowned for quality.

A lot of the advertising for the company centered around adorable kittens.  They had me at silk, but now kittens?  What could be better than silk thread and kittens?

Monday, November 7, 2016

Tunic from Upcycled Tablecloth

I would love to spend more time sewing.  I have so many plans rattling around in my head for projects, and have collected so many patterns I want to use.  I had a few spare hours the other day, so I put them to good use in the sewing studio.
Another of my loves beyond straight sewing is the upcycling of the vintage linens I collect during my thrift shopping adventures.  I came across this beautiful jacquard tablecloth, with an intricately woven floral pattern, some time back.  I loved the ivory color and the drape of the fabric.  My plan had been to turn it into a tunic top. 

I used a pin from my Pinterest board, Sew Inspired, as my inspiration.  It’s a picture of a cutting layout for a tunic top.  The only measurement I used was my bust measurement, to which I added 2 inches for ease.  I used a bateau neckline and self drafted a facing from a linen table scarf (or altar cloth?).  I elected not to embellish the resulting top because I felt that the pattern woven into the fabric was such a beautiful and subtle statement that I did not want to overwhelm it with trim.
Here is the resulting top.  I am really looking forward to wearing it soon.  I think it could be dressed up or down depending on the occasion and the accessories.

Thanks for looking!

Friday, October 7, 2016

An Oldie but Goodie - Burda 8630

I was feeling rather guilty about my lack of sewing.  So I got out a pattern I'd done before.  I had some black linen laying about and I thought it would look nice as a jacket.  I used Burda 8630, which is at least 14 or 15 years old.  The first time I made is was in 2002 and I think it had been hanging around for a while before I actually made it.  I eventually get around to making things, but often not right away!  Here's the envelope picture:

This is a very loose and roomy jacket, best made with a fabric with a little bit of drape, but some structure, too.  The linen worked out quite well.

It looks nice on Betsy, my trusty dress form, but you can see how loose it really is.  I may move the button over so it doesn't hang off like on a little girl playing dress up.

I like the asymmetry.  Very Lagenlook, which is something that appeals to me right now.  Being black, it will complement many other items in my wardrobe.

I've been saving this button for some time, so now it has a home!  Thanks very much for stopping by to look!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Lisette Dress BP277

Finished the Lisette dress, BP277.  The pic shows how easily the fabric crumples, and it also shows as quite a bit shinier than it actually looks "in real life".  It's very comfortable to wear and is a perfect work dress,  Now I just need to get some time to work on the pants project!

I'm also back at work on the seat cushion and pillows that I started for a friend ages ago.  We had quite a delay over a pattern for the window seat cushion, then I had a few sleepless nights over how I was going to accurately cut 3 inch thick upholstery foam.  You Tube to the rescue!  Who knew that an electric carving knife would cut it like butter?  Woohoo!  Now juat have to sew the cover and a few more pillows!