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, 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?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Isn't That Pinteresting? - 7: Japanese Sewing Patterns

Japanese patterns!  This pin is only one representation of the many, many patterns I have pinned from this general category of patterns.

The garments have such simple elegance.  An interesting blend of modern, and more traditional garment structures from historical Japanese costuming.  They seem somewhat timeless.  Relaxed and comfortable, dainty and feminine.

I've begun to collect several pins on patterns themselves, how to sew the Japanese patterns, and what resources are available at other blogs.  I'd love to make a few of these.  The only problem I see is that, at least currently, I am not exactly delicate.  My frame is not a tiny one, even when I am thinner.  Does anyone out there have any experience with these patterns, particularly for a decidedly Western frame?  I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Under Construction!

Please pardon a few experimental changes!  Things will settle down soon, and thank you for stopping by!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Your Opinion Needed!

Hi blog readers!  I am thinking about changing the design of my humble blog.  I am very conflicted about this. I admit to liking things to remain static and I'm not all about change... sometimes its even hard to rearrange a room!  So, I'm sincerely asking your opinion of my blog background, header and graphic elements.  Do you think Seams Sustainable needs some housecleaning?  Is it too busy?  Do you prefer blogs with white backgrounds and cleaner lines?  Do you like what you already see here?  I know I'm breaking several of the "laws" of blogging already, so bail me out.  I sincerely want and value your opinion.  Thanks!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

5 Ways to Divest Yourself of Unwanted Clothing Without Using a Landfill

So, if you read our last installment, now you've identified a pile of things you no longer need, wear or want. Congratulations!  Luckily we're ready with a great list of ways to get those unwanted garments out of your house without visiting a landfill.

1.  Host a clothing swap for your friends.  This is a fun way to gather the gang for coffee, cocktails or wine without selling anything (you can probably list all the at-home party sales companies popular in your area), yet everyone still gets some benefit.  Everyone gets to pass along some unwanted items and potentially get something new to take home without spending a dime!  If you want you can even have a themed party: business casual, weekends, travel, or accessories could all be the central theme.  A really thoughtful hostess will arrange for those unwanted items to disappear after the party so no one has to schlep home their undesirables.

2.  Resell. OK, this one will probably take some effort on your part, but you may reap back a small reward for having invested the time.  Of course, usually only the cream of your cast-offs will sell, so hand select items to try this with.  Resale options include consignment (check local shops, their rules, and choose a dealer you can work with), garage/yard sales (where you are likely to recoup only pennies on the dollar), and online sales.  The options for online resale are growing daily, but the granddaddy is probably eBay.  If selling online, be sure to describe your items honestly and fully.  Sometimes even slightly damaged goods may sell if you are meticulous in your description.

3.  Donate.  This option is rife with ethical considerations.  The charity you donate to, is of course, your choice.  Some things to consider might be what works are supported with the funds raised, how much of each donation goes to support these charitable works, and what is done with any "non-salable" goods.  For instance, some groups sell clothing not perceived to be salable in the US to foreign second hand goods markets, others sell them to be made into rags for cleaning, or to be made into fiberfill for soft-goods. Don't forget that you are generally entitles to a tax deduction equal to the resale value of the items donated.  Check with your tax professional for details.

4.  Give away.  Not quite the same as either donating, or swapping, where chances are, you are getting something in return (a tax deduction or another item of clothing), giving your clothing away entails exactly that - giving.  Think hand-me-downs for grown ups.  If you are tired of a perfectly serviceable sweater or coat, perhaps another family member could get some use out of it.  At the office where I work people often bring in items they no longer want and leave them in the break room.  If nobody takes them in a week or so they are donated to the charity next door.  You can also use your local Freecycle online group to give items away for free.

5.  Restyle or re-use.  Well, the last stop on our list does not exactly remove the item from your home.  However, restyling two or more old garments into one new, upcycled one is all the rage!  Think how crafty you'll feel as you make something new and chic out of something that just hung in your closet unloved and unworn!  Or, if you are really never going to wear it again, make it into something completely different - a rug, a potholder, a fort for little ones - the possibilities are endless!  And, if you really can't think of anything, you probably need some cleaning rags, too.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Knowing When to Let Go: 7 Reasons to Remove an Item From Your Wardrobe!

Right now you're probably saying to yourself, "What's wrong with this woman?  In one post she says we throw out too much, and in the next she wants me to get rid of things!  I wish she'd make up her mind!"  OK, I may seem to be a little inconsistent here, but I promise you that there's a theme here, and I'm still not advocating throwing things away.  A future post will cover the actual mechanics of getting rid of unwanted textiles, but for now, let's concentrate on WHEN to let go.

If you're like me, even though you have not booked your appearance on "Hoarders", you probably save clothes far too long.  Perhaps your reasons are environmental, or sentimental or maybe it's just plain inertia. Whatever is making you hold on, here are 7 compelling reasons to part company with those fabric albatrosses.

The first, and most obvious reason is that the item is seriously worn out.  We all have some of these - pilled beyond recognition, frayed cuffs, threadbare or faded body.  When you love a piece, or when it is oh so comfortable, sometimes its hard to see that the end is nigh.  I find that the best time to check is when you trade out your seasonal clothing for the next upcoming season.  As you put clothes away, inspect each piece for glaring wear...

...and tear.  The second reason to divest yourself of an item of clothing is irreparable damage.  Many things can be fixed - a damaged zipper or a fallen hem - but some cannot: a gaping hole in a hard to patch area, a stain that won't budge, or the odor you just can't eradicate.

Third are those wardrobe components that are just hopelessly out of date - their time is gone and not coming back - we're talking leisure suits! Now we all know that today's off trend items MAY turn into tomorrow's heirlooms or kitschy vintage wonder.  If your dress or blouse in is pristine condition with classic lines I'll give you a bye here - you may carefully store it away.  However, if we are talking about the average passe piece with lots of wear, don't save it for the day the trend comes back.

Number 4 haunts almost all women at some time or another - clothes that just don't fit!  If it fit ten years ago, please see number 3.  Even if it fit last year, and you plan to lose or gain weight, remember - it might not happen the way you plan.  And, don't forget that as we age, our bodies just change.  What fit like a glove before may never fit like that again - either alter it or let it go!

Fifth on the list are clothes that may fit (technically) but are just not comfortable.  Here consider the overly itchy sweater, the blouse that gapes and reveals too much or the pants you constantly pull and readjust. Your clothes should be effortless to wear.  Only the compliments you receive should remind you of their presence!

The sixth stop on our list may have some members in common with some of the other lists - these are the clothes that you just don't wear.  Some of these may even still have tags on them from the day you purchased them.  The old rule of thumb still holds true - if you have not worn it in a year (all four seasons have come and gone) you probably won't and you can safely let it go.

Last but not least, it's time to get rid of clothes that don't portray the image you want to be sending out into the world.  If an item is just not you - the REAL you - it probably does not belong in your wardrobe.  I hear so many women say, "I don't really have a 'style'."  I hear you, but if this is you, start working on that!  Build from those pieces you have that make you feel fabulous!

I hope this inspires you to take a critical look at your closet. Let me know what you are letting go of, and why!  Next in this series: 5 Ways to Divest Yourself of Unwanted Clothing Without Using a Landfill.

also shared at My Repurposed Life!