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, January 27, 2012

Vintage Goodness in Progress

I've been working hard on my sailor dress.  So far, I'm thrilled that the alterations I made during the muslin phase are paying off in the final garment.  You'll be happy to know the hips are covered!  Now the really daunting work begins... all those buttons (and buttonholes)!  Yes, my machine does have a buttonholer, but I've been entertaining sick thoughts of hand binding them.  I know, I know, I need my head examined!

Which brings me to something I've given a lot of thought to lately.  Probably like you, I read a lot of sewing blogs.  Do they ever give you an inferiority complex?  I mean, here are these gorgeous dresses, coats, and outfits, and many posters seem to indicate that these droolworthy creations took only a few hours to create.  I have three times that amount invested in this little sailor dress.  Tracing the pattern so as not to ruin the original, cutting and making the muslin, altering for my measurements, cutting the fashion fabric and sewing the actual dress - not to mention little things like seam finishing, etc.!  Is it me?  Am I slow?  Maybe.

Anyway, when I complete the button bacchanalia I will post pictures of the dress.  Meanwhile, here's a treat from Handmade Ryan Gosling!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A (not too) vintage project

Today I started a vintage pattern project. I say that it's not too vintage because it's from the seventies - the era in which I first learned to sew - so it's not THAT old!

The pattern is Simplicity 5566, a cute sailor styled tunic and pant set, or dress. I'm making the dress. I'm pleased to say that the pattern, purchased from Patterns from the Past (, is in mint condition, and was easily traced onto Swedish tracing paper. I am making a muslin, because the pattern, while correctly sized for my bust measurement, comes up skimpy for my curvaceously apportioned hips, and some adjustments will need to be made. Stay tuned for updates on the process, and a picture of the completed dress. Ahoy maties!

Broken Blog Syndrome

Wow!  My blog background has been broken for a few days.  Thanks to the brilliant and creative Itkupilli, it's all fixed now.  YEAH!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Book Review: the BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook

Sometimes I think there's something wrong with me when it comes to my taste in clothing and design. Every sewing website and blog is singing the praises of The BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook. I love the BurdaStyle website and often use patterns from this site in my day to day sewing. I really dislike all of the patterns chosen for this book! Sure, if you sew these patterns you'll learn enough sewing that you can then take on the world of patterns and pattern alteration and variation. But you'll have some ugly-a** clothes to show for it. I am frankly saddened that I spent the money on this book. Maybe the designs are just too young for me, but they certainly don't appeal.

The book does have some good points. The "Getting Started" chapter showed some very interesting sewing spaces and included some very elementary basics information on things like threading the sewing machine. Chapter 2 is on pattern use and contains useful information, including the Burda sizing chart, how to take measurements, and pattern testing basics. Chapter 3 includes a fabric primer and covers some of the techniques required by the patterns.

Then we go through the five patterns included with the book and see some basic variations for each. Again, I disliked the patterns so much, that it distracted from the experience of the remainder of the book. The authors' stated desire was for this book to be the "new bible for aspiring fashion designers, sewing enthusiasts, and motivated DIYers.". I guess I will have to agree to disagree and seek my inspiration of biblical proportion elsewhere.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Book Review - Little Green Dresses by Tina Sparkles

One of my holiday gifts this year was a little money - it felt so luxurious to have something to spend on my sewing obsession. One of my purchases was Little Green Dresses by Tina Sparkles. This book has it all for a sewist like me. There's a great introductory chapter which details the many, many reasons for recycling and upcycling used textiles. Next are chapters outlining basic sewing techniques and basic pattern drafting. But the 'piece de resistance' is the fifty original creations which follow, with instructions for making the patterns. I absolutely love this book and I will definitely be using it often in creating garments this year.

Monday, January 2, 2012


Last year I was surprised to learn that each household in America generates 68 pounds of textile waste.  68 pounds!  This amounts to 12 million tons annually!  As much as 5 - 10% of the material in the average landfill is textile waste, depending on the municipality.  Many may say, " Where's the problem in that?  Doesn't fabric break down?".  Well, frankly, no.  Many fabrics take hundreds of
years, if not more, to break down in a landfill.  Some synthetics may never really break down, while others leach dyes and chemicals into the ground as they decompose.

And yet, textiles are among the most easily re-usable and recyclable materials found in the average household.  First, of course, these materials can be donated to charity for re-use as clothing, or torn up and used as household rags, but for the home sewist they represent a treasure trove of fabrics to be
remade into the garments of tomorrow.

Home sewing is often touted as an economical activity.  However, it can actually be quite expensive if you buy all new materials from the big box fabric store for your project.  Next time you sit down to plan a sewing project, consider harvesting your fabric from older clothing, from old sheets or table linens that are slated for discard.  Even if you do not have a stockpile of these fabrics, you can acquire these more cheaply than full price fabric by haunting your thrift shop, going to garage and estate sales, and simply being alert to discards of neighbors and friends.  Let's all resolve to keep a little of our 68 pounds out of the landfill!


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