reenergizing refashions

I’m still not where I want to be with sewing, but graduation at my school was this weekend so I’m hoping I’ll be able to work less and ramp up the crafting in the next couple weeks (after I take a mini-vacation to visit my brother for his college graduation that is). To get a jump start on my sewing I took a little bit of time to rework a refashion. I made these hot pink and brass zipper jeans almost exactly a year ago. I wish I would have taken a before picture when they were bootcut.


I really liked the pink zipper, but found myself never wearing them. I don’t have a lot that goes with hot pink besides black or white, and my tendency to always cross my legs under me when sitting means having a zipper pressing into my ankle. For me, the zipper jeans trend is over anyway so I refashioned the refashion. I sewed the zippers in pretty well, so it took a lot of seam ripping, but after the zippers were out I just had to sew up the opening where they were. Voila! New skinny jeans, which fit into my wardrobe much better than the hot pink zippered ones. Plus I have two cool zippers to use for another project.


My favorite part is that these jeans are thicker than many of the “jeggings” out there since they were made from regular jeans with just a little stretch. Have you ever tried to skinny out some regular jeans?


upcycled cashmere cowl

When Crystal was here in September, she left a few things. She was taking some clothes to a consignment store on the second part of her trip, and let me have my pick first 🙂

A couple of items I can wear as is, but I was stumped by this purple sweater for a few months. I didn’t take a regular “before” picture but it was a lavender, short sleeve, scoop neck cashmere sweater with in-seam pockets.


I let Jackson mess around with it at first because I was thinking it could be a cozy cat bed but he preferred attacking it and dragging it around the house to laying on it.

He’s done this before with cashmere or angora sweaters. I think he thinks they’re alive.


A couple of weeks ago I got the idea to turn the sweater into an infinity scarf.

Not surprisingly, the cat mauling caused a few holes that I had to cut around or sew closed. Since the bottom of the sweater had in-seam pockets, I just sewed the pocket openings closed and let them be a design element in the scarf.


I didn’t have enough width for the scarf to wrap around my neck twice, but I was able to make a decent cowl out of it. I just cut off the bottom of the sweater below the neck, sewed the top and bottom edges together to create a tube, and then sewed the ends of the tube together with a slipstitch.


You can see the edges of the pockets on the front of the scarf, but they aren’t very noticeable.


The cowl is really cozy. I finished it yesterday morning and have already worn it out a few times.  It pairs well with a warm sweater…


and with my new (Black Friday!) coat that I’ve been wearing a lot these last few weeks.


Columbia outlet for $70! I’ve been needing a real winter coat that actually keeps me warm and dry for a while now and I love it!

After this Friday, I’m off work for two full weeks so be on the lookout for more posts soon. Hope all of your Christmas crafting is turning out like you’d hoped!

birthday totes, bibs, and aprons

I finished my bag for the secret tote swap, but since today is the much celebrated and beloved holiday of Columbus Day the post office is closed. I think post office and bank workers must be Columbus’s biggest fans. But since I’ve not sent my latest tote out yet, I have some other totes for you today.

I made some more birthday totes in the last few weeks. This one was for my mom’s friend Sandy. She likes bright happy colors, and I’d been saving this shirt to make a bag. It was a thrift store find of course.


I paired the shirt with the rest of the pink sheet (that has lasted for YEARS since I first got back into sewing) and turned it into a fun beachy tote.


I used the sheet for the lining, straps, and part of the front since there wasn’t a whole lot of shirt to go around. I did use a little bit of the shirt on the inside pocket. Some triple topstitching finished off the front.


I meant to finish the bag before I went to Pennsylvania, but ended up mailing later because it wasn’t done in time. I made the card during a cardmaking blitz that I hope to blog about soon.

My next tote was for my friend Christine. I’m still stashbusting fabric, so I used a checked red and white fabric from Kathy’s mom’s stash that I thought suited her.

I knew I wanted to make a large bag because she’s a crocheter and has been working on afghans lately. I had a pillowcase in the stash that was about the width that I wanted to make the bag so I used it as the lining. No sewing up the sides and bottom, just insert the pillowcase into the outer bag!


I like the striped on the edge and will be saving them for another project.

I wanted to pair the checked fabric with a thicker one since it’s a loose weave and the pillowcase did the trick. Lots of topstitching on the handles and a divided inside pocket finished this bag off.


The boyfriend laughed when he saw how large this bag is, but it’s working out for Christine.

christine tote bag in action

She’s been making some great projects lately!

I made her son a bib since his birthday was pretty recent too. I’ve intended to make so many things for him since he was born a year ago, but I really haven’t gotten around to it. *guilty friend syndrome*


I made this reversible toddler bib pattern using some plaid fabric from the same acquired stash as the checkered fabric. Levi just turned one but he is already toddler-sized.

My last birthday present in this round-up is for Barret’s sister. He picked out the fabric, and I made the apron from one of my go-to patterns. After I made an apron for Barret’s mom last year, Casey mentioned that she wanted an apron. I kept that though in the back of my mind and it took several months almost a year, but her birthday was the catalyst I needed to make it happen. (Even then I almost waited until this Christmas to finish it, but Barret kept nudging.)


The prepackaged bias tape matched perfectly, as did a button from my stash.


I really like the full skirt of this apron pattern. It adds something special to a very practical garment.

I’ll be off to the mailbox tomorrow to send my tote for the swap (luckily it’s not going far) and the sailboat pouch to my giveaway winner. (Congrats to TheFamilyClass!)

I’m hoping things are slowing down a little so I’ll have a chance to post more regularly. I’ve been working against some deadlines and was out of town for a conference last week.

shirt to shirt dress

My friend Crystal came to visit last weekend. It has been way too long since we saw each other last, and it was a blast.

She’s mentioned to me that she wants to start shopping at yard sales and thrift stores, but got overwhelmed when she tried it on her own. We were heading out to do some non-thrift shopping Saturday when I saw that there were two yard sales on my block.

The first one was a wash, but at the second one there were lots of plus sized clothes. Neither of us is plus sized, but I know you can get a good amount of fabric to work with in one shirt. I found one in a fabric I thought she would like and convinced her to buy it. For $0.50, I thought I could make a cute skirt with buttons in the front and get it done before she left.



When I brought the garment up to the sewing room after a marathon day of non-thrift shopping, I realized it had dress potential.

I wasn’t sure it would work, but here are the steps I took.

First, I removed the sleeves. You can see just how big this dress was on Crystal initially. It fits around her twice!


Next I took off the outer bodice panels. In the previous photos you can see where the bodice seam goes all the way up to the top.

After this step, we had what looked like a jumper. Thankfully I had a model to try it on at each stage of the process!



I took the skirt in on the sides, and realized the the bodice just needed a few inches on each side to make it wearable.



I took a piece of the extra fabric that I cut off the sides and stitched it in place on the bodice, then did the same on the other side. From there, I cut a rough armhole and did the rest of my fitting.

There was a good bit of tweaking on the fit. I basted my stitches so the dress could be easily adjusted in or out. Crystal often has trouble finding clothes that work for her, and a lot of time she needs things taken in at the tailor, so I really wanted to make her a dress that fit well.

Once I got the fit and armhole shape looking good, I showed Crystal how to make some bias tape. I also had her help on the ironing, pinning, and cutting because she wanted to get some insight into the whole sewing/refashioning process. I cut the bias tape, and she ironed it all quite nicely. I attached it to the armholes, and voila!


The dress turned out even better than I thought it might. I contribute it to the fact that we made an awesome team 🙂

She was so pleased with her new dress, and especially the fit. I know because she kept it on for an hour after we finished it and wore it when she left the next day!

I was happy to show Crystal the process of refashioning, though at first I was a little nervous to have someone watching me while I was working. I wish she lived closer so we could get together and sew. She’s sewn some simpler projects, like aprons and basic dresses, and they’ve turned out great, so hopefully now she’ll try her hand at refashioning!

I made her a lunch bag and snack pouch to take with her, so I’ll post about those next time.

I did manage to snag a photo of her wearing her new dress with her new lunch bag, so here’s a sneak peek!



And doesn’t she make it look fabulous ladies and gentlemen? I wish I had a willing model around more often!

boxy bag and birthday purse

I’ve conquered the boxy zip bag! I was nervous, but I’ve made a few different types of zipper pouches (curved top, wedge, pleated, gathered, embroidered) so it was time to further my knowledge. Guess what? It wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would be.

I used this pattern from Pretty Modern and it worked out well. It was a bit nerve-wracking since you don’t turn the bag right side out until the end when all the sewing is done. I thought I’d try to turn it and it would look like a big mess, but it looked like this!


Instead of interfacing for the lining, I used batting to give the bag a cushy interior. Look, it unzips correctly and is nice and finished inside!


One of my zipper tabs is off center but I’ll live with it, or wait until I can’t stand it anymore, rip the lining open and fix it. So far, I’m going to live with it. 🙂 The most tedious part of this bag was boxing all eight corners (lining and exterior), but it’s so worth it!

Where did I get this awesome fabric that is truly “the cat’s pajamas” you ask? At a yard sale of course! I used a pillowcase from the same day of yard sales (previously seen as a pillowcase dress) for the lining.


I’ve mentioned my sleep shorts addiction before. This pair was too big and billowy but I didn’t want to part with the fabric. I figured a pair of sleep shorts is well suited to be made into an overnight toiletries bag.

I finished another bag last weekend for my friend’s sister’s birthday. She’d seen the pleated purse I made for my swap partner and requested one for her sister. She picked the fabric and I did the sewing.


I did a matching pocket on the inside and a magnetic snap closure as the pattern suggests. I was more careful with the fusible interfacing this time so there are less wrinkles and bubbling.


Now I just have to give the bag to my friend!

shorts to purse refashion

I printed out the pattern for the Phoebe bag a year or two ago but hadn’t gotten around to making it. These shorts my friend Amanda gave me from her Goodwill pile inspired me make this bag happen.


The flowers are a bit much with the multicolored plaid. When I went to cut up the shorts, I was pleased to find that the flower motif was only happening on one side of the fabric.


I saved the flaps on the back pockets…


and used them and their buttons on the inside pockets.


I didn’t have enough fabric to cut a whole outer panel from, so I cut two halves and sewed them together in the middle for each side. I covered the seam with a piece of black grosgrain ribbon because it looked weird with the plaids not matching up.


The flower on the bag came from a pair of sandals that recently bit the dust.


The sole was coming off and the interior had crumbled, so I salvaged the flowers and tossed the soles.

shoeflower01AThe flowers were sewn on to the straps, so I just had to sew the whole piece together and attached a safety pin through the threads.

These are the backs of my magnetic snap halves. It looks like I’m not the only upcycler!


And here’s a final inside shot. I like the looks of a bag lined in satin and I have a bunch of it around. I used black canvas for the handle.


So there you have it: shorts to purse! I gave the bag to Amanda this weekend, but I might have to make another version for myself!

Does it seem like everything I’ve been making lately is a bag? Well I just finished another one for my friend’s sister today, and have a few more planned.

I went to Joann’s yesterday and bought some more fabric for curtains and the right size zipper for the boxy bag so I hope to have that done this week. Maybe I’m just destined to be a sewer of bags, though I do hope to get some work clothes sewn soon.

jeans into cuffed shorts

I often give my friend Amanda and her mom dibs on my clothes when I’m ready to donate because they’re about the same size as me. Last week, Amanda returned the favor and gave me some of her mom’s clothes. They all fit (!) and I think I’ll be able to use all of them as is or with modifications.

My first project is with these jeans that were in the bag. I really liked the back pocket details, but there were issues below the knees.


shiny gold pockets!

I’m betting you can guess where I’m going with these from the placement of the pins. See the worn spots by the knees?


So I cut off the bottoms using this tip and had a pair of shorts.


They were a bit long for my taste, so I cut again.


Getting there.

I didn’t want to cut them too short because I knew I wanted cuffed shorts and that would take a couple more inches off the length.


I rolled them up to where I wanted (about a 1″ cuff), turned the tops 1/4″ under so no frayed bits were showing, and pressed and stitched. Tip: I stitched my side seams first so they weren’t flaring out, and then stitched around the top of the hem.


Bam! New shorts.


I think the gold embellished pockets are even more of a feature now.

The stretchiness of the fabric means these shorts are very comfortable for hanging out in. I’ve been wearing them around the house all weekend and, in fact, I’m wearing them right now!

I tried a pair of longer length, snug fit cutoffs a year or two ago that were very washed-out and fraying at the ends. The boyfriend said they were the most redneck thing he’d ever seen. Cute cuffs, a shorter length, a darker wash, awesome pocket details and no fraying ends keeps this pair away from redneck territory. (The boyfriend noted that he never would have thought these were jeans before.)


So a quick simple refashion got these jeans off the shelf of the sewing room and into wearing rotation. Hope you all are having a productive weekend!