ReSew, sewing, style, thrifted!, tutorials

a wildcards tutorial: the t-skirt

I’ve been playing around with the idea of morphing a t-shirt and skirt into one piece for a while now. I finally tried it. This is the result:

T-skirt12I’ve hung on to this skirt for several years. I love the print but the skirt just didn’t fit me quite right after Jack was born. Bummer. I saved it hoping my body would return to its former shape. No luck.

This turned out to be a pretty easy project. If you’d like to know how it was done, read on!

The TSkirt Tutorial

Here’s what you’ll need:

T-skirt1One lightweight, elastic-waist skirt. Make sure it fits comfortably around your chest and you can take it on and off over your head.

T-skirt2Mine has thin elastic around the waist.

T-skirt3One form-fitting t-shirt. This one has a bit of spandex in it.

You’ll also need thread to match your t-shirt and your skirt. (You might need one more t-shirt to get the job done. Or not. Keep reading, and then decide.)

And that’s all you need.

T-skirt4Put on the t-shirt; then put the skirt on over it, right where you want it to rest around your chest. Safety pin the front; ask a family member or friend to help you safety pin the back. (If you’ve never met your neighbors, now’s a great time to break the ice.)

I am digging the photo above. I never look busty.

T-skirt5Remove the shirt/skirt and pin well so the layers don’t shift. You can make the job easier by placing a large rotary ruler or a book in between the layers (see next photo).

Note: I inherited a “gross” of safety pins from my mom years ago. Sometimes I just want to use them so I can justify keeping them. How much is a gross, anyway? A LOT. Anyway, in the step above, regular straight pins would have worked just fine.

T-skirt6
Use thread that matches your skirt to sew around the bodice, following the existing stitching lines on the skirt waistband. My skirt had two lines of stitching, and I sewed along both of them.

At this point you can either 1) turn the piece inside out and cut away the length of the t-shirt to about 1/2" away from the seam you just sewed, or 2) leave it as is and wear your t-skirt with the full shirt underneath. I had planned to cut away the shirt length, but when I tried the piece on the spandex held in my two-baby stretch a bit. So I kept the entire t-shirt intact.

If you cut away the t-shirt length, congratulations—you have fabric to embellish your t-skirt. If you decide to leave the shirt intact, you’ll need to round up another t-shirt for embellishment. I chose this one:

T-skirt6.5Now, lets add a few details.

There are lots of ways to embellish with the t-shirt fabric or with any skirt fabric you’d like to cut from the length. This was my initial sketch of the project:

T-skirt14I decided that although I like this sketched design in theory, I wasn’t sure I would end up wearing it. So I changed my mind. Be sure to change yours too, if you like. But here’s exactly what I ended up doing.

T-skirt7Just below the skirt’s elastic waist, I sewed a 1" band of t-shirt fabric around the chest. I cut two 1"-wide strips from the width of the t-shirt—one about 1/2" longer than the skirt front, and one about 1/2" longer than the skirt back. No need to measure; just cut strips from the t-shirt, lay them across the front/back widths of the skirt, and cut the strips at least 1/2" longer than that.

Pin the back strip to the back of the skirt. Using a 1/8" seam, sew along the top of the strip. Repeat along the bottom of the strip. The strip should reach past the side seams of your skirt by about 1/4". Pin and sew the front strip to the front of the skirt in the same manner, overlapping and sewing over the back strip at beginning and end.

T-skirt15Sew a tight zigzag stitch to connect the front and back pieces together.

When I tried on the piece again I decided the skirt was a bit too long for me, so I cut away 1 1/2" in length from the bottom. To do that, I measured 1 1/2" from the bottom hem all around the skirt, making dots with a washable marker every two inches or so; then I cut along the dots with scissors. I tried it on and liked the length better.

I added a thick, doubled black border to the bottom of my t-skirt. I cut two 4"-wide strips from the width of the t-shirt—one 1/2" longer than the skirt front, and one 1/2" longer than the skirt back. Again, no need to measure; just cut strips from the t-shirt, lay them across the front/back widths of the skirt, and cut the strips at least 1/2" longer than that. Press the strips in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, and then unfold.

T-skirt8With right sides together, align and pin one long edge of the border along the back of the skirt; sew using a 1/4" seam. Repeat to attach the front border to the front of the skirt, overlapping and sewing over the back border at beginning and end. Press the seam toward the bottom of the skirt.

T-skirt9It should end up looking sort of like this on the outside.

T-skirt10Pin the short sides of the two overlapping borders together, making sure the seam you pin is perpendicular to the border seam you just sewed. Use a tight zigzag stitch to connect the short edges of the borders. Clip any overlapping fabric on the wrong side to 1/4", if needed.

Fold the border to the wrong side of the skirt, using the fold you pressed in earlier as a guide; pin. Change the thread on your machine to match the skirt. Sew the border layer to the bottom of the skirt using a 1/8" seam.

T-skirt16When you’re done, it should look like this on the wrong side of the skirt.

T-skirt17This is how it should look on the outside.

Now, I know I’m not model material. (Reason one: I’m 39. Reason two: I wear glasses. There are more reasons, but I’ll stop at the main two.) At the same time, I love to sew things to wear. When I see what others have sewn to wear, I really like to see the project on a body; it helps me envision what it might look like on me if I make it. I think others who sew might like that too. So, a bit uncomfortably, I asked Bretty to take some pictures of me in my t-skirt.

T-skirt13I wanted to try different backgrounds to get the best picture, so we took pictures in three different places. After a while, I started to get self-conscious. I asked Bretty for inspiration.

T-skirt11Me: “Bretty, I don’t know what to do with my hands.”

Brett: “I dunno. Just do something else. Look in the pot. Imagine that you love the pot.”

Me: “Okay.”

I look down into the pot.

Me: “Oooh, I love the pot!”

Click.

And that’s the end of my t-skirt story.

There are many variations for playing around with this basic idea—as many as there are skirts and t-shirts! If you make one, I would love to see it. You can upload your photos here.

Hope you enjoyed your visit here. For more refashions you can check out my book ReSew. Thanks for stopping by!

crafts, family, sewing

learning to fly

I fell in love with a sewing project recently. I found it at Artful Parent, who found it at Prudent Baby, who found it at Llevo el Invierno. So, from North Carolina to Texas to Mexico comes the Utah version of fabric wings. Made for my niece’s 4th birthday.

Wings
The process is very simple—you can find different versions of how to make these at all the links above. I hand-drew a scalloped template, traced it onto the back of different-colored fabrics again and again and again, cut the fabric out on the way to Heber City to see Thomas the Train, and sewed them onto two sorta triangle-shaped background fabrics. Then I bound the wings together quilting-style and tacked on some lengths of twill tape for the neck and wrists. Plus a bit of velcro at the neck.

Wings8
Basically, I winged it.

My niece was feeling a bit camera shy when I gave the wings to her. But I think she liked them. Time will tell. My boys pleaded to try out fabric flight before we gifted them to Willa for good. Willa obliged.

Wings2
Wings3
Wings4
Wings5

Wings6


Wings7
Flapping.

The boys want yellow/orange/red/brown/black wings for themselves. Jack wants to be a bald eagle or a raven or a hawk. Charlie wants to be “a birdy.”

Wings1Big requests from my little birds. My scissors better get ‘flyin.

crafts, crumbs, sewing

the makings of many little monsters

I have a monster story to share. (Don't worry. Not scary.)

Since announcing the goals of this humanitarian group a few weeks back, I’ve received many emails from people about the endeavor. Some wrote to share their own experiences with similar undertakings. Some suggested easy projects that could be made in multiples. Some offered help in making items with their own hands. One is even sending dozens of books all the way from Pennsylvania to help fill our welcome bags (thank you again, Liri!). And some just dropped a note to say they think we are doing a good thing.

For those of you who have reached out, you know who you are. Thank you, YOU!

One friend of mine sent me a pattern, offering to make several of these projects if I thought they would be a good fit for the welcome bags. The project is simple. It is economical. And it is adorable. So after telling her yes please!, I had to make one too.

Mabel Meet Mabel. The Positive Attitude Monster.

This fun monster sewing pattern comes from Rebecca Danger. She’s a knitter by passion and author of the Big Book of Knitted Monsters. I imagine she created this sewn monster design, Max the Monster, for her fans who don’t knit. (Or for her fans who don’t knit well. Like me.) The pattern offers three monster sizes (just one fat quarter needed for the littlest), along with scores of possibilities for personal touches. I chose to hand-embroider around the heart and added extra-large perle cotton eyes.

Heart Whenever I see that wonky red heart and that gentle grin, I get a happy little charge. So lately, she’s been following us around the house. In her happy-little-charge fashion, she’s been encouraging us all the while.

Drawers
Guitar
Laundry
Painting
Legos Superhero She’s just a sweet, upbeat kind of gal. Rubs off on ya.

(I think she needs hair… agree?)

In addition to simple, economical, and adorable, I can also add addictive to the cast of supporting words for this little sewing project. I’m already making space in my sewing room for the impending monster metropolis. For the humanitarian project, of course. But each family member will own a Mabel of their own soon. Even the awesome painter.

I just can’t help myself.

Do-your-bestYou bet I will, Mabel. You bet I will!

crafts, crumbs, sewing, thrifted!

hoping for bags and bags of … bags.

I was recently invited to become a committee member for a humanitarian group. Their goal this year? To help people locally. By sewing stuff. Invitation accepted!

Several years ago I spent some time volunteering locally at a domestic violence shelter. So when we were brainstorming at our first committee meeting, the shelter immediately came to mind. We came up with the idea of “welcome bags” for children who enter the shelter. When a family first enters the shelter, Mom has lots of paperwork to fill out and lots of talking to do with the shelter staff. It can take a long time. Kids who enter the shelter will receive a welcome bag as soon as they walk in the door, filled with items to occupy their time while Mom sorts out the details of their stay.

Since this group has no budget to speak of, we came up with an idea for making the bags for free (aside from the cost of time and thread). We are sewing bags out of people’s donated jeans (or other pants made from sturdy fabric, such as canvas or corduroy). I designed two bags—one for girls, one for boys—made entirely out of denim for the project.

Girlbag

The girl bag uses the bottom half of each pant leg, the back pockets, and the waistband from one pair of jeans.

Boybag
The boy bag uses the bottom half of each pant leg, back pockets (or side cargo pockets—the committee chair’s cool idea), and strips of denim for the bag tie and back strap.

Boybagback

Here’s the simple two-layered back strap for the boy bag.

I wanted to make these bags as simple as possible to sew so even beginners could join in. And really, who doesn’t have a pair of jeans that have been hanging unworn in their closet for six, eight, or twelve months (or, for us clothes hoarders, two years)?

The bags will be filled with items that are age and gender specific. We’ll have bags for 2-4 year-old boys, bags for 12-14 year-old girls, and for everyone in between. Still in the planning stage, we’re not quite sure what will go in the bags just yet. Cheap, clever ideas are welcome.

Our goal is to sew and gather contents for the bags over the summer, and then present as many bags as we can to the shelter in the fall. Interested in joining in the fun? If you are, you could participate in a number of ways:

  • Sew bags (instructions available)
  • Donate denim or other sturdy fabric pants
  • Make toys to fill bags (we need toy makers and ideas for making small, inexpensive/free toys)
  • Gather supplies to fill bags (coloring books, crayons, pencils/pens, and journals to start)
  • Donate toward the purchase of items to fill the bags

I am so excited to be a part of this project. When I volunteered at the shelter, I remember the faces of children walking through the front door for the first time. It was heartbreaking. It didn’t matter their age—innocent preschooler or tough teenager—you could see it plain as day. They were scared. I believe these bags will help, even if just a little, with the first few moments of what could become a huge time of transition in their lives.

Really, these bags are just a little something. But to a kid who has just fled his or her home with nothing, for children who just left everything they used to call theirs behind, these bags will be something they can immediately call their own. I hope it helps. Even if just a little.

If you want to help—even if just a little—please let me know.

crafts, ReSew, sewing, thrifted!

Mark Lipinski is all mine. For twelve minutes.

☆☆☆UPDATE☆☆☆

Well, I did it and I survived–I interviewed with Mark Lipinski! You can listen to the interview here. Just play the 03/30/11 show on the right-hand menu bar. My interview starts at the 1:30 mark.

No matter what kind of creativity you're into, Mark will inform and inspire you with his "Creative Mojo" show. (And take you from giggle to laugh to cackle to involuntarily spraying your Diet Coke.) If you want to know why he called his psychic cohost (yes, you heard me right, psychic cohost) "Pocahontas" during the show I was lucky enough to be on, just listen to the first 5 minutes. But take my advice–do NOT drink Diet Coke while listening.

Thank you Mark, for a fantastically fun 12 minutes!

________________________________________________________

I'm thrilled to have been asked to join Mark for his next podcast of Creative Mojo with Mark Lipinski! You can listen to the podcast live here on Wednesday, March 30 at 3:00 p.m. EST (1:00 p.m. MST). You can also catch the recorded version on iTunes (search for Creative Mojo in podcasts after the live broadcast).

Mojo
 I love Mark. He's a prolific talent. He's shaken the world of quilting by its roots. He's rebellious. He thinks outside the box. His energy is fierce and infectious. He shares what's on his mind. He is fearless.

(And that's why I'm a teeny bit scared. Go easy on me, Mark.)

MarkTrue American rebel? Right here, baby.

Hope you'll join Mark and me for talk and tweets about ReSew and the refashion revolution. And whatever else comes to Mark's mind.

Whether I end up bombing or just getting by, I can guarantee that with Mark at the helm it'll be lively–hope you'll drop by for a listen!