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!

style, thrifted!

Thrifted!: Hand-embroidered flowers. With love from Taiwan.

I love dressing up. On any average day, it’s unlikely that you’ll find me in sweats. I don’t typically head out (or stay in) in a t-shirt. And I never, never wear shorts. Long story. (We all have our body-image issues, right? ‘Nuff said.)

That being said, I’m no girly girl. I’m not into ruffles, or puffy shoulders, or lacy edgings. Flowery feminine flourishes aren’t really my style. But when I noticed a big, bright bouquet of fuzzy flowers on a sweater at my local thrift store, I stopped. I swear that sweater was pointing and giggling at me. I just had to point and giggle back.

Perhaps it’s a bit too flowery; a bit too feminine. But to me, it’s hand-embroidered happiness. And I just can’t say no to wearing that!

Flowersweater2

Flowersweater3

Flowersweater4

Flowersweater5

Flowersweater1

Ah, yes. A good thrift.

Next on my thrifting list: sweatshirts. Lots of them. I’ve been told I’ll be sharing a few of my sweatshirt refashions from ReSew on the PBS show Sew It All. I’ve got some major sweatshirt shredding to do before taping time come October. Get ready, rotary cutter.

Happy weekend—thanks for letting me share one of my favorite thrifts with you!

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!

crafts, sewing, thrifted!, tutorials

a wildcards tutorial: funky felted basket

FIRST, AN ALERT. (Not an "ALERT: Jackspeak." Although I'm sure he'll be alerting me about something any moment now.)

Today you can head over to the incredibly inspiring sewing site, BurdaStyle, for their "Project of the Week." This week, it's from ReSew!

Burdastyle
Alison Dahl Kelly, Editor/Creative Director at BurdaStyle (and a competitor on season three of Project Runway), chose the "Sugar Stripes Dress" to feature from the book. The sewing community at BurdaStyle is helpful, encouraging, and jaw-drop-on-floor talented. I am so thrilled to be a part of BurdaStyle this week! I hope you'll head on over for a look, plus the chance to win a copy of ReSew.

_________________________________________________________________

Okay, onto today's post!

If you missed it at Crafting a Green World, here's my way of making felted baskets out of thrifted wool sweaters. You can make them in any size, from big and fat to tall and skinny; just change the size of the rectangles and squares. I love the idea of making them for gifts, and then filling them up with little treasures like jewelry, small sewing supplies, gift cards, a stash of pens or pencils… stuff like that. Candy works too. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and Lindt Mint Lindor Truffle Balls fit very nicely. Just in case anyone wants to make a basket for me.

The basket requires just a few basic sewing tools, and it's a hand-sew only project. Timid about hand-sewing? Don't be! You can be as beginner-ish as you wish–your stitches will disappear right into that plush felted wool.

C'mon, let me show you how to make it!

funky felted basket tutorial

Basket1
This little basket was made from the leftover scraps of two wool sweaters I just couldn’t throw out. I opted for a solid color on the inside of this basket and a colorful stripe on the outside, but you can choose whatever color combinations you like. You can also make the basket from just one sweater, with the same fabric on the inside and the outside of the basket.

Here are “before” photos of the sweaters I used:

Sweaters
To make the basket, here’s what you’ll need:

Two 100% wool sweaters (or just one); scissors or rotary-cutting equipment; a ruler, measuring tape, or rotary ruler; long pins; thick thread or thin yarn to coordinate with your sweaters (I used perle cotton thread); a large-eye needle; sewing thread to coordinate with your sweaters; a piece of corrugated cardboard, about 9" x 9"; and buttons (optional).

Note: Your wool sweaters need to be “felted” so they won’t fray when cut. To felt a sweater, simply machine wash and dry it, using cycles you would normally use. You may need to wash your sweater more than once for it to fully felt; when you can’t see the stitches in the sweater any longer, you’ll know it’s felted enough to cut into it without any unraveling.

Basket2
From each of the sweaters, cut 1 square, 3 1/2" x 3 1/2"; and 4 rectangles, 3 1/2" x 7". Determine which sweater fabric you would like to show on the outside of the basket and which sweater fabric you would like to show on the inside.

Basket3
Lay one of the outside and one of the inside 3 1/2" x 7" rectangles wrong sides together. Lay the two 3 1/2" squares wrong sides together. Place the square layers on top of the rectangle layers, making sure the pieces that show on the outside of the basket are facing out. Align the edges of the squares with the short sides of the rectangles; pin.

Basket4
Knot a long double strand of perle cotton onto the large-eye needle; hide the knot in between the layers. Starting 1/4" from a corner, hand sew the four layers together using a running stitch 1/4" from the edge. Make stitches about 1/4" in length and about 1/4" apart. Leave the needle and thread in place; do not knot or cut.

Basket5
Lift the square layers away from the rectangles. Place another set of two rectangles on the square side adjacent to the side you just sewed; make sure the rectangle you want to show on the outside is facing out.

Basket6
Align the square edges with the short sides of the rectangles; pin. Following the same sewing directions above, sew the four layers together.

Basket7
Repeat the same sewing steps on the other two sides of the square. Your basket should now have four sides (above are photos showing the inside (red) and the outside (stripe) of the basket.)

Basket8-(3)
Using the same sewing technique described above, pin and sew the four sides of the basket, starting at the bottom of the basket and continuing to the top.

Basket9
When you reach the top of each side, tie off and bury the thread knot in between the sweater-fabric layers.

Basket10
From the cardboard, cut 1 square, 2 3/4" x 2 3/4", and 4 rectangles, 2 3/4" x 5 3/4".

Basket11
Slide a cardboard rectangle in between the sweater layers on one long side of the basket; repeat for the other three sides. (If your cardboard rectangles are too wide to insert, cut a little strip away from one long edge of the cardboard until the piece fits snugly in between the sweater layers.) Push the cardboard down firmly, until it fits tightly in each bottom corner. Place the cardboard square inside the bottom of the basket; push the corners of the cardboard securely into the corners.

Basket12
Using doubled sewing thread and a whipstitch, sew the tops of the sweater rectangles closed, enclosing the cardboard in between the sweater layers.

TIP: Hand-sewing wool with regular thread can be a little tricky; the tiny knot will likely slip right through the wool. Follow these steps for securing your stitches:

1. Thread your needle; then knot the two ends of the thread together to form a loop.

2. To start a line of stitching, guide the needle through the sweater fabric where you want to begin. Hide the knot in between layers or along the inside edge. Before you pull the knot tightly against the sweater (and it pops right out the other side of the sweater fabric!), thread the needle through the loop of the doubled thread. This will hold the thread in place so you can begin your line of stitching.

3. To end a line of stitching, tie a large knot in an inconspicuous place; then take 3-5 tiny stitches over the knot and cut the thread close to the sweater fabric.

Okay, let’s finish this basket!

Basket13
I found these cute vintage buttons at yard sale.

Basket14
You can add buttons wherever you like, or not at all. I liked these buttons off to the side of this basket. When you’ve decided where to place your buttons, tip the basket on its side and sew them onto the basket using your regular sewing thread (see “TIP” above for securing your stitches on wool). You won’t be able to knot your thread on the inside of the basket—your needle will hit the cardboard!—so I hid my thread knots underneath my buttons.

Basket15
I added buttons to the centers of each side on this basket (my trial and error basket).

Basket16
You can vary the sizes of your squares and rectangles to make your basket taller, shorter, wider, or skinnier. Once you’re done, go find something to put in your pretty wool basket and display it for all to see!

Hope you enjoyed it; thanks for stopping by. Cheers, crafties!