Category Archives: thrifted

Shibori Look Midi Skirt

05-17-17 shibori skirt feature

After creating my wardrobe mood board and realizing the dominant color was a shade of blue that wasn’t represented in my current closet, the racks at the thrift shops became a sea of blue! Proof that shopping with a plan works…especially when diving into the donation thrift, which can be an overwhelming amount of options. I have so much love for the hunt that giving up shopping new fast fashion didn’t cure me of over buying inexpensive second hand things that didn’t earn their space in my closet. This $2 shibori look skirt, however, was money well spent and fits in with my wardrobe goals. The color, print and silhouette are on point.

05-17-17 skirt & moodboard

I fell in love with the fabric at first sight, knew the skirt wouldn’t fit as is, but could see there was plenty of fabric to re-style into a midi skirt that would. This was a pretty straight forward project that was complete in an afternoon. Here’s what I did:

  1. Cut the waistband off close to the stitching
  2. Ironed new waistline of skirt and laid flat
  3. Marked a line 6″ from the top all the way across and chopped that piece off, leaving a piece of fabric to cut a new waistband from and the skirt portion, already constructed and hemmed
  4. Basted new waistline in preparation to gather and fit new waistband
  5. Using my waist measurement, cut a piece of elastic and a new straight waistband
  6. Stitched elastic together with ends overlapped so it has to stretch slightly to fit
  7. Serged waistband front and back together at the side seams
  8. Folded waistband in half and inserted elastic, pinning in place.
  9. Serged raw edged of folded waistband together
  10. With right sides together, zig zag stitched waistband to skirt
True to recent form, I did steps 5 – 10 twice. Old habits die hard and I first fit the waistband to my hips, then quickly realized I’d only want to wear it that way with a swimsuit on the beach and the purpose of the skirt was to build my everyday wardrobe. Out came the seam ripper. Repeat steps 5-10. Definitely made the right decision.

05-07-17 shibori skirt sxs

Confession: I probably should have lined this. I knew it while working on it, but didn’t have any on hand. Slow is a state of mind that’s hard to remain in while racing against a toddlers nap time. The zig zag stitch finish is sloppy but it’s okay because I’m going to add lining once I get to a fabric store then properly bind the raw edges.

I LOVE this skirt and I’ve worn it four times already as is, but it has reminded me of an article I once read about the fashion industry taking the ancient art of shibori and turning into a print. I realize one day this skirt should be replaced with a fully handmade version, from the dyeing process to the sewing. In a world where a child didn’t dominate my time, I’d prefer to grow the indigo and make my own vat…but back to my current reality: I’ve ordered a shibori kit from Dharma Trading Co and added the project to the end of my current list. I’ll be wearing this proudly in the meantime though, especially once lined and properly finished to my perfectionist preferences.

05-15-17 shibori skirt outfit

Here’s my favorite way I’ve styled it so far. I felt like a million dollars when I wore this on Mothers Day, even though it only cost me six! Bonus: looks pulled together, feels like pajamas.
  • vest (Wet Seal, thrifted years ago, $1)
  • shoes (Simple, thrifted, $2)
  • cat shirt (thrifted and restyled, $1)
  • skirt (thrifted and restyled, $2)


Once upon a time, I wrote enthusiastically about all the slow style posts I was planning on. They haven’t come to fruition, but I’m getting back to work on my original goals for the series and hope to have more thrifting, styling and outfit posts sprinkled in between sewing project features. One new development is this little bro turned 3 and he’s my new photographer! Although, I’m not above mirror selfies in a pinch.

04-19-17 new photographer

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#2017MAKENINE: 1 & 2

01-15-17 midi skirt featured

Happy New Year! Starting the year strong, jumping into #2017makenine on Instagram last week and managing to complete my first two projects already. One was just mending and the other was already in the works, but that was intentional to get momentum for the more tedious projects to come so I’m still feeling proud of myself.

01-15-17 sewing journal

Since I’d already started a bullet journal specifically for sewing and worked out my silhouettes and, therefore, types of pieces I wanted to sew to create them, coming up with my nine projects was quick and easy.

My Nine

01-10-17 #2017makenine

  1. Alabama Chanin inspired applique shirt
  2. Wide leg pants
  3. Lightweight knee length jacket
  4. M7473 tunic (View D)
  5. Schnittchen Anna dress
  6. Pullover woven top
  7. Colorblocked statement jacket using B6328 View C
  8. Midi skirt
  9. Mend thrifted cashmere sweater

Project #1

01-15-17 visible mendingI’ve had a drawer filled with mending for a while, but when I snagged this short sleeved baby blue cashmere sweater from the thrift store, it immediately earned a spot at the top of the pile. It had a little hole right near the neckline and I was interested in finally trying my hand at visible mending. My first attempt was horrendous. I pulled it out and gave it another go and this was the result. I don’t think it’s perfect and I’ll probably revisit it once I’ve had some more practice and master it, but for now I like how it looks…and no more hole!

Project 2: Midi Skirt

01-15-17 midi skirt full frontThis fabric is from a skirt I found thrifting, 100% cotton, made in Nepal and so beautiful. The original skirt was horribly unflattering so the entire thing was deconstructed and a brand new pattern was cut in order to start from scratch. The only original bit is the hem.01-15-17 midi skirt backIt’s a basic rectangular skirt with a straight waistband, carefully gathered and pleated to control where the bulk sits. I pinned 5 times before finally sewing the waistband into place. There are some puckers making me wish I’d interfaced the entire thing but then it probably would have been too bulky, so oh well.01-15-17 midi skirt front detail I hadn’t sewn a zipper forever so I was happy with how nicely it went in, although I’m not sure I aligned it with the upper edge properly. I think I may have done the waistband overlap wrong too, but I was sewing without instructions and it looks and feels okay on so I’m not stressing over that either.

01-15-17 midi skirt back detailI’m just thrilled to have a skirt in my wardrobe at last! This is the only one I own right now and as you can see in my journal above, it’s the silhouette I’m most obsessed with right now.01-15-17 midi skirt front

Based on the current weather and how long the jacket has been on my wish list, I should prioritize that next but I don’t have all the fabric yet so we’ll see what actually hits the machine!

Crochet Cardigan

The Challenge

I scored this crochet tablecloth for $1 at my local Wednesday flea market a while back so when Etimi over at The Secret Costumier invited others to play along with the #usedtobeatablecloth challenge, I jumped right in!

08-01-16 Butterick 6328 crochet jacket

The Inspiration

I wanted something pretty with a homespun vibe in a simple shape I could throw over a tank and jeans on a casual day or over a dress for a date night.

Image sources 1, 2, 3, 4 (1 and 2 were dead end links on Pinterest)

The Process

I picked up Butterick 6328 in a 3 for $5 sale with plans for a different jacket, then realized the front and back pieces minus the lining, collar, facing and pockets would work well for this project also. I cut View C Size 8.

I traced off a second front piece and sleeve in order to lay all the pattern pieces out on the fabric before cutting to work around stains and tears and utilize the scalloped edges for the ends of the bodice and sleeves. To construct the cardigan, I cut 1 1/2″ strips of matching jersey and made binding which was then hand stitched at the shoulders, side seams, sleeves and armholes. It wasn’t the original plan, but it required basting to keep all the layers flat and aligned and the basting stitches had to be so small that it was basically constructed when that step was done. Since the front edge was only a single layer, the binding was machine stitched there…not as straight as I’d like, but not horribly noticeable when worn.

This was nearly complete a week ago but I was unhappy with the fit because of how much the fabric sags so I removed the armhole and shoulder binding, chopped two inches off the shoulder of each bodice piece, an inch off the sleeve caps and put the binding back on a second time. Truthfully, my alterations didn’t feel like the correct way to go about it, but because this fabric is so forgiving it worked out just fine.

08-27-16 crochet cardigan 2

08-27-16 crochet cardigan 3

I’m pretty in love with it, but may end up taking it apart again to remove width from the side seams and sleeves to get a closer fit. I’ll decide after wearing it a while if it feels too fussy…like if it slides off my shoulders while chasing a toddler on the playground…

The Look

I paired it with my cat shirt (which I LIVE in), a thrifted pair of jeans I scored a few weeks ago for $8 and ankle moccasins I’ve had over 5 years now.

08-27-16 crochet cardigan 1

Today I finally set up my tri-pod and figured out how to operate the timer on my camera. YAY! Next time I’ll shower and style my hair so I don’t have to chop my head out of the photos, lol…baby steps.

Summer Sewing

Summer fun has had me away from my computer but I’ve actually finished two projects since checking in here last. These projects started with a vision of a complete outfit including a racerback tank, lightweight kimono style cardigan and sashiko mended jeans, but the pieces will also mix and match with other things in my wardrobe.

06-12-16 project fabrics

Since I wear my cat shirt 3-4 times before laundering, I need another similar item for the summer and when I saw this 4XL 100% cotton screen printed t-shirt at the thrift store for $2 it was love! I roughly traced the cat tank to copy the fit and then cleaned up the pattern later. I would typically cut the pieces on a fold, but I find for upcycling graphic shirts, it’s easier to use a full pattern piece to place the image accordingly. When doing so, I realized the image was too high to keep the original shoulder seams (which is ideal), so I had to improvise and piece together the straps.

06-22-16 blue tank original tee06-22-16 blue tank front06-22-16 blue tank back

So…the straps. I pieced them together in order to center the graphic and was all pleased with myself using this as an opportunity to add design details (the 3 stitching lines across the strap). Then I attached the neck binding. It was too long and sagged terribly. Had a date with my seam ripper and the second attempt was still a mess. I could tell the worn cotton couldn’t handle the seam being removed and re-sewn a third time so I was forced to cut the entire binding off, losing width all the way around. My solution was to sew stay tape around the neck and armholes, roll to the inside twice and top stitch. This was mostly successful, but now that the strap was thinner than planned, the topstitching overlapped. Had I used matching thread it wouldn’t be so noticeable but I was feeling confident and thought contrast would be fun. Luckily, when I’m wearing it, it doesn’t scream “home sewing fail” like this close-up photo does and it was a good learning experience. I ended up using stay tape around the bottom and hemming in a similar fashion and I really like the way it hangs and keeps it’s shape, so not all was lost. I’ve worn this multiple times already styled a few different ways: for the beach, a typical day with my toddler and a date night. Very functional and I love the print which looks just like my home in Ventura…still trying to figure out if it actually IS a photo of Ventura. Not sure yet.

06-22-16 blue tank strap detail

Now for my simple summer kimono. I used one of the many tutorials on Pinterest and basically cut a rectangle with a slit up the middle and a sloping side seam to create a sleeve, added some french seams and basic rolled hems and called it good. It took all of 2 hours from start to finish. I bought this fabric 16 years ago when I was a fashion design student at one of the shops in the LA garment district that sold $1/yd fabric with a 3 yard minimum. Pretty cool such an old cut looks so current and that my taste has stayed so consistent! The photo’s from Instagram, but when I went to take a proper photo my camera battery was dead to I decided to just use this and get on with more sewing 🙂

07-05-16 summer kimono

Vintage Simplicity 8262

04-23-16 70's pullover blouse

Scored this 70’s sewing pattern at the local thrift shop for $0.69 a couple weeks ago and couldn’t wait to sew it up! I love all of Isabel Marant’s gorgeous versions of peasant tops and this looked like a perfect pattern to test out, learn some construction techniques from and then alter to a couple different variations for my wardrobe. I used fabric I had on hand from a bag of discards someone gave me just to test the fit, but as it turns out, it’s totally wearable. I’m not exactly sure what the fabric is, I even poked through my Fabric Identification Notebook from college in an attempt to figure it out, but it’s definitely synthetic, has a faux suede type of soft finish on the outside and I like the color. I opted for the version without the neck tie or belt and the only pattern modification I made was chopping the sleeve to align straight up from the side seam.

05-16-16 Vintage Simplicity 8262 front

I made a couple of mistakes. First I forgot to trim the seam allowance when sewing french seams and had to trim off a notch that ended up poking through to the right side. Then I decided to overlock the sides and arms from front hem to back hem before sewing up the side seam and after the fact I realized binding would have looked much nicer, especially where the loose fit of the sleeve allows it to show from the outside at certain angles. Since my muslin ended up being a worthy addition to my closet, I’m planning on tearing out the side, armscye and front facing seams to bind those last edges and add embroidery or embellishment of some sort. You can see what I mean here.

05-16-16 Vintage Simplicity 8262 inside

And last but not least, the back. On a future version I think I’ll remove some gathering ease from the back and concentrate the gathers at the center but I’ve already worn this as is and like it enough to leave that part alone. Overall I’m happy with the length, fit and shape of the hem. It’s easy to throw on, casual and comfortable but makes me feel more pulled together than a basic tee.

05-16-16 Vintage Simplicity 8262 back

I’m really interested in blending my artwork with fashion, bringing slow textiles and slow style together so I’d say this top is far from complete but a great blank canvas for further exploration and expression. I also plan to make another version where the pattern pieces are cut, printed and embellished before final construction but I’m hoping to find something to upcycle for the base fabric so I’m not ready to begin yet.

When I relaunched the blog, I was equally excited about all my sewing / learning endeavors but I’ve quickly become obsessed with making clothes and already have 4 more patterns to test. I’m really looking forward to printing, dying and embellishing to create my own textiles, making a garment and then using the scraps for stuffies and cloth dolls. I think when it comes full circle like that the inspiration will strike. In the meantime, my slow style series might see a little more action than the others, but we’ll see.

Cat Shirt Refashion

Back with my first refashion of the series. There’s something so good about these tee shirts, but also so bad, am I right? Well, I saw a gray eagle version transformed into something wearable, cool even, at a little boutique downtown…for $78!!! I’m not cheap if something is well made and will get lots of mileage, but for a tee shirt refashion when I know how to thrift like a pro and sew? Nope. Picked up this gem a week later for $1 in all of it’s thick cotton glory. I’m a cat person for life (as is my husband) so YES!

BEFORE:

It was boxy, had a terrible drape, and was totally unflattering, but it’s a great color with a nice subtle tie dye effect and unique playful image. This cat deserves at least 2 lives (haha, nerd alert!)

Cat Shirt Before

Initial Design:

The original plan was to tailor the tee down to a nice fit and flare racerback tank and finish the edges with lace. I chose this crochet lace from my stash but thought maybe it was too cute paired with the cat so I dyed it dark gray to tone it down. Then I top stitched it onto the raw edge which stretched the neck out and made it unwearable. Not only that, the inside wasn’t finished to my liking so I tore it out was back to the drawing board. (I never snapped a photo of the gray, but you can get the idea here)

Cat Shirt First Design

AFTER:

I ended up encasing the raw edges with some gray jersey I had in my stash. Scrap from the removed sleeves was used to add a little extra flare to the side seams. Darts and side seams are all finished with my serger so on the inside it looks pretty darn close to RTW, except the top stitching on the encasing didn’t land perfectly on the inside ditch all the way around. Something that would have made this perfectionist quite happy, but overall it’s very nicely finished and should hold up to lots of wash and wear.

Cat Shirt After

I’ve already worn this a half a dozen times and received compliments every single time. I got called a nerd once (endearingly by a friend), but that only made me love it more! In terms of slow fashion, something that excites me about this shirt is to see it go from thick heavy cotton to that authentic perfectly worn look over time. A look only achieved through dedicated wear of a beloved item. I can see this someday with beautiful hand stitched mending and patches, filmy and comfy as pajamas…but these things will come with time. Right now I love it just as is.

I plan to get myself in front of the camera to share how I’m mixing and matching my new pieces, but this week I only got as far as realizing that we do in fact own a tri-pod before switching my focus to teeny tiny dressmaking. That said, there’s a good chance some sweet little dolls will make their appearance before I do 🙂