Thursday, July 30, 2015

Refashioning Tradition: A 1942 WWII U.S. Army Trench Coat

    I first want to apologize for my lack of posts these past few months. I started a new job and am finding out that I don't have as much free time as I originally thought I would have. I am excited to start blogging again and I hope you enjoy reading this post. This project has probably been my most favorite by far, but also the most challenging. This past summer my friend, Ann, approached me with an excellent idea for a blog post. She had a WWII Wool Jacket that belonged to her father-in-law who served in the military in 1942 and it is still in perfect condition. She wanted me to transform it into a tote bag that she could place her iPad mini in. I had done a remake before using my grandmother's coat, but the military jacket was made of  heavy melton wool and was tailored. I was up for the challenge and it turned out better than I imagined! She told me that I could either update her on the progress or I could surprise her with the finished product. I chose to surprise her with not one, but two items.

The trench coat front view with the patch on the side
The trench coat back view

Close-up of the patch on the shoulder

     The first step of the project was to map out an original design for the tote bag, which I modified a few times. I purchased a tote bag pattern (McCalls 4118) and laid it in different areas of the coat to see where it would fit. I modified the pattern and decided that I could use the bottom of the coat for the sides of the tote bag, as that had the most fabric in a single piece. With the trench coat having already been made and having multiple seams, I was limited on the amount of fabric I could use. I couldn't be sure if my design would work until I deconstructed the coat. This was a lengthy process, as I had to tear out all of the seams and the lining. The coat was made of a melton wool and was very heavy, but included additional lining in the sleeves and top portion of the coat.

The inside of the jacket that I had to deconstruct.

Removing the lining from the coat

After I laid the fabric out flat and tried to determine where each piece would fit. I cut each piece out of wool and lining. Some pieces even needed interfacing. We selected a medium weight interfacing to help give the bag some structure.  I followed the pattern directions and started sewing my bag. (These are brief instructions, so for the full instructions, please buy the pattern).

Laying the fabric out flat and placing the pieces. 
 Cutting out the pattern pieces. 
A lining piece with interfacing 

        When Ann and I first discussed the plans for the bag, she said that she was going to use it to carry her iPad in. I wanted to give her a way to carry other items in the bag in addition to the iPad, yet protect it. I decided a pocket would be a neat way to allow the iPad to readily be at her hands. I used one of the coat's inside pockets instead of having to make my own. This is definitely zero-waste upcycling. :) First, I made a narrow hem on the pocket and pinned it to the front of the lining. I turned the pocket up, baste in place, and stitched the bottom and sides. I tested the pocket with the iPad and it was a perfect fit. I sewed a tab on the top to keep the pocket from falling out. I placed the lining pieces together right side to right side, sewed the seams, and trimmed them to eliminate bulk. I repeated the process with the outside fabric pieces.
The pocket stitched to the lining
The two lining pieces wrong side out

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Tie-Dye Your Old T-shirts

Usually with white or light colored t-shirts, we sometimes always manage to stain them. I have been a lifeguard for the last ten years and for me, sunscreen always stains my t-shirts. Instead of throwing them away and buying brand new ones, why not give them a makeover? Tie-dyeing is fun, easy, and will extend the life of your shirts. It will allow you the opportunity to be creative and the fun part is you never know what the shirt will look like until it is dry. The design options are limitless as you can use a variety of colors, techniques, and drying options. The unique thing about tie-dye is that no two designs are alike.

The materials you needs are:
     Dye (S.E.I Tumble Dye works well and is quick)
     Rubber Bands (optional)
     A Hard surface that can easily get dirty
     Gloves (if worried about staining your hands)
     Old Clothes (in case you get messy)

1) Wash the shirt you want to use prior to coloring. You want to dampen your shirt before you start placing the color.  Lay the shirt on a hard surface and decide the design you want to do.

2) I started with a spiral design, but I couldn't get the whole t-shirt wrapped up. I decided to mix some different designs, so I did a small spiral in one area and did the "scrunch method" in other areas. The "scrunch method" is where take the fabric and scrunch it up loosely, creating "hills" or "mountains". Spray the dye in the desired areas and un-scrunch it.

The "Scrunch" Method

3) After you are done adding color, you will want to hang your shirt to dry. I learned that to make the colors run, you want to hang your shirt up to dry, but if you want your designs to stay the same, lay the shirt flat to dry. I really enjoyed how it turned out.
4) After the shirt is completely dry, seal the color by placing it in the dryer. Now your shirt is ready to wear!
The Finished Product before drying 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Stitch Swap: Lots of Dots

        I had the opportunity to participate in my first of hopefully many Stitch Swaps through the Sewing/ Craft/ and Creative Blogger Group. A Stitch Swap is where you swap fabric with another person and use your creativity to make out of that fabric, which would be sewing or decoupaging. The fun part is that you aren't sure what type of fabric or print you will get. I signed up on Elfster and purchased a yard of fabric to send to a partner. In exchange, I would be sent a yard of fabric from another partner to sew or use in a creative way. I was very excited to receive a package in the mail all the way from Canada from Jess of Gracious Threads In the envelope was a fun creme and black polka dotted fabric. The fun part of this project was deciding what to make with the fabric. Since I love fashion and sewing clothes, I wanted to make a skirt that I could wear at my internship and at my future job position. I decided to make an A-line skirt that went to my knee, so it would be long enough to wear when I start my professional career. I thought it would be neat to design a skirt that had contrasting front pockets and waistband to make it more fun. I went to the fabric store to select a pattern that had pockets and found a black fabric that closely matched with the polka dots. The pattern that I selected is: Simplicity (Pattern #1717)
      I cut out the pattern pieces according to the instructions and started sewing. I sewed the pieces right side to right side, topstitched the waistband, pressed, and hand-stitched the hem. I finished all of the seams using the serger. The pattern gave an interesting way to make the pocket, as you sewed a gathering stitch on the two bottom corners and pulled them up a little to make them rounded. I have never seen this technique done before, but I really liked it. The Stitch Swap was a really neat experience and it allowed me to see the different types of fabric available in other places. I can't wait to see what everyone else had made with their fabric. I think this is a fun idea that I would definitely like to try again. It could be considered eco-friendly if you would trade scraps of fabric or clothing items and have to reconstruct them.

                                                                    The Finished Product!

Thanks to Stephanie for organizing the swap! And, don't forget to check out the
rest of the ladies who have participated in the swap and see what projects they
have created using their surprise fabric! 

Monday July 21st
Stephanie: Swoodson Says
                                                                Jamie: Salutations Louisville 
                                                                Ashley: Sewing Sober
                                                                Kathy: Handmade Dress Haven
                                                                      Tuesday July 22nd 
                                                               Tasha: Friends Stitched Together 
                                                               Janelle: Emmaline Bags
                                                               Kim: Sew & Tell with Mama Eggo
                                                               April: Open Sky Creations

                                                                      Wednesday July 23rd
                                                               Amy: Friends Stitched Together
                                                               Danica: The Sewing Sparrow
                                                               Bethany: Two Novembers
                                                               Jessica: The Berry Bunch 

                                                                      Thursday July 24
                                                               Chrissy: Muse of the Morning
                                                               Fenna: Fabulous Home Sewn
                                                               Melissa: Rebel and Malice
                                                               Irene: Sugaridoo

                                                                      Friday July 25
                                                              Jess: Gracious Threads 
                                                              Emily: Tangible Pursuits
                                                              Roxanne: Pensebrox

Monday, June 30, 2014

Redesign Your Old Shoes: Neon Delight

     Canvas tennis shoes are the hottest trend for this spring and summer. You can spice your shoes up by adding your own personal touch. There are many different ways to make them your own using glitter like I have shown in my previous post, Redesign Your Old Shoes: Glitter Ombre Design, sequins, paint, or buttons. You can transform a pair of shoes that have started to stain, fade, or become dirty. This is the perfect way to give your shoes some added life instead of throwing them out. When we buy new shoes, we are actually contributing to the amount of fabric waste produced daily. Today, I am going to show you how to create a unique design using paint. One of the hottest trends for summer is neon colors, but if you are fair skinned like me, they wash you out. I love these colors, but I find that I am only able to wear them is through accessories, such as a scarf or pair of shoes. I decided to incorporate a neon color into a pair of shoes I've upcycled to express my bubbly and bold personality.

   Your canvas tennis shoes that need transformation 
   Design Inspiration (could be Pinterest, a shoe style have such as oxfords, drawings)
   Paint Brush
   Fabric Paint
   Masking Tape

1) Place masking tape on the soles of your shoes to avoid painting them and remove your shoelaces.
Find your design inspiration and select your colors of fabric paint. The reason we are using fabric paint is because it will allow your shoes to be breathable and flexible.
2) Apply the first color of paint to your shoe. Allow to dry completely before applying your next color. Repeat the process until you have completed your design. I applied two coats of each color and allowed the shoes to dry completely before removing the masking tape.
3) Last, place the laces back in and wear your shoes out.

Now all you have to do is wait for the compliments to pour in. :) I'd love to see photos of your shoe remakes. 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Redesign Your Old Shoes: Glitter Ombre Design

     Cute canvas tennis shoes have been the latest craze the past two spring and summer seasons. There are a variety of styles ranging from solid to pattern. Personally, I like to purchase the solid colors because they can go with just about anything and can even add a pop of color to a simple outfit. Eventually at the end of the shoes' life, the color can start to fade or stain, or become boring. Instead of throwing this pair of shoes away, you can upcycle them, giving them a fresh new look reflecting your style or the latest trends. The design options are unlimited, as you can use fabric pens, sequins, glitter, patterned shoelaces, or fabric paint. 
     I have selected two different designs to redesign my shoes. The first design is an ombre glitter design because ever since I can remember, I've enjoyed sparkles, glitter, and shine whether it is apparel or accessories. This design was really neat, but it didn't work out how I originally planned, so I had to come up with my own instructions. I also found some improvements for the next glitter pair I make. 

               A Pair of old shoes, preferably white
               Masking Tape
               3 Containers of glitter in one shade from light to dark (See photo below)
               1 Container of fabric paint (I used acrylic before and it made the shoe stiff)
               1 Paintbrush

1) First take the laces out of the shoes to make it easier to paint. You will need place masking tape to cover the rubber soles to avoid getting paint on them. It will also allow you to make a straight line if needed. Lay your newspapers down, as this project is very messy.

2) Next section your shoe off to see where each color of glitter will start and end. In order to create an ombre effect, I started with the lightest color at the back of the shoe (from the heel to just before the tongue of the shoe), the medium shade in the middle, and the darkest color on the front (the toe and bottom of the laces). You want your colors to run together, so it looks transitional.  

 3) Starting at the back of the shoe, paint the section with white fabric paint. You want to make sure the area is covered pretty well, as this acts like the glue for the glitter. When I did my first pair of shoes, I used acrylic paint and tried to mix the glitter with the paint to paint it on. This resulted in a disaster because the glitter clumped, so I resulted to the paint and shake method.

4) Take the lightest color of glitter and shake it over the painted area. More is better to ensure you have maximum coverage. Shake off the excess. Repeat the paint and shake process with the other two glitter colors. 

5) Let Dry Overnight. I placed some Modge Podge sealer on, which added shine and helped seal some of the glitter, but it made my shoes kind of stiff.

6) Once they have dried completely, remove the masking tape, put your new shoelaces in and they are ready to wear.

    Put your new shoes on and wait for the compliments to roll in! You have a one-of-a-kind shoe, be prepared for some of the glitter to fall off. My glitter fell off at my crease lines, so I plan on adding more glitter in these areas. You know what they say “She who leaves a trail of glitter is never forgotten.” ;) 



Monday, April 7, 2014

How to Darn a Sock

Sometimes when we get a hole in our socks, what's the first thing we think about doing? We want to throw those socks away either get a new pair out of the drawer or go and buy new ones. Although this seems like the easiest solution, it is actually the hardest on the environment. According to the USA Today Article, Clothes recycling goes curbside as demand rises, 11.1 million pounds of textiles end up in the landfill each year. By mending and repairing your clothing, you can extend the life of it and save money.
      Here is my step-by-step tutorial on how to darn a sock. you had a hole on the heel of your sock and you fixed it just by whipping the edges of the hole together, it could cause rubbing. When you darn it using my method, it will create a flat, walkable surface and you won't be able to tell a hole was there. This is a great skill to learn, especially for college students who are living on their own.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Upcycle your t-shirts into a neat summer scarf.

     Do you have t-shirts you enjoy, but are getting too worn out to wear? Upcycle your t-shirt to make a one-of-a-kind scarf. It's easy and requires unlimited creativity and some basic sewing knowledge with a needle and thread. With this tutorial, you can unleash your creativity and make a unique scarf using different colors, patterns, old jewelry, etc.
    When we upcycle our old t-shirts, we will reduce the number of pounds that will either end up in the landfills or in an underdeveloped country where it actually harms instead of helps. According to the USA Today article, Clothes recycling goes curbside as demand rises, 11.1 million pounds of textiles end up in the landfills each year. It only takes one person to be a leader and to inspire others to make a change. Upcycle your t-shirts and show your personal style. 

Materials you need: 
    • 2 to 3 cotton t-shirts (The larger size, the more fabric to work with) preferably worn out in different      colors 
    • Sewing scissors if you have any
    • Ruler or measuring tape
    • Needle and Thread
    • Anything you want to add whether it be beads or sequins. The opportunities are endless. 
    • Flat surface


1) Select your t-shirts you would like to use and lay them on a flat surface. 

2) Take your sewing scissors and cut each t-shirt into strips that are about 1 1/2 inches wide and as long as possible. You can start at the bottom of the front and cut all the way to the bottom of the back if possible. If you want to vary in lengths or widths, you can cut some wider, as then you will have a thicker foundation.

4) Separate your strips by size and color and give them a pull. The fibers used to make the t-shirts blend have some stretch, so they will roll up on itself a little. You can pull each one separately or pull them all together at once.

5) UNLEASH YOUR CREATIVITY! You are going to put the strips together any way you want by weaving, twisting, knotting, braiding, or mixing colors and sizes. You can add bead strands or sequins. When you have it the way you want it, tie them together with some t-shirt scraps. To make sure they are secured, tie a knot, and trim the ends. Don't worry about them showing, as they will be covered up. 

6) After you have tied all of the sections together, you will take the t-shirt sleeves and cut them down the seam. You will wrap the fabric tightly around the sections you tied to secure them. Take your needle and thread and tack the wrapping. You may have to wrap in a few different places if your strips weren't all the same size. 

7) Try it on and wait for the compliments to pour in. These make great gifts and have unlimited design options.