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. http://youtu.be/hV_CEHUrCDQIf 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. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Repurposing Your Favorite Man's Shirt into a Skirt

Do you have that favorite shirt of your guy you wish you could wear all the time or one that no longer fits him? Well now you can wear it anytime you want by reconstructing it to make a cute skirt. If you don't have any shirts from family members, you can buy one at Goodwill for a lower price and it's a bonus if it's a sale day, as many have a good selection. This tutorial does require some sewing knowledge and trial and error as not all shirts are made the same. There are many different design and pattern ideas for a skirt using a shirt, so find one that you like and make it your own.

    I really liked the design of this skirt that I found while reading the blog, Fashion Indie by Kirby Marzec, but I ran out of time to create it. I made my own version of the skirt and I hope to make many different styles of skirts with different design features, such as adding pockets, lace, a bow belt, or appliques.

Materials you need:
     1 Men's Button-Down Shirt (Any adult size will work but XL or L works best because you have more to work with)
    2 Inch Wide Non-Roll Elastic (It should be as long as it needed to go around your waist)
    Sewing Machine
    Good Cutting Scissors

1) Lay the shirt out flat. Cut the sleeves off right along the the shoulder seam.

2 Turn the shirt over and cut off the yoke. Open the shirt and lay flat.

3) Taiper the side seam to create a new side seam. With right sides together,  pin the sides together and stitch. 

4) To make the belt for the waistband, cut the sleeves so they are laying flat. You want to cut a piece that is 5 3/4 inches wide and the length of the waist measure. 

5) Measure your waist and cut the 2-inch wide elastic to fit.

6) Sew gathering stitches at the top of the skirt sewing at 5/8 and 3/8 inches apart. Draw up length of the skirt to match the length of the belt and even out the gathers.

 7) With right sides together, pin the belt onto the gathered skirt. The gathered skirt should be the length of the belt.  Lay the elastic on the waistband and fold back half of waistband over the top to create a casing for the elastic.

8) Baste the waistband where the two pieces meet at the waistline. Topstitch it all the way around. 
9) Place a hook and eye on the band and try it on! 

The Finished Product! I'd love to see photos of your repurposed shirt skirt.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Kraal Gallery: Inspiring The World, One Tapestry at a Time

     About this time last year, I was in the most beautiful country in the world, South Africa, on a University of Northern Iowa Study Abroad Global Skills Capstone course. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will definitely treasure the rest of my life. During my visit, I had the opportunity to complete a service-learning project with The Kraal Gallery, a non-profit organization, located in Stellenbosch South Africa. This is a very unique company, in the fact that not only participates in social engagement, but also in sustainability and upcycling. Some of their work is hanging in corporate offices and museums around the world.

    What is The Kraal Gallery?
 I would like to start by providing you with some background information with this video An Introduction to The Kraal Gallery  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36JusNmivx8) that myself and three other students from the University of Northern Iowa put together as our final course project. The Kraal Gallery was established in 1972 by a group of German artisans, whose goal was to teach South African women in impoverished communities how to hand weave. In South Africa, women are considered to be the "breadwinners" of the family, so by teaching these women a craft, they are able to provide for their families. I had the opportunity to meet and interview many of these wonderful women, share laughs, smiles, and stories. One woman, Nazeema, has been working at The Kraal Gallery for over thirty years and is one of the most skilled weavers I know. Some of her artwork is hanging in a museum in London. Visit their website at http://www.thekraalgallery.com The Kraal Gallery has taught over 300 women how to hand weave and has the goal of teaching 1,000 women. 

What do they weave and how does this relate to upcycling or being green?
My laptop case handwoven with love 
Weavers complete a six-month training course to develop the basic weaving skills. Once she has gained experience, she can start experimenting with different design techniques or blending patterns. The women weave everything from rugs and tapestries to storage baskets, iPad and laptop cases, and handbags. I purchased a woven laptop case and a backpack and am absolutely in love with both of them and all of their bright colors. The unique thing is that no two items are the same and neither is woven perfectly--the weaving tells a story of its weaver's life. You can feel and see the weaver's emotions woven into her work and each weaver has a signature style. 

This organization and its weaving process are entirely eco-friendly for several reasons:
1) The design process is 100% technology free or hand made with everything from drawing out the design and painting the color guide, to tracing it on the canvas and finally weaving it on a loom. The only aspect of technology used is in marketing and promoting the product and business.
2) All of the fabric used is from scraps of cotton t-shirts thrown out by the textile industry that have been reworked into long strands to be used in weaving. Using these helps reduce the amount of waste that could end up in the landfill. If the fabric is dyed by the weavers, it is done naturally with little harm on the environment.
 3) It is ethically made and the proceeds from purchase go towards the weavers' salaries. They also receive paid training and workshops on how to manage money effectively. The Kraal Gallery not only provides support financially to the weavers, but also personal support.
4) They are considered to be one big family and you can truly see how passionate the CEOs are about the company and all of their employees. When someone walks into one of their three locations, you can hear laughter, see smiles, good conversation, and love. I loved every minute that I spent here and I would definitely like to return. The Kraal Gallery is truly changing the world, one tapestry at a time.

I would like to congratulate The Kraal Gallery on their award for the 2013 Western Cape Entrepreneurship Recognition Awards, as they received 1st Prize in the Social Enterprise category.
One of the CEOs, Alex, of The Kraal Gallery with students from UNI and the Mayor of Cedar Falls  in the weaving studio

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Zero-Waste Fashion Designer Spotlight: Tabitha St. Bernard from TabiiJust

    About a month ago, when I was looking for content to write about, I stumbled upon this wonderful blog called Tabs on Fashion by a NYC eco-friendly fashion co founder and designer of Tabii Just, Tabitha St. Bernard. I was very interested in learning about her clothing line, Tabii Just, so I visited her website to discover that she uses a unique pattern making technique. This technique, zero-waste design, really interested me, as I make my own clothing and I love sewing. I am always looking for new ways to use fabric scraps and design more efficiently. One of the neat things is that everything from designing to manufacturing is done locally in New York City. Tabitha's designs made a debut in the Fall 2013 New York  Fashion Week and have been worn by Wayna (American R&B singer with top single, "My Love" in 2008) and Lenay Dunn (Host of MTV's 10 on Top). 
   Tabitha's designs are very bright and unique, bringing out the beauty in women, who like to be bold without showing a lot of skin. I decided to contact her to see if she would be willing to interview with me and much to my surprise, she replied to my email. I could hardly contain my excitement and posted below is our interview! 
M: What is Tabii Just?
T: Tabii Just is a zero waste line of ready-to-wear clothing that is manufactured in New York City. 

M: Could you explain what zero-waste pattern design actually means? 
T: Zero waste pattern making can be classified as any pattern making or design technique that leaves no fabric remnants. For Tabii Just, I start with a basic rectangle of fabric and use darts, tucks or seaming to tailor it to the body. I then take the little remnants of fabric and take it to be recycled at a local green market.

 M: Why did you choose to become a sustainable eco-friendly designer and how did you get started?
 T: I chose to become an eco-friendly designer when I started learning about the in-depth workings of the clothing industry. For too many mainstream lines, the focus is on profitability without considering the effects on the environment and the people who are making the clothing. I simply was not comfortable just making beautiful clothing in a bubble. I wanted to make a difference and I want my clothing to help increase awareness with their presence. I got started when I enrolled at the Fashion Institute of Technology. After graduating, I interned for Vivienne Tam. I then joined the dressline design team at Tahari ASL. I started Tabii Just after leaving Tahari.  

M: What is the importance of designing and manufacturing locally in NYC?
T: New York City used to be one of the most thriving fashion manufacturing neighbourhoods in the world. Because of a lack of international labor regulations and low costs, clothing started to be produced at a fraction of the cost in countries so foreign, no one questioned the conditions under which the workers were working, whether children were making them, how much the adults were being paid and the number of hours they were forced to work. What the US consumer saw was really cheap clothing. They didn't see anything else. This meant that skilled workers lost their jobs. The movement to bring manufacturing back to the US is important because this model for clothing production is not sustainable in the long run. Local manufacturing means that US labor regulations are more likely to be enforced. It means that skilled workers are able to set the standard for production depending on quality, not cost. 

 M: Your designs have bold prints and patterns? What is your source of inspiration?
Photo taken by Charles Beckwith
 T: I am from Trinidad and Tobago and my heart belongs to my country. My love for design is strongly rooted in my ancestry. I am inspired by nature, the beautiful colors of costumes in our annual Carnival and the vibrancy of the culture. I have also lived in New York for over 10 years so that has also had an effect on my aesthetic. I want to make clothes that are easy to wear for the New York woman.   

M: What types of promotion do you use to make consumers aware of Tabii Just and that sustainable fashion exists?
T: I've been lucky to be living in the time of social media. I use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, blogging, etc. It helps me connect with the people that support and buy Tabii Just. I also get their feedback sometimes before I place an order on what works and what they like. It also helps them see the process of creating a line using a sustainable model. I post images of me in the factory, the trim shops I visit, and other daily activities. 

 M: How is eco-friendly fashion different from what current NYC designers are doing?
 T: I don't think it's very different. I think local production is a subset of eco-friendly fashion. If you think about the time, money and energy that is saved when designers aren't producing locally, it's easy to see that eco-friendly fashion isn't a narrow concept but a rather inclusive one.

Thank you so much Tabitha, for agreeing to interview with me. You have inspired me to try incorporating zero-waste design and eco-friendly techniques into my own sewing. I look forward to seeing your future designs! 
Photo by Charles Beckwith

Friday, March 7, 2014

Happily Ever After: Upcycling your Wedding Dress

     You had the most beautiful wedding dress and where is it sitting now? Most likely it is sitting in a box in your closet. The phrase you commonly hear with bridesmaids in regards to their dresses is "the best part is you can shorten your dress and wear later." Why shouldn't this phrase also be applicable to the bride? Upcycle your wedding dress into something you can wear for dressy events, such as other weddings, banquets, or a night out. There are many ways you can do this, by shortening the dress, using the sparkling bodice, adding different fabric for the skirt of the dress or using it behind the lace, printing/dyeing, and many more. Your level of creativity is unlimited and this will allow to create own design.
    Here are some different ways:

                                    Stitch This: Wedding Dress Edition
    My team, The Fab Four, (SEE BELOW) decided to go with a Kentucky Derby theme, where we used the technique of keeping the bodice, but incorporating a blue satin fabric into the skirt and accessorized with a handmade wide-brim hat featuring blue satin fabric roses.     Wedding dresses are very expensive and with reconstructing your dress, you will be able to wear it many more times. There are many different tutorials and ideas available on Pinterest or blogs. The compliments you will receive along with the number of times you can wear it, will allow the dress to pay for itself.