Showing posts with label an up-cycled wardrobe. Show all posts
Showing posts with label an up-cycled wardrobe. Show all posts

Monday, 11 January 2016

An up-cycled wardrobe - a simple top

 I finally got around to making some tops, not that I've been running around topless. I've been wearing my hand made pants, skirts and undies consistently for a while now and people have got used to seeing me in them. Kids have stopped asking me if I wore my pyjamas to school, adults have stopped looking startled as I approach and animals react as they always have (because they generally don't care what you are wearing, or even if you are dressed at all, as long as you carry a feed bucket). Time to introduce a new twist.....

My top is a really simple sleeved shirt, made from an old quilt cover. I love this material, it has a little bit of shine to it and a subtle pattern. I think it's a man made fibre of some sort (hard to get that shine on natural fibres) but it is up-cycled.

The finished product.

My first step was to find a pattern. There are a lot of free patterns out there for tops, but most of them are for stretch material so I decided to make my own.

I found a handy tutorial (here) which is for stretch sewing but I modified it. I followed the instructions but made the pattern much bigger, allowing for a longer sleeve too.  I made it for half the top (as you can see in the photo) and cut on the fold so it would be symmetrical. In the end I cut a square neck line into it too.

This is my 'pattern' pretty simple huh?

Next I cut out two pieces using my pattern and sewed the top of the sleeves together using French seams to minimise fraying.

I love the colours in this fabric.
 Then I sewed the side seams and hemmed the sleeves and bottom. The neckline got a special treatment. Because I cut the neck opening too big (forgot to halve the measurement for the neck opening) I sewed some edging elastic around it to create a gathered edge (the same way I put elastic on undies (see here). I really like the finished result.

I made sure I used French seams on the whole lot.

Ta da

I like this pattern so much I made another one straight away from 100% cotton.

My second attempt

What do you think? I'm planning on making a few more tops using this design, then try something a bit harder.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Up-cycled wardrobe - Last 2015 update (probably)

Back in June I challenged myself to make a weeks worth of clothes using mostly up-cycled materials.
So far I have succeeded making some items from my challenge list...

Seven pairs of underpants, in fact I made ten pairs.

Three skirts

Three pairs of long pants, I just can't stop making these.

At the moment I am working on making some tops from remnant materials I have found in my stash and at the second hand store. After that I will tackle shorts and socks (not together obviously). The hard things like bras and shoes will be left until last... I have a few ideas.

The prototype top, simple but comfortable.
More and more of my clothes are hand made now. I am really pleased with my progress on this challenge. I am wearing everything I make regularly and even making some things not on the list originally (like house dresses).

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Up- cycled wardrobe project- a really comfortable house dress

On one of my infrequent trips to town recently I discovered a queen sized quilt cover in a second hand shop (for the queenly price of $5). It was made from good quality cotton, in lovely colours, so I bought it for my sewing projects. I did consider using it on the bed as I do need new bed spreads, but in the end I couldn't resist the colours.

I decided to make a simple summer house dress, and by house dress I mean a dress to wear at home, in the paddocks, in the bush and occasionally in the house. The first step was to find a simple pattern to try...along comes 'Greenie dresses for less' a great blog about up-cycling. I chose the convincingly labeled 'easy summer dress' pattern and away I went.

This is the finished dress on it's hanger.

My first step was to unpick the side and bottom seams of the quilt cover.

Yes it did take a long time; almost an entire Youtube documentary about mermaids.

Then I cut out two rectangles of fabric 107 x 97 cm each, cleverly keeping the hemmed bottom of the cover so I don't have to do it later.

I sewed the side seams up using French seams (so I don't have to zig zag the edges).

This is the finished French seam, aren't they so neat and tidy.

This is my ironing set up. The old iron is solid aluminium and very heavy. I use the frying pan to keep the bottom clean while I heat it up to iron.

Ironing the seams and such. I love the smell of fresh ironing.

The almost last step was to sew up a pocket for the shoulder straps to go through.

The iron made this so easy to do.

Then I made the shoulder straps. I decided to make some cord (or rope) to use as shoulder straps. This is so easy and quick to make. The 'recipe' is...take some lengths of yarn, cord or string, make sure you have about double the length you will need (more if you have a lot of pieces). Attach one end to a hook or something (another person is good if you have one handy), then standing at the opposite end twist the cord away from you until it is full of twist energy. It should try to twist back on itself if you slacken the tension.
When it has enough twist in it you can fold the piece in half, keeping tension on the length as you do this. Make the cord by releasing small lengths of cord from the folded end a bit at a time. Finally tie a knot in the end and there is your cord.

I know it sounds complicated, but it isn't. Give it a try and see.

I measured out three metre lengths of bamboo yarn until I had nine lengths in total.

The final result

These house dresses are not fancy, (or even flattering on me), but they are cool and comfortable and allow me a full range of motion. I think I will sew up a few more.
Next time I think I will make the back much shorter than the front so it gives me a smoother line at the back. I also might make the shoulder straps longer so I can adjust the fit more.

What do you think?

Oh, and I dug out my old corset to see what it would look like with the new dress. All I can say is I know why tavern wenches were so easy to talk out of their clothes...those things are hard work.

It didn't last long on. 

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Up-cycled wardrobe project - simple pants from quilt covers

With all the excitement about having a new baby in the house (see my last post about Shaun the sheep) I have been fairly busy and unable to get much crafting  (or anything else) done. This week I finally got to making myself some new pants. I have been making pyjama pants out of old flannelette sheets for some time using a pattern I made from an old pair of pants (see my post about it here), however this pattern is a little short in the back and results in me showing some bottom cleavage when I sit down or bend over, so I thought it was time to upgrade my pattern.

After a lot of diverting searching on the internet for free patterns I came across this one from Laura Marsh Sewing Patterns which I downloaded, saved and printed out. The pattern pages were glued together in order, which was a bit like putting a jigsaw together. Then I went looking for some fabric to try the pattern out on.

 In my box of useful bits of fabric I found a Bratz quilt cover, given to me by a friend wrapped around a joey that had been rescued from her mother's pouch after a traffic accident. I washed the cover, liked the colour and pattern (if not the theme) and decided to put it away for future use. I also found an old single flannelette sheet to try the pattern out on before cutting up the pretty fabric.

The pattern sheets all glued together.
The pattern pieces all cut out and ready to go.

Shaun helping out with the process.
 I cut out the flannelette pair and sewed them up as per instructed. The next step is (of course) beta testing, so I wore them around for the afternoon, feeding chooks, chasing sheep, feeding Shaun and sitting in my chair knitting. They are comfortable and warm, best of all they don't expose my bottom to the world at all. I'm really pleased with this new pattern so I think I'll keep it for future pants making activities.

Prudence gets to work.

What a stunning piece of machinery she is.

The first pair is made.

Now on to the day-wear version...

The infamous Bratz quilt cover. The cotton is good quality though and I love the colours and pattern.

I just followed the instructions on the download and before I knew it I had a new pair of pants.

Yes, I know.....I hate modelling, but I am so proud of this project I thought I'd make an exception.

There is enough material left from this quilt to make a summer top or two and a bra. I just love up-cycle sewing. 

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Up-cycled wardrobe project - a maxi skirt from an old sheet

As I was searching desperately for something to distract me from what I should be doing (study...specifically a literacy competency test) I found an old sheet in the back of the linen cupboard. This one sheet is all that remains of a set given to us as a wedding present 25 years ago. Obviously they were a good quality sheet as they survived dogs, kids and bush living for this long (well one of them did). Originally the sheet was jet black but over the years it has faded to a lovely charcoal grey. It is made from cotton and has developed a lovely soft feel and shows very little sign of wear. I decided it would make a lovely skirt.

So I had found my distraction; make a skirt from this old sheet.

First the all important research;

Then it's straight into the fun stuff...

The sheet in the process of being laid out on the lounge room floor.

I measured 48 inches for the width of the skirt piece as instructed. Then I measured from my waist to my ankle to get the length measurement and cut the piece off there.

At this point I decided it would be easier to sew the casing for the elastic before the side seam was sewn. So I swapped the instructions around. This turned out to be easy and quick, with less chance of sewing stray bits of fabric into your seams too (other messy sewers will know what I mean).

I made sure the elastic would have enough room in the casing at the top of the skirt then pinned the casing right across.

I then got treadling and sewed the elastic casing seam twice (to be sure, to be sure). I'm not sure why my phone decided to make this photo sepia, but it gets artistic ideas sometimes.
I have missed using Prudence the treadle machine while making underwear. I really must save up for a zigzag attachment for her.

The side seam was sewn up quickly, also with a double seam (to help slow down any fraying) and the elastic was threaded through the casing. I used a side seam of the sheet as the bottom of my skirt so I didn't have any hem to do, so this was a really quick and satisfying project.

I'm wearing my new skirt (and a pair of my home made undies) as I type this and I'm feeling very proud of myself as sewing is not really one of my skills. That's one skirt down from my project, maybe next time I will make a circle skirt, or a double layered skirt.

Friday, 26 June 2015

Up-cycled wardrobe project - 7 pairs of underwear

To begin my self imposed challenge I am making 7 pairs of underpants (enough for a week of wear without having to do a wash). I have been making these from old t-shirts for a few months now (see my first attempts here), but decided to make 7 new pairs for the project. My pattern has been tweaked and changed until it produces a REALLY comfortable pair of undies and is now a treasured resource (it even has an envelope to live in when not in use).

My latest pattern makes really comfortable undies.

I found some stretch material remnants in my stash that I thought might do the trick. All these remnants come from second hand stores and gifted items from other people's stashes so they fulfil the up-cycled requirement.  The materials ranged from cotton/lycra to full on stretch polyester but the gussets are all cut from t-shirt remnants  which are 100% cotton.

Seven pairs cut out and ready to sew.

When I began sewing the sides up I discovered a real drawback to sewing stretch fabric: the machine doesn't like it. I made a huge knot in my first pair as the fabric got pushed/sucked down through the dogs (the grid thing under the needle) and I had to dismantle the machine to get it out. After spending a half hour with a screw driver and a don't-talk-to-me expression I got the lot untangled and had a think. This led to an hour of googling which turned up a great tip: use tissues under the seam to provide some stability.

Tissues under the seam, what a great idea

Some of the tissue stays in the seam after you tear it off, but it will wash out in the sewing machine, I promise.
 Eventually I decided to try a more up-cycled option and tried newspaper strips, this worked really well too, but still with some small pieces left behind after it is ripped away. I guess the washing machine will have to take care of it.

Using newspaper to stabilise seams in stretch fabric.
 The final hurdle in my sewing came when I realised how short of elastic I was...I used up every scrap I had on three pairs and had to go and order more (part of my 10% new materials). I mail ordered it from an Australian shop which has an Etsy store. Now the wait begins, I will finish my 7 pairs as soon as the elastic arrives, then it is on to making 4 bras. I wonder what my mistakes will teach me in that project?
My first three finished undies, more to come.

Monday, 22 June 2015

An up-cycled wardrobe

Lately I have been thinking about the everyday things that I use and wear, in particular my clothes. I have a general philosophy of use and re-use which leads me to find or make my belongings or if that is not possible to buy second hand. This tends to be viewed as strange behaviour by people I meet, but most people also think it's a great thing to do too. Clothes are one of those things that people are willing to spend piles of money and time on without viewing it as an extravagance, but here is a hidden cost in buying new clothes which needs to be considered; from the environmental costs of producing the fibre and materials to the ethics of sweat shop production and importing from other countries.

When it comes to clothes I mostly rely on hand-me-downs (or more accurately hand-me-across'), make my own or buy second hand. The thinking behind this is that the 'hidden cost' of my clothes is halved if they have been used by someone else before me. If I were to re-use these second hand clothes to make more clothes I have reduced the cost of these items even more. Using this justification I have decided to challenge myself to make a totally hand made and up-cycled wardrobe...

The overview: make enough clothes to last me a week, make every garment I will wear (from the skin out), use at least 90% up-cycled materials and include at least one day out in the 'big wide world'.

To that end I will make;

7 pairs of underpants
4 bras
4 pairs of socks
3 skirts
7 tops
3 pairs of long pants
1 pair of shorts
2 pairs of shoes

Look forward to a series about the triumphs and frustrations of making an up-cycled wardrobe.