Thursday, February 26, 2015

Refashion: Sewing leather for the first time!

I thrifted this very soft and very warm leather jacket from my local thrift store last year for only $9.99! It fit me fine above the waist, but it fit poorly at the waist and below due to my short waist and sway back. I had never sewn with leather before so I was nervous and excited as well in trying to fit this jacket on me.
Note how the jacket bunches up at the back due to my short waist and sway back.
There was a at waist seam that separate the top from the bottom. I took out my trusty seam ripper and started ripping from the lining side seams. This jacket was made in Canada which means that it must be at least 15 years old. The seams were ridiculously securely sewn and were glued down tightly. My eyes were almost going blind trying to rip this well made jacket apart!





Then I rip the leather waist seams all the way and separated the 2 halves. I put on the top half and I was actually liking the look of just the top half. However, I wanted to have a leather jacket that's warmer and more useful so I decided that I had to attach the bottom part with some alterations.



So I tried on the top and bottom to see how much I had to cut off at the waist raise the waist of the jacket. Eventually I cut off 3 cm of the bottom of the top half and 3cm of the top of the bottom half and sewed them together. I broke 2 leather needles sewing this seam because the manufacturers had used contact cement (or some serious glue) to hold down the seams and I had to sew through them all. I top-stitched the new waist seam to give it more support as well as helping the seam to lie flat. I hand-sewn all the seams inside the jacket because it was actually easier as I have no opening to sew through with the sewing machine. And this is how it looks after:
Note the big gap between the last and the 2nd last button because I had cut off the original at waist button hole.
Note that the back doesn't bunch up anymore! Yay!
I know that the jacket doesn't really look very much different from the original. But it now fits me and it was my first time sewing with leather! It was just a relief that I didn't mess up the jacket and I can actually wear it.

The only thing I am not sure is the big gap between the last and 2nd last button. I'm not sure if I should add something there to balance it out. But if I put something there then perhaps it would draw attention to the gap. What do you think? Should I do something to hide the gap or should I just leave it alone?

Friday, January 30, 2015

January MAGAM project done! A little Refashioned Denim Jacket

I 'sweatshopped' myself to get this little jacket (Simplicity 1688) done before the end of this month! I am quite happy with the final result. I didn't take a lot of pictures in progress because I was rushing to get it done This is a summary of my journey with this jacket:

1. I cut open the inseams of the heavy weight blue denim jeans that my hubby gave me. I laid the pant legs flat and laid the pattern pieces on them. It became apparent very quickly that one pair of jeans was not going to be enough even for just the body of the jacket. Fortunately hubby gave me another pair o f blue jeans but it was of a medium weight denim. Both jeans were very worn, stretched (bum and knee areas), and have holes in them. I laid out the second pair of jeans and cut out all the required pattern pieces in both the lengthwise and crosswise grain to economize on fabric.

2. For the lining, I used a thrifted cotton shawl I had in my stash. It has a lovely print and I thought it would make a good lining.

3. For the sleeves, I chose the sleeves for View A because I thought I would look too broad in the body if I have even more wide stripes on the sleeves. The sleeves have the original topstitched side seams of the men's jeans, as well as the hole on the knee. I didn't patch the hole mainly because I'm lazy and because I wanted to retain the original 'charm' of the jeans.

4. I added 2 inches to the lowest band of the jacket. Also, i added a curved centre back seam to fit my body a bit better.

5. I bound the edges of the jacket with some denim binding I already have in my stash.

Here is the final product (I messed up the binding near the neck so please ignore that! ;-):


Here is the fun lining inside:


Here is how the jacket look on me:


Here is the back (you can see the stripes don't match up too well here. Ooops!):


You can see my review of this pattern on PatternReview.com.

I can't wait to wear this when the weather is a bit warmer!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

First Refashion/MAGAM for 2015

I can't believe it's almost the end of January already! I haven't done much sewing this month, except the odd mending/repairs. Things have been really busy/hectic: kids getting sick, etc.

I had been given a few pairs of large men's jeans by hubby in different colours. I thought why not make them into little cropped jackets that I can wear in the Spring and Autumn with layering? The jacket pattern on Simplicity 1688 seemed perfect for small scraps of fabric. I'm hoping that 1 pair of jeans will be enough for this jacket if I make it into a cap sleeve jacket.


Let's see if I am able to finish it before the end of January!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

2015 Sewing Resolutions

I made sewing resolutions in years past and somehow was never able to fulfill them. This time around, I'm going to make a few very simple sewing resolution for 2015:

1. Each month, take out a few pieces of season appropriate fabrics and use them up! I have got too much fabric (even though I didn't really buy any new ones last year) and they have to be used!!

2. Also, each month, take out a few items from the 'to-be-refashioned' pile and refashion them up! I got too much in the refashion pile as well!

3. Learn a few new sewing techniques throughout the year.

That's it! I think I should be able to do the above, right?

Friday, December 26, 2014

Happy Holidays! Top 10 projects for 2014

We are almost at the end of 2014 - hard to believe, isn't it? I went through all my projects in 2014 and here are my 10 top favourite projects:

1. Little White Dress - I entered PatternReview.com's Little White Dress competition. After 2 failed potential entries (plus tears and wasted fabrics), I used this tried and true strapless dress pattern by Cynthia Rowley (Butterick 6079 from 1999) and white linen blend fabric from my stash to make this dress. I was happy enough with it. It can be dressed for different occasions: from the office to a dinner date to a simple wedding dress!





2. Red Faux Suede Purse - I like simple cross-body bags as purses because I usually need both arms/hands to juggle active kids, groceries, etc. I hadn't seen many RTW bags that has the kind of compartments and pockets that I required. So I designed and made my own with thrifted red faux suede remnants. It turned out to be very functional and I learned a lot about making bags. And best of all - it's washable!




3. Little Red Dress - I love red and I try to make as many red clothing items as possible. I got this RTW XL ponte knit dress for $4.97. I immediately set about refashioning this to something that was unique and fit me well. I had this buckle in my stash for ages and I thought it would be a nice touch to add that to the neckline. I wore the dress many times during the warmer months this year. It can be dressed up or down depending on the accessories I wear. Very happy with this simple refashion!


4. Little Black Dress - I wanted a travel friendly little black dress that I could wear for many different occasions. I had some black ponte knit in my stash so I thought it would be extremely travel friendly. I drafted my own simple pattern because I thought a faux wrap style dress would be more 'dressy' than just a scoop neck dress. Since it was a faux wrap, I wouldn't have to worry about the dress flying open in strong wind!







5. Little Red Jacket - Are you convinced that I love red clothing yet? ;-) I wanted a cap sleeve little red linen jacket to wear with my tank tops and sun dresses. This Simplicity Cynthia Rowley pattern looked like it would be a good choice. I made quite a number of changes to the pattern though. It turned out alright:



6. The Wedding Dress!! - I made a wedding dress for myself for a photoshoot. I had great fun with it too! I narrowed the pattern choices down to 3 and made bedsheet muslins for all of them. This one came out on top. I didn't choose a very elaborate pattern so the dress wasn't really too difficult for me to do. It was a beautiful day for the photoshoot and my hubby and I had a lot of fun that afternnon.


7. Long Linen Trousers - I didn't have any long summer trousers so I decided to make a pair that would be versatile enough to wear to the beach or to see the school teachers. I have used this pattern before. It's a very quick and easy to sew pattern. I wore these trousers in the summer and into the autumn as well. Very useful piece of clothing indeed!


8. Another pair of jeggings - I basically live in jeggings except in the summer. I wear them with sweater dresses, sweaters, cardigans, jackets, etc. One pair is just never enough! I have used this McCall pattern 10 times now. I have tweaked it to fit my body and I added back pockets to them. I'm just going to keep using this pattern until it disintegrate! ;-)


9. New Hat and Scarf - I have very dark and boring looking coats. So I tried to inject some colours into my winter outfits with this stash red/black plaid wool blend fabric (yes I really like red). Really useful and  quick and easy to make too!



10. Chainmail Festive Dress - Who doesn't like a sparkly dress for the holidays (or for Halloween)? I had this chainmail-like knit in my stash and I made this quick and simple cap sleeves dress. I added a buckle from my stash to make it look even more like chainmail. Now I have a festive dress and a Halloween dress-up dress as well!


So these are my favourite projects from this past year. I'm looking forward to more sewing inspirations for next year! Happy Holiday everyone!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Refashion: A Festive Glitzy Thrifted Sweater

I guess I'm just all for festive clothing this month! I have had this wonderfully warm and cozy thrifted merino wool sweater for a year. It has been in my refashion pile for a long time and I didn't know what to do with it. The turtleneck part was so tight that it was uncomfortable for me to wear it. Then this week I looked at it again right next to the sparkly chain mail knit scraps from my last project (see here) and I realized they would go well together for a nice and festive refashion.


First I marked the final neckline that I want with chalk. I then cut a strip from the sparkly chain mail knit, folded it over and made a round. Then I sew the round onto the chalked line on the sweater. I cut the rest of the turtleneck off and this is how it looked:


It looked fine but I thought I would add something else to make it even more festive. I still had more of that chain mail knit scraps left. So I made a quick bow and sewed that to the neckline.


This is how it looks on me:


The bow can be removed easily by snipping a few threads. So after the holiday season, if I wanted something more plain, I can just remove the bow easily.

So I'm quite happy with this simple refashion. I can now finally wear this warm and cozy sweater for the rest of this Fall/winter season!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Quick Snowman Costume - Butterick 3267

I just found out that for my preschooler's school X'mas concert, she is supposed to be a snowman. The teachers had sent me a note asking me to dress her in white. Unfortunately I purposely made sure that she doesn't have any white clothing because she is very messy eater. So instead of rushing out to the stores to look for something in white for her, I went to my fabric and pattern stash in my house and pulled out this thrifted pattern and this white fleece fabric remnant:


I have used this pattern before (see here) so I knew it would be a quick and easy project. And I did it all in less than 2 hours! I omitted the facings but used the stretchy white fleece as bindings for the neckline and armholes. For the buttons, I used some grey felted wool scraps from my scrap box. Here is how it looks:


I hope that works well enough and she will look like the snowman on stage. I'm also happy that I have busted some of of my remnant/scrap stash too!

Monday, December 8, 2014

December MAGAM Festive Chain Mail Dress Done!! Butterick 5247

This Festive Chain Mail dress came together really quickly! It was so much fun to make and I`m sure will be really fun to wear.

I made a few design changes:

1. I omitted the cowl neck;
2. I added a centre back seam to add more shaping to the dress;
3. I added slit to the front neckline;
4. I shorted the sleeves by about 3cm;
5. I shortened the hem by 3cm;
6. I decorated the front neckline with a buckle (making it even more like Chain Mail!)

I used size 12 and I still had to take in the centre back seam a bit. I have loads of buckles in my stash (I got them for a deep discount in the summer) so I decided to continue with the chain mail theme and added the buckle to the neckline. I have used buckles before in dresses (see here).



I think I`ll have lots of fun wearing this Festive Chain Mail dress not just for x`mas and New Year, but also for many other occasions (especially ones where a meal is involved). I can`t wait!

See my review on PatternReview.com.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

MAGAM December Plan: Chain Mail dress for X'mas - Butterick 5247

The December theme for Make A Garment A Month is 'Festive Dress'. I have so many ideas for a 'Festive Dress' that it was really hard to decide what to make. I looked through my fabric stash and found this silver glittery knit. I remember when I first saw it in the fabric store I thought 'Chain mail!'. I thought it's going to be a festive enough material.

As for the pattern, since the material is already 'festive enough', I thought I would use a pattern in my stash that is more subdued in shape/style to balance out the 'rock and roll chain mail'. I just made a dress with my tried-and-true Butterick 5247 last month. It has a nice and easy shape so that one can eat a big x'mas/new year's meal in it. And it's also a very practical style for a holiday hostess dress.


Hopefully this will be a fun, quick and easy chain mail hostess dress!


Saturday, November 29, 2014

Refashion: Toddler Sweater to Women Beanie and Mittens

I'm very much into making winter accessories right now. This festive Toddler sweater was given to my daughter last year but she refused to wear it. And now it's too small for her.

I was going to donate it to my local Thrift Store but then I thought it might make a good beanie for me. It was quite an easy project. I put the sweater on my head and pinned it up, cut it to size and then serged the edges.

I thought the 2 little pockets on the sweater might make a nice feature for my beanie. But they do look a little bulky. So I cut off much of the pockets and serged the edges shut.





So now I have a cute sparkly beanie to wear with my dark somber winter coats! Yay!

Now back to the remnants of the toddler sweater. I just couldn't let all the scarps go to waste. So I cut up the sweater, created my own mitten pattern:

I didn't actually have enough sweater material for the entire mitten. So I went through my scraps box and found some bronze faux leather remnants for part of the palm of the mitten. And this is how it turned out:

Monday, November 24, 2014

New Scarf and Hat pour Moi - McCall's 5541

Plaid seems to be really in this season! Actually plaid is in every Fall/Winter anyway. I have lots of wool blend plaid in my fabric stash. I found this red/black plaid that really appealed to me. I thought it would be good to make some hat and scarf to add some colour to my boring winter wardrobe.

The scarf is just a length of the fabric - easy peasy! I serged the sides and fringed the top and the bottom.

The hat is based on an old favourite pattern - McCall's 5541. I like this particular pattern because the Large size has a circumference of 23.5". Lots of hat patterns only have 23" for the Large. I have a big noggin so this half inch is very important. I used the red/black plaid for the top and black wool flannel for the band. I actually doubled the width of the band because I wanted to make sure that they cover my ears well in the frigid Canadian winters! To embellish the hat a bit more, I made 2 fabric covered buttons with the red/black plaid remnants. I think it just jazz up the hat a little.


I don't think I'll wear the hat and scarf at the same time - it may be too matchy matchy for me. I am itching to make more hats, scarves and other cold weather accessories with my fabric stash!

MyPatternReview for McCall's 5541 is here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

MAGAM November project completed! Another Sweater Dress - Butterick 5247

My MAGAM November project is done! Yay! I used the tried and true Butterick 5147 knit dress pattern and made this Festive Sweater Dress really quickly.

I used size 12 because I used a more stretchy knit than the pattern calls for (the pattern calls for Moderate Stretch Knits). I had to narrow the arm holes and the waist quite a bit to get the right shape for me. So I probably would have been better off using a size 10.

I actually made the mistake of cutting the pattern at the tunic length instead of the dress length. Oh well! It will look fine with leggings and jeggings and skinny pants.

I love this pattern. It is easy and quick to sew and very versatile. Highly recommended! I debated whether I wanted to add some my own design elements into the dress but I think I'll just add my DIY jewelry, belts, etc to the dress instead.

I was too lazy to put on leggings for this photo but will definitely be wearing leggings/jeggings with this dress/tunic.
My review on PatternReview.com is here.

UPDATE: 2014.11.20 -
I wore this dress the day after I made it with a long sleeves t-shirt and jeggings. This was how it looked as a tunic:

It's funny that the same garment looks so different as a tunic than a dress!