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Saturday, September 23, 2017

This Jacket Suits Me! #therefashioners2017

It's no secret that I've missed my sewing machine this year. Like really missed it. Never more so than at the end of July however. As July neared it's end I was mindful of the fact that The Refashioners 2017 would be beginning soon, and that I might have a hard time participating this year - you know, moving countries every month and my lack of a sewing machine really gets in the way of refashioning.

Then The Refashioners was actually announced. My days of trying to guess the theme and wondering if there was any way I would be able to participate were over. I had my questions answered! Well, one of them any way.

The Refashioners 2017 theme is Suits You! Yes, the challenge is to refashion a suit. I had mixed feeling about this - how would I manage to refashion a suit on the World Race? Refashion a T-shirt? No problem! Refashion an African mu-mu? I've got that! Refashion a suit? What? How could I manage that?
But on the other hand - what a fun challenge! Suits are often made out of wool - my favorite fiber! So if there was any way I could take part in the challenge this year I would!

Following the theme announcement, there was another announcement over at Makery, the hosting blog of the challenge: rather than running from August 1 to September 30, like past years, this year the challenge would run from September 1 through October 31. This meant if I started my project at the beginning of August I would have an entire 3 months to complete it! Considering at this point I thought I would have to completely hand sew my entry, this was perfect! My decision was made. I would be participating in The Refashioners 2017.

That decided, my first step was to actually find a suit to refashion. Easier said than done when you're in a foreign country where you don't know the language, don't know where to find a thrift store, have no car, and are on a very limited budget.

Well, I completely lucked out one day when I was exploring the city of Oradea, Romania, with my teammates. As we were walking down the street I caught sight of a thrift store, so I checked it out. Inside, I found no 2 piece suits - but I did find this pretty blue wool/rayon blend suit jacket! And it was only 20 lui ($5 USD)! I snatched it up, took it back to my home for the month, and began dismantling it - while video chatting with my little sister one night.

Now as soon as the Refashioners was announced I knew exactly what I wanted to make out of a suit coat - a bomber style jacket. Something like this:


With sleeve "cuffs" like this:


And front detailing similar to this suit jacket I saw at the Oradea mall:

So once my suit coat was dismantled I started draping my bomber jacket right onto myself. 

As I draped I pinned all my seams together so that I could sit down and hand sew them - but then I received a fantastic blessing!

The sewing room I got to work with in Romania? They loaned me a sewing machine over a 4 day weekend!!!! I borrowed an iron and ironing board from the hotel laundry and I was set! One end of the hotel dinning room became my sewing room and the jacket refashioning began in earnest.

The back of the suit coat became the back of my jacket.

The front of the suit coat was completely cut up and sewed back together in a way that made use of all the pockets and added fun details.

I used as much of the original lining as possible to line my new jacket, but the suit coat wasn't fully lined so I had to add some "new" lining as well; rayon left over from a dress I refashioned into a shirt.

The original sleeves became my new sleeves. I just shortened them from the top, took them in a bit, and added elastic cuffs using some elastic left over from an African mu-mu I refashioned into a shirt for a friend.

I made the hem band and neck band out of a scrap of polyester knit left over from refashioning a jumpsuit into a dress for another friend. (Dang, I've done more refashioning this year than I realized!)

The zipper? I picked that up for 50 cents at a discount store in Montenegro!

Once I brought that sewing machine 'home' it took me less than 2 days to sew all the pieces together and have a brand new jacket!

Photo Credit: Katy Herder
One that I'm absolutely in love with! 

I am beyond thrilled that I was actually able to get this jacket made on the race!

And I am equally thrilled with these pictures my teammate, Kelsay Singleton, took of the completed jacket! Aren't they amazing?

Now, if you wanna know what else I've been up to on the race (other than sewing), and especially what I've been up to in Cambodia this month (other than getting photographed) check out my World Race blog

And if you wanna take part in The Refashioners 2017 - do it! Head over to Makery to read all the details! I highly recommend participating! It's a ton of fun!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

The Tank Top

When I originally packed for the race I may have over packed. My pack that was supposed to be 50 pounds or less? It weighed nearly 59! So, the night before I left the country, I had to re-pack and leave a few things behind. Such as the one tank top I'd planned to bring.
Thus, I left the country without a tank top. This was no problem (at all!) for the first 3 weeks of the World Race. My team was living at the top of a mountain on the outskirts of Bogota, Colombia. It was rather chilly there.
Then came week 4. We traveled to Medellin, Colombia, for the week and suddenly we had been transported from winter to summer! I really, really regretted my decision to leave behind my tank-top. Less than a day went by before I decided that I really, really needed to add a tank-top to my rather limited wardrobe. Only one issue, I didn't want to buy a tank because I didn't want to add any extra weight to my pack. (I'd worked hard to get it down to 47lbs!) So, I decided one of my shirts was destined to lose its sleeves that day: this one.

This blue paisley number is one of the shirts I whipped up the week before I left home. I found the fabric, a woven polyester that wouldn't wrinkle, at the Mennonite fabric store, and the pattern, Simplicity 2593, at a thrift store. While I liked both the fabric and the pattern separately, I really wasn't a fan of the resulting garment. Thus, when I needed to cut up a shirt, this one was a no-brainier. (Don't ask me why this shirt stayed in my pack and the original tank top did not. I was sleep deprived when I made the decision)

The sleeves got chopped off, the arm holes got hemmed, and I had a tank top! 

Losing the sleeves elevated this shirt from my least-worn to most-worn top. Suddenly it was perfect for things like hiking in Peru,

Exploring Madrid during a 24 hour layover,

And fabric shopping in Ghana! Or anything in Ghana, really. It was hot there!

This tank top got worn at least twice a week for the two months I was in Ghana. Wearing it I held babies,

Caught goats,

And washed my hair in the rain!

With as much wear as this shirt has received, how did I ever think I could do the race without a tank top??

Note to future self: always, always, pack a tank top. Or, at least a shirt that can lose its sleeves!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

The Shirt I Didn't Have Time For

Last December, right before leaving on the World Race, I had a very detailed sewing plan all written out in a notebook. I had a list of everything I wanted to sew for myself and I knew I'd be pushing it to get it all done before I left the country. I couldn't afford to add any other items to the list. But did this stop me from adding just one more shirt to the list less than a week before I left? Of course not!

During a last minute trip to Joann's, to pick up one sewing notion or another, I came across this teal and gray stripped knit in the clearance fabrics. It was calling my name, and all the clearance fabrics were half off the already clearanced prices that week. So how could I not get it?

Yep, there was no leaving this fabric behind. So I picked out a solid gray knit to go with it, got both fabrics cut, and took them home. Less than 24 hours later I had a new shirt!

   I was on a raglan-sleeve top sewing kick at the time so I used Kwik Sew 3593 to make this top. It easily went together in one afternoon!

This top has been one of my favorites to wear on the race, it goes great with both my split skirt and the navy skirt I brought along!

Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Montenegro, Romania, and now Cambodia. This shirt has been worn everywhere. I've never once regretted deviating from my sewing plans to make it!

Yep, it was a shirt worth making!

If you wanna know what all I've been up to this year (apart from wearing my hand-made clothing) check out my World Race blog!

It's been a heck of a year so far!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Twirly Tulle Skirts

"Can you make tutus out of this?" 
It was my second day in the sewing room in Romania and this was Katarina's question for me as she pulled out a roll of black net embroidered with little pink hearts.

Well the netting, while pretty, was a little too soft for actual tutus, but it would work fine for fun tutu-like skirts. Just the thing little girls enjoy wearing! I explained this to Katarina and she gave me the go-ahead to make such a skirt.

Wanting the skirt to have maximum twirl factor, I decided to make the front and back skirt panels each the full width of the fabric - 60". And, while I was at it I decided that 2 layers of netting would be way more fun than only one. Thus, I cut out 4 rectangles of netting, about 60" long and 14" deep.
Those 4 rectangles were then sewn into 2 loops and gathered to fit onto the pale pink lining before all 3 layers were attached to a hot pink elastic waistband.

The resulting skirt met with both Katarina's and our model's approval! We estimated the skirt to be about a size 10, so Katarina asked if I could also make a smaller skirt for younger girls. Maybe around a size 4?

I agreed and quickly cut out a second skirt - this time with only one width of fabric making both the front and back of the skirt to accommodate a smaller waistband size. I cut 2 rectangles, this time about 60" long and 10" wide. Those were folded in half and the short ends sewn together. Then the upper edges of the resulting loops were gathered together and attached to the lining and elastic waistband, same as the larger skirt.

The little girls who came to model the skirts loved twirling 'round and 'round in them! Katarina decided that skirts like this would be an excellent addition to the sewing shop's inventory. This gave me the chance to teach one of the women who works in the sewing room how to make skirts.

  So that's how I spent my last couple days in the sewing room - teaching how to make cute netting skirts for little girls - and I wouldn't have traded it for anything!

Thank You Sunflower Design sewing room for welcoming me into your space for a couple weeks, letting me sew, and making me feel like part of the family!

*I have now left Romania and traveled to Cambodia! If you want to keep up with my travels this year, check out my World Race blog!


Saturday, August 19, 2017

I Made a Red Horse Dress!

I found a sewing room in Romania!

Yes, a sewing room! Complete with sergers, industrial sewing machines, fancy professional irons, and a fabulous storage room stuffed floor to ceiling with all sorts of pretty fabrics!

Now the best part of this sewing room? It was my ministry for the month. Every day I got to hang out with 5 other people and sew. What ever we made would be sold to benefit the children's home my team was partnered with this month. Sewing and helping kids? This was right up my ally!

On my first day in the sewing room, the director, Katarina, showed me where the patterns and fabric were stored then pretty much told me to make what ever I wanted! 

I had an idea in mind for a little girl's dress and a matching doll dress. So I found a basic bodice pattern, adapted it to be what I wanted, then drafted a circle skirt and sleeve flounces to go with it. Next I went on a search for the perfect fabric and found 2 meters of this pretty red jersey knit fabric featuring a Swedish horse design.

With all the hand sewing I've done on the World Race I'd almost forgotten how quickly I could sew a dress with a sewing machine! By the end of the day I had the little girls' dress and matching doll dress completed!

The next day a girl from the Children's home came to model the dress.

I'd say our model approved of the dress, she could hardly stop spinning in it!

She was also quite a fan of the matching doll dress.

After our mini photo session, she stuck around for a while to watch us sew.

She was fascinated by everything and quite excited when I let her help me use the sewing machine to hem a skirt. 

My sewing room friends and I enjoyed having this child hang out with us for the morning and watching her get excited about everything! In a few years she will have the opportunity to come to the sewing room a couple afternoons a week to learn how to sew and earn some spending money.

Who knows, maybe she'll come to love sewing just as much as I do!

If you want to find out more about what I've been up to in Romania this month, check out my World Race blog!