Saturday, August 27, 2016

A Jeanius Dress For My Sister

So, I've made a third item for The Refashioners 2016, yep, you knew I would. My record shows that when I get into sewing for a theme, refashioned shirts, shorts, even historical dresses, I can't stop at just one or two. Also, I have a heck of a lot of old jeans to do something with. Thus, I definitely had to make my sister something.

Three pair of jeans makes one fun swingy wrap dress. I started with Simplicity 1133, two medium colored pairs of jeans, and one darker pair. All were about the same weight of denim. 

Now, Simplicity 1133 is a reprint of a 70's (I think) pattern. It's rather straight, not swingy at all. Also, it's a miss sized pattern, not a girl sized pattern. However it's a wrap dress that buttons at the shoulders and that's exactly what I wanted for this project, it just required some adjustments for my  girl's size 12 sister. 

First, I traced off the pattern in the smallest size, a 6. Next, I cut the traced pattern up from the bottom to the tip of each of the two darts. I folded over the darts the way they were supposed to be sewn, and  then spread my slashes until the paper pattern lay flat. This eliminated the need for darts and added some swing to the hem. I traced around the cut and folded pattern.

I drew lines on my new pattern to make panels that would fit on jean legs, then cut my pattern apart. This way I was able to reduce the width of a couple of the panels in order to down size the pattern so that it would fit my sister.

The center front panel I cut out of one of the lighter pairs of jeans, using the inner leg seam as my fold to include a fun jean detail. I added a little extra width here at the hem for some extra swingy-ness in the finished product. 

Working hard to avoid the ripped knee, I cut the side panels from the darkest pair of jeans.

I cut what was left of the dark jeans into strips to make binding for the dress. 

The back panel I cut out of the remaining pair of lighter jeans. I once again employed the slash and spread technique to add even more swing. (I wanted as much swing as possible in this dress.)

I sewed it all together and got this. Next came the binding and the buttons, then the finishing details. 

A flower I embroidered using the satin stitch on my sewing machine. I think this is my sister's favorite part of the dress.

On the opposite side panel I attached one of the back pockets from the pair of jeans I used for the front panel.

Now about that front panel. I forgot to grade the neckline smaller when I made the pattern, thus it doesn't lay flat. I'm not happy about this, but I didn't know the neckline was an issue until I gave the dress to my sister and she tried it on. She loves it! And now I can't get it back from her to fix the neckline.

Believe me, I've tried, and she's not having it! She's worn this dress 3 times since I finished earlier this week. 

Every time I've turned around she's wearing it again! I've more or less resigned myself to the fact that I'm not going to get to fix that neckline. 

However my sister has already requested a second dress just like this one, and on that one I'm gonna get that neckline perfect!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Blue Paisley; All Laced Up

Whew, this dress.

It's made from Butterick B6322, one of the 4 50's inspired dresses I wanted to make for myself this summer. In my stash I had 4 yards of the perfect blue paisley quilting cotton (with a really fun name, The Udder Cowboy), a gift from my grandma. Also in my stash I had the perfect shade of blue pre-made piping to make the interesting details of the design really pop. The lace up midriff section, the gathered upper bodice; I really liked the design.

 So, I made it, complete with pockets of course, over a month ago. I liked how it turned out. I wore it. I managed to stain it, ugg. Well, I got the initial stain soaked out, but there was one little thing I forgot.

The grommets in the front of the dress were made out of metal. They rusted, leaving huge stains all over the front of the dress. I tried for weeks to get the stains out using vinegar and salt. Well, I got most of the stains out, but the ones around where the grommets had been? Those refused to come out. It was time to admit defeat and continue with plan B.

As you may or may not have noticed in the first picture, the dress was a little big around the midriff section. I'd toyed with ideas of how to fix this the first time I wore the dress, but finally the stains made up my mind for me. I just cut off the stained sections.

First I carefully removed the piping with my seam ripper, I still needed it. Then I cut off the stained part, folded the raw edges in towards each other, and inserted the piping in between the two layers. I sewed it all up then inserted new grommets (I don't think these will rust) and new lacing.

All done and wearable again! And the fit? Even better this time then it was at the beginning!

There is one thing that annoys me however, the way the front panels wrinkle thanks to the lacing. I think I'm going to add a piece of boning right next to the grommets on each side to fix that problem.

I love wearing this dress with my net crinoline, it makes me feel all put together and dressed up, without being over the top. The full gathered skirt really softens the look of the crinoline compared to the look of it with a circle skirt.

I have worn this dress 4 times in the 2 weeks since I fixed it, I'd say that renders it a success, despite my initial frustration with the stains.

So I guess that just goes to show, if one thing doesn't work out, try something else. Don't give up completely. I need to remind myself of that in other areas of my life occasionally. God has a plan, his plan A for me might just be my plan D. I just need to seek him, and not be too stubborn, holding on to the "stained" plan I think is the right one.

Sometimes my preferable way of fixing things, isn't going to work, but there's always another way. That's a little deeper than I usually go in sewing posts, but hey, that's what worked for this dress!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Resoling Robeez

Children, they are not easy on clothes or shoes. A little guy I have the privilege of caring for managed to lose one shoe from one of the only pairs of shoes he had that fit. He had a second pair that fit, but those, a pair of Robeez, he had already worn holes in the soles of.

Now, I knew his mom would be getting him new shoes soon, but for a couple days until she had time to take him shoe shopping, he needed something to wear on his feet. One morning as I was getting him ready to go outside to play (In slightly too big shoes) and his holey soled shoes caught my eye. I picked them up and looked them over. I realized that the soles wouldn't be too hard to replace, they were just a piece of leather sewn on to the upper of the shoe. I just had to find some leather for the new sole. Then it hit me, cheap leather gloves should work! "Ok, change of plans young man, rather than playing outside we're going into town to get some supplies."
To Wal-Mart we went for the gloves, followed by Joann's for leather needles for the sewing machine (mandatory for sewing leather!)

Once that was done it was back home and back to playing outside until nap time. Once the little guy fell asleep out came the holey soled shoes, and the gloves.

  I started by removing the soles from the shoes with a seam ripper. Then I traced the sole onto paper to make a pattern.

Next, I deconstructed the gloves with my seam ripper. It was really interesting to see how they were made and what shape each piece was! I laid my pattern piece on the largest piece of leather, it just barely fit! If his feet had been any bigger a different leather source would have been needed. 

Finally I stuck a brand new leather needle in the machine and started to sew. I wondered how well the  basic machine would do sewing through leather, but the leather needle worked like a charm and it was surprisingly easy! In less than 10 minutes both shoes had new soles and were ready for action.

Now, all that was left to do was wait for the child to wake up and try out his re-soled shoes! Eventually, that happened.

Well, as it was impossible to get him to hold still so I could get a picture of his feet, I'd say his newly fixed shoes work just fine! Perfect for running and playing, just what a toddler needs!


Monday, August 22, 2016

A Jeanius 50's Wrap Crop Top

I wear jeans a lot. At least 4 out of the 7 days of the week. (though over the summer I got that down to 3 or even only 2 days some weeks thanks to all the shorts and skirts I made myself) Jeans are just the most practical garment for my day to day life.

With the beginning of The Refashioner's 2016, theme Jeanius, I've been really tempted by all the amazing inspiration posts to make a shirt out of a pair of jeans, but double denim isn't really my style. So what's the point of a shirt if I won't wear it with jeans? Thus, I'd initially decided there was no possible way I would be making a shirt out of a pair of blue jeans. Then I saw this dark denim shirt one participant made, and it looked good, even great with light jeans. I was hooked. I just had to make myself a shirt out of a pair of dark jeans. Enter: the least jean-like jeans in my stash.

A pair of Docker's trouser-style jeans that used to be my mom's. Then she gave them to me, but I prefer my jeans to look like jeans, so I never wore them. They've just been sitting in my jeans bin for a couple years waiting to be turned into. . .something. This week I decided that something was a shirt. The denim was dark and medium-lightweight, the perfect shirt making jeans!

Next, I had to figure out what type of shirt to make. I didn't want a button down, but I was afraid the denim wouldn't have enough drape for a flattering pullover shirt. After pondering this point over and over on multiple drives to and from work, the answer finally hit me!

A couple weeks ago I'd come across this 50's wrap top tutorial on pinterest and decided I had to make one, eventually. Well, now was the time, why not make one out of jeans?

The top is basically a large rectangle with a hole in the middle for your head. So, first I needed to make a large rectangle. I split the jeans up the inner seam and laid them out flat. Then I trimmed off the extra fabric at the crotch and cut straight across right below the front pockets and the decorative back pocket flaps. (These jeans didn't actually have back pockets, but the front ones were real). This gave me two long rectangles.

I trimmed a 2.5 inch strip of fabric off one side of each rectangle. This was saved for later. The two rectangles were then sewn together to make one wider rectangle.

I cut out my neckline, serged around it, folded the serged section to the inside and stitched it down. My jeans were starting to look like the shirt I wanted them to be, but just a bit too wide. I cut another 2.5 inch strip of fabric off each side. 

The shirt was now the right size, so I hemmed either side then got started on the final step so that it could actually be worn; the ties. Those four 2.5 inch strips of fabric I'd trimmed off the edges of the shirt? Those got turned into two longer strips and sewn to the back of the shirt to be wrapped around and tied at the front. I encased the bottom edge of the back in the waistband/ties for a professional looking finish.

 The bottom front was already finished with the original jeans hem. So, I sewed a fabric tie (cut off one garment or another and saved at some point in the past) to each edge, to be tied in the back, under the wide waistband.

As an afterthought I added a snap on either side underneath the arm to prevent gaping. Then my shirt was done, and, due to the limited amount of fabric jeans offered, it was rather short!

Now, I have never worn a crop top, and didn't think I ever would, but after spending a week planning this top and an afternoon sewing it, I'm wearing it! And I rather like it! (only with high waisted shorts or pants though)

Honestly with the neckline not being cut too low, and the shirt not being skin tight, this shirts offers just as much, if not more, coverage as the tight tank tops I wear most of the summer. Thus, I am perfectly comfortable wearing this shirt, which is a bit surprising to me.

My mom has already requested a shirt in this style for herself, with the addition of a peplum for extra coverage.

So, not only did I make myself a shirt out of jeans, it's also cropped. Two things I thought I'd never wear, but it works. The shirt goes perfectly with my button front shorts, and I have some light colored, high waisted, skinny jeans I'm planning to pair it with as well.

This certainly isn't an everyday, wear it to work kind of shirt, but I imagine it will get plenty of wear on the weekends.

Two entries for The Refashioners 2016 done, one planned, one more spur of the moment. Now, how many more will I have to make to conquer my stash of old jeans? Well I have at least two more projects planned, and then we'll see what's left. 

I have to give a HUGE shout out to Portia from Makery for hosting The Refashioners again this year and for picking the theme she did. This challenge is really pushing me out of my comfort zone and helping me deal with my out of control stash. Thank You! 

Now, if you're even considering refashioning a pair of jeans, please do! I'd love to see what you come up with!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Fantastic Dyed Purple Wrap Dress

My green wrap dress. It turned out fabulous, great for both everyday stuff and dressing up, so of course I wanted to make a second one. There was however that one little issue of the dress requiring 4 yards of fabric. I have a lot of fabric in my stash, but a 4 yard (or larger) piece NOT already earmarked for a specific project? Those are rare.

After going through my fabric I decided to use this bolt of some synthetic/cotton blend white with thin blue stripes because A) I wasn't going to use it for anything else, and B) I had a lot of it. However there was one issue. Any white article of clothing I wear winds up stained, no matter how careful I am. So, a color change was an order. I bought a bottle of purple dye.

I poured the entire bottle of dye into my milk bucket (no other stainless steel pot was large enough) on the stove, along with enough water to completely submerge my fabric. (I just cut a 4ish yard piece off of the bolt rather than attempt to dye the entire bolt). Into the milk bucket the fabric went, along with a few stained articles of white clothing.

Once everything had been in the dye long enough it was taken outside, draped over my trailer racks (used for hauling goats) and hosed off. Finally into the washer and dryer it all went.

After all that I had the fabric for my second 50's wrap dress using Simplicity 8085.
Now, while I love my green dress, it is a little boring to make the same pattern twice, so this dress got a slight design change. McCalls 7354 had caught my eye last time there had been a pattern sale. I almost bought it, but then I realised it was almost exactly the same as the pattern I already had. Only where the Simplicity pattern fastened in the back and had a fabric belt, the McCalls pattern had tabs that wrapped around to fasten in the front and no belt. No new pattern needed! That feature was easy enough to add to when I was cutting out my purple dress. 

I extended the back wrap pieces into a belt. The belt is flat lined with duck canvas to keep it's shape and then bag lined to finish the edges (the rest of the dress is just finished with bias tape, but the belt needed more stability.) There is a 1.5 inch opening in one side seam for the belt from the opposite side to thread through when the dress is being worn.

I got my dress all cut out and ready to sew one morning, but my sewing machine was at a friend's house where I was housesitting, not at home where I was. Not wanting to have to put off sewing my dress I decided to use this machine. A 1960's Sears Kenmore attached to a table (which it of course folds into). I picked it up at a thrift store a few months ago. I was excited to sew something on it and thrilled to discover it worked! (Once I'd figured out how to thread it and put a new needle in.) Thus, most of the interior seams of my dress got sewn that day on this machine.

Both tab/belt pieces wrap around the dress and fasten in the front on a single button. This is a happy accident. I'd intended for the tabs to fasten on the sides, right above the pockets, but I didn't really measure (not a good plan) just guessed how long the tabs needed to be so I made the too long and they met perfectly in the front instead! Thus, this dress only fastens with one button.

To help the belt stand out I added some purple trim from my stash. There was just enough!

Of course every dress must have pockets, so this dress has patch pockets just like the green one. Unfortunately these don't disappear into the skirt like those on the green dress do, but I can deal with that.

This dress is super comfortable and gets worn at least once a week. It works great for everyday stuff, but paired with my crinoline it's great for church too!

Sitting on the floor to pin together something? Yep! Worming goats? Yep! Looking fantastic? Yep, this dress can do it all!

Now, are two versions of this dress enough, or should I dig through my stash for a third suitable 4 yard piece? That I haven't decided yet!