Scrap sewing for me

Double posts again today!

I have wanted to make myself a needle book and scissors holders for a little while for when I travel.  I’ve been using a little scrap for all my needles for a few years.  (Several years ago I made one of my uncles a Yankees ornament and hand-embroidered the Yankees logo, but I realized most of the way through that I’d done it backwards and had to start over.  I’ve been using the initial scrap with the backwards logo to hold all my needles.  It’s obviously not ideal.)  When I made the dog pillows last week with more scraps from my grandfather’s tshirts and sweatshirts, I thought the collar from one of the sweatshirts would make a good needle book.  I added blue polka dot fabric to the center to attach the two pieces of the collar.  Then I took scraps of leftover binding (I save everything – these are leftover from the coasters I made my cousins J and C for their birthdays) and bound the raw edges.  I finished it with a closure using a piece of ribbon for a loop and a cute little thimble button my aunt D gave me for my birthday when she gifted me her stash.  It’s not the cutest needle book ever – I decidedly went for function over form.


For scissors, I used some scrap pieces from an old tablecloth of my mother’s.  She’s an elementary school teacher and she uses heavier fabrics to make book pouches that hang over the kid’s chairs.  One of her old tablecloths went that route, and I have the scraps of it because, as I mentioned, I save everything.  I took a large-ish piece and added a matching piece of batting.  I cut it into a kind of ice cream cone shape – sort of curved along the top, and a triangle at the bottom.  I sewed the sides of the triangle together and secured the batting to the fabric.  To finish I used ribbon again to make a closure and a cute little scissor-shaped button from aunt D.   This one has a bunch of rough edges but it’ll fit my largest scissors – probably all my scissors at once – and I won’t have to worry about sharp scissor tips poking through anything.

I did more work on those charity baby quilts I’m working on, and some other as well.  More on those another day!  Also, I’m starting the Handstitched class this week!  I’ve added the button and I’m pretty excited to start.  I have to confess that I probably won’t be doing all the projects – or not necessarily all the projects as written – but I’ve already got some ideas for this week’s three projects.  Now that I have a needle book I guess I don’t need another one, but I’m sure I know some other people who might like one!


Costume Party: Dolly Levi

Recently the habibis had a reunion!  Said reunion included a costume murder mystery party.  After much deliberation, I chose Dolly Levi of “Hello Dolly!” as my costume.  I was going for the dress Barbra Streisand wore in the Harmonia Gardens scene of the movie, i.e. this fabulousness:

I want that dress.  I want to wear it to the grocery store and church and work and the subway and everywhere.  I grew up watching “Hello Dolly.”  It’s my favorite musical.  I want to be her.

I wanted a dress with that silhouette, but no maxi dress would’ve looked right.  I searched online and then I decided to alter one of my dresses instead.  I decided to pick a cocktail dress with the right silhouette and add fabric to recreate the skirt/train.  The original plan was to use this dress:

(Apologies for the weird cropping but I couldn’t find any other pictures of me in it on short notice.)

The dress is champagne-colored under black lace.  However, I realized that the dress was at my parents’ house and I wouldn’t have time to get it prior to our habibi reunion.  Instead, I went with this dress (I didn’t take a before picture so I decided to badly crop a picture after I’d added the lace):

The dress is an icy blue color.  I ordered two yards of silver lace and two yards of pale blue, since I wasn’t sure what would match better.  The silver matches nicely.  I doubled the lace and sewed it around the hem, leaving a bit of a train at the back.

It involved a little tweaking.  I doubled the lace again in the front so it was short enough to walk.  In the back I sewed one of the loose ends to the hem, too.  It’s not a bustle but it worked.  I had originally planned to take the skirt in around the knees to more closely imitate Barbra’s dress, but I ran out of time.

I could not afford/justify the expense of a giant feathered headdress, so I bought a modest pink feather fascinator.  I’d ordered a feather boa but it was real feathers, which grossed me out.  (The phrase “sanitized turkey feathers” does not describe something I want to touch my skin.)  Happily, Anlichan lent me a scarf her sister had knitted her that resembled a boa.

I bought elbow length gloves and I wore the dress with pearls.  I wore my hair in some kind of spiky bun thing.  I wore icy blue eye shadow and blue eyeliner, which did not look garish.  (Granted, as a Jersey girl, blue eyeliner is one of my favorite things and my definition of garish may be different than other people’s, but I think the habibis will back me up that my makeup looks pretty.)  Overall, success.

The question remains what to do with the dress now.  Although I love it as a costume, I actually don’t love the dress on its own.  I don’t think the bodice fits me properly – it’s a bit too loose.  I rarely/never need a costume, so I’ll likely remove the lace and give away the dress.

Barbra sets the bar high, and the habibis reminded me that her Harmonia Gardens was one of the most expensive movie costumes ever.  I didn’t feel quite as fabulous as her in my homemade costume, but I felt pretty fabulous.  It was the perfect costume for the event.






spry: summer snips

I’ve piled on shorts and a shirt to my chopping block of modding things.

So I took these Liz Clairborne khaki trousers off my mother’s hands because they fit at the waist. They were vaguely skinny, and high-waisted. Totally in right? Right, but they are not quite skinny enough.

Instead of doing the weird, semi-successful pants narrowing thing I’d been doing a lot of lately, I took inspiration from pinterest for DIY cut-off shorts! The key is apparently to cut at an angle.

cutting on the conservative side

I rolled them up once, used hemming tape, then rolled them in again. We’ll see how they hold up in the wash. I may or may not want to add an accent button on the side of each cuff to 1) hide the slightly wonky crimp at the side-seam, and 2) keep the fold tucked.

High-waist pants tend to bunch funny at the crotch, but maybe it’s not too bad?

It’s best to stay on a roll with these projects, so I kept on. I’d gotten this big button-down at a clothing swap because I liked the pattern and knew what I wanted to do with it.

I cut off the sleeves to start, of course, then (using another shirt as a template of course) tightened up the sides. Then, using another sleeveless collared dress as a template, I cut off the shoulders. Then did it another one up and cut off the back bits where my shoulder-blades are.

I always forget to take a “before” picture, but you know what a short sleeved shirt looks like.

Then I actually finished the edges. OMG I never do that! So, it’s quite nice. It would be better if I had elastic for the back to make sure it stayed up, but the bodice is actually rather snug, so I think it’s probably ok. I should/shall add tucks to the front so the arm gap is a little snugger (ie you can’t see too much of my chest from the side).


I am ready for a nice cook out party, right before summer ends (although technically it ended on Labor Day).

spry: pintucking the “designer” way

Adding pintucks seemed like a cute way to make a slightly large shirt smaller around, compared to augmenting the tucks in the back or just sewing up the sides, so I challenged myself to sew straight lines.

Luckily the shirt in question is striped.

I few weeks ago I shortened a skirt with polkadots and thought I wouldn’t need to actually mark the line I wanted to cut along, because I could connect the dots. It didn’t work that way… so, yay straight lines!

I’d read a how-to pintuck a year or so ago somewhere and didn’t bother to brush up before I started the project. It’s pretty straight forward. Just decide where you want the tuck, fold the shirt along that line, pin it (even with straight lines, one gets cross-eyed), and then sew. (I bet you’re really supposed to iron the crease straight, except I would be liable to iron a giant wrinkle, so I did not bother.) I placed the needle as close to the edge as possible. It took a few lines to internalize how slowly I had to sew to actually sew a straight line. But that’s just me.

Also, it’s much easier to sew on along the edge of a colored stripe than a white one [with white thread] because I kept losing track of where I was sewing, until I waved into a colored stripe, of course.

I placed the tucks starting at where the chest-tuck ends to the bottom of the shirt. I put the shirt on after every line to see how the shirt was shrinking. It is not a drastic change.

I had a system of counting lines after the tuck to place the next line. I did three lines on the right-side of the shirt, then decided that I should see how narrow the shirt would be with three lines on the left before adding more.

So I sewed three lines down the left, with my trusty line-counting system.

Of course I did something wrong. The lines on the left came out much closer together than the ones on the right. OF COURSE.

(I think I hadn’t accounted that, for the right side [as in the photo] I was sewing new tucks with the old ones visible. To start at the top of the line on the left side, I was sewing with the old tucks on the underside, and should have counted more lines between tucks, the way I was folding them down. If that makes sense.)

Faced with the dilemma of “equal number of tucks but unequal width of pintucked shirt space” v “unequal number of tucks but equal width of pintucked shirt space,” after brief deliberation I chose the latter. The shirt looked really lopsided with the well-spaced tucks on one side and the bunched-together tucks on the other. And there was no way I was going to rip out all of those lines to redo them.

The size, at least, is now just right.

Since the shirt is so stripy, the tucks actually are more subtle than they would be on a non-striped shirt. Soooo can’t really tell that there are 5 lines down one side and just 3 down the other.


Well, if you can tell, I’ll just say it’s “designer.”

spry: white collared shirt reborn

I’ve been wanting to do this upcycle for a long while. Simple, yet effective upcycling of a white collared shirt. I’ve seen these spiffy shirts all over the place, with a contrasting inner collar… and thought it would be a great way to salvage (w/out bleach) my grimy-collared summer shirts. Also to spruce up the white shirt in general (I don’t like wearing white collared shirts b/c apparently I look like a waitress in them).

The concept is simple: the grimy shirt w/ the collar stains, wide-ish ribbons, and fusable interfacing/iron-on hemming tape.

iron-on magic

I used two layers of ribbon, pink and gray because 1) the first ribbon wasn’t wide enough 2) the stain was higher than I thought it would be 3) the widest ribbon I has was gray, and that’s boring. I ironed on the pink ribbon first, then layered the gray on top. Which was doubly-good as the tape was slightly wider than the pink ribbon and therefore smeared a little on the top of it (which was covered nicely by the top gray ribbon). I cut the ribbons slightly longer than the collar, fused them, then cut out the proper shape afterwards.

The ribbons are actually the handles of fancy store bags (they are just the right length, altho not necessarily width, as I mentioned), which was a stroke of brilliance, as I’d been fretting on where to buy ribbon in the city, so it’s a double-upcycle. Win!

subtle, yet chic

It really livens up the shirt, even more than I was expecting, and I like that. If I had more ribbon (ie a real spool) I would probably add ribbon to the placket, but I do like the understated “pop” that just the inner collar offers.

Will def be transforming my other white shirt in a similar manner as well, maybe with my school colors, blue and gray.

Rozsamaria: Tshirt quilt for my family

I’m making a quilt out of my grandfather’s tshirts for my family.  It’s not finished yet.  Hopefully I’ll be done in time for Christmas.  So far, I’ve got the top finished.  It’s approximately 50″ wide by 60″ long.  I’m cutting 10″ squares to assemble the back.  I’m sorry I don’t have a more detailed post but hopefully in a couple of weeks I’ll have a finished product to show you.

The top of the quilt

Some of the squares for the back

Spry: turtleneck to a zippy hack

A few years ago, my now-betrothed presented to me a red turtleneck. (He went on vacation to Germany, and I asked him to buy me clothes from my favorite German store, anything he thought would suit me. And he brought me back FOUR amazing sweaters. How perfect of a man is that? To actually buy me clothes?? Clearly he is the most perfect man in the world.)  I loved the turtleneck, but didn’t wear as often as I should have, because the neck was a little tight, even for a turtleneck. Slowly I began to envision a hack…

Initially the plan was to turn the sweater into a cardigan. Then I opted to make it a zippered-hoodie type sweater. Then I realized the zipper I got is for cushions, ie it doesn’t come apart at the bottom. So now it’s a… faux-zippy sweater, I suppose.

I measured the sweater from top to bottom, and acquired the appropriate length zipper. I put the sweater on and positioned the zipper appropriately, and marked w/ chalk the line I wanted. (I off-centered it to make it futuristic and chic and edgy and stuff!) Luckily this was a ribbed sweater, so the line was very easy to cut. Next I pinned down the zipper, one side at a time, using lots and lots of pins and patience, and sewed the whole thing up in a relatively straight line. (I’m sure you can also just go ahead and sew on the zipper before you cut the shirt open, and then just cut around the zipper once it’s sewn into place. That would ensure that both sides are more equal. Using a zipper foot on the machine probably would have also helped things in general, except I don’t know how to use that yet. Next time!)

The zipper is khaki/beige. I used a red thread, mainly so you can’t see the stitching on the front, but also to add some contrast to the back, which is visible when the zipper is open.

plain jane turtleneck to versatile asymmetrical zippy

I dare say I’m rather pleased with the result, although I did end up stretching one side longer than the other. I like how now I can wear it still as a functional turtleneck, but also as something a little more fun. I also like that the zipper breaks the sheer redness of the shirt up a little (altho I love red, I know it can be a bit much at times), and adds something interesting.