December 12, 2013

Dress skirt to tree skirt

Materials: Elastic, $2.79

Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

 I snagged this skirt at our last clothing swap, not for myself, but because the material just screamed Christmas and I thought it would come in handy this time of year. This is the first year we have a real Christmas tree, and one item we needed was a tree skirt.

I took the skirt apart starting with the zipper and the side seams. I measured the fabric pieces against our tree base to get the height measurement. Then I cut the tops of the skirt panels. I cut the panels in the shape of isosceles trapeziums, keeping the base the original width. I then sewed everything back together and added the zipper. I finally hemmed the top and added the elastic. 
I got a small round red mat at Ikea for $6.99 look and placed it under the tree base. So pretty!

November 23, 2013

House Refashion: From Drab to Fab!

Materials: ¾ yard heavy velvet fabric.

Time: 40 minutes

We had a little B diaper malfunction on my desk chair the other day. A frantic hubby was about to reach for the cleaning supplies, but I stopped him midway. The desk chair was pretty ugly and I had been contemplating reupholstering it for a while since. This was the perfect excuse, so I quickly unscrewed the seat and ripped off the soiled fabric. Because of the urgency of the situation I do not have a “before” picture. It was a drabby, officy-looking chair my hubby probably bought for $10 at a used furniture store before we were together. Note: the soiling did not transfer to the cushion underneath. I have no idea what that stain is on the side of the cushion.

I went to my local fabric store and saw the most beautiful velvet in the perfect color I was looking for, a grayish sage green, and it had very fine lines in its texture. Very luxurious! I chair in this fabric would have been pretty pricey. Luckily this roll was 20% off, so I was able to purchase all I needed-and-more for $18.56.
I dismantled the chair and proceeded to trace the outline of the back support on the back of the fabric. This is the only part of the project that required any sewing. Next I sewed both sides using my awesome new walking foot. I turned it inside out and slipped it over the back. It was a really tight fit, perfect, just what I was aiming for. After snipping the bottom of the fabric off, I took a staple gun and stapled the front side of the fabric to the wood back of the back support. Next I took fabric glue, and tucked the back side fabric and glued it. I had previously tried stapling it underneath the wood back, but the fabric was too thick and the staples were not going through enough. Next I stapled it down anyways to help the gluing process. I ended up just leaving it as is. We’ll see how long it will hold.

Finally I took the bottom seat and measured the fabric to cover it. This part was a piece of cake. I just tucked the fabric underneath and stapled away. For the corners I used multiple staples and bunched it up so that there was no obvious main fold, but a series of small folds around the corners. I then took the piece of cardboard that was previously underneath the seat and stapled that on top. After screwing both parts back on, I had a gorgeous expensive-looking new desk chair!

More pictures of our bedroom to follow: I have a few more design projects I’m working on.

November 12, 2013

White Dress Shirt

Materials: Painters permanent pen in Silver

Time: 40 minutes


This white shirt from Express was also a leftover from our last clothing swap. I really like the frame fitting cut and the button-less fastening mechanism. However it is was a tad too stiff for me. I’m not such a formal person; so likewise, I wanted to play it down somehow. I decided to color the trim in silver. This was such an easy fix and only took about 40 minutes. I used Painters permanent pen in Silver. Loved the result!

October 22, 2013

Sweater Dress

Material: ¾ Yard of fabric, thread to match

Time: 6 hours

I had this old light blue sweater that was given to me by my mom. It was a little too soccer mom-ish for me so it just sat buried in the back of my closet. I recently pulled it out and came up with a project to turn it into a dress for fall. We are having beautiful fall weather right now, and I have been enjoying wearing all kinds of skirt-and-tights combinations. The nice weather is supposed to last clear till this weekend, so I wanted one more outfit.

I chopped off what I considered to be the most hideous part of the sweater, which was the collar. I also cut the sleeves and made them short. I unraveled one of the sleeve to use the yarn for the next steps. To finish off the short sleeves, I unraveled them until both were the same length and ended in a single row of open knit loops.

I took a yarn needle and threaded a piece of yarn through each open loop to stop the unraveling, and stitched the ends, making it a little extra tight to give the sleeves some puff.

Next I took a strip of ribbon made of a material which I cannot name (see the picture), and wrapped the yarn around it 3 times. I took a very thin piece of ribbon and sewed it down the middle on the machine, and then cute the edges on both sides with a razor knife. Then I cut and removed one side of the ribbon strip. The result was a long fuzzy stretch of yarn which I was then able to hand-stitch to the edges of the sleeves and neck of the sweater.
The sweater on its own could have been a refashion, but I wanted it to be a dress, so I made a quick trip to a fabric store I really like here in Portland. I picked out polka-dot patterned fabric in a similar shade of blue for the skirt bottom. As I explained my project to the store attendant she advised me to get a walking foot for my sewing machine, because sewing knit on cotton could lead to bunching up of the fabric due to differences in how easily they are pulled by the machine. The walking foot pulls the fabric from the top so both top and bottom get pulled at the same speed. So I followed her advice, and was amazed with how well the walking foot worked! It even allowed me to sew in much straighter lines too! I had always thought my sewing skills were not very good, but now I realized that part of the problem was the machine – not me. That was definitely something worth finding out. Now I’m feeling more empowered to tackle a more challenging project. To finish the dress, instead of hemming the skirt, I stitched a thick embroidered line across the bottom and trimmed the remaining fabric.
This dress turned out to be a lot more work than I had anticipated, but it was worth every minute spent on it. It has become one of my favorite refashions! I wore it together with my bird’s nest necklace to my friend K’s twins, J and T’s birthday party.

October 21, 2013

Pin Pendant

Materials: Pin Converter, $1.00

Time: 2 minutes

This is a really quick and easy jewelry refashion. I had a pin that my mother-in-law gave me, and which I really liked, but I’m not really a pin person... I wanted to turn it into a pendant so I could use it on a necklace. So I went to our neighborhood bead store thinking I would get a small hook or ring that I would improvise and somehow attach to the pin to turn it into a pendant. However the attendant brought to my attention that there is a “pin converter” that serves exactly this purpose! And it only costs $1! I purchased it and quickly slipped it on to pin, and now I can wear it as a necklace pendant. The nice thing is that it is completely reversible and you only need one converter which you can interchange with other pins. This little discovery has completely changed the way I think of pins…

October 18, 2013

Hippie Chic

Materials: PainterTM Fabric Marker in Black, $3.99

Time: 1 hour and 20 minutes


This white shirt was a real discounted bargain I got at H&M. After 2 washes it lost its shape and was looking really shabby. I didn’t think anything would really work in trying to make it be something that it never was, so I decided to keep it shabby and go for a hippie refashion.
I searched for a cool peace sign image online, downloaded it, and sized it to fit the shirt. I printed it out and pegged it to a clipboard underneath the shirt. The print was easily visible and I was able to trace it with a light pen. Then I took the fabric marker and went over it. The secret to using this thick marker was to “tattoo” over the lines instead of gliding it, like you would normally use a marker. For copyright reasons, I did not copy the design exactly and I will not include it on this website. The fabric paint dried a little stiff, but after a wash the shirt looked awesome! Peace.

October 16, 2013

Blah Blah Black Shirt

Materials: Clorox Bleach Pen (3), $3.09 each.

Time: 3 rounds 30 minutes each.

This shirt was one of the leftovers from our last clothing swap. There was nothing really wrong with it, but I guess it was a little too blah for anyone to claim it. Since the swap was at my house I ended up with all the leftovers, including this boring black shirt.
I decided to transform it using a Clorox Bleach Pen. My inspiration was one of my little B’s scribble drawings, the most primitive form of visual expression, I suppose. I first tested a small spot under the collar in the back, to make sure the bleach would work. It took about 20 minutes, but finally the area which had been treated turned an orange-tinge. So I proceeded to scribble the shirt, starting with the back. The result was really dramatic! I washed the Clorox off three times with warm water and then threw the shirt in the wash. Once it dried, I repeated the scribbling in the front and sections of the sleeves. After 2 more rounds of scribbling, washing, and drying, the shirt was completely transformed and now it’s a whole lot more exciting!
Now I have to admit, its a little over-the-top for me to wear as-is, but I think it looks pretty cute under this neutral tan sweater or similarly with a black sweater. The way to pair it is to just assume the lines are tan and go from there.