Guest post by Wendi Gratz: You can find Wendi online at Shiny Happy World where she is on a mission to teach beginners of all ages how to sew. All of her patterns are especially designed for beginners and include links to free video tutorials teaching every skill you’ll need to complete the project.
Today Wendi is introducing a Workshop she is running called The Shirt Off Daddy’s Back Sewing Workshop which begins 10 July. The workshop will teach participants how to make girls’ clothes out of men’s shirts, and will include skirts, dresses, and aprons using both knit and woven fabric (from T-shirts and dress shirts). All patterns are included as well as video lessons for each project, plus a few extras such as how to crochet a scalloped border, embroider a pretty hem, and sew on knit ruffles. Find more info here.
Wendi is giving away a free spot in the workshop to a Whip Up reader! Just leave a comment telling me about your favorite thing to make for kids. Contest will be open for 48 hours. Congratulations Cinnamon. You have been contacted via email.
Choosing Shirts to Refashion
I love a good wardrobe refashion. It’s good for the environment; it pleases my thrifty soul; and when it involves reworking my husband’s clothes into outfits for my daughter – I find it incredibly sweet. She loves to wear her daddy’s old clothes!
When I started out refashioning, I was just cutting old garments apart to reuse the fabric. I’ve learned to go a step further and now I also work to reuse a lot of the finish and detail work from the original. It preserves some of the character of the shirt I started with, and it also gives me some great details in the finished piece – with less work! Here’s what to look for. . .
- A good hem. For dress shirts I love curved shirt tails – those look lovely at the bottom of a skirt or dress. Many casual button-down shirts have straight hems – but some of them have nice notches at the side seams and that’s also a nice detail. For T-shirts – make sure the hem is intact. That double-stitched hem is often the first seam to go on an inexpensive tee. But you can dress up those plain t-shirt hems in lots of cute ways.
- Pockets. Pockets with curved bottom corners are nice. So are nice details at the top edge.
- Shoulder yokes and back pleats. Both of these details add a lot to the construction time if you do them yourself. Some strategic cutting on a shirt with them already in place will add a professional finish and take you no extra time.
A word on fabric
If the fabric feels good – use it. Remember – if you’re sewing for kids, comfort is the most important thing. If it’s stiff or itchy they won’t wear it, no matter how great it looks. One of the great things about using worn clothes is that they’re already ‘broken in’: t-shirts are buttery soft and dress shirts that are no longer “crisp” enough for business are perfect for a drapey skirt. Let your fingertips be your guide. Find more info here.
Experimenting with colour is a lovely meditative and interesting process. It is part art, part science, part cooking and part childhood game. Around Easter time this year the kids and I had a hoot dyeing eggs – and then I continued with my natural dye experiments on wool I had recycled from a fine cream coloured skirt. I have had a long on and off again fascination with dyeing fabric and in fact my mini quilt in Whip Up Mini Quilts is a Shibori Sampler.
Dyeing – either with natural – readily found ingredients like beetroot and red cabbage or with harder to find woodland materials like lichens, moss and plant leaves, or if you want to go use indigo and cochineal or even if chemical dyeing is more your thing – its tricky – fun – and addictive!
- Dip dye clothing
- Sweet Paul Magazine Summer has an article on natural dyeing
- Dye shoe makeover
- Great article at Craftzine on natural dyeing (pictured)
- Natural wool dyed table runner
- Some clamp and fold experimentation and more lovely experiments here (pictured)
- Resurrection fern keeps a dye journal - beautiful and interesting. (pictured)
- Abigail has been experimenting with dyeing bracelets. (pictured)
- Jude’s onion skin dye experiments
- Lichen dye experimentation
A few weeks ago I did a post on creative mending – which I am really very interested in [and I would love if leave a comment and link to your creative mending ideas here too]. And so when I came upon this blog post by Karen Barbe on creatively reinforcing knitted sweater elbows via a lovely reader email (Thanks Maria) I was super excited and I am sure you will be too! (here is part one and a post on pretty sock darning too and I hope there is more soon)
In fact I spent a bit of time on this blog and found lots of lovely things to keep me there for quite a while – such as a her cross stitch card masks (and here)