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Tee shirt Makeover

28 Mar


I’ve been dressing up some tee shirts. It’s a simple wardrobe makeover: find some lace, insert it into a tee shirt, and voila, a dressier, more fashionable casual wardrobe.

But in case anyone wants a “how to”, I took some pictures along the way.

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Tee Shirt Upgrade

2 Apr

This isn’t really so much a “makeover” as an “upgrade.” It started out a humble tee-shirt, and it ends up…

…a humble tee-shirt, with frills.

I got this idea while browsing a clothing mail-order catalogue over breakfast. I saw a crocheted-edged tee in the catalogue, and realized that somewhere in my stash I probably had some yarn that matched some tee-shirt in my collection, and indeed, there was.)

1) Cut off whatever parts of the tee you want. (I cut out the neckline, cut off the sleeves, and cut off the bottom 6″ of the hem.

2) At each cut edge, fold under 1/4″ of fabric and, with a fat, sharp metal sewing needle, hand-stitch the edge through both layers in blanket stitch. This gives you a neat line of loops along the edge of the fabric, in which to crochet. (at left, below)

3) With a crochet hook to match the weight of your yarn, at a side seam, attach a new end of yarn to your blanket stitching with a slip-stitch. Single crochet one row of stitches all the way around. (at right, above)

Now, what you do after this, exactly, depends on how much you cut off, and how much you need to build back up again. You could build a whole bodice in crochet to go on a tee shirt base. I was thinking for my next one I’ll do a more elaborate lace collar, and then cut away a tee shirt to match it. But for this one, I stayed simple since it’s my first. For the frothy sleeves on mine I used a lace pattern from a book of vintage patterns in my collection.

But around the neck and hem, I made up a simple scallop stitch. It goes something like this:

Row 1: Single crochet all the way around (same as step 3, above).

Row 2: *Ch 6, skip the next 3 sc stitches, sc in following (4th) sc stitch.  Repeat from * until the end, fudging the count a little bit at the end if you don’t have a perfect multiple of 4 stitches in your row.

Row 3: (sc, 6 dc, sc) in each Ch 6.  Anchor your last stitch with a slip stitch, cut yarn, weave in end.

That’s it!

(My original inspiration is online, here. It shows how conceivably, one could cut off quite a bit and crochet it right back on again.)

Shifting Biases

21 Mar

Since I took project photos as I made my silk skirt, I’ll post them, here, with step-by-step directions.

You could use any fabric with a significant nap, directional print, stripe, or texture running along the grain line.  (Note that I didn’t make up this idea, I saw a ready-made garment that had a similar feature.)

1) I started with a basic A-line skirt pattern, which I make as a front plus a back with a size zip. I also usually use a simple waist facing, as well, although on this one I chose an elastic binding for the waistband.  This is a skirt style I have made dozens of times, so I usually just trace one of the many skirts in my closet and make a few adjustments based on how long I want it this year, or whether I need an inch added to or taken in at the waist.

My basic skirt pattern looks like this:

(Curved waist, curved hem, flared from waist to hem but not hugely so.)

2) I cut my pattern in half, and then half again, to make strips. You could make as many strips as you like of your basic skirt shape.

3) I drew new grain lines on each piece, at a 45-degree angle from the vertical, each “slice” alternating in the opposite direction from the one next to it.

4) I used these markings to lay out my new pattern pieces, all the grain lines running in the same direction, and lined up with the grain of the fabric.

I drew my pattern without seam allowances, and then added seam allowances before I cut. Make sure you’ve given yourself not only adequate seam allowances, but also an edge to work with at both the hem and the waist, depending on how you like to do hems and waistbands.

5) Now you put the pieces back together to create a front and a back. I used flat-felled seams to join each segment, and I like these step by step instructions.

6) After sewing all your strips back together, you have a front and back of your basic skirt pattern.

See how the light hits the sheen of each slice of fabric slightly differently?  That’s the variation I was going for, that makes it all worth while.  Now you can just sew your skirt together (right sides together, sew up at the sides, insert a side zipper if that’s your style—you can add pockets, too. Then the waistband and hem. The waist can be a casing with elastic, or a turned-in facing, or I used a fold-over elastic.)

Here you can see how the grain meets up at the seams, creating a nice zigzag effect across the fabric:

The Easiest Skirt in the World (x2)

19 Mar

I’m the queen of cheap and easy sewing projects. If there’s a fun fabric around and I can make it wearable, in garment form, in an hour or less, I’m going to go for it. This weekend I found some fun printed upholstery fabrics at my local shop that suggested immediate and simple fashions with barely any effort required.

There’s no garment more simple to sew than an elastic-waisted skirt, and I’ve found that if I skip the casing and buy elastic that can serve as a waistband, unattended, I can simplify the “simple” even farther. This skirt takes only four seams to make, and requires no measuring.


3/4 yard fabric of choice

1 yard (or waist measurement length) 2 1/2″ wide elastic



1) zigzag the top edge of your fabric

2) cut the elastic to be just long enough to fit around your waist and sit comfortably, slightly stretched, at just the height you want to wear your skirt.

3) fold the elastic in half and mark the center with a pin. Then fold each half in half, and mark each quarter point with a pin. Fold each segment in half once more, and pin for each 1/8 point. Then, repeat the same process along the top edge of your fabric.

4) You will now have the same number of pins in both your elastic and along the top edge of your fabric. Pin the elastic to the top edge of your fabric, overlapping the zigzagged edge by 1/2″, and matching up elastic pins to fabric pins.  Because your fabric is longer than the elastic, the fabric will bunch up between each pin.

5) Sew both layers together, stretching the elastic so that it goes through your sewing machine smoothly right on top of the fabric beneath it. Sew close to the edge of the elastic. The stretch will created a “gather” in the fabric.

This is what it looks like, front and back, when you have finished:


If you have trouble holding the elastic stretched while sewing, you can also run two rows of straight stitches along the zigzagged edge of the fabric (no backtracking) and gather it, first, and then pin it to the elastic, already gathered. Pin, and sew that in place.

6) Sew the side seam: with right sides together, pin the ends of the elastic together, and the sides of the fabric. Sew a 1/2″ seam across the ends of the elastic and all the way along the fabric. I sew back and forth across the ends of the elastic several times, to secure it strongly.  Press seam open.

7) Try on your skirt. Trim your skirt to the desired length, and hem it. I turn up and press a narrow edge along the bottom of the skirt (1/4″) and then turn up and press another 1/4″, folding the raw edge inside. I use the blind-hem setting on my sewing machine to stitch it in place. You can also just top-stitch it. Press seam.

In addition to being easy, depending on the fabrics you find, these can also be really cheap. I paid less than $10 for each of the skirts pictured here.


I also feel I was a little influenced, this day, shopping, by the fact that the Anthropologie catalog came in the mail that morning. I might have been slightly more in the mood for “spring prints” as I embarked, because of the layered patterns and textures I saw there.

Starting off easy: DIY fabric-covered bangle bracelets

18 Dec

I love bright,  chunky bangles in all different sizes and materials. Recently I’ve been giving some of my old ones a makeover by covering them in fabric.  I see lots of online tutorials about wrapping bangles in strips of fabric, but I thought I’d post my version, which doesn’t leave raw edges visible.

You need:

-plain bangles to cover. I used thrifted metal and plastic ones, but since I’ve covered all my old ones, for this batch I used wooden blanks from DIY bangles. The advantage of these is that they come in different sizes, both circumference and thickness, so it’s easier to fit those with small or larger hands.

-scraps of fabric. I like to use up my most obnoxious ones: faux fur, upholstery velvet, anything with texture and color.

-sewing machine (optional) and needle and thread.

-hot glue (optional)

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