Category Archives: Refashioning/Mending

Refashion: Aqua Goodwill Find


Whenever I’m flipping through the racks at Goodwill I always keep an eye out for fabric that jumps out at me. I thought the aqua and white print on this dress was so cute. There was just one problem…refashion before…..the dress needed a wee bit of altering.

I liked the overall idea of the dress but, honestly, I just don’t seem to wear my dresses much. So I decided to turn it into a top. I didn’t like where the waistline was hitting me so I thought that was a good place to take out some length.

Refashion cuts

Knowing my bust would be the most difficult part to fit, I started work on the top of the shirt. I put it on over a tank top and pinned the shirt to the tank in the center and at the side seams to keep it in place, then gathered the fabric on one side of the bust and pinned it.

refashion bust pleat pinning

I carefully took the top off and pinned either side of where the gathers began, then pulled the pin holding the gathers out so the top would lay flat.

refashion bust pleat pinning2

I measured the distance between the pins and the distance from the button stance so I could replicate it on the other side and make even bust gathers. I quickly stitched them down to keep them in place while I made some other adjustments.

The original sleeves on the dress gaped open too much and there was still a lot of bulk on the side of the shirt. Once I had the bust darts figured out I put the top back on to figure out how to take in the sleeves.

refashion sleeve pin

The arrows are pointing out the pins, not side boob.

I omitted the middle elastic section I had cut out of the shirt and sewed the top portion to the bottom (I had to take in the bottom a little to account for the fabric I took out of the top).

refashion during

The refashion could have been done at this point, I guess, but I wasn’t satisfied with the fit yet. The sleeves looked funny with my arms down so I took them in along the dotted line I drew in the picture above to produce the sleeve in the photo below:

refashion sleeve

I also felt like the waist seam was sagging at the side seams and on my back, so I needed to bring that up a bit. I wanted it to be just a wee bit more fitted around the waist too.

refashion during back

The waist seam adjustment left me with some extra fabric that I was able to use to form an elastic casing.

refashion back seam

refashion elastic casing

I reused the elastic from the original top and cut it to fit tightly across the back of my new shirt. It did the trick!

refashion after front

refashion after back

I think this will be a great easy-to-wear and easy-to-care-for summer top!

Anyhoo, I’ve got a trip to New York to pack for so for now I’ll just leave you with this series of goofy poses:

refashion after goofy3

refashion after goofy4

refashion after goofy1

refashion after goofy2


Ele-Fun Refashion (And Blue February Sew Along)!

So I have this skirt that I never wear but won’t throw away because the fabric is just so cute!

Before Refashion Skirt

Look how happy I am to be wearing my skirt!

It’s comfy and a nice length but really, really hard to find tops to pair with it. I have both mustard yellow and navy tights that look quite adorable with it but have never been able to find the right top. And so it sits, languishing in my wardrobe, tiny little elephant eyes forlornly begging to see the light….

ModCloth EleFun in the Sun Dress printWell little elephants, your day has come because I have decided to kill two birds with one stone; make a refashion, and participate in my first ever sew along! This month is Blue February which was the final push I needed to actually get started on this project!

Truth be told though, this skirt is actually already a refashion of a dress I bought a couple years ago that was just nowhere near fitting around my bust. But those darn elephants implored “You can find something to make with us!”. Here’s the original dress from ModCloth;

ModCloth EleFun in the Sun Dress

Truth be told I think the original dress was the cutest variation. Sigh…..if only it had fit!

So I guess this is really a refashion of a refashion!

Anyhoo, I started by ripping out the zipper I had carefully sewn into the skirt and removing the waistband (which I saved to use as bias tape later!).

Stitch RippingI figured that if I made the skirt into a top it would be way easier to wear because it would look great with a pair of jeans. Easy peasy!

The first time I refashioned the dress into the skirt do you think I saved any of that extra fabric? Nope! So I only had what was in the skirt and unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to cover my shoulders and my tummy at the same time (something I consider a minimum criteria for shirts these days). I went out and bought myself a half yard of navy chiffon for $3 to create a sheer detail across the shoulders of the top I was making.

I used the yoke from a pattern with a nice neckline (my favorite Mathilde blouse), altered it (somewhat successfully) to include sleeves, and used that to make the front and back sheer portion of my new top.

Refashion arm detail

Remember that waistband I saved? I used it to make bias tape to add a fun sleeve detail. Well actually, it wasn’t cut on the bias but it was folded and attached like bias tape. So what is it? Just tape? Hem tape? Oh the things I have to learn…

Refashion arm detailThis was my first time working with chiffon and boy oh boy does it fray, so there is a rolled hem under the bias tape to try to keep everything together. Likewise, all the seams are French seams. This also helps keep things looking pretty since the top is sheer. You can sorta see the French shoulder seem in the photo above and here is a picture of the armpit and back seams.

French seamsI toyed with the idea of putting the elephant trim around the neckline too but thought it would be too much. So instead I tried another first – my first rolled hem! Or rather, I watched YouTube videos about how to make a rolled hem and realized I would need to buy a special foot for my machine so then I just kinda did my own thing. But it turned out pretty well and hopefully if I wash it really carefully the fraying will keep to a minimum.

Rolled hem detailI’m pretty proud of myself for all the first with this shirt;
– first Sew Along
– first refashion
– first time sewing chiffon
– first (sorta) rolled hem

Elephant shirt refashionIf you exclude the price of the original dress (which I do because I spent that money like three years ago), I spent a grand total of $3 and a couple of hours to have this completely adorable and completely wearable new shirt. Totally worth it in my book!

Before and after







T-Shirt Quilt, Finally Done!!!

Almost a year ago to the day, I published an On The Go post. I’ve finished a few of the projects from the list; Pete’s hoodie, my nephew’s sweater, and a solution for the garbage area in my old apartment. I finally just got around to finishing off another of those projects – my T-shirt quilt!!!

DIY T-Shirt Quilt

I know it doesn’t look like a T-shirt quilt in this picture, but I just loved the warm and fuzzy nautical flannel I chose for the backing!

I would love for this to be a “real” tutorial, and originally intended it to be that. But then I remembered I don’t know how to quilt. Sooooooo…… instead I’ve documented the steps that worked for me and what I would do differently next time! I’d love for people who know better to leave some comments with suggestions for my next attempt!!

I had a ton of old t-shirts that had a lot of sentimental value but were pretty grubby and were just taking up space in my closet. When it came time to move from the East Coast of Canada to San Francisco I figured it was also time to do something about my t-shirt hoarding.

I cut the fronts off all the t-shirts, paying no attention whatsoever to trying to keep them the same size, packed them away and forgot about them for another year or two. When I pulled them out and looked into making a t-shirt quilt, I realized the whole thing would go waaaaay easier if I had squares that were all the same size to work with. I was inspired by the way this one looked where less attention was paid to preserving the whole t-shirt pattern and decided to do mine that way.

I cut 7″ squares of all my t-shirts then laid them all out on the floor and moved the pieces around until I had an arrangement that I liked. The first tip I have that worked well for me is to first sew your panels together into long rows, then sew the rows together to create your quilt.

DIY T-Shirt Quilt

How To Make a T-Shirt Quilt

Sorry for the terrible photo, I took this over a year ago! It’s supposed to be showing that I’ve pinned the rows together to make the quilt 🙂

Aaaaannnnnnnd, this is where it sat. For a year. I found myself in need of a picnic blanket recently and, on a rare rainy afternoon, I decided to finish it off. This is where things got a little….er….less than pretty.

I knew my quilt was going to be a bit smaller than I’d wanted so I purchased some plain white fabric for a border to add size and some nautical striped flannel for the back. Of course, my white fabric was just to short to be able to make a border without cutting separate corner pieces. So, I cut 4 strips of white fabric (4.5″ wide) the length of the quilt, and 4 squares of the striped fabric (4.5″ x 4.5″).

DIY T-Shirt QuiltI sewed two of the white strips onto opposite sides of the blanket.

DIY T-Shirt QuiltThen I sewed the striped squares to either end of the remaining white strips (I made sure to keep the pattern in the same direction), and sewed the whole thing to the other two sides of the quilt.

How To Make A T-Shirt QuiltHere’s the thing about that. I sewed non-stretchy flannel strips to really stretchy jersey fabric. Which means I ended up with a super wonky/wavy border. Maybe I should have stay-stitched the t-shirts before attaching the border??? Maybe I should used jersey for the border and the backing??? I dunno.

I cut 4 large squares of the backing and sewed them together with the strips going in different directions since the fabric wasn’t wide enough to cover the whole quilt in one large piece. Here’s the calculation I used to figure out how big to make each square;

CalculationThe extra 2.5″ was for a border around the front of the quilt. I decided to just fold up the backing fabric over the quilt front, then fold it under and top-stitch it for a border. I have no idea if this was “proper” quilting and I’m sure there’s a ton of tutorials out there that will teach you the right way!

I assembled my quilting sandwich by first laying the backing on the floor, wrong-side-up, then the quilt filling on top of that, and finally the quilt front on the top of the pile, right-side-up. I pinned the three layers together right in the center then worked my way out to each edge, pinning as I went, then filled in the rest. This was to try to keep everything smooth and centered.

To do the actual quilting I figured the “stitch in the ditch” method would probably be best for a beginner like me on busy patterns, so I just top-stitched all the seams using navy thread to co-ordinate with the backing. I was surprised at how easy it is once you get the hang of it (and how hard it is once you get bored of it, lol!). As you can see from the picture of the back, below, though top-stitching the stretchy jersey to the non-stretch flannel backing made for some wonkiness. I think for my next quilting attempt, I’ll stick to quilting cottons to avoid this kind of issue, but I tell you what; I’m really not in any danger of becoming a regular quilter – way to much math and precision, LOL!

Upcycled T-Shirt

How To Make A T-Shirt Quilt

DIY T-Shirt Quilt

Anyway, it’s pretty rough but I’m proud of my little t-shirt quilt. It’s so puffy and comfy and cozy! Besides, how perfect does something that you’re going to sit on in the dirt have to be???

Tutorial: Mending A Torn Dress Shirt

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m not sure why exactly, but my husband has gone on an elbow-tearing bender with his work shirts. Right in front of my eyes he tore the elbows out of two shirts while putting them on yesterday morning! We’re trying to keep to a budget these days (and try to live frugally and consciously in general) so I decided to try to mend the shirts to avoid buying new ones (four in total!!!). I’ve written up a little tutorial here that I hope is easy to follow!

– iron
– thread in the color of the shirt
– fusible interfacing

Step 1: Interfacing.
To add some stability to the torn area, I first started by fusing a small patch of interfacing to the shirt. Fusible interfacing is two-sided; fabric on one and little bumps of glue on the other. You can see in the picture below the smooth side of the interfacing is in the foreground and the fusible side in the back.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI cut a patch of interfacing about at least a half inch larger than the tear in each dimension. I’ve also found with past experience that round edges are less likely to peel up than sharp corners, so cut out a oval rather than a rectangle.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALay the shirt on the ironing board then lay the interfacing patch on top of the tear, glue bump-side down (contacting the shirt). Try to pull the tear together as much as possible so that the two torn sides of fabric are in contact. This will make your mending job easier and less noticeable. Set your iron to as high a heat as your fabric will allow and iron with even, firm pressure for about 15 seconds then allow to cool.


Step 2: Sewing the Tear
First neaten up the tear by trimming any loose threads that are hanging off the shirt.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANext, you need to sew the tear itself closed. You’ve got two options for this depending on how noticeable you want the final tear to be. Option 1 is waaaaaaaaaaaaaay faster, but definitely a more noticeable mend and may work better on non-patterned shirts.

Option 1: Set your sewing machine to a wide zigzag stitch and top stitch over the tear, making sure to backstitch at the beginning and end of the sew and to catch both sides of the tear while sewing. You’re left with a neat mend, but one that can definitely be noticed.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI tried Option 1 first, but since my husband was going to be wearing these shirts to work and potentially meeting clients, I decided to take the time to do Option 2, an (almost) invisible repair.

Option 2: This option is much more tedious than the first because it requires hand-stitching. Using the smallest stitches possible, I sewed over the tear making sure to catch both sides of it. Since this was a patterned shirt, as I sewed I tried to keep my stitches with the white thread to the white parts of the check pattern. I then sewed in a similar fashion about 2 mm around the tear for extra stability.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATear??? What tear?? Ok, it’s not quite invisible and you’ll never have a perfect mend but this is pretty darn close!!! Keep in mind this image is zoomed in on the tear and when he’s wearing it, you’re really hard pressed to find it!

Step 3: Secure the Interfacing
I find that over successive washes, fusible interfacing often starts to peel up off the fabric it was attached to. To try to keep this from happening, I also used tiny stitches around the perimeter of the patch, keeping to the white parts of the pattern to secure the edges of the interfacing and add extra stability (You can just make this out in the picture above).

Here’s how the wrong side of the repair looks:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m hoping these repairs, hold up in the wash and I don’t find myself repeating this process too often! Fingers crossed!

DIY: Plaid Elbow Patch Appliques

Pete has a sweater that goes everywhere with him. It’s been stuck overnight on the top of Mount Hood with him, it’s been to Yosemite, it’s been to the Alps, it’s been to sea, it’s been to Alaska. It’s been crammed into his backpack on virtually every trip he takes. It’s actually shocking that it’s taken this long to develop a hole!

On a trip to NYC Pete saw a dude wearing a sweater with plaid elbow patches and asked if I could do something similar for him. No problem!

The finished product!!

The finished product!!

With the knit sweater I was worried about two things if I simply sewed a patch on top; 1. that the hole would continue to grow under the patch, and 2. that the patch would be difficult to sew on stretchy knit fabric. So I decided to make my own iron-on applique elbow patches using an adhesive web called Pellon. Below are step-by-step directions to make your own applique patches.

Materials list;
– sturdy plaid fabric
– paperbacked adhesive web, such as Pellon
– scissors
– pins
– iron
– damp cloth
– sewing machine


1. Cut out a rough shape in fabric, and the same shape, slightly smaller, from the paperbacked adhesive web. 

2. Lay the paperbacked adhesive web on the ironing board, bumpy-side-up, and lay the fabric over top, wrong-side-down. Iron on high for about 8 seconds. Now your fabric should adhered to the adhesive web. Be careful to not touch the bumpy (glue) side of the adhesive web to the iron or it might muck up your iron.


3. Trim the fabric fused with the web to the desired size. I made a patch that was about 6″ x 4″ with rounded edges.

4. Peel the paper backing from the adhesive web. It can help to grab the edge of the fabric and make a little tear to get the backing off. Now you left with an iron-on fabric patch!


5. Make someone model the sweater so you can position the patches properly on the elbows and pin them in place, web-side-down. I did this on the side with the hole, then removed the sweater and positioned the other patch by measuring, to make sure they’d be positioned symmetrically.

6. Lay the sweater with pinned-on patch on the ironing board, patch-side-up. Overlay with a slightly damp towel (needed to keep the fabric from burning while adhering the patch). Carefully remove the pins without changing the position of the patch, then iron for ~15 seconds with firm pressure. The Pellon instructions say to do this on the wool setting, but I was repairing an acrylic sweater so used the synthetic setting and found it still adhered well.


7. I worried the edges of the patch might peel up or fray over time so I finished them with some decorative stitching around the edge on my sewing machine. I set my sewing machine to a zigzag stitch with 4.5 width setting and 0 length setting and carefully sewed around the edge of each patch.



I gotta hand it to Pete, the plaid patches were a great idea and the sweater looks pretty cute now! We had also debated leather/suede or corduroy patches, but I’m glad we went with the plaid.