Refashion Friday: Overly Colorful Dress

S on SnowdoniaThis dress is another one from the stash of things my mom brought me from the thrift store this summer. Because my mom is the best!

The print is really super colorful, which was too much on this dress. It has that bottom ruffle that I dislike on pretty much every dress ever (why would you ruffle a print this colorful? I don’t know, it’s too much). And the shape was pretty frumpy.


I decided to do it without dyeing the fabric as a challenge. And because I wasn’t sure there was any dye that would look good over all of those different colors that also wasn’t black. The best way to make that work was to make this dress into two different pieces that can be worn separately. So! The first thing I did was remove the offending ruffle from the bottom and take the bodice off the skirt. I forgot to take a picture of the spare ruffle piece. But then I took the ruffle, cut it in half, and then sewed the two halves together like this:

ruffle sewn together


Then I sewed those two pieces to the bottom of the bodice to make a new waist section. Unfortunately, there was a weird bunching in the back, which was true on the dress in the first place:

bunchy back

I took out that bunching section that was too big and ironed it out. This is too long for across my shoulder blades:

too long back

So I cut out a chunk and sewed it back in. That was the end of the top!

top done

It’s cute, but it’s not really “me.” So I’m planning on donating it right back to the thrift store. But the skirt is cute, and I’m going to keep it. To make it, I removed the elastic from the skirt section and laid it out. I put pins in it to make it more of an a-line shape.

(Sidebar: This refashioning is teaching me a few basic sundress construction conventions, many of which I’m finding are easier to sew than other techniques, but which tend to make a dress that’s quite unflattering. The ruffle at the bottom is one, the two triangles bosom shape is another, and the “make a tube of fabric and throw some elastic on it to make a skirt thing is another. I find that the tube of fabric skirts tend to puff out too much right under the elastic, creating a weird ridge in the appearance of the body line. I much prefer the a-line shape, which widens gradually from the elastic waistband and makes a smoother visual line on the body.)

skirt reshapingI sewed along those pin lines and then made a new elastic casing. I put the elastic back in my new casing with my fun bodkin:

putting elastic back in


And then I hemmed it and I was done!

skirt done

Ooooh! Work-appropriate! And way less overwhelmingly colored!

before and after



Refashion Friday: Work Dress

S on SnowdoniaThis dress has been in my to-be-refashioned pile for almost a year, now. When I first got it, I thought it would make an excellent work dress, but then we moved and I didn’t have a job, so I didn’t have the motivation to work on it. But now I’m employed! And my work has a real dress code (this is my first job to have an actual dress code), so I have to look all professional. The main sticking point is that our skirts have to be down to the knee, and I have a lot of really nice work dresses that are just a bit too short for that requirement. So this little number jumped on up in the priority scale. Please forgive the blurry before photo, from back in our old apartment.

work dress before

Hoo, boy. Check out that baby pink top half. And that weird batwing sleeve thing going on. (You may remember from my Valentine’s dress that I’m not the biggest fan of batwing sleeves). Also, that navy button at the collar was incongruent.

The first thing I did was throw it in a dye bath with a dress from my very first refashioning post. Purple!

purple dye bucket

Once it was done dying, it sat with the rest of my to-be-refashioneds for most of a year, while I moved and made new friends and refashioned some other dresses and whatnot. Come on out, dress!

The first thing I knew I wanted to do was change the shape of the neckline. That round collar with the big navy button wasn’t doing it for me. So I turned it under and stitched.

pinning neckline

Then, I cut off a bunch of the sleeves because they were weirdly long and tight at the end, just to make it easier to work with them. I wanted to move the waistline up, and since there was already a seam on the top of the sleeves, I decided to take it up from the shoulder:

pinning shoulders

And finally, I changed the shape of the armpits.

pinning armpits

And that was it! I must admit, this isn’t my favorite after ever ever, but it’s a work dress, so it doesn’t have to be my favorite item of clothing. Besides that, it’s so very very improved from what it was before that I’ll take it.

purple work dress after

I will look so proper and assistant-y! That concludes this week’s terrible to wearable!

work dress before and after

Refashion Friday: Sun Cardigan

S on SnowdoniaI’m getting tan. Really tan. Here it is the end of May and I’m already as tan as I normally am at the end of the summer. I think there are a few reasons for this. One of them is that we’re further south, so the sun’s rays are more intense. And then I think it’s being outside more often, which is because of a mix of not having a job tying me to the indoors all day long and spending so much time on my bike.

So, something must be done to keep me from totally frying my skin. I’m not a huge fan of the “sunscreen every day” method, so I prefer the “wear clothes” method. Which I’ve done before with success by wearing a button-down cotton shirt if I know I will be outside a lot. It’s like carrying around portable shade! It’s the best. (Well, second only to sun hats.) But the only cotton button-down I have is yellow with flowers. While it’s cool, it doesn’t exactly go with all my outfits. I decided to refashion a sun cardigan that’s white so I can wear it with any of my dresses, and a crop length so that it doesn’t totally hide my other clothes. I  bought the perfect thing at the thrift store:

sun cardigan before

I don’t really get what’s going on with the shoulder seam being so far down, and (spoiler alert!) I didn’t do anything to fix that in this project. This shirt is too drapey and long for the sun cardigan of my dreams, and I would really prefer not to slip it over my head. The back had a little corset lacing detail:

before back

At first I thought I might open the back, removing the corset-lacing panel, and wear the shirt backward, but when I tried it on that way, it just looked really weird. So I cut straight down the front.

cut down the front

I opened it up and decided it would be good to give it a knot closure, so I cut off the bottom shaped to make ties.

bottom chopping

And then I hemmed the bottom and folded the front to hang how I liked and then stitched that down. Eh voila! A sun cardigan!

after front

I think the lace-up detailing is cuter now, and the drapeyness there can be a little wind vent on my bike.

after backThe end!

before and after


Refashion Friday: Picnic Blanket Dress

S on SnowdoniaToday’s refashion came courtesy of one of my Mom’s Old Fashioned Fabulous Thrift Store Hauls. It’s a sundress that looks like a picnic blanket. I thought that made it particularly appropriate of a refashion to start the Memorial Day weekend. The Architect and I are going to go visit his parents.

This is actually not the first picnic blanket dress I have ever owned. When I was first getting into sewing as an adult back in college, I made myself a red gingham dress that I really, really loved. I wore it all the time, especially on the fourth of July. Or, you know, while rehearsing dance pieces on stage the day of a performance:

Picnic blanket dress frm scratch

However, the dress eventually had to go to the thrift store to make new friends because my ribs got bigger and I couldn’t breathe while wearing it anymore. It was a truly sad day.

But! Now I have a new picnic blanket dress. The only problem is that neckline is WAY LOW.

Picnic blanket dress beforeThere’s a refashioner on the case, though. So it’s not a problem at all. Step one: Remove the bust pieces:

bust removed

Step two: Switch their places and sew them together in the middle.

bust reconstituted

Step three: Reattach them to the top of the dress and call it a day!

Picnic blanket dress after

And thus concludes this week’s patriotic holiday-themed (why are picnic blankets supposed to be red plaid anyway?) picnic blanket dress refashion.

Picnic blanket before and after



Refashion Friday: Plum Plaid dress

S on SnowdoniaMy refashion this week was another thing I bought at the thrift store that I liked, but really just didn’t fit. It was a size XL. No big deal, of course. I can take it in. It was pretty, plum colored, and casual, which is just the kind of thing I need more of in my wardrobe.

The size meant that the chest hung too low, so I had to pull in the drawstring too tightly, and then it was just kind of lumpy all over.

plum plaid before

So the first thing I needed to do was take up the straps to make the neckline a bit less low cut. Because of the way it was shaped, I couldn’t just take it up from the shoulders, so I had to bring the seam forward a bit.

take up shoulders


After I took that in, I realized I couldn’t just take it in the sides because then the armholes would be too small.

shoulder doesnt fit

So I removed the bias tape from the edges so I could reshape the armholes after taking in the sides. Which I then did. Then I used another dress to shape the new armholes. As I did so, I made the straps skinnier to hide the seam on the front, to try to make it look a bit less altered.

recutting arm holes

And then I reattached the bias tape.

reattaching bias tape


And then I was done! Great new casual summertime dress.

plum plaid after


And that concludes this week’s refashion!

before and after

Refashion Friday: Dip dyed skirt

S on SnowdoniaI went to the thrift store this week to do some shopping for some new clothes to refashion. I limited myself to things made of cotton because it turns out I don’t have the wardrobe for my new home. I’ve spent most of the last ten years living places where clothes that are warm enough are far more important than clothes that are cool enough. Which means that now I don’t have enough plain short sleeve tshirts or dresses that aren’t made out of synthetics. Sticky.

So, I went to buy some cotton things. While I was there, I found this cotton skirt that I really liked as it was. No fancy refashioning needed. Except that it was several sizes too big for me.


Not to fear! An extra six inches is nothing this refashioner can’t handle!

So I pinned some darts on the back. Which were too small, so I ended up taking it in again to make the darts even bigger.


And then I had a cute new skirt that, according to the Artist, looks like “something [I] would totally wear.”

blue skirt after

So that completes this week’s too big to wearable. Doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, though, does it?

blue skirt before and after

Bike Makeover

S on SnowdoniaThe Architect’s bike Nevermore got a makeover this weekend.

It was originally a black bike with brown leather handlebar grips and seat. While he loves his bike and thinks it’s beautiful, he really didn’t care for the brown and black combo. So he was shopping for some black leather grips and a saddle to purchase, when I realized–why purchase something when you can make do by refashioning? Duh. It’s my favorite.

Here’s a picture of his bike before this weekend’s shenanigans:


I got the idea to just fix it instead of buying new stuff when I was cleaning out the house. We’ve started a new thing where K, The Architect, and I get rid of one thing every day (which is actually 7 every week because it’s easier to find more than one thing at a time). I was going to get rid of an old black leather wallet I had:

wallet before

Since the Architect likes recycled and upcycled stuff, I thought that instead of throwing away all that good leather, I could cover his handlebars with it. It would look cool and unique. And it would be free. So I took all the pieces apart and then figured out how to make them fit. Then I sewed a piece of the leather to the end of the handlebar:

short handlebar end

I used plain black thread and sewed back and forth a few times. After I’d sewed all the way around and cut off the excess, I wrapped the zippered portion of the wallet around the handlebar and stitched underneath. Gave me a bit of a crick in my neck, though.

short handlebar length

After that, I did the other side. On that side, I decided to use the same orange thread I used for the decorative topstitching above to embroider this symbol on it. The Architect made it in college and had a wood brand he would use to mark some of this projects. We have a cane he made with this symbol burned into the top. He also has it on his portfolio. Since it’s round, I thought it would be a nice tough for him to have it on his bike as well. I’m not the world’s best embroiderer, though, but I think it’s good enough.

long edge to tip

Then I wrapped the part of the wallet with the snap around that handlebar and sewed it down. It was very glamorous:

refashions are glamorousSo the handlebars were black. The bike was looking super slick. But there was still the problem of the brown seat. But that’s not a problem at all! We went to a local upholstery shop’s remnant bin, where we spent about $5 buying a small piece of this fabric and another, safer choice in case it turned out to be too much. Remnant bins are the best. This one was priced by the pound. Can’t get much better than that.

First thing we did was take the saddle off the bike and pin the upholstery fabric to it how we wanted it placed, taking care to make sure it was symmetrical.

pinning upholstery in place

Then we flipped it over and stapled it on, taking care to staple first the top, then the bottom, then a side, then the other side, and then working our way around stapling the gaps and making sure the fabric was pulled taut.

seat upholstering staple

Then we put it back on, and Nevermore was the hottest bike on the block.

makeover side view after

Wow. So much better than that mismatched brown and black situation. Plus, there are some fun little details. First is, of course, the Architect’s brand:

embroidered handlebar end

Secondly, we added a little piece of blue that matches the seat under the zipper:

hidden blue

It’s a little secret, since normally the zipper is closed and you can’t see it at all:

short handlebar after

The saddle looks pretty sweet, too. We actually picked out the print because the Architect liked the bright color and because we knew it would fit the saddle so well.

bike seat top finished

So it’s a pretty bike.

nevermore after

And the Architect is excited it ride it all over the place. Which of course he also was before, but what could be cooler than a customized bike?

colorful architect


Refashion Friday: War of the Roses

S on SnowdoniaToday’s dress was pretty odd before. Well, it’s sort of odd still. The problem was the print. It’s sort of like a Rosy war between a Victorian print and a Wild Wild West one. I don’t really get it, honestly.

Anyway, I knew I had to refashion it because it had another problem besides the odd print theme.

This dress was a big, mean, boob-eating monster.


Oh where, oh where have my boobies gone? Oh where, oh where can they be?

Seriously before

I mean seriously.

Plus, that print. Do you see what I mean? Beige and black and lace and roses and other kinds of flowers and sorta kinda damask and I just don’t even know what this is supposed to be. Oh well.

First thing I thought I would do is turn that bodice into a waistband and do this the easy way. Sadly, that wasn’t even slightly flattering:


So, time to bring out the big guns. So I took off that top bodice piece and got out another dress to help me with shaping this one.


I stitched the sides. Then, I got out a spare piece of black fabric I had laying around and sewed it to the top and make it into arms. Sadly, I forgot to photo document this whole part, so you’ll just have to see what I mean in the after picture.

After I got the exterior looking nice, I took the lining piece (essential, since this odd fabric is totally sheer) and made it lady shaped.


I cheated a little on that part–you’re supposed to do the shaping on both sides, but I only did it on the one. I sewed the lining into the inside of the dress, and that was it!


I put it on with a belt because I thought maybe a border would help with the flower-factions. I think it helped.


The end!

before and after

Refashion Friday: Tropical Jungle Sundress

S on SnowdoniaI’ve been performing and keeping busy so much this month! Last night I had my seventh performance of the month, and I still have three more this weekend. Last night’s show went great, and was a different show than the other one I’ll be performing throughout the weekend. It was a blast, and I can’t wait for this weekend’s performances.

So I finally had some energy and time for a refashion this week, and it’s (almost) a no-sew refashion. This jungle dress has been sitting in my refashion pile for a while now, and I just kept putting it off. I’m not really that much a fan of tropical prints, so I knew this one was going to involve some dye. And it did involve some dye, but none of it really took because I’m apparently very bad at dye, so I had to make do with a jungle print in the end. But I actually really like the end result, so there’s that.

Here’s the dress as it was:

tropical sundress before

It was too much color and too much tropical ruffling. And the empire waistline with the ruffles under wasn’t the most flattering shape. So first I wanted to deal with the color. I had a little yellow dye lying around, so I decided to give that a shot. I figured it would make the blue greener and the green yellower, thus evening out all the yellow, green, blue splotchiness going on. Unfortunately, it mostly just made the dress brighter and more jungly looking. So I decided to go to the store and buy some real RIT dye to dye it darker blue to again deepen the whole thing. The light is bad in this picture so you can’t see how bright the print was after the yellow dye, but there’s the box of blue dye on top.

tropical sundress during

I followed the washing machine directions on the box, but alas, my washing machine decided it didn’t want to play. It drained all the dye water out after only about ten minutes, so the dress didn’t get to soak as long as it should have, and the blue ended up just toning down the brightness but doing nothing to make the dress less jungly. The dress is 100% cotton, so I think if it had soaked as long as it should have, the dress would have come out deep blue/turquoise with just some variations noticeable instead of being obviously tropical. Ah, well. I decided to just make it work.

So I got out my seam ripper and picked the ruffle off the bottom of the dress, and then ironed it and tied it around the waist. I took the shoulder straps in a little bit, and that was that. Done!

tropical sundress after

It looks quite cute, if I do say so myself, especially for a tropical dress. I think it will be good to wear to a street fair that’s happening in our neighborhood this weekend.

tropical before and after

How to Make a Skirt Guard So You Can Be a Pretty Bike Lady

S on SnowdoniaAs I’ve mentioned before, I am pretty obsessed with my bike right now. I promise, I will eventually return to talking about other subject matter, but for now you guys are all stuck hearing about my bike. As are the other inhabitants of Casa Half Egg. I’ve been spending a lot of time on the internet reading about  bikes and about women wearing skirts on bikes and all manner of ladylike bike information. The Artist started teasing me that I was googling “how to be a pretty bike lady.” I wasn’t actually, but it was funny. But I do want to be a pretty bike lady, so I included that in my title this week.

But in order to be a pretty bike lady who bikes around in skirts (I’m not going to suddenly fill my wardrobe with pants so I can start using my bike as a major mode of transportation), I realized I needed a skirt guard.

Right now, you are probably asking yourself what a skirt guard is. They are very uncommon on American bikes, but are apparently quite common on Dutch bikes, since the Dutch love to ride their bikes around in their everyday clothing. A skirt guard is a piece of metal or fabric that attaches to the fenders on the rear wheel to keep skirts or long coats from getting stuck in the spokes as you ride. Not everyone who rides in skirts uses a skirt guard (case in point- the women of the blog Let’s Go Ride a Bike don’t have skirt guards on all of their bikes). But I was wearing one of my favorite skirts on my bike a couple of weeks ago, and it got stuck in the brakes and the spokes, especially whenever a car passed me and made a cross wind. So I decided that it is important to me to have one. Can’t go getting fabric stuck in our brakes, now, can we?

You can purchase skirt guards on Etsy or other places on the internet. But why would I ever spend $30 or so when I can spend just a couple of dollars and a few hours with my sewing machine? So I headed to the thrift store. They didn’t have anything good, so I went to Buffalo Exchange, where, incidentally, every single employee separately complimented me on my awesome helmet. I purchased this purple and gold sheer shirt for $7.

skirt guard as a shirt

And the usual first step: taking out all the seams. This shirt was very flowy, so it yielded a nice big quantity of fabric.

fabric seam ripped

I used the two sleeve sections for one part of the skirt guard and the front and back for another. I sewed the bottom seams of the front and back together for the seam to lay right over the fender, and put in on the bike to pin things.

general shaping

I put some pins in a line to show myself where the skirt guard should end. Then, once I’d hemmed those edges, I worked on how to attach it. I knew I wanted the guard to be removable so I can wash it if necessary, so I decided to attach it with tabs that snap on. I sewed the tabs to the edges of the fabric, and then pinned where the snaps should go. I did the fitting with trial and error–tugging and pinning until it fit how I wanted it to.

pinning on tabs

I made the tabs out of the edging from the shirt–the neckline and the sleeve ends.


The skirt guard is made out of two sections. This section was made using the sleeves, and it covers the front portion of the wheel.

skirt guard front section

The other, larger section has three snap tabs on each side–to cover the brakes, middle, and rear of the wheel.

Skirt guard finished

That’s it! Before I show a picture of me riding in a flowy skirt with my new guard, I’d like to share a funny story from the ballet class I teach. My class is out in the suburbs, where nobody bikes for transportation. Bikes in the suburbs are for weekend rides for fun, if even that. So my students have never seen it done. I mentioned that my husband and I had just gotten bikes to ride around, and one of my students said, “You know what I hate? Is when men ride their bikes in suits and business clothes. It’s like, that’s not what you wear to ride bikes!” So I laughed, and said that that’s exactly what my husband does. And then another student said, “Yeah, and in movies how they always have women riding around in flowy skirts. It’s like, that just doesn’t happen!” So I laughed again and told them that I don’t wear pants and I ride my skirt in flowy dresses, so yes, it does happen. They asked about it getting stuck in the spokes, so I explained about skirt guards and I think I blew their minds. I’m definitely their hippie teacher–another time I said I don’t use a hairdryer, so they asked if I dry my hair by rolling my car windows down, and then were very, very confused when I said I don’t drive often enough for that to be a hair drying strategy.

Anyway, after I finished my skirt guard, I put on a pretty flowy dress and went on a ride. I found that the drivers were generally much sweeter when I was all girlified. One woman was grinning ear to ear as she watched me make a left turn in front of her.

riding in a flowy skirtI’m so girly. I love it.

(For instructions on making a skirt guard for a bike that does not have the built-in bungee cord loops, please see How to Make a Skirt Guard So You Can Be a Pretty Bike Lady, Part 2)