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.

before

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

 

New House and New Bathroom Curtain

S on SnowdoniaWe moved to a new house over the weekend. Pardon the dust, it’s piles of stuff everywhere that hasn’t been put away yet and things. But it’s so much bigger and better than our apartment, and there’s room for the Teacher, who’s arriving on Saturday. Yay! We are so excited for her arrival.

So, as you have probably guessed already, you are in for weeks of house project related posts as we get settled in our new space. Today’s project was quick and easy. During the move, our beloved elephant shower curtain got a pull and a hole on it, and was ruined. Sad face.

elephant before

So we went and got a new shower curtain with raindrops on it. We wanted to make sure the colors were similar, since we have a matching elephant soap dispenser. Look how pretty! (Don’t mind the towel on the floor. We have yet to find our bath mats.)

new shower curtainThen, we were left with the problem of the tiny bathroom window. It had an eensy weensy tension rod on it, but no curtains or blinds. Actually, our entire house doesn’t have any blinds. Alas, we needed a curtain because even though the view out the bathroom window is of a roof and some bamboo, I still need some curtains for after-dark showering.

bathroom window

And so I came up with a brilliant and money-saving plan for this window. I made it a new curtain out of the elephant shower curtain! Just a snip and a hem. Done! Except this picture is weird and washed out because cameras don’t like looking at windows that have light streaming in. I did what I could.

new curtain

 

Wee! New house projects! More to come, I’m sure. This house has a lot of firsts for us, so we’re figuring out how to work with them. It has: our first working fireplace, our first third floor, our first half-bath, our first bathroom on the main floor of a two-story house, our first whirlpool tub, our first mudroom, and our first place with FIVE residents. Five people. The Architect’s best friend said we are really starting a commune. Perhaps we are, but I say that old saying about the more the merrier knew what it was talking out. Having lots of people in your house is the best.

In other news, our half bath is pretty ridiculously big, especially for the overall size of the house. I have never seen a bigger half bath, even in houses that are much larger than this one. It’s so big, we had to put a table in there for it to make any sense at all. Look at that pretty table the Architect made. And some reading material. The book is called “All My Friends are Dead.” It’s pretty good. The Architect thinks we should replace it with “Everybody Poops.” I’m not sure how I feel about that. Thoughts?

half bath

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

How to Make a Skirt Guard So You Can Be a Pretty Bike Lady, Part 2

S on SnowdoniaAfter K got her awesome old bike, she asked me to make her a skirt guard so she could also be a pretty bike lady. And I was happy to oblige. I love making stuff!

In case you didn’t know, I’m really excited about K’s bike. Back when I first introduced you all to bluebird, I mentioned that I got her because I fondly remembered my mom’s beautiful blue bike with brown handlebars and saddle, and that bike is K’s new Ole Biddy.

The reason for the second tutorial here is that Ole Biddy’s rear rack is not shaped the same as Bluebird’s. For my skirt guard, I was able to attach the fabric directly to the ring on my rack that was designed to hold bungee cords. K’s new rack, as you can see below, had no such loop.

So clean and so fresh!At first, I was worried about how I could attach the skirt guard, but I found the perfect thing! We had these clip rings from college when K had made a tapestry into a curtain.

We decided that a burgundy skirt guard would look beautiful on Old Biddy to bring out her stripes. After holding up a bunch of things we had to her, we realized we needed a brown burgundy, not a purple burgundy, found the appropriate color in the Artist’s Pantone book, and headed out to the thrift store. We picked out a sheer burgundy tunic with embroidery and edging that we thought would go great with the 70’s styling of her bicycle. Here is the shirt with the clip rings:

shirt before

After playing around with the shirt, we decided that we wanted to use the embroidery along the top edge of the fender, so I cut straight up the back of the shirt.

back cut open

Then the sleeves were in the way, so I removed them as well.

sleeves removed

I sewed a few sets of snaps to the edges of the former neckline and made a new seam down the length of the sleeves, cutting off the back portion. This allowed the top part to attach to the bike:

front snaps

Next, I hooked that curtain ring onto the fender:

curtain ring

Then I pulled the extra fabric through the rings and pinned where it should end. I cut off the excess and hand sewed the fabric around the ring, being sure to tuck in the raw edges. And then I was done, and she went on a ride. And it was a fail.

fail

As soon as she started riding, the fabric all bunched forward so that it didn’t cover the back portion of the wheel. That wouldn’t be helpful for a ride in a flowy skirt, so I added a couple more snaps to hold it down.

final snap

Skirt guards are the awesomest!

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.

before

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.

pins

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:

Nevermore

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.

NoBoobs

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:

waistband

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.

shaping

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.

lining

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!

after

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