Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Shortening an 80s dress

My friend, Sarah, bought me this dress at Goodwill a few weeks ago. We always look out for each other when it comes to great finds at second hand stores. Although she is sometimes a bad influence. When I really don't need to buy 10 dresses or another wall hanging, I say, "Sarah, should I get this?" When my inner rational should say "No," she says, "Umm... YES!" We find amazing things and are pretty much thrifting soulmates.

This dress is in great condition, cotton. The diagonal stripes are pieces of fabric sew onto the black cotton. Itty bitty cap sleeves, pretty much sleeveless. It was great as it was, but I thought the length could come up a bit.

Trying out different lengths.
Above the knees.
Added a pin and stood up straight to see where it would lay.

The pin was 15" from the waist. So I measured 16 inches from the waist all the way around, pinning it every few inches. Cut at the pin line, and sew a rolled hem all the way around. With that simple adjustment the dress is transformed into this:
Much more chic and fun!
Did I mention it has pockets?!
Backside is plain. I'm wearing my yellow soft leather belt and cobalt blue Aldo flats.
George interupts every photoshoot Rachael and I have.
And then he beats me up.

It was a bit short for me, but my legs are freakishly long. Someone around 5'2" to 5'6" would be ideal. When I've been altering dresses lately, I try to keep in mind not everyone is tall like myself. I sold a dress recently to a girl, agreed to fit it to her, and I had to take the hem up 8"! It was just below my knees, and she wanted it right above hers. She's about 5'2" and it almost went to the tops of her feet!

It is for sale in my Etsy shop.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

How to replace a front fly zipper

Feeling very under the weather today, but also super motivated to sew! It's been a long weekend, working six days in a row, 8-12 hours each day. Plus being I'm sick again, I've been coughing and coughing for days. I'm fatigued and achy. But regardless of everything I can complain about, I had today off, and I finally replaced the zipper of these amazing red linen shorts!

They were purchased at Goodwill for $3.99; my sister picked them out. I wore them for the first time last Sunday to my routine trip to Bees Knees (since I bartend every Friday and Saturday night, Sunday cocktails on the patio is my "Friday"). As soon as I walked out my door I realized the zipper in these shorts was split! It was very upsetting. Luckily it wasn't too noticeable, and I usually have a few safety pins in my purse.

I turned this terrible embarrassing occasion into a learning opportunity for those of you that need to replace a front fly zipper. It's quite easy. 

You'll need:
  • razor blade or seam ripper
  • sewing machine
  • zipper
  • matching thread
  • pins
  • ruler (optional)
  • seam gauge (optional)
Before. Zipper split, new (vintage, never used, thrifted) YKK zipper
Start by opening the seam along the waistband a few inches.
Separate the broken zipper from the pants and fly placket. Be sure to note the position of the original zipper! 
Pin the new zipper to the fly placket. Sew.
Pin the other side of the zipper to the interfacing. Sew.
Top stitch along the edge of the zipper.
Pin the interfacing down, top stitch back into place.
Pin the waistband into place and sew.

Zippers are so easy to sew once you dive in and try! So many people get rid of their clothing when the zipper breaks but it is so easy to fix them. Most of the time, when a zipper splits the zipper pull (what moves up and down) just needs to be reset. You'd open bottom of the zipper, detach it from the garment at the bottom of the zipper, take the zipper pull off, and carefully feed it back into the zipper. Then you only have to re-stitch the little bit you opened up. I initially thought that was all these shorts needed, but some of the teeth on the zipper were damaged and the entire zipper needed replaced. 

And it is so cheap to replace a zipper! They usually cost about $2 at any craft store depending on the length and type. This zipper only cost me next to nothing when I got all of the above zippers at Salvation Army for $10. The cashier estimated 40 zippers since they were tangled and there was actually 156! I was so lucky to get them all. Most of the zippers I use in purses or pouches come from this batch.

The finished shorts! Ready to wear again!
Being silly. Duck lips. 
Paired with my favorite Aldo flats and my vintage brown leather belt.
The striped shirt I made last year, February 2009! See the blog entry about it here. The jersey cotton was $1.99 on clearance at Walmart. I modeled it after my favorite shirt/dress from Americal Apparel, the Double U-Neck Dress. I just layed the shirt on top of the fabric, cut out the front, back, two sleeves, and the trim for the neck. It took me about an hour and cost maybe $4, versus $36 at American Apparel! The shoulders were a little too narrow and it slides off my shoulders, but not bad for what I put into it, and it's seen a lot of wear.
I love how the deep scoop allows my tattoo to peek out just enough.
I really need to break out my Singer serger, get the blades sharpened, and make shirts from my massive collection of jersey cotton. My normal sewing machine, a Janome, isn't the greatest with knits. I'm not very experienced on a serger. Another machine to conquer! A few years ago I used it a lot but threading it was always so irritating (a serger uses four cones of thread, a normal machine only uses two)! Once I become more comfortable with my serger I can make underwear, lingerie, cotton shirts, and more! I can't wait!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

How to make a throw pillow. Marushka style.

Just a quick simple tutorial for you all this weekend. My mom sent me this destroyed pillowcase she found at a thrift store in Michigan. It was made from an unframed Marushka. Someone took two pieces of fabric, sewed them together on three sides, put a pillow inside, and top stitched the fourth side. They used the wrong color thread, and at some point the pillow was cut from the case. I cut it apart and made it a working pillowcase with a zipper. Enjoy!
Notice the navy blue thread with the white border. 
The rip in the back.
You will need a razor or seam ripper. I prefer a razor, but I also cut my fingers a lot, so be careful if you do use one!
Rip apart both pieces of fabric.
I chose to only use the Marushka. The plaid I put in my pile of scrap fabric.
I found a half cut up pair of corduroys for the back side of the pillowcase.
Cut off the waistband and open the legs.
This is what you will use.
Clem watching with such enthusiasm.
Lay the top piece over the corduroys and cut it the same size.
Leave enough room for a seam allowance!
I found this invisible zipper in my drawer of zippers. It was also thrifted. Probably made in the 70s.
Sew it to both pieces of fabric.
Pin the other three sides. Make sure you leave the zipper open a few inches or you will have a tough time flipping it right side out.
I sewed right along the edge of the silk screen on the Marushka so you will no longer see the white edges.
Clip the corners.
Viola! Less than 30 minutes and you have a new pillow! The pockets are fun for hiding little objects of keeping remotes!
And it is so pretty!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

From XXL to medium: Men's shirt tutorial

Many people have been asking me to get onto men's clothing, mostly my guy friends and readers. It's something I haven't done much of, aside from tailoring or mending. While I've made custom clothing a handful of times, nothing serious, and nothing recently. I think it's finally time to start with men's clothing professionally. This is my first tutorial and real attempt at something a man will actually wear.

Walter and I were at Every thing's $1 on Washington Road last Saturday. It's like a really bad Salvation Army, with no air conditioning and the most random things you will ever find. I've bought everything from new vintage sunglasses to Magnavox camera straps to repurpose for fanny packs. When Walter saw this shirt he said he loved the plaid pattern but it was clearly not his size. So we decided he'd be my model and I'd repurpose it, and cut it down to his size and make it something he'd wear all the time.

Any similar project would be quite simple for a slightly experienced sewer. The sleeves were the hardest part. Sewing on curves can be tricky for someone who has never done it before. But the whole thing wasn't very difficult. I cheated by having Walter bring over one of his button down shirts that he wears all the time, using it for a reference and pattern.

Start by cutting off the sleeves. Set them aside.

Turn it inside out, still buttoned, and lay your pattern shirt over top of this, lining it up at the collar and buttons. Cut the sides leaving a seam allowance.

After sewing the sides, I checked to see how it fit. I hadn't yet cut into the shoulders to make new armholes. Do this next. I layed the shirt over top of the new, smaller shirt and carefully lined up the armholes, cutting them the same, be sure to leave a seam allowance here too.

Now to cut out new sleeves from your long sleeves. Lay the shirt over the sleeves you set aside earlier. I cut them longer to leave fabric for the cuff (pictured later).

Your new sleeve, cut another and close the bottom.

Attach the sleeve to the shirt. Line up the seams, pin at the armpit and top of the shoulder. This can be tricky to sew. If the fabric doesn't line up the armhole and sleeve are not the same size. Have a seam ripper handy just in case.

Sew the cuffs of the sleeve. I did a 1/4 hem, then carefully folded the sleeve to give it a 1 1/2" fold on the outside of the sleeve. Then I top stitched along the edge.

Now the only remaining step is sewing the bottom hem. I used a 1/4" rolled hem and followed the length of the original shirt, shorter on the sides and longer in the front and back. The end result was a perfect
The end result looked great, and Walter loved it! The fabric is super soft and short sleeves make it perfect for the fall weather in Georgia.

Now onto the rest of the women's dresses I have cluttering up my room. Still getting ready for Arts In The Heart. It's coming up so fast! Have a great day everyone!