Archive for March, 2008

Bottle browns

There’s a thundersnow going on this afternoon, and the dreariness is almost more than I can stand. I spent lunch yesterday fetching some gorgeous plants from a charming craigslist guy about to move — a giant umbrella plant as tall as me in a lovely green pot, fleshy aloe with tall spikes, a flourishing prayer plant — good thing yesterday because today would have been too cold to drive with the umbrella plant sticking out of an open window.

Blah. So in a kitchen bursting with new green plants, I prepare for summer. I threw some awful pastel stuff into dye baths on the stove. A cotton candy pink cardigan with puffy sleeves.

pink cardigan before

The cutest dusty rose Philly Girls shirt.


A pale green knit dress I already shortened. A fantastic tube dress in a weird beige.

Into the tub! I stir as the snow falls. I check the time when the thunder claps. I will be ready when the sun shines, ready in sundresses and cardigans, in hemmed pants that fit right, in t-shirts cute enough to bike around in. It’s my inaugural Rit.

Make hay while the sun shines; make clothes while the snow keeps coming down.

In the end, Philly t-shirt a lovely darker wine color.


Both dresses a wonderful brown. But the bright pink cotton cardigan came out patchy. Reading about Rit, I think it got tangled on other stuff. Wonder if I can throw it back into the dye bath by itself tomorrow? Couldn’t hurt.


Thrift outings last weekend (fitz)fabulous, indeed. Black cords w stovepipe legs. Tuxedo-style wool slacks. Faux wrap sweaters. Cardigans in cotton and silk/cashmere. Bandolino peep-toe pumps (w wooden heels). Love the Salvy! Love dressing myself without shopping retail!

Key items up on the eBay, including this little beauty of a Minnie Mouse sweater. minnie mouse sweater

Next on the list, um, to list:

This pink knit summer romper. pink romper

This pink bobble bobble sweater

This red dress.

These gray Wrangler jeans.

This Sears sweater. sears sweater

But ever since eBay changed its fee schedule, I’m unimpressed with them. Wondering if anyone has other recommendations for selling excess vintage clothing? Etsy perhaps? Other thoughts?


kglt075.jpgThanks to a lovely lady on Chicago Freecycle I’ll call L (since I didn’t ask permission to quote her) who gave me a giant bag of fabric pieces her photographer-husband once used as drapes. When she found out I did Wardrobe Refashion, she threw in a few shirts and a vest.

I don’t wear a lot of pastels, so this stash will work so perfectly for mockups. I’ve been wanting to copy this Kangol Fur-gora hat using a black angora sweater that I wrecked in the wash and an ancient hat pattern.

And I have a hoodie pattern I want to use with menswear fabric so it’ll go to work with me. And then there’s the Minna dress from BurdaStyle I’m not sure will work on my body.

And. And. And.


How to… shorten blouse sleeves –2

The shortening obsession continues. And resetting sleeves is an important skill when taking in giant t-shirts and blouses and all because more than an inch removed from the sides sets off the shoulder seam. This refashion started with a black ruffled blouse from my favorite Salvy that was four sizes too big for me. There was something about it I liked enough to plunk down the $.90; mostly, it’s the ruffled placket and the cuff detail. To keep the cuffs as is, I essentially moved the whole sleeve up.

Here’s how:


Flip the shirt and, pick out the stitching, or if the top is really huge on you, cut off at the seams. Press.


Pin the sides of the top so it fits you. Try it on and repin as necessary. Get the fit right now. Chalk between pins and sew along the chalk lines. Trim seam edges and finish as you like. I’ve serged the seams on the blouse.


Flip the detached sleeves inside out and flatten, with the seam line on one side. Measure from your shoulder how many inches you want the short sleeves to be. I did about 8″ for this blouse so the ruffled cuff detail would remain.

***Here’s the trick–
Use the top of one sleeve to measure the curve of the short sleeve. Lining up the fold of the sleeves, cuffs facing the same direction, move the top sleeve so it becomes a stencil for the curve of the short sleeve at a length you measured. Trace with chalk and cut. Now you can use sleeve #1 to trace and cut sleeve #2.


Use a pin to mark the midpoint of the top of the sleeve. If you want puffy sleeves, use a long basting stitch to gather the edge. Try on the fitted bodice, considering where you want the shoulder to fall. If the original top was huge, you’ll have to trim the armhole opening so the shoulder seam lies on your shoulder.


Pin sleeves on, matching underseams, and the top seam with the pin in the sleeve. Gather the sleeve top, pinning as you go. Try the thing on. Move pins accordingly. Baste. Sew and finish edges as you like.


How to… shorten blouse sleeves

There’s barely a whiff of spring in the air, but my latest obsession is shortening sleeves anyway.

I’ve done two recently, one when the original shirt fits, and one when it’s gigantic. This purple Jonathan Martin blouse has sweetly unnatural purple pearl buttons, but the long sleeves made me feel frumpy. I decided to shorten the sleeves by refashioning a cuff.

Here’s how–


Measure how long the shortened sleeves should be, and add an inch for sewing. Mark that point, use a ruler to draw a straight line and cut. Repeat on other side.


Cut a 4-inch piece off the biggest end of the sleeve to make a new cuff. Pick out the stitching, and cut into a pair of 2-inch strips. Sew or press interfacing onto the wrong side. Fold strips lengthwise -right sides together- and measure them again the part of the arm where they’ll sit. Add an inch for overlap, then sew the ends shut. Trim and turn the right sides out.


On the raw sleeve end, baste a few inches around the sleeve crease, and gather the raw end. Pin the raw edge of the cuff against the right side of the sleeve. I pinned the new cuff on so the overlap would fall on the front of my arm. Baste, fit, stitch.


Remove the buttons from the original cuff and sew onto the new cuff where it overlaps.