Thursday, May 25, 2017

Jeans + Jeans + Skirt = Refashioned Dress

I love a good upcycle project. It is the source of much creativity (and clutter) in my life. I have a hard time getting rid of stuff because I "know I can do something with it someday". The older I get, the more I am facing my mortality and the reality that I will need to live forever to get it all done. I recently released many potential projects to someone with a longer life expectancy than I, but saved a gem or two for myself. Pattern Review is having an Upcycle Contest and it was perfect motivation to knock out one of my refashion plans.

This dress began as its' life as two pairs of jeans and a skirt. I wanted a new creation that hinted to its original form.

The key element of this dress are these beaded jeans that I found at a resale store for $1.75! They are a brand called Sassy Thai a fair trade Thailand based company that employs local artisans. Each garment is custom made to order by one or more specialist in their craft. I cannot imagine the hours that went into making these jeans.  I knew I wouldn't wear them as they were because they are not my style. I bought them and hoped for an inspired project to come to mind that would honor the work done by the original artist.

I scoured my stash and found McCalls 7187. It was a good candidate for upcycling because of the shape of the inset and the option for contrasts. I love that the inset would use most of the bead work showcasing its' beauty. 
 Image result for 7187 mccalls
I chose to make view A because I could use the segments of the pattern with the three "fabrics" I chose. The length of the inset  corresponded with the length of the beaded leg panel of the jeans. I like the version with the gathered skirt as well, but could not imagine that bulk in denim on my hips. 

Image result for 7187 mccalls

Once I decided on the pattern, the trick was to figure out the best way to cut the jeans then,

a game of Tetris with the pattern pieces to make it fit while looking cohesive.

I decided to maintain the original hems from the jeans and skirt. I liked the lace border of the jeans and did not want to disrupt that. I decided to keep the hemline of the skirt so it is consistent with that of the lace in the jeans.

When I cut the inset from the beaded jeans, the edges had some of the side leg seams visible along the edges (see cut panel photo above). Those seams did not look good alongside the even seams from the upcycled skirt. I narrowed the inset slightly to remove those seams reducing the lower inset by 1-inch on each side. I top-stitched all of my seams to reduce bulk. 

I considered a three color back, but opted to skip it given the sparkle in the front. In a stroke of fortune, the seam lines from the skirt lined up with the back darts of the back bodice.

I liked the look of the neckline as it is in the pattern. When I tried it however, I felt it was too close and sat uncomfortably on my collarbone. I cut the front collar on the fold of the leg seam. That factored into the comfort and led to me lowering the front and back neckline by 1-inch.

The drop waist on this dress is not a style to which I normally gravitate. I think however, this pattern is a perfect match to maximize the beaded leg panel.

I am really pleased with this finished dress. Do you know what the best thing is? Jeans have two legs! I have another panel to use on another refashion! I don't know what it will be, but I know it will be fun! 

Voting is open now. Click here to cast your vote! I appreciate it! 

Happy Sewing,

Friday, May 5, 2017

Springtime is for Tulips and Mccalls 7542

I am not much of a band-wagoner, but some trends cannot be ignored. Mccalls 7542 is fast becoming a very popular make in the sewing community. 

When it was initially released, I passed on it in favor of other choices. I love the sleeve options, but I thought it was a bit boxy and too short. Those are simple tweaks, but I passed on it. THEN, I started seeing the variations on Instagram and starting falling in love with it.  I found it on sale a second time so, I decided to buy it.


I made the tulip sleeve view using double-layer cotton jersey in reverse applique. I cut the pieces in my ready to wear size. This is my usual pattern conversion for jersey hand-stitching. This makes the top close-fitting, eliminating the ease. In addition, I added about 3-inches to the length and lowered the neckline by 1-inch. I sewed it with a combination of machine and hand-sewing techniques. 

To begin, I airbrushed cream-colored paint on the top layer of fabric using my flower stencil. I then added it to the back layer and stitched them together using a 5.0 stitch length using a ball point Chrome needle from Schemtz.  


Once all cut, I carefully cut the middles of the shapes taking care not to cut the bottom layer.


I really love these sleeves! I have nothing like them in my wardrobe and they really elevate a simple top.

The body of the top is made in double layers. I added a third layer to the sleeves to mask the bobbin threads on the underside. Once inserted in the body of the top, I trimmed the seam allowance of the sleeve head to reduce bulk.

To finish the neckline, I added a bias strip of jersey and stitched it in place using a hand-sewn chain stitch.

I love all the texture in this top.  As a final step, I felled the seams to the sides and top-stitched them by hand-sewing them to the back. I left the bottom of the top un-hemmed with a raw edge.

I really like this top and the drama of the sleeves. I will certainly make this again and definitely the other views. 

Happy Sewing,