Reposting from Goodwill Fashionista: Fashion Forward: No lace, please

I love this post from Lisa the Goodwill Fashionista and wanted to share with you. As you know I’m all about refashioning vintage and looking beyond a piece that at first appears to have no potential. The jacket Lisa refashioned is uber cute and the removal of the lace really made it hit its mark. Lisa you might consider this as a new talent :-).

April 4, 2012

Fashion Forward: No lace, please

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After a fruitless day of shopping at the Columbia Pike Goodwill store (okay, I got plenty of stuff, but not what I set out to find!), I struck out on my own to peruse the Rockville location. I had to find something to wear to the Fashion Fights Poverty gala!

I did find something: a vintage red suit jacket and skirt that fit me to a T. I loved the color, the puffy shoulders, and the tuxedo-esque back of the jacket. But the lace collar…it just had to go.

Rockville Goodwill vintage suit

When in doubt, text message bathroom-mirror photos to your friends on the Goodwill staff! At least, that’s what I do.

The suit fabric perfectly matched the Jason Wu for Target dress I planned to wear it with, but the lace was just out of place. My black dress had sequins around the bottom, and as much as I do like both lace and sequins, they didn’t need to be anywhere near each other for this event.

I took my sharpest sewing scissors and cut carefully around the collar of the jacket, hoping to remove the scalloped lace in one piece. Success! I am now the proud owner of this versatile piece of lace:

Lace Lace Lace!

I have received several suggestions that I should use the lace as a collar with sweaters and tanks, and I think I’ll do just that. A fastener and a little starch is all I need to keep this lace looking fresh around my neck!

But I had one last challenge before I could wear the jacket out in public. No matter how carefully I cut, there were still tiny pieces of lace showing around the collar. When two friends suggested I color in the spots with a red marker, I laughed. Yes, I laughed at my friends and doubted them, but I cautiously tried it and they were right. Unless you were getting up close to smell my perfume (ooh la la), you couldn’t even tell the jacket had originally had a collar.

Vintage red jacket

Trying on the jacket at home. I LOVE the back of this vintage piece!

In the end, I was proud of my outfit for the event and proud of the bit of DIY work I had done. Maybe I should embark on fashion projects more often? What do you think, fashionistas?

Sweater Refashioning project, Step 2

This is clearly the most difficult part of this project. Getting the darn thing off the ground. Maybe I’m too sleepy and I’m not concentrating but the color scheme I envisioned is not coming out as planned. Nevertheless I keep going.

I decided to go with the acrylic sweaters first. I begin with the red v-neck sweater as the base and build around it. I’m adding a black, gray and white striped sweater for the waistline and thrown in some beige and gray on the sides.


Below is my full range of sweater colors for this project although I seem to be coming up short. This sweater requires more panels than I have sweaters for.


No sense in tarrying on this project. I need to dive right in and get to cutting.

First step I chop off the sweater around the midriff and I will use the bottom portion later for another sweater. then cut the striped sweater for the waistline. Believe it or not I’m not really liking the way this is turning out. 😦


Starting over…….New set of sweater combinations


In the end I have decide to change things up a bit and start with the wool sweaters using the purple v-neck as my base. This weekend I will tackle assembly. I’m liking the looks of this one already!! 🙂


Sweater Sewing Project, Step 1

With this 60 degree weather it makes me wonder if I should be spending my time working on a sweater project or pulling out the linen fabrics to make summer sundresses. Geesh! It’s way too warm these days to wear the latest designs I’m working on however I keep trudging along. I’m certain the day will come. Perhaps after Presidents day we will see a bit more frigid temps.

I spent the weekend felting sweaters. What a chore! Especially when you are working withe over 60 sweaters. Needless to say I have been collecting sweaters for the past 6 months. Thats how long I’ve planned this project. What I didn’t realize is that I should have limited my purchasing to wool sweaters. As a result my stash is split 50/50. I will try my best to make do with the cotton, acrylic and ramie sweaters which are great sweaters but won’t really give me the look I’m searching for. Over the next month or so I will attempt three sweater refashioning projects.

This weekend all the sweaters wool or other fibers, were washed in hot hot water and dried in high temperatures. Most came out great. Others…….well, not so much. Might end up making ragamuffins and oven mitts out of some of them 😦

See below some of my disorganized stash. As you know I make no excuses for my lack of order when it comes to my personal projects. I should do better but that would take away some of the fun 🙂

(Please excuse the iPhone photos my birthday present to myself will be here in a few days)


Wool sweater stash


Acrylic Sweater Stash



Cotton Sweater Stash


The sweater stashes don’t stop here…. There are two more bags of sweaters in my trunk.  Yes TWO more. They will go in the wash tomorrow.


Refashioning a pair of jeans

Even for me when it comes approaching a sewing project if I bite off more than I can chew I will lose momentum and never finish. Which is why I’m starting this year off with small sewing projects and leading up to bigger ones along the way. It’s also the reason I enjoy refashioning. For starters you don’t have to start from scratch. Half the work is already done and it’s just a matter of altering things here and there. The other advantage to refashioning the fact you are playing an active role in conserving the environment by not adding additional waste to the surrounding landfills.

This morning before I left for work I decided to plunge in head first and get these jeans taken disassembled. I want a longer deeper bag so I measured and cut the jeans 17 inches from the waist line.


After cutting one leg I commenced to folding over the jeans and cut the other. At this point these look like a great pair of shorts to wear around the house. But I can’t stop here.


Not sure if the bag will be as deep as I’d wanted but I have some thoughts on how to expand it a little later in the process.



I’m planning use the side seams for straps and extras.


Fold and cut. Better to cut the straps longer and shorten them later. Now on to using a seam ripper to take apart the inseam. That’s all for now. Must head to work.


Kicking off February with a long awaited Refashioning Project

As we are wrapping up the first week of February I’m realizing how quickly time is passing and although I have set these resolutions I’m not faring very well in getting my progress posted.

Right now I’m tackling two projects I’ve prepped for over the last month. A Jeans Tote Bag and a sweater refashioning project.

Day one find the pair of jeans I want to work with. The goal for this project is to have completed the project on my own so that I can instruct the class and we can finish in record time. I’ve seen this done many times in several different ways. This time we will take the “Sew Frugal Approach”.

I chose this pair of jeans because they are narrow through the hips and will require less alterations. This is only my preference and in no way is an indication that this approach would be the same for the next person.


I also really like the design of the rear pockets. I can see some embellishments and other applications that could spruce up my bag.


Stay tuned for the next steps…….



February’s Sewing Resolutions

I rarely make new years resolutions. Since my birthday is the first week in February I save my resolutions/goals until then and I make sure they all have a theme.  This year I’m focusing in sewing (of course). Last year it was all about saving money by not shopping retail. Oh, no doubt about it I will continue that theme this year and with it will come some of those self-imposed challenges.

This year I’m committed to sewing more and wearing my handmade items more often. Ann P, one of the members of my sewing group sews everyday. How does she do it? I can barely seem to think about sewing everyday let alone actually sit down to a sewing machine. But nonetheless this is my goal for 2012. It only makes sense that the thing I love to do the most I should be found doing regularly. Besides I don’t want my skill to wane.

This year I resolve to work on a sewing project everyday. This means cutting, prepping, sewing, drafting and even writing lesson plans for classes. Everyday I am committed to doing something……. In order to hold myself to this I will post my progress and you guys can keep me honest. Cross your fingers……

Here I go…. Project number one coming right up. See below me holding a bunch of sweaters about to take on a refashioning sweaters project.

The Original Sewing & Quilt Expo Day one

On Wednesday I was in a seamstresses heaven. If I recall the last time I spent the entire day on the sewing machine was about 5-6 years ago and that was only because I was behind the 8 ball on a customers wedding dress. On Wednesday it was purely pleasure.


The Original Sewing & Quilt Expo is being held at the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly, VA from September 29th through October 1st. Its held every year in Atlanta, Cleveland, Minneapolis, Schaumburg, Il, Kansas City, Lakeland, FL and Worcester, MA. I haven’t had the opportunity to attend this Expo in almost 5 years when I lived in Chicago. Therefore these next few days are really a treat for me.

What I tend to look forward to the most are the  “More The Day Before” classes. These classes are held the day before the full conference begins. These classes are typically a full day from 9-4:30pm where students have an opportunity to spend the entire day working on a project and walk away with a completed work of art.

The class I chose to spend the day working on was The Dream Coat. This class was taught by Barb Callahan. The class was described as: “It’s green, it’s fun and it’s oh so great to wear!” When I read this I though wow I can make a coat in one day? Amazing. Much to my surprise when I arrived I found Barb wearing one of these fantastic coats. It was jacket/sweater that I have been trying to work on for the past year if not more. In fact I wrote a blog post about this coat I tried on at the Sugarloaf Craft festival that cost $180. There was no way I could spend that much on something that clearly I could make. Well Wednesday was my opportunity to learn.

Barb Callahan started off by showing us some examples of other coats and jackets she prepared as samples. I was wowed and excited about the possibilities of using this technique which only required the use of a 4 thread serger. Especially since I just purchased a new serger for $54 off eBay. Yes only $54. Amazing! I will talk about that later in a separate blog post.





For this class we used the BabyLock Evolution Serger. Never have I experienced such ease with threading a server. In fact I would be willing to say it was easier than threading a regular sewing machine. I was cringing at the thought of what one of these might cost. I figured somewhere in the range of $5k.


Midway through just as you would expect the representatives from BabyLock came in to offer us a special “show” price. I held my breath. I said to myself if it is under $2k I would consider it especially if there is layaway. No credit or financing for me. The regular price was $3,200. Really?? The show price is $2,500 and they were taking an additional $200 off. Well they didn’t quite make my threshold. Oh well. It was nice to dream.


Next Barb asked us to choose our base sweater to begin the coat. Each sweater had a number which corresponded to a bag of pre-selected gourds and bands to construct the coat. I was torn between an extra-large light pink sweater and an off white knitted sweater that fit perfectly. Well leave it to me I’m always looking for a challenge so I went for the knitted sweater. No one else used this type of sweater except me.


Because I’m kind of an over achiever I was one of the last students to leave the class at 4:30. I didn’t break for lunch either. Besides being focused they didn’t have any veggie lunches on hand :-(.

This woman left at 2pm to beat the traffic back to DC. Smart woman. Fast too. She threw her coat together in no time. As you can see here she is just about done and this is just after lunch. She only needs to apply her collar. Good work.

The first step was to decide what the front closure would look like. I chose light pastel colors with bright splashes.

I first looked through the scraps and found a pink beaded sweater. Took a strip of it using the rotary cutter and attached it to the front right side of the sweater. Then I found a green silk blouse in the scrap pile and cut the front part off and used that for the buttonhole closure.



We used these really cute and powerful Rowenta travel irons. I was surprised at the amount of steam and heat they produced. This one is heading to my wish list.


I attached the pink sweater and the green raw silk to the front. Didn't look to bad.

Then I began to look at the back of the coat. I really wanted to make it more interesting. So I decided to cut it down the middle and insert the green silk and a cotton

I knew the best way to go about this would be to just dive right in and not spend anymore time thinking about it. So I just cut the sweater down the middle and attached the newly formed piece.



The bodice is a little long. Next step will be to cut it off and attach a band in the mid-section

Below is another student who got really creative and inserted a portion of a tee shirt in the rear. Now this is interesting.



This student decided to get even more adventurous with skulls, crossbones and chains. Oh my.


She put together a good group of colors and coordinated them well.

After I completed the top of the coat I proceeded to work on my sleeves, gourds and collar


attaching pieces for my collar


Bottom part of the coat


Front lower part of the coat. Just about to connect the two


Connected the sleeve


Just about complete. Just need closures


rear of my coat


Barb said I looked like an ice cream cone. LOL!! I guess I kinda did. Thanks Barb

Me and Barb Callahan the instructor for this class

Me and Anita Brim from the Babylock training class. She helped me out after I broke two needles

Other students completed projects

As you can see the women got very creative with their coats. One even found a way to get in her favorite rock group, The Rolling Stones. Very cool!