Mission: Refashion

I used to sew, in high school. I always wanted to get into clothes, but the only thing that ever fit me properly was the aprons. I’d like to blame this on the fact that I could rarely afford the right fabric for the projects, but my poor measuring skills and inability to sew something in a straight line were not up to the ambitious challenges I set myself…like sewing a prom dress.

Don’t cringe–my mother talked me into having a good family friend sew that project for me before blood and tears were spilled over my expensive, flimsy prom dress fabrics.

My mother bought me a sewing machine for my last birthday, and I love it with a fierce, terrified love. When John left me to my own devices at the apartment for an entire weekend while he was at a game development shindig, I took advantage of the space and silence to set my machine up for the first time since we moved. My mission: to refashion two of the thrift store shirts we had acquired a few weeks before.

My first project should have been my second, because I actually followed a tutorial for the second which taught me a useful way to deal with the geometry of shirts. This was just a standard, white, men’s dress shirt: now it’s an almost manly peasant top with anachronistic buttons that I am still not quite sure how to tackle.

Maybe wooden toggles? Or ties? I was using this image as inspiration. The only real problem I had was in sewing down the neck…shirts curve a lot and have funny angles, so just folding over the fabric and sewing it to itself isn’t really an option. I knew this as I was trying to iron it down, but somehow I thought I could make it work once I got it under the needle…

Not so much. The shirt is pretty much unwearable because the leather cord and sections of raw edge rub against your neck. I’m going to have to pick out the seam and try again using the excellent string casing set-up from the tutorial I used to make the second shirt:

Nice, eh? When I tried on this shirt, I found (to my dismay) that it fit me. The project is meant to be done with an oversized t-shirt. The sleeves were quite snug, and I didn’t know if anything would hang right. Undaunted, I forged ahead, following the tutorial.┬áMay I just say: if anyone wants their old t-shirts ruffled, give me a call! It’s such a simple process, but it adds such a fun flare to the fabric.

The only real deviation I took from the instruction was with the sleeves. They would not have fit properly if I left them in a whole tube, so instead, I made parallel cuts at the top and bottom of the sleeve to open the fabric up and ruffled all of the sleeve edges. It worked like a charm, and I think the more open shoulder adds a dramatic, sexy touch to the shirt–perfect for wearing with a corset, don’t you think?

Costume Up!

Because I feel like I don’t have half enough unfinished projects clamoring for my attention, I have decided to take up costume design. My seamstressing abilities are limited to sewing crooked seams, so I’m taking the approach of buying really cheap thrift store finds and repurposing them. When I inevitably destroy a perfectly good shirt with my ineptitude, at least my bank account won’t be groaning in despair, right?


I dragged John with me to go shopping for shirts because he is my less-reluctant-than-you-might-think partner in cosplay. We’ve got two costume missions: renaissance and steampunk. I have lovely mental designs for these, but since I have the artistic skill of an untalented third grader, I will spare you from my sketches. Instead, I will invite you to comment on the Pinterest board where I keep track of pictures of pieces that come close to my mental image.

I’ve been mostly working on my steampunk costume (which involves a lovely blue corset that is way too cheap to actually wear fully cinched) and John’s renaissance costume. Now that we have his boots (and it took long enough…eBay and PayPal can be such a hassle to deal with sometimes), I only need to make a few modifications on his shirt and figure something out for his pants because his wonderful mother made us gorgeous leather vests for Christmas.

Mine is a lighter-colored leather and more corset-ish–I’ll post pictures when I’ve figured out what to wear under it to preserve my modesty.

The costume piece I’m VERY excited about working on is my next fingerless glove design. I’m thinking of upping the design challenge and actually making them “top-of-the-finger-less,” with partial finger gussets. My mom’s LYS had a nice sale on alpaca lace yarn so she picked me up enough for about eight pairs of gloves…that’s what I call margin for error.

My plan is to modify the stitch from the Curved Diamond Shawl in Victorian Lace Today to work in the round as the main glove base and play with picots for the bottom edging. The gauging and gusset design for this will be…interesting, if you’re Chinese. “Fun” if you play Dwarf Fortress (their unofficial slogan is “Losing is fun!”). It should be a wild ride, and I’ll be taking better notes this time.

In short: come hang out with me on Pinterest and keep your eyes open for my upcoming misadventures in costume design. Good times will be had by all, at my expense.