MAR 2021 :: Upcycled Shirt Dress

This is the third blog post in my 2021 Sewing Plans blog series. Click here to see the video where I share my inspiration for each month. My March project was to create a shirt dress from upcycled dress shirts. Below is my collage of inspiration. For this project, I was most inspired by Rentrayage and Bettina Bakdal.

The images above are taken from my Pinterest account.

I shared my progress in my Instagram stories. Check out the MAR highlight for more photos.

I found the three shirts above at local thrift shops. Green is probably my favorite color so I was glad to include a green shirt. The peach shirt is a women’s vintage shirt and it felt like a nice contrast to the men’s striped shirts — HOWEVER — it wasn’t until I was fully committed to these shirts that I was reminded that men’s and women’s shirts have buttons on different sides! WHY BTW? That made things more complicated then they needed to be.

This was yet another project where I learned a lot through trial and error. I would like to revisit this project when I have more time. I’d like to try this again with just two shirts instead of three.

What I learned on this project

  • Remember — men’s and women’s shirts have buttons on different sides!
  • Collars are a whole thing. I sewed both sides of the tops together and then folded the collar down and the seam was on the outside of the collar! I had to resew it.
  • The two things that helped me through this challenging project were — the encouragement of friends and my self imposed deadline. Those sound like not important things but if you are a manager or a teacher — I think they are good things to remember.

    xoxo recovergirl

Feb 2021 :: Upcycled Sweater

This is the second blog post in my 2021 Sewing Plans blog series. Click here to see the video where I share my inspiration for each month. My January project spilled into February so my February project was short and sweet. I was bad about taking photos of this project but I did share my progress in my Instagram stories. Check out the FEB highlight.

The inspiration I gathered for this sweater project is all over the board. Some of the looks (above) are just too cool for me. I wouldn’t know how to pull them off. I’m more of a grampa-cardigan-wearing-person. I’ve long admired the conservative-meets-quirky style of LeoRosa. I especially appreciate their color combinations. I decided to try to replicate their Leo cardigan with secondhand sweaters.

I started with a light gray sweater vest from my own closet. I attached the front of my light gray sweater vest to the back of a newly thrifted dark gray sweater. That part of the project happened without incident and was relatively easy. But when it came to adding the pockets I lost confidence.

I fretted for days over what color pockets to add to the sweater. In the end, I feared that I would make the sweater worse with colored pockets and so decided to leave well enough alone. It wasn’t easy to NOT add the pockets but I kept thinking of all those episodes of Top Chef or Project Runway where the chefs/designers put too much on the plate or in the design. Sometimes the restraint is the flex.

Below is my final design modeled by my son Alex. I like it just as it is.

What I learned on this project

  • I bought too many options for this project. I should have made more decisions in the thrift store. It would have been less wasteful.
  • When I still thought I was going to add pockets I watched how-to videos on Youtube. I found this video on How to sew a Bluff Patch Pocket. Fascinating! Why do people think clothes should be cheap? I’ll never understand it. Clothes-making requires so much talent and skill!
  • Trust yourself. Or at least, remember to try. It’s not easy. Designing is like being faced with a constant series of decisions you have to make. And some of them cause tiny heartbreaks.

    xoxo recovergirl

Jan 2021 :: Upstyled Canadian Tuxedo

This is the first blog post in my 2021 Sewing Plans blog series. Click here to see the video where I share my inspiration for each month.

I love a head-to-toe denim look. If styled well it can be chic enough for an evening out and with the right fit it can be comfortable enough for a day of lounging.

The goal for my January Project is to put a spin on the more traditional Canadian Tuxedo look by adding some upcycled elements.

Below is some upcycled denim inspiration from my Denim in Blue Jeans Pinterest Board

I sew on Sundays and I share details of my progress in my Instagram stories. Check out the JAN highlight for details.

My original hope was to make a chic nighttime outfit that would look good with my recent secondhand purchase of Loq ankle boots but the direction of my outfit changed when I found a vintage men’s Wrangler shirt with fleece lining. It’s so soft and oversized that it makes the outfit more of a daytime, running errands, kind-of outfit. Which is fine because that is more “me” anyways.

Images from my Chore Coat Pinterest board

My final jacket doesn’t look that much different but it actually took me a ton of time. I opened up the bottom so I could sew Levis pockets to just the top layer. I cut out the hidden side pockets because they were bulky and then I hand sewed the openings closed. I hemmed and sewed the bottom – twice! And I hemmed and tapered the sleeves and finished the edges with extra denim.

My original hope with the jeans was to sew two differently toned jeans together but that turned out to be waaaaaaay harder than I thought. Most of what I learned from that process is what NOT to do. In the end I just slightly altered a pair of vintage Lee jeans. I added elastic to the waistband so they would fit me better and I patched up a hole on the knee with darker denim.

I’m happy with how the chore coat came out but I wish I had more success with the upcycled jeans. Still — I’m grateful for the process. It got me to a point where I remembered how little boy’s pants have those adjustable elastic straps in them (my version on left). And now that I’ve actually gone through the process of adding this to my jeans I can see that it is an easy fix for the future. It does make me wonder why adult jeans don’t have adjustable waist band options though. Amiright?!

Below is my version of an Upstyled Canadian Tux

What I’ve learned so far . . .

  • Sewing is hard and takes a lot of time 😜
  • Good tools make the job go easier. I finally purchased a bunch of basic tools, like a clear ruler and a thimble.
  • It’s okay to start over. I did more unpicking on this project than ever before and I’m grateful for it.
  • Sewing takes courage. It’s scary to cut into fabric or existing clothing. But I can already tell from just this project that I am gaining confidence in my sewing. Learning what NOT to do is very useful. 😎

Wish me luck on my next project!
xoxo recovergirl