Summer of Basics – The Plan

I am starting the Summer of Basics make-along late, but I am ready and challenging myself to make an outfit entirely out of materials that I already own. Not buying new fabrics is hard, especially with the new Atelier Brunette collection around, but I have so much fabric stashed that needs to be used. I will also finally do things that sit in my making queue for too long, so I hope this will be a success all over! Creating an entire outfit is quite the challenge for me, as I usually just make single garments without really planning a wardrobe or matching items together. I always figure, if I like it, it will fit my style… However, this time it will be different!

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My plan is to make:

  • Summer pants with deep pockets from an 80s Burda magazine from a beautiful blue cotton fabric
  • A black silk shirt, for which I will recycle an old skirt from my mother with beautiful pearl buttons
  • A summer scarf from rust colored cotton yarn in a cross stich pattern

I already started the scarf and the pants, so I am quite confident I will finish my Summer of Basics-Outfit in time!

Patchwork Weekend

This weekend I got into a serious patchwork frenzy. I recently organized my fabric stash and leftovers, and this made me want to play with all these tiny pieces that are useless on their own, but that I couldn’t bare to throw away. I started out with some little patchwork pieces that later became little drawstring bags, and then went on to make a bigger piece for a pillow case. I made use of even the tiniest piece of fabric! I also used up some leftover sleeves from vintage shirts, and it is incredible how much fabric comes out of a shirt sleeve when you cut it open! Cutting and arranging the pieces, sewing everything together was a lot of fun and actually felt more like a creative practice than anything else I have made in the last months. Maybe that’s why I can’t stop!

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small patchwork bags that just need strings now…
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Patchwork pillow in good company

While doing that I binge-listened to all the Have Company Podcasts, instead of watching/listening to random TV-shows as I usually do. In the podcast episodes Marlee of Have Company interviews resident artists and friends about their art, practices, how it is to be a small business owner and other things. It’s great! At the end she always asks people what they are excited about and I just wanted to write what I am excited about at the moment: A few days ago I received a little package from Little Red Tarot, including the Herbal Homestead Journal, a queer Tarot book called She Is Sitting in the Night and the beautiful Moon Angel Cards by Rebekah Erev. I am so excited about all these little things! The Herbal Homestead Journal includes simple and accessible ways of working with plants for every month and I am already looking forward of going back to this book over the course of this year.

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The first card that I drew from the Moon Angel Cards is Nr. 5 Go!

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I am also excited about this Coldcream from Weleda that I bought because I have these red dry spots in my face from the cold and it smells so good (and helps)!

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Beach tee made from leftover cotton and linen

I also made two patchwork t-shirts in my Patchwork Weekend, and reused some shirt sleeves, random leftovers from other projects and small pieces of fabric from my collection. I was inspired by this woven Geodesic Top and these Wabi Sabi tees, and again, just piecing the squares together was so satisfying. I cut 30×30 cm squares from the fabric, pieced it together and then cut out the neckline, easy! I will probably make more for summer (that will come at some point… we just have to stay optimistic).

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Patchwork tee made from all recycled silk

Cropped Cotton Sweater

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I started making this improvised cropped sweater last April, and it was supposed to be done for last summer… I stopped at some point when I realized I wouldn’t finish it in time for summer, and there it sat in my unfinished projects box until I finished  it last week! Also, I have to admit that even though I really like the linen/cotton mix, I didn’t really enjoy knitting with it as it is a bit hard on the needles and to the touch.

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I initially wanted to a cabled pattern, but in the end I decided to stick to plain stockinette, as it brings out the lovely texture of the yarn beautifully. I am wearing it on the photo with a quickly refashioned linen shirt that I picked up at my parents on Christmas. It has these great side pockets but had huge sleeves that I just cut off. Bam, new shirt! Maybe this will be my next favorite summer outfit!

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How to Make Longer Jeans Pockets

We all probably know these nice women’s jeans, well fitting, nice color… But then the usual disappointment: A move with the hands to the pockets – they’re tiny (or even worse: fake)! So tiny that your hands don’t even fit as fist, not even considering keys, phone or a wallet.

So I have these jeans, and the pockets don’t even fit the first half of my fingers. To make them more wearable I decided to give them an easy and invisible makeover (This also works for pockets that are ripped, have holes or a re worn out!):

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This is how far my hand enters! Ridiculous!
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Tiny pockets from the inside.

Step 1

Cut off the bottom seam of your pocket in a straight line, the pocket is now open.

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Cut along the bottom of the pocket.

Step 2

Chose a nice non-stretchy fabric you have leftover from another project, you don’t need much. Measure the width of the pocket opening, and how much length you want to add to your pockets. You can do this by measuring your hands, your phone or the pockets of another pair of jeans that are big enough.

Step 3

Cut your new pocket rectangles from the fabric (add seam allowances!) and start by sewing the rectangles to the bottom of the original pockets. It doesn’t have to be especially beautiful, you won’t see the pockets from the outside of your pants.

Step 4

Close the side and bottom seams of your new pocket and finish the edges as desired.

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New pockets!

Step 5

Try on and enjoy! Bury your hands in your new pockets! Stuff everything you need inside! No more annoying handbags at parties!

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This is how far my hand fits now! Success!

Slow Fashion October: A Refashioned Skirt

As I was writing in my post for the second week of Slow Fashion October, my main source of great vintage fabrics are full, midi to maxi length vintage skirts. Last year I got some great ones in the sale of my local second hand shop.

If you want to try this yourself, my recommendation is to go for long and full skirts, the fuller, the better. Pay close attention to the seams, the less seams the skirt has the better. Go for the ones that have a seam in the center back for the zipper and side seams. Skirts that have multiple panels or set in parts are not as suitable for refashioning.

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I found this big skirt for 1€ in the sales, I didn’t want to wear it like that, but could well imagine it as a sleeveless summer shirt. It just had seams at the sides and the center back, and when I cut off the waistband I was happy to see the fabric opened up to a perfect rectangle:

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I made a sleeveless Grainline Studio Archer Button-Up with a mandarin collar from the fabric, and even had some left over! I followed the excellent tutorials for the mandarin collar and the sleeveless version, and it worked out perfectly. I made this shirt for my girlfriend, thanks for modeling, Eve!

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Project Summary:

Pattern (Grainline Studio Archer Button-Up): In my stash
Fabric (Vintage Skirt): 1€
Buttons: In my stash

Total: 1€

 

Slow Fashion October: Long Worn

This weeks theme of Slow Fashion October is Long Worn, and how we can make most of the clothes we own, store bought or handmade. I like mending and I love altering clothes that I don’t like anymore and for this post I collected some ideas on how to give the stuff we own another life.

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This skirt is SO ready for its new life!

Dye it!

This is maybe one of my favorites and to be honest I am not even getting very creative here. I always dye clothes black in the washing machine (there is a goth hiding inside me…). The faded out black basic t-shirts and pants get some fresh color and some pants in a weird blue get wearable and fit in my wardrobe. The only tricky part with this is that most store-bought clothing has seams made of polyester thread which doesn’t take the dye, so be aware of that when you dye something bright.

Mend it!

I wrote about mending socks with giant holes, but I also mend tiny holes, ripped seams, moth holes in sweaters and all sorts of other damages.

Refashion it!

I admit: All shorts I own were long jeans once. It is not perfect, as most pants are a bit too tight around the legs, but they will do. I actually have a jeans waiting right now in my to-do-basket to be cut into shorts!

Refashioning vintage skirts into tops is another favorite of mine. If you happen to catch a sales day at your local thrift store you can get fabric for a summer top for one euro! On top of it you have the endless choice of excellent vintage prints.

Too short or ill-fitting t-shirts make great underwear, by the way.

Unravel it!

Last winter I unraveled a sweater I bought on the flea market, it’s a very slow but satisfying process. I still didn’t figure out what to do with the yarn, but inspiration will come. I tend to be quite radical with things I knit as well: If they don’t fit me, I prefer to unravel weeks and weeks of work than leaving a sweater in the corner because it is too short. I love knitting for the fact that you can make and remake something over and over again, until you find the perfect garment. The material is minimally cut and can take all sorts of new shapes. Making is not only about the finished product in the end.

Some Thoughts on Me Made May ’16

When May arrived this year, I was quite excited to participate in Me Made May this year, as this is the first „internet event“ that I chose to participate in, blogging. But how life goes, May was an incredibly full month, I went to two conferences, prepared an academic article for publishing, was sick for a week… So in the end it feels like I wore three real „outfits“ (my pyjamas are handmade, but I didn’t really want to show them off online), and I didn’t have the time to publish anything over here. And additionally I have been working with some friends on a secret project that will be revealed super soon (so excited!).

So in the end, all I did was posting four awkward mirror selfies for Me Made May and looking at all the other posts and articles of people who seem to have much more time to photograph themselves in nice positions and with nice backgrounds! However, the whole thing got me thinking as well: I realized my handmade (and general) summer wardrobe is very limited, and I wore the few summer tops that I made last year so much, that I need a break and some fresh things. With that I went on quite a big fabric shopping trip, and will hopefully fill in some of the gaps that I discovered.

So here are my Me-Made Outfits of May 2016, I am already looking forward to #memadesummer and #memadeeveryday anyway, with less pressure…

I really have to work on my self-portrait skills…

I am wearing, a self drafted boxy top from recycled vintage fabric with my improvised alpaca cardigan, an upcycled vintage silk blouse with handmade summer pants, my flower archer button up, and the grand final: handmade pants, with another self drafted boxy top and my freshly made dark grey bomber jacket. Not too bad!

How to… mend socks with giant holes

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These are the favorite and most-worn wool socks of my girlfriend, and after two winters of heavy wear they have giant holes in the soles. Naturally, this poses not a problem, but a challenge! There are some supplies needed for a project like this one. The socks are machine-knit, which means that the yarn used is very thin – good that I remembered the tiny 2,5 needles that I got as a present once and never used. I am not a sock-knitter so far, and really don’t enjoy knitting with small needles like these, but in the end they come in handy! The next thing you need is a yarn in roughly the same color and weight as the socks, this is more important if the holes are in a more visible place. I could have continued the norwegian-style red and white pattern, but that was too much… I hope the yarn I chose will hold up the heavy wear these socks get, we will see.

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The first thing is to turn the socks inside out and assess the state of the fabric: maybe there are smaller holes that are not visible at the first glance? Maybe there are other places that are getting thin? I chose to patch up a generous part of the sole, to avoid having to mend them again after two months.

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After the area to be mended is determined, you pick up stitches using a tapestry needle and your first double-pointed needle. If the yarn is the same weight as the socks, you can orient the picked up stitches on the stitches of the original. Next you continue knitting until the damaged area is covered, bind up the stitches and the work is already almost done!

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Seam the patch to the sock with the tapestry needle and you’re done! Good as new! I recommend attaching the patch to the sock when the patched area is as big as the one I encountered, so the two layers are not moving against each other too much.

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Happy mending!

Recycle a Sweater!

I love the idea of turning old things into new things, and when I came across the review of the Sweater Unraveling Workshop at Have Company, I knew, that was something I want to try. First, though, you have to find the right sweater! Easier said than done: Most of the thrift stores here in Budapest have a spring/summer collection now, or sell their simple wool sweaters for more than 20€, which I found too expensive for the project. Then, you have to find a hand-knit one, or one that has no overlocked seams, plus a nice quality, no polyester or acrylic… I had already sort of given up on the topic, when I came across a giant hand-knit sweater in a nice light aqua shade.

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You can find a really detailed description of how it works to turn an old sweater into brand new yarn on the Have Company website. Amber Martin of Harmony Society is a real expert! The little ebook walks you through all the steps  with a lot of details on how to do it.

Unraveling a sweater that I haven’t made was an interesting experience, especially because you see directly how much work went into this piece of clothing, the great construction and the skilled finishing of the sweater was telling me, that an experienced knitter was at work here. Knowing this makes it feel even better to give the material another life and turn it into something new. I like this idea of knitting as an endless craft that can be recycled over and over, once you don’t like the style of a garment anymore.

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The unraveled sweater, 650g of pure wool. That is one thing that I „added“ to the process of unraveling. As I am rather picky when it comes to the content of my yarn – most of the time I want more than 90% natural fibers – I decided to a little burning test to make sure I hadn’t bought an acrylic sweater. This test is quite easy, you find a chart online of the behavior of different fibers when burned, and then (in a safe environment!) burn a little piece of the yarn. In case of wool it should smell burnt hair and the residue is black, bubbly and can be easily crumbled. Of course you cant burn anything in the thrift store, but still, as recycling a sweater turned out to be quite time consuming, it is a nice way of making sure you end up with quality yarn.

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Winding the yarn goes quite fast, but is a rather dusty work – as spring is coming it might be nice to do that part outside! Soaking and drying the yarn took two nights, but that might depend on the yarn type and the weight of the yarn you have.

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Now I just have to think about a nice project to start with my new yarn! But I guess that won’t be very hard. Recycling a sweater is such a satisfying project, and knowing what you did makes the wool even more special.

 

Project Summary:

Instruction booklet: 4€
Sweater: 6€

Total: 10€