Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Bleach Gel Tea Collection Knock-Off!

I love the look of this dress from Tea Collection:

As a matter of fact, I love pretty much everything from Tea Collection, but unfortunately I can rarely afford it unless I find one at a consignment store.  But the one pictured above got my attention, because the design reminds me of this idea I saw on Pinterest, to use a bleach pen to create designs on a t-shirt.

I had a perfect t-shirt to upcycle, as it had some grease spots near the hem, so I started by trying out the bleach.

I bought a bleach pen for this very reason a while back.  I tried it on an old shirt of mine, and the results were okay--but that shirt has been relegated to the pajama pile.  This time, I followed the advice of the blogger I linked to above, and ironed some freezer paper on to the wrong side of the t-shirt.  HUGE difference.  The thin knit fabric wasn't pulling in all directions while I tried to draw with the gel pen, and I was happy with the results.

I thought I might try to trace a design onto the shirt, so I freehanded a simplified version of the Tea Collection design onto a piece of paper, but the one downside of the freezer paper was that once I had ironed it onto the shirt, I couldn't really see my design to trace it anymore.  So I went for it and freehanded with the gel pen, and I'm happy with the result!

Something just occurred to me--you could probably draw your pattern right on the shiny side of the freezer paper before ironing it on, so it's visible through the knit (if it's thin enough, like the one I used.)  Might try that next time.

OK, so because I didn't want to cut up the shirt but I did want the design to go all the way around, I had to do this in two parts.  I don't know why I was hesitating to cut it up--since I ended up cutting it to make the dress anyway, it would have been SO much easier to bleach it in flat pieces.  Anyhoo, the photo I just showed you of my bleach job was on the front of the shirt.  After it set, I rinsed it out and threw it in the dryer with an old towel, and once it was dry I repeated the process for the back.  With one small hitch--my bleach pen ran out.

Uh oh.

In my neighborhood, bleach pens cost about $3 each.  Since I had only done one other shirt, this project suddenly got more expensive--$3 for 1.5 projects isn't going to do it for me.  I did buy a new bleach pen to finish this project in the interest of continuity, but for the future I am going to try this lovely post from Me and My DIY on how to make your own bleach gel.  It seems like maybe the glue bottle would be a little harder to to control than the store-bought pen, but definitely worth the savings.  In any case, here's a close-up of how the finished design came out:

Once the bleach design was done,  I just made mine into a simple dress, but if my original t-shirt had been bigger, I totally would have gone all the way with my knock-off and used this CINO tutorial for a very similar Tea Collection style.

A couple things about my dress--I decided to do short sleeves instead of the cap/ruffle so I could avoid binding the raw edges of the armhole.  Also I added some bleach design to the sleeves, just because I liked how it looked.  I used the full width of the t-shirt (a Gap women's medium) for the skirt, and cut the bodice pieces from the top of the front and back so I could use most of the original finished neckline.

Here are some more shots of the finished dress:

The back--I think I left the bleach on a little longer here, oops!
Side view, or just an excuse for another cute picture of my kid?
We'll call this one a close-up on the sleeve detail.

I actually had to redo the sleeves, because I made them too small on the original attempt (shown below).

I had to cut these sleeves out and try again.

And you can see that my seam at the front bodice is a little wonky--I was kind of off my  game putting this dress together.  I just got so excited about the bleaching that I forgot about the sewing.  One thing at a time for me, I guess.

Alas!  My bodice seam is wonky!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Cap Sleeve Copycat Tee

This is just a quick post that I'm getting in under the wire for Made by Rae's Spring Top Sewalong!

I decided to use this bare yard of the lovely Retro Botanical Mix printed cotton knit from Girl Charlee to recreate one of my favorite tops in my wardrobe.  The features I love about it are:

1.  Slightly gathered cap sleeve
2.  Longer than your average t-shirt
3.  self-belted

So I just cut around the shape of that top to get my pattern, making sure to extend the shoulders so I could make a gathered cap sleeve, serged the side seams and shoulder seams, did a zig-zag hem at the bottom, gathered the shoulders slightly, and added a binding using this AWESOME method from Kitschy Coo.  Then I made a little tube of fabric out of the same knit I used for the binding, and decided not to attach it to the top or add any belt loops so that I can move the belt around for different effects:

To be clear, I still have a waist in #3--just no waistband ;)

Since the knit was stretchy enough, I just sewed it closed so I have to slip it on over the shirt, but I decided to do it that way instead of making a strip long enough to tie because the knot always bothers me when I'm leaning back against something.  But a  strip long enough to tie would work great too--and then you'd have the option of tying it in the front as well!

Here's the back view:

This may just be my favorite thing I've sewn for myself yet!  Thanks for the inspiration, Rae!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Crossover Wrap Top Tutorial

I decided to make this top for a friend who is due with her second baby any day now, and it just happens to be her birthday (today!  As I write this!  **I didn't finish the post in one day!  So now her birthday was yesterday!).  So I thought that a good birthday/birthing day gift would be a cute top that she could wear post-pregnancy that would allow easy access for nursing without being ONLY a nursing top.

No crazy flaps or slits, just a wide crossover vee that will pull open without stretching out.

I've been getting more confident with knits and my serger, and I thought a comfy knit top would be just the thing.  I bought the chevron cotton blend jersey from www.girlcharlee.com--so much more affordable than buying knits that are not even as cute or soft from JoAnn.  I really like the cotton blend jersey.  Silky soft, thin but not seethrough--good stuff.  I bought a cotton (not blend) jersey from them too that I am excited to make something out of, but not this particular top, because the wrap style definitely benefits from a fabric that has a soft drape.  

I used a fitted t-shirt of mine to make the pattern, and I got some tips on making a wrap shirt from this tutorial, but I wanted more of a faux-wrap--I didn't want to be dealing with ties that could get pulled out or anything.  I used almost exactly a yard and a half of wide fabric (54") to make this shirt, which is probably a small/medium.

I also decided to make a slightly longer fit than a traditional tee, and a little looser too, to accomodate post-baby belly.  But I put a band at the bottom (and cuffs at the ends of the sleeves) so that it looks purposefully relaxed instead of just baggy/too big.  I think it's something that will be GREAT for nursing/post-baby but also something that will be just a nice comfy casual top for any time.  I was so happy with the way it turned out that I was a little sad to give it away...but then I remembered I could just make another one for myself!

Mine was made from a really soft baby-knit, so I should have made it smaller because it's SOOOO stretchy that it's already bagging out a bit. But comfy.  This was more of that $1.50/yard fabric of questionable content from Walmart.

For how to make the pattern from a shirt that fits you well, check out this link for making a knit wrap top.  This is where you will start.  You will need to trace around your shirt template to create a pattern piece for the back of the shirt (cut on the fold) and the front of the shirt, NOT on the fold.  In the full wrap tutorial I linked to, you create the shape by following the point of the v-neck on the original shirt down to the bottom corner of the top.  But for this faux-wrap, instead of cutting the line from the vee all the way to the bottom corner of the shirt, you will curve the line over to about 3 inches below the armpit.

My pattern paper wasn't long enough, so I wrote "add 2 inches" to the bottom of my pattern :)

I ended up making my shoulder strap a little narrower than the original shirt to help soften the curve, since I would be adding a fairly wide binding strip to the neckline.  The side of your "wrap" will be sewn into the side seam, so it can't come undone.  To make your top a little longer, like mine, make your pattern pieces the same length as your t-shirt, because you will be adding a band to the bottom that ends up being about 2.5" long.

Main pattern pieces; you will also need a binding strip, waistband, and two cuffs.

There a few things I did differently than the tutorial (besides the aforementioned difference in the shape of the front pattern piece)

1.  I made the front pattern piece the same length as the original shirt I was using as a model, then added a band at the bottom that ends up adding about 2.5 inches of length as well as cinching the bottom in (since mine doesn't have the tie).

2.  I cut my sleeves wider then added a band to the bottom.  Just a style thing for me; I thought a slightly gathered loose sleeve would look cool.  Plus, I made 3/4 sleeves because I love not having to push up my sleeves for hand-washing or dishwashing.  This top would also be cute with short sleeves or flutter sleeves!

3.  I made my two front panels the same width as the front of my original shirt that I used to draft the pattern, but because of the wide vee created by the wrap, it ends up being wider than the original. That worked for me because I wanted that loose middle pulled in by a bottom band, but if you want a more fitted shape you'll need to compensate by making your front panels narrower, by at least an inch I would say.

Okay.  I will attempt to turn this into a tutorial now, instead of just a collection of tips.  Unfortunately I didn't photograph the steps when I made the first top (the chevron print one)--some of this stuff would have shown up a lot better on that fabric!  Hopefully you'll be able to see what I'm talking about on the white fabric.

Your main pattern pieces:

1 back (cut on fold)
2 front (make sure they are facing opposite directions--they should each have one shoulder)
1 neckline binding strip (I just cut one the entire width of the fabric, which was 54", but ended up with 6-8 inches left over.  If your fabric is really stretchy you will need even less.  Should be about 3" wide depending on how wide you want the binding to be.)
2 sleeve cuffs (5.5" tall, cut on the fold just slightly smaller than the width of the bottom of your sleeve.  I measured around my arm to see how wide I wanted it to be.)
1 waistband (again 5.5" tall, cut on the fold slightly smaller than the bottom of your shirt)

Start by pinning the bodice pieces at the shoulder (right sides together) and sewing.  Once they are attached, lay out your three bodice pieces, right side UP.

You are going to attach the neckline binding strip next.  My shirt was 52" around the neck opening (starting from where the angled neckline meets the side seam on one side, going around the neckline, and ending on the other side seam).  I cut my binding strip (doesn't have to be on the bias since the knit is stretchy), folded it in half lengthwise (right side OUT) and gave it a quick press, and serged the raw edges just for prettiness and to hold it together.

Then, with my bodice pieces right side up, I lined the serged (or raw) edges of my binding strip up with the raw edges of the neckline. Stretching the binding strip gently as I went, I pinned all along the neckline.

Oh, I should mention that on the white top, I didn't have enough width to cut straight across the fabric for my binding strip so mine had a seam.  I lined it up with the shoulder seam but you could put it right in the middle too.

I did my side seams next, but if you like to attach your sleeves while they are still open you can do that now (that's the way she does it in the tutorial I linked to above).  If you're going to attach your sleeves later like I did, here's how to do the side seams:

Choose which of your front panels will be on top in the finished shirt and line it up on the back piece (right sides together).

Don't pin anything yet, just make sure that your armhole and side seams are lined up.  If the bottom doesn't match exactly that's ok.  Next, pull down the other side and line it up as well.  Once both panels are lined up, sew down the side seams, from armpit to the bottom of the shirt.  I serged so that it would look nice but this part doesn't need to stretch so a straight stitch would be fine.

I didn't cut all of my pieces out at the same time--I waited until my bodice was assembled before cutting out my waistband.  As I mentioned before, it's 5.5" tall, and I just folded the fabric in half and cut so that it was slightly smaller than the opening at the bottom of my shirt.  Then with right sides together on the band, I sewed the short ends together to make it into a circle.

Then fold the circle in half, lengthwise,so that you have one folded finished edge on the bottom of the circle and two raw edges on the top.  Use 4 pins to mark the sides and the middle evenly, then attach your band to the shirt.  Shirt needs to be right-side out, then slip your band over the bottom of it so that the raw edges are lined up.  I put the seam on my band right in the middle at the back of the shirt.  Line up the side seams of the shirt with the pins you used to mark the sides of the band and stretch the band evenly around the bottom of the shirt.

You can sew the band on with a zig-zag stitch for stretch or use a serger.

Next I made my sleeves.  I sewed the seam on the sleeve, then cut out my cuffs.  On the white shirt, my cuffs were only 4" tall; on the chevron print they were 5.5".  I cut them on the fold so that they would be snug around my arm just below the elbow (where my sleeve ends).  Then I stretched them gently and attached to the bottom of the sleeve using a zig-zag stitch, just like with the waistband at the bottom of the shirt.

When your sleeves are assembled, turn your top wrong-side out.  Then slip the right-side out sleeve into the armhole, lining up the raw edges and the seam of the sleeve with the side seam of the shirt, and sew into place.  I just used a straight stitch on my sewing machine for this.

See the right-side-out sleeve poking out of the wrong-side-out neckline?
Once you trim your threads, you're done!  Oh wait--I guess you should attach the other sleeve first.  But then you're done!

I made this image for the top of the post at first, then decided I couldn't use this ridiculous photo of myself, even if it does show the top better than the other pics:


Oh!  And I had just enough left from my chevron print to make this baby hat (printable pattern from zaaberry here).  I'm dying from the cute a little.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Rags to Riches: An Upcycled Snow White Costume

In which a handful of scraps of old baby clothes and rejected fabric get assembled into a dress fit for a queen (well, okay, a princess).

Presenting:  The Upcycled Snow White Dress!

 The princess obsession is in full force around here, with my newly minted 3-year-old.  I am not a princess person myself, but I didn't ban it or anything, so when Disney and his minions began working their way into the girl's consciousness, I was at first amazed and a little worried at how quickly and completely the princess posse grabbed her attention and interest.  However, I--hmm.  I'm struggling with how to put this.  Well, basically, I like playing along with whatever my kids are excited about.  When it was Thomas the Tank Engine for the boy, we did a Thomas birthday party.  He got Thomas gifts from us and family members.  And as it turns out, even though I didn't intend to be the mom of a "princess," it happens to be what she's into, and I'm going to let her have fun with it, and enjoy her enjoying it.  But there still is something mesmerizing about those Disney princesses for my girl (and many others).  My question is, how do they do it?  And how can I apply it to the eating of vegetables?

Anyway, when the big 3 birthday was rolling around, I thought a princess dress to add to the dress-up collection was in order.  I had a yard of this yellow fabric that I had ordered online thinking it was a cotton jersey, but it turned out to be something else--still not sure what, but definitely synthetic.  It is a knit, though.  But I had planned to use it to make pj's, and it definitely wasn't going to work for that.  Since Snow White is one of her faves (despite never having seen the movie--that singing voice might change her mind!  Yeeesh!), and her dress has a yellow skirt, I knew which princess I'd be going for.  It helps that she doesn't wear pink or sparkles.

The pickings were slim in my t-shirt upcycling pile in blues, though.  I ended up finding a blue toddler t-shirt and a light blue infant sleep sack, and making do. I had plenty of little scraps of red.

My supplies

I had planned to go with a peasant style bodice, but since the only dark blue I had was the bottom half of a toddler shirt, I modified it so that only the sleeves were elasticized and the center portion just laid flat.

That's all she wrote for dark blue.

I thought I'd take advantage of the elasticized bottom on this newborn sleep sack since I planned on using elastic at both the top and bottom of my sleeves.

I cut off the bottom of the sleep sack and used the front and back for the two sleeves.  The elastic at the bottom became the elastic armhole at the bottom of my sleeve.

I based my sleeve measurements on this peasant dress pattern from Ellie Inspired, and used her curve cutout for my sleeves and bodice.

As you can kind of see from the picture, I used the hemline from the dark blue shirt as the top of my bodice.  I cut the curve out of all of my fabrics at once--the bodice front and back, folded in half, and the two sleeves, each folded in half.  This means I cut through 8 layers of fabric at once.  Risky, I know!  One thing I would have done differently is to place the sleeve pieces so they were sticking up about 1/2 inch above the bodice pieces, since the edge of the bodice was already finished and I would have to hem the sleeve pieces under.

 After cutting the curve out, I used some of my red t-shirt scraps to cut six teardrop shapes and sew them to the light blue sleeve pieces.  I just eyeballed my placement.  I also sewed a piece of yellow bias tape down the center front of the bodice at this point.

 Since I was using the bottom of the t-shirt as my bodice, I decided to leave it all one piece instead of cutting it into a front/back.  That meant that instead of assembling my bodice in a t-shape (with the sides open), I first sewed my sleeves to the bodice, then turned the bodice wrong-side out to close up the sleeve seams.  Hopefully these pictures will help:

Right side out bodice, face up, with sleeves laid face down, curved edges matching up.  Sewn on the front of the bodice.

Sleeves attached on the front
Oh, nicely done, Beth--here where it gets a little confusing I gave up on the pictures.  It was a few weeks ago--maybe this is where I decided that this wouldn't make such a good tutorial after all?  The best that I can remember is that I turned the bodice wrong-side-out at this point so that I could attach the sleeves on the back of the bodice, then sewed the sleeves closed while it was wrong-side out.

It would be much simpler to just have a bodice in two separate pieces, but I was worried that mine might be too small, since I'm pretty sure it was only a 12-month size shirt that I was working with.  I didn't want to risk making it any smaller by adding side seams.

ANYWAY, to "peasantize" the sleeves, I just cut a piece of elastic (about 4 inches, but I just kind of eyeballed it), rolled the top of the sleeve over to hide the raw edge, pinned the elastic to the top of the sleeve, and stretched it as I sewed.  I just sewed the raw edge of the sleeve down at the same time, although it would probably be easier to do that first.

Ready to stretch that elastic

Finished sleeve
And then the bodice was done!

I won't go into a lot of detail on the skirt, because I had some grand plans that didn't work out so well...

That is NOT how the seam is supposed to look, I'm pretty sure
 But in the end, it was attached, and I was happy with it.  I will say that the fabric was really thin and swingy so I wanted to do a double layer.  I folded the yard in half and the skirt was a little too long--I had 4 extra inches or so, so I cut that off, cut it in half so that I had 2 long strips that were 2 inches wide, and sewed them together and gathered them and attached them to the underneath layer of the skirt.   You can see it peeking out in some of the photos--I wish I had measured better so that it stuck out more evenly.  The fabric was wide (54"), and I gathered the full width.

Oh, and I had to make the Snow White headband to go with it!  I looked at this pattern and eyeballed my own to get the size I wanted.  I think this bow is SO CUTE!  I even got her to wear it for Easter with her Cece dress, since it was red.

If Snow White had a light saber, it would be purple.
The purple light saber was a birthday present from big bro, which we made as a joint effort.  I will blog about that project soon!

Light Saber Duel

 I know this wasn't the most detailed of tutorials, so please let me know if you are going to attempt this and would like some more specifics. I was mostly winging it but I'd be happy to take some measurements etc. if the interest is there!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Short Sleeve Button Down Upcycle: Men's to Boys

Every time I think about this shirt I made for The Boy to wear on Easter, I can't help but think of Boyz II Men.  But that's ridiculous, because this shirt went from Men II Boyz.  Get it together, Brain!

Anyway, this was a really simple transformation.  Basically I used a boys' short-sleeved button down as my template and cut the big shirt up into the right size pieces and sewed them back together.  I didn't separate the front from the back, and I left the neckline alone, so there was just the body piece, and the two sleeves (cut from the bottom of the original sleeve, of course, so I didn't have to hem them).  I laid the body out, right side up, so that the neck hole was in the middle, and laid the flat sleeve pieces right-side-down on top and pinned the raw edges together (a la this tutorial from Melly Sews).  Once the sleeves were on, I sewed the sides closed starting with the sleeves and ending with the bottom of the shirt, then hemmed the bottom.  So easy!

I was worried that the neck opening would look awkwardly huge since it's from a men's shirt (size medium, for the record), but I think you would never even know!  It doesn't look too big at all.  And my boy doesn't have a beefy neck or anything.

The one thing that's a little funny is that the little embroidered logo that was once where a chest pocket might be is situated kind of on the middle of his torso.  So if your original shirt had a pocket, that might look kind of weird.

This shirt belonged to my grandpa, and I love being able to repurpose stuff like that.  He always wore blue that brought out his bright blue eyes, so when The Boy has this on it makes me think of him.

I also made these pants--post on that coming soon.

Which is not to say that The Boy doesn't make it his own!

Here's the before pic!  I remembered to take one this time :)