Tag Archives: sew

RE-FASHION: Bow Backed Shirt

I don’t know about you, but by the time the end of April comes around I get really really sick of my wardrobe. Perhaps this feeling is due to the beautiful weather or just a craving for something as fresh and crisp as the Spring breeze. In years past, this feeling would result in a nice little Spring shopping spree on my part, but since I will not be buying any new clothing for the entire year I needed to find a different solution. That solution, my friends, is a dandy little re-fashion!

My personal style is very comfortable and plain. I wear a lot of neutrals and greys, jeans and leggings, and love to accessorize with scarves and special details. This shirt is the perfect fit for that! It is a very standard long-sleeve with a touch of something special in the back. For some reason, I have recently been obsessed with adding special details to the backs of shirts. I think it is so under-rated and special. It’s like a good mullet–all orderly in the front but a party in the back. Classy.

The inspiration and idea for this re-fashion came from Donatella from inspiration & realisation. She has a beautiful blog about her sewing and fashion adventures. She finds a lot of great inspirations from some of the biggest (and most expensive) designers and then re-creates their pieces in her own way. This shirt was inspired by a t-shirt design by Red Valentino. Sure, it may not have the designer label but it is oodles and oodles of dollars cheaper and can be completely recycled (depending on where you get your supplies). I’ll admit that I re-fashioned this shirt three-or-so months ago so I will do my best to reiterate the steps. If anything is unclear, feel free to reference Donatella’s post for further clarification or ask below.

As mentioned above, my version of this shirt was made of completely recycled materials. The grey long-sleeved shirt came straight from my closet and the black meshy back panel came from a thrifted shirt. You could also use fabric scraps from projects past. If you decide to head to the thrift store to find some workable pieces, look for large pieces of fabric that are suited to your needs. You may perhaps consider using different colours or types of materials.

  • a t-shirt or long-sleeved shirt that fits you
  • meshy fabric (large enough to create both a large back panel and a bow)
  • scissors
  • tape measurer
  • pen
  • pins
  • thread (that matches your t-shirt colour)
  • sewing machine
Let me first note that this will require the use of a sewing machine. My mother’s sewing machine and I do not get along (at all) so I opted to have my Mama help me with the actual sewing part. If you are unexperienced with a sewing machine, just note that this may be a bit of a challenge. But do your best and persevere because I’m sure it will turn out great!
ONE: Gather your materials. TWO: Lay out your t-shirt or long-sleeved shirt so that the back is facing up. Using a tape measurer or ruler, find the centre of the back. From the centre point, measure 4-6 inches down from the top (depending on the size of your shirt) and place a mark. Cut a straight line up the back, ensuring to leave the 4-6 inches at the top un-touched. THREE: Using your pins, pin the edges under creating a symmetrical triangle. FOUR: Turn the shirt inside out and cut out a triangle of the black meshy fabric that is slightly larger than the triangle of the t-shirt or long-sleeve shirt. Pin the black meshy fabric in place. FIVE: Turn your shirt the right way out again. Using your sewing machine, sew the black fabric into place on the t-shirt or long-sleeve shirt. Once it is sewn on, cut out any additional scraps from the inside. Creating the Bow: I can’t really give you step-by-step instructions for creating the bow. I personally used the sleeve of my black meshy shirt. I randomly scrunched the centre, sewed, wrapped fabric here and there and somehow came out with this bow. I then safety pinned the bow onto the back of the shirt and tried on the shirt to ensure that it was placed in an appropriate position. When I was satisfied, I hand sewed the bow onto the back of the shirt and voila!
There you have it! As I said before, this shirt can be customized in a variety of ways. Perhaps you could make the back panel out of a floral fabric or a bright colour. It can be dressed up (with a pair of skinny jeans and black boots) or could be worn very casually (with some leggings and cargo boots). It really is a fun and practical piece to create and have!
Always remember that there are ways to update your style and be economically and environmentally friendly. Thanks for stopping by!
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sustainable Living: Thrifting Fabrics

I am pleased to present to you A SMILE EACH DAY‘s very first Sustainable Living post!

When the ball dropped this past New Year’s Eve, millions of people around the world made their annual New Year’s resolution. I’ve never been one for New Year’s Resolutions (after all, who says we have to wait for a New Year to make changes in our lives?), but this year I decided to take on the challenge of making a change. Although the typical “exercise more” and “eat less” resolutions could be beneficial for me (let’s just say I’d rather be knitting than attempting to balance on a giant yoga ball), I wanted to attempt something that would not only challenge me but also test my creative energies.

As a result, I committed myself to at least one year of not buying any new clothing. I am a self-professed shopaholic, so this challenge seemed daunting at the turn of the new year. But there are a few reasons for my decision to do this.

I believe in justice. I have been reading a book (you can expect both a review and recommendation of it when I finish) about what it means to truly extend love to other people in this world. The author notes that justice doesn’t just mean “punishment for wrongs” but also means “healing and restoration”. I am privileged and lucky to live in a free country where the value of my labour is appreciated, but not everyone in the world has that privilege. Many children, women, and men are treated improperly and violently as they create the many “things” that we, North Americans, consume. I believe that if I have the privilege to live in a country where I have the freedom to choose what I consume, I am responsible to understand the effects of that consumption. This can be hard to do, but it is a worth-while process. I want to show love to the people who are often forced to make the clothing that I purchase for such a “cheap” price.

Another reason why I chose to take on this challenge is for environmental reasons. I am not a perfect environmentalist, but I think that being conscious about the impact our choices have on the natural environment is important. Our earth is a shared space–it’s selfish to have a “consume consume consume” mentality. The earth is our temporary home and we need to preserve it for future generations.

Finally, I took on this challenge for creative purposes. I have always been a craft-enthusiast and hands-on kind of person, but this challenge has forced me to take that to new levels. I have learned how to knit (after all, I need to feed my scarf addiction somehow), dabbled in sewing, and even took on some re-fashioning! My challenge even inspired me to start this blog and share my creative endeavours in the cyber-world.

So, that leads me here. In taking on my challenge, I set a few parameters before I began. First of all, I set myself a small budget for emergencies. This can be used to buy things that are absolutely needed, such as a work uniform. Secondly, I am allowing myself to buy new undergarments and shoes. This doesn’t mean that I will be buying a ton of these things, but for sanitary reasons, I don’t want someone’s old shoes or undies. Finally, I am allowing myself to thrift shop. Although this is buying clothes, it is also recycling. Not to mention, most thrift shops are operated to support charitable organizations. So after the longest intro ever (sorry about that!), let’s get to what this post is actually all about…

 Thrifting fabrics is something that I have just recently been exposed to. Although it is a somewhat new concept for me, I have fully jumped on the bandwagon. It is inspiring, thrilling, and (as this post’s title suggests) sustainable! So I have written this post to encourage a little fabric thrifting on your part. That is, if you are willing to open yourself up to it.

Thrifting fabrics is exactly what it implies–finding pieces of fabric from a thrift store and using that material to make your projects. This includes any material you may find within the walls of a thrift store, such as clothing, table cloths, towels, bags, blankets, bed sheets, curtains, or even just old scraps of material that someone has donated.

  1. THE THREE R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle): The process of thrifting fabrics is fufilling all three of the well known R’s. You are reducing your consumption of new materials, reusing someone else’s waste, and recycling what was old and making it new! These three practices are environmentally friendly and all three of them are preventing those items from finding their place in a landfill.
  2. TREASURED GOLD: In my opinion, thrifting fabrics is like being on a treasure hunt. You know there are treasures out there but you just have to find them! Entering a thrift store is exhilerating because it is up to you to locate the best find. Scrounging the clothes racks for the best patterns and materials is exciting. When you find that perfect fabric your mood is instantly elevated to a point that can only be surpassed after you realize the piece is only a couple bucks (which leads me to my next point).
  3. COST EFFICIENT: Let’s face it, fabric can get pretty pricey. But when you thrift an old shirt or a lace tablecloth, you are getting a major bang for your buck. Most thrift stores just want to keep their items circulating. They price things appropriately to keep the goods selling.
  4. CREATIVE CHALLENGE: Thrifting fabric can sometimes put you in stressful creative circumstances. You have to understand how certain items can be used to maximize what they have to offer. This is a positive challenge though. It helps to get your creative juices flowing and keeps you sharp on your problem solving skills!
  5. GIVE BACK: Most thrift stores are operated by non-profit organizations or at least strive to give most of their profits to a worthy cause. As opposed to putting your money in the hands of big-time corporations, wouldn’t you rather that your money helped someone or something in need? As far as I’m concerned, thrifting fabrics kills two birds with one stone–it serves your creative itch AND does a little good.

There really isn’t a lot of skill that goes along with thrifting fabrics, but I thought I would share a few of the tips and tricks that I have learned through my experiences…

Know What You’re Looking For. Either make a list or mentally remember what projects you want to tackle. This will allow you to have a direction to your hunting. It is easy to go into a thrift store and waste hours scrounging every rack. But if you have a direction, you are less likely to waste your time and energy. Consider what types of fabrics you are looking for how they will be used. In the end, this will save you both time and money.

Bigger Really Is Better. The bigger the piece of fabric is, the better the deal. Look through the table cloth section and the plus-size section. These pieces are great for re-fashioning and for larger projects that require more material.

Be Picky. If something isn’t quite what you’re looking for, don’t get it. Some questions to consider are “How can I use this?”, “Is there anything I don’t like about this piece of fabric?”, “How will the material hold up if I cut through it/will it fray?”. If the fabric isn’t exactly what you want, don’t buy it.

Set a Limit. I usually set a financial limit of four dollars on any one single item. Sometimes you find an awesome item but it is priced at $9.00 or more. This is NOT worth it so move on. Also, set a limit on the number of items you can buy. It is pointless to buy lots and lots of items if you don’t have a purpose for them in mind. Don’t over-do it.

Always Wash Your Finds. It is a myth that thrift stores are “festering with bed bugs and diseases”, but still take precautions and wash your items before you use them. Sometimes, your item may have a stain on it and washing it helps to get that out. It’s just easier to work with items that you know are fresh and clean.

The More You Go, The Better You Get. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t find any great pieces right away. Keep going back and challenging yourself. On any given trip you will not be able to find all of the items on your list. But keep going and learn what processes of hunting work for you.

Understand Your Thrift Store. Do some research about the thrift stores you are choosing. See what organizations they support and choose whether that is something you want to put your money towards. Sometimes, smaller thrift stores give more of their proceeds to a non-profit. Be choosy about what you support.

Try your hand at one of these DIY’s or UPCYCLE’s featured on my blog using thrifted fabrics.

    

There you have it. I hope that after reading this, you feel more confident about thrifting fabrics and the possibilities that it can bring to your crafting and re-fashioning endeavours. Don’t be afraid to give it a try. Crafting doesn’t have to be expensive. Instead, it can be cost-efficient, thrilling, unique, and sustainable! There are ways to have creative hobbies and still be conscious of and sensitive to environmental concerns. And that is one of the most important things as inhabitants on this planet. After all…

“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children” (Native American Proverb)

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. I hope that you are willing to adopt sustainability in your hobbies. Many blessings on your future projects!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Knitting 101: Double-Wrap Infinite Scarf

It’s almost the end of February. The sun may be staying out longer but the crisp air sure seems to be getting cooler with each passing day. Although we winter-haters can’t change the work of the weather clouds, we can make our bitter cold days a little bit cozier with a little handmade loving.

My friends will be the first to tell you that I have a scarf addiction. Not a day goes by without (what I like to call) a “fluffy” scarf wrapped around my neck. It could be a comfort thing, but the coziness of scarves help me get through these cold winter days (along with a few cups of tea, of course). Fun colours help make my day, and outfit, a little brighter.

This pattern is an adaption of a pattern on the back of a wool label. It is extremely easy if you know how do both knits and purls. I personally like really thick scarves so I opted to use a nice thick wool. One brand that has proven to be a wonderful brand for thick scarves is LOOPS & THREADS CHARISMA. You will most likely find it at any Michael’s Craft Store. It can prove to be a little bit expensive but if you are an avid flyer-browser you will quite often come across it on sale every now and then. If you can’t justify the price, check out some other brands too. Just look at the thickness and softness of the strand. I have used BERNAT ROVING and LOOPS & THREADS COUNTRY LOOM for other knitting projects in the past and they work pretty well too.

Another important thing to consider when making a thick and fluffy scarf is needle size. In my opinion, bigger is better. But remember that if you are going to use big needles, you need to have a thick wool.

 Alright. All of that is said and done–so let’s get to the goods!

MATERIALS

  • 2 balls of a thick wool, in any desired colour (the scarf in the picture is Copper)
  • A pair of 10mm straight knitting needles

PROCESS

Cast on 26 stitches. Starting with the first row, continuously repeat this pattern:

Row 1: Knit 2, Purl 2 (should end on a K2)

Row 2: P2, K2 (should end on a P2)

Row 3: Knit

Row 4: Purl

Continue this pattern through both balls of wool. When you have either reached your desired length or you are fairly close to the end of your second ball, finish the scarf on Row 2 before you cast the scarf off your needles. The scarf will be fairly long because it is designed to be a double-wrapped scarf. Finish the scarf by sewing the two ends together with the excess string of the wool. Sew in all loose ends (such as where the two balls were joined). Voila–you have a cozy new (and extremely easy to make) infinite scarf!

 VARIATIONS

Single-Wrapped Infinite: If you can’t handle being tangled in a double-wrapped infinite scarf, try adding more initial stitches to make the scarf wider. Add stitches in increments of 4 (such as 30, 34, 38, 42, 46, 50…etc.). If you use 50 initial stitches, it will most likely take the same amount of wool. Then just follow the pattern as stated above. Make it long enough so it wraps around your neck once.

Regular Scarf: If you hate infinite scarves and/or would rather have a regular scarf, this pattern can be adapted to do that. Just follow the pattern as instructed but don’t sew the two ends together at the end. Instead, just leave them as sharp edges or sew in strands of extra wool to the ends and tie. Be creative to determine different ways in which it can be “finished” to give it a unique quality.

There you have it. Even if you despise these cold winter days, this scarf will hopefully make your days a little more bearable. Now I’m off to have my cup of tea…

Happy Knitting!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

DIY: Customized Mittens

The temperature is below freezing and the snow has come, but I have not let that deter me from crafting. Instead, I combined the best of both worlds and came up with a DIY to keep your paws warm.

This DIY project requires a little hand-sewing and a little bit of time, but otherwise it is easy, fun, and can be customized in a variety of ways!

  • old or thrifted pair of mittens
  • fabric scraps (stretchy fabric works the best)
  • needle
  • thread
  • pins
  • scissors
  • pen
  • cue-card

STEP ONE:

Decide which shapes you would like to use to customize your mittens. Cut the desired shapes out of the cue-card.

Place the cut-out shapes on your mittens to ensure that they are an appropriate size. Make any adjustments that are necessary before continuing. I made these mittens for a friend and she asked that one mitten have these specific initials on them, and the other have a heart. You can choose whichever shapes you would like…be creative!

STEP TWO:

Using your pen, trace your cutout shapes on the back of your fabric scrap. I found that stretchy fabric works the best because it has a little bit of give and doesn’t fray around the edges. Cut out your shapes.

TIP: If you decide to use a stiff fabric, after cutting out your shapes, apply a coat of clear nail polish to the edges of your shape. This will prevent the edges from fraying.

STEP THREE:

Put your mittens on. Place your cut-out shapes on the mittens and pin into place. By putting your hand in the mitten, it allows you to line the fabric scrap up with how the mittens will be when worn. Do this for both mittens.

STEP FOUR:

Crumple up a scrap paper or an old newspaper. Place the crumpled piece into the mitten while you sew. Sew on the fabric shape and secure appropriately when finished. Remove the pins. Try on your mitten to ensure that it is lined up properly. Repeat all of the steps for the second mitten.

STEP FIVE:

Enjoy your new and completely customized mittens! Guaranteed you will never find someone with the same pair (always a great benefit to DIYing and upcycling)!

So whether you love or hate the snow, these mittens are sure to keep you cozy and fashionable over the next few wintery months! Many blessings and thanks for reading. Happy crafting!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,