Tag Archives: sewing

“Mission: Parachute Pants” is Complete!

I trust you all had a wonderful long weekend. I know what you’re thinking: “It’s already Thursday and the long weekend is long gone“, right? I suppose you’re right. Although the long weekend officially ended three days ago, I’m still recuperating. I was camping so I needed a little extra time to catch up on my sleep and to clean up a little bit (I’ll admit it, I didn’t shower for four days).

Anyways, I am very exited to finally be able to share some photos of this project with you! As you may or may not know, I recently learned how to sew. No, I should re-phrase that. I recently started to sew (I am not experienced enough to say “learned”). I finally found a great fabric store close by so I decided that I wanted to take on my very first sewing project. After rifling through stacks and stacks of pattern books, I (for some bizarre and completely naive reason) chose my very first project: a pair of Aladdin-inspired pants!

If you are an old pro at sewing and are reading this, you are probably thinking to yourself “What in the heavens is this crazy nineteen year-old amateur sewer thinking by choosing to make a pair of pants as her first project!?”. I don’t judge you for asking that question. I considered this multiple times myself throughout the process (just add in a few “stupid”s and “freaking”s for a more accurate portrayal). I hit some discouraging moments and misunderstandings in the pattern, but as you can see, I kept going, asked lots of questions, pushed through, and finally finished!

I started the pants about a month back but hit a road block when the pattern called for “fusible interfacing”. As expected, I had no idea what that was. As a result, I packed up my gear and ignored the project for a little while. When I resumed, I quickly got stopped once again when my mom’s sewing machine broke. Luckily, my wonderful grandma lent me hers so I could get back at it. This morning I woke up, ate some breakfast, and said to myself “Today is the day that I am going to finish my pants!“. And what do you know…I did!

When I finished, I eagerly grabbed my camera and grabbed my sister and we did a little photo shoot. It may or may not have taken place in my neighbour’s backyard. (Linda, if you’re reading this, we are sorry for using your backyard. But you should take it as a compliment–we love your gardens!). We had some good laughs in the process.

Just as one last thought, I want to quickly bring up my purpose for attempting to make handmade clothing. If you have been following my blog for a while now, you are probably familiar with my “no-buying-new-clothes-for-a-whole-year” challenge. I am not buying any new clothing for a variety of reasons (you can read more about that here). As a result, I have been on a major thrifting and refashioning mission. I understand that making your own clothing is not the most environmentally friendly or ethical approach to clothing (unless you extensively research where your fabric is coming from and how it is produced), but I did find the process of making my own pair of pants very enlightening. I now understand the amount of effort and time that goes into producing a piece of clothing. By personally turning a flat piece of fabric into something wearable, I have saved someone else from doing that for me–someone who would most likely be a young child, forced to work under harsh working conditions. I have a whole new appreciation for the material-to-clothing production process. So in a way, making my own clothing from scratch can be sustainable. In the future, I am definitely interested in seeking out ethically produced fabrics and materials to make that much more of an effort to be sustainable.

I guess I’ll leave it at that. What was your first sewing project? If you have never tried sewing but are interested, what would your first sewing project be? I just want to encourage you to give it a try if you never have but are interested. It is definitely intimidating but it is also rewarding! Join in on the conversation below–I would love to hear about some of your sewing adventures. Thanks for reading!

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DIY: Braided Bracelets

Please excuse my lack of DIY posts as of late. I have some great projects lined up but I got set back a little bit because my sewing machine broke. Luckily, my grandma was more than willing to lend me hers, so I’ve been back at it. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to re-fashion a shirt that I have been meaning to do for some time. You can expect a post about it shortly (I just have to get around to getting some photos of it). But, in the meantime, I did whip together a very quick DIY that utilized the scrap materials from my re-fashion. That excites me (hip-hip-horray for recycling)!

Once again, I am thrilled to say that these cute little feminine bracelets are made of completely recycled materials. I grabbed a few of the scraps from the t-shirt I cut away at and a scrap of a floral fabric that I already had and then simply braided them together. The braid is then hand-stitched to an old stretchy hair tie.

MATERIALS 

For this project, you will need: three strips of scrap fabric, scissors, thread (in your desired colour), a needle, and a stretchy hair tie.

PROCESS

ONE: Tie the three pieces of scrap material together in a tight knot. TWO: Begin to braid the pieces tightly. Continue braiding until it is long enough to wrap around your wrist (with a little bit extra). When you have reached a desired length, sew the pieces together to secure. THREE: Begin sewing the braid to an old hair elastic. Ensure that the elastic is stretchy enough to fit comfortably around your wrist. Sew all the way around until the entire braid is attached. Voila!

They make great little bracelets that have a wonderful Spring vibe! They are so quick to make that I made a few of them at one time. I now have them on hand to add pizzaz to any casual outfit or to give as a sweet little gift. I also think they pair quite nicely with pearls (but I’m a bit biased because I love pearls with anything)! In terms of variation, you could sew your braid to a stretchy headband or even attempt a four-piece braid. Either way, they are simple, recycled, and very cute!

Thank you for stopping by and reading! I hope that you have a reason to find a smile today (you deserve it)!

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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!
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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!

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UPCYCLE: Heart Lace Cardigan

Cardi-a-holic. Yep, that would be an accurate term to describe myself. Nothing beats throwing on a comfy cardigan, fluffy scarf, and a pair of jeans. But who said that cardigans have to be frumpy? Be-dazzle (without the fake bling) an old cardigan with a little bit of delicate lace and you will have a whole new sweater in a breeze.

I found this charming maroon cardigan at my local thrift store. To make matters even better, it only cost a couple of dollars. Maroon is definitely one of my favourite colours, so I couldn’t pass it by. But I didn’t want just another cardigan to fill up my closet–I wanted a cardigan that was special. So I took on the “mullet mentality” (all business in the front but a party in the back, anyone?) and added a little something special.

I was inspired by a DIY tutorial by Kinsey on Sincerely Kinsey for this project. When I began the refashion, I totally intended on following Kinsey’s instructions completely. But in the end, I strayed a bit and did what worked best for me. Her tutorial is a fantastic step-by-step process, though, and I strongly suggest referencing it if you intend on taking on this project.

I won’t go into too much detail about using thrifted materials, but when possible, do your best to do this. It makes this project way more cost efficient and sustainable.

  • an old or thrifted cardigan
  • a large piece of lace (could be from a thrifted table cloth, curtain, or simply a found scrap)
  • scissors
  • a fairly large piece of cardboard
  • pen
  • sewing machine
  • needle
  • thread (in an appropriate colour to match either your lace or your sweater colour)
  • pins

My cardigan came from my local thrift store and the lace was an old curtain that my mom has saved for the past 10 years.

ONE: Gather your materials. Lay your cardigan out flat so the back is facing up. Lay your piece of cardboard on the cardigan and draw a heart that is appropriately sized to fill most of the back of the cardigan. When you are content with the size of your heart, cut it out.

TWO: Lay the cardboard heart on the lace fabric. Trace around the cardboard heart onto the lace. Cut out the lace heart. Lay it on the back of the cardigan to ensure it is the right size. When you are happy with it, pin the lace heart into place on the back of the cardigan. Once it is pinned, carefully try on the cardigan and look in the mirror to ensure that the heart is centered and in the perfect place relative to the way the cardigan sits on your body.

THREE: When you are happy with the placement, very loosly (and in large stitches) hand sew the heart into place. This ensures that the lace heart stays in place when you run it through the sewing machine. The next part allows you a few options: Using your sewing machine, you can either sew a seam very close to the edge of the lace or you can sew the seam half an inch in and then hand-sew the edges after tucking them under. I personally did the second option, making the lace heart appear a little bit neater. Whichever way you choose to do it, sew the heart on and then cut out the very loose hand stitches that you did earlier.

FOUR: This is where my version and Kinsey’s version differ. If you would like the back to be open through the lace, you can turn your cardigan inside out and cut away the cardigan within the seam of heart. However, on my version, I decided to leave the cardigan underneath the lace heart. The choice is yours–after all, both versions look adorable.

There you have it. It’s easy to do and can definitely be unique-ified and customized. Be creative with the shape of your lace (flowers anyone!?) or the colour and/or pattern of your cardigan. Whether you want to spice up one of your old cardigans or remake a thrifted one, this project is easy, fun, and creatively fulfilling.

There you have it, team. Stay posted for a very special Sustainable Living post coming your way. Happy Tuesday!

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