Category Archives: Thrifting

Maggie Rabbit

Maggie Rabbit
It’s summer, and there has been a lot of sewing and knitting going on, but… It’s summer! So, not much blogging. I have some catching up to do. This is my version of Maggie Rabbit by Alicia Paulson. I bought the pattern instead of the kit and used materials I had on hand to make her up. The body fabric is from a thrifted fleece that wasn’t flattering on me any more (hmmm, questionable whether it ever was, actually). It was a little more stretchy than I imagine the felt would be, so this makes for a nice cuddly soft toy. I had a lot of fun with this, but wasn’t feeling the boots on this version. I do think she needs a companion and another outfit or two, so this won’t be the last you’ll see of Maggie I suspect.
Maggie Rabbit Pattern


Iris Shorts: A First Step Towards Sewing Trousers

Iris Shorts

Check it out! Shorts!

I tried on 20 pairs of pants at a thrift store the other day. Well, some of them I only tried on with one leg up to my knee before rejecting, so this wasn’t as time-intensive as you might suspect. Thrift store shopping itself is an endeavor not to be taken lightly. It’s like a treasure hunt, so of course you know going in to it that you’re going to have to sift through a lot of duds to find that special item. But pants, ai yi yi!

Iris Shorts Side

Hmm. Sorry about the t-shirt shots. Not much of an effort there, huh?

Iris Shorts BackI usually bring a tape measure with me to measure the waist of the pants I’m going to try on, as sizes seem to be so arbitrary, but I’d forgotten it and had to resort to holding up items and hoping I was in the right size range. As it turns out, I’m not sure the tape measure would’ve been that much help. The difference in rises was so different from one pair of pants to the other that it would’ve been hard to read a waist measurement on most of them. The ‘waist’ could really be anywhere from high hip to low hip and most likely not anywhere near your actual waist at all. Then there were funny fabric contents, odd leg shapes, and pockets and embellishments in the most peculiar places. It would have been demeaning if I hadn’t had a sense of humor about it. The whole experience was comical.

Iris Shorts Facing

I used some quilting cotton I had on hand for the facing and pocket lining.

I have had no desire to sew pants for myself in the past, but I’m considering taking the plunge after trying on so many pairs and thinking the only way to a good fit is to make them myself. I am bummed I missed out on Steph’s pants block service that she used to offer. I was in the middle of losing weight when I discovered her business, and by the time I reached goal she had moved on to other ventures. I’m excited about Cake patterns, and hope there’s a pants pattern coming up the pike so we can learn from her pants fitting knowledge!

I bought Kenneth King’s Jeanius course through Craftsy, but now my favorite jeans that I thought I would copy are way too big. I want to trace a pair of well-fitting jeans that don’t have stretch in them so I can reproduce them in corduroy and other fabrics without stretch. I’ll have to dig through some more thrift store piles to find a pair of non-stretch denims. It seems like everything has stretch in it today. Wow, I sound like a cranky old lady: In my day… he he. I’ll keep you posted on that project.

Anyway, since I’m on a Colette roll, I thought I’d try the Iris shorts as a way of dipping my toe into the pants-making waters. It’s a cute and simple pattern. I made the first pair in a solid navy cotton twill. They are comfortable and flattering, even on someone who’s not 20 years old anymore. When I look at these photos, I see wrinkles that might mean something to someone with more pants-fitting expertise, but overall I’m pretty happy with the fit for a first attempt. It’s closer than anything I found in the store, that’s for sure!

I traced from my wider waist size to smaller hip size when tracing off the pattern. I ended up pinching out an inch at the waist and tapering it down to nothing to get a nice fit in the front.

Changes I made:

  • Extended the pocket pieces up to the waistband so they don’t flap around loosely but are anchored at the top.
  • Made the pocket openings 1″ wider.
  • Lengthened the back darts 1/2″
  • Lengthened the legs the tiniest bit: 1/2″

I’m working on a second pair in gingham with the buttons on the pockets. This has definitely boosted my confidence that sewing a pair of trousers that fit could be possible.

A Sketch Journal: MMM Days 4–8

Me Made May continues: Here are some sketches of what I’ve been wearing!

What I wore Me Made May Days 4 through 8

hmm. obviously a pretty random color scheme to my wardrobe!

  1. Colette Rooibos – details below
  2. Blue and Green Plaid Flannel Shirt
  3. Liberty hankie – details below
  4. Colette Ginger with Parfait pockets
  5. Butterick 5678 – 2nd version of this shirt, with 3/4 sleeves

Day 4: Work at home. Nice spring weather.
Worn with thrift store cardigan and gray converse sneakers. Thrift store cardigan refashioned/rescued in the most basic, simplest way: I cut off the too-tight cuffs.
Day 5: Weekend warrior. Cool weather.
Worn with jeans to work in the garden.
Day 6: Looks like a fail, but sometimes life is larger than blogland challenges. Woke up this morning to a family crisis and did what anyone would do in a similar situation: reached for jeans and a comfy t-shirt hanging over a chair and dealt with the weight of the issues at hand. Me Made May never flickered in my brain until late in the day when I realized I had, in fact, dabbed my eyes on a handmade hankie kept in my pocket.
Day 7: Back to work. Worn with sandals and a tee.
Day 8: Work. Rainy, dreary day, cool. Worn with jeans and loafers.

On to some specifics: I finished this Colette Rooibos late last summer, just as the weather turned cool. I never got around to photographing it so here is its first debut.

Summer Rooibos dress

Cute, but not what I was expecting

I have to admit, I feel a little bit taken by the marketing for this pattern. The photos of the model wearing the navy version with cream piping had me thinking that this was more of a wiggle dress. Then the line drawing on the pattern, which we all scrutinize for Clues to the Truth, confirmed my hunch. What I sewed up, and what I ultimately saw others sew up as well, was definitely more of an A-line and floaty silhouette. I keep looking back at those original photos and wanting that dress. I know I shouldn’t be taken in by pretty photos, and I know I shouldn’t expect the movie at the theater to live up to the hype in the funny two-minute trailer, but I never thought the line drawing on the pattern would lie.

I have been to enough photo shoots as an art director to now realize that there must be big orange clips holding back part of that dress on the model. Unfortunately, I don’t have the nerve to walk around with big orange clips all day, and it sure would feel uncomfortable sitting in my office chair anyway.

Summer rooibos dress All right, now that that’s off my chest! The actual dress is cute—I made a few muslins of the bodice before cutting into fabric, and I’m glad I did. I needed an erect back alteration, narrowed and brought the shoulder straps in a bit, and lowered the neckline. The high neckline was not doing my middle-aged bustline any favors. The pockets are awesome, and the collar definitely needed tacking down. I wrestled with the piping around the collar and I’m sure I committed some sort of piping crime by cutting out the cord right at the points trying to make it work. I used some hearty weight cotton fabric which is probably meant for a child’s ottoman or nursery curtains. I thought it would be the right weight for a summer version, but I think it will look better in something heavier like a wool for fall. I sewed this up before I discovered the wonders of Fashion Sewing Supply’s interfacing, so I used some craft store cardboardy stuff that unfortunately makes the facing line show through the bodice.

So, next version: heavier fabric, lighter interfacing, and most likely a lining too. I may play with the silhouette to get closer to the Rooibos in my head!

Liberty handkerchief

Only the best for my nose.

The last project I’ll leave you with is one of a few Liberty handkerchiefs I’ve sewn up lately. Have you seen these? So often I find myself in a fabric store and am drawn like a magnet to the Liberty Tana Lawn without knowing it. As soon as I reach out to pet it, my heart sinks, and I know I’ve done it again. A look at the price on the end of the bolt confirms my suspicion. Liberty cotton is so exquisite, and priced that way. I would love to wrap myself up in a bolt of it, seriously. One of my treats on my recent trip to New York was stopping in at Purl Soho, and I picked up a 1/4 yard of two different Liberty prints for these hand-sewn rolled hem handkerchiefs. I looked for two prints whose wrong sides didn’t look too wrong, if you know what I mean. The hankie “recipe” calls for 12.5″ squares, but I was able to squeeze out 5 slightly smaller squares out of each 54″ cut. (They cut a generous 10″ width and there was a little shrinkage after washing.) I’m enjoying the handwork and have stitched up 3 so far. I feel quite luxurious having a beautiful handkerchief in my pocket or bag.

A Sketch Journal: MMM Days 1–3

Me Made May began rather gray and cold, allowing me to grab some wool to start off the month! Here are some sketches of the handmade or refashioned things I wore the past few days.

Me Made May days one through three

May 1st, 2nd and 3rd

    1. Butterick 5678 – long sleeve eggplant stretch cotton – (Mentioned at bottom of post here)
    2. Green cabled wool hat
    3. 22.5 Degree Scarf
    4. Ribbed wool socks – made for husband. Stolen out of husband’s drawer a year ago when they weren’t worn frequently enough
    5. Liberty hankie – tucked into pocket of jeans
    6. Colette Ginger – thrift store brown pinwale corduroy, with added patch pockets for dog treats!
    7. Cotton string market bag
    8. Schoolhouse Tunic
    9. Refashioned totebag – Took my favorite Strand bookstore bag apart and made it roomier by adding a flat bottom and side panels, and lined the whole thing

Day 1: Work at home. Chilly, rainy day.
Worn with jeans and clogs. Hat and scarf worn while walking the dog.
Day 2: Work at home. Warmer!
Worn with thrifted floral cardi, brown tights and loafers. Used bag for trip to the grocery store.
Day 3: Errands, work at home.
Worn with skinny jeans, bright green long-sleeve tee, and gray converse. Used tote to carry knitting project while son took driving test. (He passed!)