One of my chores this weekend was to make my way through a huge pile of mending. Well really it’s part of my roundabout approach to cleaning – I want to clean up the crafting corner of our bedroom, but don’t want to leave all of those half-finished projects just sitting there, and the overflowing mending basket was a big portion of the mess in that corner since it couldn’t fit back on the shelf anymore. That and Carl tried on all of his clothes this weekend to see what still fit and there were three shirts that needed buttons, so I figured it was time to tackle the problem.
As a reward for tackling the pile and because I was changing out the thread on my machine frequently for all of the holes that needed darning, I took some time to get crafty with a couple of my maternity shirts. When I bought this top at Old Navy for $5 I thought I might want it to be a little more fun, but I decided to wear it a couple times to make sure I didn’t want it to be plain to make it more versatile for matching with other things, but it turns out a bright purple t-shirt isn’t really something I’m going to wear to work anyway, and it could handle the spicing up. In the meantime, I discovered Alisa Burke’s blog and this project totally got me inspired to get going on the shirt.
The big flowers are cut from one fabric (the selvage said Alexander Henry 2006) and the small flowers from another (which only said “yen” on the portion of the selvage I have). I was going to go simple and only do the top three flowers, but wouldn’t you know that in the first couple times wearing the shirt, I managed to drip some oil on my belly that stained the shirt, so Carl agreed that while I was embellishing I might as well cover it up. This free motion stitching was so much fun to do! I did a second project while I was at it, that I’ll try to show when I wear it – I’m not sure if it’s the most flattering maternity look, though. I was tempted to add beads and I love Alisa’s paints, so it’s definitely an idea that’s still floating around for further fun play.
At some point last summer, I got tired of how much money I spent on fabric and decided to look creatively around the thrift store. I already had a stack of things to re-make, but sometimes you need a fresh inject, you know? So I started looking at things more for the fabric than for the size & fit. (And to give credit where it’s due, I was pretty inspired by Amanda’s group, and the things she was doing to garage sale finds). Let me tell you, it’s much harder than it looks, and I found a new appreciation for Antoinette and Tina‘s work – and discovered that maybe improvisational clothing making is not a good idea. I’ll be pretty surprised if I get brave enough to wear this at all outside of the house, based on a couple of things.
The green top of the dress is what came from the thrift shop – it was originally a t-shirt that was fairly short and boxy. I was glad to be able to use the original neckline since I don’t have a coverstitcher. The gray fabric is from my stash. A couple of my issues with making this have to do with my beginner status working both with knits and using a serger. I decided that instead of doing a long gathering stitch for the skirt, I would use the gathering function on the serger. The problem was that I didn’t know exactly how much the gray fabric would gather, so I got 80% of the way around the skirt and there wasn’t enough gray fabric left to finish the circle. I don’t know if you can adjust this, or if there’s a certain formula to figure out how much length you need to get a certain gathered length. So I had to piece in a scrap of gray knit, which ended up being crosswise instead of lengthwise – there’s not a lot of stretch in this knit so it’s not too much of an issue, but it’s not really a design feature either. To me, it’s kind of obvious that I stuck it in there because I was fixing a mistake. The other issue is that there’s a spot in the back that sticks out funny, so I almost have to wear that belt to cover the waistline. Oh, and it’s pretty short since I just kept cutting until it was even! I didn’t get it quite right until I had my dress form, which definitely helps! So it’ll have to be worn over skinny jeans or leggings if I do wear it out.
I let the sleeve binding roll up instead of folding it under to hide the raw edge. However, when I sewed it to the green fabric, the armhole stretched out significantly and I had to add darts at each side seam to make it fit again. This could have been because of the texture of the green knit, but I don’t know. I did use a walking foot, which I thought was supposed to avoid stretching. That’s where I got frustrated with this style of sewing and having to “fix” things along the way- I wanted a little more predictability. I really like the detail on the middle of the front with the gray inset and the buttons. To me, that’s the trendy detail that makes me like it all together. Let me know what you think of my attempt!