Tag Archives: refashion

Refashion: Down Jacket Into Down Skirt…or…Struggle. Victory.

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Refashion:  Down Jacket Into Down Skirt…or…Struggle.  Victory.

It was a grey and stormy day when I finally cut into a project I had long been contemplating.  It was a refashion, but not just any refashion.  This one involved sewing with a material I had never tried before:  a down jacket.  I had chosen the patterns that were going to help me achieve my goal and planned a little more than half of the project, but there were still questions in my mind about how I was going to finish the rest.  Inspiration images had been pinned to my Pinterest board, but still I mulled it over…until the snow day.  It was finally time.

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

I had already been scheming about refashioning a down jacket into a scarf after seeing these ones, which was the product of a collaboration between Patagonia and Alabama Chanin, but my down-sewing plans expanded when we visited Colorado last winter and I saw a woman wearing a down skirt.  It was such a brilliant idea.

Google revealed that down skirts are actually a thing, even though the Colorado one was the only one I had seen in real life.  So, after a ton of thought, I chose New Look 6843 for the skirt portion, and the waistband from the leggings in McCall’s 7261 for my stretchy waistband.  Since I wanted this to be a pull-on skirt, a waistband and some gores/gussets/godets in the side of the skirt were in order (after seeing the skirt, you can tell me which term is the right one for what I did 😉 ).

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

I managed to turn the back skirt into a single piece and eliminate the zipper.  All of that fit onto the back of the coat, allowing me to use the bottom of the coat as my hem.  It got tricky when I came to the front because that was supposed to be one piece, too.  I really wanted to incorporate the coat zipper in a decorative way (although I planned to sew it shut), and I also wanted the pockets both for decorative and functional purposes, but in the end, it was too much of a struggle.  I realized that by opening my sleeves and sewing them together, I would have enough for my front piece.  I still had plenty of the stretchy fleece left from my Toaster Sweaters for my waistband and gores/gussets/godets.  Then it was all construction.

This is probably the point when you are asking how in the world I cut and sewed that crazy stuff.  That is a very important question.  Here is what I did:  I marked my cutting lines with a water-soluble pen and sewed with a straight stitch on either side of my cut line in the hopes that it would hold all the down in.

Do you think it worked?

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

Well, it sort of did.  Not ALL of the down came out.  But some did.  Here’s how I had to sew.

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

You can’t see it in this picture, but I also had pink-eye (conjunctivitis) at the time.  Nice, huh?  (Luckily no down got in my eye.  That would have been…um…gross.)

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

I had the BRILLIANT idea of vacuuming off the edges after I cut them.  I do not recommend this.  Maybe you thought of the problem with this.  It actually dislodged things, so it was sort of like it was snowing outside and snowing inside.  That was the point at which I realized I really needed to get this finished that same day.  We had some sickness in our house that week, and I wasn’t feeling my best, but I decided to power through in the hopes that it was all in my head.  (It wasn’t all in my head, but I powered through anyway!)

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

I also realized that I needed to cover every seam on the inside if I didn’t want to perpetually shed feathers.  This was the point where things got a little…”Becky-home-ecky” (sorry if your name is Becky).  The finishing, while functional and necessary, didn’t meet the vision I had in my head, but I was sort of racing against the down and my nausea.  The good news is, when I’m wearing it, I think it looks like something I could have bought at an outdoor store.  (If you disagree, you don’t have to tell me.)  It’s only if you get up close or look inside that you see the craziness, and since people don’t do that when I’m wearing it (thank goodness!), I think I’m safe.  Want to see it?  Check it out!

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

This skirt has the added benefit of a little puffy booty enhancement up top.  It’s too high for people to think you pooped in your pants, so I like to think of it as booty enhancement.  Maybe it’s because I sewed all the darts in the skirt, even though I basically negated them with those side triangles.  I needed the triangles, though because if you’re going to eliminate the zipper, you need some way to get your skirt on!

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

Skirt front (above)

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

Skirt back (above)

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

Side view (above). I folded the front of the skirt down at the top a bit because it was originally higher in the front and lower in the back, but that feels weird to me.  I want it the other way around.

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

Inside front (above).  I covered my seams with fleece, but didn’t sew with a wide enough seam allowance, so I ended up sewing extra lines and hand-tacking things just to get all those feathery seams covered.  I also covered my top seams with wide fold-over-elastic (although I didn’t fold it), and used a zig-zag stitch to hold it down and allow for a little stretch at the waist.  That doesn’t look great, either, but again, you don’t really notice it that much when I’m wearing it, so whatever!

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

Inside back (above)

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

Inside side view (above).  Here’s where it started to get ugly, but I just wanted to finish at this point.  It was helpful to have the coat lining as a lining for my skirt because I could hand tack the fleece to it.

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

Despite any deficiencies in the finishing, I LOVE THIS SKIRT!!!!  When I wear it, I feel ready to take on winter!  The fit is great and it is so cozy that I wore it for two days straight after making it (and vacuuming my work room a.k.a. our living room…twice).  In January I made these fleece leggings and the Toaster Sweater that I’m wearing in this picture, and this outfit is pretty much winter perfection.  I love it so much.

After I finished, I contemplated making a scarf from the remnant of the jackets, but I decided to just put it away for now.  I DID NOT like sewing with all that down.  However…my husband had the brilliant idea to make a scarf from it in the summer…while sewing outside.  He’s so smart!

Recommendations

  • On Wednesday I made the Blueberry Poppyseed Snacking Cake from the Seven Spoons cookbook, and now I just want to eat that all the time.  I know this would be unwise, so I gave the last piece away before I could eat it.
  • I have some old gaiters from L.L. Bean that I just love.  They don’t sell the exact style I have anymore, so this is the closest I could find, but they are great if it’s snowy out and I don’t feel like putting snow pants on.  I can walk through several inches of snow without it getting in my shoes or on my pants.  I used them for a walk on Thursday, and it just reminded me of how much I love them.
  • Is orange the new black?  Are doughnuts the new croissants?  Do you like to say that _____ is the new ______ ?  Then check out this fun and funny website, where each time you click, you get a new ‘this is the new that’.
  • This week I found out that everything is better with doodles.  😉

A Vintage Blanket Becomes a Skirt

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Years ago some amazing sewing ladies who are my mother’s friends, gave me a vintage wool blanket (among other things).  They had a business repairing antique quilts, as well as upcycling quilts that couldn’t be repaired and turning them into handmade goods.  When they moved on to other things, they gave me some of their fabric and thread.  I didn’t sew much at the time, but being a creative person, they thought I might be able to use the things.

One of my favorite items was part of a woolen blanket with two sets of initials on it.  It was a winter white with two blue stripes and navy embroidery, and although I didn’t know its story, it seemed special.  I put it aside until just the right project presented itself.  It finally seemed that I had found the perfect use for it when I saw the Brumby Skirt by Megan Nielsen.  I knew it might not work…but I also knew it might.

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

That idea, that sort of razor’s edge between working or not working is what makes creative endeavors so exciting.  I love to try projects where I am more sure of the outcome.  I get a lot of satisfaction from them, but it really gets interesting when you ask the question, “Will it work?”  I think this is a question that some of the best art and the best fashion have at their heart.  Sometimes the outcome is terrible.  Sometimes it’s ok.  But sometimes it goes beyond what you imagined.

I don’t think this project reached the level of being beyond all I imagined, but the act of walking that line made the project exciting.  Could I create a skirt from this blanket?  Would it be too thick to sew?  Would it lay right?  I’ll tell you from the outset that I love this skirt.  It’s not perfect.  It doesn’t give me an enviable form or lack mistakes.  But I still say it works because some of my big goals in sewing are to create clothing that is unique and interesting.  (And I get to wear a blanket as a skirt in winter!  Always a worthwhile goal!)

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

So, let’s get into some details.  The skill that I hoped to learn in this project was how to create a lining, so I bought some Bemberg rayon lining from Joann’s and leaned heavily on the book Easy Guide to Sewing Linings by Connie Long.

Easy Guide to Sewing Linings by Connie Long

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

Maggie from Pintuck & Purl helped me think through my process for creating the waistband, which included lining it with some fabric from my stash and omitting the interfacing.

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

I found a plain navy fabric in my stash for the inside of the pockets.  Since the edge of the blanket was already finished, I decided to omit the hem.  This also saved me fabric, since I had a limited amount of blanket to work with.  In order to do that, I marked the place I would have turned the fabric up to sew the hem and used that as the new bottom line for my skirt.  You can see it faintly below.

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

Like vintage fabric sometimes does, this blanket had some light stains.  I tried using a stain remover to get them out, but it didn’t work, so I did my best to cut around the ones I could.  The rest just had to remain.  I did run into a little bit of trouble while sewing in the zipper.  It wasn’t quite even at the top, but since this is for me, and I get to decide what I will and won’t fix, I just folded the extra over and sewed it down.  Problem solved.

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

I also decided to do a decorative topstitch above the seam that joins to waistband to the skirt, just to make sure everything was tacked down.

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

I wanted this done before winter was over, so I was pretty motivated to get it finished.  The days after I finished it were cold, so I could wear it right away!

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

I really like the skirt.  I don’t think it’s going to be the most flattering look, but I just love its interesting uniqueness.  My sister says I need a clever response when asked what the initials stand for.  Any ideas?  (Keep it clean!)

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

It’s really warm and comfortable and love all the different parts I incorporated–lining, colored pockets, and patterned waistband.  I deem it a sewing success.

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

I haven’t yet had a chance to blog a few of my other winter projects, but as far as sewing things goes, this was my last winter make.  I’m on to spring sewing.  I’ll still post the few made-in-winter projects I haven’t shown you yet, but this is the only garment that will probably be worn exclusively in the winter, so I wanted to blog it before spring came.

Recommendations (Yea!)

  • As I come to love hand-sewing more, I find my interest in embroidery being renewed and growing, too.  In that vein, I’ve found some really fun embroidery artists.  An etsy shop I recently discovered is cozyblue handmade.  They have embroidery patterns, etc.  I’m a fan of the Sea Captain.
  • If you listen to podcasts, I’ve just found a new one that I like:  The Seams podcast.  It’s about clothing and the stories connected to it. Jacki Lyden does a great job of interviewing a wide variety of people and looking at clothing from many angles.
  • If you like to garden, but sometimes feel nervous because you don’t really know your plants’ intentions, you should watch “Indoor Gardening Tips from a Man Who’s Very Scared of Plants”.  Problem:  SOLVED!

A Vest from a Men’s Shirt, Secret Christmas Pillowcases Revealed, and Sewing Ideas for 2016!

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Nothing like a long title, right?  😉  There are plenty of projects and ideas for projects floating around my head these days, so I think it’s time to power-share!  (There’s another word for the dictionary.  Makin’ up new words all the time over here!)

When I think about new projects to share, I keep forgetting to post this vest that I made.

Simplicity 1499 (vest)

My original plan for it was to be an additional entry in the Refashioners Contest last year, just to pad out my entry, but I’m glad now that I took it off my list.  It wasn’t too hard to make, but it isn’t anywhere near the quality of the jacket I made as my one and only entry.

When the cooler weather sets in, I start thinking of polar fleece and really anything warm, so when I found this oversized men’s fleece-lined flannel shirt at the thrift store, originally by L.L. Bean, I knew I wanted to use it (similar shirt here).  I found this pattern:

Simplicity 1499 (vest)

Simplicity 1499 (vest)

After reading the reviews on Patternreview, I convinced myself that I could create a J.Crew-esque style vest.  Well, that didn’t exactly happen, but it’s cozy!

The good and bad part of getting better at sewing, is that now I am less satisfied when my own sewing is of a lower quality.  What a problem to have, right?  I know I am “supposed” to match up plaids and make things look pretty inside, etc., etc., maybe make sure my pockets are on the same level, but you can’t have it all.  I made this out of a shirt.  That’s cool!  I’ll learn to match plaids another day.

As far as any other details the sewing people among you might be interested in…I made View A, minus the quilting.  I cut a size 16 and graded out to an 18 in the waist and hips.  This may not have been necessary.  It’s fairly boxy and loose, but I wanted to be able to wear it over sweaters.  Instead of putting in the zipper, I left the buttons from the original shirt.  I also took off the original chest pockets.  In the process, I may have made a few holes, but that was an opportunity to return to my old standby of running over any sewing problems with my machine, and I just sewed over them until they blended in.  Problem solved!

The other problem I ran into was that I ended up with “wings” at the front of the armholes.

Simplicity 1499 (vest)

Simplicity 1499 (vest)

I did actually go back and take off the bias binding and try to take the princess seams in a little bit.  It worked better on one side than another, and I’m a lot happier having tried.  It definitely fits better now.

Learning to do a sway-back adjustment is on my mental list of things to learn, but I’m trying not to tackle too many new techniques at once, so that one is for the future.  Dealing with the armholes was my fitting experiment for this pattern.

Simplicity 1499 (vest)

Simplicity 1499 (vest)

Overall, I think the pattern is good.  This isn’t my favorite thing that I have ever made, but I like it and I’ve worn it and will wear it again.  I don’t know that I will keep it in my closet for the ages and pass it down to my children, but I guess you never know.  More fleece is always better than less fleece in the winter, so it may survive longer than I think.  I would try the pattern again if I decide I want another vest.

On another topic, I wanted to give you a quick look at a few pillowcases I made as Christmas presents.  I used a tutorial on the Sew Mama Sew blog that is actually an excerpt from a book by Shea Henderson called School of Sewing.

Pillowcases

Pillowcases

I bought the border print for the first pillowcase as well as the panda seersucker in Michigan over the summer at The Material Girls in Dearborn, MI.  The coordinating fabric on each pillowcase is from Joann’s.  These really were easy to sew and I’m sure I could use the tutorial to make fancier ones in the future as well.  I keep telling myself that if I would just make a billion pillowcases and cloth napkins, I could use up my stash and replace my worn pillowcases and napkins, but so far clothes are too much fun.  Except for these two pillowcases, clothes have won out every time.

Lastly, do you have sewing plans for 2016?  I have ideas.  I’m not calling them plans because my ideas of what I want to make often change throughout the year, but here is what I have so far.  I saw the #2016makenine challenge on Instagram, and decided to jump in…except I ended up with ten.  This makes me sound like a total overachiever but, like I said, these plans will flex and change throughout the year, and I doubt everything will get made.

#2016makenine

Top row, left to right:  Butterick 5526, Megan Nielsen Briar Sweater and Tee, Simplicity 1538

Middle row, left to right:  Jalie 3134, Megan Nielsen’s Mini Briar, Jalie 3023

Bottom row, left to right:  Strathcona Henley by Thread Theory, Coco by Tilly and the Buttons, Jutland Pants by Thread Theory

(most links to these patterns are below)

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#2016makenine

Ginger Skinny Jeans Pattern by Closet Case Patterns

 I’ve already cut out some Jutland Pants by Thread Theory for my husband (I’m actually doing a muslin/test garment for this one), and I’ve traced out the Strathcona Henley for him, too.  Lest you start to think I’m abandoning my really good streak of selfish sewing, you should probably know that I LOVE henleys, so once I make him one, I plan to adapt the pattern into one for me as well.  (And how about a girl version of some fleece-lined Jutlands?  Sounds like wintry heaven to me!  I’m saving that idea for the future!)

In the top row are some shirts I’ve tried before, and I still have fabric from the summer to do additional renditions of those.  My first version of the princess seam button down on the top left (Butterick 5526) should make an appearance on the blog soon since I made it to wear to a wedding.  I already whipped up a quick Briar fleece shirt (still to be blogged) to wear for travelling to the wedding, and I need to make a broad back adjustment to the pattern for the button-down on the right (Simplicity 1538) before remaking that one.

You can see I still have bathing suits on my list, maybe some kids’ Briars, and a shirt version of the Coco pattern by Tilly and the Buttons.

AND…JEANS!  I think it’s time to start learning to sew more fitted bottoms, so jeans are on the list.  I’ll keep you posted on that!

Do you have any sewing or other project ideas for this year?  I’d love to hear about them!