No pattern, No problem! Part 1

Allow me to preface this post by saying that I am not a seamstress. I only remember ever successfully sewing one item of clothing in my life and that was a dress in my teens. A project closely aided by my Mom who happens to be an incredible seamstress. Sewing machines intimidate me and although the idea and creativity of sewing have always appealed to me the actual hair pulling frustrating logistics of it have made me keep it at arms length. Instead crocheting became my creative outlet of choice.

But I have this really cute three year old daughter. And there are sooo many wonderful ideas out there. Between cute patterns that can be made from scratch (personally rather intimidating to me, anything that requires a huge quadruple fold set of instructions with diagrams is enough to put me into a mild state of panic). The concept of recycling clothes into new clothes is a whole lot more appealing to me. It’s free styling. A lot of the seams and difficult structural aspects are already done. And, well, the whole frugal-responsible stewardship side of me really loves the idea of getting a second wear or two out of clothes that would otherwise be destined for the trash or Good-Will box.

Last night I had a huge rush of inspiration. I saw an old denim jumper hanging in my closet. I’ve had this jumper since I was in my teens. Not sure why I’ve held onto it. It is not likely to ever fit me again. Pulling it off the hanger I held it up…and visions of possibilities danced before my eyes. I did mention that I am not a seamstress before, right? Well, along with not being a seamstress I also do not really possess even the basic requirements needed to take on a Re-Purposing project like the one that floated through my head.

My available tools were as follows:

1 Pair very dull large scissors

1 Spool Each of White, Black, Tan and Pink thread

1 Package of multi sized Needles

1 Box of Pins

Measuring Tape

Iron and Ironing Board

I started the project off by measuring my wee subject. Good thing I did because when sewing clothes with no pattern you end up relying heavily on measurements. Note to self: Take more measurements next time.

Next the Denim Jumper was spread across the floor and measured to confirm that it was indeed within the realm of possibility to get 3 dresses out of it.

Denim Jumper

Denim Jumper

Feeling assured that as long as I did not mess something up really badly  there should be enough denim convert into the desired 3 dresses.

That in mind I proceeded to make the first cuts with fear and trepidation.

Top Part of jumper cut from bottom

Top Part of jumper cut from bottom

The bottom part left, destined to become two separate dresses. Note the two small slits

The bottom part left, destined to become two separate dresses. Note the two small slits

Since the bottom of the skirt had two small slits I figured I could re-purpose them into being individual slits on a sheath style toddler dresses and cut the bottom in half.

First Piece of Fabric ready for Conversion

First Piece of Fabric ready for Conversion

I saw a clever idea on another re-purposing focused blog where she took an appropriate sized tupper-ware or Pyrex glass round lid and used it to cut arm holes. Since my live model had crashed out for the night already I decided to take a chance and picked out what looked to be an appropriate lid size and cut out two arm-holes.

Once that was done I started combing through my pile of fabric and found some left-over pieces from a new-dress project (cut out and waiting to be assembled when I get a chance to borrow a friends sewing machine) Inspired I made two bands that went across the top of the dress forming tie-able sleeves/straps. Hope you noticed that a sewing machine was *not* on my list of available tools at my disposal. So, Netflix Instant Play Streaming on my laptop and a hot cup of Orange Black Tea for reinforcement I whip stitched the dress/shoulders etc. together by hand. It literally took all night but the thought of my wee girlies face to see her “Special dress” when she woke up in the morning and my own personal curiosity to see if I had actually managed to pull off the transition of what was in my head into something wearable in reality drove me on.

Once I got the structure of the dress finished it seemed like it was missing something so instead of going to grab a couple of hours sleep I instead grabbed another piece of scrap fabric and my crochet hooks and remnant pieces of bamboo yarn from other projects to put the final touches on the project.

All in all I am pleased and more than a little amazed. The fit was more snug than I had hoped for (due to having to take it in an extra 1.5 unexpected inches) but it fits her well and the shoulder ties gave us some lee-way we wouldn’t have had with fitted sleeves or straps.

The Doodlebugs was thrilled with her “Special dress!” when she woke up and happily showed it off.

Doodles Modeling her new-old Dress

Doodles Modeling her new-old Dress

Another shot of dress

Another shot of dress

Details of Flowers and functional Pocket

Details of Flowers and functional Pocket

Since the Doodles loves pockets I was really thrilled to be able to figure out a way to get her a pocket on the dress.

This has inspired me to tackle the next two dresses out of this same project. Hoping to use a friends sewing machine for the next one though and swap the hands on experience for a few hours shut-eye.

Anybody else re-purposed/recycled clothes? Had great ideas for re-purposing clothes? Tell me about it!

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