Category Archives: Refashion

The Father’s Day Blouse

I didn’t even THINK about this, because I’m a terrible and ungrateful child, but I made this shirt from one of my father’s shirts and then it was Father’s Day! What the WHAT? But I suppose it’s a fitting tribute that I would make this blouse and wear it in San Juan, on of my father’s favorite places in the world. Because I just got back from PUERTO RICO, people. Yeah. What can I say? In between Buffy the Vampire Slayer marathons and chat sessions with my cat, I lead a glamorous life.

No, I kid. But I did go down to San Juan this past Thursday for a long weekend vacation/reward for finishing my first year of graduate school/reward for my friend Becca (hi, Becca!) getting INTO graduate school. And I did wear this blouse, though not on Father’s Day, and I did call my father on the day itself, so we’re all good. And Puerto Rico was lovely and relaxing and we did absolutely nothing at all. Paradise. I NEVER do nothing. It was quite a revelation, I can tell you. Do you know what I’ve found out? Booze really helps….

And so does vacation clothing! I don’t know if this qualifies, though the two other things I made Becca photograph (sidebar, Becca was SUCH a good sport about taking photos of me. I told her she would need to do it and she looked at me like I was insane and said, of course! Becca is good people.) are a lot more like the kinds of things people wear in the Caribbean. Additional sidenote, why do people wear things on vacation that they wouldn’t wear at home? Go brighter if you are a subdued dresser but for reals, people, your hemline doesn’t NEED to shift in proportion to your distance to the equator….or does it? Did a memo go out about this that I missed?

Enough of my 75 year old lady judgement. The garment!

FDB 7I made those shorts, too, never documented, don’t even worry about it.

FDB 2This thing, I kind of just winged it. I really did. I know I have said that in the past, but I am not kidding or exaggerating or anything of the sort in this go around. I just grabbed another cast off from my Papi (gracias, Papi, te adoro!), cut off the sleeves and collar, flipped it around (I had this idea of a button back blouse) and went to town.

FDB 1It gaps just a bit in the back at the waist, sigh. A swayback adjustment would be nice, I sometimes think but never do it…

I added two inch tucks on the front and back pieces, and darts at the bust. I lowered the neckline and finished the neck and sleeves with bias tape. The result? I love it! And Becca loved it too, she even wanted one for herself! The HIGHEST POSSIBLE COMPLIMENT, don’t you know.

FDB 6I love it! I do. I think it looks a little Grecian, a little vintagey, a little classic. A little of everything! Which is fitting, because in my family they call me little Leah, my father included.

Becca and I had the best time in San Juan. More posts about this will follow, but I did have a chance, even in the first day we spent in Puerto Rico, to demonstrate how I feel about being there:

FDB 5And also:

FDB 4And also, very much:

FDB 3See what happens when you improvise? It can work! For someone who fears a life without planning, that can be nice to remember. But not that nice….point is, vacation is all well and good, but I still love sculpting order out of chaos. Much like my dad!

FDB 8It’s okay to be jealous. A lot of people are.


Filed under Refashion, Sewing, Travel

Me Made May 31, The Shirt Into Dress

I fully appreciate that it is far too late for a Me Made May post, but in my defense, my computer broke, and it’s hard to blog when all your photos are saved on your broken computer that the nice Apple people have taken away like a lunatic into Bedlam, all soothing and sad and shaking their heads and gently swaddling it in a soft foam case. And you were so mean to the Apple people, because you were stressed and sad and worried and angry, and they are just doing their jobs, and then you think, I’m going to be nicer to those nice Apple people, they are humans who want to help me when I am in a difficult situation, I am being a brat, I’m going to buy them some wine and really get to know them, they deserve it, but THEN they keep you waiting forever for your computer and it costs the world for something you don’t even understand and you are late for work and they want you to sign things on their iphones and it looks nothing LIKE your signature, and you worry about that, and you think, screw it, just give me my damn computer so I can post about my May outfits and be DONE. And all your charitable improving thoughts just fly out the window. Like they do.

SO. Here we are. FINALLY the last day of this godforsaken month of this documentation nonsense which I am terrible at, which is sad, because I love making stuff! I just hate photographing it. I always compare myself to other people and think, oh, struggle, there it is….

BUT. I appreciate that nice people in my life take these photos for me, and in this case it was Lee (hi, Lee!) who took these for me because he is an excellent human and all around rockstar. And talented. And attractive AND AVAILABLE. Ladies, ask me how!

Okay, so this is technically a refashion, but I did so much work on it that I honestly am going to take the win. My father, who is a very snappy dresser, had bought two of the same shirt, and when I went home for a weekend I snagged them both as he had put them in the discard pile. Given the two large men’s shirts I had to work with, I thought, maybe a dress?


It turned out cute! Given that I kind of just cut and slashed my way through it, that is….

SID 5I don’t know why I felt the need to hold onto that thing behind me, it’s not like I was in danger of falling. I’m the weirdest. I used the bodice from Simplicity 5355 for darts and what not, and just sort of made tucks instead of gathers and tucks in the skirt (made from the second shirt) and fiddled and stitched and added some buttonholes because there was some super-not-cute gaping going down, and there I was. Oh, I also used the sleeves from the same pattern and shortened them. Then I just sheared into the neckline, just really went to town on that thing, because it is nothing if not high-necked, and sometimes you gotta show a little collarbone, AM I RIGHT?

SID 1Some back view for you, and me looking rather contemplative, or like I’ve been hit in the face, I can’t tell. Annnnnd I see some hem wrinkling here, lovely. Cotton, the fabric of our lives and enemy of our hearts.

The end result works, I think! I like it, at least. It’s cute and perfect for daytime, a little blousy but utterly comfortable and hey, I can always belt it, right? The solution to all things.

SID 3I love this photo. Lee and I saw this guy with pigeons on his shoulders and just couldn’t get over it, because we are like that, and then he was like, look, another guy with pigeons on his shoulders! And I made that face. And he took a photo of it. BECAUSE WE MAKE THE BEST LIFE CHOICES.

SID 2It’s really hard to take photos in a public place in New York. As you can see.

SID 6Also, the tree stump thing was awesome. Don’t you think?

And there we (flipping FINALLY) go. Me Made May 2013 put to bed. And the lessons I learned? Hmmm.

1. I hate taking photos of myself every day.

2. I wear a lot of blue.

3. It was in no way a challenge for me to wear stuff I made and never repeat an outfit. Which is great! But probably means I should stop making things for myself and start making them for other people, right? RIGHT? Yeaaaaaah. Let’s see how that one goes.

Franqui out!


Filed under Challenge, Clothing, Refashion, Sewing

The Light’s The Thing Dress (ReFashion)

First and foremost, the winners of the last two giveaways! Giveaway # 7 was won by Kristin of Quiet And Small, and Giveaway # 8 was won by Adri Makes a Thing or Two! Email me at and I will (eventually) send you your prizes!

Lauren of Lladybird in all her wisedom said it best when commenting on my excitement about getting a tripod. She said something along the lines of, now the challenge is to get good light. Sigh. Challenge? Not accepted. At least not with this round of photos….

I’ve had this robe for a long time, it was my grandmothers, probably of Israeli or Moroccan origin, a remnant from her childhood in Tehran or maybe one of her many trips. I don’t know, I found it after she had passed away in the labyrinth of stuff that is my grandfather’s attic. I loved the print and the colors, and I just knew I could do a quick and dirty refashion that would render this wearable. Or more wearable then this:

Not only is it long and shapeless, but it’s a bit, um, scandalous, in the bust area. So I thought to myself, I bet this would be a great summer dress if I chopped off a bunch and made a belt out of the excess and stitched up the placket a few inches. And I thought that to myself last summer, and never ever did it, even though I knew it would take approximately 45 minutes. And so, last night, I looked at the robe hanging in my closet and just said, screw it, and chopped and hemmed and stitched and here we are:

Now, wasn’t that easy? And worth it? Why didn’t I do this a year ago?

Honestly, I think part of me was reticent to cut into this robe, even though I knew shorting it would be the only way I would ever wear it. I was so reluctant to transform something “authentic” into something modern and western and “inauthentic”. And most of me knows that that’s indulging in the spectacle of authenticity, the very oil to the hipster engine, and a false simulacrum, an illusion. There is no “authentic” anything,  and it’s wasteful not to use the clothing that already exists, in fact, it’s the more historically accurate act to re-fashion, a process that’s as old as clothing itself, then to let something sit in perfect untouched archaic isolation. But still. Part of me cringed at the notion of sawing through this fabric, knowing it would never again adorn a wandering Middle Eastern person plodding through the desert.

Sigh. And then I got over that, and hacked off 12 inches or more.

I wont pepper you with photos, as this is a refashion that took very little time or effort, though I must say, I couldn’t help but be inspired by Tilly’s latest amazing (and also green!) creation.

I tried to do a jump shot, but, um, I’m still working out the self timer…

Hahaha, I’m so pleased with myself because I think I’ve caught a good jump shot. Foolish struggle.

How do you feel about refashioning, especially something that’s vintage or old or meaningful in some way? Does it feel sacrilegious or virtuous, are you killing the past or giving life to a new garment?




Filed under Clothing, Refashion, Sewing

Knickers In A Twist

So, it’s that special time again, the time that single people and coupled up couples…also hate, I assume. Yes, that’s right, folks, it’s Valentines Time! The big day is just a scant 14 days away and already Etsy and CVS and Godiva have teamed up to make everyone feel bad about themselves at all times. It’s the most wonderful tiiiiiime, of the YEAAAAAR.

Oh, that’s just the bitterness talking. Really, I don’t actually hate Valentine’s day, I think it’s sweet if it’s done in an understated way and HILARIOUS if it’s not. And I look awesome in red, so I don’t really mind the color-scheme. But given that as a single woman I’m entitled to, nay, SUPPOSED to, EXPECTED to hate this holiday, I figure I might as well act the part. Which is a shame, because I’ve been thinking a lot lately about sewing my own unmentionables.

Which brings up two questions. One, as a single person, why am I expected to always be sad and bitter and especially angry about couples? I’m happy for people in relationships, if that’s what they want. I’m especially thrilled for people like my friend Jenny, who is getting married this summer, or my cousin Jessie, who is getting married this spring. Not only are they celebrating their love, but I get to make some new dresses! It’s win win!

And number two, what do you call your undergarments? Underwear? Panties? Knickers? Immortal Enemies? Best Friends? And, perhaps more importantly, would you make your own? Would you make your own slips, your own negligees? Would you, in fact, make your own Valentine’s day/Friday night/Tuesday morning (what? I don’t know your life or your, um, schedule) ensemble?

Now, I’ve made my own pajamas, and even a half-slip for an event, but I’ve been more and more interested in breaking into the world of what-to-wear-under-there. Luckily, BurdaStyle just released a couple of new patterns to that effect including this retro-charmer:

Cute, right? But they have a zipper which is just odd. Who has zip-up underwear? Burda has also released this business:

Which is not exactly my cup of tea but I could see many a woman or daring drag queen rocking it. They actually made 9 bedtime inspired patterns, and why any person needs a boudoir bolero escapes me. But apparently they do, and you can see all 9 patterns here.

I recently bought a few downloadable patterns off of Etsy, too, from the lovely Anna Depew, who blogs at A Few Threads Loose and offered a sew along based on these patterns:

Is it weird that I really want to make myself tap pants? Maybe I just like the NAME, tap pants? But really, I’m sure I would wear them with everything. All the time. Of course.

And there is a matching slip/camisole. But say you don’t want to spend any money? Personally, I never want to spend any money. Well, then you have this amazing slip pattern/sewalong from Sherry at Patterns Scissors Cloth (clearly I love this woman, I keep linking back to her, she’s just inspirational and helpful, why isn’t everything in my life like that?)

Behold, the Ruby slip. It’s a FREE PATTERN.  Actually, in these shades it looks spot on, as Sherry might say, (she lives in New Zealand, they say that there, right?)  for Valentine’s Day, but you could also go with classic cream or chartreuse or cerise, whatever. Life is about choices.

But really, if we want to get right down to it, there is also underwear. And I found a world of tutorials and patterns of how to make your own.

This one from Drumbellina has a host of cute illustrations. This FREE PATTERN from BurdaStyle is mighty cheeky. And this classic layout teaches you how make a hanty (panty from a hankerchef. If I didn’t hate the word panty so much I might find it cute.)

The question is, should I? Would you? Is it worth it? Honestly, it might be the most cost effective sewing possible, you can cut up old t-shirts, make cute undergarments out of mere 1/4 of a yard of nice knits and luxurious stretch silks and laces, and really be able to make your own outfit, from the foundations on up. So, what do you think? Would you get your knickers in a twist? Or make a slip? Or join me in tap pants adoration? Or do you leave that the professionals at Victoria’s Secret? Discuss.


Filed under Burda Style, Clothing, Inspiration, Refashion, Sewing

Not Only Is It 2012, But It’s Also Almost My One Year Blogiversery!

Hmmmm, blogiversery is a word that doesn’t get tagged as being spelled wrong. That’s…..troubling, in it’s way.

Me on the knee of a delightful gentleman. Thanks, Joseph,you are a peach!

Anyway, HAPPY 2012! For those of us who haven’t raptured (remember THAT?) I would like to welcome you to this year and express my sincere hope that that Mayan calender is incorrect, because I have a lot to get done in my life and would prefer the Universe not to end any time soon.  That being said, 2011 was a pretty positive year for me, especially crafting wise! I started a sewing blog, I learned to knit, I learned about seam finishes, I made pants, I made my first (but in no way last) clothing from vintage patterns, I inserted visible and invisible zippers, I made buttonholes, I took on a me-made-month challenge, I got a lot done!

Let’s look at it numerically, shall we? This past year I made 38 garments, give or take a few that I didn’t blog about, including:

1 pair of pants (Clovers!)

1 vest (Franzi!)

1 Jacket (Naomi!)

2 pairs of shorts (Simplicity 7688 and Simplicity 2017!)

3 pairs of pajamas (Tara Top and Colette Bloomers, Jane and Simplicity !)

3 refashions

8 skirts (2 Maries (1 and2), Simplicity 3688 ,  1 self drafted, 1 more self drafted, Helena, Vivat Veritas, and McCalls 8161!)

9 Dresses ( New Look 6732, three incarnations of Burda Style Dress with Cap Sleeves and Gathered Skirt (one I’ve never blogged about, sorry)-1 and 2McCalls 7326, Vogue 8615,  BurdaStyle 10/2010 Full Dress with Cut Out Bustline, Tara, and the Angela Kane Pinafore!)

10 Blouses ( Butterick 8097, 2 Sorbettos (1 and 2) 2 JJs (1 and 2), 3 Utes (1 and 2 and 3), Alexander, and two Butterick 7490 (1 and 2)

Of course, this is all just the stuff I made for myself. I also made my mom 2 skirts, 1 dress and two sets of pajamas, I made my father a set of pajamas, and I made my brother 3 ties.

Which brings me to my New Years Sewing resolutions of 2012:

1. Concentrate more on the fitting process, and less on the instant gratification. I’m about to undergo a pencil-skirt project that hopefully should play into this nicely, as well as becoming a devotee of Sarai’s fitting chapter in my brand new Colette Patterns Sewing Handbook (thanks, Mamala!)

2. Add more variety to my sewing. Clearly I like certain patterns (JJ? Ute? Burda Style? Yeah, I’m talking to you people), but that doesn’t make for a super diverse wardrobe. I have enough patterns in my stash at this point to start branching out.

3. Sew with new fabrics. I actually made a knit top (a bit wonky, but wearable!) and completed Dixie DIY’s ballet dress pattern (it’s available for a mere 4 dollars to download! Do it!) for the New Year’s Bash I attended (it was amazing). I haven’t gotten a chance to take photos yet but once I do you will no doubt be delighted by A. this clever pattern and B. my mastery of knits. But I need to step it up on the silk front, people.

4. Conversely, bust my stash! Seriously. SERIOUSLY. FOR REALS. I cannot will not must not should not dare not buy any more fabric for the foreseeable future. We found another haul in my grandfather’s attic, photos to come, and this is getting a bit insane. No new fabric until my birthday in July. That’s my rule. Let’s see how it goes, shall we?

5. Fill some of the gaps in my wardrobe. Try a jacket, or two. Make more pants. Tunics. Something different. Mix it up. It’s 2012!

What about you guys? Sewing resolutions? LIFE resolutions? I know you’ve got em, lay em on me!

Looking back on the year, some of my favorites include:



































Filed under Angela Kane, Burda Style, Butterick Patterns, Clothing, Colette Patterns, McCalls Patterns, Refashion, Sewing, Vogue Patterns

You’re Turning Violet, Violet!: Refashioned Men’s Shirt

Here you have it, folks, step right up and see my second attempt at remaking a man’s shirt into a woman’s blouse. I don’t know why, but I always assume that it’s going to take me far less time to refashion something then is does to make it from scratch. And on some level that’s true, because I don’t have to put together the pattern (assuming I downloaded it rather then had it sent to me) and cut out all the pieces and read the instructions six million times until I have some idea about what’s going on, but refashioning doesn’t make me the five minutes I feel that it should, and I’m left thinking, oh, my, where did the time go?

Nevertheless, it’s still worth it. I do so adore the idea of taking something and making a completely different looking garment out of it so that you can look at the end result and not understand how you got from point A to point B (or point Z, as the case may be). In this case, there were several steps. I really should have taken a photo of the original shirt, but I didn’t, because I’m the worst. So you will just have to trust me when I tell you that my father gave me a shirt that was a sort of pale lame lavender color. And that simply would not do. So I dyed it, and I came out with this:

Better in color, but still a large men’s shirt. So I cut and sewed and tucked and pleated and I came out with this:

What’s with the bow, you might ask? Well, I had to add some material in at the sides so that the shirt actually covers my bra and doesn’t leave me with a dreadful side breast situation. And then I added a bow in the same material so it seemed like a choice and not an act of desperation.

See? I’m footloose and fancy free.

Tucks! They really make a difference. And I pleated the collar, which I believe turned out pretty well!

I don’t look pleased, but I am, I promise you. I used the cuffs of the shirt for little sleeves, I got the idea from a BurdaStyle user whose name I don’t know, but THANK YOU, kind stranger!

I forced my friend Selin to take these photos after we stopped at my house on Saturday after our trip to Sazz Vintage Warehouse, which is AMAZING. It’s this enormous warehouse of vintage clothing and it’s usually wholesale only but on Saturdays and Monday’s it’s open to the public to buy at retail prices. It’s totally overwhelming and exciting and you need to bring a buddy or you may never emerge from the haven of 80’s polyester, 40’s sweaters, 70’s maxi dresses and SHOES. I got some great things, some of which I will refashion and some of which I will wash and wear with pride.

Obligatory indie shots:

Thanks, Selin! These are awesome. Go forth, and refashion, folks, but remember, it takes more time the you think! Still, I have an adorable new top that came from something old. Win.


Filed under Clothing, Dye, Refashion, Sewing

Surrender Dorothy!: Refashioned Men’s Shirt

As an avid recycler (we even compost our food waste! In a city! For Reals!) and worrier about my carbon footprint, I’ve been inspired recently by all of the refashioning and upcyling happening over at Burda Style. There are some amazing things going down, folks, you should check out what some very talented people are doing with thrifted finds or the contents of their own closets. Grosgrain has this great series, Thrift Store Thursday, it’s fantastic. And don’t even get me started about her unreal Embellish Your Knits month. It was like Suzan-Lori Parks’ 365/365 but with SWEATERS. It boggles the mind.

So I wanted to refashion something, anything, really. And I’m lucky, because there are a lot of wonderful tutorials about remaking a men’s long sleeve button down shirt into a cute women’s summer top. And I’m REALLY lucky because my father is a snazzy dresser and has so very many shirts and therefore could agree to give me some of his cast offs.

Following a tutorial posted on Madebylex, I came out with this, my first effort in Men’s Shirt Refashioning:

It’s a little Wizard of Oz, isn’t it?


A close up

I didn’t have enough fabric left after making all the ruffles to make the belt, so I used a ribbon. It’s worth it. I love ruffles.



I love this project, because I love the idea of remaking things. I like this shirt, and I know I will wear it once summer comes around. The only issue is that it tends to be rather shapeless, the waist is only defined by the ribbon belt, so it’s a bit baggy, and very comfortable, but not the most flattering thing ever. For my next refashion I’m going to use waist tucks and darts and see if that gives it a more feminine shape.

This is me in Redding Terminal Market, which is better then Oz on so many levels.


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Filed under Clothing, Refashion, Sewing