Artful Patches

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These days when I take a needle & thread to mend,

I attempt to do something artful.

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Becoming intimately involved with warp & weft in the fabric of something that you wear on your skin is beautiful,

and maybe even a little bit essential.

It is such a novelty these days it seems,  to have any skills at all in mending.

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Do you recall this  linen shirt make-over from nearly two years ago?  You might recognize the collar re-do,  and already I have nearly worn a hole in the linen,  and this is just a fun patch job of it, although the white-on-white is not really easy to see the detail, especially in this early morning light.

I have a second shirt I’m patching here,  that is full of holes, and I am using it to practice my new ‘quilt patching’ technique.

Here is what I do:

  1. Whip stitch hole shut, aligning grain of warp & weft  threads as much as possible.
  2. Cut squares of new fabric on the grain, big enough to fold back up to 1/4 inch hem on all edges.
  3. Iron all edges to fold in, and pin to garment with care to aligning grain of fabric with both garment and patch.
  4. With a simple running stitch, sew as close to edge as possible, then again, artfully fill in the patch with shapes, ‘quilting’ the patch against garment, which improves wear of patch as well as looks good. Almost as if you stuck on squares to quilt for the pure craft of it!

Quite a hash of patches, but it makes the shirt all that much more of a treat to wear again!

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Just in case you’re curious, you can see all posts “New From Old”  HERE (including this one, but scroll down!)  This category has grown over the years, sharing  artful mending & upcycling that I have done, where even I go deep into the warp & weft and try my hand at difficult weave darning.

I hope you try the quilted patch on one of your holey shirts, and see how useful as well as lovely a simple running stitch can be!

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new from old

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I just took scissors to another thrift shop mens linen shirt, and made it into a loose draping toss-over shirt with the original cuff placket still showing after I cut off the cuff.

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I simply cut off the sleeves about 1-1/2″ longer than I want, made a pleat, and then pressed it all into a half-inch hemmed cuff.

This time I tried popping off all the buttons on the button bands and simply sew’d the button band over the button-hole band, because as I don’t ordinarily iron, and loath gaping button bands in front, and at the bust-line especially.  Its kind of funky an interesting detail,but worth the experiment.

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And I left a little open at the bottom.

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I was thinking I’d go over it with shell buttons and just sew them on for the faux affect, but then I will wait & decide later, for some shirts are nice to have just pure linen.

The learning curve on this one was,  1. never buy a shirt with front pocket flaps thinking they’re easy to take off (the seam ripping was torturous and long). Although the holes from the previous stitches show now, they’ll go away in the next few washings. Or maybe never.

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And  2. custom bias tape rocks!     With the same kind of fabric, and it can be made easily.  (This I had to use some linen from my stash, as it must be on the bias), but it is a great way to finish a neckline which is curving, for one really doesn’t want a ripply rolled hem like I did on this one.  This is the little bias tape tool (admittedly I don’t really know what that swiveling part on it is for)… pull the fabric through and iron and neaten the folds to the middle as it comes out~~ voila!

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Then I simply sewed the raw edge of the neckline to it and folded it on the inside to sew down.  Simple, tidy, and sews up so professional looking.  I found a good video tutorial on how to make bias tape here

I didn’t have enough cut from the length to make the usual front insert or cuffs, so this is an experiment of how I can change the look minimally.

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The nicest thing about white linen is the transparency so visible when held up against light. The warp and weft of flax threads speak a language I can understand, sort of  like the neat pleats and double-folded hems are sharing with me their secrets, all which make the shirt feel crisp and just a little bit like a veiled treasure.

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I’ve been on a trend lately of simple collarless shirts, for in cool weather they just invite a nice lace cowl, and I am slowly acquiring quite a few of those, more recently craving to cast on with some fine flax lace yarn.

To see all of my New From Old projects, click HERE.

And lastly, is it my imagination or are most of my photos in this post really fuzzy?

Another really nice shirt.

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Okay, I’m on a roll, I fall asleep dreaming about taking scissors to over-sized and hardly worn shirts, and refashioning them into one-of-a-kind personalized shirts.   The original, a Talbots brand women’s tunic, in gorgeous jet black in lightweight Irish linen, found at a thrift shop somewhere for a few dollars.

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Refashioned into what is becoming my signature look, a boxy throw-over style inspired by my favorite brand FLAX,   with practical as well as flirty finishes…

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This style collar is hand-sewn inside of the edge of plain neckline hem, then folded over to make a very nice look.  However, after I added the decorative length to the bottom, I felt that the sleeves were too short and I wanted to use those rectangular pieces in the end for cuffs, so I undid the collar and reworked the pieces into wide faced cuffs able to be folded up, with a single wide  pleat into the sleeve.

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I had a lot of length to work with , cut it in half widthwise, and from those  I made;   1. the insert down the middle, having taken out the button placket,  and  2. with left over pieces I sewed together into one piece , then worked to fit shirt body  with narrow little pleats spaced out and pinned around 16 times around circumference (intentionally not too neat) to fit the bottom hem. Result is a slight charming skirty edging…I suppose this is officially called a ‘peplum’ finish.

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 Having decided not to cut off the existing narrow hem of the neckline, after cutting off the button bands, I just made a hemmed piece over the insert.

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A very funky little bit, but that sort of detail is what makes each shirt one-of-a-kind, in that I must improvise with what little sleeve and body length I cut off. You will find this to be true also,  when you begin to take scissors to old shirts to make new shirts.

More thoughts  on the collar…

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The really nifty thing is that collars are like shirt accessories, as are buttons, a separate collar piece hand-stitched to the inside makes a dashing old-fashioned finish, in white, blue plaid, or whatever, ( especially including some old lace ones I have ~~thanks Sorcha!) .  Just switch them out like they did in the bygone era, for both women’s dress and men’s shirt collars in those days were meant to be replaced per occasion or just when worn out. Collars and cuffs took the beating of the wear, and were often replaced (as I learned from Morrie ~ thanks!)


Anyway, there was no shaping involved in this type of collar, nor was there a collar stand, I just whip-stitched two rectangular pieces and they folded over making their own stand. (I actually moved them around, and tried on basted before stitching them on secure.

Its always a bit of a gamble and some shirts just are ruined, but after doing it a few times, you’ll be surprised to find how easy it is. Much easier than sewing a whole garment from cut yardage, and far less spendy in many cases.  By the way, if & when I make or find the perfect collar for this shirt, I will post it.   If you can find this book by Odhams Press (dated 1930’s)  there’s a chapter called ‘New Collars for Old Dresses’ and I highly recommend learning this old-fashioned skill of refashioning.

There was some discussion in the last post  about making big brother/sisters outgrown shirts into refashioned ones for little brother/sister. I don’t have any kids clothes around, but would love to hear from any of you out there who are keen to try.

That about wraps it up for refashioning of  Shirt Two, and now I ought to be knitting Autumn Sweaters.

See all posts New From Old , including my tips on what I have done ~~ HERE

 

A really nice shirt.

jenjoycedesign© a really nice shirt

I love making new from old.

Upcycling something  from a $2 mens thrift linen-cotton shirt… into mine.

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( I did get a little sloppy on the rolled hem at the neckline ~ I was rather in a hurry. )

I love simple utilitarian clothing, pleats, and especially lovely buttons. I have a jar of these natural shell buttons which have accumulated from years of thrift shop shirts, and I keep them just for this sort of occasion.

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Only a few simple steps to transform from men’s button-up shirt to a rather casual boxy throw-over shirt,  which I love in linen, because after several washings, the boxiness begins to drape and all the sloppy bits will blend in with the original shirt’s crinkled old hems.

This is how I do it:  First I cut off the neck under the collar stand, the cuffs, and button bands, and as much length as you don’t need. From the cut-off length in body and sleeves,  you can make middle insert in place of button band, cuffs, or other details such as a collar.  This time I cut down a little from the stand in front  so the neckline in front of the new shirt rests a little lower.

Note:  How many extra bits you are able to make all depends on how long the shirt is and how much you can cut off length in body and sleeves after trying on and marking the length you would like it to be, plus hem allowance.

My thing lately is to take a strip off  cut-off length (the length grain will have to be inserted cross-grain fashion, which is a nice contrast, and sew it on to cut front pieces raw edge, using French seams.

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I made a collar and lined with some other cotton/linen I had handy, but ended up hating it, so ripped it off.

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Finishes:  The neck was way too gaping as the front insert was rather wide, as were the sleeves, so I pleated those loose areas after it was all finished, and sewed shell buttons on purely for aesthetic, not really doing anything, as you can see also on front pocket.

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Over all it is a really fast way to upcycle and  make a really nice shirt for myself in less than an hour.  The best discovery I found in this make-over shirt is how buttons on pockets are really a lovely accent just sewn on, or to cover the opening of a pleat.   I just love shell buttons & linen!

Edit in, per request :   Link to all projects “New From Old”

Linen Shirt Make-over

jenjoycedesign©linen shirt makeoverMy love of linen has grown deeper with time. Its rustic wholesome weave holds my appreciation like no other textile. The warm shades of grey form layers in the seams, and when held in front of angled light from the late or early sun, it is simply beautiful. Just to see it that way I am able to almost smell its fragrance, as if the presence remains of that field of flax from which it was born, and it my skin longs to be against it.

So, I made another shirt for myself, new out of old.
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Making new clothes out of old is one of those things which I absolutely love to do but takes a bit of skill.  Pardon the wrinkly shirt photo, but that is actually the way I prefer it, not ironed too much, just a little, for linen has such personality with a little texture showing.  Months ago I bought a linen shirt from the thrift shop and I was wearing it around like a tent recently, and yesterday I finally cut into it.  Now it is more of my style, it has personality, it is natural, totally unique, and has a feminine classic charm. There was plenty needle threading and hand-sewing, which I adore actually, and the machine work was plenty too.

Here’s what I did:  I first ripped off the breast pocket, then cut out the big bulky button bands and collar. Then I cut off some off of the length which gave me enough fabric to sew in a ‘gusset’ to bridge the two fronts in the absence of the button band.  I cut off the cuffs and cuff button placket, completely, which left sleeves a little short.
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From two sleeves I had cut before off of another linen shirt in my pile of linen scraps, I made simple wide folded faced bands to extend into a sort of cuff, and pleated the excess sleeve material to fit… a fast & easy way to go… and looks great rolled up. Usually I just hem the neck opening without a collar, but this time I had envisioned a peter-pan collar, so I set into making a collar custom to the cut-out neck, with the other linen sleeve in the scrap pile, and with the help of this book, published 1930’s….


Finished, and excited to get involved in a very summertime project for the hot weather, and that is making new out of old, re-making every possible tent-like mens’ linen shirt I possibly can get a hold of , and immerse myself in the metamorphosis of them into artful beautiful shirts for *moi*. My wardrobe is anorexic, but is on the mend, and I’m absolutely loving my needlework, on a quiet mountain, punctuated by very little else, which suits me just fine.

I’m ready to go at it with another!

Stitching Old & (almost) New Together

004I was given a handful of really old collars by my girlfriend almost a year ago (thank you Sorcha!) and finally I have decided to put them to use, and started by performing stitch-work surgery to one of my favorite thrift shop finds, a linen jacket shirt with a ruffle at the bottom and big shell buttons. First I took the top button off, turned in and stitched down the high narrow collarless shirt to the dimensions of the lacework collar…
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Then I pinned the hem of the collar  just inside the edge of the shirt…

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Then simply whip-stitched the two things together and then turned the collar out, without ironing,  so it has that lofty personality of the collar…. and voila !

004The thing is , these few antique collars have cast a magic spell on me as I am in love with the -old-fashioned ritual of hand-stitching on a hand-made collar on to not-so-new clothing.  I just can’t imagine what might blossom from this seed.

Braided Rug

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I think I’ve met my match.  Another braided rug has lumbered into my life and I’m not talking about a small thing.  I am nearly helpless when face-to-face with a deal when I see one, at my favorite thrift shop, you know, and it happens to me so often I’m beginning to worry.  Well, just yesterday I was there looking about and I saw this massive roll on the floor, in front of the frames and pictures and folks were nearly tripping over it. I made a bee-line to it and with a quick glance, I knew it was hand-made and valuable. I rather wondered how it could be that nobody else noticed, and was worried that by noticing me noticing it, someone might snatch it up, so I do the ‘act-casual-like-I’m-not-noticing’ as I flag down one of the shop volunteers and give the nod that I want to buy the rug.  I didn’t even ask to untie & unroll it.  The label said 10′ x 15′ and $30.  I’m talking about the hand-made variety of pure wool braided rugs with saturated dyes that are stitched by hand together. I didn’t care what it looked like unrolled.  But really, how could it possibly be ten by fifteen feet ???

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I know because I overhauled another of it’s kind only 5 years ago, involving over-dying and re-braiding and a lot of work, which sits in our living room .   My thoughts were that it can’t be perfect, there’s got to be major stains or stink or horrid colors, or something which couldn’t be seen from being rolled up and tied.  I realized even if it were all those things that the material in this rug was fine to make several medium sized rugs and a few small ones to boot. I convinced myself I absolutely had to buy it !

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So I paid, and got help loading it into the back of my Toyota, we just stuffed it in there, and I hauled it home. This thing that I just impulsively brought home like a stray kitten (okay, more like a stray crocodile) and I didn’t even bother to unroll it until Jeff got home from work last night. And that we did.  I was correct, there was a major thing about it that made it so I couldn’t just uncoil off about 2 feet of braid all around and keep the inside as a complete rug, for it is mostly yellow.   I don’t like this particular shade of yellow, and it will not do in the house, I know, I’m so strange that way.

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Maybe I will reconsider, but for now  I’m face-to-face with this huge soon-to-be carcass of a hand-made wool braided rug which is much too big to fit anywhere in our house, it will have to be down-sized in one way or another.

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I suppose soon I’ll begin guiltily snipping someone else’s original stitching and coiling & doing some new stitching of loose braids to my useful liking.  Oh joy! But I have so many other things need doing too, this is just the deal that will do me in I”m afraid.  Determined to make this rare find worth every hour of rework I am gearing up to spend on it ~~ and I’m  feeling very much  like an old-fashioned farm wife who never sees an idle moment.

Stash

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The other day I made a great find at my favorite local thrift shop. Admittedly it needed work to up-cycle it into the long thought-about colorwork yarn stash cabinet I’d been dreaming of putting on the wall in front of my work table. Just something to show which colors I have on hand , rather than perpetually digging out bags and boxes and dumping about to sift through.   Well, this little cabinet is of very old redwood, and the 3/4″ boards which made up the back were recessed into the frame.

I wanted shelves, and I wanted extra width in the depth than it had ~~ enough for balls & skeins of yarn for colorwork.  So I needed to take that back off in order to get enough width, and to make shelves out of it, and that is exactly what I did (well, with the help mostly of Jeff too) . Here it is as I found it… very dark aged redwood cabinet thing, looking like it may have been a little workshop cabinet once, as it is not in the least bit refined cabinetry, but rough, as I like it.

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I removed the back boards by cutting through the nails with a coping saw blade, gave it a light sanding, then created shelves with the 3/4″ boards that were on the back.  Voila, a framed shelf with glass door ~~ a colorwork stash cabinet made to order !

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My humble work space is now much improved with a glass encased colorwork stash to inspire !

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Refashioned

jenjoycedesign©linen-shirt-upcycle-back I took a big men’s blue check linen shirt I found at Goodwill Thrift shop a few months ago, for a couple of dollars, and this morning reconstructed it into a pretty shirt with details I have done so much I call them ‘signature’. I took my time before I cut with scissors because I really put a lot of thought into the details I wanted.

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Such as the cut off cuff hemmed with sleeve placket and then a button for show.

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This time I took some of the length cut off from the shirt and made a little detail sewn over pleats. (oops, I forgot to photograph the before photo), then added buttons.  I love it !

jenjoycedesign©linen-shirt-upcycle-detail (1) I also separated the felled seam at the bottom edge and rather hurriedly made a make-shift after-thought side seam placket, and decided to make the front shorter.

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Also I sewed the button placket down because I hate gaping button plackets on shirts. Voila ! Refashioned 100% linen summer shirt ! For two dollars !!! Did I already mention that I love it?

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Good Things

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Wholesome and necessary are words that describe two materials known to humankind for thousands of years;  linen & shell.  I shouldn’t  crave these things, these essential objects as I do, but  I do love the little  unworldly things in life…  like ice cream, linen, and shell buttons.

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Let me begin with my love of linen.  This is not just a fondness, but an intimate part of me, and the way I dress.  I could happily wear a fine white linen blouse every day of the year.  I hardly can begin to describe why, or when this became so.

So in my limited & dwindling number of linen shirts,  there have been more given up to the linen shirt graveyard than I care to face.   I am a thrift shopper, and take the time to sleuth out fine linen shirts for dollars, alter when I must,  and have cause to celebrate when I find one perfect just as is.  I have come to face another fact, that I’ve been long overdue in learning to use this odd  wooden thing . . .

jenjoycedesign©my-darning-egg. . . a darning egg.

In above photo is my first attempt at darning, and I am so pleased with myself I can’t even tell you ! After two darned ‘holes’ , and switching from off-white to white thread, I started to get the knack.  I managed to close up and fill in the underarm disaster areas which my favorite shirts began to show, after near constant wear, and the final darning jobs were alright by me.

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Satisfied that my work is pretty much unnoticeable when not back-lit,  I decided to try the small holes which happened to riddle my favorite shirt,  one with a label that reads the beautiful words  “100% Irish Linen”.  I managed to darn all the wee holes in it,  ‘it’ which is my favorite linen gig shirt which has not been  worn, but hanging in the closet for a couple of years now.  I was floating for a whole day from this darning epiphany !

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But sometimes one must surrender a great linen shirt , in the end, to the scizzors   (as I had in this post ), for it becomes too thread-bare.   I made a fine linen hand kerchief, and I even got to collect the lovely shell buttons from it.  Those pearly surfaced little treasures are put in a little jar , a present-place destination, an artful limbo, for buttons of linen shirts past and future.

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 My Good Things,

 unworldly, and essential.

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New From Old

I took a short break from knitting, and made something fresh and new from something old and tatter’d.  Like the saying goes ” a silk purse from a sow’s ear”.


Well,  not exactly a sow’s ear. But a dearly beloved shirt I’ve worn to threads, bought ages ago from a thift-shop. Twice used !

Really nice linen.

Probably Irish Linen.

From the back side I cut out a large square.

(really, I ripped on the grain, for perfect edges)

Folded hem, ironed, pinned, then

settled into stitching . . .

 I am intrigued with the thing which is mitered corners.

I figured out how to do it all by myself !

Well, not exactly a silk purse, but in my opinion better.

 Something new from something old .

A hand-made linen handkerchief !

Twenty by twenty inches.   A generous sized hikers’ pocket companion.

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