Thrift shopping, I choose you!

What an interesting couple of weeks its been. I’m in the middle of trying to rebuild my recently destroyed wardrobe, on an artists budget. No easy task.

I would love to make everything from scratch but that’s not always possible. It’s a very time consuming endeavor, and fabric can be quite expensive depending on what you’re after, so my rebuild project is going to be a combination of newly made pieces and thrifted alterations.

I spent the last week doing some field work. Combing the racks of thrift stores and clearance sales to try and find pieces that were good (enough) replacements. This can be a frustrating process for the average person, because you’re not likely to find exactly what you want just waiting for you at a second hand store.

Luckily for someone who sews, your options are wider.

As long as I can find things that are in relatively good repair, no intense biological (sweat) stains, and are the design I want, anything to do with fit is easy enough to sort out. I picked up some choice pieces, washed them, and now I’m ready to chop ’em up.

So what do I have for you this week?

Check out this score!


I found this at Black Market on Queen West. It’s got that soft, well-worn, vintage feel and that perfect $10 price. I’m a Pokémon nerd and needed this in my rotation.

So thats why it’s great!

Here’s why it’s not.


The collar is tattered and while this is a medium, it’s very clearly a “men’s” medium, and fits quite big on me. As is, the shirt doesn’t make for a stylish piece.

To start, I turned my attention to the collar. I don’t love crew necks on me anyway, so the holes gave me an excuse to alter the neckline. I wanted to pull off that 90’s grunge raw neckline. Jersey fabric is forgiving of a non-finished edge, as it doesn’t fray, so no worries there.

However, I was very afraid of over cutting the neckline and ruining the shirt, so sought out a YouTube tutorial to use as a guideline. I found a straightforward one from the channel Cinderella Sews that achieved the look I wanted, but I scaled back the measurements on it. She says four fingers, but for me that would have the shirt falling off my shoulders. I either have huge hands or a very dainty frame. Please let me pretend it’s the latter.

I put the shirt on and measured where I wanted it to sit. I figured out I wanted the neckline to end 2″ from the start of the collar.

I measured and then followed the video instructions to cut halfway and fold the cut away over to use as a tracer and keep the neckline even.

Neckline ACHIEVED!

Now onto problem 2: The length.


Excuse the HORRENDOUS picture, but as you can see this shirt is a borderline dress. I wanted to shorten it to hit my waistline so I did something very scientific. I folded it up while wearing it until it fell to the length I wanted and pinned the fold in place.

I measured from the edge of the fold (from underneath if you’re able to see from the first photo) to the bottom of the shirt, giving me the amount I needed to take off, then subtracted 1″ to account for my hem. What does that mean? I wanted it to be 6.5″ shorter but cut 5.5″ off.

While I left the neckline raw the bottom of t-shirts being left unhemmed is a less desirable look.

Marked and cut! No turning back:


You’ll notice I pinned the bottom of the shirt together to keep it from sliding, so to reduce any shifting and keep my cut even.


And you may notice again that, even though I accounted for a hem, I still cut a hair under my chalk markings. That’s because I planned to serge the edge and knew the serger blade would shave some more of the shirt off no matter how careful I was.


So why would I bother serging the edge? I’ve already pointed out that t-shirt knit doesn’t fray. I’ll explain in a minute.


Using my gauge, I measured out the 1″ allowance I left when cutting and folded/ pinned my hem into place.

Then I stitched down on either side of my serge line (top and bottom) to secure it into place and create that double stitch that all t-shirts have in their bottom hem instead of using a dual needle setting. I used my serge stitch as a guideline to keep a consistent width between the two stitches. Also, this knit is thin and the thread gave the edge something more for the needle to bite into without causing the fabric to bunch up.


Oooooh man does my knit sewing need some practice. The stretch and slide got away from me and these stitch lines are less than straight.


I wanted to shorten the sleeves, but specifically liked the rolled cuff look. I rolled up the width of the sleeve hem twice and then, using a very small stitch, I tacked the cuff into place.

That’s it. My thrifted shirt now has that “faux-vintage” chainstore look.

And now my least favourite part: photos of me wearing it.


Look how thrilled I am to be taking my picture right now:


But the shirt looks pretty great, I’m proud of the outcome. I run into this a lot with old shirts I find. I like the feel, colour, or design but hate how it looks like I’m wearing my older brother’s shirt or that I’m being choked by the neckline.

I’ve seem similar factory distressed shirts in stores at the mall that sell for $40.

$10 and 45 minutes is more my style.





I’m back after quite the hiatus.

The past four months have been busy. My life is growing in all different directions and I’ve been forced to grapple with some difficult transitions that have challenged me and also been handed some exciting opportunities that have invigorated me. Each day has been packed to the brim with meetings, rehearsals, work, socializing, and writing. I feel like my fullest self and I’m very in love with where things are headed but, something had to take a back seat.

At first I had planned to only take January off, then it was February and I still couldn’t find the time. March approached and I stressed about not having anything so started to brainstorm some pathetic ideas. Once, my brilliant brain was convinced that everyone would just love to see the contents of my fabric stash. Just one whole post listing all the fabric I own.

…wasn’t even drunk when I came up with that one.

By the time April rolled around I got over it. It was better for everyone if I waited until I had the mental energy to write posts I was proud of rather than to show you how I organize my buttons by colour.

May felt promising. This first day being on a Monday, the stars had aligned and I looked forward to Sunday evening to craft the greatest revival piece.

Then, yesterday…

Yesterday was one hell of a day. I was angry and upset about it, but today I think it was very appropriate considering how eager I am to start sewing again. (This is called a positive spin and we’re all gonna get on board with it so I don’t tear my hair out).

After weeks of putting it off, I finally managed to dragged myself to the laundromat and wash all my clothes and linens so I could finally stop fabreezing my shirt armpits (we’ve all done it). I had it planned out to the minute, as I was using a small window of time between two separate rehearsals. It was the most organized I’ve been in months.

Then the laundromat dryer caught fire and burned/ melted 30% of my clothes. The other 70% shrunk severely because of the heat/ is warped and flimsy/ or smells like burnt hair and chemicals.

So, surprisingly, I didn’t get much sewing or writing done last night.

But, at the very least, sewing has now become a priority. I have to replace almost my entire wardrobe and while I will purchase quite a few items, it seems like a wasted opportunity not make a bunch of my replacements.

So no, I don’t have anything made for today, but I inhaled a lot of smoke yesterday and wasn’t thinking clearly so I promise it would’ve been terrible.

or hilariously bad…

damn, that might’ve been entertaining now that I think about it.

Ok, here’s some pictures of my ruined clothes, because every good blog includes photos.

Flannel and Reflections

Ok folks, this is my last blog post of the year, and I thought I would end things off with a bit of self-reflection.

So last week, I showed off some prep work for my big project, a flannel dress that both looked lovely and felt comfy.

I repeated all my previous steps when making the mock bodice, but this time with the real thing.


I love the warm colour palette of this flannel.


I omitted the peter pan collar that this pattern originally called for, and instead just attached the facing and under stitched it to finish off the neckline.


I am in love with how detailed the inside of this bodice looks. There are so many things going on here, and it’s satisfying to see all the tiny steps of serging, putting in darts, attaching facing, stitching it all together, all of it in one photo.

I certainly put a lot of love into this piece.

It felt like a good project to end the year on. I’m not always sure I’m making progress in my skill set. I still have a lot to learn and I’d be lying if I said this turned out flawlessly.

I struggle with invisible zippers still:



And the waist line ended up hitting a little lower than I anticipated…

But I’ve still come a long way, and just having the weekly excuse to keep playing with something I had stopped making time for is reason enough for me to be happy today. This was a reminder of where I still needed to improve and will inform future projects and resolutions.

I think the biggest one is to better organize my final photo. When you live alone, it’s hard to get a good quality picture of how you look in the final piece.


Oh, and I took soooooooo many.

All that hard work for a grainy pic can be frustrating, I’ll spend the break looking into new methods.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the new year!

Making A Muslin

With the holidays approaching, along come the  holiday parties. So many reasons to wear a dress, something I haven’t bought for myself in a while.

I’ve had a very specific project in mind for some time, but haven’t been able to find the exact pattern for what I’m trying to achieve. So when I can’t find exactly what I want, I start to play with what I have on hand and figure out how to make it work.

I’m looking to make a high-waist flared dress with short sleeves.

This is the closest thing I had on hand:


This already is a variation of an existing pattern, but at least some of the pattern alteration math has been worked out for me. (I’m nixing that collar though, you know, to make this harder).

Of course it did mean a lot of this:

image image

The one thing this pattern is missing is sleeves, so I needed to go about mocking up those.


So, lets recap so far:

I’m working with an already modified pattern, removing a feature of it, adding my own mock sleeves, and p.s the fabric for this piece is flannel which doesn’t have any give. This dress lives or dies by the fit of the bodice and every change happening smoothly.

I think I hate myself a little…

So today, I’m doing the test run of the bodice, by making a muslin. A rough dry run of the structure by using a pile of old cheap broadcloth I have in my stash.


It feels like so much work to be making something that’s never going to see the light of day, but I’m happy I stuck with it. I like my dresses to fit close, and nothing feels less attractive than clothes that are too tight or too saggy.

After a lot of troubleshooting and readjusting, the torso is a great fit.



Now the real reason we’re here is the sleeve addition. This took three attempts:


But eventually I figured out the notching and size I needed to not feel like my armpit is choking and to have a small amount of gathering at the seam.




Phase one complete.