Upcycling Tutorial: Refashion your Fashion, Part 2

Remember a few days ago when I shared how I upcycled my striped Sunny Day dress? Want to check it out first? Just click here. Do you remember how I said I still have almost the entire skirt portion left? Well this time, I am sharing with you exactly what I did with it! But first, I want to talk a little about upcycling fabric. I personally try to recycle or upcycle whenever possible. I reuse things, rework things, and reimagine things. Sewing is expensive!! Fabric is expensive!! I try not to waste anything. I cut buttons off shirts and remove elastic from casing. Why toss something when you can use it again? I have made beautiful skirts from vintage sheets, new shirt sleeves and underwear from too small t-shirts even saved pockets and plackets for the sake of repurposing. It is ok. Have you seen when people fussy cut fun characters from woven fabric and sewed them behind holes of ripped jeans? I love that idea! Who wouldn’t want a spider-man peeking out of a hole at their knee?! Do you remember when I dyed and upcycled a lace curtain panel into a 24/7 top? You can reread that here. We throw away billions of pounds of fabric every year and a lot of it doesn’t break down quickly so I want to do my part to make the world a little cleaner in the future. Anyway off my soapbox and onto the tutorial.  

First, grab your scrap bin and pick out some fabric. As I was choosing my fabric scraps, I knew I had to choose pieces that would be large enough to cut a front and a back piece and I would also need sleeves. I used my leftover stripes from the skirt, but also pulled out another scrap of that fabric I found in my scrap bin. J I picked out several solid scraps as well as the black with gray dots on it. That print was leftover from leggings gone wrong….so wrong. I laid everything out in a pile to see which colors played best together. I ended up choosing the black with gray dots and a solid blue that was similar to the blue in my striped print.

I knew that I was going to use the Autumn Spice pattern from Ellie and Mac because it’s already designed for color blocking, I knew it fit well, and I really like the length and the curved hem. I did choose to make the Under Bust color blocking option for this pattern since I had already made the Over Bust style. Also, my striped fabric wouldn’t have been tall enough to use as the middle layer for the Over the Bust option and I wanted the stripes in the middle.

I was able to quickly tape and cut my pattern. I graded from the 4x bust to the 5x at the waist and through the hips. I used my scraps to cut my fabric pieces. I ended up using the solid blue for my sleeves as I didn’t have enough of the black with gray circles. As a short cut for me, I serged the sleeve and bottom of the shirt where it will be hemmed before assembling. I find that it is much easier to hem when I have already finished those edges a little bit. I think my machine is happier when it has a little something to hold on to besides super slick fabric. This shirt comes together pretty quickly which makes me very happy. From start to finish, it may have taken an hour and a half. I spent a good amount of time matching up those stripes when I was cutting and again during assembly. I didn’t want the same issues I had with my original dress. I took some pictures to show you how I was able to achieve the strip matching between the front and back bodices.

  1. First the front middle bodice. Make sure the fabric is laid out straight. Take the time to adjust the fabric so it is near perfect. I used the lines on my cutting mat to help keep things even. When I lay my pattern piece on top of the fabric, I make sure that the left and right side of the pattern is at the same line on the fabric print. Since my stipes are so small, this is fairly easy to achieve. I use my rotary cutter to cut my fabric. Also, notice I smoothed out the ‘hourglass’ shape at mid-belly because my shape isn’t hourglass at all.

  1. Now for the backside of the middle bodice. Again neaten your fabric so that it is nice and straight. Compare the piece of fabric (front bodice) you cut first with the piece you are about to cut. Pay attention to the pattern repeat to determine where you need to place your pattern. This will ensure you are cutting the correct line to match the stripes when sewing. Sometimes it helps me to lay the first piece of cut fabric on top of the piece which is waiting to be cut. This photo shows me doing this and pointing out that the stripes are in fact matching. You can now cut out the second piece. I used my first piece as the pattern this time so I didn’t have to move anything. Be careful not to accidentally cut into your fabric ‘pattern’.

OK, you need to assemble your front and back color-blocked bodices according to the pattern directions. You can also sew shoulder seams and add the sleeves. Now we are ready to match up the side seam strips for a beautiful finish. Here we go!

  1. Match seams at the color-blocked sections. I like to pin when things need to be pretty spot on so here I put pins above and below the striped section and used clips everywhere else. Now match your stripes. I lay my fabric together evenly and pin several times in this section. This will keep things neat when you sew. I am going to use my serger, but will stay very aware of the pins I have placed in the striped section so as to not hit one. Hitting a pin will dull your knife in a second!! If this makes you nervous you could also sew with a basting stitch on your sewing machine first. Remove all the pins then serge. Furthermore, you could just use your sewing machine for the entire shirt.

  1. Now admire how perfect your stipes look. Mine are off a tad, but close enough for me! Great Job!

I was able to cut along a few stripes to make my neckband. I thought this added a fun detail to the neckline. Now stitch on your neckband and hem the sleeves and bottom of your shirt. I use a simple zig-zag stitch for hemming since I have had the best luck with that stitch.

Now I have finished my new shirt and I have put a scrap from an unworn dress to great use! I also removed two large scraps from my scrap bin! I would say this is a huge WIN! Thanks for following along. I hope this gives you some confidence in matching stripes and using scraps! You can do it!

If you love my Autumn Spice Top and need the pattern here is my aff link.

If you love my Before Sunny Dress Dress and need the pattern here is my aff. Link.

If you would just love to check out my blog, come on over! SequoiaLynn Sews

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