Monday, February 27, 2012

Upcycled Men's Shirt #8 (or maybe 9)

Another in the upcycled men's shirt series. For more upcycled men's shirts, vests, suit jackets and ties, go here. The major experiment with this shirt was an airy wire collar, but some other nice surprises happened along the way.

Finished shirt: airy wired collar, assymetrical front, ad hoc cuffs, vintage buttons

The first thing I usually do with a man's shirt is pick out the collar. Sometimes after picking out the collar I just restitch the neckband without any collar. This time I inserted a new collar with a twist.

Carefully pick out the stitching at the neck and remove the collar

Next steps in deconstructing this shirt:
• Cut the sleeves off just below the elbow.
• Taking the two sleeve remnants, cut off the cuffs and set aside. Open up remaining fabric from sleeve remnants and stitch together, forming a flimsy new collar piece. Using 32 gauge wire, roll the edge of the new collar around the wire and stitch in place. Insert new collar into neck opening and stitch closed.

Use 32-gauge wire from the hardware store. You can cut it with regular scissors.

New, airy, wired collar that can be bent into various shapes

The next step is to take those discarded cuffs and repin them on the the shirt sleeves. We're not regathering the sleeve into the cuff, just placing the cuff atop the sleeve, leaving about 3/4 of an inch of sleeve fabric below. You will then roll that fabric up and over the cuff forming a visible outer hem.  These relocated cuffs should be centered on the front of the sleeve and will probably go about half-way to three-quarters of the way around the sleeve.

Cuffs on front of sleeves. Note rolled hem of sleeve now covering raw edge of cuff

Now about that original collar. The next step was to cut one side of the shirt front shorter, making it asymmetrical. The original collar is used to finish the new edge, and the weight of the original collar and stiffness of its facing makes the shirt hang nicely. Note that the collar was so long that I ended up clipping off the far left edge of the collar that disappears behind the back of the shirt. 

Collar used as finishing edge of left shirt front.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Upcycled Fortune Cookie Vest

Here's a basic man's suit vest, snagged for about $2 and then altered. Let me count the ways.

Front knit panels, vintage buttons

First, because women have breasts and most men do not, men's vests that otherwise fit tend to look to small across the bust.  I've added triangular panels of knitted material, stitching them inside the left and right front, letting them drape as they will. The second step, of course, is to switch out the buttons for something more interesting.

Close-up of buttons and knit draping

The fortune cookie element enters on the back of the vest. I composed my own fortunes on my computer (some borrowed from real fortune cookies, some from soothsayers I've encountered on the world travel circuit, some just made up). I printed those out onto iron-on transfer paper, and then ironed them onto silk fabric. The final step was stitching them onto the back of the vest.

Fortunes on back

Fortune close-up

And even closer

As a final optional adornment, I took a scrap of leftover knitted material and made a simple loop. This can be worn around the neck, altering the effect of the draped material.

With knitted cowl addition

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Another Thing That's Not Like the Others

This is a companion piece to the rabbit boy posted earlier in "One of These Things Is Not Like the Other." Again the process involves: visiting a thrift store; picking up figurines and/or little critters for about fifty cents each; taking them home and breaking or dismembering them; playing around with the pieces until you find a pleasing match.

This time around - bearduck.

Bearduck making a wish on a dandelion

Bearduck looking for bunny boy

The next step in the process: leaving these little unlikely critters out in public places for others to stumble upon, like an Easter egg hunt gone utterly mad.

Monday, February 6, 2012

St. Sebastian Valentine's Pin

Here is a Saint Sebastian Valentine's Day pin for roaming seamstresses. I have always been intrigued by Saint Sebastian; not so much by Saint Valentine. Saint Sebastian is the fellow pierced by a slew of arrows and has attracted the attention of painters and sculptors for centuries.

St. Sebastian by Andrea Mantegna, 1480, Musée du Louvre, Paris

Saint Sebastian is the inspiration for these Valentine pins, each a plush little heart that can serve as both a pincushion and a semi-dangerous accessory.

Polar fleece pin

Pin backing

Velvet heart pin

Polar fleece heart pin on a vintage Pierre Cardin tuxedo

Velvet heart pin on tuxedo

Tiny version of heart pin (the size of a 50-cent piece)

To make your own Saint Sebastian Valentine's Day pincushion pin, draw a heart pattern on paper or use a heart-shaped object you have lying around the house as a template (turns out I had a shocking number of hearts). Use the template to cut two layers of scrap fabric. Use an overhand blanket stitch to sew the two layers together, continuing until you've sewn all but about 1/2 an inch. At that point, stuff the heart with batting and then continue sewing the rest of the heart closed. Sew a pin backing on the reverse. It's delightful, it's dangerous, and it's downright practical.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

One of These Things Is Not Like The Others...

Pick through your assorted junk, stare at it all for a while, and then start gluing it together. Unlikely result number one: bunny boy.

Bunny boy sitting on a tangerine
Bunny boy climbs a tree
Still climbing
Bunny boy resting
Note that each of the original little figures that were beheaded to create bunny boy cost about twenty-five cents each. Flea market junk boxes are ripe pickings for this type of Frankenstein critter project. Next up: bearchick.
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