What makes a great thrift store refashion?

I started out this post as a DIY tutorial for this chevron sweater. Soon it was more complicated than useful. But as I’ve been staring at the blank screen for far too long, I started thinking long about refashioning.

thrift store refashion of a ivory poncho into a chevron sweater with buttons

What makes a great thrift store refashion?

Probably an unpopular opinion: if you take in the sides of a dress that’s too big, it’s not a refashion. It’s an alteration. While altering clothes to fit is a useful skill in your sewing, it’s not the most creative way to refashion.

thrift store refashion of a ivory poncho into a chevron sweater with buttons

It’s always always my goal to help you sew something creative, so here’s 6 things you can do for a great thrift store refashion.

1. Go for transformation

If you aim for transformation, you’ll almost always end up with a great thrift store refashion. Starting with a skirt? Make a top. If you have a pair of jeans–cut them into a coat like this one.


Curtains can become so many, many things. If you’re having a hard time seeing beyond what the original garment is, here’s a simple trick. Fold up the garment as if it were a bolt of fabric. When you take away the reference of what’s on the hanger, the ideas will start popping!

thrift store refashion of a caftan turned into a jacket.  Wearing the jacket outside, throwing a hat in the air

One of my favorite jackets started life as the world’s most questionable caftan. Wow, it was horrid.

2. Always go for the fabric

Thrift stores are where a lot of old clothes go to die. And some things should. Regularly I see old dated 90s dresses in icky lifeless fabric with dated prints or pilled surfaces. Pass them by. If you’re taking the time to sew something new from something old, always go for the fabric.

french terry bomber jacket thrift store refashion with blush ponte dress and peach booties
olive french terry sweatshirt gets new life as a bomber jacket

The quality of fabric will make or break a good thrift store refashion. Look at tags to know what the fiber content is. Natural fibers will always age better than synthetics. Cashmere, 100% cotton, linen and linen blends are my favorite. Feel the fabric. Is it scratchy? Buh-bye. And it’s a hard pass on any type of knit that’s stretched out.

graphic quote: "Good fabric = good fabric no matter the source"

3. You can always change a weird color

So in your thrifting adventures, you’ve stumbled on a great quality fabric, but the color is just…off. Buy it anyway. Hear me now, you can ALWAYS change a weird fabric color. Always.

Natural fibers can be bleached, or you can experiment with something like RIT Dye Remover. I used Dye Remover on the linen/cotton curtains for this dress and added stripes with a bleach pen.

thrift store refashion of curtains bleached an d remade into a women's shirtdress

If bleach freaks you out, grab a bottle of dye. Natural fibers + dye= easy win and synthetics are simple to dye with the right dye. I could write sonnets to Rit DyeMore I love it so much for synthetics. It shows up in so many of my projects like this coat, a lot of zippers like for this hoodie, and this experimental thrift store refashion.

colorblocked boiled wool coat
colorblocking with Rit DyeMore

4. Be fearless and creative with your cutting

The best thrift store refashions are going to be innovative with cutting. You can’t always be 100% true to the grainline like you can when you sew with yardage. You will be short somewhere almost always. So piece the fabric where you need it. If you can do that invisibly, great, and if not, make it a design element.

side of a thrift store refashion sweater chevron of cashmere knit stripes in ivory sweater knit

Add a contrast color to make up for your lack of yardage. Or purposely colorblock. The contrast chevrons in this sweater came from an old cashmere sweater. The ivory fabric was an old knit poncho. While the cutting work was really precise and complicated, it makes a big impact on the final sweater.

back of a thrift store refashion sweater chevron of cashmere knit stripes in ivory sweater knit

5. Be wise when you mix fabrics

I’m sure you’ve seen them–those projects where fabrics are sewn together that just don’t look right. It’s always good to choose fabrics whose colors play well together. Also, keep in mind the weight and the composition of the fabrics.

For instance, when you mix knits together, they really need to have the same weight and stretch to them. If they’re not, they will fight each other and you’ll have a pretty homemade looking creation. This geometric dress isn’t a refashion, but this dress works well because all of the different knits are almost identical in weight and stretch.

colorblocked knit dress

When you mix wovens, they should have similar weights but also similar drapes. A man’s shirt with its rather stiff drape is going to wage war with a drapey rayon you found in a vintage dress. But mixing the fabrics in 2 men’s shirts can make for a creative thrift store refashion.

thrift store refashion of a men's plaid shirt and a plain linen shirt remade into a women's shirtdress

6. Use cool buttons

If you sew for yourself, you know the eternal struggle of finding good quality buttons that aren’t a million dollars. This is where the thrift store can really have your back.

close up of buttons and embroidery on a thrift store refashion of a sweater
Buttons from another sweater!

Sometimes garments way past their prime will still have usable buttons in perfect condition. Often they’re much more interesting than the ones you’ll find in fabric stores. The ones for this sweater came off of a very worn and shrunken sweater. With some loops and added embroidery, the buttons now are a focal point. Definitely a successful thrift store refashion!

Creativity is a muscle that you work!

In the end, almost all the fun of a good refashion project is seeing how limited resources will force you to rethink what you’re doing. Yes, it will frustrate you, yes, the ideas won’t be obvious when you start, but take a step back, and I promise you will come up with a good solution.

The next time you start a refashion project, keep the transformation in mind. Always go for good quality fabric, and know that you can always change the color of the fabric. Be fearless and creative when you pick up your scissors and wise when you mix fabrics together. And if you can top it off with cool buttons, you’re well on your way to a great thrift store refashion!

distressed sweatshirt

It seems that distressed fabrics are having their thing.  I’m always slow to jump on things fashion trends, but once in a while, it’s kind of fun to just experiment and see if you might possibly like something.  Refashions are one of my favorite ways to experiment with fashion.  Your investment in the project is low, so if it’s a total flop, no love is lost.  And if you really like the end result, you may just gain some fuel in your creative tank for future projects.  With that in mind, I set out to make this distressed sweatshirt refashion.

Distressed Sweatshirt Refashion

distressed sweatshirt

My questionable morning style sense

In the mornings, I am always cold.  I don’t like wearing kimonos (not warm enough, giant sleeves that get caught in my breakfast), and a jacket is not necessarily how I want to start the day.  For years, I’ve always grabbed a white very oversized sweatshirt hoodie.  It went through all of my pregnancies from week 0-40 and back again and all that postpartum time too.  By the end it was really gross.  In its stained and shredded state, I donated it and started wearing my husband’s hoodies.

At some point, my husband started complaining about his hoodies being left all over the house.  To remedy this, I recently went thrifting to find some kind of sweatshirting to make a version of Ottobre’s “Hideaway Hoodie” (Ottobre 2-2017-8)

from Ottobre 2-2017

Oatmeal and salmon

distressed sweatshirt

No I don’t eat salmon in my oatmeal.  That strikes me as odd, and not something I’d want to eat in my morning hoodie wearing session.  But thrifting did yield me a pair of oatmeal colored heavy french terry sweatpants as well as a salmony pink xxl french terry sweatshirt.  I instantly loved the salmon, but the oatmeal was too boring for me despite it being nice fabric.

distressed sweatshirt

To remedy the situation, I dyed the sweatpants with Rit DyeMore Kentucky sky.  Because I wanted a little more depth, I added 1/2 capful Rit DyeMore in Daffodil yellow to the dye pot in a couple of places.  I did not agitate the yellow once I added it; instead I let it spread out in the pot naturally.  What I ended up with was a fabric that was sky blue in places and a bright springy green in others.


So what does all this have to do with distressed fabric?  Well, while I liked both of the colors after I dyed the sweatpants, it wasn’t obvious how they would go together.  They’re nearly on opposite sides of the color wheel and I had no middle tone that could pull them together.  I thought and thought until someone in Sew Much Talent popped up with a simple t-shirt made in distressed jersey.

The wheels started spinning in my head, and I thought I could connect them together if I slashed both colors and backed them with the opposite color.  The brand Generation Love has several distressed sweatshirts that are worth checking out.

Crazy piecing

This sweatshirt pattern is very long–it’s nearly knee length on me.  Unlike some of the sweatshirt dresses that are out there (Victory Patterns’ Lola comes to mind), it’s not super boxy and has some good shaping with princess seams in the front that end in deep, cozy inseam pockets.

distressed sweatshirt


Because of the length, I had to do a lot of creative piecing with the pattern.  One of the things that I love about refashioning is how it forces you to use every scrap available.  So it was with this refashion.  There’s seams in weird places that would never be there on a garment made from yardage.  It’s a look that’s either crazy cool or just crazy.  In the end, I had about a 6″x6″ square left from both fabrics.


distressed sweatshirt

For most of my colorblocked projects, I will sketch out possibilities before I start cutting into fabric.  It’s kind of amazing how many different looks you can get by just moving colors around a bit.  For this one, I just kind of made decisions as I went along based on the limited yardage I had available.  I really like how some parts of it turned out.  The bi-color hood is a favorite, and I used the right and the wrong sides of the both french terry colors for a subtle difference in places.

Underlining and slashing

distressed sweatshirt

To achieve my distressed look, all of the sleeve pieces and the front pieces are underlined.  The green/blue is underlined with a salmon colored stretch lace (refashioned from a top).  For the salmon french terry, I used a seafoam quilted ponte leftover from another project I’ve not yet blogged.

Before I underlined everything, I used my rotary cutter to make horizontal slashes at random on the pieces.  I pulled at them *gently* to open them up a bit.  French terry has very little recovery, so it distresses really easily.


For this one, I didn’t use my serger. Of late, I’ve been using my regular sewing machine to sew seams on heavier knits like this, and then using my coverstitch to topstitch.  The coverstitch adds to the casual look and it does a nice job of flattening down these heavy seams in a nice professional looking way.

Welcome Colorado Spring!

Our weather has been, and is very fickle in Spring.  One day it’s 70, the next, there’s snow.  This has been a perfect sweatshirt for this time of year.  The day I took these pictures, it was about 45 and brazenly sunny.

distressed sweatshirt

Taking risks in sewing

I won’t be slashing up my fabrics anytime soon, but it was good to do something out of the ordinary for this project.  Sometimes I think it’s too easy to get stuck doing the same thing, making the same kind of garments the same way.  There’s nothing wrong with that, especially when you’re tired or your sewjo is gone, but there’s days that it’s good to push yourself to try something new.  If for no other reason, try something new so that you can have an opinion about it.

distressed sweatshirt

What’s the biggest risk you’ve taken in your sewing?

shirt dress from shirts

I never got around to posting this dress.  I suppose I didn’t want to spoil it since it appeared in the Winter 2018 edition of Altered Couture, but in truth, I simply forgot about it.  A mish mash of patterns and colors, this shirt dress from shirts was a fun project to play with color.   While this isn’t my coffee dress for The Day and Night Dress Challenge, I wanted to share it today.  It’s a good example of a style choice for your casual coffee dress for the challenge.

diy quilted coat

As the year draws to a close, I’ve been thinking about my general work habits a lot.  It seems my projects are either things that can be done at breakneck speed or slow, methodical affairs that take planning, precision, and ample time.  I wonder what projects in the middle of the road would look like!  This DIY quilted coat is the second type of project.  It took research, careful thought and then just a lot of hustle to complete it, and I regret no minute extra I spent on it.

faux fur lined hoodie

Happy Cyber Monday! This is the faux fur lined hoodie that I wanted to make way back in January of this year!  When the contests for Patternreview were announced in January, I had intended to make this hoodie for the Upcycle Contest.  I thought this faux fur lined hoodie would be a great full circle project.  The first lined jacket that I made was a refashion of a pillow sham for my son when he was a toddler!  My plans changed once that contest came into being, and I instead made the rain jacket from that questionable caftan.  Still, I had this jacket stewing in the back of my mind.

I’ve been a speedster all up in my sewing room of late.  I’m attempting to get through a cosplay of Rose Tyler’s purple jacket from Journey’s End and hopefully a 10th Doctor suit for my husband by the end of Patternreview’s Costume Contest.  The jacket is 86% done, but the suit is going to be a big tall mountain.  This last week, I finished up a batch of dresses for SEWN, the local boutique that I sew for.  My latest video goes over the details of the 8 dresses and includes some backyard catwalk fun courtesy of my friends.  But I’m sharing here some more pictures including some of our outtakes of my SEWN Denver Fall 2017 Collection.

SEWN Denver Fall 2017 Collection

Tie neck dresses

The first 4 dresses are all knit dresses with nice flare skirts.  I used the the same style as the velvet dress from my winter collection but I lowered the neck into a high V.  The tie is a big glorified binding that’s longer than the neck edge on both sides of a little loop that’s sewn near the neck edge.  The ties thread through the loop to create a tie that’s not really a tie.  I like this finish because I think sometimes tie necks can be too bulky.  This first geometric knit really benefited from the less bulky tie.

Embroidered circles

On the ITY versions of this dress, I added circles to the skirts from ponte and a rayon/poly/lycra knit on the blue dress.  After I affixed them to the skirt with a glue stick, I stitched back and forth over the circles.  I love this technique, and I use it frequently on appliques.

Overdyeing the lining

The blue dress is a refashion from a size 20 Coldwater Creek dress.  There was a lot of fabric on the original dress–so much so that I was able to cut the whole thing minus the sleeves from just the skirt.  The blue is a rich rich cross between royal blue and navy.  It’s truly beautiful fabric and when I spotted it at the thrift store, it was clear that it had been worn about twice.  Do you sometimes buy things at the thrift store as a rescue project?  Sometimes I’m downright indignant that things end up there, especially when they’re this nice.

My problem is that the only knit I had available to line the bodice was a baby pink poly interlock.  As lining fabric goes, this stuff is wonderful.  It’s got great recovery, it sews easily and it offers the support and opacity that’s required.  But, the pink was so so ugly against the blue.  I thought about it for a while and decided to dye the whole dress with Rit DyeMore in royal purple.  The blue did not take any of the dye, but the pink settled down to a nice lilac and the circles picked up a hint of the purple.  It was such an upgrade!  It might seem fussy to go through the trouble, but the whole process took about 10 minutes plus a run through the wash which I was going to do anyway.

Handkerchief hem dress

I cut this handkerchief hem dress from a curtain panel.  I say curtain panel, but this was one that someone had professionally made.  So this is actually a good weight cotton fabric, not a home dec fabric with some of the finishes or blends that you see in curtains that you buy at home stores.  I was drawn to the stripes in the print and the beautiful fall colors of the floral.

The bodice is a vintage style cap sleeve style.  I’ve used it before on the wax print dress here.  The skirt is a big giant square with a hole cut out the size of the waist.  I so loved the gentle flow of the corners of the squares on my chiffon skirt that I wanted to replicate the look on this floral fabric.  I like how the stripes sit on the handkerchief hem.  My only wish is that I had had a little more width on the fabric so that the skirt could be a little longer.  As this is a fall dress, I’m okay with it being shorter.  I personally wear leggings with all my cooler weather dresses.  Hopefully anyone buying this will be smart enough to do the same!

Caftan-ish dresses

I’m currently taking Laura Volpintesta’s intro to patternmaking class, and on one of the videos she talks about the origins of patternmaking in traditional garments like kimonos and caftans.  (Though I’m moving along at a snail’s snail’s pace since I’m in the heat of soccer season when I have zero spare time) She was so enthusiastic that you could just do a whole lot with a little elastic to add some shaping to what would otherwise be a giant rectangle, that I decided to take her up on it.

Both of these dresses are essentially rectangles, though there’s a yoke with an extended cut on sleeve with a little sleeve band.  The ties are attached to elastic that goes around the back in a casing. I had doubts about this whole style and then I put on one.  Boy howdy is it comfortable and way cuter than you’d think.  I take back everything I’ve ever thought about how shapeless caftans are.  I suppose they can be, but they need NOT be.

Eyelet dress

The eyelet version is underlined with a blue chambray in the yoke.  Hot pink satin is an underlining on the lower part of the dress.  I really love the hot pink against the forest green.  When I was searching through my linings, I thought they looked really nice together but I was skeptical about the combination.  Would it appeal to anyone?  Is it current or at least not out of date?  After seeing a few style bloggers sporting hot pink + forest green, I felt a little more settled about the “trendiness” of the two colors.  Not that being current is what I think about when I sew per se, but I never want my stuff to have that “of an era” look.  You know like this:

image found on Pinterest from Vintage Everyday

Fall wax print “caftan”

This fabric was such a find.  The fall leaves plus the cool black chevrons opened up a lot of possibilities.  I used the chevrons on the yoke and for the hem.  While I thought about making self ties for the casing, I went for black twill tape which I think is a good contrast.  I still had some of the wax print leftover, so I made a twin dress.

Pinstripe wax print dress

[email-subscribers namefield=”YES” desc=”” group=”Public”]
The navy pinstripe is from a Banana Republic dress.  I think it’s a linen/cotton blend though the fiber content tag had been removed from the original dress.  The skirt was what drew me to this dress.  The play with the stripes and the flounce on the hem were too good to pass up.  There were sleeve flounces too that I saved.  When I disassembled the bodice, I had very little fabric to work with. I was able to cut one front and one back from the original dress.  The wax print is for the rest.  There’s another dress that I haven’t blogged yet because it’ll be in the next Altered Couture issue where I did this same kind of print blocking.  I personally like the contrast.

Plus my friend and I had too much fun taking twin shots.  I think we were flipping our hair here?

Overall, I’m really pleased with this collection, and I’m hoping that things sell well!

Summer still lingers here so I’m catching up on writing up the last of my summer projects before I move on into my fall makes.  Earlier in the summer, I picked up a few t-shirts at the thrift store for refashions.  One of them, you already saw me re-make in my Split Flutter Sleeve hack video.  The other 3 I decided to remake with some cutout features.  I often use t-shirt refashions as a way to test out ideas and think creatively about knits.  So here are 3 Cutout t-shirt refashions for you.


cutout t-shirt refashions

Blue print before

Before I show you each one, I have to show where they started.  The blue shirt is a cotton Calvin Klein tee that has a low v in the front that’s trimmed with twill tape.  There’s also some smocking on the front shoulders.  The blue is one of my blues in my color palette, and I really liked the print.  It’s not often that I find prints that are perfectly in my palette, so when I find them, I grab them.

cutout t-shirt refashions

Peach stripe before

The varying stripes on this white/peach cotton tee were really intriguing to me.  I’m a big fan of Pauline and her amazing stripe creations, so I thought I’d try my hand at doing something to utilize the stripes in a way that she might.

cutout t-shirt refashions

J Crew green tee of doom before

Spoiler alert on this green J Crew tee.  It did not turn out as I wanted.  It’s one of those evil cotton knits that expand when you blink at them.  As such it did not do what I wanted it to do.  I should have passed by it, but the green was so pretty, and it was J Crew so I figured (erroneously) that it was quality.  Dear J Crew, you really should do better.

Chop, chop, chippity chop

Inspiration at the baseball game

cutout t-shirt refashions

My older two boys play baseball, and there was one night we were leaving practice and I saw another Mom with the cutest tee.  It had a back low v-neck with an X made from strips of the fabric across the upper back.  I liked it so much, I scrawled a rough sketch on a scrap of paper in the car.  Do you do this when you see a cool detail on someone on the street?

The blue tee was easy to turn into a version of this.  I cut the back from the front since it already had the v-neck detail.  I also scooped out a little bit more of the neck.  The bottom of the twill tape was too low for a back (and really for a front too), so I stitched it up the now center back to a better height.

I cut a couple of 3″ strips to make into turned tubes for the X back.  Because the corners of the twill tape were a little floppy on the back, I attached one end of each of the X strips to the corners.  The other ends I attached under the new neckline after it was bound.  I pinned each of the other ends under the neckline after it was bound to the point where the X and the corners of the v-neck sat taut across the back.

The front is a simple neckline somewhere between a scoop and a crew, and I gave this one cap sleeves which have been perfect for summer.

Peach in a blender

My inspiration for this tee came from this Anthropologie tee I pinned on my t-shirt hacking board.

Tie-Back Tunic - anthropologie.com. $58. This color only :-(

I didn’t really like the gathered portion of the back, and the ties seemed overly fussy.  Instead, I opted for a plain yoke with the peekaboo center back beneath it.  My kids really got a kick out of the peekaboo when I was in the process of making it.

cutout t-shirt refashions

Stripe play

I was really lucky that I had not only a lot of extra width to deal with in this tee but a lot of extra length too.  I was able to cut the lower back with offset stripes.  They match the front on one side and are offset on the other side seam.

cutout t-shirt refashions

The upper back I cut from one of the sleeves, though I had to cut in in 2 pieces which I overlapped and stitched down with my coverstitch.  From the rest of that sleeve, I cut a bias tiny pocket for the front.

cutout t-shirt refashions

Can you believe that I could cut both of the cap sleeves from the other sleeve?  It’s not too often that I can do exactly what I have in my head in a refashion, but this was one of those times.

Cutout tank (*Not all your ideas are golden, Ponyboy.*)

So for the green tee, I wanted to do a cutout on the shoulder a bit like this Express tee.

Express Tops - Express Cut Out Shoulder Tank*NEW* size L

I knew that I wanted to make a bit of lattice work under the cutout, and that’s where things went south.  This green knit could not handle the extra manipulation.  It did not have the extra recovery it needed to stretch across the gap and hold well without overstretching.  You can see that the back neck is bagging out too.  This fabric had humble aspirations of being a plain basic tee and that’s it.

At first, my lattice ended up all stretched out and horrible.

cutout t-shirt refashions

I was able to unpick it and redo the intersections so that everything sat flat.  If only I had made the left front with the cutout from the beginning too instead of binding the armhole THEN cutting it out.  I think that would have been a cleaner look.  Still, given the recovery issues with the knit, I’m not sure I would have gotten a better result.

cutout t-shirt refashions

Ultimately, the tee is wearable, but it’s just not my best work.  I’d really like to try this idea out again this time from yardage in a more appropriate knit.

What the worst knit that you’ve ever sewn?  Could you salvage your project?  What did you learn in the process?


[email-subscribers namefield=”YES” desc=”” group=”Public”]

double collar rain jacket

I’ve been waiting for Patternreview’s Upcycle Contest.  It’s no secret that I love to work with upcycled materials, so I jumped on the idea of this challenge post haste.  My original idea was a bomber jacket with hood for my oldest son, but it seems like a better project for fall.  I went to the thrift store with the plan to go ahead with that jacket unless something cool caught my eye.  What presented itself for my consideration?  This shell print caftan which I turned into a double collar rain jacket.  Here’s the before:

double collar rain jacket

double collar rain jacket

Double Collar Rain Jacket

double collar rain jacket

Burda World of Fashion 02-2008-120

BWOF 2-2008 is the first Burda issue I ever bought, and it’s easily my favorite.  The details in this issue are superb, and it’s been my personal goal to sew every one of the jackets in this issue.  To that end, #120 is my 5th jacket I believe.  Before this, there’s the smocked trench, striped seersucker jacket, and two versions of a classic trench: first as this refashioned pastel denim jacket, and also as a floral applique linen jacket.

Feature-wise, #120 is a parka with a zip front, large patch pockets, and a very unique double collar.  Someday, I’d love to sew it in the organza used in the magazine.  Although, as airy as it is, where does one wear an organza parka?  Anorak snaps finish off the sleeve bands and the corners of the front patch pockets.

double collar rain jacket

Caftans have a LOT of fabric

I had decided that whatever project I was making for this contest, I was GOING to make a jacket.  The caftan was a perfect choice for this use.  Jackets take up a lot of yardage and boy howdy did I use all of it.  After making the hat and the jacket, this was all I was left with.

After cutting 2 pieces, this is pretty close to #nowaste sewing. #sewcialists #patternreview #refashion #sewingcontest

A post shared by Elizabeth Made This (@elizabethmadethis) on

Although I needed just about every square inch of the caftan, I was able to cut every piece without piecing.  That is except for the bottom collar and the waist casing.  The bottom collar (labeled “undercollar” on the pattern which it isn’t) is super wide with quite the arc, so I had to piece it.  It didn’t feel like much of a concession since the top collar covers up the piecing completely.  The waist casing is also not obviously pieced due to the gathering with the waistband and the business of the print.

The sleeves had to be cut on the cross grain, but even then I was surprised that I could even get sleeves out of my yardage, especially with the center front slit taking up so much useable space on the original garment.

double collar rain jacket

I was also glad I could cut the fronts so as to avoid shell boobs.  I am no mermaid!

Pockets and snaps and bias tape oh my

double collar rain jacket

Zippered welts are my favorite pockets, and these ones went it without a hitch.  I really could not be more pleased with them.

The snaps on the sleeve bands and front pockets are spring snaps from Gold Star Tool.  I saw that Heather from Closet Case Files recommended them, so I gave them a try.  They’re nice snaps and their setter works well, plus they have 99 cent shipping.  Needless to say, I will not hesitate to order from them again.

double collar rain jacket

All of the seams plus the jacket hem are finished with a Hong Kong finish with some bias made from white/yellow striped shirting that I used for one of my sons’ shirts.

Napkins for contrast

I do have a lot of napkins.  We have people over frequently, and I really like using proper cloth napkins, so when I see nice ones, I buy them.  I had a couple sage green linen look napkins that I used for the undercollar of both the top collar and bottom collar as well as the drawstring.

double collar rain jacket

I used 2 aqua abstract dot linen napkins as the lining for the hat.  Speaking of which:

Bucket hat

double collar rain jacket

It was my hope that I could’ve added a hood to my jacket, but it just wasn’t possible with the available yardage.  I settled for adding a bucket hat as an accessory.  The hat pattern is the Raindrop Hat from SEWN Hats by Carla Crim.  It’s a good basic bucket hat.  I sewed a medium which is a pretty good fit for me.  There’s topstitching along all the seams and the brim (though I added 8 more rows of topstitching than the pattern called for as I am wont to do).

double collar rain jacket

Shells in the rain

It might seem strange that a very beachy shell printed poly/cotton caftan would inspire a waterproof rain jacket, but that’s where my mind immediately went.  The surface of the fabric has a little bit of texture that immediately reminded me of batik.  I had the idea to make up the jacket and hat and then try my hand at some DIY waterproofing.  I wrote a little tutorial below that I’ll put in a separate post someday when I get pictures, but for now, it’s here!  All I can say is it worked like a charm.  The day I took the pictures, we had heavy rain on and off and I stayed totally dry.

I can’t say that the jacket is waterproof.  I didn’t use any waterproof sealants or seam tapes, but I will confidently say that it’s water resistant.  Here’s a video of me dumping water on my hat.  The water beads up on the hat well:

I will safely call this water resistant after the wax treatment. #success #diy #imakemyownclothes #upcycledclothing

A post shared by Elizabeth Made This (@elizabethmadethis) on

Not only did the wax make the jacket water resistant, but it added an incredible amount of structure to the collar and body to the jacket.  It makes the fabric crinkly and soft and a little warmer.  I love how the collar stands up on its own accord when the jacket is inside out!

  double collar rain jacket double collar rain jacket    double collar rain jacket

Overall, this is one of my favorite refashions to date.  I hope you’ll consider this jacket in your voting for the upcycle contest!  Thanks for reading and have a great Memorial Day!

DIY Water resistant treatment tutorial

Once upon a time I did a lot of batik.  I made some pretty elaborate wall hangings from junior high through college.  I’d love to explore it again when I don’t have to worry about my kids getting into my dyes.  At any rate, I have lots of wax on hand.  The wax I like is a 50/50 mix of parrafin and beeswax.

For batik, parrafin is a great wax.  It’s pure white, so it won’t leave any colored tinge to your fabric, and it cracks when it’s dry, giving batik its characteristic crackle effect to the dye.  Beeswax is quite yellow, so it could theoretically give a candlelight glow to pure white fabric, but it is incredibly flexible.  The flexibility of the beeswax gives the resulting fabric a really nice hand.  Both of these waxes together also do a great job of making a water resistant treatment for your fabric.  So here’s how you get the wax into the fabric:


  • Electric griddle with a heating element
  • Wax: paraffin or beeswax or a combination are good choices
  • Garment to waterproof
  • Old iron that you use for nefarious crafting purposes (i.e. not the one you use for sewing)
  • Paper towels
  • brown craft paper and/or paper grocery bags
  • Freezer paper
  • masking tape


  1. Melt your wax in the electric griddle.  Ideally, the wax should be about 200 degrees.  A crock pot, rice cooker, or candle warmer will do the trick.  You won’t want to use this for food afterwards, so an old device is ideal.
  2. Cover a workspace with freezer paper, shiny side.  Tape it down with masking tape.  Lay your garment on top of it.  Stuff areas of your garment where multiple layers sit on top of each other with craft paper or pieces of paper grocery bags (like pockets and sleeves).
  3. Using a foam brush, brush a thin layer of the hot wax over the entire surface of the outside of your garment.
  4. Don’t freak out.  It’s going to look like you wrecked it.  Your garment will stand up entirely on its own and will be as stiff as a board.  You will fix this in the next step.  Take out the paper stuffing from the sleeves and pockets and replace it with a thick layer of paper towels.
  5. Cover your ironing board with 2 layers of brown craft paper.  You’re going to iron out most of the wax and you do not want wax on your ironing board!
  6. Put a thick pad of paper towels on top of the craft paper.  Place the waxed garment on top of the paper towels.  Cover an area of your garment with one paper towel.  Using the iron on its hottest setting, iron over the paper towel, moving the iron continuously.
  7. When the paper towel is transparent, it has been saturated completely with wax.  Get another paper towel* and continue the process of ironing over different areas of the garment.  You’ll probably need to make 2 full passes over the garment with the towels.  The fabric should not have wax that you can see on the surface, but you don’t want to iron out all of the wax either.  When the hand of the fabric becomes more flexible and is no longer stiff with wax, you’re good to go.
  8. Go find some big puddles and enjoy your newly waterproofed project!

*You’ll be amazed at how many paper towels you’ll need for this.  It’ll seem wasteful to keep using a fresh paper towel when the wax has totally saturated the paper, but you really need to do so.  If you keep using the same old waxy towel three things will happen: 1)the paper will stop absorbing wax, 2)the wax will start smoking which can be rather noxious, and 3)the wax can scorch leaving permanent scorch marks on your project.  Save yourself the pain and get a new paper towel.  Ask me how I know. 🙂



diy lion hoodie

This diy lion hoodie and Very Shannon Sally dress are two of the projects I’ve made for my kids of late.  The dress was for Easter, though I’m just getting around to writing it up now, and the lion hoodie is the result of a challenge a sewing friend gave me.

DIY Lion Hoodie

One of the women that I sew with monthly had this beautiful brown knit jacket.  It’s by a better knitwear designer that you’d buy at Nordstrom, so I’m going to venture a guess that she originally spent a fair amount on it.  It features this elaborate wool yarn trim on the collar and the cuffs.  J is in the process of a home remodel and in need of downsizing her closet.  She remembered this jacket and challenged me to make a lion costume out of it for my kids.  My boys generally go around the house roaring at people, so it seemed a natural project for me.

Ottobre 6-2009-8 Zipped hoodie

I pulled out an old Ottobre and found a basic hoodie pattern to start my refashion.  This is 6-2009-8.  It’s a basic zipped, lined hoodie.  The biggest size was a 92, and my son needed a 98, so I graded it up.  I was able to save the old zipper.

diy lion hoodie

Creative cutting

One of the things I really enjoy about refashion projects is that they force you to be creative with your materials.  The collar became the tail, and all the outer jacket pieces were easily cut from the original jacket.  The zipper facing became a neck seam binding, and I used scraps from the sleeve to make the fringe on the tail.  To make the jacket a little more wearable and a little less costumey, I opted to line it with a patterned knit.  I found a nice turmeric striped XL rtw tee while thrifting.  Just the sleeves were used for the hood because I wanted to have enough leftover to make this tank.

diy lion hoodie

Faux fur?

I lucked out in trying to find the right faux fur to line the inside of the jacket.  A golden wheat minky blanket found its way to me on the same thrift trip that produced the striped tee.  I say minky because I’m not really sure what it is.  It’s not precisely faux fur, it’s not really minky, but it is soft and cuddly and very warm.  I bagged the jacket, but I left the sleeves unlined.

Knitwear hem and squirrel pockets

The jacket is knitted, so it has a machine finished edge.  Because I was dealing with heavier materials, I kept this edge as the bottom of the jacket and hand sewed the lining rather than turn up a hem.  I couldn’t resist adding some fun to the welt pockets in the way of squirrels on the inside.

diy lion hoodie

Lion trim

The trim for the mane was sewn onto the original jacket with little hand overcast stitches, so it was really easy to deconstruct.  The used all of the trim from the collar on the top of the hood, centering the trim with the CB of the hood.   Zigzag stitches hold it down flat.  I also made ears for the top of the hoodie from the blanket.  The ears are sandwiched between the lion trim and the hood seam.  Rather than disassemble the trim for the sleeves, I treated them as cuffs.  They’re not as fitted as a normal sleeve would be, but they were much easier to deal with.

Very Shannon Sally Dress

This was the first year that I got to make an Easter dress for my daughter!  She has a little friend who’s just a month younger than her whose mom gifted me with Very Shannon’s Sally Dress.  She had hoped to make it for her daughter, and it was really sweet of her to think of me.  I sewed mine up in some bits of Cotton + Steel fabrics I had from Hawthorne Fabrics.  The skirt piece was too big for my narrower fabric, so I added a panel of white/yellow voile on the sides.

very shannon sally dress

Square neckline

This pattern has got some really cute features.  There’s big pockets on the sides of the gathered skirt and there’s a sweet square neckline.  The smallest size is a 2T, so I graded it down a size.  I do have an issue with the neckline.  The front is the same as the back, so it doesn’t fit on the shoulders the greatest.  Also, the shoulder seam comes to a weird point at the neckline edge.  You can see that weird point on some of the modeled photos on the Very Shannon site.

A good pattern for beginners

Weird neckline point aside, this is a good pattern for beginners.  There’s clear instructions that are unbelievably detailed.  You can’t mess this one up.  I know my friend is anxious about having to sew zippers or buttons.  She was excited to find a pattern that just fits over baby’s head without fuss.  It’ll be a great pattern for her.

very shannon sally dress

Plus, the overall cute factor of this dress makes up for my annoyance over the fit.  I had a good time adding some extra embroidery too.  I won’t be sewing it again, but my daughter loves it, so it’s a win.


Shop update Winter 2016

I’ve been working on making more items for SEWN Denver, this time with a more winter focus.  Before I get to those, I have 2 of my skirts listed in my freshly updated Etsy shop.  Each are $47 plus shipping.  Items will ship in a USPS Priority small flat rate box.  I’ll be adding more items to my Etsy shop.  Watch for updates here and on my Instagram.


Ric Rac pocket floral skirt

Waist: 29.5, Hip: 36.5″



Ric Rac pocket floral skirt

Waist: 29.5, Hip: 36.5″




Green piped pockets floral skirt

Waist: 29.5, Hip: 36.5″

On to the new collection!

Winter collection dresses

For these dresses, I was looking for deeper colors and warmer fabrics with the classic silhouettes that I love.  Here we go:

Black and grey animal print velvet dress


With princess seams, turtleneck, and a nice swishy skater skirt, this is a great dress for holiday parties.  This is my favorite dress from the collection by far!  The velvet is so cozy to wear, yet it looks so elegant.

There is an invisible zip in the turtleneck, so it fits closely, but will easily slip over your head.  There’s silver buttons on the shoulder that pick up the cool sheen of the velvet, though I wasn’t able to get them in pictures given my limited photo time yesterday [insert sad face here].

Bust: 32″ Waist: 29″



Blue and green animal print colorblocked dress


This dress started its life as a taupe/grey dress.  The print was great, but the overall color was a bit dull.  After a quick bath in Rit Dye More, the rayon/poly/spandex now is a pretty green blue.  The contrast princess seam panels and sleeves are from an olive cotton/spandex turtleneck.  This dress also has an invisible zip in the turtleneck.

Bust: 35″, Waist: 32″


Brown suiting dress with large floral applique


This dress started as a 3 piece suit.  I used the pants for the bodice and the skirt for the skirt.  It is fully lined.

My favorite bit is the floral applique. I highlighted the lines of the flowers with contrast magenta stitching.  The silk belt hangs from thread loops on the side seams for a little pop of color.

Bust: 35″, Waist: 30″, Hips: 36.5″


Plaid Sweater Knit Dress


This sweater knit was so nice to work with.  It’s a nice thick polyester stable sweater knit.  If I had had more yardage to work with, it would have made a beautiful long cardigan.  As such, I think it worked up well into this kind of 60s inspired silhouette.  I think it will pair well with tights and boots.

Bust :38″, Waist: 33″

Dresses are $68.  All of these dresses are now at SEWN Denver.  The store is at 18 South Broadway, Denver, CO 80209
The store phone number is 303.832.1493

Let’s keep the conversation going!  Check out my sewing dreams and inspiration on Pinterest, and keep up to date on my projects on Instagram and Facebook.

[maxbutton id=”1″]