I found this dress at the thrift store, and loved the pattern immediately. I grabbed it so I could turn it into an apron, but it actually fits me! And it fits really well (I mean, I know I’m gorgeous, but in this I look amazing!), I just wasn’t enamored of the neck line. It reminded me of terrible 1980′s, tacky, overly-tan people for some reason.
I used my seam ripper to removed the neck strap, and separate the two booby cups. I then ripped open the end of the strap (which was one long piece), and I pulled out the giant, terrible, uncomfortable beads that were inside it. Yeah, because I want giant chunks of plastic rubbing on my collar bones.
I folded the strap in half long-ways, then cut it into two pieces to be two separate straps. I sewed the ends shut, including the extra hole I made to remove the beads, which wasn’t actually necessary since I was cutting it open anyways. I see that now.
Once I had the strap detached, I put the dress on and pinned the cups until they were the same size and shape. My goal was to create a more 1950′s-style sweet-heart neckline. And I think I succeeded:
BAM!!! See, hotness! I told you! I took the two halves of the original strap and attached them to the top of each cup so I can tie it around my neck. Again, I acheived this by putting the dress on, looking in a mirror and pinning it, then wriggling out carefully, and swearing a lot when I stabbed myself on accident. If there’s a better way to sew, I don’t know it. Hopefully, I’ll learn soon.
I have lots of cool t-shirts that I love, but don’t love the fit. I’ve attempted to remedy this by turning several into tank tops, but I needed another option. If the design is too high on the chest, or the shirt is too small, the tank top method won’t work. I decided to make this t-shirt into a v-neck. You little minions may remember that I’ve done this before, but this time I’m doing away with the whole t-shirt collar.
This is the collar of my awesome shirt. I made one cut about an inch long in the middle of the front. On each side, right in front of the shoulder seam, I cut just through the collar. I did the same on the back, opposite of the fron cut.
I then tucked all the edges in, creating the v-neck, and rounding out the rest. Keep in mind, you don’t have to hem on this project because the collar edges won’t unravel, so you just plain old fold the edges under. I then pinned it all in place, and sewed it by hand while watching the old X-Men cartoon.
And viola! It is so much more comfortable now that the t-shirt isn’t chocking me to death.
I can comfortably, and atractively (if I do say so myself) show off my nerd cred. I’m getting ready for Star Wars Celebration VI! Who’s with me?!
Like most people, I have clothes laying around that I kind of like, but don’t “like” like. I have taken it upon myself to do something about this. Why are they taking up closet space, when they’re kind of “meh”? This one is a men’s button-up shirt I decided to turn into a tank top. Yes, I’m a huge fan of tank tops, but this is Texas; they’re a necessity, just like iced tea.
I used my seam ripper to remove the sleaves:
Then I used a ruler to cut the top off. I cut it above the top button I wanted to use, so I wouldn’t have to go back and add a button or button hole. You’re going to be hemming the top edge down, so make sure to leave extra fabric for that. I left about an inch.
Fold the top down and pin it, and make sure the front and back are relatively equal. To make sure your top seam is straight, measure the distance above the armpit on each side. I also used the front pocket as a guide. You can also use a light-colored, washable marker to make some guidelines for yourself. If you plan to do this, I would make small, light dots, and maybe even test it in an inconspicuous area, then run it through the wash, just to make sure it won’t stay on your shirt. Hem the top of your shirt.
I took each sleave and cut it in half length-wise:
To get these:
Then fold them in half, longways, inside out, and sew down the long edge. Flip this inside out and you have a tube. Two of these tubes are used for the straps, and you have the option to use the other two for tie-backs, if your shirt is a little too big, or you just like the look.
Here’s me trying it on, about mid-way through the process. I had pinned my straps too long, and the whole thing was too baggy. I’m nowhere near being a real seamstress, so I end up trying my creations on many times to get everything right.
Since it was too baggy, I decided to take it in along the sides. I just eyeballed it, and ran it through the sewing machine.
I used a ruler to make some dots to bring it in about an inch on each side.
The fit was much better after this, but I hated the neckline.
I folded the upper corners down and in to make more of a sweetheart neckline.
I’m much happier with this than I was, and it will look much better once I iron it. The good thing about getting most of my clothes at thrift stores, is that I don’t worry about experimenting on them. If you have a specific clothing item you want to alter, but you’re scared to try, try to find something similar at a thrift store you can gleefully destroy and use as learning experience. Finding something with similar material and cut would be the most useful, but altering anything will give you good experience. I just love how cute my hair was that day! Look at that instead of the wrinkles on the shirt. I know I am!
I recently realized I can’t stand wearing regular T-shirts; I always feel like the neck is choking me. When I’ve bought new clothes (and by “new” I mean from the thrift store, so it’s new to me), I buy v-necks or tank tops, but what about the t-shirts I already have that I love, but can’t stand wearing? This is an easy way to turn them into tank tops!
I used a ruler to cut a straight line across the top of the shirt. You want to make the cut as high as possible so you retain as much shirt as possible.
Cut off the sleeves, using the seam as a guide. Cut the seam off, but retain as much t-shirt as possible.
So you end up with this:
The tutorial I found online said to cut a strip off the bottom of the shirt to use as the strap, but I chose to use the bottom of an overly-large shirt I made into a grocery bag. I actually cut 4 strips from it for different shirts so I could retain the length on these soon-to-be tank tops. You can also use ribbon or a draw string from something else.
Roll the top edge down once, about 1/4 to 1/2 inch:
Roll it down one more time to get the raw edge on the inside. Since this is jersey material, you don’t really have to worry about it unraveling, but this is how I chose to do it. You can see that part of the outer design will now be inside the shirt. It didn’t matter for this one, but keep that in mind when you are cutting and hemming on this project.
Do the same for the back edge. Pin boths hems, look at it to make sure you like it, then sew it up.
Now that you have basically 2 tubes along the top of the shirt, feed your t-shirt or ribbon strip through it. The easiest way to do this is to put a safety pin through one end, then push the safety pin through the tube. Tie it in a bow once you have it fed through and you get this:
This is a different finished product, but same process. You end up with a tank top that is gathered along the top on both front and back. If your shirt has one central design like this one, it’s important to pay attention to how much space the design will have once the gathers are in place. This alteration process is easiest with t-shirts that are slightly too big for you, or don’t have an image, or have a pattern that won’t be affected by this process. I would practice with something like that first, like I did with the four leaf clover shirt, before you touch something as gorgeous as my “Dream Girl” shirt here. It’s got a unicorn pegasus on it!!
I love to crochet, but I have huge gaps in my knowledge of it. I can’t read patterns, and I have no idea how much yarn it takes to make what I want. For this project, I started out with 4 rolls of yarn from my Gram. I was trying to make a throw blanket, but it came out too long and skinny, and it looks ridiculous. I didn’t want to rip it all out and start over like I did with my giant blanket, so I stuffed it in a closet out of frustration.
Recently, on pinterest I saw a tutorial to make your own poof foot stool. I didn’t actually know that was a thing, but apparently it is. The tutorial it linked to was for knitting, but the gist is that you need a long skinny piece of fabric (I think. A lot of the site seemed to be in French). So the messed up blanket now had a purpose! I folded it in half, and sewed all down the short side. On one end I gathered the edges together like this:
Basically, I kept it folded in half, sewed one stitch in the middle to hold it together, brought the middle of each side in and sewed that together also. Once I had it divided into quarters in the picture above, I brought the middle of each loop to the center and sewed it all together again, which gives you this:
I hope I explained all that clearly. If not, send me ten dollars (enough for a box of wine!) and I’ll try again. Then flip your poof right side out, like this:
So you can see it gives you a nice, gathered look. On the tutorial I read, the creator got some blankets at the thrift store to stuff her poof. I think that’s genius, but I already have a plethora of blankets laying around; I just don’t want to permanently stitch them into a foot stool. What’s a Clever Chick to do? Drink. What’s a Clever Chick to do next? Use a blanket I want to keep, but find a way to make it still accessible. I used this comforter we have that is way too hot for the Texas summer.
I laid it out like this, then rolled it up, and stuffed it into my poof. I then closed it off with…a hairband! BOOM. I’m awesome. Since I chopped my hair off, I don’t need all these hairbands I have laying around, so this is the perfect solution. I can get to my blanket whenever I want, and it’s actually serving a purpose, rather than just cluttering up my linen closet right now.
Here’s the bottom once the whole thing was stuffed and poof-ified:
There was extra fabric on top where the hairband was holding it shut, so I just flared it out, and I have to say, it’s pretty adorable. It’s also very stable and solid. I think I stuffed an extra towel into the center of the poof once the blanket was in to make it more solid.
It came out super cute, and now 4 things that were just sitting around are being useful! Cause that’s how I roll.
Back in college is when I really started getting crafty. I made my own purse, made some dorm decorations, and made my own body pillow cover. That body pillow cover finally gave out after lasting
ten three years. My beautiful stitches stayed in place; the fabric itself gave out. I had hand sewn the whole thing, and Mi Madre thought I had machine sewn it, that’s how awesome I am.
I decided it was time to make a new cover, and in fact I made two, so one could go through the wash. I also made them using two different methods, because I’m awesome, and that’s the kind of crafting that keeps you on the edge of your seat! The first one is just plain old fabric sewn together. Maybe “plain” is not the right word for this fabric. It is faux quilt fabric from probably the 70′s that I found at a thrift store years ago. I have hoarded it, and used it periodically, but this is the biggest piece I’ve used so far. This piece is a yard wide, and I just laid the pillow down on top to get the length.
I then hemmed one of the short sides to be the open end of the pillow case.
Next, I folded the fabric in half, inside out, and pinned along the back end and long side, a couple inches from the pillow. You want the pillow case to be snug enough to stay on the pillow, but easy to slide on and off.
I ran it through my magical sewing machine, and BAM! Look at that crazy fabric! It’s so amazing, and yet terrible!
So, pillow case #2 is MUCH tamer. For this, I’m using 2 normal pillow cases. This is a great way to do this, because you can easily match your existing bed sheets, if that’s a concern of yours. If you can see the picture above these words, and the one below, you can tell that is OBVIOUSLY not a priority of mine.
I decided to have the open ends of these pillow cases both facing outward. First, I used my trusty seam ripper to open up the short end of both pillow cases.
Now here’s the tricky part: I turned one inside out, and left the other rightside out, then stuffed one inside the other so that rightsides were against each other, and the insides were both showing. The one that is rightside out goes inside the inside-out one. lined up the long seams on the pillow cases first, then the open seams I had just made. I then pinned it to death.
This picture shows the two “right” sides of the fabric touching each other.
And this is after I had pinned it all the way around the circle.
I then did a running stitch, by hand, all the way around. After that, I turned the whole thing right-side out, to make sure everything had worked as I planned, then turned it inside out and sewed one end shut.
I then turned the whole thing back rightside-out, and put it on the pillow. Fabulous!
This is a great way to use extra pillow cases you might have, like I obviously did. The hand-sewn one took a little longer, maybe a total of 45 minutes, and the first one took maybe 30 minutes. These are both great projects for someone beginning to learn to sew, or learning a sewing machine for the first time.
I have been having a lot of fun with my friend Kornberg’s sewing machine. I found this skirt at the thrift store, and knew I needed it in my house. I didn’t know why or how, but I needed it. What’s cool about it, is it was already repurposed by a company in San Antonio, Texas. I think it was a dress which they then transformed into a skirt, which ended up at the thrift store, and became a throw pillow at my house. I love it! Screw you, landfill!
Here’s the pillow form I used, that I happened to have laying around. Another thing you could do, is just re-cover an ugly throw pillow (which I’ve done), or even just make another cover for a throw pillow you like. Then you can change your look around without burying your couch in pillows.
I turned the skirt inside out, and sewed the top of the skirt shut. The sides were trickier since they were curved, so I used a ruler and drew dots as a guide.
I then pinned along the dots. If you use a washable marker, this will just wash out in the machine. I would still use a relatively light color, just in case.
Look at that beautiful seam! One thing I learned the hard way, was not to use a really tight stitch on the sewing machine. If you screw up, it is REALLY hard to pull out by hand. So I sewed down both sides, and left the bottom open to insert the pillow.
Here we are! Finished pillow:
I hand sewed a few snaps on the bottom so I can take it out and wash the cover if I need to. You can also use velcro, which is harder to sew on, but looks better in the end, in my opinion. Someday I need to take a picture of my couch to show you all the throw pillows I’ve made. It’s getting ridiculous. Flapjack is always losing his toys in them, and Hubby prefers sleeping on the couch to the bed. I guess I better get cracking on some bed pillows.
Hubby and I have a bunch of T-shirts floating around that we like, but never wear for one reason or another. I have been looking for creative ways to use them, from making throw pillows, to altering the shirts so I can wear them, to making purses. The ones for this project are just too big. I just happened to have the sewing machine set up, but this would be a very fast and easy sewing project for hand sewing, or for someone just learning to use a sewing machine. You only have to sew one straight line. Start with a cool T-shirt that you don’t wear, for whatever reason.
Flip it inside out, and sew the bottom shut. Flip it back right-side out.
Cut the sleeves off. I used the seam as a guide, and cut the whole seam off.
I then cut a rectangular area out of the neck, and you’re done!
Here’s a view of the inside, once it’s complete. They are very roomy on the inside.
Here’s the finished bag:
And I made a second one from a Ghostbusters: The Video Game T-shirt.
Total, they took about 5 minutes each. Not a bad sewing project!
I have this purse that I made more than 10 years ago. At the time, I realized that I had begun collecting purses, not out of the desire to have a collection, but because each one was not quite right. I was the Goldilocks of purses: this one was too small, that one was too big, this one didn’t have enough pockets, etc.
The only way to end the vicious cycle, and avoid being buried alive in purses was to make my own purse specifically to fit my needs. Also, I wanted to brag about it. And I still do. As you are witnessing right now.
The problem is after 10 years of hauling my crap around, the purse started to have some issues, like this gaping hole in the side:
I was worried the whole thing would give way, because the hole is directly under the strap. So what’s a clever chick to do? Fix it! By the way, this purse is made from a pair of pants that shrank IMMEDIATELY in the wash, and I never got to wear, a t-shirt that shrank after I wore it to death, a belt, a Batman I cut off a child’s t-shirt, and fabric scraps. See? I have always been this crafty and
A friend of mine happened to be getting rid of some denim scraps, so I gave them a good home. I think more of them will show up here eventually. I cut a long rectangle of denim, folded it in half, and tucked all the edges inside. (At this stage, make sure it’s big enough to cover the hole). I then sewed all the way around it. Doing it this way makes the patch extra strong, and seals the raw edges inside so you don’t have to worry about it unraveling.
Next, I pinned the patch inside the purse, over the hole, and sewed it thoroughly to the purse. I stitched the purse strap to the patch directly to make sure the weight of the purse is evenly distributed, and the connection is strong.
This is what it looks like from the outside. I know most of the time when you’re patching things, you don’t want to see the patching. To that I say, “Meh”. This gives it character, and anyway that hole is so raggedy I don’t have any idea how I could have patched it invisibly, other than getting a Robin patch to go over top. And come on, Robin is a dork.
Here’s the final view of the inside. I used lots of stitches, and short pieces of thread, so that if one breaks, there are others to keep the patch in place until I can repair it.
I have used this method for patching blue jeans, too. It works great if you can find a close color of denim, because then it looks intentional, like those super expensive torn jeans the kids are wearing these days. Those kids, with their Rock Music, and their terrible clothes they stole from my generation! *Shakes fist in general direction of youths*
I just so happened to find a chunk of quilt at some thrifting something I was at awhile back. Someone had taken a commercially made quilt, I think from Target, and cut a chunk off of it. I got the chunk for a couple bucks. It’s long and skinny, the perfect length and width for laying on the couch! Booyah, person who gave away their quilt chunk! What were you thinking?
Of course, there was one long edge that was just open to the world, and we can’t have that. How indecent! So I took it to the craft store with me and pipcked some quilt edging that matched. The important part of this terribly blurry-because-I-craft-at-night picture is where it says “Extra Wide Double Fold”. There are several kinds of this stuff (quilt binding? quilt edging? I’m not sure), but the double fold means that this thin strip of fabric is folded in half, and in half again, so that the edges are all tucked inside. I prefer the look and feel of that to the single fold. And be careful, because there is some that’s not folded at all, and I don’t even see the point of that.
Flapjack has fallen in love with this quilt btw, and was an adorable impediment the entire time I was working on it.
I opened up one package of the binding, and started jamming it onto the edge of the quilt. This process is a bit tricky. I left an extra inch or so hanging off the end so I could tuck it in later. Your goal is to get the edge of the quilt pressed into the crease on the binding, so that the binding wraps around the edge. You will sew through the bottom edge of the binding, through the quilt, and through the binding on the other side. My sewing machine can’t handle that, so I did it by hand. (There’s Flapjack again. Aren’t you jealous of how cute my dog is??)
Once I had one whole edge sewn down, I went back, tucked the ends in, and sewed them shut. Here’s the finished end, but I had to use the flash so the colors aren’t great.
The hardest part for me was keeping the central fold of the binding touching the raw edge of the quilt. It kept creeping upwards, so I would end up with very little quilt to sew through. I think I did a pretty good job, other than that. For now, I have only completed on edge, and I’m not sure if I’ll do the others. The colors look cool as they are, and I have to complete NEW crafts for you piranhas. You’re insatiable!
I have decided that when someone asks me a crafting question I am going to shamelessly reuse the conversation for a new section I’m calling “Dear Clever Chick”. Feel free to gasp in awe at my creativity.
These are crafting questions and cooking conundrums, probably none of which I’ll be any actual help with. That would require competence and sobriety, neither of which I have. But, I’ll do my best, then copy and paste so I can get back to
playing Farmville napping volunteering at the animal shelter.
Loyal Minion: hi clever chick (Editors Note: She really started it that way! I didn’t add that!)
I don’t know if you as crafty with fabric as you are with everything else…. If you are I need your help. I have a lovely strapless swimsuit that I want to add straps to. It’s not staying up where it needs to be, so the straps need to be functional. Any ideas?
Clever Chick: I think they sell bra straps at Hobby Lobby, and that’s what I would get to add onto it. Do you do much sewing? If not, I can help you. It should be pretty easy. You just want to make sure you attach them strongly.
Loyal Minion: Good tip. I’ll check out hobby lobby. I do sew but I don’t have a sewing machine to make it look proffesional. Do you have a sewing machine?
Clever Chick: You should probably hand sew those. My sewing machine is dead at the moment anyway. I’m pretty sure hobby lobby sells them, but if you have an old bra laying around, you could just take the ones off of it and use those.
Even with these vague, barely coherent instructions, she managed to complete the project, and look awesome in the finished product. You can add straps to swimsuits or tube tops using the same method. All you need is a needle and thread. Just sew the straps to the top more than you think you need to. Remember, those straps are keeping you from flashing the world, so it’s important to make sure they stay where you want them.
Got your own question or issue? You can ask on my facebook, and if I feel like it, and you buy me enough presents, I might help you out.