My Grainline Studio Scout Tee from an Upcycled, Thrifted Old Navy Dress

I used fabric from a thrifted Old Navy dress to sew a Grainline Studio Scout Tee. Not only do I have a new shirt, but I learned to sew with rayon/viscose fabric.

Grainline Studio Scout Tee from thrifted dress.

Let’s dig into the details of my Grainline Studio Scout Tee that I made with harvested fabric from a thrifted Old Navy dress. I mentioned it in my last post about the clothing I made recently.

I love harvesting fabric from thrifted clothes because it’s significantly cheaper than buying new fabric and I feel less inhibited to try new things. In 2019, I made a handful of zipper pouches from repurposed thrifted clothing. And, a bit after that, I sewed a t-shirt from a thrifted knit maxi dress so that I could start learning to sew with knits (I’m still learning knits!). This Scout Tee from a dress allowed me to not only make a pattern I knew I liked, but also gave me the opportunity to sew with a fabric I’ve never used before, a 100% rayon/viscose.

Original Old Navy dress tag. It’s nice to have the fabrication and care instructions.

I’ve made a Scout Tee before in a size 10 and I like the fit of the shirt, but I wanted it a bit longer. I lengthened the pattern by 1 1/2”. I was able to use the original hem of the dress for the hem of the shirt, so the overall additional length is probably 2”. 

Original Old Navy Dress–size XL

To start, I cut the dress up at the seams and ironed the pieces (so much easier than ironing a sewn garment—haha!). There was just enough front and back dress fabric to get the front and back of the shirt. The back of the shirt is the back of the dress, so there are the same seaming details that were on the dress, which I like. 

Back of Grainline Studio Scout Tee. Notice the vertical and horizontal seams.

The sleeves were trickier to cut. I used the dress sleeves, but I had to create a patchwork of fabric from the dress sleeve and ruffle cuff. It worked! And the extra seams aren’t too noticeable and they don’t irritate my arms. 

Detail of the sleeves. Notice the two extra seams.

For the bias binding at the neckline, I had to dig into my stash of quilting cotton. It probably isn’t the best weight of fabric to use with the flowy, lightweight rayon/viscose dress fabric, but this project was all about making it work and the cotton bias worked!

I didn’t have matching purple thread, so I used what was in my machine, a light aqua. It’s more contrasting that I would like, but I had the thought that while making apparel, if one tiny thing is “off” maybe I won’t treat the finished garment as precious and wear it a lot as opposed to waiting for “the right time” to wear it. You know what I mean?

The contrast stitching doesn’t bother me. I didn’t have to change my thread and now it doesn’t feel too “precious” to wear on an average day.

Overall, I’m happy with this shirt. And, I now have the confidence to sew with this kind of fabric. Also, I’m eager to see what I can make with more fabric harvested from thrifted clothing! 

Have you ever sewn from fabric harvested from secondhand clothing? Do you have any tips or tricks for me?

Grainline Studio Scout Tee

Me-Made-May 2021: A Pair of Shorts, a Shirt, and a Fail

Me-Made-May is a way for sewists to celebrate, expand, and strengthen their understanding of their handmade wardrobes. I have new shorts and shirt to wear!

Detail of Avalon Shorts by Peach Patterns

Me-Made-May was started by Zoe of So, Zo…What Do You Know? From Zoe’s blog it is “a challenge designed to encourage people who make their own clothes to develop a better relationship with their handmade wardrobe.” While I am not ready to set my own challenge, I have been stitching a few pieces of apparel and have a lifetime goal of making more of my own clothing.

Making apparel is not a hobby for me. I don’t want to do it just to do it, no matter how many clothes I already have. (In contrast, I’ll make a quilt regardless of whether I need it or have someone to give it to!) Sewing clothing is more about aspiring to have a wardrobe that is well-intentioned—one that is filled with quality, versatile, and timeless pieces. I say “aspiring” because I am far from achieving this goal. I think I’m still figuring out “my style” and what works for my body shape and lifestyle. 

Because I needed a palate-cleanser between finishing quilts, I bought some patterns and ordered some fabric while also digging out a pattern and fabric and already owned.

Front of Avalon Shorts by Peach Patterns

First, I made this pair of Avalon Shorts by Peach Patterns. The instructions are simple and I learned how to make a semi-circular side pocket. The pocket was so easy that I’m thinking maybe I could hack this kind of pocket into a pattern that doesn’t have them. Hmmm…. 

I tried to hack in a real drawstring, but, ah, I was way off with my buttonhole placement. Oops! Oh well! At least it’s on the inside of the waistband and now I know how to do buttonholes on my current sewing machine (I had never done them on this machine!).

Failed drawstring buttonholes.

The fabric is a linen-rayon blend and so the shorts have some swing to them. I’m excited to wear these shorts in the summer and see how I like them. Our spring has been stubborn—I feel like the warmer temperatures won’t stick around. The pattern is so simple that making more shorts would be easy.

Back of Avalon Shorts by Peach Patterns

Next, I had a fail. I bought this aqua linen-cotton blend because I love the color (it’s pretty much the background color for my Down the Rabbit Hole Quilt). I also have a couple of shirts in this kind of color and I like them. I ended up cutting the pattern a size or two too big. Once I had the side seams together, I tried it on and realized it was too big. And, the color makes it look like a medical scrub shirt. I don’t know enough to make adjustments to make it fit. And because I can’t get “scrub” out of my mind, I decided that I was not going to take the time to deconstruct it and re-cut a smaller size. Waaah!

Failed shirt. Beautiful pattern, but wrong size and not the best fabric.

I’m not going to tell you the pattern because I don’t want anyone thinking it was the pattern’s fault. It’s a good pattern! It was easy to follow! It is all my fault! But! All is not lost! I learned to sew a dart AND flat felled seams! Which, are two skills I’m happy to now have. Maybe once I have some time away from it, I’ll find better fabric, cut the right size, and have success.

Scout Tee by Grainline Studio from a thrifted dress.

Finally, I made my second Grainline Studio Scout Tee. I’ve made one before and liked not only the pattern, but the fit of the shirt. A couple of years ago, I thrifted this Old Navy XL rayon/viscose dress figuring I could use it to make something new. A Scout Tee was the perfect project for it and it worked! I’ll write up the details in a future post.

The original Old Navy dress

This is how sewing and making goes: you win some; you lose some. Without a few mistakes here and there and some wasted fabric, you just aren’t going to get better at sewing.

Tell me about the me-made pieces you’re wearing or what pieces you’re currently making!

My Completed Down the Rabbit Hole Quilt

I finally finished my Down the Rabbit Hole Quilt, crossing off my one and only 2021 quilting goal and completing the pattern I started making four years ago.

Label on the back of my Down the Rabbit Hole Quilt

A quilt label can mean only one thing: I did it! I finished my Down the Rabbit Hole Quilt, Sarah Fielke’s 2017 block of the month program. Yes, I have been working on this quilt for 4 years. It was my one and only goal for 2021. (And, I’m kinda proud that less than halfway through the year and it’s done!) Now, I have finished other quilts since starting this one here, here, and here, because apparently I like a good distraction.

I am so proud of this quilt. For being my first serious endeavor to make a quilt, I’m happy with how it came out. There’s very little that I would change. 

Let me tell you about some of the details. First, I have a notebook that I create little collages in. I just pull pages from magazines and catalogs and when the mood strikes me, I tape them into the notebook trying to follow some sort of theme per page. I used this spread for color inspiration.

Color inspiration collage

I learned so much while making this quilt. I learned needle-turn appliqué, foundation paper piecing, and how to assemble a medallion quilt. I honed my piecing skills. Some of the borders have a lot of little pieces! 

Center block of the medallion quilt

There were some changes to the pattern I made in an attempt to save time. Joke’s on me! And, in no way did my changes make this design better than Sarah Fielke’s original pattern. (Honestly, I prefer hers and the pattern came with 3 different options!) the biggest change I made was to the floral border. The two long sides were supposed to be different than the two short sides. I made all four sides the same. Again, this isn’t a better way to make the original pattern, it’s just what I did.

Floral border

To finish the quilt, I went back and forth about what to do. At 96” square, there’s no way I could ever had machine quilted it myself. To have it professionally quilted with a longarm machine (huge quilting machine that allows quilters to quilt FAST) would have cost a lot. It would have been worth it, but unfortunately not in my budget. Hand quilting it would have taken a lot of time. And so, I turned to my good old friend tying. I did crisscross ties with tails in the back in most places, but tied with the tails in the front in each flower to create “stamens” of sorts. I also couldn’t resist doing a touch of big stitch quilting in the thin blue borders and around the half Dresden plates. I’m 100% happy with how it turned out.

Roofs of houses were foundation paper pieced

Finally, sometimes you have to get creative and on the ground. Right now, my sewing machine is on a card table that also holds a bunch of other stuff. In this spot, I didn’t have enough room to stitch the binding on to the front of the quilt. Well, guess what? I just popped my machine onto my bedroom floor, stuck my right leg out so I could push the pedal and tucked my left leg in cross-legged style. I scooched the quilt along the floor as I stitched. Ideal? No. Comfortable? Not at all. Did it get the job done? Absolutely! 

There’s not much room on my floor either! And, yes, that’s my scorched ironing board.

I was so excited about getting this quilt done that I have already popped it in the wash and it’s on my bed. I don’t know if I’ll ever get around to taking “good” pictures of it. But, it most definitely is a comfortable quilt to sleep under!

Unfinished, but this is the best whole quilt pic I have. When I take pics of the whole completed quilt, I’ll share!
Final border
Back with a bit of big stitching visible
Glamour shot of the big stitch quilting and crisscross ties

So tell me, what project have you been working on for what feels like forever? Any tips to increase creative productivity when you feel like you can’t get anything done? What questions can I answer for you?

How I Visibly Mended a Pair of Secondhand Jeans

Using a scrap of quilting cotton and pearl cotton thread, I reinforced and mended a thinning and fraying area of my secondhand jeans.

Visibly mended jeans

Remember the jeans I visibly hemmed? Well, I recently visibly mended them right at the seam on the upper thigh. I noticed that a twist in the seam allowance had created a thinning and fraying spot. As a person who has ripped her jeans in an embarrassing spot whilst wearing them before, I decided to take care of these jeans before an incident occurred. I chose to reinforce the area with a patch of woven cotton fabric on the inside using a Sashiko-like running stitch with pearl cotton.

Fraying and thinning area right at the seam

There wasn’t quite a hole, yet, and no mending to do per se, but with these being my—ahem—only pair of jeans that I can wear regularly, I wanted to be proactive. (Side note: Why is it so hard to find a pair of jeans that fit and fit comfortably? Hello, my third child is a little over a year old and I’ve spent a year staying at home as much as possible, thank you, pandemic. My body has capital-C changed. Also, WHY DO JEANS HAVE SO MUCH NON-COTTON FIBERS IN THEM?!? I get that a touch of stretch can make them comfortable, but when a quarter of the total fibers are not cotton, the fabric REALLY stretches. I’m already trying to find my new size, fiber content matters and is messing with my head!) Rant over—haha! 

A small piece of quilting cotton for the patch

I simply pulled a scrap of quilting cotton from my stash and cut it to size. Then I finger-pressed a 1/4” hem around the edges of this patch (I eyeballed it since I put it inside the jeans—no one else will be eyeballing it!).

Pin-basted patch on inside of jeans

Then, I pin-basted it into place. My first stitches were around the hem. The raw edges of the patch are completely concealed and contained between the patch and the jeans, because I didn’t want to deal with the patch fraying. 

Quite simply, I just did a running stitch zigzagging from side to side in between the perimeter stitches. Done and done. My stitching is inspired by the “visible mending” trend, some of which is based on Japanese Sashiko. I found a great website for learning more about the culture and the craft. Click over to Upcycle Stitches.

Stitched around the perimeter first to secure the raw edges of the patch.

I’ve worn and washed these jeans a few times and the patch and stitching have stayed in place. Also, the repair is very subtle. The white thread is perfect on the light wash. While I love the “visible mending” aesthetic, I’m not about to draw attention to my hips and thighs!

You can see the jeans have been mended, but it’s not bold.

So, what do you think? Have you visibly mended any clothing? Did you use a technique that worked really well? Have I missed anything here? Let me know! I read all the comments whether you write them the day I publish a post or 5 years after!

How I Visibly Hemmed a Pair of Secondhand Jeans

I used sashiko-like stitching to hem a pair of thrifted jeans. The inseam now fits better and the jeans have a “visible mending” aesthetic.

Visibly Hemmed Jeans

I’ve had a pair of thrifted jeans that I didn’t like for a couple of years. They were too long (and bootcut, which exacerbates the annoyance of a too-long inseam—all that fabric just hanging around my ankles!). Alas, my post-third-baby and pandemic-life body fits these jeans and not many other pants. So, I figured I can’t make these jeans any worse, so why not try to hem them and make them marginally better?

Pinterest, a go-to for inspiration, didn’t have too much about visibly hemming pants. There are about a bazillion tutorials on how to hem jeans with the original hem, but for this project, I didn’t have the patience. I did find this inspiration: jeans with colorful stitching to hold a cuff in place. I wasn’t interested in a cuff as much as just shortening the legs of my jeans.

The before: just a thrifted pair of bootcut jeans showing a little wear.

I dived right into this project by first cutting off the original hem. Because of the bootcut silhouette and my annoyance at the excessive fabric around my ankles, removing the hem got rid of some of that heft. 

Removed the original hem to lose the extra weight/fabric.

Then, I folded up the pantlegs to a length I liked. I had been doing this when I wore them anyway. Anyone else despise how a cuff like this will catch anything and everything? I’ve taken my pants off at the end of the day to find bits of dried leaves and grass and dirt hiding in the cuffs!

A perfect fit requires just putting the jeans on!

I held the hem in place with some clips and broke out a needle and some pearl cotton thread. I went to town with a running stitch along the folded-up hem, securing the fabric in place. It gives the hem a sashiko stitch look and a nod to the visible mending trend (which is what I was going for second to shortening the length). 

Visibly hemmed jeans with a running stitch.

Overall? The pants are still not my favorite. But, they are better than what they were! Plus, I got some practice hand stitching and felt a sense of accomplishment getting a small project started and completed (hard to do with a one-year-old crawling around!). I’ve washed the jeans and there is some fraying where I cut off the original hem. But, it’s nothing just a little snipping of loose threads here and there can’t fix. 

After one wash. A little bit of fraying, but not too bad.

Have you ever taken a chance on altering a piece of clothing you felt “meh” about? Did you like it better afterwards? Let me know!