Mending a Fast Fashion T-Shirt

Mended fast fashion t-shirt.

I recently patched a hole in a t-shirt I purchased at Target this past summer. Sure, the shirt only cost about $8, but it was new: I didn’t want to pitch it or toss it into the rag pile.

I’ve become interested in mending and repairing clothing, but it’s rare that I wear a garment until it starts to come apart. (I’ll make an exception for the “chub rub” holes that appear in my well-loved jeans!) I figure it’s probably rare for a lot of people to wear their clothes until they need mending. Also, in some settings, it’s gauche to wear mended clothing. I’m particularly thinking of my husband’s shirts that I made into a quilt block because of the holes in the elbows. Sure, they could have been patched, but it wouldn’t be a professional look at the office. (I know it sounds superficial, but it matters!)

So, my new t-shirt was laying on the floor of the closet and came into contact with the vacuum, ripping a hole. (I’m being vague here to protect the party who left the shirt on the floor instead of tracking down the laundry basket and the party who was vacuuming. Haha!) I wasn’t ready to let the shirt go—I had just bought it! I had another fast fashion t-shirt that I had worn for several years, but it was pilling and it didn’t fit well anymore because of, ahem, some weight gain. That shirt became my patch material.

The first step I skipped was researching how to properly repair a hole in a knit fabric. From my memory of what reverse appliqué looks like and works, I decided to use that method—or at least how I figured the technique works! Instead of using a circle or square just large enough to cover the hole, I went with a heart shape.

Heart shape drawn; patch pinned; needle threaded.

I drew a heart around the hole with a water-soluble pencil and then pinned the patch to the wrong side of the shirt. Using embroidery thread of a complementary color, I stitched around the heart through both the shirt and the patch.

Stitching finished.
The wrong side of the patch, before trimming.

I trimmed the patch about ¼” outside the stitching. Then, I trimmed the shirt about ¼” inside the stitching.

Shirt and patch trimmed. Ready to wear!

The heart lands on the hip.

Not the best place for a contrasting patch, but hey! I didn’t choose where the vacuum tore a hole!

And, just for funsies, I appliquéd a tiny heart on the inside of the left sleeve so that when I flip it up, the heart is visible. Get it? Get it? I’m wearing my heart on my sleeve!

Fun! I want to do something similar with other shirts.

I don’t plan to wear the shirt anywhere fancy. It’s a weekend-type shirt. But, that’s what it was before I patched it anyway. I’m just happy I can still get some wear out of it!

Fixing My Chicken Wall Hanging

Sometimes my first attempt isn’t my best. (Surprise!) Five years after making it, I have finally fixed the droopy top of the chicken wall hanging in my kitchen.

Sagging top–you can even see the middle hook!

I started this chicken wall hanging back in 2012 and maybe finished in 2013. It’s all a little hazy. The pattern is “Ditzy Chicks” by Sharon Berna of Redbird Designs. I love the pattern because I love chicken décor in my kitchen. I enjoyed starting this wall hanging because I began when my mom was visiting and we picked out the fabric together and she even helped me do the appliqué. Buuuut, this felt way more like a craft project than a quilt, probably because I wanted chicken décor for my kitchen, not because I necessarily wanted to make a quilt. (I have since changed, of course.)

As an amateur, I stitched plastic rings to the top of the back “wherever seemed good” and then stuck a trio of Command hooks on my kitchen wall. Well, the top 2-3” have always drooped. It took me so long to complete the darn thing and a whole lot of motivation, I just ignored it, until recently, when I decided to remedy the droop—or, at least, decided to attempt to remedy.

The plastic rings before: stitched on only at the bottom.

First, I took the wall hanging off the hooks. It was dusty—hello, it hadn’t been touched in 5 years! So, I popped it into the washer. Luckily, I’m in the prewash camp, so I didn’t have to worry about colors bleeding or shrinkage. Of course, it still came out a bit wrinkly. That just adds charm, right?

Next, one by one, I snipped off each plastic ring and raised it so that the top of it was about 0.75” from the top of the wall hanging. (I did a bit of measuring, math, and testing to ensure that the wall-mounted hooks wouldn’t show after the wall hanging was up.) I stitched the rings down at three points: 90, 180, and 270 degrees. (I feel hella-fancy describing it in that manner, by the way.)

The plastic rings after: stitched down at 3 points.

After all the plastic rings were repositioned, I added one more thing: one of my brand-new quilt labels! Sure, this is NOT my best work (please don’t look at the quilting—what was I thinking?!), but I think it’s important to label your work. For me, it feels even more so, since I have kids. My 3-year-old son immediately noticed that this wall hanging was gone when it was in the wash. He asked why I took down the chickens. This piece of handmade décor is being ingrained in his childhood memories. With any luck, I’ll get to hand it down to one of my kids.

Fancy new quilt labels!

And, with any luck, this chicken wall hanging will stay up on the wall another five years when I decide to wash the dust off again!

Ta-da! The non-droopy, not sagging wall hanging. Of course, now it’s a bit wrinkly from the wash. I’m going to consider that “charm”…at least until I’m motivated to steam it. 😉

Handkerchiefs from a Repurposed Bedsheet

Handkerchiefs made from a torn bedsheet.

Not all sewing is glamorous and Insta-worthy. Nope. Sometimes I’m stitching things I need or making the most out of some fabric so it doesn’t end up in a landfill.

Apparently, I like to run marathons in my sleep, because I wore a hole in a flannel fitted sheet. Now, to my defense, these are fast home décor (think fast fashion, but with home décor). We’ve only had the sheets for a couple of years (and use them seasonally because they’re flannel), but still, a hole showed up.

To my credit, I made the hole larger so that I WOULD NOT MISS IT and try to put it back on the bed.

The sheet is queen-size. That’s a lot of fabric without a hole. I washed the sheet and kept it because I knew I’d think of something to use it for. Finally, I decided on handkerchiefs. I grew up using handkerchiefs, or hankies, when I had a cold. Granted, they’re gross. You blow your nose on them. And, you don’t throw them away like you would with a tissue. But, because you DON’T throw them away, you always have one handy. Also, you don’t have to remember to buy tissues or use toilet paper.

Because this sheet was to become hankies, I wasn’t too worried about how they looked in the end. I mean, they’re going to wipe up snot. I simply cut out as many squares as I could by cutting along the plaid pattern. Further evidence of this sheet being fast home décor? The plaid isn’t yarn-dyed, it’s piece-dyed (piece-printed?). Most plaids are yarn-dyed. Go to your closet and check out your favorite plaid shirt and flip it over to the reverse side. The reverse should look like the front and not plain. The reverse of this sheet is white, not plaid: piece-dyed. Because of this, cutting along the plaid pattern didn’t necessarily result in true square pieces. But, whatever—snot.

Plaid on one side; plain on the reverse.

I took the time to press a ¼” hem on two opposite sides of each hankie. Then, I stitched it down. I was going to press the remaining two sides, but it took a long time the first round. I decided to wing it and just fold the hem over as I stitched, because boogers. It worked! They didn’t turn out too shabby—for hankies.

Artsy shot of a snot rag.

The result is 20 or so hankies for my family to use. And, bonus! My husband gave me a cold only a week or so after I finished making these. I used them and I’m satisfied with how they turned out. One sheet saved from the landfill and a house of happy noses!

Stitched. Folded. Stacked. Ready for boogers.


Welcome Blanket Quilt

Welcome Blanket Quilt

After seeing pictures of children sleeping under foil blankets at the border, I knew I had to participate in the Welcome Blanket project. This quilt, and others made by different crafters, will eventually be distributed to refugees and other immigrants through resettlement organizations after being displayed as part of MODA’s exhibit, “Making Change: The Art and Craft of Activism.”

I know it’s not going to the children sleeping under foil blankets, but the sentiment is the same. I started to quilt because I wanted to ensure that my family members always have quilts to sleep under. As the daughter of a quilter, I have slept under nothing but handmade quilts. I think I get better sleep, plus, knowing that someone loves you enough to put that much work into a quilt for you is one of the best feelings. Refugees and immigrants deserve to feel this, as do all human beings.

TLC Quilt Label

I labeled my quilt with “TLC” even though my middle name is “Budnik.” “Louise” is my given middle name, after my grandma who was a daughter of immigrants. I also like that “TLC” means “tender loving care.” Which, I think is the whole point of making someone a quilt.

Crisscross Tie

The design is my own, after miscalculating how much fabric I would need and making do with the fabric I had. I wanted to play with half square triangles, and after I had them made, I arranged them until I was happy with the layout. I tied the quilt with an “X” (crisscross) on the front and the knot on the back.

Knots on the back.

I hope that it adds a bit of warmth and happiness to someone’s American experience!

Welcome Blanket Quilt

T-Bud Co. Quilts Ohio: July Ohio Star

July’s Ohio Star quilt block represents the dense, verdant environment of the Cincinnati, Ohio area.

July’s Ohio Star Quilt Block

In late April of 2011, my fiancé and I moved into our house, which has woods at the back-property line. In June, we flew to Alaska to marry. When I left Ohio for our 2-week trip, I thought summer had bloomed, that the trees were at their peak—the world was lush. We returned to woods that were a dense, dark green. I’ve never forgotten the difference that a couple of weeks made.

Woods in early June.

July is summer settling in. The bright green of spring doesn’t dull because the novelty has worn off, but rather the leaves darken with the progression of the season. I love it. I love looking for signs of the seasons. I love the surprise of the differences.

Woods in early July.

I find it curious that I relish in the nature of southwestern Ohio so much. I grew up in Alaska, a state that for sure has vistas far more extreme and striking. I figure that I either tune into nature because Alaska taught me to or because I am filling a void created when I left the Last Frontier. You can take the girl out of Alaska, but you can’t take Alaska out of the girl: she’s going to find nature no matter what? Perhaps.

The Cincinnati area is a great place to get regular doses of nature. Cincinnatians value parks. There are many, many green spaces. When I lived in Hyde Park and Oakley, I often visited Ault Park. Now, in a northern suburb, Sharon Woods is our go-to. Not to mention Loveland has a river running right through it and boasts an extensive bike trail along with abundant parks. Neighboring Symmes Township also has a couple of parks we patronize. So, if I don’t notice the shift in color in the woods behind my house, then surely, I’ll take note elsewhere.

Detail of summer-themed Ohio Star quilt block.

So, for July, I made my Ohio Star in three hues of green with a center of brown. It may not match the colors found in the woods behind my house, but the layering of color is reminiscent.

July’s Ohio Star Quilt Block