Thrifting Tips + Maxi Skirt Refash

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I love going to thrift stores.  It’s so much fun to look at all the items that people have cast off and imagine them being something new and fresh!  Yesterday, I found this skirt for a mere $3…

It was a size 18.  But look at that fabric!  Gorgeous.

It was a size 18. But look at that fabric! Gorgeous.

Following is how I refashioned it to fit me.  But first…

My Tips for Thrifting Refashion Projects

1. Find a good print. Cute fabric always what I look for first when I go thrifting.  If you don’t like the fabric, chances are you’re not going to wear what you make.

2. Check the size. It’s always better to go large when you can — extra fabric is always a safe bet.

3. Think about the possibilities before you buy.  In other words, make sure the item is refashion-able. Does it have a lot of seams that will need ripping? Will it be feasible to work with? Make sure the refashion you have in mind will be worth your time.

4.  Make sure the item is a good buy!  Just because it came from a thrift shop doesn’t mean it’s a good deal.  Know when your thrift shop’s sales are.  Why buy an $8 dress when you can get it for $3?

5.  Know when to splurge!  Obviously, thrift shops are probably never going to have the same items twice.  (Unless it really it horrendous and people keep donating it again.)  If you find a piece you know you can do something with, and you know you would actually wear it, and you’ve been looking for something like it for ages — go for it!  You’ll still be saving money — it’s a thrift shop.

And now, see how I transformed my size 18 skirt!

1.  First I marked where I wanted the new waistband to fall and cut off the top about 2 inches above that mark.  Because of the fringe on the bottom, I wanted the skirt to end just above the ground.  Also, there was a zipper I had to cut through — I zipped it up first.

Snip!

Snip!

2.  I laid a well-fitting skirt over the fabric and traced around the edges.  I pinned along these lines and tried it on — I had to adjust my pins a bit.  Always remember to try on your project at every stage!  Moving pins is easier than seam ripping.  After I got the fit I wanted, I sewed along my new chalk lines, pinked the seams, and ironed the seams open.

Hmm, another brightly printed maxi...what does that tell you about my personal style?

Hmm, another brightly printed maxi…what does that tell you about my personal style?

See my new chalk lines near the top of the skirt?  I had to widen those a bit from my original tracing.

See my new chalk lines near the top of the skirt? I had to widen those a bit from my original tracing.

3.  Now it was time to make my elastic casing.  I measured with my elastic around my waist where I wanted the skirt to sit and cut it with a little extra.  Then I marked two lines around my waistband — one at 1 inch below the raw edge and one at 2 inches below the raw edge.  I folded my raw edge down to the 1 inch mark, pinned, and ironed the crease.  Then I removed the pins and folded that down to the next mark, pinning and ironing.  Then I sewed my casing closed, making sure to stay on the very edge of my casing so the elastic would have room to go through.  Finally I just stuck a safety pin through my elastic and fed it through the casing.  Once that was done I just sewed my casing shut.

My two marks -- 1 inch and 2 inch

My two marks — 1 inch and 2 inch

Ironing the first part down...

Ironing the first part down…

Casing is sewn shut! You could either clip that extra elastic off or leave it in case you ever want to tighten or loosen your skirt.  I left mine.

Casing is sewn shut! You could either clip that extra elastic off or leave it in case you ever want to tighten or loosen your skirt. I left mine.

This is the finished product!

Ta da!  No longer a size 18.  Yay.

Ta da! No longer a size 18. Yay.

I think it'll be a perfect fall skirt.

I think it’ll be a perfect fall skirt.

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Ribbon Accent Tee

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I think my handwriting is pretty clear.  Even if it weren’t, it would seem like an S looks a lot different than an L, right?

Apparently not to whoever sorted our college orientation t-shirts!  I had my orientation a few weeks ago, and am pretty sure I wrote down a small as my size.  However, I got a large.  Must have been fate though, because I made a custom fitting, ribbon-accented t-shirt from that mistake.  I’m excited to wear this at convocation next semester!

Here’s how I did this fabulous refashion.

1.  I laid the shirt out flat and traced the outline of a well-fitting t-shirt on it, matching up the necklines.  Then I cut off the sleeves and the bottom of the t-shirt along my chalk lines.  (Apologies for lack of a before pic!)

Chopping sleeves....

Chopping sleeves….

.....and hem!

…..and hem!  (I turned the shirt inside out for this part, too, since I knew I would need to later.  I redid the chalk on the inside, see?)

2.  Next, I pinned along my chalk lines.  At this point, I was still planning to just take the shirt in.  But then I got the side-accent idea.  I was originally going to use the lace in the pic below.  However, I cut the shirt off a little bit inside my chalk lines (not a good idea), so it would’ve been a tight squeeze — none too flattering.  I opted for the wider ribbon instead.

Also, I was neglectful in my picture taking for this post, and I forgot to take a pic of the sleeve shape.  All I did was cut along the chalk lines I had already traced.

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3.  Third, I sewed the bottom of the sleeves shut!  So at this point, the front and back of the shirt were connected only by the sleeves and neckline.

The bottom of the sleeves are sewn shut now.

The bottom of the sleeves are sewn shut now.

4.  Now came the fun part.  I eyeballed a measurement of ribbon, allowing for extra just in case.  I pinned and sewed the ribbon to one of my open side seams, hiding the ribbon’s raw edge at the bottom.

I pinned and sewed the ribbon to the front so that the seam would eventually be on the inside of the shirt.

I pinned and sewed the ribbon to the front so that the seam would eventually be on the inside of the shirt.

Then I just had to do that to both sides, which meant sewing four seams: two for each side of the shirt.

This is one finished side -- two seams for the two sides of the ribbon.

This is one finished side — two seams for the two sides of the ribbon.

5.  Now all that was left was to close up these holes in the sleeves:

See my scissors sticking through the hole?

See my scissors sticking through the hole?

All I did to fix hat was to pin and sew the shirt in an upside down V to the extra ribbon at the top.

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Pictures make things much clearer, don't they?

Pictures make things much clearer, don’t they?

All done!  Now I have a perfectly fitted, completely unique convocation t-shirt.  So excited to wear this in the fall!  If you have any questions, leave a comment!  🙂

Finished product!

Finished product!

See how I sewed up the hole under the sleeve?

See how I sewed up the hole under the sleeve?

Spaghetti T-Shirt Scarf

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Apparently, size does matter when you’re making a t-shirt scarf.

I found a super easy tutorial the other day by “Margo is crafty,” and thought it looked like fun.  One can never have too many scarves.  🙂  However, the tutorial did call for a size XL or XXL shirt, but the only ones I had lying around were mediums.

How much difference can it make? I thought, and I proceeded to make the scarf:

1.  Cut off the top of the shirt and the hem, and — if you want to do a fast cutting job — fold the bottom piece in half.  Make sure that the edges aren’t perfectly lined up; I left about an inch of fabric at the top of the fold.  This will keep your scarf together, so make sure to follow this step!  If this is too confusing and you don’t mind doing a little extra cutting, just don’t fold the shirt.  I’ll tell you how to proceed in the next step.  🙂

Remember to cut off the hem too!

Look at the right edge of the bottom of the tee — see how one edge of the shirt doesn’t quite line up with the other?  That’s what you want.

2.  Begin cutting your shirt into approx. 1.5 inch strips.  Start at the folded edge and go until you cut through the first fold at the other end.  Do not go all the way though the shirt!  Once you’re don you can unfold the shirt.  If you did not fold your t-shirt, just cut 1.5 inch strips all the up the t-shirt, leaving about and inch of fabric uncut at the other end.  It’s kind of like making fringe; the folding is just so you don’t have to do as much cutting.

See the top edge?  I've cut through that first fold, but NOT the second.

See the top edge? I’ve cut through that first fold, but NOT the second.

This is the shirt cut and unfolded.

This is the shirt cut and unfolded.

3.  Now grab the loops and stretch them as much as you like!  I found it easiest to do a few strips at a time, but you could just grab and stretch them all at once.

All stretched out!

All stretched out!

4.  Gather the uncut part of the fabric in your hand so you have a loop of fabric.   The strips you stretched will hang down like a big U.  Then take the hem you cut off and wrap it around the uncut piece — this gives the scarf a more finished look.  Tie it off and either tuck the ends under or cut them off.

The bottom of the U in the picture is the uncut fabric that I have gathered.  The hem is ready to wrap!

The bottom of the U in the picture is the uncut fabric that I have gathered. The hem is ready to wrap!

Hem is wrapped; I just snipped off those ends.

Hem is wrapped; I just snipped off those ends.

Tada!  You’re done.  I put a black flower pin on mine.

I'm so sorry it's upside-down!  I do weird things with the camera -- photographer I am not.

I’m so sorry it’s upside-down! I do weird things with the camera — photographer I am not.

So, back to the size. . .when I tried on my scarf, it hung about to my waist.  Well, that’s okay, right?  Sort of.  It looked okay that way, but I was really planning on doubling it up.  However, when I did that, it was way short — more like a really thick choker than a scarf.  Ah, well, I’ll still wear it…but they mean what they say…size does matter.

Toms Flag Curling Iron Case

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I cannot curl my hair worth anything.  Before Christmas, the only way I knew to curl my hair was to put it up when it was wet.  I am hopeless with a curling iron.

However, some genius has made a way for my poor unskilled self, and invented a curling wand, which is slightly different than an iron and much easier to use.  And then someone awesome gave me one for Christmas.  🙂

I decided to make a case for it.  I’ve seen a lot of styling product cases that are made with insulating fabric — that way you can do your hair and immediately stick the iron in a drawer or suitcase without anything getting burned.  Mine is not like that.  It’s really more to protect against scratches (read: clumsiness) and general grossness, so I’ll still have to let my iron cool for a while after I use it.  But hey — the case is made with a Toms flag.  How awesome is that?  (I’ve also made a Toms wallet — go check it out!)

All I used was the flag, some t-shirt scraps for padding, and my wand to measure with.

Always save your scraps.  They are useful.

First, I cut squares out of the t-shirts using the Toms flag as a pattern, leaving the fabrics stacked.

Snip, snip

Snip, snip

Next, I folded the stack of fabric over onto itself, Toms flag on the inside, so I could measure the width of the case.  I wanted it pretty snug against the barrel, but had to leave enough room for the cord.  I slipped the iron between the fold and pinned around it.  Then I drew a line of best fit and sewed it up.

You can see where I am pinning around the iron.

You can see where I am pinning around the iron.

Now I've sewn the line of best fit.

Now I’ve sewn the line of best fit.

Once I had done all that, I pinked off the extra fabric and turned it inside out.  Then I sewed a small zigzag stitch around the top opening to keep the layers in place.  You could use any stitch, but the zigzag made it a little more decorative.

Finished product!

Finished product!

The whole project probably only took an hour or less.  I wasn’t really watching the time, but it’s a short and simple project.  You could do it with any fabric too, by  measuring the length of your iron and the width you want the case to be and just cutting out some rectangles..  You could even make it heat-proof by using insulated fabric instead of t-shirts.  Endless options, as always!  That’s why I love sewing.

Here’s the Deal

If you read my About page, you know that this site began in August.  Since then, it became Mission:Incomplete, a more general blog kind of like an online journal.  I love it, but found I missed Lazy Bones and decided to give it another try by splitting my original blog into two.

My first refashion posts are still on Mission:Incomplete.  I may reblog them onto here if I ever get the time, but for now I know you are ready and waiting for me to get the time to sew.