A refashion and a pledge!

It’s amazing what a little waistband can do for a shirt, isn’t it? I found a sweet woven lace shirt at the thrift store a few months ago. It was really inexpensive and I liked the lace itself. I could never bring myself to wear it on account of its shape (or lack of shape), however.


Enter a waistband (from le stash, of course)! I cut off the bottom few inches of the shirt and added a folded-over waistband of a black wool blend knit. I made sure not to repeat the mistake I made with this dress, where I strained the waistband because of how big the difference between the two circumferences were. I did a zig-zag stitch to sew the waistband in, then finished it using my overlock foot.


This was a tremendously simple project – less than an hour’s worth of measuring, fussing and sewing – but I’ve worn it a lot already. I’m fascinated by lace but don’t have a particularly girly style, so the athletic-inspired waistband is a nice tonic.

I made this in January, intending for it to be part of the Stashbusting Sewalong but couldn’t get it photographed in time. I still feel the need to say that my refashion bag and fabric stash have ever-so-slightly reduced in size.

Speaking of challenges, I decided earlier this year to join the Seamless Pledge (inspired by Gillian) but haven’t yet blogged about it! So let’s make it official:The Seamless Pledge

I, Morgan of Crab&Bee, am taking the Seamless Pledge for 2013.

While I mostly abstained from new clothing purchases last year, I did buy a few things. I’ll also admit to considering squeaking in a purchase before signing up, because my winter coats are failing me right now and I’m scared to sew one… but I decided to buck up and face the possibility of making my own. Also, Ginger’s Anise!! I’m so inspired by her wonderful project.

Finally, I’ve thoughtfully included the photo below because I thought you should see my paper-doll arms and quizzical expression. There’s nothing funnier than failed posed photos, don’t you think? There are lots more where this came from!

Blooper reel!

A little t-shirt refashion

I’d accumulated two beautifully bright but misshapen t-shirts sometime in the last year and a half, and had been hoarding them because I couldn’t bear to part with their bold colors.


Well! Yesterday, I finally executed the refashion. I’d been hoping to use the top 1/3 of the blue with as much of the pink minus the sleeves as possible, which ended up being a good strategy. I finished up by using the rest of the blue by folding it in half and making a bottom band.


I’m going to wear this all the time! I love it. It’s cheerful and kind of sporty. It also fills a much-needed gap in my wardrobe: short-sleeved (but not sleeveless) shirts that look good with jeans and can be worn to the office. I don’t think I’ll get to the point where I’m buying used t-shirts specifically to refashion them, but I feel emboldened to tackle more of my cast-off pile!

Nebulous nebulae

Hi friends! I’ve been feeling a little burnt out on sewing lately – perhaps due to my Me-Made-May frenzy and my failed red skirt – and did a project today that was the perfect antidote.

Inspired by the tutorial on Wise Rabbit Says which I found on Outsapop, I transformed one of the least-worn items in my closet into something that will probably get worn weekly, using only a spray bottle with a water/bleach mixture. Without further adieu, I present my nebula shirt!

Photo by Nathan

Pretty cool, huh? I followed the Wise Rabbit Says tutorial pretty much to the letter; I did some preliminary sprays all over, dried it with a hairdryer, and did some twisting and larger drips. The only thing I’ll add is that you don’t need much beach/water mixture. I made up a whole spray bottle of it and had to scramble to use it up on some dingy whites. (Truth be told, I was kind of freaked out about using bleach. The harshest thing I use to clean anything in my home is borax.) So I probably won’t be making too many more of these but I’m very pleased with the results!

Now, to finish that Minoru….

The Fifth Week: MMM ’12

I just realized that I’d mis-labled week four’s update as another week three until I started writing this post! I was trapped in time!

This, my friends, is week five of Me-Made-May 2012.

Day 27: Wearing my flannel shirt; Nathan took this photo at Macrina in Seattle, probably my favorite bakery cafe.

Thanks to Nathan for the awesome photo!

Day 28: Heading off to brunch in my Burda sleeveless blouse – probably my most re-worn item, clocking in at three times – thrifted jacket, jeans and… new Frye sandals.

I can’t remember if I shared my clothing consumption goals here on crab & bee but I decided last year that going forward, I would make my clothes or buy them thrifted. New purchases would be for emergencies only. Shoes, I would aim for 0-2 pairs of new ones. Considering I got married and started a new job with much higher sartorial standards than my old job, I’m ok with the fact that I purchased 3 pairs last year; one for my wedding, and two that were suitable for both walking and work. When I do buy a new pair, they really need to last and be easily repaired, and so far I’ve had decent luck with Frye.

Day 29: My trusty shibori scarf worn with a newish refashion! It’s almost cheating to call the dress a refashion since I just removed some very doofy looking pockets from the skirt part. Funny how very small details can ruin a garment. I wonder if that’s why it ended up in the thrift store?

Day 30: Just a simple black tee made of black wool jersey. One of my goals this year is to get better at sewing with knits, especially since I’ve mostly encountered them doing refashions. Also wearing a pair of thrifted jeans and my very useful wedding shoes!

Day 31: I made it! Part of the flickr group decided to thank Zoe for all of her hard work organizing and maintaining this challenge by making signs and, if possible, celebrating her vintage/nautical/boldly colored style. I was able to procure two self-mades that fit the bill, the new Burda sleeveless blouse and one of my Simplicity 2451 clones in bright blue denim. I wouldn’t have thought to pair these two pieces, but I felt very sprightly and happy all day!

Maybe I’m just tired after all my outfit documentation, but I’m not really sure what new things I learned this challenge except for that I feel proud of how far I’ve come since Me-Made-March ’11! I ran out of steam to sew new things mid-month but now that it’s over, I’m raring to go.

The Fourth Week, MMM 12: Grey Days

The title says it all; I wore a significant number of grey garments this week! I think it’s interesting that I started with all of my brightest reds, oranges and blues and worked my way down to the greys (with the exception of Day 25).

Day 21: I wore a refashioned cotton sweater. It used to have really unflattering batwings, so I re-made the sleeves and took in the armpits. (Gross, “took in the armpits.”) I’d hurt my back from too much desk work and sewing, hence the shorts. Also wearing my Savage Salvage necklace.

Day 22: I made another Burda sleeveless blouse! As I said in my Flickr description, I make everything in twos.  I really liked the other blouse (worn on Day 17 and Day 10), but had a few things I wanted to improve on. I made it longer with a pointed hem, and didn’t nip the sides in so dramatically but compensated by adding darts in the back. The fit is great! And, I was lucky enough to find this polka dotted cotton at the thrift store.

Day 23: I’d bought this tunic at the thrift store because I liked the fabric so much, but it was too big. I took in the sides and re-did the sleeves and hem a bit. Worn with thrifted jeans and the coolest necklace ever (found at the Goodwill). And no, I’m not using hyperbole.

Day 24: The third Simplicity 2451 makes an appearance! I made this one in tribal cotton twill from Gorgeous Fabrics. Worn with a store-bought shirt and tights, as well as a vintage necklace.

Day 25: My trusty blue linen tank made a reappearance (also seen on Day 5 this month). Worn with a thrifted bolero and jeans, and a favorite pair of shoes that had been at the cobbler until recently.

Day 26: Saturday was so lovely in Seattle! I put on my tunic/dress made of linen curtains with Simplicity 2497, one of the Cynthia Rowley patterns. I find this piece a bit challenging to wear because of the low neckline and lofty ruffles. It looks pretty good with a shirt under it, but that would have been too warm yesterday!

I can’t believe there are five days left!! There is a slim chance I’ll have a new project before the end of MMM ’12; otherwise, get ready to see some previously-seen, lovingly hand-washed favorites!

The Third Week of MMM ’12

Well! This week was mostly blue and white with a chance of red. Looking at everyone else’s colorful outfits on the flickr pool has got me inspired to try out some other colors for my next sewing projects. After, that is, I finish my dark navy Minoru and tomato red skirt that are in the works.

Day 14: I wore a tank I’d made using a lovely piece of silk that I scored at a fabric swap. I was in the height of my Cynthia Rowley for Simplicity craze and made this tank really fast. I used to just start sewing without looking at the finished measurements or making muslins; this is a good example of how different from real life a pattern can look on a package. Even if it is a bit wide, the fabric drapes nicely and I should wear it more often than I do!

Day 15: I refashioned this last year during Me-Made-March 2011.  (You can see the before/after image here on our flickr account.) This shirt has definitely been one of my more successful refashions! A lot of the other ones from Me-Made-March didn’t survive out the year.

Day 16: Ah, the Melville dress. I’ve probably said enough about this beauty in my blog post on it, but it’s worth noting that it was comfortable to wear throughout the work day. Pattern is Vogue 1236.

Day 17: My sleeveless blouse (seen on Day 10) made a reappearance with thrifted jeans. I just really, really wanted to wear it again!

Day 18: A huge triumph! I managed to refashion a dress I made quite hastily during Me-Made-March last year into something I’m more likely to wear. It didn’t take too much – I just removed the aggressive little cutout sleeves et voila! The original is here if you’d like to see what it looked like before going under the seam ripper. The pattern is Simplicity 2281.

Day 19: I made another version of the shirt I wore on Day 11. I actually prefer the fit on this one and the construction is better as well. It’s pretty festive for being an embellished t-shirt! Pattern is Simplicity 2554.

Learnings from Week 3: My self-made wardrobe is much deeper than I thought!  I was pretty certain I’d have to re-wear a lot of things this week and I ended up not needing to (with the exception of the Burda blouse, although I wore it because I was just so excited about it.) Happy Week 4, MMMers and MMM appreciators!

The Second Week, MMM12: Blue Period

It seems I wore blue self-mades every day, with only one or two exceptions! And with the morning light being as it is, my black clothes also photographed blue.

Day 7: My self-drafted, hand-printed cotton voile tank. I so need to duplicate this project in other fabrics! It’s so easy to wear but still feels a bit fancy.

Day 8: Here is one of my favorite self-mades ever, blogged here. I’d love to make one or two more of this one! I used Simplicity 2281.

Day 9: This was my first attempt at the bustier I wore on day 1 (not counting the muslin I made). I was a little bit sick when I made it, and I rotated one of the pieces. It’s given the garment a slight pouf where I eased in the piece, but I still think it’s wearable. If I get ambitious some day, I’m going to fix it. The pattern is McCall’s 6325.

Day 10: A new, unblogged project! I downloaded the Burda sleeveless blouse PDF. I used the lining leftovers from my Minoru, which is still in progress. I love the blouse but found the instructions to be quite spare! That said, now that I know how to use this pattern, I will probably be making several of these. Also wearing my Simplicity 2451 skirt.

Day 11: Last year, I started Me-Made March with this shirt. It’s just slightly too big through the bust and waist, due to my misunderstanding the pattern instructions (Simplicity 2554, for reference). It was a mix of knit and woven patterns and I mistakenly assumed that it was all for knits. I’d actually be interested in making it in a woven fabric at some point, although the idea of doing a narrow hem on those ruffles again gives me pause!

Day 12: My thrifted and shredded tank, created last year during Me-Made-March. Here’s the Outsapop tutorial if you’d like to make your own or just read a really cool blog on thrifting and DIY fashion.

Day 13: What’s this? A picture of me outside of my bedroom? Nathan snapped this photo of me between mother’s day events. I’m wearing my blue Simplicity 2451 skirt, an older recently-repaired tank top and a vintage Coach purse from ebay.

I’m getting a little concerned as I’m getting down to the projects that I don’t normally wear. We’ll see how this coming week treats me; there might be some re-styling aka repeats. (I have no qualms about repeating garments weekly in the real world, but it’s more exciting to share new ones during a sewing challenge!)

What lurks beneath: couch repair

Since we’ve moved, you’ve probably seen a lot of outfit pics with the shoddily slip-covered couch in the background:


One might never have guessed that a mid-century-style couch with gorgeous lines lurked beneath (as well as distressed upholstery):


Isn’t she beautiful? I inherited her from my grandmother Kiyomi, who had exceptional taste.

So, in a fit of disgust, I cast off the muumuu slipcover this weekend and have replaced it with a less offensive but temporary sheet that at least doesn’t add 50 years and 50 lbs. And then, I hit the internet in hopes of finding a reasonable solution to making my couch look nice.

Option 1: Professional reupholstering
I was interested in using a reupholstering company as a lazy way out. Yes, I was expecting it to cost a lot – $1,000+ – but I wasn’t expecting it to require numerous consultations and an it’s-ready-when-it’s-ready timeline. I was expecting expensive, quick and great, not expensive, slow and potentially ruinous. Also, I fell prey to Yelp’s tendency to attract only starry-eyed and disgruntled reviews and became nervous about how even the highest-rated Seattle reupholsterers had a bunch of 1-star reviews. Next, please.

Option 2: Total amateur reupholstering
I ruled out this option, but only after about an hour of gazing longingly at DIY-upholstery books. Since I’m already (happily) buried in projects, learning how to reupholster will have to wait.

Option 3: “Toss out the couch and get a new one”
While I scoured for DIY upholstery info, the message I came across most frequently on message boards was “Anything you try to do with a new couch is going to be too expensive. Take your old one to the dump and get a new one.” (!!!) My thoughts are this: buying something new has all sorts of hidden costs; the cost of using new resources, use of fossil fuels to transport it, potential dumping fees and landfill space, all sorts of costs that aren’t reflected in the single price at Ikea, for instance. I didn’t entertain this option, but was surprised to see it so widely championed.

Option 4: Making a slipcover
And, our winner: making a well-fitted slipcover! This is the option that makes the best use of my skills: measuring things, sewing things, buying fabric. It struck a good balance of cheapish and time-efficient. I think I’m going to force myself into making a bed-sheet muslin, instead of cutting into nice thick cotton canvas and hoping for the best.

So, expect some slipcover updates here! And I’ll be covering the couch back up with the sheet, because it’s unfair to expect Orson (our cat) to resist all of the delectable strings hanging off the couch in its current state.


Week 3 of Me-Made-March – The Lost Week

Between moving and being really sick, I totally forgot about Week 3. Here is the recap!

Day 1, another Simplicity 2451 skirt in an ikat fabric obtained at the Goodwill.  I also got to trot out a rarely worn cowl sweater (thrifted, of course). You can see we’re about to move based on the empty bookshelf in the back.

Day 2. This is a favorite refashion of mine, a thrifted American Eagle tank. I removed the elastic hem and used the t-shirt shredding method from Childhood Flames. Mine is a pretty tame example of what is possible with this method!

Day 3, I had to show off a new thrifted goodie, this tank. Worn with the black Simplicity 2451 skirt. Oh look, someone packed up the other bookshelf too! Also, please notice the one cat ear belonging to a certain Mr. Orson lurking at the bottom of the photo.

Day 4, a new project!! This dress is made from Simplicity 2450, and it’s so stinking cute. I love the sweetheart neckline and the pleated/darted/tucked bodice. I was really surprised to also like the spaghetti straps. Next time, I’m going to make a size smaller (there is an absurd amount of ease in most of the Cynthia Rowley patterns) and scooch the straps in.

Day 5 is a refashion of one of my first projects. Actually, this shirt has been through three stages so far, all of them months apart; one, sewing, two, screenprinting, and three, chopping off a waistband and hemming. The print is my Dia de los Muertos design.

Day 6, moving day! I’m wearing a refashioned and screenprinted tee (again with one of my designs). Thanks to Desomniac for taking the pic! And for lifting every single piece of heavy furniture we have!

Day 7. I broke out the Christmas dress again! The fiance and I went on an excursion to Tacoma so I thought a little dressing up was in order. Also, I was celebrating the fact that our new apartment looked pretty decent for having moved in the day before and that it was 1,000x better than our old one. And I’m not just exaggerating. Other people have made the same comment.

So there you have it! Week 3 of Me-Made-March.

Week 4 of Me-Made-March: the dark ages.

I started this post thinking it was the Week 3 recap – as it turns out, I totally forgot to do one! So that will be coming soon.

I’m not going to lie – Week 4 was rough on the self-made fashion front. I’d mostly run out of new things and was heading into the land of repeats. The weather has been getting warmer, and I’ve made it an annual practice to dress awkwardly right about now. Finally and perhaps most problematic, I don’t have a full length mirror in our new apartment. Sigh. Luckily there was some good with the bad!

Day 1, I trotted out a scarf I made a couple of years ago, my silk-screened mussel design on cotton/silk voile.

Day 2. Ok. Here is one of the failure outfits. One I probably wouldn’t have worn if I’d had a full- length mirror. Self-made skirt, normally quite cute, and thrifted everything else.

Day 3, a freshly made tunic, refashioned from a full linen skirt with a great print!

Day 4, an “eh” sort of outfit. I keep on meaning to do something else with this silk tank. I love the print but I made one of the Cynthia Rowley tunics that are just too big and boxy. This picture will motivate me to refashion it!

Day 5. This shirt is from a dress that I wore out. I’m talking a 6″ rip out the rear of the dress, nowhere near a seam! I was scrounging for quick projects and found my poor dress in the scrap heap. Inspiration struck! I love it.

Day 6. All right. This outfit was good in my head, but probably would have been modified with a view in the full-length mirror. I really like the bright blue with the neutral jacket, but the shapes weren’t quite right. Note to self: figure out how to wear loafers!

Day 7. I needed an antidote to the failure outfit from the day before. Thankfully, I really liked this outfit, and I found that this shirt tucks really nicely into my self-made skirt.

So there you have it. Probably the spottiest week yet, but I think next week will be a significant improvement. I already have a new dress to show off, and, from the sounds of it, will be purchasing a damned mirror.