Refashionista Basics // Altering pant leg width

I must say, getting back into blogging is hard once you’ve stepped off of that train for a while. We are such creatures of habit, that when you’re used to posting 5-7 times a week, 3 seems child’s play, but once you stop for a month or two, putting even one post a week up seems like a lot. All of this to say “Long time, no see!”

Today I’ll be sharing some tips on altering pant leg width for a better fit. I know, it’s not the most exciting refashion, but it’s a necessary one. And, let’s be honest, the basic refashioning fixes come in handy way more often than those fancy and surprising makeovers.

I loved the overall look of these pants right off the bat, but they were a tad too wide and that made them look baggy. I wore them a few times as they were, but it still bothered me, so I knew I had to do something about it.

Before we dive into the alteration process, I have to say, I don’t like mending and altering clothing. It’s annoying and I keep that to-be-mended pile hidden in the bottom drawer. But sometimes, it’s the smallest little modification that can give a garment a new lease on life, and that’s worth getting over boredom, or the craving for a surprise total makeover. Sometimes, the simplest fix is the best.

STEP 1 – Fitting

I recommend turning the pants inside out before trying them on. This way, you don’t have to move any pins you put into place.

When taking in pant legs, always take in from both sides of the leg. I’ve seen tutorials where you’re instructed to only take in from the one side, and although the results seem to look fine on photos, I haven’t seen a pair of pants where this type of take-in wouldn’t result in a twisted leg. When you narrow from both sides, you’re keeping the straight grain straight, which will make the fit so much better. Unless you don’t mind the side seems twisting to the front of your leg when you walk. In which case, to what you want.

You only need to pin one leg, because you can then transfer those marking to the other leg. It’s more precise this way as well.

STEP 2 – Cutting and sewing

Next comes the time to sew new pant leg seams and cut away any extra length . I actually recommend cutting the right length (plus hem allowance!) first, and the sewing the seams.

If you don’t need to make your pants shorter, you need to unpick your hem before sewing the leg sides. This way you’ll get a nice clean finish once you re-hem, and it’s also pretty tricky to get the hem to line up perfectly.

I used my serger to trim down the seam allowances for the side seams, but you could use the zig-zag stitch for that just as well.

Before you go cutting away that extra fabric, though, make sure to put the pants on and see if everything fits ok. There’s no getting that extra width back once you’ve cut it off. Measure twice, cut once, you know?

STEP 3 – (Re-)hemming

All there’s left to do now, is to hem or re-hem the pants. This is by far the easiest part for me, since I’ve hemmed like a bajillion pairs of pants (everyone in my family has really short legs). Side note: If you ever need your pants hemmed, I can get it done in less than 15 minutes.

If you’re unfamiliar with hemming, it the simple act of folding the unfinished hem twice and securing that fold into place. I usually to a 1.5cm hem on pants, which means the folded hem is 1.5cm wide/high. I always press all hems before sewing because this secures them into place and the fabric won’t move as much during sewing (or unfold), plus it let’s me skip pins.

I really contemplated whether to write this post or not. On the one hand, this seems basic sewing knowledge to me. Something I’m sure anyone can do. But, then I remembered that I didn’t consider this basic when I was first starting out. Then everything seemed new, and, most of times, confusing. So, I hope that this helped someone gain more confidence in tackling their first simple refashion.

For more basic refashioning techniques check out my tips for dying clothes, how to add ankle zippers to skinny jeans, make a granny blouse fit better, lengthen a blouse with color blocks, and how to fix a ripped sleeve by going sleeveless.

xo. Hanna

 

Refashionista // A-line Dress into Criss Cross Back Peplum Top

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – short dresses just aren’t my thing. But somehow, they still find their way into my closet from time to time. This leopard number was a piece my girlfriends picked for me on my bachelorette party last year. As a surprise challenge, they brought me to a huge thrift store and handed me the task of finding full outfits for all of them in 60 minutes. In return, they would find an outfit for me. As you can imagine, I loved this challenge, and nailed it!

The dress they chose for me fitted well, and was pretty comfy, so I’ve worn it many times. But, I always felt it was a bit too short for me. So, as I’ve done once before, I decided to turn it into a peplum top. This time, I thought I’d add a criss cross to the open back for a better fit. Plus, it’s such a cute detail.

leopard dress into peplum top

The process itself was pretty simple.

First, I cut the skirt part shorter, so it was my desired peplum length+hem allowance. Then I re-hemmed the peplum. Once the peplum was done, I started on constructing the criss cross.

 

I cut long 5-cm wide strips of fabric from the left-over skirt. Then, I sewed long tubes out of these strips of fabric, and turned them right side out. Once I had the tubes turned, I pressed them so that the seam was in the centre of the tube.

I then marked the centre of the dress back and started placing the criss cross. First, I placed the bottom strips, and added upwards keeping the distance of the tubes about 1 cm. The only think to pay attention to is to weave the upper tubes through the lower ones to create the criss cross pattern. I secured the ends of the tubes with pins onto the dress, and the sewed them into place. This was the most difficult part of the project as there were so many fabric layers for my machine to sew through.

TIP! Lower your pressure foot pressure for easier sewing when ploughing through many layers of fabric.

This dress is so much more wearable as a top, and has found it’s place in my fall capsule wardrobe. I wore it to a party yesterday, so there are outfit photos featuring this top coming soon.

Are any dresses in your closet just waiting to be turned into peplum tops?

xo.Hanna

Refashionista // 80’s Dress Gets a Makeover

These types of refashions are my absolute faves. As a kid I loved to sort through my Grandma’s closet, and the love for old dresses from decades past has stayed with me. Not that I actually like the garments – some of them are hilarious, but I love the potential in them. Which is why I was so excited to give this 80’s dress a trendy makeover.

(Warning! This post is very photo heavy. I loved so many pics from this shoot that I just had to include a million.)

striped dress front detail

I’m not sure how this dress got into my ever-growing pile of refashionista material, but I think it was given to my Mom by someone who thought I could make something out of it. I think it’s so cool that once people know that I sew and refashion, they actually think of me when they have something they don’t use anymore. These gems are always a welcomed gift.

I loved the fabric, and had a vague refashion idea from the beginning, but somehow the doing part got pushed back again and again. Like about 4 years or so. Ups. But, sometimes I feel ideas need time to sit, and the ones that have percolated a long time usually turn out the best.

striped dress
striped dress collar detail

I found this 80’s gem again when going through my stuff back at my parents’ house during my vacation, and I knew its time had come. So I packed it into my suitcase (along with a couple others). Once I was done with the makeover, I was so sad I hadn’t made this sooner. Luckily, we had a heatwave this weekend, so I could still at least test-drive it before packing it away until next summer.

striped dress pocket detail
striped dress refashion from back

You only need basic sewing gear for this projects, so here’s the makeover process:

The first thing that needed to go was that God awful handkerchief. Then, I used my trusty french curves, to draft a new armhole, and cut off those huge sleeves.

Then, I put the dress on, pinned how much I had to take in from the sides, sewed new side seams, and cut off the excess.  After that I had to slightly adjust the armholes again. This is usually a necessary adjustment when taking in a lot from the side seams.

Next, I cut off a portion of the bottom of the dress. I needed to make it shorter by about 12cm, so I cut off as much as I could (this depended on the length of the back vent). From the left-over material, I cut long 4cm-wide strips to bind the armholes with. I love this binding method the most, since it’s by far the easiest in my opinion. Just fold the strips, press, and sew them to the armhole (pulling slightly on the binding while you sew).

I top-stitched the armholes so the seam would stay flat and folded to the inside of the skirt. I used the stretch stitch on my regular sewing machine for this step.

By the way, don’t ask me why I used white thread when all of the other seams on this garment were OBVIOUSLY sewn with navy thread. That will remain a mystery to the both of us.

The two last steps were hemming the dress, and securing the pockets. I love that this dress has pockets, but they were gathering to the sides and bulking up all the time (know what I mean?), so I used a little trick I’ve used several times before. I just sewed them down onto the front bodice piece, following the pocked seam. makes it so much more comfortable to use the pockets.

striped dress button detail

I’m truly in love with this dress, and it’s already marked down to be in my next summer capsule. I can’t believe summer is ending, you guys! Big sigh. But, I am happy I finally got to give this old dress a new life, and such a pretty one at that. I’m more than confident it’s going to be a summer staple next year. And, after all this time, what’s another 9 months of waiting, right?

Just goes to show that hoarding things you’re not sure how to use at first is not actually a bad thing. (But don’t tell my hubby I said that. Although, he’s growing increasingly numb towards my hoarding. Bless him!)

Do you have any cool refashions in the works?

xo. Hanna

Refashionista // Turn Old T-shirts into a Tie Dye Dress

I’m finally back! It felt so good to take some time off blogging, and honestly, after my stay in Estonia, I needed a few days to catch up and get back into a rhythm. I’m slowly getting into a routine again, and so excited for a new season to start. Not because I particularly love autumn, but the back-to-school vibe always gets my creative juices flowing and gives me an extra boost in productivity. So, all in all, it’s good to be back.

I’m going to switch up the content plan on the blog a little, so I’m going to post a new refashion every Monday. There will be some other shifts happening, but I’ll write more about that in an upcoming post.

Now, onto today’s refashion. This project was one of those light-bulb moments. I’d been staring at these two T-shirts (well, technically a sleeveless top and a turtleneck, but who cares, right?) for months now, trying to figure out what to make out of them. I toyed around with a couple of different ideas. Thought about just dying the sleeveless one, and turning the turtleneck into a T-shirt, but none of the options seemed the right fit.

The right idea finally hit me when I was looking for some material for a simple summer dress. I had been wearing my summer capsule for almost 2 months at that point, and I felt I was missing a comfy short dress I could just throw on. Since both of the T-shirts were white, I thought it would be easy to use the sleeveless one as the bodice, and make the skirt part out of the turtleneck. But, I didn’t like that it was white – it’s see through, and get’s dirty easily. Insert tie dye, and the perfect summer dress was born.

tie dye dress refashion 4

The right idea finally hit me when I was looking for some material for a simple summer dress. I had been wearing my summer capsule for almost 2 months at that point, and I felt I was missing a comfy short dress I could just throw on. Since both of the T-shirts were white, I thought it would be easy to use the sleeveless one as the bodice, and make the skirt part out of the turtleneck. But, I didn’t like that it was white – it’s see through, and get’s dirty easily. Insert tie dye, and the perfect summer dress was born.

SUPPLIES:

  • 1 fitted T-shirt
  • 1 extra large T-shirt
  • sewing machine
  • pins, scissors, and other sewing gear
  • ruler and marking tool
  • rubber bands, or cotton yarn

HOW-TO:

First, measure yourself from shoulder tip to your natural waist (where you want the waist seam to hit you). Mark that on the bodice shirt. Make sure to add a sewing allowance, and the mark and cut the lower part off, making the cut line very slightly rounded.

As you notice, I also removed the ribbon from the neckline of my t-shirt. I knew I’d be dying the whole thing Shibori style later on, so I simplified the design.

Measure the desired length of your dress skirt (from waist down) and mark that onto the large T-shirt. Be sure to measure it from the hem up, so that you can keep the original hem, and save yourself some extra sewing.

Next, fold both the bodice piece and the large t-shirt in half at the centre front, and place the bodice on top of the t-shirt, folding lines aligned. Then, trace the waistline onto the large t-shirt, and draw a line from the waist down to the hem of the large t-shirt.

NOTE! Make sure to double check that your hips fit into the skirt part before cutting. If not, make the line slightly curved from the waist down to the hips, and continue diagonally from there.

Cut out the skirt part, and sew the side seams of the skirt.

Turn the skirt inside out, and place the bodice inside the skirt, so that the side seams of both pieces align, and the right sides are facing each other (wrong sides are facing out). Sew the bodice onto the skirt.

NOTE! Since this is stretchy fabric, be sure to use a jersey/ballpoint needle and a lightning bolt stitch, or a narrow zig-zag stitch on your machine for all the seams. You can find more tips on sewing with knits here.

If you’re already happy with the colour of your dress, you can leave it as is, and skip straight to wearing it. If not, here’s how I transformed my plain white dress.

tie dye dress refashion step 6

I’ve tried tie dying before (see here and here), but I was never very concerned about creating a pattern. I just winged it. This time I browsed a little on Pinterest to find a simple pattern I could easily create, but that would look purposeful, not just like I had tied it randomly. I finally decided on folded lines. They seemed easiest, and I loved the look.

So, first, fold the whole dress lengthwise like an accordion, and the tie it at even intervals. You can use either rubber bands, or cotton yarn for this step. Rubber bands are quicker, but I feel like I have more options with the yarn. I can make sure it’s tight enough, and I can cover more surface easily. Once you’ve done with tying, just follow the instructions on the dye package. Rinse well after dying and then remove all the yarn, or rubber bands. It’s a magical moment when you get to see the final result.

tie dye dress refashion 6
tie dye dress refashion 7

I recently wrote about tips for dying clothes, and one of you asked why your colours always look faded after a dye job. Well, I learned something during this project that might answer your question. Can you see the difference in colour vibrance between the bodice and skirt of the dress? The bodice part is much more vibrant. I dyed them together as one garment, so the only explanation for this is the difference in the fiber content. The bodice is 95% cotton, the skirt is 95% viscose. The second component in both is elastane. So, it seems that cotton takes on dye much better, and results in a more vibrant colour than viscose does.

You can tell by the word count (over 1000) of this post, that I’m glad to be back. What have you been refashioning lately?

xo. Hanna

Refashionista // Scarf into Top

A lot of the times, I’m more inspired by an object than an idea. Especially, when it comes to refashions. I love to lay out all the old garments I’ve bought, or received, and think of ways I could transform them. I could spend all my days just going through old clothing and finding new use for it.

Sometimes, I wish I had a creative team, who could just take my ideas and run with them. Imagine how many more old garments I could save this way. Until that dream comes to life, I’m a one-woman upcycling factory.

scar top refashion 1

I got this scarf from one of my baby-mammas I work for. She’s a fellow Estonian, so it’s always great to chat with her. I don’t think I had an idea just yet when I got it, but I somehow knew I wanted to make something out of it.

I took it home, and let it sit for a while. Then, in one of my garment-sittings, the idea of a very simple scarf top came to me. Nothing revolutionary, but I think it turned out pretty cute.

scarf top refashion3

SUPPLIES:

  • scarf
  • basic sewing gear
  • piped bias tape/piping (regular bias tape would do as well)
  • French curves (optional, but you can get them in office supply stores)

HOW-TO:

Step 1. Fold the scarf into half. Mark the center and draw out the neckline using the measurements on the above photo. I always use my French curve rulers for drawing necklines or other curves, but you can totally eyeball them.

As you can see, I drew out many necklines options before choosing one. A little experimentation is always a good thing with these projects.

Step 2. Sew the piping to the edge of the neckline from what will be the right side of the top. Then, zig-zag the edge to prevent fraying.

Step 3. Turn the piping to the wrong side of the scarf, and top-stitch it into place from the right side.

Step 4. Only the side seams left! So, measure your bust, and add about 10 cm for ease. Divide that number by 2 (half bust measurement). Turn the top right side out (not like pictured above, since I automatically added my first seam to the wrong side, like you usually do. Avoid my mistakes!). Locate the center front of the top. and mark the half bust measurement to the scarf. Also, measure down from your shoulder tip to you armpit, so that your arm has plenty of room to move still, and mark that point to the scarf as well. Finally, draw the side seam lines and sew.

Note: If your scarf is longer and hits your hips, then measure the hips as well, and go with the measurement that’s bigger on you. If your busty, and that’s bigger than you hip measurement, go with that, and vice versa.

All done!

Since embarking on my capsule wardrobe journey, I’m having a bit of a dilemma with the garments I make or refashion. I love them, but not all of them can become part of my wardrobe. I’ll have to come up with a solution, or we’ll drown in clothes in a couple of years.

 

xo. Hanna

Refashionista // Turtlenecks into Color-blocked Maxi Dress

Let me introduce to my new favorite dress. Of course it’s a maxi and of course, it’s refashioned. That seems to be the perfect combo for me. But, let me start from the beginning.

I often thrift for material in the sense that I don’t really have a specific project in mind and I’m not aiming to refashion the garments – I just want fabric and as much as possible. So, on my first (and so far last) thrifting spree here in Germany, I bought a bunch of XXL turtleneck pullovers (both from the women’s and men’s section) for 1€ a piece. The fabric was in very good condition on all of them. I thought maybe I’d make a few t-shirts or so.

Fast forward to 2 weeks ago, when I was planning my next refashions. I felt I needed another maxi skirt for the summer, since the 2 I have (this and this) get a lot of wear. I noticed those turtlenecks and had the idea to finally turn my idea of a color-blocked jersey maxi dress into reality. I mean, I’ve only toyed around with the idea about 3 years in my head. Was about time, right?

I’m in love with the result! Hubby was a bit skeptical of the idea at first, but loves the result as well. I think I just made myself my favorite maxi of all time!

SUPPLIES:

  • 3 large turtlenecks
  • basic sewing gear
  • basic t-shirt pattern (I used Burda 04/2009, mod.112)

HOW-TO:

First, I figured out the placement of the colors and then cut off the sleeves and turtleneck from the pullovers and was left with only the bodice piece. Then I took the bottom turtleneck and cut off the top part (shown above).

Then, I measured how long the skirt part needed to be. I also measure both turtlenecks and calculated how long the middle one had to be to get the right skirt length.

I cut the middle turtleneck bodice to size and curved the top corners to make it narrower at the top and follow the body curves better.

Now, I needed to sew together the skirt pieces. For that I folded both pieces, placed them next to each other like they would be later and evened out the sides. Then, sewed together the sides on the bottom piece and finally, sewed together the 2

Next, I made the dress bodice using the Burda pattern. You can really use any t-shirt pattern for this. I used this one because I already had it open from  this refashion I made earlier. I actually wanted to use this self-drafted t-shirt pattern, but couldn’t find it (#messystudio).

Then, I put the bodice inside the skirt, lined up the sides and folded the excess width of the skirt into 2 little pleats on both sides. Just made sure the pleats were equal in size and equal distance from the center.

Finally, I sewed the bodice to the skirt and I the dress was done! Took me about 2 hours to whip together.

Now, whose up for a thrifting spree?

xo. Hanna

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