Thursday, August 9, 2012


I'm going to backtrack once again and showcase my design portfolio from my senior year of college. There were 5 pieces altogether, 3 of which were Halloween costumes that I made for friends.

The fabric I used for the Fox pictured here is a thick, fuzzy polyester material. I used only my regular sewing machine as I didn't have an overlock machine at the time. I had to clear lint from the bobbin often to keep the machine running smoothly.

I included photographs of the patterns I created. Newspaper is a free and recyclable material to use for pattern making but there are much better materials available if you are willing to pay a few dollars per yard.  I had limited sources available when I was working on these and newspaper worked just fine. 

A lot of these shapes I was able to draw freehand and others I traced from garments and altered with a styling ruler. 

This costume was based off of an action figure of mine, dubbed El Salvador:

I was very pleased with the results! I used most of the same pattern for the Fox but made a different tail and a few other details.

The last two pieces were not designed as costumes, though the first one shown here was used as a Cindy-Lou-Who costume a few years later.

My idea was to create Spring-inspired cuts that were warm enough to wear during a Vermont Winter. I used heavy red denim and attached a layered petticoat underneath the skirt that was very warm.

The back of the suspenders had a zipper near the bottom to allow some adjustment. This way a thicker sweater or a thinner shirt could be worn underneath comfortably.  

This is probably my favorite piece. The red and brown plaids I used were from 2 pairs of vintage, woolen, Pendleton trousers. 

The pattern was a simple and flattering design that I was very happy with. The only disappointment was that I had such a limited amount of the fabric that I was unable to line up the skirt panels on a bias.

In fact I couldn't really make the lines remain straight up and down either, I had to cut the pieces however they would fit. I carefully deconstructed the pants, pressing everything as I went to make sure I was saving as much of the fabric as possible. Then I sewed pieces together to make the largest panels I could, matching the plaid meticulously so that you couldn't notice a break in the pattern. Then I traced the newspaper patterns as best I could.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Pants Repair!

A decent portion of my usual repair work is for jeans - People's favorite jeans - Extremely worn jeans - Jeans that folks want tapered (though I wish more people would let me put in huge bells....I love doing that!) Here is a pair of pants that I had patched previously and were worn through again. A well-loved article :)

As always I have to warn folks that once the patching begins, it's an uphill battle to keep them going. I often reinforce weak areas with large panels. Then I quilt through the layers with designs to keep them sturdy.

This is what the inside looks like with new panels, though you can see where they were worn through again. I always serge the edges of the patch before pinning in place and sewing together. It is important to trace the shape carefully for these kinds of repairs because if the crotch shape isn't cut right it will be uncomfortable and it will be difficult to sew in place. I attach these panels right to the seams, often to the edges of the pockets and sometimes further down the pant legs.

Here's the inside after further reinforcement.

And the outside again. 

Sometimes folks give me fabric they prefer to have as patches. The green denim which I used for these was fairly worn already so we knew this would wear through quickly. Patching behind this with darker denim creates a nice contrast and the scruffy frayed edges of the original holes look cool after a few washes. Sometimes its best to cut those frayed parts out when sewing in a patch so that you can really secure those weak edges and make sure fabric is sturdy. Other times you can get away with leaving some for show. 

Here is an example of a less noticeable patch of the same sort. 

If I used black denim it would have been a bit more hidden, but she wasn't terribly concerned with the visibility so I used what I had. I didn't make full panel patches for these because it is more time consuming and we wanted to keep the cost down for the repair. They were cheap jeans, but a good fit and this small repair will give them several more months of steady wear for the low cost of about 15 bucks.

Some repairs are more fun to patch from the outside. These are one of my favorite pairs of pants and I like to let them get pretty destroyed before patching again. I add from the outside and let the edges fray. They are surprisingly sturdy from years of quilting and many layers of fabrics.

I started sewing because I wanted to save my favorite pants so this is a specialty of mine and something I have been practicing for over 10 years. If you are desperate to save a favorite pair get in touch! You can check out my clothing repair website or email me at - I'd love to help you!