Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Transform your dress shirt collar to a mandarin collar, Paganoonoo Upcycle Sewing Tip

Change up the look of your dress shirt by changing the collar! This quick, no cost upgrade is simple to do.

A mandarin collar creates a less formal look than a dress collar, is terrific for summer as it is cooler to wear, and is a great way to rescue a shirt that has worn collar tips and is otherwise just fine.

Join me, Michelle Paganini, upcycle sewing guru, in this video tip, to learn the 3 key steps to creating a mandarin collar from a dress shirt collar.  

P.S. I design upcycled clothing, and write instructions for home stitchers so that you too can successfully upcycle used garments into new and flattering fashions.

Purchase Paganoonoo's upcycle sewing instructions on Etsy.

Subscribe to the Michelle Paganini / Paganoonoo YouTube channel for more sewing and upcycling tips.

Follow Michelle on Pinterest for upcycling inspiration!

Happy Upcycling,

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Selecting colors and patterns for upcycling garments, Paganoonoo Sewing Tip

Not sure what colors and patterns to use for your upcycled garment? Join me, Michelle Paganini, upcycle sewing guru, for a quick talk about selecting the garments to use for your upcycle.  

We will look at example choices and explore what works and what does not and why.  One key tip will give you a fail-safe starting point. Get started on upcycling today in color and pattern combinations that look great!

Happy Upcycling,


Purchase Paganoonoo's upcycle sewing instructions on Etsy.

Subscribe to the Michelle Paganini / Paganoonoo YouTube channel for more sewing and upcycling tips.

Follow Michelle on Pinterest for upcycling inspiration!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Upcycling through surface design: Carved wooden stamps, fabric paint & stamps, fabric pens

Hi, I'm Michelle Paganini, independent pattern maker and upcycle sewing guru.  My upcycle sewing instructions are available here.

I've been wanting to add special touches to my upcycled garments, taking them more into to art-to-wear realm.  Surface design seems an obvious choice.

These flowers were made using hand carved wooden stamps, fabric paint, and outlining with fabric pens.  

  The same stamp was used for each flower. 

Outlining varying sections of the flowers with a pen makes each appear to be slightly different. 

This red version was also done with a wooden stamp.

Instead of fabric paint, I used red and white fabric ink stamp pads.

I happened to have a stamp with the same flower design as the printed fabric.  

Using the red ink on the light band and then white ink on the red fabric allowed me to continue the pattern up the shirt.  Using an ink pad (v.s. paint) gives a crisp outline.

Adding seed beads would give a 3D pop to either set of flowers - my next step!  

What are your favorite methods of surface design?

Happy Upcycling!


I will be adding paints, ink pads, and pens to my Etsy site in the near future.  

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Top 10 reasons all sewers should include upcycling in their toolbox & Top 10 reasons to use Paganoonoo instructions to make your upcycle sewing simpler!

Earth Day 2018:


My name is Michelle Paganini and Paganoonoo is my company.  I'm on a mission have all sewers on the planet try upcycling & have a successful experience.

What, Michelle, you may say, is upcycling and what does it have to do with sewing?

Upcycling is one of the ways we can be kind to the earth.  It is an excellent way to use the resources that we have already developed and leverage them for re-use: 

Upcycle (up-si-kel): To improve existing goods (such as clothing) through the use of labor, materials, and creativity.

In upcycle sewing, pre-owned clothing is used for raw materials rather than flat fold fabric. The fashion industry is the 2nd largest polluting industry on the planet.  By re-using existing clothing, rather than throwing it away, we meet that goal of best using existing resources.

Here are my top 10 reasons
all sewers should include upcycling in their toolbox:

10 - When you start with existing clothing (v.s. flat fold cloth), the characteristics of the fabric is readily apparent - the amount it wrinkles, pills, snags, runs, creases, etc.   Existing garments are already pre-cleaned, so there should be no surprise shrinkage.

9 - The quality of a garment's fabric and construction can be quite good, men's shirts are a terrific example.

8 - It is cheap! Using second hand clothing is far less expensive than using flat fold cloth.  Source from local thrift stores, e-bay, garage/yard sales, flea markets, second hand clothing exchanges, etc.  Use clothing you already have and don't wear, but love, to make something useable. 

7 - Sewing mistakes with thrifted clothes? You haven't lost much money.  Consider it a learning experience.  You can afford to experiment.

6 - Often times simple changes transform a garment into something desirable. New buttons, added pockets, embellishment with fabric paint or stamping, raise or lower a hem, etc. 

5 - The tough bits are often already sewn for you (like with dress shirts - collars, collar stands, plackets, buttonholes) making the sewing easier.

4 - You've lost a loved one and want to make something out of their clothing, for you or other family members.  It will be like getting a hug from them every time you wear it.

3 - You are curvy and/or a baby boomer and it is hard to find clothes that fit your body the way you would like - there is no room for hips, bellies, and booties!  Or you are petite or tall and can't find a good fit.

2 - Bragging rights.  You will have something no one else has, a unique creation.  When people compliment you, it is a chance to spread the word about upcycling. 

1 - Fashion is the second largest polluting industry on the planet.  The average American throws away (not donates) 68lbs of textiles annually. Repurposing our existing clothes makes good environmental sense.  We, as sewers, have magical skills we can put to good use to help green fashion.

Now that you are excited about upcycle sewing... please know that I've developed upcycling instructions that will help ensure that your upcycle sewing experience is successful....

Top 10 reasons to use Paganoonoo instructions to make your upcycle sewing simpler:

10 - There is no need to print pattern pieces, Paganoonoo upcycling is accomplished through deconstruction and reconstruction. The illustrated instructions are on standard 8.5" by 11" printer paper.

9 - Adjusting for height (short or tall) is easily done with the Paganoonoo Ashlee, Michelle, Noel, Peggy, and Rebecca designs, while still using the existing garment hems.  All of these design feature an empire waist.

8 -  Paganoonoo garments are specifically designed to be flattering for curvy ladies and baby boomers.They feature  high/low hems and are super complimentary, gliding over the body. Paganoonoo has got you covered!      

7 - Easier sewing: Most of Paganoonoo's designs are based on dress shirts.  The quality of fabric and construction in men's shirts is generally quite goodThe tough bits are already sewn for you (like collars, collar stands, plackets, buttonholes). 

6 - With Paganoonoo designs you get a custom fit by starting with a garment that fits your bust and shoulders the way you like. Everything under the armhole is a loose fit so there is room for hips, bellies, and booties.

5 - Serious bragging rights! You will have something no one else has, a unique creation, noticeably different than retail clothing. Compliments = chance to spread the word about upcycling.

4 - Our garments are timeless classics with an arty twist. They can easily be upgraded into the art-to-wear realm through artful color blocking, addition of machine embroidery, use of reverse applique, use of existing features like button plackets for trim, etc.

3 - Abundant illustrations. Upcycle sewing is the process of garment deconstruction and reconstruction.  Our illustrations capture what the garments look like as they are being deconstructed and reconstructed.

2 - Detailed instructions.  Paganoonoo instructions work through the processes step by step and in alignment with the illustrations.  Techniques are explained, pitfalls are outlined, recommendations are made, choices are outlined, etc. 

1 - Upcycle sewing is a whole new ball game.  Wouldn't you like a guided tour?  You may be able to recreate Paganoonoo's designs, but using our instructions will save you boatloads of time and aggravation. We have set you up for success.  
Start upcycle sewing today!!!  

Paganoonoo patterns are available in our Etsy Store.

Examples of some of our designs:

Happy Upcycling!!!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Sewing tip: reverse applique surface design upcycle sewing

I'm Michelle Paganini, upcycle guru and owner of Paganoonoo. I'm passionate about reusing existing fashion to create new fashions, a.k.a upcycling.

Upcycle means adding value to existing goods (like clothing) through the application of imagination, materials and labor.  Upcycle sewing means starting with existing clothing, not flat fold fabric.
I'm committed to successful upcycling being accessible to home sewers and have developed a line of upcycling instructions to serve that purpose. The Paganooonoo motto is "Upcycing Sewing Made Simple".  Details at www.paganoonoo.com. 

Disassembly and reassembly is a common method of upcycling.  Another method I'm exploring more and more is surface design / embellishment, which is useful when a garment is okay, but not exciting enough to inspire wearing it very often.

Combining theses two methods, 1) disassembly & reassembly + 2) surface design, starts to create something more in the "art-to-wear" realm rather than just "upcycled."
In this YouTube video, courtesy of It's Sew Easy TV - show 1312, I demonstrate how to use free-form reverse applique to embellish an upcycled dress shirt.  

 In this case the motif is a circle.  Orange and blue are on opposite sides of the color wheel so the combination is exciting.

The varying size of the stripes adds additional interest.

Two layers of fabric have been placed on the inside of the garment and under-stitched with free form circles.  A layer of light interfacing has been fused to the bottom layer (prior to stitching).

The shirt material has been trimmed away, as well as part of the second layer.  A lip of fabric was left in both cases.  The edges are unfinished.  In the photo those raw edges are being clipped a tiny bit to help reduce fraying as the garment is laundered.
It is helpful to practice the technique on scrap fabric before using it on a favorite garment.  Here is a practice strip I made to try various methods:
Happy upcycling!  To visit the Paganoonoo store click here.

To view other Paganoonoo video clips to go the Paganoonoo YouTube channel.

Friday, March 16, 2018

New Paganoonoo Upcycling Instructions - Unisex Boro Style Jean Jacket

I'm thrilled to announce that the Paganoonoo Boro-Style Jean Jacket upcycling instructions are now for sale!

This jacket was made in 2014 (original post) and proved to be extremely popular.  I've shared about it and made a few more versions, featured on the blog herehere, here and here.

Now you can make your own version following Paganoonoo upcycling instructions! 

The foundation is a kimono style waffle robe.  The jacket is built on top of the robe with light quilting holding the jean material to the robe. 
Sizing is a function of the robe size - anyone that kind find or make a robe that fits their torso the way they like can successfully fit this garment.  In addition to the robe, materials needed are a pile of old jeans, preferable in various shades and a plain leather belt with buckle.

The instructions walk you through:
Paganoonoo sets you up for success with clear instructions and abundant illustrations.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Paganoonoo Give Away - fantastic book on Couture Embellishment by Ellen Miller

Ellen Miller, author of Couture Embellishment
While I was in Solon Ohio shooting episodes of It's Sew Easy (airing summer 2018) I had the pleasure of meeting Ellen Miller.

She had copies of her book on Creating Couture Embellishment, and we were all in awe of the quality of the technical information and examples/illustrations.  

 I was already interested in incorporating more embellishment in my upcycling and am super excited to try these techniques.  I see embellishments as a terrific way to upcycle, with or without using deconstruction and reconstruction.

I believe Ellen's book will prove to be THE gold standard of couture embellishment techniques for decades to come. 
Chapters cover fabric-manipulation techniques of pleating, quilting, tucking, ruffling, shirring, and smocking, as well as the fabrication and application of feathers, beading, embroidery, flowers, decorative ribbons and bows, bias bindings and piping, fringe, braids, and passementerie. The heirloom quality created by the insertion or application of lace is also explored.
Featuring a visual index of every embellishment in the book that is designed to offer inspiration as well as showcasing the myriad of choice, Creating Couture Embellishment provides a comprehensive sourcebook of ideas for the student, professional, and home sewer alike.

 I bought a copy for myself and am thrilled with the opportunity study each page.  
Would you like your own copy?  Ellen was generous enough to offer a copy as a giveaway for Paganoonoo readers. 
On May 1, 2018 I will choose the lucky winner.  
Enter now by sending a quick note about why you would like to win a copy of this book.  Send it to michelle@paganoonoo.com or make a comment on this post. 

If you are not familiar with Paganoonoo it is a design house specializing in written instructions for upcycling existing clothing. "Upcycle Sewing Made Easy" is our motto. If you would like to find out more or sign up for the Paganoonoo mailing list (never shared or sold) go to www.paganoonoo.com and look on the upper right for Free Tips...
Example Paganoonoo Design and Instructions