Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Paganoonoo Patti - Tunic length for summer in linen & cotton

There is something wonderful about the feel of linen; a bit crisp and soft all at the same time, especially when using a worn-in 2nd hand garment.  When I ran across this robin's egg blue button-down I knew it would be perfect for a summer version of the upcycled Patti blouse. 

I looked through my stash of thrifted garments (about 220, lol) and found a seersucker skirt, another quintessential summer fabric.  Lucky me, it was a perfect color match. Kind of ironic that one fabric wrinkles if you only look at it and the other simply will not wrinkle.
I added a full-length section of the skirt on the back - no hemming and the waistband formed the back band - simple sewing!  There was one issue, when I tried on the shirt it looked unbalanced with such a long back compared to the original shirt hem length in the front. (Did not take a photo at this step)

I thought adding a layer underneath the shirt's front hem, matched up to the length of the back would look nice and give a "tunic" vibe.

Lucky me, I had another skirt in almost polished cotton paisley with a perfect color palette. What are the odds?

I cut a strip from the bottom of the skirt so I could use the existing hem as the hem on the Patti.  I underpinned it to the front of the Patti until a had a match on both sides and top stitched it in place. Perfection, except...

There is a pink polo pony and rider emblem embroidered on the front of the shirt.  Picking it out would leave a hole so I looked for another way.

I opted to cover it with a Paganoonoo Judy Flower made from the bit of the linen shirt cut away from the back.  Subtle and classic.

It did need a bit of color so I added mother-of-pearl/ mixed buttons and bugle beads to the center and attached it with a large safety pin.

These fabric flowers are easy to make and work well for gifts.

And the finishing touch...
 I'd purchased some marvelous beetle fabric from Flowerscapes on Spoonflower and was tickled that one of the beetles  was perfect for an accent.  This particular beetle was from the edge of the fabric so was partially cut off.  I used it as-is and with placement that suggests it is crawling out from under the yoke. 

I paired the tunic with a pair of linen bloomers made from vintage linen table cloth and a Tina Givens pattern (slightly altered). My new favorite summer outfit!

It has been entered in the Pattern Review Thrifted Contest, if you are a member you can cast a vote until May 12, 2019! 

P.S. the shoes are Born oxfords painted "Sassyfeet" style with Jaquard's Lumiere paints.  Yes, they work perfectly on leather! No I do not get anything from them for posting this.


Make your own! Purchase the Patti upcycle sewing instructions on Etsy.

Find out more about Paganoonoo upcycle sewing instructions and methods:

Join the Paganoonoo mailing list, never sold or shared, and:
  • See new example garments, 
  • Get links to upcycle video tips
  • Get notifications about sales
  • Hear about new patterns
  • Get event info 
  • and more!
More posts on Patti Shirts:

Happy upcycling!  


Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Hand Sewing - basics to get started, Part 1

I have come to love hand sewing.  It is sometimes quicker and more precise than machine stitching. 

I put in all my zippers by hand now, rather than redoing them three times by machine and trying to get it right. 

V-neck shirts are far easier to get balanced when that last critical bit is finished by hand.  Mending  gets done by hand. 

Very fine fabrics are good candidates for hand stitching both to retain a soft hand and so that the fabric is not damaged in case a seam needs to be redone.

There are a few things that come to mind when I think about how hand sewing has become such an indispensable method for me.  There are also pitfalls to hand sewing that have proven solutions.  In this series of posts I will cover best practices and strategies.

Getting started:

Choose the correct size needle for the project 
A good guide to needles and their uses: https://www.jjneedles.com/needles-guide (I'm not affiliated or receiving anything)

An invaluable tool is a needle threader.  

The most inexpensive type has a very thin folded wire that is inserted through the needle eye, threaded, and then is used to pull the thread through the needle eye.       

Use a good brand of strong thread. 
If thread is fuzzy / slubby is is not likely to be good quality.  Old thread can become quite brittle, especially if it is exposed to sunlight. Do "snap" test for strength - pull hard on a length of the thread and see if it snaps in two.  If it does, use with extreme caution, perhaps only for basting, and generally not in a sewing machine.  Cheap thread can also be prone to breakage.
Match your thread to fabric.
 There are multiple weights of thread. Most hand sewing is done with a poly or poly blend thread found in any sewing shop.  Generally speaking the heavier the fabric, the heavier the thread.

This manufacturer has information on recommended use: https://consumer.guetermann.com/en/products/sewing-threads-accessories and a downloadable guide https://consumer.guetermann.com/en/downloads (I'm not affiliated)

How much thread to use? Prep the thread (optional)  
Use a length from your hand to your elbow, no longer, or the thread is more prone to tangling.

To prevent tangling, hand sewing guru Natalie Chanin, founder of Alabama Chanin, says you should "love up" your thread.  Run the thread though your fingers repeatedly so that the thread is smoothed by the oils in your fingers and tension is released.  The thread can also be run through a lump of beeswax and then ironed (to remove excess wax) or use a commercial thread lubricant.

Threading the hand sewing needle:
Cut a clean edge on the end of the thread (critical!). Repeat as necessary.

Lick the eye of the needle (be careful). The moisture helps to draw the thread through the needle eye. Alternatively, run the end of the thread through your mouth.

Hold the thread so that just a little tip shows between your fingers.  Push the needle onto the thread (instead of the thread though the needle). When just a bit of thread has gone through the needle, grab it and pull.

If these things fail, recut the end of the thread and try again. Also try using a threader as mentioned above.

This older book is an excellent source for hand sewing techniques from one of the queens of couture sewing, Susan Khalje:
More posts to come:
  • Knotting the thread
  • Sewing with a single strand
  • Sewing with a double strand
  • What to do when the thread twists/knots up 
  • What to do when the thread gets a loop
  • What to do when the thread knots are impossible to fix
  • When to stop stitching and finish off the thread
  • What to do when running out of thread
  • Running stitch
  • Back Stitch
  • Hem stitch
  • Blind stitch
  • Blanket stitch
  • Prick stitch
  • Example: zipper installation by hand
Michelle is an upcycle sewing guru and designer for Paganoonoo, publisher of upcycle sewing instructions.  www.paganoonoo.com 

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Upcycle Sewing: Embellishing Garments With Buttons

I adore the process of transforming old clothing into new fashions.  The hunt for garments to upcycle, choosing the garment design, deconstruction and reconstruction of the starting garments, and the compliments on the finished product!  

There are times when I want to take my upcycled garments into the arty /playful side, or into the realm of art-to-wear.  Embellishing is an ideal way to achieve these goals.

I've found that one of my favorite methods of embellishment is adding button accents. Many of us have collections of odd buttons waiting to be put to good use.  Mine are sorted by color and stored in thrifted glass containers.

Recently I upcycled a Perry Ellis man's 3/4 length winter coat to a vest.  It is wonderfully warm but looked a bit dull.  I embellished it with large abalone (dark) mother-of-pearl buttons which turned it into wearable art.
Here is my artist friend Cathryn Cooper wearing the vest.
One of Cathryn's paintings is right behind her.  

Many of the buttons were too large for practical use, and they make a stunning accent on this vest. I sewed them all on by hand (yes by hand) and the wool is so thick I was able to bury the threads so no stitching shows on the inside.  

A close up of Cathryn Cooper wearing the upcycled vest
 embellished with dark mother-of-pearl buttons
See more of Cathryn's art here.

The buttons I used for closures had no shanks so I made thread shanks to give them enough clearance to fit through the thick fabric. This piece is one of my favorites and will be featured in an episode of "It's Sew Easy" due to release in fall 2019.  See my upcycle sewing video tips here.

At the Puyallup Sewing Expo one of the attendees, Leland, tried on the vest too, proving it is magical as it looks good on everyone! The vest is my most artful piece to date.

One of my most popular upcycle sewing patterns, the Patti blouse, looks fabulous with button clusters on the front placket.   
Even the dullest buttons look great when brightly colored thread is used to attach them.
White buttons on a dark background stand out.  The crow was hand drawn by Cathryn.

Buttons bridge the placket gap between the circles on this playful child's shirt.

The circle was made from scraps of fabric attached to a fabric base with free-motion stitching.  I ironed the scraps flat and layered them with overlapping raw edges.  The free-motion stitching was done in random circular motions, starting at the center of a scrap and working towards the edges.  I did enough stitching to cover all raw edges at 1/4" - 1/3" intervals, then stitched all around the edge and used pinking shears leaving the raw edges. I love the playful the color and pattern combinations!
Look for an upcoming 2019 episode of It's Sew Easy TV (syndicated on local U.S. PBS stations) where I detail this technique.  My currently released upcycle sewing videos are on the Paganoonoo YouTube channel

Three clustered buttons add interest and bring out the teal/green elements of the shirt.
Leftover flannel scraps used to make a circle scarf. Nine buttons decorate a pocket, three of them are functional.

When I am gifted or purchase used buttons I give them a sudsy bath.  The water is often surprisingly dirty.  I dry the buttons on an old kitchen towel.  This allows me to spot any that rust so I can toss them.

What will you do with your button collection?
 Happy sewing!  Happy upcycling!  Michelle

Find out more about upcycle sewing at www.paganoonoo.com.  
Join the Paganoonoo Upcycle Sewing Group on Facebook. 
Sign up for the Paganoonoo mailing list (never sold or shared). 

Shop Paganoonoo upcycle sewing instructions on Etsy.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Year end 2018 and Upcycling 501's with embellishments

It's almost the end of 2018, a great year.  

I'm still wildly enthusiastic about upcycle sewing.  Upcycling in general too!

I plan to continue my upcycle sewing business, Paganoonoo,  selling upcycle sewing instructions on Etsy and at shows, giving workshops, and creating video tips.

I have been reflecting on the business, and things accomplished this year:
  • Learned how to use Procreate and Canva to create ads and graphics
  • Increased sales (60% on Etsy!)
  • Made garments to sell (wildly successful)
  • Collaboration with another artist - Cathryn Cooper
  • Released 3 more patterns
  • Transformed one more room into the house to exclusive Paganoonoo space (thank you George)
  • released video tips
and more, of course, plus those things I said would happen but did not, the two top of mind include: 
  • Video classes - huge learning curve! 
  • Workspaces kept clean (intermittent)

Looking forward - what to do and not do in 2019? These things are clear:
  • Video classes are on hold, they are a huge time commitment I am not willing to make right now.  This was a tough call, but spending quite a bit of time this year and still not being ready to create classes influenced my decision to take a break.
  • Explore more surface design upcycling
  • Make more garments for sale.  I love to sew and would like to get back to more of what I love.  Look for garments in the Etsy shop and at events.
Yesterday I started in on the surface design exploration with this pair of old Levi 501's:

I did a bit of free motion stitching, added
 fabric pen circles, a hand sketched crow by Cathryn Cooper wrapped with nubby yarn, a few fabric bits, a black leather patch and some buttons:


To add the embellishments I opened up the non-felled leg seam.  When I was done I turned the pants inside out and resewed the seam together.
It has been a fun project! If you are interested, the measurements are: waist 35", front rise 11", inseam 28"
My daughter-in-law modeling
Too big for her but they still look pretty good!

My wish for you in 2019 is that your creativity flow and your muse be ever present. Happy New Year! Michelle
For more info on Paganoonoo and upcycle sewing visit www.paganoonoo.com
To shop Paganoonoo visit www.etsy.com/shop/paganoonoo
To join our mailing list click here
To see video tips and It's Sew Easy episodes with Michelle click here
To be inspired by Michelle's Pinterest boards click here
For Michelle's Instagram feed click here

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

There is a terrific resource in San Francisco:

I've had the pleasure of visiting and the space is superb. There is a huge collection of reference books, many examples on the wall, and inspiration abounds!  An abundance of classes are available.
I'm impressed with and supportive of their Vision, Mission and Values: 
Please join me at the Needlework School on January 9th for a "Lunch and Learn" presentation.  Details below:
Bonus - they are directly next to Tiffanys (several floors up) on Union Square.
And just a few blocks from the new Britex Fabrics building.

If going to San Francisco is not in the cards for you, 
I will be presenting* in Puyallup at the 
Sewing and Stitchery Expo in March 2019.  

*On the Free Stage all 4 days!

I may also be coming to a Sewing Guild near you soon.
To get notifications, join the Paganoonoo mailing list, never sold or shared, and:
  • See new example garments, 
  • Get links to upcycle video tips
  • Get notifications about sales
  • Hear about new patterns
  • Get event info... and more!
To arrange a workshop and/or talk for your group or organization please contact me at michelle@paganoonoo.com.

More about upcycle sewing and Paganoonoo at www.paganoonoo.com.

Happy Upcycling! Michelle

Friday, November 16, 2018

Sew a new favorite upcycled flannel - Paganoonoo Patti style

Paganoonoo Patti upcycled
blouse features a
loose-hip and high/low hem
Paganoonoo specializes in a new kind of sewing, upcycled. Upcycling is kind of like recycling (using materials again) except in upcycling the material value is upgraded.  Time, materials and/or labor are used to make a change that increases the value beyond that of the starting material.  

For example, when a parts of a thrifted plain flannel shirt are added to two other shirts - the new design is more desirable (valuable) than the original shirts.
Paganoonoo Patti design
Made from a flannel shirt,
shirt placket & tie-dye cloth
Paganoonoo Patti upcycled blouse has a loose fit at the hip.
Upcycle your favorite flannel!

  Upcycle sewing is done using primarily existing garments as the starting materials instead of flat cloth.  

It is eco-friendly and good on the budget
  • You get a perfect fit - just by starting with a garment that already fits your shoulder, bust and upper arms the way you like. 
  • Everything below the bust is transformed into a loose fit.
  • Getting a custom fit is that easy for everyone from a XXS to 3X or larger.
A great place to get started is with Paganoonoo's easiest to make and most versatile design, the Patti blouse
Paganoonoo Patti blouse made from
3 flannel shirts. Loose hip fit. High low hem
Paganoonoo Patti blouse made
from 3 flannel shirts. Spray
of decorative buttons on the placket.
Paganoonoo Patti blouse made from
3 flannel shirts. Loose hip fit. High low he
A traditional dress shirt is modified to add a back panel, creating abundant hip and belly room.  The resulting blouse is magical, it looks great on every figure type, and it gently skims the body rather than straining anywhere.  

The loosely pleated back panel provides an opportunity to mix fabric colors or patterns for interest.

Paganoonoo Patti blouse made
from 3 flannel shirts. Loose hip fit.

How do Paganoonoo sewing instructions work?  The instructions walk you through the process of cutting up the garments and sewing pieces back together. There are no pattern pieces to pin.  Technical illustrations and instructions walk you through every step of deconstruction and reconstruction.  If you have successfully sewn a garment in the past you can make the Paganoonoo Patti!

This Patti blouse was embellished with
a spray of buttons on the front placket
With Paganoonoo instructions you are set up for success!

Get started upcycling today - instructions are available from the Paganoonoo Etsy shop

Purchase a:


Happy Upcycling! 


P.P.S.  Michelle's free upcycling video tips

Colors and patterns: https://youtu.be/4-pGp4-zmgk
Reverse appliqué: https://youtu.be/pl9jXDMmXBA 
Thrifted Notions: https://youtu.be/CkDNpavrnpU
Vintage Linen Gifts: https://youtu.be/8r92e0_81cI