Thursday, September 19, 2019

Upcycled Jean Jacket

After attending a workshop with Christine Mayer (Into the Light) on Upcycling and Japanese draping I chose a new approach to upcycling a jean jacket.

Christine's silhouette is often a fitted bodice with roomier hips, one of my favorites.

I began with a traditional jean jacket, opened up the sides, and added bust darts.

I test pinned darts in place until they looked good.

Next step - contouring the back.

I cut vertically along the outsides of the center back panel and pulled in the looser bits, burying the extra under the center back panel.

Again, test fitting was the key to a good fit. I also ended up with one horizontal cut midway that allowed further contouring.

The bottom half of the jacket was draped using a few sets of LevisTM.  I chose an asymmetrical flared application banded with waistbands for the hem.

The variation in denim color is purposeful, as is the placement of the 3 labels in the back.

Because the bottom half is a combination of pieces the inside looked a bit messy.  I chose to line the bottom with quilting weight cotton.

I draped the selvedge edge long the waistband top, pinning it in place.  From there I smoothed out the fabric from the top to the sides and bottoms.  It is entirely hand stitched in place.

A couple folks have suggested they would like this added to the Paganoonoo collection of upcycle sewing instructions.  What do you think?

 View the current collection and find out more about upcycle sewing at 

Happy Upcycling!  Michelle

 Purchase Boro-Style Jacket upcycle sewing instructions here

Friday, September 6, 2019

2X Flannel Patti Blouse, Vintage Quilt Pockets and Accent

Paganoonoo Upcycle Sewing - Combo Flannel and Cutter Quilt Pocket
Paganoonoo Upcycle Sewing - Combo Flannel and Cutter Quilt Pocket 
Have you heard of "Cutter Quilts" - quilts that are in too bad a shape to use as a blanket, but still have some parts that are useable?  

I'm thankful that folks are offering them up for sale rather than tossing them. They are perfect for upcycled garment accents. I love that the hard work and craft put into them will be used up to the last scrap.

I've been making upcycled flannels for the rest of this year's shows. Looking to add a special accent I thought it would be a natural pairing to use old quilts for pockets and accents. They create the perfect garment for a fall or winter day. I imagine a crackling fire, good book, chili, cornbread, and a bit of rain or snow.
Paganoonoo Patti upcycled flannel with quilt pockets

The quilt I purchased on eBay had one fabric that disintegrated long before the other fabrics. Unfortunately for the owner the color (purple) was in huge bands all over the quilt. 

One or two fabrics disintegrating before the others seems to be a common problem in old quilts.

In this upcycled 
Paganoonoo Patti top the pockets were very prominent so I added a decorative band above the upper pocket for balance. The right section was almost shredded.  I used a fancy "random" stitch to anchor the layers down.

What looks like a hand blanket stitch from a distance is actually a machine stitch.  Although I would love to have stitched it all by hand, that labor would have priced the shirt out of market range.  I was very careful to keep the straight stitching off of the quilted bit yet keep it right near the edge.
P.S. Best bet to repair a quilt and have it look original?  Use an old apron that has been washed many times.  It will have that same softness and fading as the quilt.
Explore our upcycle sewing instructions. 
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Upcycle sewing is good for the planet and good for your budget!

Next time - When sweaters get moth holes they often get donated... after a good machine washing and drying they can be made into upcycled shirt panels. 

Friday, August 23, 2019

Old Thread, Bargain or Not?

Old Thread, Bargain or Not?

Old thread can come from many sources: gifted from someone, estate sales, thrifted, our own stash, etc..  Coming across a big stash of sewing thread can feel like finding a treasure.  But is it a good idea to pick up and use old thread?

I learned how old thread can be a problem from my sewing machine dealer/repair shop.  The owner told me that people often bring their machines in because the machine is "breaking the thread".  The first thing he does is put new thread in the bobbin and through the top - why?  Because a good percentage of the time it is not the machine at all, it is brittle old thread. 

Exactly how old does thread have to be to qualify as "old"? Wooden spool, yes. If it is older than 4 years it should be suspect.  Stored in sunlight?  Even less time. 

Just because it is old, is it bad?  How can you tell? The SNAP test is the best way to tell.  Grab the end of the thread securely (like using dental floss) with about 8" of thread between hands. Bring your hands together and then quickly pull them apart bringing the thread taut in a snap. If it breaks, it is brittle and likely to break in the machine or during use. Consider limiting it to hand basting functions or other non-stress applications.

Once I learned that old thread posed a risk to use I went through every bit of my thread stash.  I had 28 year old neon thread from the early 90's (made florescent M.C. Hammer pants for my toddler), brittle, along with virtually all my serger thread and a hefty percentage of my stash thread.  Tossed it all. 

Now I make sure I purchase good quality thread to begin with and store it carefully, out of sunlight. When someone offers me old thread, I politely say no thank you and share the reason why.

See a demo of how to do the snap test in this Paganoonoo video tip.

In summary:

There are notions that are great thrifting - find out more in this video tip, also featuring Michelle Paganini, courtesy of It's Sew Easy TV.

Love thrifting and upcycling clothing?  You will want to visit and find out more about Paganoonoo's upcycle sewing instructions!

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Upcycled Embellished Children's Jean Jackets

Jean jackets are such a classic.  And tiny jean jackets are irresistible.  

I've been collecting children's overalls and jean jackets and am starting to experiment with embellishing them.

I volunteer at a wonderful thrift store in Los Gatos, CA called the Happy Dragon.  

The ladies doing the sorting know I upcycle.  One of them saved a very well loved baby blanket destined for the rag bag thinking I could do something with it.

She was right!  Although the blanket itself was not in good shape it had chenille like motifs that were still looking good.  I fussy cut the motifs off of the blanket.  Difficult to sew on because of thickness I actually glued it on with fabric glue (still machine washable).  It is secure but I will anchor it on with some thread tacks just in case. 

With this next child's jacket I used parts from a pair of cargo shorts for a more rugged look.  The challenging part was editing the number, size, and placement of the accents.  The jacket itself has so many design details and seams that my focus was accenting rather than altering the garment.
 It was tempting to want to add more!  I'm glad I stopped and let it rest for a bit.  I like it just as is.

I offer upcycling instructions for home sewers through my company, Paganoonoo.
One of the designs is a kimono style jean jacket made from parts of jeans using a waffle style robe as a base.
The instructions walk you through design decisions about placements of light, medium, darks, the size and shape of the pieces used, etc.

Once the planning is done, the instructions cover construction techniques.  You create  your own an art-to-wear garment!  These are customer interpretations of the design:
Paganoonoo Boro Jacket
designed by Evan

Paganoonoo Boro Jacket
designed by Trudy Smith
Make your own version!
Visit our Etsy Shop.
       Happy upcycling!  Michelle

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Upcycled Patti Blouse Planning Sheet - what colors will you use?

Hi,  I'm Michelle Paganini, upcycle fashion sewing guru and owner of Paganoonoo.

People new to upcycle sewing often ask which Paganoonoo design I recommend starting with and the answer is the Patti.  It is easy to sew, easy to fit, and is flattering on every figure type.

If you have successfully sewn a garment from a pattern you can make a Patti by following our upcycle sewing instructions.

Building a Patti starts with selecting three dress shirts, one of which fits you well in the chest, arms and shoulders.  The other two shirts will be cut up (deconstructed) and portions will be added back onto the shirt that fits just right, creating an entirely new silhouette. Alternatively, the back panel can be made with other garments, such as skirts, or with flat fold cloth.
One of the best parts of upcycling?  The sleeves have already been set, the placket is already done with buttonholes sewn, buttons attached, and the collar and collar point are complete before you even start!  This is truly simple sewing.

By using various color schemes the Patti can work for any season.  The flannel and denim version above is perfect for fall and winter.

The fuchsia and apple green version evokes spring.

One combination is subdued and the other commands attention.

Choosing attractive and flattering color combinations can be tricky.

In Michelle's short video, she gives practical and easily applied tips for successfully combining patterns and colors.

Also revealed, the one color that looks great on everyone.

LOL, no it is not black. The answer will surprise you.

While you are at the Paganoonoo YouTube channel check out the other free upcycle sewing tips.

Once you have the colors tips, use this planning sheet to test out various color combinations!

Get started now! Purchase your Patti pattern at the Etsy Store.
Paganoonoo Patti upcycled
blouse. Made from flannel
shirts and flat fold cloth lower back.

Paganoonoo Patti upcycled
blouse. Made from flannel
shirts and flat fold cloth lower back.

Paganoonoo Patti upcycled
blouse. Made from flannel
shirts and flat fold cloth lower back.
Paganoonoo Patti upcycled
blouse.  Made from flannel
shirts and flat fold cloth lower back.

 So many possible combinations! 

Customer Marlene Randall in her version of the
Paganoonoo Patti blouse

Another super flattering version! The sewist is from Alaska if I remember correctly.



One more customer creation. 

I adore the collar treatment!

Paganoonoo Patti upcycled blouse.
Upcycle sewing made simple
Paganoonoo Patti upcycled blouse.
Upcycle sewing made simple.
I made this version out of an anime button down shirt and a skirt.  My friend Cynthia is modeling it.

This talented customer added an inverted pleat in the center of the lower back panel.  With the collar buttoned all the way up and a cluster of necklaces I think the overall effect is quite elegant.

What will yours look like?

Happy Upcycling! 



Find everything you need to know about upcycle sewing with Paganoonoo instructions: