Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Upcycle Sewing Pattern released by Paganoonoo on December 31, 2014. Happy New Year!

Another upcycle sewing pattern released on Etsy!  Check out the Ashlee Blouse Pattern, flattering on just about every figure type and oh so comfortable to wear.  Perfect with jeans, or make a dressy version. 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Coming soon, The Ashlee Blouse

I've been finalizing my next digital pattern, The Ashlee Blouse, and plan to publish within the week on my Etsy Store. The process of writing a pattern involves making up multiple versions of the garment, perfecting the techniques and steps needed to reproduce the design and then translating that information into illustrations and instructions. 

Upcycling doesn't involve using paper pattern pieces, as in sewing from flat fold fabric, instead it is is built on deconstruction and reconstruction of existing garments. 

One of the biggest advantages of this method is that sizing is self scaling, based on the starting garments.  Anyone that can find a collared dress shirt that fits the upper torso well can successfully make these patterns. 

pet peeve of sewers the world over is inadequate pattern instructions coupled with confusing & sparse diagrams. Paganoonoo patterns include detailed instructions and step-by-step illustrations to support newer and experienced sewers. Illustrations are on the left, so those with experience can skip right past the written instructions. 

Let's exercise our creativity and start a green sewing movement! 

Happy Upcycling,  


Coming Soon:

The Ashlee Blouse completed design

Monday, December 29, 2014

Published in Threads Magazine!

My Threads Magazine article on upcycling is published! The digital copy is available only with a Threads insider membership. Print should be on the shelf or in your mailbox soon. It's the February/March 2015 edition.


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Upcycled Christmas Skirt with Snowflakes

This year I made a new Christmas tree skirt from two pieces of velvet from my fabric stash.  As I was working on it I thought about my collection of vintage doilies and how much they look like snowflakes - ah ha!  Finally I knew what to do with the doilies - I made them snowflakes on the tree skirt : > .

Before next year I will make a pad to go underneath it so my "snowflakes" are not balancing on the sharp corners of the stand.   Merry Christmas!

My favorite family recipe for Christmas cookies, best frosted cookies ever

My grandmother made these cookies with me when I was little and my family still makes them every year.  Delicious with or without frosting!  Merry Christmas

Grandma Michelle’s  - Christmas Cut Out Cookies

  • ·      Heavy duty mixer
  • ·      Rolling pin
  • ·      Cookie cutters
  • ·      Large flat surface to roll on, or use a big cutting   board w/ a wet towel under it to keep it still
  • ·      Cookie Sheets, lined with parchment paper
  • ·      Rolling pin
  • ·      Plastic wrap
Ingredient List
·       5 sticks of butter (salted)
·       2 boxes of powdered sugar a.k.a. confectioners (not granulated), 1-lb each box
·       8 cups of flour
·       1 teaspoon (tsp) cinnamon
·       1 teaspoon (tsp) baking soda
·       ¼ cup milk
·       1 teaspoon vanilla
·       Sprinkles for decorating

Cookie Dough Directions
Start with room temperature butter, soft but not melted.
Using a heavy duty mixer,
·       Combine 1 lb butter and 1 lb powdered sugar until creamed
·       Add 4 eggs, and mix well
In a separate bowl,
·       Add 7 cups of flour, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp baking soda
·       Mix well
Add the flour to the mixer  ~ 1.5 cups at a time, mixing after each addition. The dough will be stiff.The dough needs to be refrigerated prior to rolling it out, so wrap it well in plastic wrap, and keep it up to 2 days in the fridge.  The dough also freezes well if precautions are taken to avoid freezer burn.
Rolling and Baking
·       Let the dough warm slightly.
·       Place a cup of flour in a shallow bowl & use it for dusting the dough and cookie cutters to prevent sticking.
·       Roll the dough out evenly, about 1/3” deep.  If cookies are different heights they will cook at different rates.
·       Bake at 350° until golden on the edges, ~ 11 minutes depending on thickness
Start with room temperature butter, soft but not melted.  Cookies must be cool before frosting.Using a mixer, cream butter and sugar.  Add vanilla.  Add a splash of milk at a time and mix. The frosting should be a bit stiff but spreadable.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Custom Blouse based on Paganoonoo Upcycling Sewing Pattern, #20 The Patti Blouse

 This blouse is a variation on the newly released upcycling pattern, The Patti Blouse by Paganoonoo on Etsy.  

The pattern covers every aspect of making this upcycled blouse, from making design decisions, sizing choices, selecting starting materials, with step-by-step instructions and illustrations for disassembly and reassembly of the ready to wear garments.

A flower adds extra interest to the decorative front band.
The new owner of this blouse is over 6 feet tall so the lower back section was made especially long.
The back was modified from the pattern to include an origami-like arrangement featuring a man's tie and on the left a collar point (sans button).

Happy Upcycling!  Michelle

P.S. - Buy currently released patterns here

90th birthday card pouch for Mrs. Glickfeld

Mrs. Glickfeld, mother of my dear friend Sandy, just celebrated her 90th birthday.

I made her a zippered card pouch for her birthday cards.  It was a great way to use scraps leftover from upcycling men's dress shirts. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Stockton Haute Couture Workshop - upcycled "Patti" blouse pattern, 01Nov14

A week ago I had the privilege of leading a workshop on upcycling men's shirts with ladies from the Stockton Haute Couture Societe

Our talented group selected coordinating shirts, chose color blocking schemes and began the process of disassembling and reassembling the shirts into a woman's blouse. As participants mail in photos of their completed work I will share them. 

Thank you to the Societie  for inviting me in to give a talk on upcycling and conduct a workshop! 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Mending, Boro and Katha

I've been pinning of pictures mending on Pinterest and am drawn to the beautiful texture created when holes and tears are mended.

Japanese "Boro" repaired kimonos

This evening I started worked on mending a pair of pants for a friend of mine.  She had not sewn in years and a couple months ago we made a date to go to fabric stores in San Francisco where she picked out a lovely textured two-layer black and cream silk at Britex (read $$$$.) She was ready to make her favorite pants pattern.

After wearing the pants several times my friend was very upset to find the fabric was shredding.  I asked her to bring them over so we could take a look at what was going on.  She had carefully hand washed the pants so it was not that.  We looked at the wear pattern which was mostly on the left "cheek" of the pants and a little further down that leg.

I remembered that my friend has a mesh seat with back support in her car.  The mesh was the culprit! When she twisted on that mesh to get out of the car the fabric was being abraded.

So... we had a conversation about mending the pants.  How she could consider the fabric in those pants as an evolving fabric, since given the delicate nature of the fabric it was likely to show more wear over time (even with the mesh seat covered for future car trips.) I mended the most abraded area with DMC embroidery floss using a running stitch in a manner similar to recycled Indian saris "Kantha" quilts and Japanese "Boro" mended kimonos (as pictured above.)  I also inherited the car seat : >.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Ladybug coat, Wearable Art Exhibit, Santa Clara California Oct 17,18,19

This morning I went to the Pacific International Quilt festival in Santa Clara, California.  In addition to outstanding quilts there is a small wearable art exhibit and one of the garments was so beautifully embellished I'm sharing it with you. 
I bought a scissors head band for Halloween which you 
can almost see if you look closely.
This jacket has great balance in the design 
and is stunning in person.  The detail work is meticulous.


In this one you can almost see that the red beads are all ladybugs, 2,000 ladybugs hand sewn on.
 Here is the artist.  Thank you Bayo Agbelekale for sharing your timelessly classic and beautiful work of art!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Write up in the paper "Top US Designer's Tips on New Clothes For Old"

While in England last month I had a chance to speak on Upcycling.  The lovely lady in the photo with me is Helen Silver, owner of Kaye's Textiles in Westcliff On Sea. She arranged for two sessions and we had a full house in both.  It seems the Brit's are keen on upcycling too!  We even got a writeup in the local paper.  
Helen and Roz took us for chips
by the sea between sessions. 
George enjoying some of Helen's humor,
or is it the other way around?
We discovered chip forks, a brilliant way
to eat hot chips without burning your fingers.
They remind me of wooden ice cream paddles
with sharp bits on the end. 

Thank you for everything Helen and family!  

Thank you to my dear friend Sandy
(Helen and Roz's cousin) for connecting us. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Radiant Orchid shirt in progress

Here are the shirts I collected  with, or harmonizing with, Radiant Orchid. 

What combination to use for my next up cycle shirt?

Here are some in-progress shots.  
The final version may look different.    : >

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Radiant Orchid and Alex

Alex at Goodwill in Campbell California
 I'm about to start on the third upcycled  shirt for the Threads Magazine article. 

 Since the article is coming out in January I want to have colors that look fresh, not Christmas or Fall colors.

 I checked, but the Pantone color for 2015 has not been announced, yet luckily there is a 2015 palette posted.
 I looked through my stash of 77+ shirts and was excited to find some Radiant Orchid, the color of the year for 2014 and still included in the 2015 palette.

The glitch is that Threads requested a small shirt and all of mine were XL.  Off to Goodwill Campbell CA.  I found 4 more shirts in Radiant Orchid!!  2 smalls! 

I was talking with Alex, the cashier, about upcycling because he commented on my upcycled jeans tote bag. He asked if I was an artist, I said yes I am, and I mentioned I was buying the shirts to use for my upcoming article.  Alex was ready to pose for the article and although he looks great in his Halloween costume we decided inclusion in a blog post was more of a sure thing.

Thank you Alex!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

For and against

I've been reading Your Logo Is Irrelevant by Michael  R. Drew.  He suggests that businesses define what they are for and what they are against. Hmmmm, I thought, and tried out various ways to express what I feel. These come close:

As a citizen of America I am against exporting the social injustices we fought against and won almost a century ago: child labor, unsafe working conditions & slave wages & devastatingly long working hours.  I am against exporting the environmental devastation we fought and won against decades ago: rampant contamination of water, soil, air and more.  I am against supporting and perpetuating these injustices through the import and purchase of ridiculously under-priced fast fashion built on the platform of unpaid social and environmental costs.  I am against fashion that is ill-fitting, ill-looking, shoddily made of poor materials that is good for nothing after a season of wear.  I am against a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear coupled with an itch to buy more.

I am for beautifully made fashion with a timeless quality, favorite pieces that are reached for again and again, clothing that lights you up and lights up those that see you. I am for looking great everyday, at every age, and every shape, being the walking work of art you are as you live each day, year, and decade of your life.  I am for supporting those who do business ethically, both socially and environmentally. I am for buying from and supporting artists and the gifts of beauty, innovation, inspiration and creativity they provide us all. I am for transforming the already existing abundance of fashion around us into new fashions, and that upcycling become a common way of thinking, a common way of life.

What are you for and against? 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Stylish Lady in Pink

 Sometimes I run into someone with a great sense of style and it always is such a treat.  
This beautiful lady was attending a community event with me a couple months ago and agreed to let me take a photo for this blog. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Thrifting for new shirts in SF - Goodwill near Japan Town

 I did a bit of thrifting in San Francisco and found this combination of grey and yellow inspired by Patti's birthday shirt.

The yellow and grey stripes look somehow dirty on their own but you should see how they glow when placed on top of the other two grey shirts.  
I also found a few other good choices.  The grey check has an especially soft hand.  

77 Shirts

 I'm about to start a sewing marathon. 

 I have created several patterns for upcycled shirts that I want to practice making.  

My goal is to speed up my turn time, work out any kinks, and then create a pattern I can sell (as well as the shirts.)

 I've collected quite a few men's shirts to make sure I have multiple choices in each color family.

I'm clearing out some shelves front and center in my studio so I'm inspired and called  to action by the neatly stacked 77 shirts the minute I walk in.

I'm estimating that I'll make ~30 upcycled shirts from the original 77.  Time for an Etsy store.