Sunday, December 31, 2017

Guest Blogger and Upcycler: Emajane Pixie Rainbow!

I ran across Emajane's work on Pinterest and love it.  Her work is very different from mine, more whimsical (as one might guess from her name.)  I also checked out her work on Etsy and am super impressed. I asked her to write a guest blog post and share her work and she said yes! 

Emajane Pixie Rainbow: 
My creative journey began as a small child when I was taught in my early years to sew. Continuing to teach myself and develop my creative skills, I believe that there are some paths that become our life purpose.

I design and create Whimsical Eco Friendly Wearable and Useable Art. 

All my designs are created and made by myself. I am a self taught artist / designer, and I create all my own patterns for these garments, bags and accessories.
I first became inspired to customise and upcycle my own clothing during my teenage years, back in the 1980's... I found this to be a perfect way in which I could combine my love for creating and experimenting with my own personal self expression. I was asked many times where I bought my clothes... but at this point in my life I didn't know that one day I would be creating a business and making clothes for others...!! 

When I became a mum I proceeded to make clothing for my children, I found such an importance in reusing what we already had. During my early adult life I found myself making dance costumes for the stage and theatre, only to move back into designing clothes again... which I have found to be my true passion. 

As I got older I used to ask myself why adult clothing couldn't be as playful as children's...?! I wanted to create designs in which we can all express our playful, fun and quirky personalities no matter what age we are.
The clothing, bags and accessories are all made from preloved garments - knitwear, cashmere, wool, denim jeans, corduroy, tweed, tartans, checks and any other wonderful materials that I might find. I adore bringing a new life to unwanted items, using the process of recycling and upcycling. 

There are an enormous amount of wonderful preloved clothing that I discover. 

I source this clothing from Recycled Clothing Banks, Thrift Stores, Charity Shops and sometimes I receive pieces from friends. The appliqué fabric art designs I create are from using the left over scraps pieces from my clothing creations, so nothing goes to waste. 
These designs are all made with the importance of longevity implemented into each item, ensuring that they are made to last. Each creation that I make is a unique one of a kind piece of art, both wearable and useable. I make each design in a playful and whimsical style... including an element of quirkiness with a unique twist, which I feel gives each item a personality of it's own... whilst still ensuring that are comfortable and practical to wear and use. 
The Inspirations for my designs come from the beautiful surrounding landscapes where I live, nature, my love of folk art and folklore, whimsical themes and anything else that is a little bit different...Oh and of course " Colours '' with the limitless choices and endless combinations, each colour when put together sets the theme for each design.
Feeling very blessed to be living with my Husband in Carmarthenshire, South West Wales in the United Kingdom. A beautiful part of the UK, where I have been selling my clothing locally for sometime. I began receiving many requests to ask if I would sell online and an Etsy Shop seemed the perfect way to offer the opportunity for everyone to purchase my creations.
When we create with LoVe... we bring JoY into the World...


Thank you Emma Jane for sharing your journey!

Happy upcycling to all!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Version 3 of the "Noel" dress design, New Years Eve Glitter!

For those of you who do not already know me, I'm Michelle Paganini and I run an upcycled fashion design company, Paganoonoo.  This post is about a upcycled dress design under development.

This version of the Paganoonoo "Noel dress is upcycled from a dark gray chambray dress shirt and sparkly sweaters, following the the same basic design as the previous versions:
Holiday Version,
Light Gray Version.  
I've always been drawn to the sparkly clothes, beaded, sequined, metallic, but I knew I wouldn't wear them - until now that is!

I was thinking of New Years Eve when I picked up the sparkly sweaters.

I took it with me to visit my family in North Carolina. They loved it!

My mother and sister introduced me to their favorite local artist, Lucy Clark, who makes exquisite pottery and jewelry.

As we were admiring each other's work I asked her if she would like to try on my dress.

Once I saw it on Lucy we both knew it belonged on her (see starting photo.)

Long story short I now have some of Lucy's original work and she has the dress!  We are both very happy.  More of Lucy in the dress:


The Noel dress instructions will release by the first week in March, 2018 at the latest and then you can make your own version!

Sign up for our mailing list on (the "free gift" button) to be notified.

Start your upcycle sewing adventure today! Shop currently released Paganoonoo design here.
Happy Upcycling!  Michelle

Sewing and Stitchery Expo Catalog Released - Puyallup, WA, USA March 1-4, 2018

The largest national sewing show in the United States is coming up quickly.  If you've never been, I can tell you it is HUGE and amazing.  People and groups come to Puyallup, Washington from all across the country and the world.  There multiple classes every day, booths of every sewing related item you can imagine, and fashion shows!

Paganoonoo will have a booth again for the third year. It is a delight to be with so many like-minded people, see old & new friends, and meet Facebook buddies in person!  I will have the privilege of teaching 3 classes, 2 on Wednesday 2/28 (before the vendor floor opens up), and will have a trunk show on the free stage all 4 days. Registration opens up in January.
Access the catalog here.

Class details:

I hope to see you there and in class!  Get 10% off when you stop by the booth wearing your Paganoonoo creation.

Happy Upcycling!


Can't wait for the Expo?  Shop Paganoonoo now!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Michelle online - It's Sew through December 15th only!

One of my It's Sew Easy episodes is airing on the net though Dec 15th.  Go to to view it.  They've invited me back for next year too - yeah!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Holiday Cut Out Cookie Recipe - Paganoonoo

My Grandmother Luff's cutout cookie recipe is the best I have ever tasted.  We make them every year and it is my fondest holiday tradition!  Theses beauties were made by my grandchildren last year.

What Michelle, you may say, does this have to do with upcycled fashion?  Not much. However, there is an opportunity to upcycle...

As the children and grandchildren grow and move out I've been making them cookie kits - the recipe, thrifted (and cleaned) cookie cutters - aprons - oven mitts, all packed in a shoebox or large glass jar so they can carry on the tradition.  I share this with you so you can not only make the cookies but make these gifts for others.

Grandma Luff's Christmas Roll Out Cookies

·       Heavy duty mixer (the dough is stiff)
·       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, optionally lined with parchment paper
·       Rolling pin
·       Plastic wrap

Ingredient List
·       4  sticks of salted butter (1 lb)
·       1lb box of powdered sugar a.k.a. confectioners sugar
·       7 cups of flour
·       4 eggs
·       1 teaspoon cinnamon
·       1 teaspoon baking soda
·       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, a
  • 7 cups of flour, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp baking soda

Mix well*
Note*: 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.  
  • Divide it into rectangular wedges (like a deck of cards) about 5" x 4" x 1" and wrap it well in plastic wrap. and refrigerate at least 5 hours and up to 2 days.  

The dough also freezes well if precautions are taken to avoid freezer burn, thaw in the refrigerator only.
Rolling and Baking
Place a cup of flour in a shallow bowl & use it for dusting the rolling surface, dough, rolling pin and cookie cutters to prevent sticking
Let the dough warm slightly
Lightly dust the rolling area with flour
Roll the dough out evenly, about 1/3” deep.  Roll in one direction and them the other with gently pressure so the dough doesn't crack.
Note: If cookies are varying heights they cook at different rates
Cut out the cookies with dusted cookie cutters
Place cookies on a (optional: parchment lined) cookie sheet with enough room between to allow for some expansion.
Bake at 350° until golden on the edges, ~ 11 minutes depending on thickness
Lay cookies on wax paper to cool 

1 lb powdered sugar
1 cube (1/4 lb) salted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup milk to start.
Start with room temperature butter, soft but not melted.  
Cookies must be cooled off to room temp before frosting.
Using a mixer cream butter and sugar.  Add vanilla.  Add a splash of milk at a time and mix until the frosting is a little thick but still spreadable.  It's really hard to come back from adding too much milk!

Spread frosting on cookies and sprinkle right away - do this over a cookie tray to catch sprinkles.

Allow the frosting to dry completely if you are going to stack them and layer in wax paper if possible.

I hope you enjoy them as much as we have.  

Happy Holidays!

Michelle Paganini

P.S. if you sew, check out the rest of my blog to learn about Paganoonoo's upcycle sewing instructions. 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Noel Dress - Holiday version with Reindeer applique

For those of you who do not already know me, I'm Michelle Paganini and I run an upcycled fashion design company, Paganoonoo.  This post is about a upcycled dress design under development.
Continuing from the first "Noel" post, here is prototype #2. 

This time I decided I wanted a cheery red dress.  

After combing through my dress shirt stash and several trips to the thrift store I had 5 shirts in matching reds.

I love the pattern and color combinations and it certainly looks cheery.

This is the finished dress.  I was all dolled up as we went to a winery and then out to lunch.

Here is the in-process version.  Test pinning the placement of various patterns / colors helps to maintain balance in the design.  I also tried out a couple hemline lengths and choose knee length again.  

Because the bottom of the dress retains original shirt hems it is curvy, dipping at the shirt tails and rising at the side seams.  In the first picture you can see I chose to wear a petticoat for full knee coverage.
  I made mistakes galore even though I had the original dress in the room for reference. I cut all the way through the front placket, forgetting that on the original dress it stops shy.  After having carefully matching the colors on 5 dress shirts there was no giving up.  Pressing onward, a quick zig-zag and the two pieces were back together.  As always, I stuck myself and bled, marking the garment with a bit of DNA.  BTW your own spit will remove your bloodstain. On to major mistake number two.
I accidentally cut a huge hole in the back panel, darn!  Because the cut is in a single layer of fabric it needed backing before using a multi-step zig zag closure.  The backing prevents strain on the top fabric which would pull apart during use and laundering. There was red thread in the top and yellow in the bobbin making the repair stitching quite visible on the backside. 

Shhh, the repair still looks like this but no one has noticed.
Back to that accidental cut across the placket... I'm always looking for a way to make mistakes into features.  I had purchased reindeer made from a cutter quilt (one too badly damaged to use as a quilt) and was planning to add them to scarves, however they made the perfect (festive) mistake cover-up and add so much charm to the dress. Sewn on by hand, they can be removed at the end of the season and sewn back on next holiday season.

Last but not least these upcycled shoes were painted red following the method.  With new red shoelaces they are the perfect accent.

Look for release of "Noel" dress upcycling instructions in the new year.  In the meantime I will be making a few more examples (before starting in on illustrations and writing instructions) and will post them on the blog and Facebook. Follow Paganoonoo on FacebookInstagram, and Pinterest, and Michelle on Facebook.

See a New Years Eve silver version here.

To receive a free tip sheet and be notified of new releases please join our mailing list.   

Start upcycle sewing today!  Join the Paganoonoo Upcycle Sewing Group on Facebook.  Released Instructions (PDF and hard copy) are for sale in the Etsy Store.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

New Paganoonoo design: the "Noel" dress


For those of you who do not already know me, I'm Michelle Paganini and I run an upcycled fashion design company, Paganoonoo.  

Being a Jill-of-all trades, I not only develop upcycled fashion designs and write patterns/instructions, I handle most other aspects of the business too.  

This means spending much of my time doing things other than designing (like writing blog entries.)

Don't get me wrong, I love, love, love what I do.  And, sometimes I need to stop doing administrative type activities and design something new to re-energize myself, regardless of what is on my to-do list.  

This is how the "Noel" design was developed.  One day I craved something new, comfortable (for me a dress), super cute and from my favorite garments for upcycling - men's shirts.

I went in the studio and started draping on my dress form, looking to make something different than my previous designs.  
No pictures taken along the way as I didn't know how it would turn out.   

I LOVE the results!  I find myself wanting to wear this dress every day.  It's comfortable, flattering, feminine.  I love the color blocking and the fact that I used pre-hemmed pieces for most of the color blocking.  
The hem is scalloped because the dress shirt bottoms are curved higher on the sides.  

With the longer pieces in the front about knee high some of the up-curves felt too short for me.

Adding a white sleeveless lace-hemmed summer dress underneath to act as a petticoat makes for an even overall hemline. Perfect!

One bit was really short so it was filled in with lace that's been in my stash since the movie Out of Africa was released, LOL

Super pleased with the results and compliments I received when wearing it out in public, it became clear that this design would be a great addition to the Paganoonoo collection. 

The process of developing written and illustrated upcycling is lengthy (outlined in this post), and begins with making enough prototypes to develop consistent and efficient methods for producing the same results.  

See a red holiday version in this post.
See a silver New Years version in this post.

Happy upcycling!

Start upcycling today
with already released
Paganoonoo upcycling instructions! 

 To link to other Paganoonoo Social Media
or join the mailing list (never shared!) click here.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Upcycled Boro Style Jean Jacket #2, Part 2

I'm continuing to develop upcycling instructions for this jacket design.  
This is where the last post left off...
Michelle Paganini working on her upcycled boro style jean jacket.
The light section is too large

Bias cut denim
With me contemplating the back of the jacket and starting to make adjustments to create a better balance of lights, mediums, and darks.  The original back had a very large light blue section and it was just too much.
I added more dark sections on the right side and continued to create the collar by wrapping bias pieces around the collar band.
Here is the inside.  As you can see the collar bands don't necessarily wrap neatly to the inside.  This can be fixed later and at the end I will use bias tape to finish the edge on the inside.
In the sequence below I am experimenting with  various light dark combinations.
Not my favorite,  doesn't seem flattering.
I like the circle better but it seems too small.
I like the larger circle and it seems like the balance could be even better.  The focus is a bit top heavy with most of the darker section on the top half of the garment.  Great if you want to emphasize shoulders but that is not my goal.  I had intended that this garment work for a woman who prefers more of an hourglass curvy type of design emphasis.
This is the final configuration I chose.  I like the circles almost "appearing" out of the arrow shape above.  I like the graduated size of the circles, smaller to larger, and angled to one side, mimicking a waist to hip transition.
I sewed the circles on by stitching around each one three times.  It looks arty and keeps the process easy as there is no need to try to get a single stitch line just perfect.  
Final version #2 of Paganoonoo's upcycled boro style jean jacket: 3/4 Back View.  The balance looks fantastic from this angle!
I added on a closure by cutting up a man's belt and sewing it on using a jean needle and going very, very slowly.  It skipped in a couple places so I brought thread up from underneath by hand to pull it back down again. Also left beginning and ending threads super long so I could bring them to the back by hand secure them.
Final version #2 of Paganoonoo's upcycled boro style jean jacket: Front View
Final version #2 of Paganoonoo's upcycled boro style jean jacket: Back View.
A couple friends agreed to model.


Thank you Claire and Barb! 

The cycle for developing upcycling instructions / patterns for sale starts with 1) an idea / new design and then 2) 3-5 prototypes until I've developed consistent and reproducible methods, then 3) photographs of each step, 4) turned into line illustrations, 5) written instructions, 6) proofing, 7) pattern testing, etc.  As you can imagine it takes months to complete the cycle.  My commitment is that when you purchase Paganoonoo designs, you have been set up for success!

On to #3 and #4, I already have two more waffle robes lined up, one blue and one Kermit the frog green, LOL. 

March 2018 update:
Upcycling instructions now available for this jacket!!

Happy Upcycling,

Start upcycling today
with  Paganoonoo upcycling instructions!

To link to other Paganoonoo Social Media click here.

P.S. If you would like to be on the Paganoonoo mailing list, never sold or shared, and see new example garments, get links to my video tips, hear about sales, new patterns and events, please click here.