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 

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 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 and look on the upper right for Free Tips...
Example Paganoonoo Design and Instructions

Thursday, March 8, 2018

"Sandy" blouse by Sharan in grey and light burgundy

Upcycling = Adding value to existing goods (like fashion) through the use of labor, materials and creativity. (c) Paganoonoo

Sharan in her newly upcycled Paganoonoo "Sandy" Blouse.  This design is made with three dress shirts, disassembled and reassembled into a new design following Paganoonoo instructions.
I met Sharan at the Sewing and Stitchery Expo in Puyallup Washington. She was immediately noticeable because of her great sense of style.  

I was thrilled when she selected the Paganoonoo "Sandy" blouse instructions and then sent photos of her first Paganoonoo upcycle. 

Sharan did a beautiful job with fit, construction and color selection.

She followed the instructions to create a high / low hemline and a cuff on 3/4 sleeves.

 The back follows the instructions exactly.  Note the upside down sleeve at the hem. 
Here Sharan stayed with the 3 circles in varying sizes motif, but modified the arrangement.  I quite like it! Close ups of the circle appliques:

The key to fitting this blouse is to start with a dress shirt that fits your upper body - any sized person who can find a dress shirt that fits their shoulder, arms and bust they way they like can successfully fit this pattern.   

Extra room is added in the hip area so if that area is a bit tight on the base shirt it is okay.


Make your own upcycled Sandy Blouse today! Paganoonoo upcycling instructions are available on Etsy

Happy Upcycling!   Michelle

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