Saturday, January 25, 2020

Refashion Runway 2020, Week 1: Statement Sleeves by Michelle Paganini / Pattern Hack for Paganoonoo "Patti"

Every SATURDAY during the contest, starting January 25, 2020, a new challenge week will begin. There will be a winner each week, based on votes (like yours) 50%, and 50% judges choice.  You can vote for your favorites 
Hello, I am Michelle Paganini.  You may already know me from Paganoonoo, or appearances on the syndicated PBS TV show It's Sew Easy, or my upcycle sewing YouTube tips.

Lucky me! I juried into Refashion Runway hosted by Beth Huntington. It is an online 6 week challenge to refashion with the emphasis for each week selected in advance, much like Project Runway. Week one's challenge is "Statement Sleeves".

One of the things I am really enjoying about participating in this challenge is that it has me focus on projects that I would not normally have selected.

My initial thought for the sleeve challenge was to be literal (given that I am a nerd engineering type with lipstick) and stamp an actual statement on a sleeve.  I pulled out my turn-of-the-last-century alphabet stamp set and tested it with a fabric ink pad.  I even looked up some quotes to consider. Decided to save that approach for another day.

To find out what I did watch this video and/or read below:

Next I turned to my ever growing collection of vintage linens.  What if I used some lace and beautiful pieces to embellish a sleeve?  A classic men's dress shirt is one of my favorite mediums to upcycle. I selected a thrifted solid-color light-gray shirt so the color play between the shirt and the embellishments would be subtle, and the lace/linens details noticeable without competition from a print. (Click here for my video tip on color and pattern selection.)

My experience with men's shirts is that when I remove the cuff, the sleeve length is just shy of full length.  Also because the pleat is released from the cuff, the sleeve bottom becomes a bit wider.  After removing the cuff and looking at the result, I wanted even more flare.  Solution?  Add a godet in the sleeve placket using the cuff corner, as seen in the picture above.  Space for a second godet was created by making a pinked cut along the underarm seam and inserting the other cuff corner as seen in the picture below.

With the addition of the godets the ends of the sleeves now had a bell shape with a raw pinked edge.  I underlined the cuff with vintage lace, making the length a perfect long sleeve. Using what was left of the lace, I edged the collar, creating balance with the sleeves.

To finish the "statement" part of the embellishment, I selected two identically styled but different shaped doilies, a rectangle and an oval. They were too delicate to look nice with machine stitching (and difficult to access with a machine), so I hand stitched them in place.
The shirt fit my bust, but would not button across my hips/belly, a typical problem for my pear shaped figure.  I now had a button down shirt with a feminine sleeves and collar but not a very feminine bodice 

Solution? I turned to my favorite upcycle sewing design, the Paganoonoo Patti, and added a swing back to the garment. A thrifted pajama top of soft lightweight cotton provided the perfect fabric to create the back panel, with the bonus of an existing hem!  The bottom of the shirt now flared out for a much more feminine silhouette.

The front of the shirt now had the right silhouette, but was out of balance with the embellished sleeves and collar, needing a more feminine touch. It had been silkscreened with a few white overlapping circles in a workshop I took with Holly Badgley at PenWAG (Peninsula Wearable Arts Guild, Campbell, CA), but that was not quite enough.  I added a collection of mis-matched non-functional buttons on the placket.  Perfection!

The Paganoonoo Patti design is my favorite, simple and elegant, with plenty of hip and belly room.  I am in love with with this sweetly feminine "Statement Sleeve" version.  

I hope you love it too and vote for my entry!
What's coming in the next weeks?  

2) 1970’s - A tough one even though I lived through them, lol, then...

3) Faux Fur,  4) Small to Large, 5) Southwest, and 6) Kentucky Derby Hats.

P.P.S.  Find out more about Michelle and shop Paganoonoo upcycle sewing designs at 

P.P.S.  Create simple upcycle sewing projects with free video tips!  I show you how to add a double color to a dress shirt, combine color and pattern with confidence, shorten sleeves to ¾ and add a decorative cuff, and more!  Register for free today!

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Refashion Runway 2020 Contestant! Michelle Paganini

After 5 years creating upcycled designs for Paganoonoo and translating them into sewing instructions for other stitchers, I’ve developed a tool box of techniques. I love all my designs and see them as classics with an arty twist. I love that Paganoonoo designs flatter all types of figures.  

If you don't know me from Paganoonoo, you may know me from appearances on “It’s Sew Easy” a syndicated PBS TV show or my own YouTube video sewing tips. More info at 

And, as with many artists, I crave time to create, and explore new perspectives. Lucky me! I juried into Refashion Runway hosted by Beth Huntington. It is an online 6 week challenge to refashion, with the emphasis for each week selected in advance, much like Project Runway. There are 15 contestants!  If you would like to see previous seasons, check out Beth’s retrospective post. 

Whether you call it refashioning, upcycling, or something else, creating new fashions out of existing clothing makes sense for the budget and for the planet. Bonus factor - creativity!  I enjoy the challenge of working with 3D garments and the opportunity for creative problem solving and experimentation.

We will start with 1) Statement Sleeves, then follow with  2) 1970’s, 3) Faux Fur,  4) Small to Large, 5) Southwest, and 6) Kentucky Derby Hats.  

For me growth occurs mostly when I'm in the uncomfortable place of facing the unknown and acting anyway, risking looking foolish. As a previously self declared "Upcycle Sewing Guru" with quite a bit of experience, I'm both confident and fearful - how embarrassing would it be to wash out early?  How great would it be to do well and develop new skills? 

Flop, survive, or thrive - I'm in with 14 other talented ladies.  Shout out to my friend and fellow contestant Diane Sladowski, who creates amazing upcycle denim pieces. 

Do I hope you love my designs? Yes! Would I love your support? Yes!   

There will be a winner each week, based on votes (like yours) 50%, and 50% judges choice.  You can vote for your favorites at starting January 25, 2020.

P.S. speaking of sleeves - I have a free video tip on how to add a turned cuff to a dress shirt.  Great for making ¾ sleeves!

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Thoughts on the New Year, 2020, reflections on 2019

For me, every new year is informed by what happened the year before.  Here are some of the highlights I've been thinking about from 2019:
  • Paganoonoo was started 5 years ago!  My article in Threads Magazine came out in very early 2015. Many patterns and shows later, along with It's Sew Easy TV appearances, Paganoonoo is still going strong. I remain passionate about upcycling.
  • George and I had a harrowing trip in the snow to get to the Puyallup, WA, Sewing and Stitchery Expo in March.  We ran into a 60 year storm right around Ashland Oregon and made it over the Siskiyou pass literally minutes before it was shut down.  After being taken in for the night by angels in human form we gratefully completed the trek, safe and sound. As usual, it was a treat to be with everyone at the Expo.

    • I retired from my 40 year career in Medical Devices in June, after spending the last 17 years as an expert consultant on FDA's Quality System Requirements (21CFR 820 for fellow nerds.)  I am grateful for the skills I learned that serve me very well in running Paganoonoo.  It was a privilege to work in an industry that makes a positive difference for people in need. After 5 years running two businesses in parallel I am grateful to have just one to manage.
    • Paganoonoo Ready2wear (Etsy) was launched to sell upcycled garments. I really wanted to use the extra time after I retired to do more sewing.  Online sales have not worked so far, in person sales have been much better.  Loved the sewing time!!!
    • After a break in producing Paganoonoo video tips, we have started again.  Feedback has been terrific.  George is great at filming and I am honing my editing skills. I've had a long term goal of opening an online upcycle sewing school and still plan to make it happen.  Look for another TV appearance on It's Sew Easy, releasing in March.
    • I was on the board of 2 non-profits, my wearable art guild, www., and  Both great causes and a bit related to sewing, upcycling, creating, saving things from the landfill.
    • Episodes of depression and anxiety are part of my life.  Overloading myself is not particularly helpful.  It helps when I keep in place the practices I know to do that make a difference.  Frustration and wishing it away is not effective.  
    Thoughts going into 2020:

    I've been reflecting on what is most important to me, and how I want to allocate my time and energy.  A friend talked with me about using the following filters to focus for 2020:
    • What do I value?  What do I want to get out of life? What gives me energy/ juice?
    • What is already operating and "in motion" in my life?  Do I still wish to participate?  How much time/ energy do I want to invest? What do I want to Add/ Change/ Delete?
    • When things are being Added, Changed, Deleted what does that transition look like? 
    In the process of 2020 planning, and there are some things that have become clear.
    • The opportunity to create is extremely important to me. I am looking forward to taking a Surface Design Sabbatical starting in March!  For some years I have been wanting to explore upcycling not just through deconstruction and reconstruction, but also through surface design, so allocating this time is a dream come true. 
    • There have been hints of this passion with my button accents.  I've been inspired by the work of #TessaPerlow, a masterful embroiderer, among others. I plan to embroider, paint, stencil, stamp, applique, button, bead, write, etc. using existing garments as a foundation. I anticipate that this sabbatical will provide me with exponential growth and joy!  Timeframe?  6 month minimum, possibly longer.
    What changes in the transition? 

    I am structuring my life to bring in as much creative energy as possible.

    This is a purposeful strategy to create abundant joy, and to help manage episodes of depression and anxiety.  By the way, it seems to me that for many people there is a correlation between creativity and depression/anxiety.  I would not trade my creativity for ANYTHING, including removal of depression/anxiety.

    Room/ time needs to be made, and I am not fully clear yet exactly how this will happen, except for the following:
    • PaganoonooReady2Wear online will be on hold for now. There will be a blow out sale for existing garments, in person and perhaps Facebook - I need studio space!
    • Developing new Paganoonoo instructions is on hold during the sabbatical.
    • I am considering the possibility of turning over the management of Paganoonoo's day-to-day administration to someone else during the sabbatical.
    • Paganoonoo will do very few shows in 2020.  We will not be at Puyallup, WA for the Expo this year (I will miss you all!).  Will do:
              1) Road To California in Ontario, CA in a few weeks (end January) and 
              2) Canada College's Artistry in Fashion in September 2020
    • I will to do very few teaching gigs other than my commitment for PenWag's October Meeting (Campbell, CA)
    • I will to continue to produce video tips.  I love to share with you want to continue to hone my editing skills!  
    • I will take some workshops from others!  Let me know of opportunities...
    • I will make time to visit and create with friends! Part of this will include "art" parties in person and online (time to learn how Facebook Live works).
    • I will continue on the PenWAG board, this year as the 2020 Speaker Coordinator and program planning for 2021.  
    P.S. I will be a participant in the online "Project Refashion 2020" challenge.  Online hosted by the Renegade Seamstress. Starting in a couple weeks!!! 
      Thank you for being in the upcycling game and life game with me!  I am grateful for you all.  It doesn't matter if you are creative, or creative in the same way that I am.  Artists need admirers and patrons, as we need relationships with people with a myriad of skills we (I) lack and admire (like those of you good at math and staying organized.) 

      What are you thinking about keeping, adding or deleting in 2020?

      As always, you can purchase Paganoonoo Upcycle Sewing Instructions at