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There is something wonderful about the feel of linen, a bit crisp & soft all at the same time, especially when using a worn-in 2nd hand garment.  When I ran across this robin's egg blue button-down I knew it would be perfect for a summer version of the upcycled Patti blouse. 

I looked through my stash of thrifted garments (about 220, lol) I found another garment, a skirt, of seersucker, another quintessential summer fabric.  Lucky me, it was a perfect color match. Kind of ironic that one fabric wrinkles if you only look at it and the other simply will not wrinkle.
I added a full length section of the skirt on the back - no hemming and the waistband formed the back band - simple sewing!  There was one issue, when I tried it on the shirt looked unbalanced with such a long back compared to the original shirt hem length in the front. (did not take a photo at this step)

I thought adding a layer underneath the shirt's front hem, matched up to the length of the back would look nice and give a "tunic" vibe.

Lucky me I had another skirt in almost polished cotton paisley with a perfect color palette. What are the odds?

I cut a strip from the bottom of the skirt so I could use the existing hem as the hem on the Patti.  I underpinned it to the front of the Patti until a had a match on both sides and top stitched it in place.

I wanted a couple more elements for embellishment.  There is a pink polo pony and rider emblem embroidered on the front of the shirt.  Picking it out would leave a hole.  I opted to cover it with a Paganoonoo Judy Flower made from the bit of the linen shirt cut away from the back.  Subtle and classic.  It did need a bit of color so I added mother-of-pearl/ mixed buttons and bugle beads to the center and attached it with a large safety pin.


Now for the back.  I'd purchased some marvelous beetle fabric from flowerscapes on Spoonflower and was tickled that the color on one of the beetles was perfect for an accent.  This particular beetle was from the edge of the fabric so was partially cut off.  I used it as-is and with placement that suggests it is crawling out from under the yoke. 

I paired the tunic with a pair of linen bloomers made from vintage linen table cloth and a Tina Givens pattern (slightly altered). My new favorite summer outfit!

It has been entered in the Pattern Review Thrifted Contest, if you are a member you can cast a vote until May 12, 2019.

P.S. the shoes are Born oxfords painted "Sassyfeet" style with Jaquards Lumiere paints.  Yes, they work perfectly on leather! No I do not get anything from posting this.

****

Purchase the Patti upcycle sewing instructions on Etsy.

Find out more about Paganoonoo upcycle sewing instructions and methods:

Join the Paganoonoo mailing list, never sold or shared, and:
  • See new example garments, 
  • Get links to upcycle video tips
  • Get notifications about sales
  • Hear about new patterns
  • Get event info 
  • and more!
More posts on Patti Shirts:







Happy upcycling!  

Michelle




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I have come to love hand sewing.  It is sometimes quicker and more precise than machine stitching. I put in all my zippers by hand now, rather than redoing them three times by machine and trying to get it right. 

V-neck shirts are far easier to get balanced when that last critical bit is finished by hand.  Mending  gets done by hand. 

Very fine fabrics are good candidates for hand stitching both to retain a soft hand and so that the fabric is not damaged in case a seam needs to be redone.

There are a few things that come to mind when I think about how hand sewing has become such an indispensable method for me.  There are also pitfalls to hand sewing that have proven solutions.  In this series of posts I will cover best practices and strategies.

Getting started:

Choose the correct size needle for the project 
A good guide to needles and their uses: https://www.jjneedles.com/needles-guide (I'm not affiliated or receiving anything)

An invaluable tool is a needle threader.  

The most inexpensive type has a very thin folded wire that is inserted through the needle eye, threaded, and then is used to pull the thread through the needle eye.       





Use a good brand of strong thread. 
If thread is fuzzy / slubby is is not likely to be good quality.  Old thread can become quite brittle, especially if it is exposed to sunlight. Do "snap" test for strength - pull hard on a length of the thread and see if it snaps in two.  If it does, use with extreme caution, perhaps only for basting, and generally not in a sewing machine.  Cheap thread can also be prone to breakage.
Match your thread to fabric.
 There are multiple weights of thread. Most hand sewing is done with a poly or poly blend thread found in any sewing shop.  Generally speaking the heavier the fabric, the heavier the thread.

This manufacturer has information on recommended use: https://consumer.guetermann.com/en/products/sewing-threads-accessories and a downloadable guide https://consumer.guetermann.com/en/downloads (I'm not affiliated)

How much thread to use? Prep the thread (optional)  
Use a length from your hand to your elbow, no longer, or the thread is more prone to tangling.

To prevent tangling, hand sewing guru Natalie Chanin, founder of Alabama Chanin, says you should "love up" your thread.  Run the thread though your fingers repeatedly so that the thread is smoothed by the oils in your fingers and tension is released.  The thread can also be run through a lump of beeswax and then ironed (to remove excess wax) or use a commercial thread lubricant.

Threading the hand sewing needle:
Cut a clean edge on the end of the thread (critical!). Repeat as necessary.


Lick the eye of the needle (be careful). The moisture helps to draw the thread through the needle eye. Alternatively, run the end of the thread through your mouth.

Hold the thread so that just a little tip shows between your fingers.  Push the needle onto the thread (instead of the thread though the needle). When just a bit of thread has gone through the needle, grab it and pull.

If these things fail, recut the end of the thread and try again. Also try using a threader as mentioned above.

This older book is an excellent source for hand sewing techniques from one of the queens of couture sewing, Susan Khalje:
More posts to come:
  • Knotting the thread
  • Sewing with a single strand
  • Sewing with a double strand
  • What to do when the thread twists/knots up 
  • What to do when the thread gets a loop
  • What to do when the thread knots are impossible to fix
  • When to stop stitching and finish off the thread
  • What to do when running out of thread
  • Running stitch
  • Back Stitch
  • Hem stitch
  • Blind stitch
  • Blanket stitch
  • Prick stitch
  • Example: zipper installation by hand
Michelle is an upcycle sewing guru and designer for Paganoonoo, publisher of upcycle sewing instructions.  www.paganoonoo.com 
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I adore the process of transforming old clothing into new fashions.  The hunt for garments to upcycle, choosing the garment design, deconstruction and reconstruction of the starting garments, and the compliments on the finished product!  

There are times when I want to take my upcycled garments into the arty /playful side, or into the realm of art-to-wear.  Embellishing is an ideal way to achieve these goals.

I've found that one of my favorite methods of embellishment is adding button accents. Many of us have collections of odd buttons waiting to be put to good use.  Mine are sorted by color and stored in thrifted glass containers.

Recently I upcycled a Perry Ellis man's 3/4 length winter coat to a vest.  It is wonderfully warm but looked a bit dull.  I embellished it with large abalone (dark) mother-of-pearl buttons which turned it into wearable art.
Here is my artist friend Cathryn Cooper wearing the vest.
One of Cathryn's paintings is right behind her.  

Many of the buttons were too large for practical use, and they make a stunning accent on this vest. I sewed them all on by hand (yes by hand) and the wool is so thick I was able to bury the threads so no stitching shows on the inside.  

A close up of Cathryn Cooper wearing the upcycled vest
 embellished with dark mother-of-pearl buttons
See more of Cathryn's art here.


The buttons I used for closures had no shanks so I made thread shanks to give them enough clearance to fit through the thick fabric. This piece is one of my favorites and will be featured in an episode of "It's Sew Easy" due to release in fall 2019.  See my upcycle sewing video tips here.

At the Puyallup Sewing Expo one of the attendees, Leland, tried on the vest too, proving it is magical as it looks good on everyone! The vest is my most artful piece to date.

One of my most popular upcycle sewing patterns, the Patti blouse, looks fabulous with button clusters on the front placket.   
Even the dullest buttons look great when brightly colored thread is used to attach them.
White buttons on a dark background stand out.  The crow was hand drawn by Cathryn.

Buttons bridge the placket gap between the circles on this playful child's shirt.



Three clustered buttons add interest and bring out the teal/green elements of the shirt.
Leftover flannel scraps used to make a circle scarf. Nine buttons decorate a pocket, three of them are functional.

When I am gifted or purchase used buttons I give them a sudsy bath.  The water is often surprisingly dirty.  I dry the buttons on an old kitchen towel.  This allows me to spot any that rust so I can toss them.


What will you do with your button collection?
 Happy sewing!  Happy upcycling!  Michelle

Find out more about upcycle sewing at www.paganoonoo.com.  
Join the Paganoonoo Upcycle Sewing Group on Facebook. 
Sign up for the Paganoonoo mailing list (never sold or shared). 

Shop Paganoonoo upcycle sewing instructions on Etsy.

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It's almost the end of 2018, a great year.  

I'm still wildly enthusiastic about upcycle sewing.  Upcycling in general too!

I plan to continue my upcycle sewing business, Paganoonoo,  selling upcycle sewing instructions on Etsy and at shows, giving workshops, and creating video tips.

I have been reflecting on the business, and things accomplished this year:
  • Transformed one more room into the house to exclusive Paganoonoo space (thank you George)
  • released video tips
and more, of course, plus those things I said would happen but did not, the two top of mind include: 
  • Video classes - huge learning curve! 
  • Workspaces kept clean (intermittent)

    Looking forward - what to do and not do in 2019? These things are clear:
    • Video classes are on hold, they are a huge time commitment I am not willing to make right now.  This was a tough call, but spending quite a bit of time this year and still not being ready to create classes influenced my decision to take a break.
    • Explore more surface design upcycling
    • Make more garments for sale.  I love to sew and would like to get back to more of what I love.  Look for garments in the Etsy shop and at events.
    Yesterday I started in on the surface design exploration with this pair of old Levi 501's:

    I did a bit of free motion stitching, added
     fabric pen circles, a hand sketched crow by Cathryn Cooper wrapped with nubby yarn, a few fabric bits, a black leather patch and some buttons:


     

    To add the embellishments I opened up the non-felled leg seam.  When I was done I turned the pants inside out and resewed the seam together.
    It has been a fun project! If you are interested, the measurements are: waist 35", front rise 11", inseam 28"
    My wish for you in 2019 is that your creativity flow and your muse be ever present. 

    Happy New Year!

    For more info on Paganoonoo and upcycle sewing visit www.paganoonoo.com
    To shop Paganoonoo visit www.etsy.com/shop/paganoonoo
    To join our mailing list click here
    To see video tips and It's Sew Easy episodes with Michelle click here
    To be inspired by Michelle's Pinterest boards click here
    For Michelle's Instagram feed click here
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    There is a terrific resource in San Francisco:


    I've had the pleasure of visiting and the space is superb. There is a huge collection of reference books, many examples on the wall, and inspiration abounds!  An abundance of classes are available.
    I'm impressed with and supportive of their Vision, Mission and Values: 
    Please join me at the Needlework School on January 9th for a "Lunch and Learn" presentation.  Details below:
    Bonus - they are directly next to Tiffanys (several floors up) on Union Square.
    And just a few blocks from the new Britex Fabrics building.

    If going to San Francisco is not in the cards for you, 
    I will be presenting* in Puyallup at the 
    Sewing and Stitchery Expo in March 2019.  

    *On the Free Stage all 4 days!




    I may also be coming to a Sewing Guild near you soon.
    To get notifications, join the Paganoonoo mailing list, never sold or shared, and:
    • See new example garments, 
    • Get links to upcycle video tips
    • Get notifications about sales
    • Hear about new patterns
    • Get event info... and more!
    To arrange a workshop and/or talk for your group or organization please contact me at michelle@paganoonoo.com.

    More about upcycle sewing and Paganoonoo at www.paganoonoo.com.

    Happy Upcycling! Michelle
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    Paganoonoo specializes in a new kind of sewing:
    • It is easy sewing because the designs are based on starting with already made second hand garments - so the tough parts: plackets, collar stands, collars, buttonholes, are already sewn!  If you have sewn a garment successfully you can sew this pattern.
    • The resulting garment is:
      • eco-friendly
      • good on the budget
    • It is also easy to get a perfect fit - just by starting with a garment that already fits your shoulder, bust and upper arms the way you like. Everything else is loose fitting. Getting a custom fit is that easy for everyone from a XXS to 3X or larger.
    A great place to get started is with Paganoonoo's easiest to make and most versatile design, the Patti blouse. A traditional dress shirt is modified to add a back panel, creating abundant hip and belly room.  The resulting blouse is magical, it looks great on every figure type, and it gently skims the body rather than straining anywhere.  The loosely pleated back panel provides an opportunity to mix fabric colors or patterns for interest.
     

    How do Paganoonoo sewing instructions work?  The instructions walk you through the process of cutting up the garments and sewing pieces back together. There are no pattern pieces to pin.  Technical illustrations and instructions walk you through every step of deconstruction and reconstruction.  If you have successfully sewn an garment in the past you can make the Paganoonoo Patti!


    This shirt was embellished with
    a spray of buttons on the front placket
    Get started today! Instructions are available as a PDF (download and print yourself for $16) or by direct mail (sent to your address in the US $22).  Order from the Paganoonoo Etsy shop.  Includes a free Judy Flower pattern!
      
    Happy Upcycling! 

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    It's Here!!
    Starting Thursday, Oct 11:

    4 days: October 11-14 at the Santa Clara, California, Convention Center

    Not a quilter?  Go anyway if you are interested in art, in sewing, in wearable art.
    This show is outstanding.  The quilts are jaw dropping works of art. There is a wearable art contest with all the entries on display.  Raffles abound.
    I bought my sewing machine at this show and there are tools and notions for garment sewers.
    Paganoonoo (booth 824) is introducing a brand new pattern for children, the Kendra top/tunic.  It is made using a child's dress shirt as the base, and the rest can be made from another dress shirt or two, or flat fold fabric from your stash.

    I've had a blast making samples, as you can see below.  The garment lends itself to embellishment, such as the appliqued heart, and patches and buttons on other shirts.

    This version was made starting with the yellow dress shirt.  The solid purple is from a second adult dress shirt.  The other three fabrics, including the striped band, are stash materials.  The striped flowered fabric is one I have had for at least 30 years if not longer!  I used some of the last little bits here.  The small circle is covering a stain.

    This version was made starting with the small red plaid dress shirt.  The fabric on the lower back was left over from an adult shirt upcycle.  The band is stash fabric and features the front tab closure option with a red button. I could not resist the "See Jane run?" fabric as those are the exact readers I used in school.  



     
     


    This royal blue version was made using all children's dress shirts.  The back section has a button placket because the front of a second shirt was used to create the lower back panel.  The empire waist band is also made out of plackets.


    Also made from all children's dress shirts, this version features a front tab closure.  The back panel is made from two sleeves bracketing a piece of the same fabric that has been is topped with a bit of a placket.  A bit easier to see in the illustration above. Using sleeves makes it obvious that the shirt is upcycled.
     
     This version is the one I selected for the pattern cover.  It is made primarily from two children's shirts.  The band is a placket from an adult dress shirt.  The sleeve scrap is from my stash.  The patch on the back band is from other one of the sample shirts.  The button are all mismatched from my button stash.  I love the way they frame the center of the band.
    The pattern will be available online (Etsy store) after the show, on Tuesday 10/16.

     Several folks have mentioned they would like to see upcycle patterns for boys too.  I'm working on it!

    Another bit of fun... flannels.  It is that time of year and I made a whole bunch of "Patti" flannels for Artistry in Fashion.  They just about sold out.  I will be bringing a collection of uncut flannels for you to purchase at PIQF, along with patterns, of course.

    I've been increasingly interested in using surface embellishments as a form of upcycling.  Here are some of the results on flannels:


     

    The lions are cut outs from damaged quilts.  I love that the useable parts get salvaged, honoring the women who made them.

    Hope to see you at the show!  Come by wearing your Paganoonoo and get 20% off and a handful of cards to give out to the people who admire your one-of-a-kind upcycle!

    Happy Upcycling,

    Michelle
    Upcycle Sewing Made Simple


    P. S.  If you would like to be on the Paganoonoo e-mail 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.
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    Earth Day 2018:

    Hello, 

    My name is Michelle Paganini and Paganoonoo is my company.  I'm on a mission have all sewers on the planet try upcycling and have a successful experience.

    What, Michelle, you may say, is upcycling and what does it have to do with sewing?

    Upcycling is one of the ways we can be kind to the earth.  It is an excellent way to use the resources that we have already developed and leverage them for re-use: 

    Upcycle (up-si-kel): To improve existing goods (such as clothing) through the use of labor, materials, and creativity.In upcycle sewing, pre-owned clothing is used for raw materials rather than flat fold fabric. The fashion industry is the 2nd largest polluting industry on the planet!  By re-using existing clothing, rather than throwing it away, we meet that goal of best using existing resources.

    Here are my top 10 reasons
    all sewers should include upcycling in their toolbox:
     

    10 - When you start with existing clothing (v.s. flat fold cloth), the characteristics of the fabric is readily apparent - the amount it wrinkles, pills, snags, runs, creases, etc.   Existing garments are already pre-cleaned, so there should be no surprise shrinkage.

    9 - The quality of a garment's fabric and construction can be quite good, men's shirts are a terrific example.

    8 - It is cheap! Using second hand clothing is far less expensive than using flat fold cloth.  Source from local thrift stores, e-bay, garage/yard sales, flea markets, second hand clothing exchanges, etc.  Use clothing you already have and don't wear, but love, to make something useable. 

    7 - Sewing mistakes with thrifted clothes? You haven't lost much money.  Consider it a learning experience.  You can afford to experiment.

    6 - Often times simple changes transform a garment into something desirable. New buttons, added pockets, embellishment with fabric paint or stamping, raise or lower a hem, etc. 

    5 - The tough bits are often already sewn for you (like with dress shirts - collars, collar stands, plackets, buttonholes) making the sewing easier.

    4 - You've lost a loved one and want to make something out of their clothing, for you or other family members.  It will be like getting a hug from them every time you wear it.

    3 - You are curvy and/or a baby boomer and it is hard to find clothes that fit your body the way you would like - there is no room for hips, bellies, and booties!  Or you are petite or tall and can't find a good fit.

    2 - Bragging rights.  You will have something no one else has, a unique creation.  When people compliment you, it is a chance to spread the word about upcycling. 

    1 - Fashion is the second largest polluting industry on the planet.  The average American throws away (not donates) 68lbs of textiles annually. Repurposing our existing clothes makes good environmental sense.  We, as sewers, have magical skills we can put to good use to help green fashion.


    Now that you are excited about upcycle sewing... please know that I've developed upcycling instructions that will help ensure that your upcycle sewing experience is successful....

    Top 10 reasons to use Paganoonoo instructions to make your upcycle sewing simpler:

    10 - There is no need to print pattern pieces, Paganoonoo upcycling is accomplished through deconstruction and reconstruction. The illustrated instructions are on standard 8.5" by 11" printer paper.

    9 - Adjusting for height (short or tall) is easily done with the Paganoonoo Ashlee, Michelle, Noel, Peggy, and Rebecca designs, while still using the existing garment hems.  All of these design feature an empire waist.

    8 -  Paganoonoo garments are specifically designed to be flattering for curvy ladies and baby boomers.They feature  high/low hems and are super complimentary, gliding over the body. Paganoonoo has got you covered!      

    7 - Easier sewing: Most of Paganoonoo's designs are based on dress shirts.  The quality of fabric and construction in men's shirts is generally quite good. The tough bits are already sewn for you (like collars, collar stands, plackets, buttonholes). 

    6 - With Paganoonoo designs you get a custom fit by starting with a garment that fits your bust and shoulders the way you like. Everything under the armhole is a loose fit so there is room for hips, bellies, and booties.

    5 - Serious bragging rights! You will have something no one else has, a unique creation, noticeably different than retail clothing. Compliments = chance to spread the word about upcycling.

    4 - Our garments are timeless classics with an arty twist. They can easily be upgraded into the art-to-wear realm through artful color blocking, addition of machine embroidery, use of reverse applique, use of existing features like button plackets for trim, etc.

    3 - Abundant illustrations. Upcycle sewing is the process of garment deconstruction and reconstruction.  Our illustrations capture what the garments look like as they are being deconstructed and reconstructed.

    2 - Detailed instructions.  Paganoonoo instructions work through the processes step by step and in alignment with the illustrations.  Techniques are explained, pitfalls are outlined, recommendations are made, choices are outlined, etc. 

    1 - Upcycle sewing is a whole new ball game.  Wouldn't you like a guided tour?  You may be able to recreate Paganoonoo's designs, but using our instructions will save you boatloads of time and aggravation. We have set you up for success.  
    Start upcycle sewing today!!!  

    Paganoonoo patterns are available in our Etsy Store.



    Examples of some of our designs:







    Happy Upcycling!!!

    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.
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    Join Michelle Paganini, upcycle sewing guru, and learn how with a few simple cuts and one seam you can turn a small or medium t-shirt into a market bag!

    These bags make a great gifts, and are the perfect item for a school fundraiser. Replace the plastic bags with upcycled t-shirt bags!  Super easy sewing project.

    Paganoonoo Sewing Tip: Market bag from a t-shirt! - YouTube





















    Paganoonoo designs upcycled clothing too! Explore our upcycled garment sewing instructions... www.paganoonoo.com
    We make upcycle sewing simple. 


    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.
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    Paganoonoo sets you up for upcycle sewing success... with our step-by-step illustrated instructions.

    We take the guesswork out of how to get started, and show you how to get a great fit.


    Customers say: 
    "Very unique with easy to understand instructions."  
    "Very well explained. As expected." 
    "Great design with lovely clear instructions." 
    "Another fabulous design, every up-cycle sewist should by one." 
    "Made my first blouse with this pattern (Patti) and was very happy with it. Easy to follow directions and good tips."

    4 out of 5 stars"Very unique with easy to understand instructions...thanks!" Jul 8, 2018
    Happy Upcycling!

    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.

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