If you are sitting in your sewing studio and you are working on a wonderful garment, you simply cannot do without good lighting. Most seamstresses have their sewing machine on a table in front of the window. And they have a large extra lamp on the desk or a fluorescent tube above the sewing machine. Fortunately, the sewing machine itself also has a built-in light. You can hardly have enough light!
But how do we sew as economically as possible?
We have already written a lot about sustainability and saving money. There are many tips & tricks and 'best buys' on this website. Sewing is a wonderful hobby, but sometimes it is not easy to buy all the things you need. If you want to make clothes for yourself, interior items or Cosplay costumes for your children, you need at least fabrics, threads, linings, buttons etc. etc. and a sewing machine....
We love to 'spot' cheap stuff, we love to discover useful tips and we love to keep our ears and eyes wide open. Therefore, especially for you, our the best tips & tricks!
If you love fabrics ánd if you know how to relaxed, you probably love hammocks and hanging chairs as well. As WE love fabrics, especially environmentally friendly fabrics, we have story for you about Tropilex hammocks. These colorful handmade Hammocks are produced in South America.
Here you read all about the beautiful hammocks and the best thing you can do: buy fair fabrics ánd products only!
Sustainability is very important to us, and we were very happy to receive a nice tip from a reader. "Have you heard of Christy Dawn?" No, we didn't have... but we wanted to know more about this new clothing brand. It claims to respect the environment and even to contribute to improve the ecosystem. Let's talk about Christy Dawn!
Authentic couture Chanel jackets are priceless. This is not surprising because they are exclusively tailor-made for the rich and famous. Making a Chanel-style jacket yourself is a dream for many seamstresses. However, this is not cheap either because the Bouclé and Tweed fabrics are often expensive. But we have managed to make a 'BUDGET Chanel-style jacket' for inspiration!
Stella McCarthey introduced her new collection of garments made from Mylo leather last week. Mylo is a new fabric made by the clever engineers from Bolt Threads™.
'Mylo Unleather' is a durable fabric made from champions. Mylo has the appearance and properties of leather and is soft, supple and less harmful to the environment. Adidas, lululemon, and Stella McCartney now use this fabric for their new collections.
We love the interview with Gabriela Hearts about Sustainability and we would like to share it with you. It is available on the Vogue website.
A tailor's ham or dressmaker's ham is a tightly stuffed pillow used as a curved mold when ironing/pressing curved areas of clothing, such as darts, sleeves, cuffs, collars, or waistlines. Pressing on a curved form allows a garment better to fit body contours. To accommodate tapering or garments of different sizes, it has roughly the shape of a ham.
Sewing your own wardrobe is great fun and environmentally conscious. Especially if you recycle, up-cycled or repair clothes yourself. But how do you know fabrics have been produced environmentally-friendly? After all, you need fabrics, linings and interfacing fabrics to create your own clothes and you actually know very little about them. Wool always looks 'environmentally conscious' and neoprene, for example, not at all. But is that really so? We have made a list of The Best Sustainable Fabrics!
Let's talk about a unique upcycling project. We were lucky enough to come across a beautiful silk tablecloth in a thrift store that we transformed into a luxurious robe. The tablecloth wasn't big, but the amount of fabric was just good enough. A nice tip for the holidays, because such a chic (easy to make) dressing gown you will certainly make your mother, girlfriend, boyfriend, niece or yourself extra happy.
A luxurious dressing gown versus bathrobe
The difference between a bathrobe and a luxurious robe is often that a bathrobe is made of heavier terry cloth or velor and a luxurious rob (sometimes called a dressing gown) is made of luxurious satin, silk or cotton with lace. A dressing gown is chic and you certainly don't have to be ashamed if you walk around in it for a while in the morning. Or even longer than that ....
A dressing gown is also more convenient for traveling when you are going to stay with someone else or in a hotel. It has much less volume and real silk does not crease.
Another difference is that a bathrobe is often made with a thick shawl collar or capucon (hoodie). This gives an extra warm feeling and that is nice if you just got out of the bath, got out of the shower or are walking around in a sauna. A bathrobe is therefore always made with the principle: a lot of fabric. A dressing gown is more made with the idea of looking beautiful. Sexy and well-groomed, even if you just got out of bed. A dressing gown often does not have a shawl collar but a band collar and is shorter than a bathrobe.
We found the fabric for the robe at a thrift store. In a thrift store, it is important that you know where to look. You can read tips for finding 'treasures' in this blog. In a thrift store, also take a look at the curtains, sometimes you will also find very beautiful pieces of fabric there that were accidentally bought wrong, or are far from worn out. The great thing about curtains and net curtains is often: they have a label attached. This allows you to see the composition of the fabric and estimate whether it is suitable for clothing.
There is also undoubtedly a container with tablecloths in the household department. This container is often messy, everything is crumpled and it is difficult to estimate what kind of fabric it is. How do you recognize real silk? Read this blog for this, and you now have a little more knowledge to recognize beautiful silk between polyester fabrics.
Tablecloth becomes dressing gown
Our dressing gown was therefore born from as a tablecloth. The ultimate upcycling idea! Upcycling means that you make something from a raw material (the tablecloth) in a completely different concept (the dressing gown). Upcycling is sustainable and a good idea if you want to participate more in the ZERO WASTE lifestyle.
The sewing pattern we used is: NEW LOOK 6233. An easy sewing pattern for a bathrobe or dressing gown without a shawl collar, but with a band collar. It is a sewing pattern for a UNISEX bathrobe in sizes XS to XL. The bathrobe or dressing gown is easy to make and you can make it as beautiful or sophisticated as you want.
Tip: if you are a little short of fabric: make the straps or the belt from a different fabric, or for example in contrasting colors. You can also make the robe a bit shorter and put a big, nice lace border around it.
Sometimes you will find really beautiful clothes or fabrics in thrift stores to use it for an upcycling project. Or, for example, a tablecloth or in-between curtain that is suitable for a beautiful, chic dressing gown.
Upcycling clothing also gives you a good feeling: it costs almost nothing and you have solved the problem of waste... just a little bit...
And last but not least: A very nice gift, this dressing gown, for a beloved mother, girlfriend, friend or neighbor during the holidays!
What about circular fashion? A term you will hear more and more. Is it just about recycling clothes or does it mean more? We will explain to you, give some examples and make it clear to everyone. Hope you will get inspired!
Get rid of waste!
The cheaper the clothing (think of large retail store with cheap clothing), the bigger the waste of raw materials. That's a fact and clear to everyone. The fashion industry has become a throwaway industry. The clothing is so cheap, it has such a poor quality, it will almost 'disappear' after a few washes. This is because mixes of fabrics are used which are as cheap as possible and because the clothing is produced as cheaply as possible. Think of fast, bad seams, think of cheap finishing (or lack off) and think especially of closures in the form of zippers, buttons, etc. bad and poor quality.
Nice and cheap
Of course it is nice if you can buy cheap clothes and most of us often buy them because of budgetary reasons. Why would you buy pants for 90 euros, when you can also buy them for 19.95 euros? We all love 'fast fashion' as much as we love 'fast food'. Fast, easy and cheap. And if it's so cheap... why not buy two servings of junk food or two pants instead of one, right away? Fast-fashion industry is based on over-consumption. We not only want cheaper, but also more. We buy more than we need.
Circular economy action plan
But the waste and the major consequences of this on the environment, more and more people do not like it anymore and take action. The European Commission launched the European Green Deal with a Circular Economy action plan that mainly concerns the textile industry. There will have to be a transition to a circular fashion and textile industry that prevents waste of raw materials. On a global level and as permanent change. It's about time...
Sustainable lifestyle = chic
Circular fashion is a term that has a lot to do with just second-hand and recycled fashion but it is a lot more. It is not something to be ashamed of, as a fashion house or employees in the textile industry, but we all should be proud of it. More and more big-names fashion labels are participating and that's great! The corona crisis has also accelerated this process because it was difficult to obtain raw materials and because we stayed at home en masse and put on our 'home-wear'. These are garments that are easier to make from recycled fabrics. And we have discovered we do not need an overload of clothes and 'things' to be happy.
H&M recently introduced a LOOOP system in Sweden where old or unused clothing is shredded and pulverized and made into fibers without the use of water and chemicals. These fibers are mixed with other fibers and can be used for new clothing.
Apart from all environmental aspects, there is also a more social system linked to fair working conditions for employees in the entire textile production chain. And there is a great emphasis on respect for craftsmanship. For the first time in ages, crafts are respected and appreciated by consumers.
Let's go circling!
Circular actually means nothing more than that a garment is made in a special way; after use (or non-use) it returns into the circle of production to get another life. A kind of 'upcyling', but on a larger level. A garment will never really come to the end of its life, because it can be used to make something different from the raw materials. This can be done in the way LOOOP: completely pulverized, but it is also possible because the garment has a timeless appearance and is quickly transformed into something new with simpler adjustments.
Like this: "If you wait long enough, fashion will always come back" ..., but more actively.
Recycling, upcycling and circular fashion
It all has to do with each other, but it mainly means that garments no longer disappear into the waste bin. At the beginning of the process, more thought is given to the raw materials, the production process and especially the lifespan of the clothing. The fact that clothes are often thrown away is actually very strange. After all, it also contains a lot of things that can be reused anyway. Think of zippers, buttons, decorations. We already wrote about this in 'Start your own haberdashery collection'.
Do it yourself!
Some tips for getting involved in circular fashion:
Don't throw anything away! Sell, borrow, exchange, give or recycle as much textiles as possible. What is worthless to one person can be of great value to another. Even if an old, worn-out T-shirt ends up in a dog basket -> the dog (yours or someone else's) is happy with it again. Even more creative: cut it into strips and braid it into a toy. How simple can it be?
Circular fashion is all about the production process, from the first step to the last, the environment, the lifespan of clothing and the social aspects are taken into account, to avoid wasting (raw) materials.
You can also participate yourself. Make your own clothing, but especially when buying, think about the type of fabric, the lifespan of clothing and whether you want to go for fast-fashion or sustainable clothing.
We are ABSOLUTELY participating. You too? Ideas, suggestions, opinions and especially examples are more than welcome.
The clutch bag is a small, flat handbag. The handbag is usually without handles or straps. Sometimes the larger clutch do have handles or detachable straps. The clutch is made a some sort of envelop and designed to be handheld or carried under your arm.The Clutch is compact and is usually used for evening occasions to carry minimal essentials like a phone, credit cards, or cosmetic items.
Clutch bags are very old!
Bags and purses are known from very old paintings and tapestries. But just a few survived history and are shown in musea. The materials were often not good enough to save the clutch bags for centuries.
A seven hundred year of bag owned by the Courtauld Gallery in London may well be the oldest surviving example of a clutch bag. The bag is originally from the city of Mosul in Northern Iraq and is a clear indication that such accessories were, from the outset, signifies of wealth and status. Extraordinarily modern in design, the bag has a solid brass body and is inlaid with scenes of courtly life in gold and silver. A front flap is fastened with a catch, just like a contemporary ‘envelope clutch’.
In Medieval Europe, women wore small bags attached to a belt. Bags and purses were mainly concealed for reasons of security but a change in fashion led to the purse/bag becoming a beloved object.
Last centuries clutch bags were mostly a combination of some sort of jewellery and bag. Metals, exquisite gems and fabrics were used to create clutches. More recently the clutch is mainstream. Cheap, comfortable or very exclusive and expensive.
How to wear a clutch bag?
One of the attractions of the clutch is its theatricality. A clutch bag means you do not have to carry your own stuff, you only need to worry about your lipstick, a small mirror or whatever. Somebody else is probably carrying your other stuff. A P.A. (= personal assistance)? Yes, you are probably a star and it shows because you only need to wear a clutch.
Clutches are designed to focus on your middle-waist, your hands and the clutch itself. They are mostly small jewels, carrying under your arms or with both hands. Wearing them with both hands also indicates, you are not going to shake hands. That's looks very upper-class, and nowadays (2020) also very Corona-safe.
Nowadays clutches are also more handy than ever; you can wear a face-mask in it and be prepared if it is necessary to wear a face-mask for your own safety or somebody else safety.
Modern clutches are not jewels anymore, and not only exclusively made for the rich and famous. Clutch bags are mainstream and sometimes even very sustainable because they are made of fabric leftovers. Or recycled plastics, paper or environmentally friendly materials.
Chanel clutch bags:
Chanel has been making clutch bags for some time. Often these are very similar to the famous bag the 2.55. But with fewer compartments, lighter weight, even more handy and with or without a chain. Some larger wallets are also called clutch bags because they can easily pass for a graceful evening bag.
The real authentic vintage Clutch bags are worth gold and very beautiful. These are often more 'jewels' than bags.
The leather variant is no longer alone. The clutch is also increasingly made in tweed fabrics and even in plastic and other futuristic fabrics. Characteristic: the perfect finish, the symbols and the logo. And the hefty price for an authentic or vintage Chanel Clutch bag.
How to make a clutch bag?
It is not that difficult to make a perfect clutch bag. Certainly not for an 'advanced' seamstress, but it is also fine for a beginner seamstress. If you only work step-by-step, take the time for it and ensure a nice finish. Take a good look at google and tutorials and even better: an example of a clutch nearby in sight, to study and copy.
Which materials do you need?
The outside fabric: a nice tweed, Bouclé or something more easy to sew: goblin or another sturdy fabric. The lining: go for a real silk fabric, taffeta silk or a fabric that folds nicely and is not too flexible. Inner lining: flannel fabric or thinly padded fleece liner. In addition, you need a larger press stud, a metal closure or a decoration.
Do you have a nice piece of gobelin, Bouclé, tweed or jacquard fabric? And a silk lining or regular lining fabric? Make a nice clutch to give away during the holidays or make one for yourself. A clutch is always chic, handy and you really can't have enough clutches...
If you also make them from fabric leftovers, or 'upcycling' a curtain, jacket or tablecloth; then you are completely good and creative!
For the upcoming holidays, which will be different this year, we have worked out some beautiful sewing patterns for suitable and affordable clothing. So far: Vogue 1605 and Vogue 1520.
In this blog an idea to make a chic gift as an ultimate upcycling project: The idea to give neckties a new life. Ties are not popular anymore. Do you, or your friend, husband, son or neighbor, have a bunch of ties in the closet which are 'working' anymore? Ask if you can use them and turn them into a nice laptop sleeve!
Ties - downgrades or no longer needed
In general, ties are worn less and less since a few years. Dress codes or unwritten rules have declined considerably in the business world. Hierarchy is no longer determined by how you look (according to the rules) but what you radiate (your own personality).
In Germany, for example, the 'Krawattenpflicht' has not been present for a while at companies such as Aldi and Sparkasse. More and more companies are following.
People have always been much less strict in the Netherlands than in Germany. Watch a debate in the House of Parlemennt and you will notice that even in politics are no longer wearing ties. In the business world the tie is slowly disappearing.
Ties are still 'mandatory' during job interviews, official occasions and in certain professions (lawyers, notaries).
Upcycling of ties
The idea of upcycling ties is not so popular, because ties are not containing much fabric and the shape is awkward. Yet there are beautiful things you can make of them! And you are completely lucky if the ties are made of beautiful silk fabrics. Find a few beautiful color combinations together, and let's get really creative!
Do you not have any ties at all, but does the laptop sleeve appeal to you? Take a look at a thrift store. Sometimes you can find the most beautiful ties for a few pennies. You certainly don't need more than five.
What more do you need: not much. Preferably felt fabric, but another thick, soft fabric lining is also possible. Do you have a thick, slightly stiff blanket left? Then you can use it as a lining. Or a thick terrycloth towel, a piece of cloth from a duvet, sleeping bag or old cardigan. Important: the fabric must be a little stiff, thick and sewable (your sewing machine must be able to handle the thickness of the fabric).
In addition, a press stud and a beautiful (preferably silk) fabric for the lining.
This is an 'easy peasy' project for the seamstress with average sewing experience. For a novice seamstress it may be useful to practice first with an old piece of fabric.
We are creative and we love beautiful (silk!) ties for an upcycling project. Give them a second life and make somebody happy with a nice Christmas gift.
Make sure you choose nice color combinations, smooth fabric (ties or satin, silk, or shiny fabric).
A beautiful gift does not have to be expensive and upcycling fabrics is a creative and sustainable idea. Do you have any more ideas? We would like to hear from you!
A few years ago, there was a fashion-makeove televisionserie in which a candidate was given a completely new wardrobe if she agreed to get rid of her existing clothes. (shoes, bags, accessories). The clothes were destroyed in a shredder. The candidate was almost crying, but she liked the idea of getting a new wardrobe and style. The TV viewers watched in disgus: all her clothes were pulverized....
Zero waste, please
The candidate didn't exactly have a sophisticated style, but maybe someone else would have been happy with the clothes. Or it could have been a small effort to bring the clothes to a thrift store. Or maybe a lot of clothes could have been given a second life through creative upcycling by seamstresses like us and you.
Nowadays, most people bring their clothes to thrift stores or Humanitas containers. But a lot of clothing are still thrown away, which is a real pity and a waste of materials.
At H&M, a different kind of shredder has been born for recycling instead of destruction!
Hip hip hooray for LOOOP!
Since October 2020, H&M has a new recycling device named: LOOOP.
LOOOP is made to clean the clothes, shred them into fibers. The fibers are used to spun threads, which can be used to create new sweaters, jackets, bags, scarves, etc. The system does not use chemicals and water and is therefore very environmentally friendly.
H&M and sustainable fashion
H&M is innovative and shows a lot of respect for the concept of sustainability. They have been collecting clothes for a few years. And now LOOOP has been developed. The aim is to recycle all materials by 2030 and to purchase them sustainably.
We think this is a great news and that is why we give LOOOP extra attention on our website.
For more information about how Looop works: https://www2.hm.com/en_gb/life/culture/inside-h-m/meet-the-machine-turning-old-into-new.html.
A Chanel-style jacket made from fabric leftovers? Yes, that's possible. Even though the remnants are really very small. With a little more than a meter of fabric (in total!) you can create the small jacket. Read our instructions and tips in this blog.
Fabric leftovers and sustainability
We do not like waste fabrics. We have often come up with ideas to do something with fabric leftovers. We have also already talked about patchwork. Sewing pieces of fabric together to finally make something beautiful out of the 'patchwork blanket' is a great trend! Above all, it shows that you are carefull with raw materials (and the environment), you do not like to waste fabrics and are very creative! And now you atre creating a really chic 'Chanel-Style' jacket from fabric leftovers. Like this jacket!
Sewing pattern with princess lines
We have opted for a sewing pattern with princess lines. We had found a sewing pattern ourselves in the old 'Thuismode' workshops. This jacket is short, has princess lines and requires none lining. Ideal for our project.
Make sure the sewing pattern contains these elements:
This allows you to work with small pieces of fabric to create the chic little jacket.
Our Chanel-style 'remnants' jacket
We used Bouclé fabric leftovers which all match in terms of color and consistency. The fabric should not be too firm, neither too loose.
We made the back pieces of gray bouclé fabric and the fabric we liked the most: the large pattern parts of the sleeves and the middle back part.
We made the front panels from the fabric that we liked the most and we had two remnants left for the smaller parts of the sleeves.
The fringes are made of the front panel fabric and we have made long thin fringes.
Because the jacket is not lined, we finished the bottom, sleeves and front panel with a bias band (on the inside) and the fringes on the outside.
If you have less fabric, you can also choose to leave the front panels open. This always goes well with a Chanel-style jackets and makes the fringes look even better.
We did not use facings or interfacings. Because we did not use a lining, the jacket is extra warm but also vulnerable. Pay close attention to this when wearing the jacket and especially what you wear underneath. A t-shirt prevents damage; a blouse can sometimes pull threads of the bouclé fabric through the buttons and cuffs.
You can do a lot with fabric leftovers. Mix the fabrics and feel free to make something unique. It's nice when the colors match well, in our case: blue, gray, red and pink, but feel free to go bold(er).
Keep this rule in mind: make sure that the fabrics match together in terms of structure and composition. (A pied-de-poule fabric or a checkered fabric would be too much of a good thing ...)
If you 'style' the jacket with plain pants, skirt and a simple white shirt underneath; then a 'color shock' is very chique and modern.
Do you still have some fabric leftovers? Create a clutch (see our green clutch) or make some extra fringes. The thicker and longer the fringes, the more beautiful and the more 'Chanel style'!
Do you have a few centimeters of beautiful tweeds or silk fabrics left from your project? In this blog we present a few examples of how to use small pieces of fabric to make beautiful and fun accessories. we do not like the idea of throwing away fabrics... even if they are little pieces. Do you agree?
Of course we know that the entire internet already contains a lot of blogs from creative people with fantastic ideas, with step-by-step guidelines, to help you to make some lovely gifts for yourself or your beloved friends or family. We are not pretending to show on this website some unique projects which has not been around already. But our ideas are unique as they are just small objects which you are able to create in order to match the jackets or the skirt. When the jacket or the skirt is made for a client or a friend, it is a nice present as a personal "extra" and a very personal touch. The jacket or skirt IS already something very personal, but a small gift extra, makes it even more luxurious and personal.
A little (extra) personal gift
Apart from the fun of gratefulness when you give the little extra away, we are also very sensible for the idea of being sustainable and not just throwing away expensive beautiful materials.
Tweeds, Bouclé fabrics and Silk or other lining-fabrics are not always very useful to save for quilts or patchwork-projects. They are too thick, too much loose threads or silk; too delicate and difficult to match with other fabrics.
So we stick to some useful ideas to make wonderful accessories from our left-overs. If you have some ideas yourself or if you want to show your project; your wonderful bag, your beautiful laptop-cover or whatever; just send it to use and we will publish it.
It is possible to make lovely patchwork from fabrics as tweed and wool. Use some interfacing on the wrong side when the threads are very loose. If you iron it, it will stay together and it will work out much better. We have created some patchwork-blankets out of tweed fabrics. The blanket will be very heavy for sure, but choosing a light-weight woolen fabric as back-fabric would be a good idea. No inside extra fiber needed for sure....
Bouclé fabrics and silks are nice to save for small bags, make-up bags, eye glasses cases, scarfs, just some beautiful tablecloths or small cloths to use in in the wardrobe closet. It is nice to work with bindings or to create the fringes.
Speaking about fringes; bouclé fabrics are also very nice to save for fringes-projects. You you can tear the fabric apart and make braids with the threads or or cut them into narrow strips, sew them and unravel them. Beautiful examples are explained in the book: 'Making Designers Trims' by Claire Schaeffer.
Whatever you decide to do..
Beautiful and expensive fabrics are worth to save or to up-use for other projects. Cheap and fabrics you do not like, are perfect to save for projects when you need interfacings to bulk the fabric or just to practise a sewing technique. If you save fabrics; be sure they are be sure that they are well preserved so they will not stink, mold or moths are ruining the fabrics.
If you buy second-hand fabrics; be careful they are stored right. It is not very nice to buy fabrics from people who smoke in their studio's or galleries. The smell will not disappear....
Last but not least:
Trade or give fabrics to others. We have received out-dated and old-fashioned fabrics which were great for vintage projects and accessories. Nobody has the same style and taste. It is also very likely fanrics are beautiful for combinations with other fabrics, which you probably did not see on first sight. Take a look around at patchwork-works. Combinations are often very beautiful, but you would never buy the fabric on its own. Patchwork blankets and accessories are always nice. And even if they are totally out-dated or too ugly to enjoy; the dog will love it in its dog basket....
1. A real tailor's ham
2. Glasses cases
A nice gift from a tiny bit of tweed and fabric which was left over after sewing the Chanel-Style Brown tweed jacket.
This handy pocket is made for your eye-glasses or your phone; although for most phones it might be a bit too small.
You only have to cut out two pieces of fabric sizes: 10 cm (4"inch) x 15 cm (7"inch) and the same from the silk lining. The top of one of the small sides: round as half-circles. Sew the part apart from each other and quilt them as your jackets. Close three sides by hand with the same sewing-technique as sewing the seams of the jacket.
Top-stitch the half circles. Attach a closure or a button.
If you want the glasses case to be soft and protective for your glasses; attach a fiber interfacing before starting the quilting process.
The best tutorial: Sew a Glasses Case
3. Practicing quilting turned into small bag:
When starting to sew a Chanel Style or Inspired jacket, it is a real good advice to practice a bit on a piece of fabric and the lining behind it. This is the quilting part and once you started to quilt the lining for a jacket, you will repeat it over and over. Why ? Simply because it wears wonderful and it is a complete different and slow way of sewing, but much rewarding as well.
Sometimes the "practice-piece-of-fabric" looks good and you do not want to throw it away....
And now you know what works best; hand sewing, sewing the lining silk (inside)-side up or the tweed-side fabric up...
A small bag; made from a "practicing fabric" and the silk lining quilted on the inside. Use: glasses case, handy-case, make-up bag... whatever, it is a nice bag and always handy.
4. Make-up bag from Tweed fabric, silk lining and a metal gold zipper:
5. Glasses case from Silk fabric, lined with fleece:
Silk and lined with fleece Glasses case. We do not want to throw the silk away and it does not work for a quilt or Patchwork piece-of-art.
Make-up bags, mobile bags or glasses cases are always good.
6. Chanel-look hats and tweed-hats
A very simple sewing pattern will be very useful to create hats from fabrics-remnants. You only need a little faric to make these lovely hats. Silk lining will even make them better and sophisticated.
Here are our options.
Sewing pattern: Simplicity 6745
7. Little 'Chanel-Style' lady-vest
A vest does not need so much fabric. You can even decide to make the backside of elastic material or some different fabric. So you just need a very small amount of fabric. Sewing this in the same technique as a Chanel-jacket, makes it look beautiful on the inside too.
Sewingpattern: New Look 6914 works well!
More ideas? Sure!
Social trends and fashion trends follow each other rapidly. But who is actually 'making' these trends is and how is it predicted? Where do trends come from? And who would have thought in 2020 the face mask would appear on the streets and even become a fashion accessory? Nobody right?
What is a trend?
When you talk about trends, the description quickly reveals: a trend watcher, trendsetters or trend followers. Some people live for trends and always seem to be at the forefront of trends. They have had solar panels on their roof for twenty years, did not like greetings with kisses and already walked barefoot in their shoes. So these people are the trendsetters! And then suddenly everybody seems to follow them.
Trend followers are happy to participate as soon as possible. Because they don't want to stay behind (these people are called latecomers) or they don't participate at all (loners). As soon as everybody follows a trend, the trend is a fact. And we all suddenly walk with low-waist jeans, clogs and the same haircut.
Trend followers do not want to stay behind
Trend followers are carefully watching trendsetters and 'copy' them. Is this a sign of insecurity, afraid of deviating from the norm? This will certainly play a role in the lives of younger people. They like to belong to a group and conform to the rules of conduct and codes. Whether or not formal or informal (= unwritten 'rules').
The latecomers and loners
But there are also loners and latecomers. You see this more often in people from their thirties. The loners determine their own style, deliberately no longer participate in trends or are simply not interested in (fashion-)trends at all.
The latecomers are 'against' any trend, but perhaps also because of 'laziness'; if there are no more older models of jeans available, then let's buy the low-waist jeans. Who cares? And if you receive a subsidy for solar panels or the entire neighborhood participates, than... why not ...?
To make it even more fun: the originals are people who deliberately do not participate in trends, but determine everything themselves, make or create their own trends and like to stand out because of their unique, own style. Everyone probably knows for example the one woman in the neighborhood, who has been wearing long skirts for years, who seems to have stepped out of the seventies, has her own vegetable garden, goes shopping on a scooter and is vegetarian when it suits her. She does not participate in trends, does not live by dogma's and she has her own unique lifestyle.
Unlike the loners, the originals are often people who protest against the current norm. And because of their own style and individuality, they also form a group to a certain extent.
Where do trends come from?
Trends are often predicted by trend watchers. These are people who have made their profession of picking up movements, visions and changes in society and making predictions. They are hired by all kinds of companies. These trend watchers are on top of politics, are in the middle of life and are very sensitive to details that can have major consequences. Foresight and a vision are their 'skills'. They translate them into any upcoming trends. They like to call themselves visionars or futurists. Trend watchers are well paid for their lectures and companies often cling to defined concepts which they translate into new products or services.
Are trend watchers able to predict everything?
No absolutely not. Often enough, unexpected things happen in society on a global level. This can be of short-term significance or become a major game-changer. Sometimes the whole world is shocked by an event, but a month later you don't hear about it. While other events take place that have major consequences for everyone, in every corner of society. Think of the pandemic and climate change.
What do trends mean for (DIY) fashion?
We suddenly work at home en masse and fashion is adapting. How necessary is it to wear a suit behind Zoom? Today's designers have already incorporated the new trend into their collections. Fashion is becoming more comfortable, fresher, more monotonous in color (prints are much too busy on small screens) and a combination of comfortable / business-like design is being designed. After six months, everyone is fed up with those comfortable sweatpants, and people are longing for easy but representative fashion.
Self-made fashion is often influenced by the sewing magazines and sewing patterns which are showing the new trends. Fabric stores also release fashion fabrics that come directly from the new trends on the catwalk. But seamstresses also often choose their own style and 'play' with (vintage) patterns of all times. This is mainly because the creativity of seamstresses is not limited to the trends dictated by others.
Moreover: if you can make something unique and give a personal touch to a garment, then you do it , right? And trends are also born by seamstresses, just think of the upcycling of clothing and the homemade masks, who were already created by seamstress before they were for sale in stores.
Skepticism and the sign of the times
Predicting the future and trends is magic or just the sign of the times. Especially when it turns out that the unexpected 'game changers' play such an important role in responses to trends. You may ask yourself how important it is to participate in fashion trends. (You cannot escape social trends; no one lives in a cabin in the woods or is invisible by the Tax Authorities. We all participate in the spirit of the times that determines how we behave, what we eat, how we work, spend our leisure time and we eat.)
Your own style
Apart from that ... it is more fun to discover ans create your own style! Whether you are a trendsetter, a trend follower, a latecomer or a loner; your own choice comes first and what you create and wear.
Women who are enjoying to sew their own clothes or being creative in some other way, have known this for a long time. Whether you participate in a fashion trend or not; your creativity is your own style!
Do you prefer to wear a nice, silk blouse under a Chanel-style jacket? A blouse that fits comfortably, has something extra and is also nice to wear with the jacket over your shoulders. The Butterick B6710 is a great blouse, with or without a nice bow and quite easy to create.
The Butterick B6710 sewing pattern is a pattern for a blouse in three variations. You can wear the bow around your neck, you can wear the bow crossed and loose or you can skip the bow completely.
The model has a tailored fit but is comfortable and also quite casual. The sleeves also offer variations: with a ruffle, with a nice cuff or just with an elastic band.
The blouse closes with buttonholes and buttons.
Which fabric do you need to use?
The recommended fabrics are: Crepe de Chine, Charmeuse, Double georgette and silk.
(We made the blouse in dark red silk and we liked it. The fabric came from a thrift store and was sold as 'table silk' for only three euros. A wonderful find and a great idea for recycling and upcycling! )
Crepe de Chine is also a pleasure to work with. Charmeuse is less suitable for the novice seamstress. This fabric does not fold nicely, cuts nicely and is not pleasant to sew.
If you want to find an alternative to the (expensive) Crepe de Chine or silk: make sure the fabric is a flexibel fabric. In our opinion, viscose and chiffon can also be used for this blouse.
Sewing level: 'easy'
The sewing pattern is suitable for the novice seamstress. We agree with it.
The sewing pattern has no pitfalls or difficulties. Practice beforehand on a test piece for the buttonholes. Incorrectly sewn buttonholes in lightweight fabrics such as silk are difficult to mend. An alternative would be press studs instead of buttonholes.
Butterick 6710 is an easy sewing pattern for a classic, silk blouse. This blouse looks great under a 'Chanel-style' jacket because the bow makes the - often collarless - jacket even more beautiful and classic.
The blouse can also be worn casually over jeans or pleated trousers, for example.
The instructions are very comprehensive and clear.
This sewing pattern is recommended to use often. You can also vary enough with the pattern.
On the Vogue website we read a nice article about 'La Réunion's Patchwork Dresses Turn Symbols of Suffering Into Things of Beauty' Sarah Nsikak, fashion designer, focuses on sustainability and is fully focused on making patchwork dresses. Fortunately, she is not the only one: patchwork is back in fashion!
Patchwork or Quilts?
The difference between patchwork and quilting is that quilting works more with patterns and manual sewing. Quilting is a unique profession. At least three layers of fabric are stitched together, very small pieces of fabric are used and there is often a symmetrical pattern that is worked out. Quilting is a very old tradition and craft and in some cultures it is an important part of social activity, as part of traditions and sometimes even of commercial importance.
Patchwork is nothing more or less than sewing pieces of fabric together. These can be pieces of fabric of different fabrics, materials and colors. Often this is then used to make clothing or simpler patchwork quilts, cushion covers, etc. The name for patchwork and quilting is often used interchangeably. But quilting is really something else than working with patches and making clothes or something else from here.
The revival of Patchwork
Patchwork sounds out dated' and might remind you of Grandma's patchwork quilt who has been lying in the guest bedroom as a bed spreadfor ages.... Patchwork has always had the image of extremely economical people who work with scraps of fabric and sometimes create combinations that really don't look like much.
But there is also magic with patchwork and beautiful quilts, patchwork quilts and clothing are made. Patchwork is experiencing a revival as we become more aware of the waste that the clothing industry entails. Moreover, the Corona crisis has opened people's eyes. We've all climbed behind the sewing machine ourselves to make face masks and most people discover they like to sew!
Fashion designers have been working on sustainability and 'greening' for some time. See our review: Green Designed fashion. Not always successful, but every initiative is one. Working with remnants of fabric or upcycling of already used materials is a good goal! And making something beautiful out of it is a piece of cake for many designers and (hobby) seamstresses.
During a broadcast of British Sewing Bee we saw several episodes in which the candidates were given an assignment to make something beautiful from their leftovers of fabric. The results were jackets, skirts, dresses and very nice children's clothing. The assignment concerning upholstery fabrics was also 'amazing'. The candidates were instructed to bring something from home. From old curtains to bed linen. These were all transformed into beautiful, usable summer dresses. Making a summer dress from net curtains and a sheet ... it is possible and the result was more than beautiful!
Chanel & Patchwork
Unfortunately we can only find a few items from Chanel. But they are nevertheless eye-catchers par excellence. And the Fashion Industry is changing, so who knows, the following collections may come up with more sustainable patchwork designs if the workshops have to make do with the fabrics that are dusting in the warehouse or smaller pieces of fabric that have already disappeared in the trash can .
Who cares whether something is 'in' or 'out of fashion'? For a fashion house a lot, but for people who would like to own 'a Chanel', the year of the collection is less important and the story behind it all the more.
Tips & Tricks: patchwork with Bouclé fabrics
Chanel has always been associated with Tweeds and Bouclé fabrics. These are not really the best fabrics for 'patchwork'. Yet the result is often great. Chanel's famous 2.55 bag has often been made of various tweed fabrics and also Bouclé. Also other bags and accessories.
A few tips:
In the fashion world there is a huge change going on with regard to sustainability. The use of remnants of fabric or fabrics that are supposedly 'out of fashion' is picked up in the form of patchwork. In principle, you can make anything with patchwork as a basis. From Haute couture to cushion covers for the camper.
Patchwork with Bouclé fabrics or tweeds? Yes we can! And to get a beautiful 'Chanel-style' look, there are plenty of examples of the famous Chanel bag and some outfits from the catwalks. Be creative, sustainable and join the new trend: this is the fashion image of 2020 and the future!
How do you turn a (men's) shirt into a fantastic blouse of 'Chanel style'? Very easy. By 'upcycling' the shirt. Upcycling clothes is very trendy. The shirt can be an old shirt, a second-hand one or a shirt that has not been used and is waiting in your closet for years. Until now!
Upcycling clothes is more than recycling. In recycling, something is reused. A good thing, but upcycling is turning clothing or just fabrics into something different from what it originally was. Even better! Think of a beautiful but out-dated evening dress that is transformed into a hip cardigan, or even more creative: a curtain that becomes a beautiful summer dress. There are plenty of examples and how creative the average seamstress is, we could also see at 'The great British Sewing Bee'. Upcycling is popular because we do not like to waste materials anymore. Or things which are made to throw away instantly. And nothing is so much fun to shop at a thrift store for useful items and fabrics that you can use to create something beautiful.
A shirt becomes a stylish blouse
And so a normal (men's) shirt suddenly becomes a stylish blouse that also fits within our concept: the beloved 'Chanel style'.
Many variations are of course possible. This blouse is specially designed for a summer party or special occasion. The sleeves are made of thin silk-look fabric and the blouse is loose-fitting. This gives freedom of movement and a feeling of freshness. Moreover, you see less sweat stains on dark fabric. The blouse is therefore ideal for hot days, or when you can't wear a tropical blouse, a sleeveless shirt or a standard tunic.
We opted for puff sleeves. Very large puff sleeves. Are these still 'in fashion'? Well, we don't really care much about that. As long as they are beautiful, stylish and unique.
Puffed sleeves always create a special look because they have something bombastic and a luxurious look. After all, a lot of fabric is used and beautiful fabric is not always cheap. But if you have leftover fabric of a nice thin fabric, that is just not enough for a dress, blouse or tunic; then it could be still enough for two puff sleeves.
Or use that 'in-between-curtain package' that you once bought but never used.
You can find instructions on how to make puff sleeves on many tutorials on Youtube.
Or take a standard sleeve from a pattern, make seven notches down and draw on a new pattern paper the exaggerated head sleeves that will be created when you carefully unfold the pattern.
If you prefer an existing pattern, Butterick 6537, Simplicity 8127, Butterick 5217 or McCalls 8120 are sewing patterns that include puff sleeves. Making the puffed sleeves in the blouse is not a problem in itself because you can fold the head of the sleeve completely. So they always fit.
How to make this exclusive blouse:
It is not difficult to create an upcyling blouse likt his example. And time consuming? No, the basis is already there: the shirt. You no longer have to worry about the facing, buttonholes, pockets or seams. Follow these steps and you'll have a unique blouse upcycled with style in no time.
The blouse is now a unique, personal blouse and it has cost little money. The shirt is now usefull, the fabric for the sleeves is no longer a leftover. The trims had been in the closet for years, and buttons: many a seamstress have a lot of buttons storage. If you do not have a large stock of materials, we recommend that you to start your own haberdashery collection.
Upcycling: how easy it can be! We would also like to see your examples!
As a fabric connoisseur, I like the concept of upcycling because fabric to me is like precious gold and diamonds to a jeweler. When I touch luxurious Italian silk and feel the softness of Spanish bouclé tweeds, I am fully aware of the many labour hours that go into weaving these beautiful textiles and in sewing the final garments. I understand why some fabric costs are higher and I can tell the difference between Haute couture and fast fashion ready-to-wear. The price point argument set aside, all clothing was made by someone somewhere. When I see the clothes purchased in heaps and discarded so effortlessly, as if all the work that went into them means nothing, I get frustrated.
Upcycling in fashion involves taking old or used clothes or fabric and making beautiful garments out of them thereby giving them a new and hopefully more glamorous life. With determination and creativity, it is possible to make a stunning garment out of gently used clothing. I have recently made a trip to Value Village, one of the larger Canadian second-hand stores near me, in search of some interesting ideas for a potential upcycling project. The thrift stores in North America may be different from Europe, but the shopping strategies are the same. Let me share my ideas for finding beautiful fabrics in the thrift stores with you.
#1: Know what you are looking for before you enter the store to avoid impulse purchases.
As with any fashion collection, look for some inspiration first and you can even create a moodboard to get an idea of the general colours and textures that you like. Don’t go into drafting a pattern yet, because your choice of fabric will ultimately dictate the design. Are you going to make an upcycled evening gown, a glamorous day dress, or an unusual trench coat? (Alternatively, you may already have a pattern in mind, in which case you just skip this step. Pull the pattern out and read the fabric suggestions before going shopping.)
#2: Shop alone or with a friend who shares your vision.
I personally prefer to shop alone when I am looking for ideas for my design projects because at that point I am focused and I am in my creative zone. But if you have a generous friend who shares your vision and knows what you are looking for, she/he can be your second pair of eyes in spotting a bargain. (Don’t forget to show your gratitude and take your friend for lunch afterwards.)
You and your friend can go to different parts of the store so you are not looking in the same spot and don’t feel bad if you want to go back and take a second look. Sadly, there are just so many clothes and it’s easy to miss a great find. If you frequent the same store often, you will probably notice the days of the week that the new items are put on the shelves and you can focus on shopping on those days only.
#3: Don’t look for your exact size, but for one or more sizes bigger.
The bigger the size, the more fabric you get to play with. The clothing section in the thrift shops here is usually huge, and some of the items there are brand new or worn only once, like wedding dresses. Look through the clothes in the dresses, skirts and tops sections. Although tops don’t have much fabric, you can still use them for patch pockets, decorative welts and accents. And what about using those for couture appliques and trims?
Are there any fully functional long zippers or even corsetry boning pieces you can use? Those items are expensive if purchased brand new. At this point you have to have an open mind, look past the dated garment because you are not buying it to wear but to use it for something else. Focus only on the fabric and how its colour and texture fit your vision for the upcycled garment.
A gorgeous guipure lace with beading (and lots of it!!!) all along the hem of a voluminous large-sized wedding dress which will give you plenty of material for lace trim or applique. On the right is an inspiration: upcycled wedding dress from Alexander McQueen Spring 2020 runway.
On the left is a medium size dress with overlapped blue spangles from top to bottom. On the right is your inspiration: a lovely day dress with beaded collar and sleeves from Chanel Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2017 runway.
On the right is a lovely velvet dress with a 12” zipper on the side and a metal belt. On the left is an inspiration: a blue velvet dress by Burberry from their Fall/Winter 2020 runway
#4: Look for interesting prints, weaving patterns and/or fiber content.
Always refer back to your mood board to stay on target in terms of your general colour theme. The sophisticated weaving patterns like jacquard and velvet are not that rare, and if you are lucky you can find some gorgeous twills and satins in the wedding/evening dress section or sumptuous knits in the women’s tops. And the more natural the fiber content in the piece, the better. Find the garment’s care instructions which will tell you the exact fiber content. 100% silk or 100% linen items are rare, but you can still find those.
On the left is a large size dress with vertical rows of bright silver spangles on netting. These spangles would be great to use in gold work embroidery as well. On the right is an inspiration: a dress with generous embroidery throughout from Chanel Fall/Winter 2017, runway
Also, check out the belts and scarves section. Many scarves are 100% silk or silk/cashmere mixtures. You can upcycle a wide silk scarf into a dress bodice, a beautiful summer tank top or sleepwear.
#5: Hidden treasures in the drapery section.
Depending on your project, you may find amazing yardage of fabrics in these sections. The store associates hang the fashion fabrics in this section. Unless you are an expert, you wouldn’t know if the fabric is made from natural fiber or not. Assume it is all polyester blends, trust your hand instead and feel the fabric. Is it rough and cold or silky and wonderful against your skin? Would you like to wear a garment made from this fabric? If in any doubt, put it back.
#6: Most importantly, set your budget.
And finally, be focused or you’ll end up picking up useless trinkets instead. Have a definite budget in mind. Are you going to spend $20 or $50? Your $4.99 and $8.99 purchases add up quickly, so hold your purse tightly and keep track of your items. You will have to make decisions on the spot because if you come back to the store tomorrow, the clothes you liked may not be there. Ask the store clerk about their return policies in case you change your mind.
About the Author:
Elena Tran is a Canadian dressmaker and an entrepreneur passionate about haute couture sewing using
beautiful fabrics and notions. After her career as a college administrator and mathematics professor, she
pursued her interest in sewing and opened an online luxury fabric store baudekinstudio.ca. She is
constantly learning and improving her craft. Her training includes lessons with the legendary couture
instructor Angelina di Bello (Montreal, Canada), dressmaking program at Mohawk College (Hamilton,
Canada) and online needlework courses at the Royal School of Needlework (London, UK).
Waistcoat New Look 6914
This wiastcoat is a result of a leftover fabric that we just couldn't throw away. Too beautiful and who knows, it can still be made. And her we show the result!
The pattern of the cardigan is New Look 6914 and the amount of fabric you need is really not much: with one meter you will be fine. The back is only half and you could also make it from another fabric or from the lining fabric, for example. A mix of several remnants of fabric would be an idea as well. The same type of fabric is recommended.
A new trend was evident during the latest spring 2020 Paris Fashion Week. John Galliano for the Maison Margiela brought a spotlight on integrating used fabrics and fashion items into his haute couture ‘Recicla’ collection. (Mower) The focus was on sustainable fashion through upcycling.
Upcycling is simply repurposing old clothes.
My generation still remembers how our mothers used to make dresses from leftover fabric, or how they fixed husband’s old shirts so they fit the son as he grows bigger. The clothes had value as they passed over from older siblings to the younger ones. That value of quality clothing disappeared over time. Buying cheap clothes for the season and discarding them or bringing them to never ending isles of thrift shops is spiraling out of control. Recycling can make you feel better, but it doesn’t solve the problem of growing landfills. Buying less and better quality clothing and upcycling old clothes may be the answer to making an impact on the environment.
Garments must have value so that they are not so easily discarded. Vintage clothes are often associated with value and quality. Vintage doesn’t mean old-fashioned. Remember that fashion evolves constantly and designers often seek elegant and timeless vintage pieces for inspiration. For example, the 70s style is evident in the contemporary maxi dresses. Stella McCartney’s summer collection is a vivid example of fashion déjà vu. (McCartney)
You can use vintage patterns to repurpose old clothes and remnants of fabrics and create bespoke one-of-a-kind couture garments. The first step in making a vintage garment is to discover your taste without being influenced by the latest fashion fads. Find your own unique style. As the famous designer Hubert de Givenchy said: “The secret of elegance is to look like oneself.” (Beyfus) Vintage is a broad category and it includes items from 20 to 100 years old. Ask yourself a question: do you like 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s or 80s style? What designs flatter your figure the most? Do you like particular fabrics and colour? Remember the outfit you got the most complements on.
Once you discover your own style, you can start shopping for vintage patterns, fabrics and haberdashery. There are so many vintage patterns available online. You can buy Givenchy, Dior, Laroche, Alexander McQueen and other couture designer patterns. The important thing to watch out for is making sure that the patterns are complete and in good condition.
Tips & Tricks
Make a copy of the pattern on Pellon 830 Easy Pattern, or a similar pattern tracing material every time you want to make modifications to the original. Don’t do the alterations on the original pattern. Label your modified pieces clearly so you don’t forget what was done. I keep my versions of the same pattern in a separate envelope with a photo on the front. Watch tutorials on how to make simple alterations, take a deep breath and give it a try. Make a mockup outfit using leftover fabric or old sheets to check for fit.
Sewing using vintage patterns is not that complicated, it’s like reading a fashion history book with hands-on learning experience. When I sew with vintage patterns, I cannot wait to get to the next step to see how the designer accomplished the final look. For instance, you can master classic techniques, such as making rollaway collars and dolman-style sleeves with gussets à la Givenchy. The hallmarks of haute couture are illustrated in the instructions to vintage patterns, such as basting through construction lines and marking notches by thread, always basting before stitching and overcasting by hand among others.
Create your own style
Incorporate your own unique style into the vintage design by adding reused trimmings, buttons, and fabrics. You can find discounted couture fabric remnants online if you have a particular vision in mind. Alternatively, you can pull apart old clothes that no longer fit or wedding and bridesmaids pieces that have yards of fabric that you can use. Take them out of the storage bags and examine if the fabric is still in good condition, and you can use buttons, zippers, beads, lace or trimmings. Another great way to make a couture garment is to make your own fabric by stitching complementary colours together or make insets and appliqués for a striking effect. (Shaeffer) The treasure-trove of design will open right before your eyes.
You can give a new life to reused fabrics and clothing by incorporating them into your limited-edition vintage garments that you will wear and treasure year after year.
Beyfus, Drusilla. Vogue on Hubert de Givenchy. London: Quadrille Publishing Limited, 2013.
Lucioni, Alessandro. https://www.vogue.com/fashion-shows/spring-2020-couture/maison-martin-
McCartney, Stella. https://www.stellamccartney.com/ca/stella-mccartney/midi_cod15034082jt.html#dept=main_dresses. n.d.
Mower, Sarah. https://www.vogue.com/fashion-shows/spring-2020-couture/maison-martin-margiela.25 September 2019.
Shaeffer, Claire B. Couture Sewing Techniques. Newtown: The Taunton Press, 2011.
About the Author:
Elena Tran is a Canadian dressmaker and an entrepreneur passionate about haute couture sewing using
beautiful fabrics and notions. After her career as a college administrator and mathematics professor, she
pursued her interest in sewing and opened an online luxury fabric store baudekinstudio.ca. She is
constantly learning and improving her craft. Her training includes lessons with the legendary couture
instructor Angelina di Bello (Montreal, Canada), dressmaking program at Mohawk College (Hamilton,
Canada) and online needlework courses at the Royal School of Needlework (London, UK).