Easy knit spring vest with construction details and a sort of a pattern

 

spring knitted vest in acrylic yarn

I was very inspired lately by all the beautiful, airy knits that I’ve been seeing on Instagram. A lot of beautiful, spring pop over vests, that looked like they were easy and fast to knit and as fast to enjoy.

Knitting is an exercise of self-love, especially when you knit for yourself.

My favourite part of knitting is the process of creating something new. From inspiration, to idea, to the construction process, to the final result. Even if the final result doesn’t match perfectly with the original idea.

For this vest, I was inspired by the knitting pattern maker Petit Knit and her beautiful vests in earthy tones and soft fibres.

the process of making a knitted vest

I also wanted to use some yarn from my stash for this project and I choose a yarn that I had given up on, after trying to use it for many projects, like slippers etc. I bought this yarn in a moment of suspension of logic that I cannot explain. It is a shiny acrylic yarn that I despise with all my might and that I have already knitted into a cardigan and frogged because I disliked it so much. I also had another recycled yarn from an industrial knitted scarf that I’d received as a gift but was uncomfortable to wear and unpractical for me.

So I used these two yarn together and after knitting a swatch much smaller than the recommended size I came up with a gauge 16 stitches per 10 centimetres (or 4 inch).

spring knitted vest detail

I then drew the pattern piece on paper, starting with my waist measurement and the distance from belly button to the chest point (the mid distance between your nipples 🙂 to create the basic shape of the vest.

So for example, I wanted to have a front piece that was quite cropped and added one centimetre to each side of my piece. So I cast on 56 stiches to create a 35 centimetres length of ribbing. I calculated how many centimetres I needed to increase by and at each point to get to the bust line, which for me was 45 cm. Since I needed to increase 10 cm in total, 5 cm on each side, I calculated that I would need to increase 1 cm (1.6 st) at each 5 centimetres of work.

Once I got to the sleeve, I would decrease from the sides and cast off around a third of the stitches from the middle, which would be my neckline. I would then knit each strap separately and cast off. The back would be similar, with a lower hem, so a few more rows of ribbing, and with a softer slope for the neckline. I would then stitch together the two sides and pick up and knit a few rows of ribbing for the armhole and neckline.

And that’s what I did.

spring knitted vest in bulky yarn, folded

Pattern: Use your stash and your imagination vest by me
Gauge: 16 st to 10 cm (4 in)

Front piece:

CO 56 and knit in rib (knit 1 purl 1) until your rib is 5 cm high (or as much as you want, depending on your design modifications)
Then on a right side row, I increased 1 on each side and continued in stockinette stitch (front row knit, back row purl) for 4 rows
On the fifth row I increased 1 again on each side and i continued like this until my piece was my desired length from rib to chest point, which in my case was 20 cm. Try this thing on as you knit it.

Shape armwhole

To shape the armholes I started by decreasing 3 st on each side on a front row, then purl normally the next row
Repeat on next front row by decreasing 2 st on each side of front row and purl back row
Then decrease 1 st on each side and purl
On front row divide your remaining number of stitches by three. Knit the first third of those, cast off the second third and knit the last third
Knit straps as long as you want (try it on yourself)

Back piece

Same as front piece, except two things: one, after the last decrease I knitted in stockinette stitch until the length of my knitted piece was the same as my front piece, minus two cm, and here I decreased in the same way by dividing the number of stitches in three.

I also knit the ribbing longer, so that the back had a longer hemline.

 

Sew pieces
Pick up stitches at armhole and neckline and knit in rib for 3-4 rows or as long as you’d like, depending on your creative inspiration. Cast off and wear.

To make any other size, start with the waist measurement of the person you are making this for and calculate how many stitches you need. This is easy, you just divide your gauge by 10 (or 4) to get the number of stitched needed to create 1 cm (or 1 in) of knitted fabric.

For example: in cm, for this project, I got 1.6 st for each 1 cm of knitted fabric, and multiplied that by the number of needed centimetres of desired knitted fabric.
Then use the same progressions and steps as the pattern above (try it on often),

I even made this in a different yarn with a much different gauge (10 st for 10 cm) and following the same pattern, I’ve knitted a second vest. So it’s a very simple and versatile pattern for creative and fearless knitters.

spring knitted vest in bulky wool yarn

spring knitted vests folded

Disclaimer: I am not a pattern maker, I just make things for myself and share my process with you.

Inspiring Women: Embroidery Patterns to Use as You Wish

free embroidery patterns of anna, iris, frida and grace

Staying at home is difficult for most, but probably the least affected are individuals with hobbies such as ours: sewing, embroidery, knitting, drawing, all silent, individual, meditative acts.

In these strange times, the best is to focus on the positive. For us makers that means more time for creative activities. To celebrate our passions I am putting out these doodles of four inspiring women who changed the course of modern arts. These are women who don’t need a last name, you know who they are: Anna, Grace, Iris, and Frida.

You can use the doodles in any way that you want, you can print them and color them, embroider them, use them to make something else. If you are running a small business you may also use these commercially for derivative work, I just ask not the sell them as they are, since they are provided here for free.

Enjoy making beautiful things.

inspiring women embroidery patterns

 

Here’s what’s in the pdf:

anna embroidery pattern freegrace embroidery pattern free

iris embroidery pattern freefrida embroidery pattern free

60 t-shirt hacks and reconstruction ideas

Why t-shirt tacks?

You might have a lot of old t-shirts laying around. You might want a creative challenge. You might be interested in sustainability and want to repurpose something you already own rather than buying new. All these reasons are great reasons to give one of my favourite pastimes a try. Ladies and gentlemen (are you out there?) I give you: a list of 60 t-shirt hacks ideas.

What is t-shirt a t-shirt hack or a t-shirt reconstruction?

T-shirt reconstruction or t-shirt hacking defines a way to alter or hack a basic t-shirt that completely transforms it into a new garment, sometimes an altered top, other times a cap, a skirt, a dress, and even a handbag. The various techniques used to hack a t-shirt are cutting and slashing, sewing, painting, embroidery, braiding, and the list goes on and on. All you really need to start is a t-shirt, old or new, large or small.

Other items you might need are:

  • a sewing machine (optional) – I have a Necchi Sewing Machine
  • an overlocker (optional)- I use the Brother 3034D Thread Serger. I’ve had this for a few years and I am very happy with it!
  • thread and scissors

T-shirts are usually made of jersey fabric, which had the great advantage that it doesn’t easily fray, so if you make a cut, like, let’s say you turn a t-shirt into a sleeveless tank top, you could hem your seams or leave them as they are, and nothing will happen. Depending on how much you alter your t-shirt, it may change its shape after washing and drying, but there are ways in which you can prevent that from happening, and we are going to talk all about it in this post.

Before the t-shirt hacks: a little bit of t-shirt history

T-shirts. We all have one. What am I saying, we all have at least a dozen. Printed with crazy messages, in both bold and neutral colours, we have t-shirts for the gym, t-shirts for work, t-shirts for gardening, t-shirts for dinner parties… there are very few things that one can’t do wearing a t-shirt.

Yet t-shirts weren’t always this well-seen.

In the late 19th century, the first to adopt the cotton undergarment were miners. Soon after it became popular among workers in various industries: it was easy to make, inexpensive, fast to clean and easy to fit. The great break-through moment of the t-shirt came with Marlon Brando and A Streetcar Named Desire.

Today they’re crazy popular because they’re so basic, so cheap, so… wait for it, easy to cut, chop, hack, customize and turn into completely new garments.

They’re so many ways in which one can repurpose a t-shirt, from simple crops to adding paint and major t-shirt surgery projects. Let’s start with some of the easiest t-shirt hacks you can try:

Basic t-shirt hacks

Crop a basic t-shirt leaving the bottom hem raw, cut out the sleeves and make your armhole a bit larger than usual and get a bad-ass t-shirt like this one pictured on A Beautiful Mess.

crop tshirt hack

Turn a large t-shirt into a beautiful racerback tank top, perfect for a workout like this one from carbon38.  I especially love the grey piece of fabric on this one, it’s just perfect.

beautiful racerbrack tank top yoga

If you have a t-shirt that’s a bit too tight, you could try what Lucia Flores from A Bohemian Dream did here with this shirt: Her t-shirt hack: cut across the back up to the neckline, then either leave it as it is or add lace.

tshirt hack

Another genius idea from the same designer is this t-shirt with button-up sleeves attached to it. If you also love the neckline, you could cut off your original t-shirt neckline and create a new keyhole one and either add lace on top or embroider your own design. This top is available on Etsy.

tshirt reconstruction with shirt sleeves

Create a super sexy crop top from a white tank top like this one Geneva from A Pair and a Spare did. You basically cut the back of your tank top, then cut the front piece in two, from your waist down, then wrap the sides and tie in the back. You can read the much better explained and beautifully photographed tutorial on her blog.

DIY-Balenciaga-Inspired-Crop-Top-A-Pair-and-A-Spare-208

10 inspiring short videos to help you hack a t-shirt quickly:

What I really love about Karina Milanesi, aka Dicadaka is how quickly she explains things I’ve read about on other blogs, like cutting and braiding, but also her funky creativity. Here are some of her t-shirt hacks ideas:

In this Instragram video she shows how to create an intricate back braiding on a black t-shirt: just fold your t-shirt in two, cut along the back line to create the braids, then braid away and secure with thread or a few extra knots.

A video posted by Karina Milanesi (@dicadaka) on

In this second video Karina only shashes the top part of a t-shirt, from the shoulder seam, close to the upper bust line, then accessorises with studs.

A video posted by Karina Milanesi (@dicadaka) on

A very short and very effective crop sweatshirt tutorial: fist Karina created her Mickey Mouse shape out of three circles, then she paints with a sponge across the border of her template. She cuts the neckline and bottom line of the sweatshirt to give it a relaxed, slouchy look. I would use some strop fray on the edges, just so they don’t curl back in the wash, but some might like that look as well!

A video posted by Karina Milanesi (@dicadaka) on

I love how simple and effective this t-shirt transformation is: with just a few smartly placed, iron-on tiny pineapples and a tshirt in a drapey fabric she made this awesome new top. I would sew the pineapples by hand, just to make sure they will resist to any adventures they might participate in, but that’s just me.

A video posted by Karina Milanesi (@dicadaka) on

Another quick project for transforming a t-shirt is creating a pattern by painting on tiny stencils, like these white anchors Karina painted on her red t-shirt.

A video posted by Karina Milanesi (@dicadaka) on

I really like these t-shirt braiding techniques because they change a garment completely. If you have a tshirt that fits you a centimenter too close, by slashing and braiding you can win back that extra width and enjoy your new, unconventional t-shirt.

A video posted by Karina Milanesi (@dicadaka) on

I like this t-shirt hack because it starts a bit like shibori, but created a very similar effect in just a few seconds. Depending on the spray paint you use, you migh get a print that never washes from your t-shirt. You shouldn’t put more on than just a very very light coat of paint, otherwise the t-shirt will look crunchy and feel uncomfortable.

A video posted by Karina Milanesi (@dicadaka) on

Another stamping project, this time with a potato stamp. I always think potato stamps makes messy stamps, but looking at her final result, I would have never guessed those cool arrows were made with a potato!

A video posted by Karina Milanesi (@dicadaka) on

I’ve seen this t-shirt hack idea on Pinterest before, but it’s great to see how quickly a new tshirt dress is ready by just cutting those triangles from the sides and passing the bottom part of the t-shirt through the opening, twice.

A video posted by Karina Milanesi (@dicadaka) on

Last but not least, I love how intentional the hand sewing looks on this colourful pocket. I am not a huge fan of frayed ends, but this looks really cool.

A video posted by Karina Milanesi (@dicadaka) on

7 fun and easy t-shirt hacks projects to try this weekend

Let’s talk about t-shirt hacks and up-cycling garments. If you are currently on a garment and possession detox (like a no buy or low buy), you should know that there are a million things you could do with a thing before throwing it away. Trust me I’m an expert in re-re-re-re-cycling.  And even when I don’t want to think about it, I find other talented makers who do amazing things with old things. In the list below there are seven examples from amazing Etsy sellers who turn plain old t-shirts into some great new pieces.

 A delicate repurposed doily t-shirt

If you’re lucky to have an old crocheted doily around the house, you can jump right into making this beautiful t-shirt hack (don’t worry about yellow crochet, just wash it with a bit of lemon and let it sun dry, Martha Stewart says), if not you could try to crochet your own. Or you could just buy it from katrinshine on Etsy.

Two t-shirts hacked into a skirt

A larger t-shirt (or two smaller ones) can easily turn into a comfy lounge skirt. I really like how the maker kept the original design of the t-shirt, but you could tie-die or dip die or bleach or paint… decorate and alter your t-shirt fabric anyway you want. Original image from Ohzie on Etsy.

A tennis skirt 

This is another skirt idea, shorter and a bit fuller but made in a very similar way: a thicker waistband sewn onto a tube of fabric. Perfect for a friendly game of tennis! Idea and image from ThreadsbyEmily on Etsy.

Yoga gloves

Is your t-shirt too small to turn into another garment for yourself? What about a smaller accessory, such as panties or gloves? How fun are these finger-less yoga gloves? Original image by ComfyChick on Etsy. This might just be one of my favorite t-shirt hacks in this post.

Mixed media tank top

This top from theELEPHANTpink is really great. There´s sharpie tribal drawings, glue paint, embroidery, really, really nice.

A crazy t-shirt collage

I love this idea from Cathrineann on Etsy. It´s perfect for that new t-shirt you only wore once and put spaghetti sauce on. Just cut the bottom part and use a mix of fabric to recreate the lower half of your t-shirt.

Green, reusable cleaning rags

Okay, maybe this is the last resort when it comes to recycling t-shirts but I’d rather use one of these t-shirt rags 20 times than a paper tissue every time. Idea and photo from aRecurringDream.

5 t-shirt hacks ideas from Asos

You can make a cute t-shirt like this one by drawing with a black sharpie on a white tshirt. Before drawing, put a piece of cardboard between the layers of your t-shirt so the ink doesn’t bleed to the back side of your top. If you want to crop it, just cut off the bottom part and hem.

sharpie drawing t shirt

This is the perfect project for that piece of iron-on transfer paper you’ve been hoarding. Take a photo of your pet, or a cute cat like this one  or even these two and your new piece of art is only a little Photoshop and pressing away. Here’s the original t-shirt if you love this as it is.

uni cat tshirt

What I really like about this crochet yoke t-shirt is that the original neckband has been kept in place. This is easier to do if you also keep the back of the yoke for support. If you’re not great at crochet you could sew on some cotton lace (or repurpose a doily).

crochet yoke tshirt

This back wrap t-shirt is easy to make if you start with a really large t-shirt, or you could use two t-shirts, if you don’t have enough fabric. If you’re using a really large t-shirt, unseam the back and redraft the front side, then cut the back piece into two triangles.

wrap back tshirt

Another fun idea to reconstruct a plain white t-shirt is to add a string of pom poms to the bottom hem. Who knew this would look so cute. Image from Asos.

pom pom hem crop white tshirt

 

11 more cute t-shirt hacks ideas

Turn it into a crop top

While not the easiest refashion in the world, you could make this crop top from a black t-shirt. First cut the sleeves off and the full back piece. For the front piece, make a crop just under your rib cage. Cut the back piece into strips of fabric and sew them back to your front piece.

A photo posted by Alana Ruas (@_alanaruas) on

Fake lace DIY t-shirt hack

I really like this idea from Pink Ice: making a series of highly detailed, geometrical cuts to the back of a t-shirt, with the end result of a lace-like t-shirt back. If you’re going to spend hours to do this with a pair of small, sharpened scissors, I would invest in a bit of no-fray and smudging it along the edges of your design. Jersey doesn’t dray, but this will give your design a bit of stability and a longer life if you machine-wash it. back fake lace tshirt diy

Triangle cut out t-shirt hacks

This t-shirt surgery by We Are Hairy People is as beautiful as it is simple. This proves you don’t have to labor for hours to hack a t-shirt. A few well-placed snips and a sharpie and you’re ready to go out the door. hand painted cut out triangle diy tshirt

 

Angel wings t-shirt refashion

Here’s a similar stencil-like t-shirt hack, this time with cut-out angel wings. This seems like a simple to do project and there’s a full tutorial on how to make it over at Cut Out And Keep. angel wings tshirt refashion

T-shirt hacks for larger t-shirts

Katy’s t-shirt refashion is so quick to make and clever I feel inspired to leave this blog post-half-written and go make one myself. Hmm, maybe I’ll just do that after I finish this. Ok, focus! 🙂 Katy went out and bought a very large t-shirt – her t-shirt has a floral print and some beads added – you could also paint your t-shirt or sew your own beads on it, if you want – and then she cinched it with an elastic. The full tutorial on her blog, Sweet Verbena. easy diy tshirt refashion.jpg

Tie the knot t-shirt

Sarah from Our Life is Beautiful says it took her ten minutes to do this t-shirt hack. She cut out the neckband, then created a long, oblique slash, going from the left side of the neckline to the armpit. Then she knotted the remaining ends and sewed it in place. Pretty awesome, isn’t it? Check out the full tutorial here. diy knotted t-shirt

Turn a plain t-shirt into a cute top, with lace

I might have a soft spot for all grey t-shirts DIY, but I just had to show you this easy t-shirt hack from Michele Leng: she takes a plain t-shirt, cuts of the sleeves and adds a cute lace collar. Follow the link above for the step by step tutorial. a cute tshirt refashion with lace

T-shirt to Grocery Bag

This one is one of those t-shirt hacks that I can’t see going through too many washes, but if you have a t-shirt you are thinking of throwing away, give it a longer life by turning it into a grocery bag. Cut off the sleeves, stitch closed the bottom hem and make a lot of small cuts into it for both handles and the net-like design. Idea and tutorial from Delia Creates. tshirt to grocery bag

Funky flip-flops from an old t-shirt

This is another one of those t-shirt hacks I just want to jump and start making. Have an old t-shirt you no longer wear? Braid it and use it to make a pair of lovely to look at flip-flops. Full tutorial from Make it and Love it. turn an old tshirt into fun flip-flops

A ruffled cardigan made from a t-shirt hack

Do you have a long sleeve t-shirt you’re not wearing anymore? Turn it into a cardigan by slashing open the front piece of your tee and adding ruffles to the sides. You can add buttons or completely skip them. Idea and tutorial from Favecrafts. ruffled long tshirt to cardigan

A cute t-shirt with tiny ruffles

If the ruffles are very tiny like the ones in this project, I think I could live with them: tiny ruffles tshirt refashion

10 ways to refashion a t-shirt with braids

 

The braided neckline tee

This is seriously clever how Kira figured out how to turn a plain tee into a super cute braided neckline tee. It looks quite difficult to make, but Kira has a step by step tutorial on her blog: Her New Leaf. how to braid the neckline of a tshirt

The supersize braid t-shirt hack

Veva from My White Idea takes the concept of the crown braid and applies it to a t-shirt. The end result is an amazing, eye-catching new top. Read her full tutorial on her blog. braid adorned upcycled tshirt   An off the shoulder top Make an off the shoulder top from an extra-large t-shirt: cut off the top arc of the sleeves and the neckline to create the off the shoulder shape, then fold back on the inside of the t-shirt and sew a 2-3 cm wide hem. Thread elastic through to keep your top on your shoulders. If you want to make your sleeves look more bell-shaped, cut off thin triangles from the underarm seam area.

A t-shirt rug

While this is not exactly braiding – I made this with oversize plastic crochet – a rug is something you could make by repurposing all those t-shirts you don’t wear anymore, and even scraps from other t-shirt hacks. I’ve also seen this kind of rag rug made by braiding the jersey strips in three, then sewing the braids together. Here’s my nice and cozy rug I made for my studio (which reminds me I have to post some photos). tshirt strips rug

The super-shredded t-shirt

There is some crazy shredding going on here, but I guess one could try it at least once in their lifetime and see what happens. This t-shirt can be purchased from Etsy or you could try to DIY. tshirt refashion shredded and cut

The triangle slash and braid t-shirt

And another slash and braid, yet a tiny bit less dramatic t-shirt hack from Craftster, one of my favorite places in the whole wide web. Follow the link for the instructions.

A new braided headband, from an old t-shirt (now that’s a t-shirt hack)

Here’s a really beautiful t-shirt hack from the talented Alisa Burke. She uses plastic headbands as a base, then covers them in fabric and then glues on a braid. The result is super pretty. Here’s the full tutorial. how to turn a tshirt into a braided headband

A soft braided headband for working out

If you really like the idea of recycling an old t-shirt into a fun accessory you will actually use, here’s a second headband tutorial: this time Catherine from the awesome healthy lifestyle blog Rabbit Food for my Bunny Teeth cuts the lower part of a t-shirt and makes a braid of 5 strands. Clever. Follow the link I just added diy workout headband

Braided t-shirt bracelets

If you like the braided headband DIY, you will love these braided bracelets made from an old t-shirt. What’s really clever about them is that they have magnets glued on the ends of the bracelets! Get the full how to on Henry Happened. how to turn a tshirt into a bracelet

A weaved in neckline

Okay, so this is not really a braiding hack, but I love how clever this weave in is. I love how Sophie used a high-contrast neon on the light grey t-shirt. If you’d like to try making this, read the tutorial over at Sophie’s blog, The Forge. how to make a neckline weave in tshirt

Make a fabric bowl out of an old t-shirt

Lisa Tilse from The Red Thread Blog is one of those makers who always inspire me to experiment more and make more. She has a full tutorial on how you could use t-shirt scraps to make beautiful fabric bowls like the ones you see below. tshirt strip bowl diy Bonus tip: If you need a daily dose of DIY inspiration, follow Lisa on Instagram.

10 over the top t-shirt hacks

 

Small Neckline Faux Ruffle Tee

Even though it looks like this t-shirt is adorned with ruffles, it’s actually made out of jersey circles sewn together on the neckline. Super nice! Tutorial from Sarahndipities. tiny fabric flowers ruffly tshirt

The color block t-shirt

This looks a bit more complicated but it isn’t at all. You only need two or three t-shirts to mix and hack and a sewing machine (or a needle and a bit of patience). I love how this old t-shirt project turned out. Extra points because she‘s on her way to becoming a pattern designer. puzzle tshirt reconstruction

The Contrasting Sleeves Tee

And check out this one: sleeves in two colors and a contrasting neck binding: lovely. From Pinterest. And if we’re still colour blocking, what about making a dress? Love how this one turned out.

The Little Black Dress T-shirt

Turn a simple black xxl shirt into a cute LBD – just adorn the sleeves with a striped knit. You can read the tutorial at the LulaLouise blog. little black dress from a tshirt <!–-nextpage–->

The floral panel t-shirt

Kerry has a very cool idea: turn two t-shirts into a new one. I think an easier way to do this is to cut out the front panel of a t-shirt and switch fabrics so you end up with two new t-shirts instead of one. floral tshirt hack

Pussy-bow T-shirt

Use a long sleeve t-shirt or an extra large one to make the bow for this one. I think you could also do this in a contrasting fabric. Follow the tutorial on I Candy Handmade. pussy bow tshirt

Textured Tshirt

Very similar to the idea above, this textured t-shirt surprises with its man shirt inspired front pleats. The messier they are, the better. Make sure you start with a t-shirt 2 or 3 sizes larger than the one you wear for this t-shirt. T-shirt hack idea by Supernaturale. designer tshirt hack

The Neck Tie T-shirt

To make this t-shirt you will need a necktie. Just sew it onto the cleavage, starting from the middle of the cleavage and working your way up to the other side, pleating the necktie as you go. Ad a pin and you’re done. T-shirt hack tutorial from McKell’s Closet. necktie tshirt reconstruction

The Contrasting Pocket T-shirt

Want to turn a simple white t-shirt into an eye catching top? Sew on a small pocket in a contrasting fabric. If you’re really bold, try a piece of leather, floral prints or even draw the pocket on with sharpie pens. Image from Pinterest. tiny pocket tshirt

Vintage Hankies Peter Pan Collar Tank Top

I love Suzannah’s idea of using vintage handkerchiefs to make petter pan collars for her basic tank tops. They look so sweet! Full tutorial on her blog, Adventures in Dress Making. peter pan collar tank top refashion Play with iron-on transfer paper I really like this t-shirt hack idea, because you just need a printer and iron-on paper. You could print all your favourite food and make yourself a lucky t-shirt 🙂

Are you interested in similar posts about t-shirt reconstruction, t-shirt hacks, t-shirt refashion?
You might also like the following posts:

 

Can this post be improved? How? Let me know so we can create better inspiring, sewing-related content for everyone.

Author’s note: This post was originally posted in April 2014. It was updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness. 

 

31 Slow living practices for early winter

At the center of slow living are time and the effort to control it. To somehow create more time. Yet slowing down ourselves does not change the passing of time, just our perception of it. We stop and notice little things and do things we haven’t done before and days seem longer. We rush and run, and do, and jump to the next and the days fly.

I don’t have time. But how are you spending your time? Here are 31 ideas to defy time and do things a bit differently this winter.

Here we, go, 31 slow living practices for early winter:

  1. Walk on top of fallen colorful leaves and listen to the sounds they make. Notice and describe below at least three sounds of those late-autumn leaves
  2. In the morning, first thing after you wake up, open your window and breathe in. What does winter smell like where you live?
  3. Cocoon yourself on the sofa with a blanket and think of pleasant things for 5 minutes. Taking a nap is ok
  4. Bake a loaf of bread. Enjoy the texture of the dough, the smell of the bread in the oven, then when it’s done, break a piece with your fingers and eat it with butter or olive oil and a bit of salt (here’s my easy bread recipe)
  5. Take a shower and imagine yourself in an outdoor shower, on a deserted, tropical island
  6. Eat your favorite winter fruit as slowly as you can
  7. Try a week of no spending
  8. Meditate for 5 minutes. Use an app or search YouTube for guided exercises. I like Headspace.
  9. Sprout seeds for making a fresh salad. You can use mung beans, soybeans, lentils, whatever you have.
  10. Enjoy the growth of your tiny plants
  11. Sit on a bench in the park and listen to the sounds of the place
  12. Plant tulip bulbs to enjoy during spring
  13. Schedule an evening for “doing nothing”. Don’t plan to be productive, plan to intentionally “waste time”
  14. Try knitting. If you’re very experienced try knitting slower and enjoying your yarn and needles (here’s an easy knitting pattern for making a cozy hat)
  15. Frog something you won’t wear
  16. Darn a pair of socks or some other piece of clothing in need of some love. It doesn’t need to be invisible
  17. Sew fabric napkins for yourself (here are some napkins I made and then died with blueberries)
  18. Sit somewhere quiet and draw your favorite animal for a few minutes. Close your eyes, remember it, draw it. (Here’s what happened when I sat down to draw for a few minutes, for a month)
  19. Try a tiny embroidery on a piece of clothing. Use the smallest needle and the thinnest threads you own and embroider something on an invisible-to-others spot (Some inspiration)
  20. Choose a special kind of fabric from your stash, hold it in your hands, drape it over your body, over objects and imagine what it could become. Don’t take any decisions
  21. Mindfully and slowly clean and object you are thinking to replace. Make it as good as new
  22. Fix some annoying thing in your home: a sound, a leak, a closure, a door
  23. Cook a beautiful meal, like a colorful salad or sushi
  24. Write a mind map with everything that’s on your mind. Don’t overthink, just connect thoughts as they arise
  25. Work without your computer for 15 minutes
  26. Walk to work or from work one day and do your best not to rush
  27. Make yourself a cup of tea and imagine your own kind of tea ceremony
  28. Make someone a kindness
  29. Look out the window. Keep your phone in your pocket
  30. Pick up a book that excites you and silently read one page
  31. Take one weekly activity you do in a hurry and try to do it slowly, unrushed

 

 

 

 

Modern low-waste pattern cutting

Zero or low waste pattern cutting refers to the technique of cutting a sheet of textile material in a way that the least amount of fabric is lost. The benefits of this way of creating sewing patterns – both for commercial publishing or family sewing are easy to imagine: you send less matter to the landfill. You save money by using the most of your fabric. And so on. 

Yet for those of us who like to sew and also dabble into pattern-making, we know that what you take off from your piece of fabric is exactly what gives shape, movement and personality to a final garment. 

Many older garments that were traditionally made at home, such as peasant shirts and blouses, kimonos, fishing pants and so on, are based on squares that are shirred, gathered or tied at the waist. Not much was lost. Pieces of the garment such as pocket linings were used to patch the garment as it deteriorated with use. These garments have many advantages, but, unless made from thin gauze, they are also boxy and heavy. It’s not a look everyone loves. 

Monk in Chiang Mai, Thailand by https://unsplash.com/@sachleno

Making a sewing pattern requires an understanding of body measurements and movement. It also requires knowledge of sewing. 

Flat pattern cutting involves creating and manipulating a block to create various volumes. Draping on a stand, form or real body is another way to create sewing patterns. 

Fashion designer Julian Roberts uses a process he invented called subtraction cutting which allows him to create organic-looking, voluminous shapes with less fabric waste.

“I design in patterns, rather than in vague illustrative drawings, which would usually become reinterpreted by other skilled cutters. My process involves designing not the exterior, not the front, back or side; indeed, there are usually no side seams to my garments (after all, do humans have side seams?). Instead, I design the interior space of the garment that the body travels through. This approach results in forms that are difficult to predict, requiring an intimate relationship between designer, hand, cloth and body. (1)” You can see more of Roberts’ and his students’ work on his Tumblr website: https://subtractioncutting.tumblr.com/

Timo Rissanen is another professor, writer and fashion designer dedicated to exploring low waste pattern cutting techniques: https://www.instagram.com/timorissanen/

Interested in trying some zero-waste pattern-making and sewing yourself? Here is a zero-waste robe pattern you can make, complete with step by step instructions: https://elbetextiles.com.au/blogs/news/zero-waste-pattern-making

Is waste an issue when you sew, choose or design sewing patterns?

Have you made anything low or zero waste lately? I’d love to hear about it

Notes:

(1) McQuillan, H., Rissanen, T., & Roberts, J. (2013). The cutting circle: how making challenges design. Research Journal of Textile and Apparel17(1), 39-49.

Can this post be improved? How? Let me know so we can create better inspiring, sewing-related content for everyone. 

Make something truly beautiful

This is what I wrote a few weeks back in my bullet journal. And something quite magical happened – I gave myself permission to do it.

I haven’t had taken out the sewing machine in a few months. The time before that had been even longer. For many reasons. No specific need to make a garment, not enough time to make something I needed but that was too complex to make. Other reasons too.

At first I wrote that down in an attempt to block time for creative work – I haven’t stopped making things, just sewing. But this phrase started growing and growing in my mind.

Something truly beautiful.

I would love to make that. That would be exciting.

So I pondered. I sat at the library looking for patterns. I checked my closet – what would I really like to make, what do I wear a lot of. I decided on the item. And found the pattern, then the fabric – I checked my fabric stash and realistically decided I couldn’t cut into the expensive Japanese cotton for this one, but I needed a good thin cotton. I dusted off that craftsy class I never took advantage of.

And I started to sew slowly, slowly, enjoying each seam and taking the time to rest when the project needed rest. And then got back to it, still slowly.

And today I made a shirt. It’s not the first attempt, but it’s the first one that I am proud of.

Can’t wait to wear it.

The things they don’t tell you about the capsule wardrobe

 

I recently stumbled upon Leslie Price‘s (author at Manrepeller), article about the things people don’t talk about much, when they talk about the holy capsule wardrobe. I recommend reading this piece even if you’re not a minimalist, trying to decide the absolute minimum number of clothes you can own and still feel comfortable and put together (I like this expression, it is as if our normal state would be a jumble of limbs, hair accessories and extra-long scarves).

“I hate my sweater.” writes Price. “It’s a perfectly fine sweater upon first glance: a classic navy wool-blend crew. But I’ve been relying on it a lot recently, and it’s showing the wear. Pills line the front and litter the undersides of the sleeves. I had high expectations for this sweater, an expensive designer purchase that, at the time, I believed was an ‘investment.'”

Lounge pants I thrifted (they were new), wore to death, then mended

In the last two years (with a couple need-or-love exceptions) I have managed to stop buying new clothes. Next week, I will have changed countries and climates three times and with each move there was a purge and the question of “do I REALLY need to carry this with me over mountains and seas and oceans”?(Of course, with modern air travel one does not really carry these things on their back, but they do tend to linger on your mind). I did buy some pre-loved clothes (I like the idea of buying second-hand because you return those items to the consumption cycle and contribute to reducing waste) and I have donated most of them them back to the store I got them from.

(Of course I did buy new fabric and made myself new garments, many which I wore to (their) death, others which I sadly donated to the above mentioned thrift-stores. So I did produce waste, but arguably I did not waste the work of those who make our garments. )

A woven t-shirt top I made last year and didn’t end of keeping

This leaves me with a reduced number of garments I own and most of them are wonderful and special. However, there is a downside of owning a small number of clothes and Price expresses this wonderfully: “I’m like Marie Kondo, but everything sparks meh instead of joy because I’ve been exposed to it all so often for so long.”

What about you? Are you a minimalist or a maximalist? A pro-capsule or an anti-capsule?

What I’ve learned from 30 days of drawing

In January I challenged myself to try and make at least one drawing a day. There were days I felt inspired and in the “flow” and where the pages turned and new sketches were eating the nakedness of the page. There were days in which the drawing challenge felt stupid: I am not an artist, why am I doing this? What is the purpose? There were days in which I didn’t draw anything.

But all in all it was a great thing to do. Here’s what I learned from this and why I would do it again:

drawing-challenge-kiwi

  • I had fun. I like drawing. I liked it as a kid and then I stopped, “because I am not an artist”, but I actually enjoy it for the sake of it.
  • I learned that I am still drawing things the same way I was drawing them when I was a kid (an example is this post where I illustrated my MMM16 makes). So I tried to look at things and draw what I saw.
  • I experimented with some new tools: oil pastels. I learned they allow me to do some quick sketches that are so fun. I tried blending them, and in the beginning this sucked, but I kind of got it in the end.
  • I remembered the time I re-discovered watercolours or when I tried sketching with ink.
  • I found myself to be more observant and more mindful of the things around me: a beautiful blood orange with sunset-like colours, half a kiwi, snow heavy on top of trees.
  • Pinterest was a big inspiration for finding things to draw as well.
  • I also learned that my own sketches inspired me to do new versions, for example I sketch of a bird I did in oil pastels and then in watercolour.
  • It’s ok to sketch the same things a few times until you get it.
  • There are some amazing artists out there whose work is inspiring to me, such as Minnie, or ‘SemiSkimmedMin‘, an artist from South-East London.

drawing-challenge-cat

Do you draw? Why? Why not? Would you consider doing 30 days of drawing challenge?

The story of the sweater that took me 3 years to finish

I started this sweater almost three years ago. I was preparing to move to another country and as I was packing and sorting through my possessions I’ve decided not to buy anything new. Ever. 

As my sewing machines and all my craft items were either packed or given away, I realized I would need a new project that would keep me busy and happy, but also was easy to carry around. I had a gift card that I didn’t know what to do with; when I decided I would make myself my first sweater. 

I remember choosing the yarn. Spending an hour looking at everything in the yarn store, reading labels and touching the yarn to my inner wrist to see if the wool was itchy or not. I bought a light grey yarn, a type of superwash wool that looked pretty. I had knitted two cowls a few months before in a bulky, virgin wool and I was never able to wear them. They were too itchy. I bought six skeins, to make sure I had enough.

I didn’t use a pattern in the beginning. I just briefly researched the construction of a sweater and got started after I’ve seen a loose knitted jumper on Pinterest. I didn’t do a swatch test. I didn’t understand what gauge was and I matched my needles with my yarn weight by guessing. I just started knitting.

I was very slow, but I enjoyed it. I would listen to podcasts or audiobooks and think of the new place I’d live in. When I moved, the long winter nights, the cold and the knee-high show made finishing the sweater even more pleasant. Little by little I had finished it. It looked like a sweater.

When I tried it on, I realized the sleeves were maybe 30% longer than they should have been. In retrospect, they looked a lot like the Pinterest image I saw but they were not practical at all. The sweater fit awkwardly. I was very loosely knitted and just too big.

No worries, I thought to myself, it’s wool, so I’ll just was it in warm weather and dry it and everything will just work out. It didn’t. There was absolutely no shrinking. I tried wearing it a couple of times, but it just didn’t feel right.

It stayed in the back of the closet for a long time, before I’ve committed to using only the yarn I had in my stash before buying any more new yarn. So I unravelled the sweater and started making another one, in bulky wool that looked faster to knit. Again, forgotten.

A few weeks before moving again, I picked it up again. I used a pattern for the first time. I took my time to swatch and get gauge. I then adapted the pattern to my own gauge and started, slowly, knitting. I unravelled parts of it a few times. I knitted them again.

And then it was finished. And it fit.

5 Sweatshirt Refashion Ideas

Happy New Year! I hope that 2017 will be better, kinder and more mindful for you and me both.

During the holidays I received a navy sweatshirt from a person I respect and admire a lot. The only thing is the sweatshirt is a bit (just a couple centimetres) too small for me at the waist and at the sleeve cuffs. I’d like to keep the sweatshirt and wear it as much as I can so that it would remind me of the beautiful person I’ve received it from, but I’d need to do some modifications.

For now, here’s what I am thinking about:

  • Cutting the sleeves off and inserting a knitted panel. Either knitting the cuffs. Or inserting the panel at the bicep area. Or adding a fabric panel in the same way.
  • Adding lace like this Anthropologie top.
  • Cutting the bottom hem and the bottom of the sleeves and adding flanel shirt cuffs and buttons in the front, a bit like this shirt from Death by Elocution.
  • Turning it into a cropped cardigan like Geneva’s bomber sweatshirt (A Pair and a Spare).
  • Cutting the sleeves, bottom hem and neckline off and making it a workout crop?

Any suggestions or ideas? 🙂