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Sewing and Upcycling

I haven't had in person classes for a while and last week my talented innovative student came over .

She loves to upcycle. She follows avante garde designers and then comes to class with her very interesting ideas.

Her main staple of upcycled pieces are men's button down shirts. This time she had seen some interesting sleeves and wanted to try her hand at ruching, gathering.

Her first step was to pin the sleeve to see if she could get the "look"

sleeve on shirt with pinned gathers

The first sleeve

mens button down shirt with one gathered sleeve

gathered sleeve on shirt

And then to create the effect on a piece of fabric. The "look" seems very casual but when creating it has to be measured and pinned. She sewed evenly measured "pleats" on a piece of fabric and created a "sleeve" from that.

measuring pleats on fabric

gathering pleats on fabric

Then sewn,

sewing a sleeve

After trying it on to create the casual look she will add elastic to the seam to ruche it up

gthered sleeve

The second project was copying and creating a pattern from a pair of gathered pants. This time the fabric to be used was not upcycled. Cottons purchased in Japan many years ago will finally be used to create something.

selection of Japanese indigo and beige cotton fabrics

Though in keeping with our upcycling philosophy we drafted a pattern from her pair of gathered pants onto newspaper and she then cut the pattern pieces out.

cutting out fabric in shape of pants pattern

She gave it some thought, as of course all of her pieces have to have that designer touch. How could she do that in a pair of simple gathered pants?

Well, the fabric had 2 different colors on either side so she thought about it and decided that the inner pocket pieces would use the contrasting color as would the back pieces of the pant legs.

pinning pocket pattern piece to fabric

The one side of the fabric has a beige color and the other a slightly indigo color

pocket on pants

Cutting the angle for the pockets

cutting pocket opening shape on fabric

The pattern pieces cut out

pattern pieces of pants cut out laid on a table

The fabric has not been prewashed. It was 100% cotton so as I did not know how much it would shrink after being washed we added some cm to the size of the pattern and would readjust the paper pattern after washing the pants.

Took out the trusted vintage Brother sewing machine

Turquosie vintage Brother sewing machine

And she sewed the pants

sewing pants on a sewing machine

The pockets

showing pocket of pants

and the pants. The fabric shrunk very slightly so the paper pattern was adjusted accordingly.

Sometimes the creation of the pattern takes much more time than the sewing of the garment itself. So if one has taken the time to draft a pattern it is worth it after all adjsutments to transfer it to thicker parchment paper so that can be preserved and reused often.

gathered elastic pants with pockets

A pair of casual very comfortable pants

gathered elastic pants with pockets being worn

That added extra touch

gathered elastic pants with pockets


There are online pdf tutorials and video classes available to purchase

The tutorials are available here on Etsy

and here on my site

and the videos classes can be viewed here on my site after purchase

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