We are stuck in a loop.

It is morning. You are getting ready for the day. You count your blessings before sitting up in your bed, as you have been training yourself to do. But then, when you start to open the doors and drawers from the cupboards and closets that hold your clothes, you can’t help to feel a little disappointed again. While you are trying to decide what to wear today, you ponder over what you should be having in your wardrobe. What is it that is missing from these items that would truly make you enthusiastic about your looks?

Here is the thing, though, we are so stuck in how we experience fashion that we do not see a way out. Sure, you try something every now and then. You try to buy more sustainable, or only second hand for a year. Or a stop-shop all together. But it doesn’t seem to really work well, you do not get that great feeling from your clothes that you know you deserve.

There is not one thing that you could change to make sure you love what you wear. There are many things and it is difficult. It is difficult because one thing leads to another. You feel like buying something new because your wardrobe sucks. It is not as good as it could be. Because it sucks you buy something new on a regular basis, thinking that you are on a budget. You buy something that you will stop having an interested in soon, and BOOM, you have yourself another average item that adds to the feeling of craving something new.

This is the loop that we are stuck in, and that you need to break.

If you cut the cycle with better habits you will turn it in an upward spiral. A spiral that will continue to develop and grow upward together with your personality. While it works its way upward you will start to feel better in your outfits. That will be the time when you realize that changing your habits works, that you have the right and the means to feel as great as you want to feel in your outfits and how you look.

The Rethink-program will help you to break with the habits that are keeping you down. It tackles the 4 main reasons why we keep adhering to this cycle using lessons from fashion itself.

The 4 main reasons why we keep ourselves in the same cycle are;
The high beauty standards we keep putting ourselves up against. They are all around us, but it is thanks to ourselves if we allow it to have a bad impact on our lives and how we feel.
The need for new that exists because the items that we have in our wardrobe already are horrible.
The price per wear; we are used to a certain price-range, quality and look of the items we buy. We need to change how we look at quality, price and background story if you really want a different feeling from your wardrobe.
Shopaholic; we misinterpret the vibe we get from wearing something new with feeling good about yourself. Your old outfit should be able to give you the same feeling as a brand new outfit, if it doesn’t it is not good enough for you.

The Rethink program, (you can find more information here) works to cut the cycle at those four points.

How does it do that?

You know by now that I do love fashion. I just do not love the generic sell-more boring fashion that most of us have in our wardrobes… I’ll run you down some thing that you can take from the fashion industry that you can incorporate in your daily life so you can can get to a wardrobe that is better, too!

First up, the designers approach. You have been dressing yourself your whole life. You know what you like and what you don’t. It is just not enough in the center of your attention. If you get this more to the forefront you will never by an items again that you do not like!

Go into your wardrobe, and find out. Find out what you like the most, in terms of quality, shape, colour, print etc etc. The things you do not like? They might also be able to tell you something. But focus on the positive for now, kay? We like to keep an upbeat vibe because sometimes dressing is simply hard!

Second, how to be your own muse. Designers and buying teams work with a representation of their perfect client. You should be your own muse. It might be hard to look at yourself as a source of inspiration, but there really is no other way to be happier with your wardrobe. You should not dress for anyone but yourself!

There are many ways for you to feel better. For now I will leave you with one particular one that is going to make a change for you in all parts of your life. Let the compliments sink in. We tend to step over compliments and accomplishments with ease while we linger on the things that we did wrong, or that didn’t go well. Next time somebody gives you a compliment, reply with a “Thank you very much”. Do not try and write them off to other people that may have helped you. Do not stop to think that is was a piece of cake and that anybody could have done it. Let them sink into your heart. Remember them, write them down, repeat them, anything! So you let them give you the great feeling that you deserve to have.

Another thing that we can change is our state of mind. There is a lot wrong with current fashion. We have a strained relationship with it, where it could be a benefit and a joy in our lives. We try and dress so others might accept us, for example, or we give trends power over us by thinking that what you wear should be in line with current fashion.

In the course we will learn to recognize this and what you can do about it, cause it is kind of a big subject. For now I would suggest that you stop following accounts and things that give you a limited idea of what fashion is. Stop yourself being influenced by anything its sole purpose is to sell more. No more magazines in your post, no more newsletters in your email. Do not follow brands anymore that try to sell you more of the same. Clean them up, flush them out! Exterminate them!

We will look at how the world influences you. How others look affects how we want to look. What others believe to be important affects what we feel is important. How things are designed and made has an effect on how they look and feel. So how can you be aware of this, influence it and make changing easier for yourself?

There is a lot going on in the production of fashion. I recommend you find a documentary, prep yourself up on a couch somewhere and watch it. It is not going to be nice. But the clothes you wear are directly responsible for a lot of hurt. You know this already unless you have been living under a rock. If you allow yourself to take in the details it will be easier to change.

How do you influence the world/ environment around you? The struggles you have with your wardrobe are not isolated to you alone. You know that others might struggle with the same things, we are all people living in the same communities. The moment you take the freedom to express yourself the way you want to, you might be able to help others to do the same, because they see you confidently do it.

For now I would suggest to train your brain to be positive about others that look different to you. Stop making jokes at the expense of somebody else that didn’t get the trends right. Or that is wearing something you think is inappropriate. You are reading my blogs, posts and email because you are struggling with how you look. How you feel or want to feel, doesn’t match with how you look form the outside. I can guaranty that there are people out there that feel a bigger mismatch between how they look and how they feel. It is harder for them, start creating the freedom of expression for other too, you might feel more freedom for yourself too!

That is it, for now! I hope these tips might help you to increase the fun you have with the outfits you create for yourself. I hope if I were to meet you in the street at some point, I would be able to see who you are and what you stand for in life. There is just more fun in it, that way!

Making clothing personal.

Are you as creative as you would like to be? Tell me, do you have some pieces of fabric lying around, bought for a project that you thought of years ago? Or maybe you are thinking about an outfit that you used to wear, but is not sold anymore. Would it not be great if you could in some way make that outfit again?

This blog is for those people who want to be creative with their hands and make stuff, but who somehow feel held back. At the end of this article I will share 4 tips with you about how to start to be more creative.

repairing is caring

I share what I am making, on my socials… Sometimes it is an upcycle or recycle project or it might be something that had to be handmade from scratch, because it does not exist in the way that I like it. In any case, it is not that I want you to purely make things; I want you to start questioning how and why you get the things that end up in your wardrobe. By sharing my creative project I want to show you that you can do things differently.

Being creative with your hands and making stuff certainly helps when you want to own items that are important to you. There is no equivalent to making a dress that is perfect in colour, perfect for your shape and exactly the story that you want it to be!

Much of why we dislike what we have available for ourselves to wear is because it is a generic fashion, and we are not generic people. We are individuals who have a distinct taste and style and feeling for what beauty is.

When you think about your wardrobe, what feelings come up? When you get dressed in the morning, does your wardrobe make you feel better, or worse about the day ahead?

I help people to learn to curate garments into their wardrobe rather than just buying things. When you curate the items into your wardrobe you take real care that they suit you and your values perfectly. Being creative helps when you are able to make and change garments so they are bespoke, perfect for you.

always in the making zone

But, whether it is due to the stigma of being creative or a steep learning curve, it is sometimes difficult to just go ahead and do it. When somebody else is being creative, they make it look so effortless!

Here are four tips that can make it easy for you to unleash your individual creativity safely, so you can start enjoying expressing your personality.

1- how to be more confident
This is a mindset issue. I won’t go into the stigma of creativity and why it is there, that is a whole other story, but I can tell you that doing what you want in terms of fashion and clothing will make you happier. If you feel held back by voices in your head that tell you to not do something because it is silly or make you stand out, know that you are limiting yourself. It is you trying to listen to voices of people who are not even real. You are already slowing yourself down before you have even met anyone’s critical eyes. Do you want to live your life by the rules of others? Or do you want to live life being an authentic version of yourself? Ask yourself, if you keep holding yourself back because you do not want to stand out, what is the cost and what do you lose?

2- take it easy and learn
If you are a beginner, know that you are allowed time to learn and make mistakes. Just start! Start by repairing something with a silly button. Just because you like it. Make a simple top from your imagination. The thrill of making something that once existed only in your head can become addictive. Sadly, if we did not have any role models around us when we were younger who regularly were in the process of making or repairing, the learning curve can be huge. If you have never touched a sewing machine, it can be hard to learn how to thread a machine; and to understand why it needs such an intricate path before you can start sewing!

3- get a pro to help
If you want to create something that is a few levels above your own abilities you can ask a professional to help. Give part of the process to someone who knows what they are doing. You could even give your design to a studio. They can make your outfit. That way you are able to use your imagination and express yourself.

4-co-creation or customisation
Another way to unleash your creativity is by using the multiple customisation options on the internet. That way you are creating a unique piece, and you cannot go wrong. Take you favourite colour combinations or an artwork or emblem that is important to you. It takes a bit of time, sometimes it feels like a puzzle, to create your perfect shoes, bag or shirt but the end product is certainly professional looking!

I have many more tips, but the thing is, they are also very personal. Maybe you are not held back by limiting ideas of self-expression. Maybe you just do not know how to sew and do not know where to start?

Like I said, creativity is key to showing who you are. When you want a wardrobe that makes you happy, that inspires you and is a true representation of who you are, you have to be creative.

I have written an e-book that explores the problem of our impersonal wardrobe and why this is hurting us. But do not worry, it is not a negative look on current fashion practices! I have included several different ways to get out of this system and confidently challenge the status quo in fashion.

Start by expressing yourself and taking the space that you deserve.

A bit more than just an old coat.

Een zware oude jas…

This coat is pretty old. With broken zippers, and sun bleached patches. It is very clear it has been worn a lot outdoor. It is just horrible. But it is not. My husband (AKA Ben) has very fond memories going for this coat. I hate it, but whatever, life would be boring if we liked all the same things. We kept it in a closet for a long time, and than Marie Kondo* came and we moved it to a place where he could see it. But it was just not right for me. It was still gathering dust but in a place where we could see it, rather than someplace hidden.

In deze jas heeft mijn man Ben jaren teams gecoached. Dat kun je ook wel zien. Ik vind het ding niet om aan te zien. Maar nadat we netjes alle afleveringen van Mari Kondo* hebben gezien, is het item in kwestie verhuisd van de kast naar een haak op de muur. Zo wordt Ben wat vaker aan die mooie tijd herinnerd. En ik aan een stoffige orange jas. Ik had dus al snel besloten dat ik er wat aan moest gaan doen….

So I send him a shocking picture! I was going to turn it into a bag, as he keeps his sportswear in bags. Wanting to preserve as much as I could from the original jacket, I kept the pockets, and the bottom had a elastic band that I could use for the top of the bag.

Ik wilde zo veel mogelijk het gevoel van een jas blijven houden. Dus de ritsen en de zakken moesten blijven zitten. Er zat een elastiek in de onderkant, die wilde ik houden en aan de bovenkant zetten als afwerking. Ik moest eerst even nog het elastiek er opnieuw doorheen halen en afknopen, het functioneerde eigenlijk niet meer. Maar wanneer de tas af zou zijn weer wel!

The most fiddly thing was trying to get the sleeves to go flat without completely destroying the seams. I pinned them flat and later sewed from underneath. The sort of the same thing had to be done with the inside, but that could be done a little less pretty.

Natuurlijk moesten de mouwen plat. Dat was het grootste puzzelwerk maar is uiteindelijk prima gelukt door het gewoon meerdere keren op andere manieren te spelden en het vervolgens dicht te naaien.

The is the result on the inside. There is even the spare button! The zippers, apart from the broken front zipper, are all functioning. It really is still a coat!

Hier de binnenkant, de elastiek van de onderkant zit nog niet aan de bovenkant maar verder is het zoals ik het hoopte.

Here I put together the sleeve to create the bottom, unfortunately the parts of the sleeve that will not be the bottom have to be discarded. But that is all of the parts that will be gone, while using no new materials, so my planet-loving heart is happy.

De twee losgeknipte mouwen zijn zeker groot genoeg om de bodem van de tas te worden. De bodem is gewoon een ronde vorm. Ik heb een emmer als mal gebruikt om het mooi rond te krijgen.

The loop to hang the coat-bag (or maybe Bagoat?) is from the part of the sleeves used to close up the sleeves even further in a case of bad weather. I just stitched them together, in between two layers finishing up the zipper. The zipper was raw so it needed an extra layer.

Deze elementen, die de jas hanger vormen, komen van de mouwen. Je kon ermee de mouwen wat verder dicht trekken. Ik heb ze gewoon op elkaar gestikt. Weer een stukje van het originele materiaal kunnen gebruiken!

So this is the end result! The hood positioned like this means it still really looks like a jacket when hanging. I am happy it worked so well like this because this idea only formed when I was already cutting the coat up.

De jas-tas hangt nu op een mooi plekkie in onze slaapkamer. Zodat Ben er regelmatig aan herinnerd wordt. En ik heb er ook meer vrede mee, al is het wel een lelijke oranje vlek. Het is in ieder geval een functionele oranje vlek.

This was all that was leftover from the coat. Not too much, right? All I used for new materials was the stitching I used in my machine.

Dit zijn alle materialen die over zijn, ik ben erg tevreden dat ik geen nieuwe materialen heb gebruikt naast het stikgaren voor in de machine. De kleur had ik nog van een ander project.

(*) Marie Kondo, wij zijn hier thuis wel even in de ban geweest van haar methode. En als je, zoals zoveel, moeite hebt met de hoeveelheid spullen die je opgebouwd hebt dat is ze zeker de moeite van de aandacht even waard. Opruimen is atuurlijk mooi, maar ik vind dat we met zijn allen beter stil moeten staan bij de dingen die we kopen. We zouden ons moeten afvragen bij de dingen die we kopen of ze voor ons op de lange termijn ook nog een “spark of joy” brengen….

(*) Marie Kondo, a new living legend, I guess. But she likes tossing things away and I think we should be more caring about our products in the first place. Make sure you only get things you really want, so you will be able to store or display them in you house visibly. That way you can use what you own.

Dressing for the occasion

Now my babe is 6 weeks old I am starting to crave for my old clothes. I have been very happily going through all my clothes. Most of them I can wear again! But, many of them are not fit for breastfeeding, which I hope to be doing for a while. Since it is summer here and it is supposed to be good weather for dresses I went to look for a long nursing dress. To no avail. Breastfeeding dresses are either short or I have to wear a skirt. Or there is the option for dresses that leave too much room for a belly that I no longer have.

Luckily I have a sewing machine (well, three) and an imagination. I am going to take the pattern of a short dress that I already own and make a new long dress whilst recycling some of our old garments.

What I already have is a green Topshop dress. It has two layers as a top part, one you can pull aside and one more to cover that up. I am going to copy this double layer part while slightly changing the shape. Like I said, I am also going to make my new dress long!

The most interesting things happen at the top!

So I made a paper pattern, because I wanted to change a few tings. The armhole was far too low on the original dress and I didn’t like the shape of the neck. I changed the fabric layers on the back in order to create a smarter look.

All the pattern pieces needed for the top of the dress.

First up in the previous picture are the two overlapping layers of the front of the top with the layer that will go over them. Next is the back layer that will be cut together with the longer part so it doesn’t have a seam on the back. The last part you can see is the partly overlapping layer on the back of the dress.

Apart from the pattern making I also need to select the fabrics and the upcycled pieces for this dress. A part of the process I always like!

Colour selection

There is a t-shirt in this heap that I have made before from printed fabric that I never wear. This will be the most important fabric part of the dress, because I also designed the print in a tedious 3D process. I chose the rest of the colours/garments around this T-shirt. It is  combined with a t shirt form one of my kids that has a print that has half disappeared because of the laundry(or rubbish print-technique, whatever you like). A baby-legging and some not-so-white-anymore t-shirts that I will turn into the lower layer of the top in order to save on meters of new organic fabric that I need to use. Another t-shirt with some text that I like to cut through because I think that it will give an interesting effect.

So, after the cutting and the first bit of sewing the front panel the following picture is what you get. The top layer is already stitched together and will go over the ugly white nursing panel. This nursing panel I will take out and replace by a normal panel as soon as I have finished breastfeeding. My stitching is wide all around this panel, to make sure I can take it out really relatively easily.

Like I said, everything happens at the top!

Now I am going to make the main part of the dress. From a design point of view I also want some cut-n-sew in the dress, not only in the top part. Furthermore I would want to save as much as I can from the new organic fabric that I use. Therefore I made a few straps of fabric from the old garments.

The width depends on the original garment as well as the length of the dress.

These big “ribbons” will be put into the fabric to create the front and the back of the fabric.

After I stitched it together I had to do some final adjustments to get the dress to fit perfectly. I am already looking forward to replace the white bit of the dress , as it looks as ugly as I thought it would.  For now I will be happy to use it while feeding in a public place as it is nice and covered up like this…





Visible Mending

Google it. Visible Mending. It is fun! I am used to patching things up either visible or less visible with a machine. But visible mending is meant to be seen, it is also meant to make old fabric more durable. So you could mend before something even breaks.

It is best to use this technique on a non-stretch fabric. This because it is pretty much impossible to make visible mending stretchy. Nevertheless I tried it with my stretch denim anyway because the back of this fabric is black and I wanted to see what it would look like since the hole in the fabric was already looking black. Now, with this one I stitched top to bottom and after that left to right, while weaving trough my previous stitches. This is what makes the black inside of the hole even more black and also even more sturdy. It is how you used to stitch up old socks. (Another nice google, people are doing fun stuff with socks nowadays!)

Two-ways visible mending on a stretch fabric…

Than here are pants you might recognize from a previous mending attempt. Last time I used the sewing-machine, this time it was my hand-work. Because these pants already have a bright color, and I have used this color thread before, I stuck with the same orange color that blends in with the fabric.

Hardly visible

Now, because the patches that I previous used on the back have a very nice rough weave, I used this to guide my hand during stitching. I expect it to break again, which I like because it makes the process for mending unpredictable and the outcome nice and playful. In order to make this happen I didn’t sew too far away from the broken fabric. Of course this way making sure the idea of visile mending making your fabric more durable doesn’t work with these pants.

I think the back of this fabric is like a painting! From these pictures you can see well that the stitches are only from top to button, not woven through the fabric.

through wear and tear, and fixing, it will change.

Below one where I started experimenting with the thread that I used. It is partly thicker. Please note I did not use a patch on the back and therefore it remains more stretchy which is nicer to wear. The part that I did sew will break again though, because I took only very little surface. I did so deliberately, because I would like it to break again and see where I end up then.

threading lightly and less-lightly

Now for the final pants, and this one did take a while, it is a Zara pants that had broken fabric and patches glued to the back. I took out the old patches because the pants were too broken to use these old ones. I tried matching the color of the stitching with fabric patches that I decided on using. So with this one the patches are also non-stretch and the pants had a bit of stretch. I will find out what the effect of that will be in the long run. I hope, because I only use it on the legs it wont interfere with the wearability of the pants.

The patches are not fitting the holes anymore…

So, it was a pretty big surface that I wanted to mend. It meant I had to be clever not to move the patch. As you can see I attached it with safety pins. I also needed a clever way to get room on the inside of the pants to stitch the needle back and forth.  I used my kids tower buiding blocks for it. I put the correct size inside the leg, changing one time as I was going lower in the leg. And than I had room to move. It still took a bit of time but I think itwas pretty quick.

Had to be a bit creative with the tools…

This one is also only stitched one way. So only from left to right. I don’t think that is a problem because of the use of the patch on the back. As you can see I used a bit of creativity with the width and length of the stitches. This I did to get a more playful effect but also to make sure that a slight change in stitching was not going to ruin the look of the pants. The shape of the holes were playful enough that I chose not to use too steady a stitch, which anyway I would not have been able to recreate until the very end. This would have made it look more boring and less poetic.

It took some stitches…

I think this technique calls for more experimentation…. Endless possibilities!

Not out with the old!

Okay, so my sweaters are old. But I still like them, especially the color. (Did you know that most things are bought because of their color rather than anything else!?) And my kids-pants-knees keep breaking so I have a solution for both! (see my blog from May 2017)

I have turned 2 sweaters into 3 pants with different success-rates. This mainly because I didn’t make a pattern. I decided just to cut and see where I would end up. I like this kind of working because it is quick and might lead to understanding pattern making better.

Out with the old?

First the cutting of the panels. There are currently many pants that have not that many seams and as it is easy to cut and quick to sew I thought to try something like that. I can simply put that pant on the fabric and cut next to the seam.

For the first pants, this is the easiest and I think super funny cause of the use of the sleeves for legs. Note that this cannot be done with all sweaters, but it works with this one because of the lack of shoulder seams in this particular style.

The original pants of which I got the shape are really flat. It has the elastic inside the waistband in one piece. It is approximately size 98. It is very slim-fit, just how it should be for my kid…

My sleeve turning into pants…

The final result was what I was hoping for, although the white part might look too much like a funny nappy or something when he wears it…

Cut and sew!

I was able to cut another pants from this sweater. Smaller. I needed to cut a waistband with it, because the fabric was not long enough to cut out another with a similar flat shape, like the last pants. I also wanted to add a small panel inside the crotch because some of the typical flat shaped pants created a hole after a while wearing at that spot between the legs.

With the example-pants.

I thought I had done everything right, but eventually I found out that the legs were pretty small and the cuffs I had cut were even smaller. I couldn’t have cut them bigger, beause I didn’t have more fabric but I decided to skip the cuffs altogether.

Shape with waistband.

Next up is the sweater with the words. With this sweater I wanted to use as much of the wording as possible. In order to do that I had to also use a bit of cut and sew.

Cutting words up!

I think it worked, decided to go with contrast cuff for a bit of fun in the garment. (This grey rib-fabric was originally not in the sweater, so I cut out two pieces of new fabric for this effect.)

Front view only

I am super happy not having to throw these sweaters out completely!  The weather is starting to be warmer, where we live. So they can be worn very soon.

New bums!

two kinds of bibs, loads of drool

Let me introduce to you the two kinds of bibs we use, for a little bit more versatility than only store-bought. You can make these from old towels or scraps of fabric. Or maybe even as an accessory for a fancy dress you made! I will include raw patterns, so you can just use those if you like.

Now, first up are a few bibs I made that are supposed to catch the drool one of my kids produces. My oldest one dubbed his brother drool-monster witch is a name that quite suits him. I made these 2 sided, so it is easier to match them with his outfit, when I like. You can find the links to the patterns at the bottom of this blog.

endless reversible possibilities!

Take note, the buttons are also on two sides of the fabric. I think in this instance the buttons are a important part of the color combinations of the bibs. And while making them I could take out my box of funny buttons… This doesn’t happen often. Be careful, because they both have to fit though the same hole so you need to chose ones that are of a similar size. I do not need to warn about buttons that are attached too loosely to the fabric, right!? If you don’t like using buttons I recommend using Velcro. It might be easier to adjust the pattern to have a bigger part in the back of the neck, as you can imagine.

two for one

I had a pair of old funny trousers, that I refurbished into a bib too. As pants they were horrible, as a bib it works much better, now. These pants even had lining, so I used that for the back part of the bib.

pants to bib

Now, the next kind of sleeved bibs I I didn’t make, they were made for us. These are easy with food. The sleeves are exactly tight enough for the shirt or sweater to stay inside the bib, most of the time. So they can eat by themselves, hopefully making it more difficult to make a mess of themselves… No guaranteed success, though.

They were made with old towels, and you can get as creative as you like with the bindings/finishing. I can also imagine a bib made in a one colour fabric with only the bindings as a contrast!

They come in two sizes, and maybe you could even make them longer if you like to use with painting and other creative ways to spend your kids time. Find the links to the patterns at the bottom of this blog.

Now, you can decorate this as you like, these are just a few ideas. Obviously, if you have an application from an old shirt or something, just go with that, or maybe a sweater that you are thinking of trowing away…

These are my favorite ones, as they match but they are not the same. As you can see these represent also the two different sizes, although I am sure it is difficult to see from the picture what size they really are. I used the smallest one for when they first started to eat on their own. The bigger one comes after that. My 3 year old would still fit in the biggest one, but I would have to make a bigger size, if I was really to give her the room she needs, now.

two sizes two designs

Hopefully you can put an old towel to good use through this, or make pretty ones combining new and old fabrics together…. It is often enough that I have no bibs left because they have all been used. If I make more I will post them up here too.

Here are the patterns, print them at A4, and you should be able to work out the patterns from there.
The drool-bib pattern here.
The small sleeved-pattern here.
The big sleeved-pattern here.
If you use any of the sleeved patterns, take also a look at this file, for explanations of the patterns. The pattern had to be fitted on an A4, so both will need to be drawn to complete them.



Redress to spend less

This year I decided not to buy my girl any new dresses. I might not have made a full buying stop, like Vivian Westwood keeps saying, but I can at least attempt not to buy any dresses, as there is nobody to pass them on to within the family. It so happened that my husband wore a few tees out, so I wanted to see if I could make dresses from those. I’ll share you my attempts, I made 3 different ones.

First up is a T-shirt that I only have vague memories buying. But it is a nice shirt, there is only a small hole near the pocket.

This Tshirt had only minor damage after years of wearing.

With the help of a dress that fits her neatly now I just went and cut. I wanted to conserve the hemline as it has a nice pressed seam, and a label. The width of the T-shirt is only just enough so I made sure not to cut anything off the hemline. You can do this by stiching the new sideseam over the sideseam and than off the fabric all together about 2 cm or so before the end of the fabric/hemline.

Cut out of a basic dress-shape.

After stitching the side seams, front fabrics together, only 1 stitch was needed to insert elastic into.

Some elastic in the waistline, to create a bit of shape.

I added an extra part of the purple fabric to the, lets say ribbons, at the shoulders. When she decides to wear it I can cut them off at exactly the right length.

The final result!


Now the second is actually a shirt. We bought it at a store (Zara…) and after one wear it shrunk. I wont say what store it was from (Zara) but it was a bit of a disappointment. Anyhow, all the more reason to upcycle it into a nice dress!

This picture is photoshopped! I didnt have a decent picture…

When I cut it in pieces it became clear the whole shirt was a-symmetric. I decided to use it and again use the hem of the garment as the hem-line of the dress. Make sure you stitch close the closure in the front of the garment. It might otherwise be a bit too sexy!

The hem will be a hem still.

I covered elastic in the fabric for the neckline. Make sure there is enough length in the elastic so it will go over your kids head easily. (Kids heads are in comparison to adults very big!) Please also make sure the elastic is not too narrow as it might than turn into a choking hazard. Ad a tunnel at the top of the dress, where it can go trough. Fasten it at least on one side so that is will not rotate whilst wearing or washing.

Elastic band/neckline.

I stole the idea for the shape from many dresses and tops now in store. This is a refreshing neckline for a dress as well as easy to do yourself.

She still hasnt worn this one…

Last but not least, two T-shirts that I changed into two tops, or two dresses, or a top and a dress. However you like it.

These T-shirts were special to us, one was bought on a trip to Australia a long time ago. The other one was my design, at the very least a few 100 pieces sold back in the days. Unfortunately after many years the elastic in the neckline gave in, and did not look good anymore. The print still does, and because these two prints matched, not in subject but in technique, I decided to combine them.

The girl looking at you comes from Australia!

Now the idea for this dress comes from a top that I originally bought for my son, in a size suitable for 4-5 year old. But I than dressed my daughter in it, who was at the time nearly 2 and wore the same top as a dress. I think it might be funny to dress both of them up in the same garment, only styled slightly different.

Bought as a top, worn as a dress now converted into a pattern.

Because it was difficult fitting these patterns together on the panels of the tees I had to make 2 patterns of that original top. This was also needed because I wanted to do a cut and sew. A diagonal line trough the pattern. I dislike seeing a garment in store where the front has all the goodies and the back is 1 layer of single coloured fabric, so I decided to make the back interesting too.

This is what I posted in order to get feetback about what to use for finish.

A short survey amongst friends on Facebook and Instagram helped me deciding on the binding…

Front and back of the two one of a kind, tops!

I hope you liked these ideas, there is a lot more you can do with old clothing than just trow them out! Have fun with it!

The final pieces together… Which do you like the best?

Patching it up.

Only one of my kids is almost completely responsible for wrecking all the pants we have. He can do it so quickly the rest of the pants looks almost unworn. And no matter how much I like shopping, I do not like to throw things away. So, knee-repairing it is!

These pants were all bruised by the same knees.

I will first show you the quickest way to fix a hole, by just using a ready made patch from the store. Than more tedious ones, by cutting them yourself. Than I will show you how I put a piece of cloth behind the opening, so you can show the unfinished broken parts of the fabric. Seems to be a trend nowadays.  Last of all I have opened up an entire pants front panel, and added a few new (very thick) parts of fabric. This will certainly cost you more time but you will see this pants got a completely new look.

With the first pants it is very much possible the pads look familiar to you? These kind of knee-pads you can still find anywhere. These particular ones have been used over and over again. After the pants disintegrated they were reused on a different pair. I liked the old fashioned cord combinded with the old and original version of these knee-pads.

Golden oldies…

With the next blue sweat pants I have selected pads very close to the original colour. These can be found anywhere, and are the easiest to use. They can just be ironed on! I wanted to add stitching for a bit more of a playfull feel, but for the fastening it is not necessary. I matched this stitching thread with the numbers to have a new look for the pants. These knee-pads have readymade hole so the stiching was easily done by hand and quick to boot.

Ready made iron-on knee pads

If you like a bit more novelty than oval shaped knee-pads, try cutting a nice fabric in the shape of, for example, triangles. If you like you could always add two sided fusing between the two layers of fabric, they might hold better but I have not seen any proof that mine let go too quickly. Anyway, get creative! I have made sure that the finish of this pad is, well, unfinished. I took a thick tread and went round the shape. The first washing left its lovely mark.

Even easier to cut than oval ones…

Truly upcycled are these crosses. They come from a different garment I took apart after it got damaged. It is even safer for the kids during nightfall!

These crosses mean, these pants are tired of damage!

These pants are the repair work of a friend. It works so well because the knees of this pants have many different layers. You could always add a layer of fabric on the back of a pair of pants and start stitching.

Just keep stitching, just keep stitching!

The next few knees have been repaired by adding a layer on the back. The smaller the size of the pants the more difficult this is as you cannot run down the inside of the pants with your machine easily. You could play with this, and add a knee-pad with a different colour or even a pattern. If you fastened the pads only on the top and the side you leave a bit of room that will make sure when the kids sits or runs the hole will change and the position of the leg will show more or less of the layer of fabric on the inside of the pants. Make sure you make this layer long enough inside the pants!

The inside has a layer, fastend only above and the sides of the hole, so it will widen when walking.

Now, the last leg. It took some time to open up the entire front panel of this garment as it was stiched trought with a thick yarn multiple times. I cut the front panel off and replaced the part that was broken with a new thick layer of fabric. You can really get creative with this one.

He called this his work-pants!


I am sure you can also see there is much much more that can be done to make pants look like new. Or atleast have them wear broken pants a bit longer, untill they grow out of them. Or what about fixing pants in such a way it turns into girly pants where it were boys pants? Just dont toss them away right away. This way you can make sure your kids are wearing unique items!

Half a year later, I have a few more knees that broke. I will just keep adding pictures here, for inspiration-sake…

The next pants has fake leather knees taken from an old legging somebody thoughtful gave me. I have added red hand sewn tags throughout the garment. Just because I liked giving it a little bit of an update!

Red tags!


A new baby-gym.

I learnt a lesson on buying cheap. It is this; we bought a baby-gym, the cheapest. And, well, after a few lovely babies playing in it, I still don’t really like it. Now I made him a new one, at lot prettier! Yey for me! It should also work better for him now that he is bigger. Yey for him!

baby gym, mind the bow-ties!

So, the old baby gym has sides. I wont do that as this is what made the thing too small too soon. I will use the sides of this playing-pen instead so he has all the room he wants. I will first make the overhead-part of the gym, with different kind of loops that hold the toys. Than I will make two bow-ties to knot it too the pen in a novel way. I will explain this, and how I adjusted the bow-tie pattern, in the end of the blog.

not a nice view

What you need for a start, arguably the most important part, is a nice piece of fabric. I tried to match it with a quilt my grandma made from old pieces of fabric. This quilt is always in the bottom of the paying pen.

grandma-made quilt and blanket, sister in law made Amigurumi (mirror/pig/cow).


While I was doing this, I also kept an eye out for complementing and colourful scraps of fabric to use for the loops that, when finished, hold the toys. This is like with any other baby gym. I obviously made these beforehand so I could stitch them into the seam when finishing the entire thing.

Fabric in pieces…


Now this is were you can start to be creative, but only as far as safety allows. I do not want to make a list that is pretty much the same on any kids toy. Probably the two most important rules to follow are: do not create loops that can scoop up heads/legs/hands. The baby won’t be able to get out as the child doesn’t understand these things yet. Last but not least, make sure everything is fastened. If you can not guarantee it is really very sturdy, do not use it. I am talking about things like buttons/bells etc. This might make it look very pretty, but you never know when they can reach them and swallow them the wrong way. If it is anything I have learned, it is that kids can be unpredictable. Okay, I am going to stop here. Please know the safety of this baby-gym is entirely up to you, eveybody is responsible for their own creations!

Make sure the loops are attatched really well, if the baby pulls them from the fabric it is tedious to get them back in place.

As you can see from the pictures I also put in some elastic, these parts I like the best. It means a kid can reach for a toy, can drop it, but it will always stay close at hand, to drool over it again! But make sure the fabric surrounding the elastic is wide, so getting entangled in it is difficult. I also added two stings of fabric that are more like cord. These should not pose a risk when they are not knotted. And I need make sure when I add a toy to knot it tightly at the top of the baby gym and not lower, so it does not create a loop. Please note that these things are definetely not on a safe-for-babies list. But I took some liberty here.

While I am sure the main bar could work without anything in it, I had a piece of foam left from some packing we received. You could also try filling it with fabric, or rolled-up paper.

Now for the bow-ties! I took a quick look at http://www.tie-a-tie.net/bowtie/ in order to find how to tie a bow-tie. It has a nice clear description. Even better, it has a pattern! If the pictures I have here inspire you to also close you baby gym with a real (!) bowtie, head to this page: http://www.tie-a-tie.net/make-a-bow-tie/ and download it form them like I did.

back of bow-tie


Now the pattern has a part that speaks about inches. On a regular bow-tie this is the collar of the shirt you make the bow-tie for. Naturally I make the bow-tie for a wooden-bar rather than a neck. So this part should only be as long as the wooden-bar is thick. Now, make one pattern part like the tutorial on the aforementioned website, and one part you make in two, with seem-allowance. This way you can neatly stitch the fabric-bar into the bow-tie!

happy chappy

He seems to be happy with the product of today! I sure think his play-pen looks better than before and he can have fun with this one from now on, as he can crawl and turn himself over as much as he wants. I am sure, though that at one point also this new product will no longer be interesting to him!