Karlene's Workshop

My sewing, refashioning and upcycling projects revealed
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Fairy skirts made by Cathy

  • 06/04/2010 3:44 pm

I had some comments recently from Cathy McGregor from Napier who sent me some lovely pictures of the fairy skirts she has made for her granddaughters from old scarves.

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The gold coloured organza fabric which is used in both skirts is from a wrap/stole she made for a wedding, and the spotted lemon scarf was her mothers.
The pale blue narrow strips with sequins added to the ends, is from a scarf/large bow previously attached to a 1950’s hat of her aunts.

As well as scarves, she is also using her collection of sarongs to make the skirts. Thanks for sharing these cool ideas Cathy, I will be looking out for scarves and things from op shops myself in future!

Some more tips from Cathy:
Firmly tack the inner circle (waist) before cutting around the template when using slippery fabrics.
Use bias cut strips to make the casing.

Have a look at my fairy skirt tutorial for more details on how to make this style of skirt.

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I took the wardrobe refashion pledge – for life!

  • 08/03/2010 12:11 pm

After a a four month pledge and then a little break I have decided to take the plunge and sign on for LIFE, yay!

LIFE pledge

The Pledge

I _Karlene_ pledge that I shall abstain from the purchase of “new” manufactured items of clothing, for life. I pledge that i shall refashion, renovate, recycle preloved items for myself with my own hands in fabric, yarn or other medium for the term of my contract. I pledge that I will share the love and post a photo of my refashioned, renovated, recycled, crafted or created item of clothing on the Wardrobe Refashion blog, so that others may share the joy that thy thriftiness brings! Signed_K. Charlton_.

I didn’t find it hard at all to avoid buying new clothes. What was hard was trying to have something to post every week! Now I’m committed.

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Fancy handbag part two

  • 20/02/2010 2:44 pm

We’ve had a busy couple of weeks here getting organized to go to our friends wedding last weekend. We had to travel a long way, 7hrs drive to the grandparents, chit chat and drop off kids, next day another 3hrs to where we are staying. Keith is the official photographer and wants to go to the rehearsal which we miss, never mind we still get to go over venue for photo opportunities. Wedding day starts off with bad weather and photographer is worried, but clears up in time for ceremony and turns out great. And he got some lovely photos, good job dear!

Next two days are spent traveling home again, its now 4 days later and we’re still not fully unpacked. I have a huge mountain of washing to sort and fold up and the boys are running out of clothes.

Good news, got the bag finished in time to take to the wedding. Well, just, I left off any type of fastening and didn’t have time to pin stitch the flap.

I had to sew the lining twice due to doing it wrong way around with interlining on the inside (the wrong side!) the first time, whoops.

My second go

Had lots of fun with the trimmings on the front flap. Stage one, the net over lay.

Next, the ribbon and cord trimming.

Yo yo’s

Fabric roses

Then beaded loops and we’re done. And the final finished product!

I was careful to get the lining of the flap with the picture up the right way when the bag is open.

Here I am wearing it at the wedding with my matching dress, a birthday gift from Mum.

And a close up of the flap, for those like me who strain their eyes and put their noses to the screen to take in the details,

I love my new little bag, can’t wait to take her out again :-)

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Really big beach bag

  • 08/02/2010 5:07 pm

Have a look at the really big tote bag for the beach/picnicking in the park that I finished last week.

I was so keen to get sewing it that I forgot to take any photo’s of what the materials used to look like, which I am now kicking myself for.

The apple print fabric was the skirt part of a little girls dress, I just unpicked it from the top bib part and cut of the side seams. For some reason it was made with the print upside down! This was a bonus for me as it meant it was the right shape I wanted for my bag when turned the right way up.

The red corduroy fabric was from a pair of toddlers overalls that have been in my fabric hoard for years, I think my little brother may have worn them at some stage; obviously not for very long though as they were like new.

The pattern I made for this was fairly basic, just two sides joined together and boxed out at the bottom. I also lined it and put in a little patch pocket, taken straight off the overalls.

Now I’m off to the beach, the weather is lovely here in Auckland…well actually today it’s a bit cloudy but it’s still very hot.

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Fancy handbag – a work in progress

  • 05/02/2010 5:25 pm

I am currently in the process of making a handbag to take to a wedding this month. The fabric I’m using is from my Nana’s stash, and just happens to be the exact shade of turquoise as the dress I want to wear (a birthday present from my mum, thanks Mum!). For the lining I am using a lovely vintage cotton print that was also in my Nana’s stash (thanks Nana!). Some of it was already cut out into a shape that looked like a little girls dress, with button up straps. I had often wondered who Nana was making the dress for, and why it was never finished. When I asked Mum about this and she said she thought it may have been for me. I’m going to smile and think of my Nana every time I open this bag.

So far I have cut all the pieces out and sewed the main pieces together, boxing out the bottom.

During the school holidays I also spent a bit of time making all these little fabric flowers and yo yo’s that are going to be stitched on the front flap.

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Rastus Rooster

  • 29/01/2010 12:14 pm

I sewed this rooster for my baby nephew as a Christmas gift. The pattern was created by Web Stitch Needlecraft designs.

I had to make a few changes to make it more baby proof as they are not actually intended as a toy. I left out the wire that is supposed to be in the top feathers, used some fabric scrap in the body rather than the recommended plastic pellets, and I hand sewed a fabric beak instead of painting it on with acrylic.

This was quite a fun project to do. I would recommend this only to people confidant in their sewing ability as some of the instructions are complex to follow.

It was hard to tell if my nephew liked his present or not, as he was much more interested in the box that it came it! Typical :-)

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Super Hero costumes for the boys

  • 11/01/2010 1:01 pm

I made my boys some fun costumes for Christmas.

The black cape is made from a couple of panels taken from an old circular skirt, already hemmed so it was very quick.

I cut an extra strip strip to make the tie.

For super heroes I made an orange cape and mask. The fabric is from a thrifted bed valance. I unpicked the ruffled side bits and was left with a rectangle shape with a hem on one edge (yay!) so all I had to do for the cape was hem the sides, gather the neck and add a ribbon tie.


The mask was a little trickier :-) I acquired some foam shapes (can’t remember where from) that looked like a mask shape, so I trimmed one little, added some holes for eyes and covered it with some of the orange fabric. All hand stitched, very couture!

For fabric for the wizard cape and hat I used a large thrifted sheet. I folded the sheet in half, then folded on the diagonal, to help me measure out a 1/2 circular shape.

I then cut off the pointy end to make the neck about 50cm in total – folded up it was about 11cm across the curve.

Having the sides of the sheet gave me two nicely hemmed edges, (double yay!) so all I needed to do was hem the bottom, then add the ribbon tie to the top.


For the hat I used some cardboard to make a hat base, and cut out the same shape in the fabric and some thin batting, with a bit extra around the sides to overlap.

I then appliqued some star shapes on the hat fabric before covering the cardboard, and to the top and bottom of the cape. For more detail on how I did the applique, I have written a tutorial here.


They had lots of fun dressing up with their friends.

This was so funny. Jordan is trying to have his moment, but Ewan steals the scene showing off his new watch, he is very proud of it!

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Beaded fairy princess tiara

  • 02/01/2010 4:13 pm

Here it is at long last, the fairy princess tiara I made for my niece Rylee. This is the very last item to be made for the whole fairy princess costume saga. I couldn’t believe how long it took me to finish this one, it’s been a work in progress for quite a while.

I started off with headband with holes, for the base. It was originally attached to an angel halo that had holes in the headband for the springs holding the halo up, now sadly destroyed for my art, Ah ha ha ha ha…
I got some wire that was thick and sturdy, but light, and threaded it through the head band holes, bending it into a tiara shape.

I recycled some glass beads from a broken necklace to thread onto some fine beading wire and wind around the thicker wire.

The beads are a burgundy/pink colour on one side and green on the other. I used the same colours in the coordinating ruffle wrap that will be part of Rylee’s costume. (I can use their names now, as it is after Christmas, and they have all received their gifts!)
I have also used some old pearl beads of random size and colour, kept by my Nana in her bits and pieces collection, and a few green and dark pink faceted beads on the peaks.

Lastly I covered the band with a bit of wadding and some fabric left over from the wrap and skirt to hide all the wire ends.

Here I am wearing it, as I haven’t got a photo of it on Rylee just yet. She did like it though, the first thing she said when she opened the gift was, “look, I got a crown!”.

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