Karlene's Workshop

My sewing, refashioning and upcycling projects revealed
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Painted flower dress

  • 28/08/2011 4:01 pm

This is the dress I made from the painted denim jeans panel.

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Alas, some of the detail in the top layers of paint have been lost in the wash, still looks OK though.

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Next time I try this I will know to do all the painting in one flat layer, like a picture in a colouring in book.

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Painted flowers

  • 04/08/2011 6:25 pm


I’ve been painting! Every now and then my friends and I get together for an arty/crafty painting session. Rather than doing the usual painting on canvases, this time we decided to try stenciling on T-shirts using freezer paper. I had never tried this before as we can’t get freezer paper in the shops here in NZ, but my friend Raewyn was able to get some from the US for us to experiment with.

We printed out some designs/motifs to use, then transferred them to the freezer paper by tracing over the top (dull side of freezer paper) in pencil. Next we used a craft knife and cutting mat to cut out the shape, then ironed the stencil onto our garment/fabric. Shiny side down so it sticks to the fabric not the iron! (whoops, sorry Rae) When using a T-shirt, another piece of freezer paper is also ironed to the back of the design to prevent the paint seeping through.

I’m still in my denim phase at the moment, old denim jeans are cheap and readily available from second hand shops and easy to work with, so I chose to do some painting on a jeans panel to be put in another garment rather than a T-shirt.

Supposedly you use textile paints, but this is all I had and didn’t want to buy more:

I did have some perfectly good ordinary acrylic paint, and had seen it used to dye lace etc so I wondered if it would work the same way as the textile paint.

I decided to experiment a little on fabric scraps. The swatches on the left are the “control” scraps, the ones on the right have been heat set with an iron and then washed to see if the colour stays put.

The top blobs (red and white) are the textile paints for comparison. I tried using white as a base layer on the denim to make the colour stand out, as it is harder to see on a dark background. I used the acrylic colours mixed with the white textile paint as well as straight from the bottle to see if it made any difference.

As you can tell, the textile ink by itself was fine, the acrylic by itself was fine, the textile/acrylic mix was also fine. The coloured paint on top of the white was not fine, it washed off; the paint needs to bond with the fabric to become permanent.

My conclusions, one, ordinary acrylic paint made for paper and canvas works just as well as textile paints, two, if painting on denim, it’s best to use a lighter coloured denim if you want the paint to stand out.

This is what my panel looked like after I painted it, with the stencils still on:

And here is a close up of flowers after the stencils came off:

I’ll be using the panel in a dress which should be finished soon, watch this space…

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Fairy style dress – Peach

  • 28/06/2011 10:58 am

This is another dress we used in a recent photo shoot, beautifully modeled by my lovely sister.

Peach dress

Peach dress

The skirt is made from vintage fabrics and lace. The larger pieces of fabric in the skirt are square shapes, with one corner rounded off in a similar way that circular skirts are cut. Putting many pieces together like this makes the skirt very full and swirly.

The bodice is made using fabric cut from another skirt I shortened.

Bodice

Bodice

Front and back has hand made fabric roses from from vintage fabrics, trimmed with ribbon, lace and vintage braid.

Dress back

Dress back

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Fairy style dress – Green

  • 23/06/2011 12:34 pm

Thanks to my husband Keith, I got some lovely shots of the finished fairy style dresses I made.

Green fairy dress

Green fairy dress

This one I am wearing is the one I wrote about in my last post , made from denim scrap from some jeans and other bits and pieces. It took me a long time to finish, as I got quite frustrated with the whole thing a few times, then it finally came together the way I wanted.

Front detail

Front detail

The skirt is made up of different layers using strips of tricot and tulle on the bottom, some tea dyed broderie anglaise cotton from an old skirt, strips of vintage spotted net and some ripped up pieces of an old blouse, and then the patchwork bustle layer on top. The bodice is cut from the bottom half of a pair of jeans (the top got made into a skirt) with patchy bits here and there, and mock lace-up inserts on the front.

Green dress, full length

I have more close-up pics of the details in my last post, and of the bodice and construction of the first layer here.

Coming soon, pictures of the other dress.

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Green denim dress, almost complete

  • 21/09/2010 1:53 pm

The dress, as is, on my dress stand.

A bit lopsided but there is a reason as you will see…

I’m pleased with how this is turning out, there is just one little thing I have to change, the top part of the “petticoat” lining layer is sitting too high. It’s kind of hard to tell on her, but on my body it looks a little weird and needs to be lowered a bit.

I’m either going to pull all the lace off the top and cut away the excess fabric, or pin and pinch it down like this and hand stitch the folds.

It was err, interesting sewing the bustle layer. When I first started I had a rough Idea of what I wanted it to look like but was getting very frustrated when it wasn’t happening. I spend a long time (and I mean LONG, like days and days) thinking about how all the edges were going to be finished, how it was all going to be joined together, and how I could get lots of random scrappy bits sewn on in the right place until I felt like pulling my hair out!
I cut out the rough shape in the same cotton as the skirt base and added the ruffle around the edge with the dark green rick-rack trim, then decided I was just over thinking the whole thing and needed to let go and just sew sew sew. So… I grabbed some fabric scrap I liked, plonked it on, grabbed a bit of ribbon, slid them all into the sewing machine in a haphazard fashion and stitched away, and hey presto it worked!

I continued in this way until the the bustle piece was covered and looking just how i wanted it.

The pieces that I melted were used here under the bustle layer to add more texture and ruffly bits to the skirt.

Finishing the back was also giving me a bit of headache, this is how it turned out,

I made the zip visible as a design feature and added some fancy machine stitching along the edge. Have decided that the uneven height on the bodice panels and lace at top is also a “design feature” :-)

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Green denim dress, a work-in-progress

  • 06/09/2010 2:40 pm

Remember this green jeans skirt I made? I’m using the cut off pant legs to make a bodice for a patchy fairy style dress.
Here’s a look at the front part of the bodice before being completely sewn up.

You can see I’ve used the unpicked hem at the top of one panel for a bit of added textural detail and I’ve added some patchwork applique and lace.

The skirt base is cut from an old cotton sheet with randomly sized triangular strips of tricot attached to the bottom. I’m planning to have lots of layers and scrappy bits over the top. The bottom edge is shaped so that it will be a bit shorter at the front.

The dress lining is made from the same green tricot, the elastic straps are from a bra that I didn’t fit properly :-)

Now I’m building up the layers, firstly with some gathered tulle,

then with broderie anglaise from my tea dyed skirt, I cut it off just under the pockets and shaped it slightly to fit the shape of the skirt base.

Currently going well and progressing as planned, hooray!

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Green jeans to skirt

  • 23/08/2010 6:04 pm

I started with a pair of slightly faded green jeans, then made them into a skirt like this.

It was a bit plain so I decided to add some patchwork applique and lace

My favourite so far!
If you look at the back of the waistband you can see the original colour where I’ve pulled the tag off. It’s now more of a turquoise green.

I am using the cut off pieces from the legs for another project which will be revealed soon.

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A glimpse of my work-in-progress

  • 08/07/2010 6:07 pm

This is something I have been working on for a while now. Almost done, just got to do a few more fabric roses.

The peach fabric used in the photo above are the leftover pieces from the skirt I shortened here.

It’s turned out very differently from my original idea but still very pretty all the same. Can you guess what it is?

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Re fashioned denim skirts

  • 24/06/2010 11:26 am

Not far from where I live is a thrift shop that has a regular clothing sale once a month where everything is $1 each. I’ve only been twice, and come home each time with a huge bag full of clothes to be refashioned. I’ve promised myself to stay away until all the work has been done!

On my first visit I found a couple of long denim skirts, you know, those button up ones people used to wear like 10-20 years ago? And they still had tags on them!

I liked the colours but the style was really dodgy and crying out for a makeover.
This is the first one, yellow.

I gave it a chop and hot glued some flower shaped bling onto the buttons. I put two rows of stitching near the bottom edge and left the hem to fray.

Here is the second one, peach.

This time I shortened it and added some lace at the hem as well as some more bling for the buttons.

I like the length much better now, and the high waist style is cute. However I am not to sure about those plastic flowers I glued on to the buttons. What do you think?

Here’s a close up

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Denim jeans-to-skirt tutorial

  • 03/11/2009 4:02 pm

The post about my jeans skirt has had a lot of interest so I decided to do a basic tutorial for the jeans to skirt transformation.

This idea is not a new one and there are plenty of tuts and varying methods, this is the way I do it.

Take an old pair of old jeans that you can still fit at the waist but don’t wear anymore, because of worn knees for example.

Cut about 2-3cm longer than you want the length of skirt to be. You need to allow for a hem if you are having one and a bit extra for realigning the edge.
This one I cut even shorter after I took the photo as I am going to put a ruffle on the bottom.

Unpick leg seams and about half the crotch seams, to where the seam straightens out.

Open and lay the flaps over each other, pin.
Open cut off leg piece,

insert under opening and pin together.

Sew the insert stitching in the centre of the original seam allowance, and zig zag the cut edges if you want.

This is what it will look like underneath

Cut away the excess up to 1cm away from the seam.

I like to put an extra row of zig zag stitch where the original seam was, one, to reinforce if this area is worn, and two, to stop the underneath insert panel edge from fraying.

Do the same with the back.
Hem the skirt if you want, or leave to fray.
I decided to add a frill on the bottom.
I joined strips of leftover denim to make a large circle, almost twice the width of the skirt’s bottom edge.

I added some gathered tulle and a strip of floral printed cotton to the denim strip and attached to to the bottom of the skirt, gathering as I went.
This is the finished result:

Here’s another one I prepared earlier. This one has a double row of stitching at the hem so it doesn’t fray too far. It will look more “raggy” after a wash and tumble dry.

Note the zig zag stitching on the overlap. The fabric had worn thin on this pair and it needed some reinforcement. I also put a patch underneath on the back

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