Karlene's Workshop

My sewing, refashioning and upcycling projects revealed
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At last – pictures of the fairy princesses

  • 13/04/2010 3:54 pm

Remember all those frilly girly things I made for my nieces for Christmas? Well, I finally got some pictures of them all wearing the outfits. At Easter! The sun was very bright which is why some of the expressions are not very fairy princess like :-)

Here is Alyssa who is wearing a beaded necklace I made for her a few years ago and had completely forgotten about:

Next Rylee, squinting very badly, she was having a good time, honest!

And lastly Briana. Her bag is from an op shop, I re-covered the back. I love the fact that she is wearing tattoos on her arms LOL, drawn on by her dad.

The tops they are wearing are all bought from op shops and inspired the rest of the outfits. Alyssa’s one is a bit see through so she is wearing a T-shirt underneath with a butterfly print. Pretty!

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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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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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Fairy flower circlet and headband

  • 29/12/2009 11:19 am

I’m still here, still sewing just slowed down a bit over Christmas.

This is the flower circlet headdress I made for one of my nieces, to go with the pink ruffled skirt.

I started off with a wire base and covered it with some ribbon (glued on) leaving a trail of ribbon on each end to tie on her head.

I made some tulle roses from scrap left over from the skirt and glued these on the base, then pulled apart some artificial silk flowers and glued the petals in the gaps.

Here I am trying to model it while taking a photo!

I also made a headband for her to wear when a dress-up one would be inappropriate, like school. I used a plain plastic band from the $2 shop and glued on a pink ribbon, then a tulle flower and yo-yo made from the skirt fabric. The ribbon is a little crooked as you can see, next time I think I’ll wrap the ribbon around the band rather than try to get it straight!

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Fairy Wand

  • 25/11/2009 3:50 pm

No fairy outfit would be complete without a wand. I made this one to go with the blue/turquoise wings and skirt.

I used an old knitting needle for the stick and covered it with a strip of knit fabric and some ribbon, gluing here and there with a hot glue gun to hold in place.
The fluffy bit at the top is made from tulle cut into circles, which are then folded in half, folded into quarters and then folded again, then stitched together to make a ball shape.
I made a flower shape from a piece of wire and attached it with the hot glue gun, then added the blue flower trim to finish it off.

This is the first of the three fairy/princess outfits to be completed! Yay!
I’m still working on headpieces for the other two, hopefully will be finished soon. In fact this whole project has taken me a lot longer than I expected, which is quite frustrating as I had other projects planned to give to people for Christmas and probably won’t get them all done. Next up are some dress-ups for my boys, at least all the kids will have something hand made by me.

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New Fairy Skirt

  • 19/11/2009 3:36 pm

We’ve been very busy this week, today was the first I have been able to get any sewing done. I was very pleased to get this fairy skirt finished this morning. It’s to go with the fairy wings in my last post.


I have used lots of layers of different fabrics cut into triangle or square shapes, overlapping at the waist, with a few lengths of ribbon to finish it off.
The main fabric is from an old silk skirt from my mum. I love it when Mum’s have clean outs!

The pale blue bits are from the lining of the skirt and the deep blue and turquoise tulle is the same as I used for the wings.

I have used some light turquoise/blue fine cotton to line it.

I didn’t want any gaps in the lining, but still wanted the shape and fullness of the outer layer, so what I did was cut two large squares, cut holes in the middle like I did for my first fairy skirt, then cut up the middle of each. I then joined the two together (the circle bits) to make one very full skirt layer with eight points. If you look carefully you can see one of the two seams where I joined them together.

This was the first time I tried this technique and I really like how it turned out. In fact I wish I done the same thing to the outer layer!
Will have to do some more skirts that way in the future.

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Fairy wings

  • 12/11/2009 8:33 pm

I’m so excited. I have just made my first successful pair of fairy wings!
Here is my little boy kindly modeling them for me, and yes he actually wanted to wear them.

In my research on how to make fairy wings I found mostly tutorials on the wire coat hanger technique, you know, you get the coat hangers (or just wire shapes) cover them with pantyhose and join them together. But of course I had to be different.

I wanted something a bit lighter and not so awkward so I decide to use layered tulle.
I used four layers, two turquoise and two dark blue, cut into a wing shape and then gathered up the middle. The two colours were overlapped slightly when I stacked them to show a variation of colour at the edges.

To cover up the stitching I sewed on some blue cord/braid over the top. I put shapes in the middle of the tulle and stitched around the edges through all the layers.

I also threaded some fishing wire through the wings in a loopy pattern for stiffness. To cover this up, on the back where you see most of the wings I sewed braid over the top of the wire and on the front I used some silver dimensional fabric paint.

For the straps I covered some elastic with fabric and hand stitched them in place on the front.

I had lots of fun making these. If I was going to make them quicker I think I would cut the wing shapes smaller and use more layers of tulle. Then there won’t be the need to add anything to stiffen them out.

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