Posts Tagged ‘recycling’

This was one of my more fun shirt alters. The base was a men’s green plaid shirt. Not having much of an overall plan for it, I started with the basic bleach ombre fade on it and it turned out to go very orange along the fade edges. I’ve found that I prefer to get the bleaching done before investing too much time on the rest of the design since I’m not so good at predicting what colour the fades will be. It works better for me to wait to choose accent fabrics until I see the bleach results.


This was a fairly small shirt so the sleeves were cut to elbow length and the side seams fully cut out, all the way along the bottom of the remaining sleeves. As my usual, the cut-off forearms were salvaged and used to widen the tops of the kept sleeves.

A while ago, the Stratford Festival cleared out a ton of their fabric scraps by donating to our local thrift store. They sold them in random mixed bags and we brought a bunch home. These were true scraps so in most cases there is very little of each one. Not enough for making anything like a full blouse or anything, but many are workable sizes for use in altered pieces and are beautiful, high quality materials. From this collection, I pulled an assortment of the orange fabrics and narrowed it down to a coordinating plaid and a slightly stretchy synthetic velvet. The plaid had both some small scraps and a good length of bias cut strip. The strips were perfect for edging the sleeves so I went with that instead of putting the cuffs back on like usual.


The velvet had pieces that were not only big enough to work as inserts in the sides but I could also cut them so the selvage edge was along the bottom. I liked the look, and it saved me a ton of fussing with hemming but I know it doesn’t work for everyone.



The pops of bright orange reminded me of the Star Wars rebel clothing so I decided to run with it. A rectangular plaid panel was added to the back with “Rebel” roughly written on it. (I didn’t have enough space for “Rebel Scum”, which would have been better) I also cut out a rebel symbol out of the the same fabric and hand appliqued it to the right pocket. The last detail was to swap the buttons to a set with a silver-toned metal center in a clouded acrylic circle. They really stepped up the custom “sci-fi” feel of the shirt.


This is one of my personal favorites so far. It’s very comfortable and the high quality of the fabrics means it has held up perfectly through all sorts of wash and wear. I also really like having a casual way to wear one of my big fandoms!


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The first round of serious clothes altering was when I started making myself some very plain shirt dresses. While you’ll see a number of dresses that look like they are a slightly altered men’s shirt they are pretty much only for the typical “model” body type. I had never found any in plus sizes or anything remotely close.


I was looking for tops that I could wear with leggings while working at the shop or around the house/garden. There were a bunch of boxes any possible item had to fill.

It had to (in no order):

  • be easily washable and not need ironing
  • be a light, breathable fabric but not see-through or clingy
  • print, plaid or mid-tone colour preferred since it might get smudged
  • have mid-length sleeves so I don’t have to keep pushing them up
  • not be constrictive or limit movement
  • pull-over preferred
  • needs to cover my butt
  • cheap enough that I won’t cry if it gets ruined (paint, putty and sharp objects are all risks)
  • hopefully at least “cute” if not high fashion

Not really an excessive list of demands, but I wasn’t having any luck. Instead, we found a few really good quality, brand new, 3X and 4X men’s shirts at our local thrift store and they seemed a good place to start. They were all under $5 each so there was little risk in jumping right in. The collars for that size of shirt are proportional for a man so were very large. To keep them from looking too weird, we just cut them off and made either a v-neck or a simple curve. One v-neck ended up a bit too deep for me so a small insert was made from the left-over bits. They were all big enough to be pulled over my head so the fronts were sewn down. The ones that were not short sleeved already had the sleeves cut off and finished with a straight hem. To help the flow and keep them from catching on my hips, I opened up the side seams and finished each side with the same straight hem. This gives a more tunic-like look.


The only other thing was some light darting to give a bit of shape around the waist. The trick with those was that I put it on inside out, pinned the darts; top, bottom and depth, on one side. Then slipped it off, matched the other side so they lined up perfectly and did each as a single sewn line. While it’s very fast and easy, the darts are what really sell these as dresses, not men’s shirts. Of course, if you want and it better suits your body, it’s also easier to not bother with the darts, although you way want to take the bottom seam of the sleeves in a bit so they don’t gape. Those with a very large chest might find it works best to take it in a bit along the bottom for the same reason. No matter what you need, pinning it while it’s inside out should work to help adjust the fit. It’s all about what suits you best!


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The last of the Key racks was were I had the most fun. IMG_6129 The back is the centre part of the panel and a chunk of the original sticker was still on it. While it was no where near intact, it is still partially readable and has a great look. I wanted to keep that but doing so limited where hooks could be placed. I fiddled a bit with using the key hooks but then remembered that I had a few antique brass gears around. These ones hadn’t been used for other things because they all still have their central pivots solidly attached. That made them perfect for my needs and I was able to embed them into the wood backing. Almost all were bent, at the tips of their pivots, or in one case, it was tilted strongly upwards, so they will still work as hooks. The spacing even worked out well enough that the remains of the label show well through the open parts of the gears! While I’m pleased that it turned out to still be a functional key holder, the finished piece has such a great Steampunk vibe to it that I think it is likely to get hung up as pure decoration.

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For the second of the my Key hooks, I wanted to use IMG_6137 some of the longer flat silver ones. I love how their shape is closer to the antique keys and is vaguely reminiscent of a spine. The problem was that, unlike the solid brass keys, many of them will break instead of bending to the curve for a hook. It was a bit frustrating, trying to figure out which ones had the right type of metal composition and shape, that would allow them to be bent (some were too hard for me to handle with the tools on hand) without snapping. I had to make things even more difficult by only wanting ones with specific looks too. Eventually, I was able to get a trio that I liked done. For the accent, it’s simply a large enamelled clock face. This one was a bit too big for jewellery but was in such good shape I didn’t want to use as a background for a collage either. This was a good way to let it shine.

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A while ago we found a large group of keys. IMG_6130 My primary area of interest was the antique skeleton keys but the lot also included quite a number of more modern ones as well. (and by “modern” I mean from this century) The later keys just aren’t a style I like for jewellery, so aside from the “Key to My Heart” painting series, they hadn’t been getting used. At the same time they came in, we also found a pair of solid iron ring mandrels. Having the mandrels meant that I could shape some of the softer keys into hooks and make a group of “key” hooks. (and yes, the terrible pun was part of the appeal) I wanted to keep them small enough that they would fit in a range of spaces since most key racks are used in tight spaces. I also wanted the finished pieces to keep the vintage feel of the keys. To do that, I ended up cutting up a back panel from an antique clock that I found in the stash. It gave me three panels that were small enough to be hung anywhere but big enough that each could fit enough hooks for a usable key rack as well as some decorations. For this one, I went with a trio of brass keys and a dark brown accent piece. The flower is a fairly newish, resin piece but has a great antiqued finish and was cast from an antique sculpture so the keys end up feeling like the newest part of the whole thing.

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I’ve got a number of shows I’ll be attending this fall Quetzalcoatl and have been working on some new stuffed creations. One I’d wanted to do for a while is a version of Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent. When we found this lovely, large snake, I knew it was a perfect base and got started right away. He’s all done and is ready to be shown for the first time this weekend! We’ll both be at the Royal Medieval Faire in Waterloo on Saturday, the 20th, so stop by and say “Hi!”, if you’re there. The gallery will still be open, if you’re coming through Shakespeare, but I won’t be there to do framing consultations.

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Up to now, all my spiders were done using bears. img_5758 They were the most likely to have suitable fur and body shapes that fit well to the adaptation. I also need a matched pair for them and early in my experiments in mutant creations, using any pairs for twins was a safer option. At this point, I’m more secure in my spider -building abilities and when I recently got a pair of red-eyed frogs, I figured it was time to try expanding into other species. It helped that the stash had four buttons in the perfect red, to match the eyes! This was also the first time I was able to salvage the eyes from the second donor since they were set into sockets that could be taken off and re-attached. I chose not to alter the body too much, it was just rounded out a bit in the back, to better accommodate all the legs. The legs seemed especially suited to the spider look and I love how the magnets in them attach to each other and metal things. I was tempted to take a picture of her climbing the map case, in the store, but resisted.

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