Shopping at Goodwill is one of my favorite things. Mostly because I love finding things for super low prices, compared to buying new, but it’s also fun to get to choose something you wouldn’t find in stores today because the styles have moved on, and you can really curate your style without the confines of current trends. It’s just fun to go, and see what you will find!
I usually go, looking for things in my kids’ or my size, so I can wear it off the rack, but sometimes I grab a dress, or something that I love the fabric on, just so I can sew it into something new. I did that just last month when I wanted to find something specifically to upcycle for Candice’s second annual Upcycling Challenge!
As a Sewing Portfolios Diamond Ambassador, I had some gorgeous Windham Fabrics pieces to work with, and went in, without having a picture in mind of what I wanted to create, but knew I wanted some colors, textures, and/or patterns that worked with my fabrics. I had three prints from Windham, so I had to be strategic about choosing something to work with that would be able to contribute to the outfit, and not clash.
I will admit that I love the look of mixing prints, but I’m not always up for the task, and often revert to solids, or all one print for a look. Heres my tips for deciding which prints you can put together:
- Vary the scale.
- Vary the type of design.
- Vary the texture.
- Choose colors that comes from the same family, or are complimentary.
Fabric collections are designed to include options such as these, so it’s easy to make things look great together, but if you’re working from your stash, using something vintage, or old clothes, like I was, these tips can help!
I had these three prints from the Penelope Collection from Windham Fabrics, and you can see I had some variety within my criteria already. There is a floral, and two geometric prints, even though the scattered dot is geometric, it’s also slightly abstract, and a variety of scales. At Goodwill, I found two dresses that I thought worked well, first, the coral lace overlay dress, which added a textured solid, and the windowpane plaid shirt dress, which added another geometric, but the colors were simple.
With five different fabrics to work with, I decided to create a mini collection of two outfits for my girls. I actually did not deconstruct the pieces very much, and used the existing structure for my creations.
Here’s details on each piece:
The green shirt dress got shortened into a top for my daughter, and brought in a tiny bit so it wasn’t as voluminous on her frame. I folded the dress so the side seams were touching, and it was lying flat on my cutting mat, then i freely cut it to the proper length, slightly following the shirttail hem. That was a simple correction, but removing length made this women’s size dress a wearable piece for her. It’s paired with RTW shorts that she already owned.
The coral dress turned into some lace overlay shorts for my younger daughter. The dress was lined, and I just cut and sewed the lining and lace as one piece for these. I wanted to keep the lace hem of the dress as the hem of the shorts, so I placed the pattern on the bottom edge of the dress, so I could keep it! I also didn’t want a side seam for the look I was going for, so instead of finding a new pattern that I liked, I put my pattern pieces next to each other, and cut it as one. These are the Lexi and Lou joggers from Made for Mermaids.
Trying to decide how to use the WIndham fabrics was a challenge. A good challenge. My girls and I had so many ideas, and we loved them all. I ended up choosing the plaid to create a top for my daughter. I love a plaid circle skirt, so I made the Green Street top from Lil Luxe Collection, and added a handkerchief hem circle skirt to it.
I had been wanting to make bags for my girls, and when I went searching, I found a pattern for a crossbody purse that I loved, but it was a pattern designed to be used for charity. The Sew Powerful Purse Project offers a free pattern to seamstresses to sew and send to girls in Zambia, to combat extreme poverty by provide re-usable feminine hygiene supplies and health training. This enables them to attend school all month and improve their academic performance. I really felt passionate about this project, and immediately knew I wanted to use this pattern to sew, so spread awareness about this project. Yes, I looked, and they don’t mind if you sew a purse to keep, so I felt comfortable making these for my girls, and also making some to send!
After these outfits were created, I wanted to make some purses to send, so I used some of the Windham fabric, some of the pieces left from my upcycled garment, and an shirt of my husband’s that he was ready to pass on, and created three purses that I will be sending to Sew Powerful. They turned out even cuter with all the mixed fabrics!
They take hardly any time, it’s even faster if you batch sew, and they don’t take much fabric either! If you’re looking for a small way to give back, I would encourage you to sew a purse or a few, to donate! When I made them, I just popped the video tutorial on my phone right next to the sewing machine, and paused it whenever I needed to finish a step. So easy.
They have also recently partnered with Baby Lock, and I’m excited to see where this partnership can take them. It felt especially appropriate, because Baby Lock is one of the sponsers of the Upcycling Challenge, and you will want to get in on it!
I hope you’ve read this far, because the details are coming next!
This year, things are a little different. You can read all the details here. The main thing I want to note is that you will want to scroll to the bottom of the page, and subscribe now, because there are only 4 spots left to be eligible to win the GRAND prize, and those spots will be given to 4 random subscribers! You can still participate, and win other prizes, but go get yourself in the drawing for the MAIN PRIZES!
An extra detail you will not want to miss, is that there are 2 spots open to join the SP Diamond Ambassador team! To enter, you must be a member of sewingportfolios.com (it’s free!) and use the hashtag #CAUpcyclingChallengeSPM on Instagram when you sew and share an upcycled make during the duration of the contest. Your instagram must be set to public.
I hope you loved my projects, and will consider sewing for Sew Powerful, maybe you could even upcycle something for your purses, and please join in Candice Ayala’s Upcycling Challenge. It is the most fun, it’s a great way to take something from trash to treasure, and there’s prizes to be won.
I can’t wait to follow your upcycling journeys!