Good Morning! Does this happen only to me? You are working away on a project. You stitch, try it on, check in the mirror and decide to make a change. You stitch some more, make a few more changes, notice a cool breeze, look down and realize you are sitting in your underwear, working at the sewing machine. Also, your across-the-street neighbor has stopped mowing his lawn and he and his dog are staring intently at your house. (Okay, I totally made up the part about my neighbor. He is way too classy for that.)
How Does That Happen??? Tell me I am not alone in this!!! I always start sewing covered and clothed, but sometimes in the midst of “the creative process” I lose track of myself and become Kristi -the-naked-neighbor. It is just sad.
The top that became a tunic.
I mention this because it really happened this week. (Only not the neighbor part.) In the midst of working on the Guatemalan top that I turned into a tunic I suddenly realized I was sewing in my skivvies. Here is how it happened: I had an appointment at my eye doctor. She helped save my vision when my retina detached itself from the rest of my eye a few years ago, and I love her and everyone in the office. I see them about once a year and I always want to look cute and cheerful for them. This day, I grabbed a pair of jeans and a Guatemalan top I put together in the fall. (I’ll tell you how to do it as soon as I finish the story). I’m not sure if it’s all the Milk-Chocolate Mint Melt-Aways I have been eating, or what, but I thought the top hit me right at the wrong spot. It made my thighs look a little too accentuated, if you know what I mean.
After the rousing success with speed sewing Shilo’s baby blanket I decided to quick-like-a-bunny revise the Guatemala top. I had about 40 minutes before I had to fire up the car. I intentionally wanted to meld some US materials into the garment and thought I would add denim to the bottom. This would fit together fabric and color-wise AND cover up any (ahem) offending areas. Unfortunately, the scrap basket was low on denim. It did, however, contain a little girls dress made of ruffled blue eyelet and the length of the ruffles were exactly long enough to cover what I wanted covered. Perfect!!! I cut off the ruffles, took off my top and started stitching. (Which, of course, takes us to the title of today’s blog.)
The good news is, there is no Neighborhood Watch Program where I live, and everyone seems to be okay with letting me stay here. The second piece of good news is I finished the top with 15 minutes to spare. Now the top is more like a tunic and I think it will make a smashing summer dress. I wore it to the eye doctor, felt adorable and had a great check up. Life is good.
But seriously, this relates to sewing……
Now that you are finished laughing at me, I want to talk to you about combining an existing garment with a pattern to make something completely different. That is what I did with the Guatemala top.
In Guatemala I purchased some fabric and huipil remnants. I think there is nothing more beautiful than the colors and embroidery work in Guatemala and I knew the huipiles could be reused to make something terrific. At first, I couldn’t decide what to do. So, I put them on a hanger and stared at them for a while. It occurred to me to combine them with a Vogue 8968 pattern I had been playing with throughout the summer. The pattern is for a sundress but I had already used just the bodice piece to make a couple of tops.
To start, I laid the pattern over the huipil. It was both wider and shorter than the pattern. I cut the width down and found extra fabric to make the length. I laid that fabric below the huipil; gave myself a little extra room for seam allowance; and cut it to fit the rest of the pattern. Then it was just a matter of putting the pieces together and following the pattern directions. I didn’t have to do make a neckline or sleeves because they were already part of the huipil. I also didn’t hem the bottom of the top because the Guatemalan fabric was woven so tightly it didn’t ravel. I made lined patch pockets with the extra fabric. If you notice, I tried to line up the stripes with the pockets and fabric but laid the decorative stitching at the top. When everything was was finished, I had a top which I used for the top part of a top. Cool, huh?
Later, when I wanted to lengthen the top it was an easy matter of finding coordinating fabric and stitching it to the bottom.
What Does this Mean For You???
Going Off-road: I have an invitation for you. You may not have an extra huipil sitting in your closet. But you very likely could have a top that is too wide, too short, or too something and you don’t wear it. Consider going “off-road” and making the garment a pattern piece. You could use it as the bodice of a top or dress like I did, or blow us away with something wild. Maybe you want to use it for sleeves, as half the bodice, part of the skirt, or something I can’t even think of. There are so many fun and creative things you can do to mess up a pattern. Go For It!!! Don’t over-think or aim for perfection. This will NOT be a perfect project. It will be a fun one.
Okay, get out there. Fire up your sewing machine, take something out of the closet, make something wonderful, and try to keep your clothes on.