The Voodoo That You Do

A while ago I needed a dress for a party with an early 20th century theme, and I picked up a costume from a recycled clothing store that has, unfortunately, closed now. Last weekend I had a New Orleans-voodoo-jazz themed party to go to, so I dug out the dress. The skirt of it was of a rather shabby looking gold satin, and if I’d had the time I’d have replaced it or added an overskirt of some kind.

(I didn’t get a ‘before’ photo, so here’s a shot of the original skirt material.)

I cut off the skirt, which I used as a pattern to cut some lace I got from Lincraft. Then I had to sew lace to slippery satin to stretch velour. Hmm. To simplify that, I used the overlocking stitch on my new machine to attach lace to satin. Then I sewed the two to the velour, stretching as I went.

The result was better than I expected:


And paired up with a cloche, fake fur shrug, long black gloves, pearls and fishnets, I had the look right without it being too costumey.


I also managed clever updo trick with my hair that I found on Pinterest. Unfortunately, I didn’t remember to get Paul to take a photo, so you’ll have to trust me that it was good.


I haven’t worn a sarong in years. Used to be I’d wear them all the time in summer, so I have a quite a few. Recently I did a quick wardrobe cull and decided it was time to do something new with them.

Four are ‘pareo’ bought in Raratonga during a holiday in my early 20s. Sentimentality reigns here. Good memories.



I’ve put the mermaid one into my beach bag to continue using as a sarong. The fabric of all these is quite see-through, so if I made skirts they’d would have to be lined and a shirt would have to go over a top. But since they’re about the same weight as the cotton shawls I’ve got, I’m going to wear them as as shawls instead.

This sarong I bought for a trip to the Whitsunday Islands, though I don’t recall where. I bought two in different colour combinations, one to be a gift for my ex’s mother and one to keep, and let her choose which she preferred.


The fabric is a little thicker, so this might work as a shirt. Or a lined skirt. I’m more in favour of bright, complicated fabrics for skirts than shirts, though.

I don’t remember where I picked up the dolphin sarong, but while I’m not into pink or dolphins it’s a really generous length which is good for warding off the sun at the beach.


It’s going in the beach bag to be used as a sarong, too.

One of these dark blue ones came from an op shop, but I’m not sure about the other. I bought them intending to make a caftan dress.


They’re not so well matched as I hoped, however, so I’m thinking separates. A tunic top, perhaps. Maybe a skirt.

Jenome Well

I have a new sewing machine! Except it’s eight years old.

You see, the day before craft day, after I’d brought down all my sewing bits and pieces to the lounge ready for the next day, I decided to do a few of the quicker refashions. I got out my old sewing machine:


But when I went to sew a zigzag I discovered it was stuck on a fancy stitch. I had already lost the use of the buttonhole stitches when I had it serviced a few years ago, and this was a problem with the same lever. If the service man couldn’t fix that, I suspected he wouldn’t be able to deal with this either. I bought my faithful of Jenome My Style in the early 90s but it was familiar and while it worked I’d seen no reason to get a new machine. Now I figured it was time to replace it.

When I told my Mum, Dad remembered that she’d bought a new machine back in 2005 but didn’t like it and went back to using her old one. Dad, being a bit of a hoarder, stowed it away. He suggested I see if I liked it. So Paul and I popped over and picked it up:


When I got home I tackled the first refashion. And I love it! It has a needle threader and every time you finish sewing it puts the needle in the upright position. The most common stitches are one button press away.

It, too, is a Jenome. Most of my friends have Jenomes. Good little machines.

Crafty Day Refashioning

Last Sunday I hosted another Craft Day. Lots of my crafty friends came over to sew, crochet, spin, knit, papercraft, chat and eat cake.

I stuck to my determination to get some of the refashioning done I lined up at the beginning of the year, plus a few new pieces I’d added to the list. In fact, I started the day before, on this:


This red shirt is a refashion of a man’s shirt from a few years back. I’d worn it, but I found it a bit masculine and uniformish. The solution, I hoped, was a more feminine sleeve. So I cut off the cuff and made it snugger:


Then shortened the sleeve and gathered the fabric when attaching the smaller cuff:


A bit girlier? Yes. Girly enough? We’ll see. I like to add some embroidery, too.


Then there was this top I found at an op shop for a few dollars. It just needed taking in under the arms and at the darts:


On Crafty Day my first refashion was this dress:


Which was too small, so I turned it into a skirt, doing the hand sewing that night while watching tv:


The next refash was this jacket:


Putting it on the dress form, I pinched in a big long dart from within the pocket on the front, over the shoulder, down the back to the hem, then sewed it with the ‘wrong’ sides together. I also took it in at the sides and arms, right sides together this time.


It’s still a bulky jacket, but more fitted and less boxy than before.


My confidence was high, so I tackled a refashion I’ve lost courage with several times before – this dress:


I measured a point just above the hips and got cutting. But by then my crafty friends were heading home, so I didn’t get any sewing done. I finished it off over the next few days, doing a little bit of pinning and a little bit of sewing each time until I had this top:


And a skirt, which can be worn with the waistband scrunched up:


Folded over:


Or wide and flat:


But these weren’t the only refashions crossed off the list. I also had planned two men’s shirt conversions, but Paul has lost enough weight on the Fast Diet that he fits into them again.

Back to the Beginning

I had some big plans at the start of the year. Photo albums and refashioning lists were going to be tackled. So what happened?

1) I could only work on the albums on my computer, which is in the workroom, which is impossibly hot in summer.

Actually, we finally finished the Japan album and sent it off to an album printing company last weekend. Pics to come.

2) Refashioning Neon Safire is kicking my a**.

I knit a new waist in mistake rib, then added the yarn for the old waistband as plain knit thinking it would curl up a little. But it curls up a lot. Ignoring that, I knit the new neck band… twice because I picked up too many stitches the first time. When I put it on, I found that separating the front to make it a cardy had widened it around the middle, which was good except that the fronts now wouldn’t stay over my ‘assets’. But I ignored that, too, and started knitting new sections on the arms. Arms that are really too tight… WHAT AM I DOING THIS IS A DISASTER?!

I think it’s time to concede defeat, acknowledge that nothing is going to make it fit right, and frog the dratted thing.

3) Lack of sleep from the hot weather meant I couldn’t get my head around the more complicated sewing refashions. And it was too hot to try on stuff.

Fair enough, I suppose. But I did get some refashioning done…

4) … until I got distracted by weaving and that crazy Mystery Box Challenge.

Well, there’s a reason this blog is called Creative Fidget.

Okay, so I’m determined to get stuck into the refashioning pile again, especially as I’ve added more to it since the beginning of the year. There’s a Craft Day coming up, so I’ll be bringing out the sewing machine and dress form and tackling some refashions at that.

That is, unless I hear the siren call of the loom, or the embroidery hoop, or…

Knitwear Refashions, Part 1

A month ago I decided to tackle the refashioning pile. I’ve posted about some of the sewing refashions I finished, but I actually tackled some of the knitwear first. One of the projects is taking a long time, since I can only knit a few rows now and then, so I’m abandoning my plan to do one knitwear refashion post so I can show you what I’ve done so far:

Sunrise Circle Jacket


Because the garment has raglan style sleeves, and I wanted to use the same sort of hem on the arms as on the rest of the garment, I could only frog back to a short sleeve rather than sleeveless. I’ve added extra large decorative hook and eyes that have been in my sewing notions stash for twenty or so years. I like the change but I will have to see if I wear it now before I decided if I’m happy with it.

Cowly Vest


It’s a little hard to see the change, but trust me, the vest sit better. After removing the triangles joining the shoulders I put the garment on the dress model, with the underarm about where it needed to be, and discovered a very simple solution: fold the front and back over each other and stitch into place. Very pleased with this one.

Olive Wrap Vest

On closer examination I decided a woven shawl would be nicer, so I frogged it.

I also frogged this:
I’d outgrown it a while ago and made three attempts to add width to the front that all looked crap. I decided I didn’t want to send it to the op shop. I like the yarn, and I’m thinking of taking out the rocket needles to make another chunky scarf.

I wound up with quite a bit of frogged yarn:

All which I washed and hung to dry and straighten, wound into balls and added to to the stash.

There’s something appealing about frogged yarn, especially when it has gone slightly felty. It’s more rustic, and more honest. Some washing and wear and you see its true self, and hopefully what you knit with it won’t change any further.

Turn an Umbrella into a Shower Cap

Broken umbrellas. It’s nearly always the frame that goes first, and for those of us with recycling tendencies the fabric is just begging to be used for something else. People have used them to make clothing, the most obvious being a skirt. I’m not all that keen on wearing shiny plastic, and though making a raincoat sounds like a natural transition it wouldn’t be very breathable, though this dog coat is adorable. Others have made bags out of them, which is a great idea but I don’t need more bags. This person makes beanbags out of them which is pretty cool, though I’m long past being able to sit in beanbags.

No, I decided make something I’ve been finding it harder and harder to find: a shower cap large enough to fit my head. Honestly, I swear the ones you buy in stores have been getting smaller and smaller, and the longer my hair gets the harder it is to fit them over my head and the little bun I tie my hair into.

For a while now I’ve had fabric from a plain black umbrella waiting for me to get around to making a shower cap out of, but recently I discovered that the umbrella I bought at the British Library, which changes colour when wet, was broken.

I’m going to pause here for a short gripe. This umbrella was expensive. It came, as they often do, in a little cover. The label’s care instructions specify you must keep it in the cover, but the fabric is thicker than the usual umbrella fabric, due to the special paint that changes colour, and getting it to squish back down enough to get the sleeve on is a real struggle. It was my efforts to do so that broke the frame.

Since I’d only got to use this umbrella a few times, I was determined to make something out of it. And I love the idea of having a shower cap that changes colour, too.

But this method could be used for most umbrella fabric.

So, this is what I did:

The umbrella was a medium to large size so there was plenty of fabric. I wanted to make use of the patterned part. After removing it from the frame and taking off the tie that holds the umbrella closed, I unpicked two opposite seams so I wound up with two halves:

I took one half, turned it inside out and sewed it together up the side:

I copied the seaming method, which involved folding it over before sewing. I’m guessing this make it extra strong and waterproof.

Above the top of the pattern, I sewed in halfway to the centre on both sides:

Then I refolded it in half with those two seams were pressed against each other and sewed in again from the outside to halfway, where the first seams met:

Then I trimmed off the excess fabric at the point:

Right side out, the top now looks like this:

Next I folded the outside edge of the fabric wrong sides together and sewed a channel for the elastic, leaving a gap to thread it through:

Partway around I reattached the tie, with the velcro bits removed, to use as a loop to hang the shower cap up by:

I measured some elastic by wrapping it around my head then shortening it a little so it gripped well. Then I fed it into the channel:

Tied it in a knot. You may want to sew the ends together so it sits flat. But the join will sit in the channel, not against your head, so it won’t be uncomfortable.


And yes, it fits:

I even tested it for you:

Look! The colours change:

Coolest shower cap ever.

Fluoro Gradient Beanie

When planning out trip to Japan we discussed with the friends we were going with how we would spot each other in a crowd. I wore a bright red jacket. Paul decided he wanted a hat in a ‘safety gear’ fluoro colour. Shopping locally turned up no hats and Paul eventually found some overseas and ordered them. But this was in December and, most likely due to Christmas, they never turned up in time.

We talked about ways we could knock together something on the last two days. I had no time for sewing, so I bought some fluoro yellow paint from Lincraft. I’d pinned this this gradient painted jumper and figured I could do something similar with a black beanie Paul already owned.

The paint looked great as it went on, then dried a dull greenish colour. And it took ages to dry. So after applying two coats, and with time running out, I had a sudden flash of inspiration. I had bought flouro nail polish for some other project. Nail polish dries fast. So I attacked the hat and this time got the effect I wanted.

After we got back from Japan I washed the hat. The supposedly waterproof original paint all washed out so there’s not so much of a ‘gradient’ effect now, but with none of the dull green the nail polish looks even brighter.

Of course, the hats Paul ordered were waiting for him when we got home.

Heatwave Refashioning

During the first heatwave I tackled a few of the clothing refashions:

I turned the brown lacy top inside out, put it on the dress model and marked the new necklines:

Pinned and sewed:

Much better:

The blue t-shirt was so badly made that not only did the stripes not line up, they were at quite an angle. I wound up cutting the seams off and using the remaining two pieces as fabric. A sleeveless t-shirt laid over this was my pattern, and I used the hems at the bottom and arms for the new sleeve edges and neckline:

(I didn’t notice the stain until after I’d made it. Fortunately it came out in the wash.)

The wrap top fabric is quite thin now, so this is going to be its final incarnation, as a caftan top:

All I had to do was move the straps onto the inside of the back, make two buttonholes in matching positions on the front:

Then sew the back and front together with two lines of stitching between the arms and body.

No more gaping armholes.

The Refashioning Pile

My usual knitwear cleaning back in spring led to me pick out some problem pieces to alter or frog, so I now have quite a big refashion pile. Before the heatwave hit, I went through everything and took some photos.

First, the knitwear. The main offenders are clothes I like but don’t wear.

Name: Sunrise Circle Jacket
Crime: Too warm.
Proposed Reform: Remove sleeves and wear as vest.

Name: Purple
Crime: Too hard to take off during hot flushes.
Proposed Reform: Turn into a cardigan.

Name: Neon Safire
Crime: Too short, too hard to take off during hot flushes.
Proposed Reform: Turn into a cardigan, lengthen and add contrasting cuffs, neckband and waistband.

Name: Olive Wrap Vest
Crime: Just doesn’t sit right.
Proposed Reform: Graft together armholes and wear as a shawl.

Name: Cowly Vest
Crime: Awkward shoulders and armholes too low.
Proposed Reform: Detach shoulders, reattach with ties or a button, raise underarms higher.

There’s also a weaving refashion in the pile:

Name: I can’t remember. It’s made of my handspun yarn. Was supposed to be a wrap vest but it was too thick and heavy, so I sewed the pieces together and called it a rug.
Crime: I don’t even use it as a rug.
Proposed Reform: Actually, I reckon I could sew this into a vest, using the striped panel as a yoke and adding the scarf as a collar or belt or something.

Then there are the pieces of clothing I’ve got plans for:

Name: Fleecy Coat
Crime: Big and boxy.
Proposed Reform: slimming down with some extra seam lines and taking it in at the sides. Maybe slimming the arms, too.

Name: Velvet Dress
Crime: Too hot. I made it in the 90s but have hardly ever worn it.
Proposed Reform: Remove sleeves and perhaps shorten to midi length.

Name: Lacy Top
Crime: Neckline not flattering.
Proposed Reform: Trim neckline of lace and lining to different heights.

Name: Maiocchi Dress
Crime: None, mostly. I outgrew it in the frontal area. The collar and straps have faded to a different shade of black, though, so removing them would be an improvement.
Proposed Reform: Convert into a skirt.

Name: Wrap Top
Crime: Gapes a bit under the arm.
Proposed Reform: Turn into a caftan top by moving the ties.

There are also some kooky refashions, including this:

Material: Colour-changing and black umbrella fabric
Proposed Reuse: Turn into shower caps. Maybe a rain hood, too.

Lastly, there are a pile of Paul’s shirts I have plans for:

This one is made of a winter-weight fabric that I reckon would work well as a skirt

And this one is made of a lovely thread-striped white fabric that I can’t wait to wear as a shirt.

This is a bit uniformish, so I’m considering using it as bag lining.

Probably destined to be a sleeveless top.

The collar is worn, but the fabric is lovely and soft and I like the colour, so maybe a collarless short sleeved top.

This time a t-shirt. The neckband has faded and pilled, but the fabric is nice and I like the colour and stripe. I’ll see if I can turn it into a loose, casual top. Probably sleeveless.