I’ve always been a fan of Anthropologie style. I pin wardrobe inspiration from their site constantly on my handmade wardrobe inspo Pinterest board, especially when I am looking for ideas for beautiful fabrics that I’m not sure what to use for.
That was certainly the case when I stumbled across these two “magic skirts” at a local thrift store (if you find yourself in Lansing, MI, be sure to stop by Community Finery, located in the REO Town Marketplace!). They each had two layers of what looked to be vintage screen printed silk fabric. Since I don’t really wear skirts, and since I really, really loved the fabrics (!!), I decided I would take them apart and make something new out of them.
I already had the idea for a reversible Ogden Cami with tie straps (inspired by a Madewell tank I found a couple of weeks ago, but now can’t find a link to the listing—it might be sold out), and I had a vague concept of a loose and drapey oversized, lightweight cardigan. So off to the Anthropologie website I went! And found the following muses for my refashion:
Then I started trying to find the right sewing pattern (I already had the Ogden Cami pattern). I searched around on some of the indie pattern designer sites first, looking for something that would work, or something that I could hack into what I wanted. After a little time, I decided that I didn’t want to risk ruining the fabric by getting too experimental, so I headed over to the Burda Style website. They almost ALWAYS have something that I am looking for—their catalog is enormous—and they have reasonably-priced PDF downloads, aka: instant gratification! The only caveat with most of the Burda patterns is that the instructions are not very in-depth and it takes a little sewing know-how to follow along since they don’t usually have images to accompany the instructions.
Anyhow! I found this knot front blouse on the Burda website and snatched it right up!
But first, I made my reversible Ogden Cami:
I’ve made several of this pattern and my only beef with it is that the straps don’t hide my bra straps. But that’s an easy fix! I addressed it here by creating an extension on the bodice for the straps (using the Ogden strap length as a guide—I made each strap about 10” long so that I could tie them, and I tapered the ends). Instead of cutting the lining to stop below the bust, I just cut two of each bodice piece—one of each fabric for the front and back. After sewing the side seams of the bodice for the exterior and lining separately, I then sewed the exterior and lining pieces together around the arm holes, straps, and neckline in one continuous seam (right sides together) and then turned it all right side out and pressed. EASY!
The little ties are SO CUTE and my bra straps are more concealed. I decided to forgo the understitching around the neckline because it never comes out neatly on fabrics like this for me. I think my machine is a little too rough for it! But I love the way this tank turned out, and IT’S REVERSIBLE! Two tanks in one, perfecto!
And then, I made the cardigan…
This was one of those projects that made me feel pretty proud. I knew I wouldn’t have enough of one of the fabrics to make an entire cardigan, so I just embraced the floral-pattern-mixing glory of it all and went wild!
I only had a very little part of the navy blue floral fabric, and of course that one was my fave! So I spent the most time trying to position the front bodice pieces just so to have it be a feature on the blouse. It barely fit onto the pattern piece (and I also kept reminding myself to add seam allowance—most Burda patterns don’t have it included!).
After positioning the front, I worked my way through the pattern pieces, starting with the largest pieces first, and double checking that the pieces would fit in the fabrics I wanted for each piece. It was a measure-ten-times-cut-once sort of strategy!
There were many “SQUEEE!” moments as I sewed it all together. And it came together very quickly. I used my serger for all of the exposed seams and my sewing machine for any seam that would be concealed.
I’ll probably eventually make another version of this cardigan with more narrow and shorter ties and short sleeves. I can see so many possibilities for it and I’m happy to have it in my pattern library.
Ogden Cami PDF Pattern: $10
Burda Style #109 Knot Front Blouse PDF Pattern: $5.99
Thrifted '“magic skirts”: $32 total
TOTAL COST (both garments): $47.99
Me-Made May sewing
This project was a continuation of my Me-Made May challenge of repurposing thrifted clothing and materials, and I just have to say I am so grateful for this challenge! When I first heard of #memademay, I wasn’t really sure how I could participate in a way that would be interesting enough to keep me engaged AND meaningful enough to share publicly (because, hell, I’ve been wearing me-mades nearly every single day since I started sewing my own wardrobe—I’m already obsessed!). But this challenge really upped my sewing game and has completely shifted the way I approach new projects. I just don’t think I could have made something so beautiful without the focus on making something old new again. I don’t think I could have even imagined mixing patterns like this, or sourced fabrics that would have looked so lovely together on my own (but now I think maybe I could, because my brain has expanded a little after making this!).
How sewing is changing my life: A monologue…
And it makes me love sewing even more. This hobby has given me so much confidence…creatively and about my body. This time last year, I felt very “meh” about sewing and my wardrobe. I was sewing constantly for my other handmade business (fulfilling wholesale orders). While I was so grateful to be busy, I was getting so burned out sewing the same things over and over again. And I was super conflicted about growing my business, which was finally gaining some traction. I almost didn’t sew my first wardrobe piece, because the thought of investing time into a project that required so much sewing made me worry that I’d find it unfulfilling and not finish it. But my experience was completely the opposite of that and I’m so glad I gave it a try! Because now I’ve tapped into something really special that I didn’t even realize was there.
A little over a year ago, I was feeling so…honestly? Enraged…that pursuing my creative business felt so hard. It was like pushing an enormous boulder up a mountain at times. I loved that boulder, that I could be my own boss and be creative and pursue work that I felt I was “good” at, and that I genuinely loved. But sharing it and promoting it and trying to sell it felt off. I knew I had something to offer, that I was a really hard worker, and wanted to do something meaningful SO BAD, but everything I had to offer back then felt…just off. There was a disconnect, personally, and I think that had mostly to do with the fact that I was trying to use my talent and creative passion to please others with products that I thought people would buy (so that I could grow a business, make a living, and continue being my own creative boss, all really valid things!).
Sewing my own wardrobe has ignited my passion and creativity in ways that feel so inherent to ME. I want to share this stuff. I want to tell anyone who will listen about these projects. And for the first time since I started sharing my creativity with the internet (circa 2011, y’all), I feel totally connected to my work and a community of creatives. It feels good and natural. I feel helpful and useful.
So why am I sharing this? I guess I want to mark this moment. This feeling. I have always been a searcher, a try-er. A let’s-just-see-what-happens-er. That can be really frustrating when the searching gets long and drawn out, and the trying seems to fall short of success. When let’s-just-see-what-happens starts to wear on my personal relationships and completely changes my relationship with money…and identity. Gah, that boulder gets big! I feel like I have two responsibilities: to unapologetically pursue creative passion and purpose, and simultaneously acknowledge the societal pressure to be successful in a more traditional sense (get a job, be financially secure and predictable, etc.). So I am constantly waffling between the elation of creative freedom and the guilt of not following a traditional path.
Okay, so I’m writing and writing and feelings are coming out and this is getting long-winded (it’s my blog, I don’t care! Okay, I care a little…). My point is, I tried something new that stuck and it’s changing my world in the best ways. I’ve tried a LOT of things that didn’t work to get to this point. And if I can offer anything at all to anyone that might read this and feel a sense of “ME TOO” to anything I just typed: please don’t stop trying. We need each other!
Ok fellow creatives and sewing enthusiasts! I love you, I see you, thank you from the bottom of my sewing-obsessed heart. Sibley, out.