Sunday, September 15, 2013

#1: Recycled Challenge - McCalls 6293

This is my entry for the first challenge in the FabricMart Fabricista Fashion Challenge.

The instructions for this one-week challenge were as follows:

Make a garment out of recycled materials or materials that would have otherwise been thrown away, such as scraps from your sewing room or grocery bags. You can reconstruct a garment to make it more fashion forward and utilize unconventional items to add accessories and embellishments. Be creative!


Materials Used

Because materials were crucial to this challenge, let me explain what I used.

A few of my scraps

I had a bounty of riches to choose from. I have many bags of fabric scraps, including some bags I haven't yet located. (I have more wool scraps somewhere!) I had a large bag of failed sewing projects, wadded up. I also have bags of home dec samples and silk scraps that are so small that they must be collaged together to make a wearable garment.

After canvassing the contents of several garbage bags, I pulled out the bag that contained two failed projects. I vaguely recalled mentioning both of these failed projects in a blog post and I was able to find it! If you read the post, Failure Galore, back in March, 2012, I had made a list of wadders. ("Wadders" equals failed projects, as in you wad them up and throw them away or into a corner.)

A bag of wadders

If you look at the list in that post, you'll see failed project #1 and failed project #2. I shoved both projects into a plastic bag, stuck the bag in a corner, and mostly forgot about it. It saddened me because both projects used beautiful fabrics: one used a black and cream Narcisco Rodriguez wool coating from FabricMart. With this I had paired a solid black wool/rayon boiled wool for the sleeves and collar. I was very disappointed when this pattern did not work.

The failed coat. Only one sleeve is sewn in

The second project used an expensive wool knit I had mail ordered. For that project I had the idea of taking the Teagarden Tee pattern that I loved and to convert it to a jacket.

I paired that fabric with a fuzzy black synthetic knit for the underarm gusset and a contrasting strip down the side seam to make it more roomy. This idea was a bust - the jacket was a disaster, partly because the print was just too much.

Failed Teagarden jacket. Only the right sleeve/side seam was sewn. You can't see it, but this jacket was still full of my sewing pins, which I happily retrieved.

Auditioning fabrics and patterns

Oh for two.

I decided to mix the fabrics together, along with some leftover fabrics from several other projects. I used 8 fabrics in all:

  1. A solid black boiled wool/rayon from the failed black-and-white coat.
  2. A black-and-cream Narcisco Rodruigez wool coating from the failed black-and-white coat. This was purchased from FabricMart.
  3. A wool knit with red medallions from the failed Teagarden Tee jacket.
  4. Leftover red boiled wool/rayon from the Sewing Workshop Opal jacket.
  5. A (different) solid black wool left over from the Style Arc Grace coat.
  6. A wild black-and-white lining left over from the Style Arc Grace coat.
  7. A black-with-white polka dot lining left over from a Sandra Betzina coat.
  8. Solid black lining left over from another project - I can't remember which one, but it was in my bag of lining scraps.

Pattern Modifications and Alterations

The pattern, from my pattern stash, is now out of print - McCalls 6293. This jacket features princess seams, an asymmetric closure, and a collar. It is unlined. I made the following changes:

  • A 2" princess seam FBA.
    Side front after FBA
  • As you can see in the pattern photo, the neckline, as designed, is rather wide. I changed the shape of the neckline, bringing it closer to the neck by 1" on each side.
  • Omitted the collar.
  • Narrowed the shoulder by 1-1/8".
  • At first I wanted to use welt pockets, but they would have crossed the front princess seam and the different fabrics. I decided I didn't want to break up the lines this way, so I added in-seam pockets. (The pattern has no pockets.)
  • I did quite a bit of fitting in the side seam - taking in about 1" under the arm and many inches at the hip.
  • Added a strip of the wool knit to the front edge of the jacket; this mimics the belt in the back (which uses the same fabric).
  • At first I planned to use the medallion knit for the sleeves, but it was just too busy. Instead I pieced sleeves from leftover red wool scraps.
  • Drafted a lining.

Constructing the Shell

Cutting the center back from the original coat

Originally, the red wool knit was going to feature more prominently in the design, but in the end I just used two strips of it. One on the center back, and one on the front.

The side back was cut from the black boiled wool sleeves of the black and white coat. But there was not enough fabric to cut out the side front. For this, I used leftover black fabric from the Grace coat. As you can see in the following picture, they are not the same, but they are the same shade of black, at least.

Constructing the Sleeves

Originally I was planning on using the red wool knit with medallions for the sleeves. But when I auditioned the fabric on the jacket, I felt it was too much. This fabric can only be used in small doses. I didn't have enough of the red wool fabric for the sleeves, unless I pieced them. I wanted the piecing to show, so I made piping using 1-1/8" bias strips of lining fabric and some thin rattail cord. I inserted the piping between the fabric joins.

Once the fabric was pieced together, I cut out the sleeves, which are not identical to each other.

I decided to make the sleeves 3/4 length, partly because it requires less fabric, but also because it lets me wear some of the bracelets I've collected.

I am still without a steam iron and am using my dry iron. For some reason, the dry iron just didn't work well on the boiled wool. I pressed and pressed and still there were wrinkles.

Constructing the Lining

The pattern was unlined. I decided to line it to the edge. I did not want to use the wool on the front or neck facing, as it is rather scratchy and thick. I had less than a yard left of the wild print lining fabric. In order to cut out the body, I had to turn the side back pattern piece on the cross grain. I did not have enough to cut out the sleeves, so I used the leftover polka dot fabric from the Sandra Betzina jacket for the sleeves.

Inside of jacket, showing the lining fabrics.


The jacket closes with 4 jumbo snaps which you may (or may not) be able to make out in the following pic.


Part of the challenge was to "utilize unconventional items to add accessories and embellishments". For this part of the challenge, I made a necklace.

Last April when I made the Sewing Workshop Opal jacket, I chose to leave the edges of the jacket raw. The boiled wool fabric did not require hemming. After I'd finished the jacket, I then cut off the hem allowance around the entire jacket, resulting in one long, continuous strip. I just eyeballed the amount that I cut off, which measured from 7/8" to 5/8" wide, but was mostly around 3/4". Afterwards, I had a little pile of a long red strip of fabric. I couldn't bear to throw away the lovely wool, so it's been sitting on a little table adjacent to my sewing machine for months. As I was finishing up the jacket and piecing the leftovers of the red wool, I was looking at the long red strip, wondering if I could use it somehow.

I finally got the idea of using it to make a necklace. I got the idea for the construction of the necklace from a necklace I'd seen in a boutique. My twist on the original idea was to use the boiled wool, with the raw edges exposed. In fact, the long wool strip included seams, even flat felled seams, as the original jacket had several seams. I decided to leave the seams and to let them fall where they may. My other change from the inspiration necklace was in the shape of my necklace, which has a Y-drop shape.

Essentially, I sewed a long narrow tube using the strip of red wool. I inserted a length of electrical wire (14 gauge), and made what is, in effect, a fabric-covered pipe cleaner.

One of my covered wires, similar to a "pipe cleaner".

I rolled each one into a ball and joined them using ponytail holders (hair elastics).

Voilà. Necklace completed.


Nothing's ever perfect, but I'm pretty happy with both the jacket and the necklace. I wore both to church this morning, after the photo shoot, and it's pretty comfy.

In the next day or so, the voting will be open on the FabricMart blog, so stay tuned!

This has been a pretty busy week, with all the sewing. I had to skip two events I would have liked to attend, but I had sewing to do. Next, I'm taking a nap, and then I begin on challenge #2, which will be quite a challenge for me! :)

More Pics

A little scrap cleanup