Pattern mashup!

This is a European-style duvet cover that I got at the Value Village on Islington Avenue in February 2022 for $11.49, 100% cotton. (Better yet, the original retailer was La Maison Simons, which is a favourite chain of mine.) One side is a golden-yellow, and the other side is a tweedier but softer gold/white mix. I like the colours and immediately want to use them together in an interesting way. Only a few days later I’ve figured out what I’m aiming for: a yellow sailor dress. I am unreasonably fond of sailor dresses, especially in unconventional colours, and I’ve been inspired by how Sewstine recently knocked it out of the park in this regard with a Simplicity pattern from 1954. I’m aiming for something a little different, but that’s the basic idea. Let’s do it!

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A good pick for this craft of mine

This is a polyester bedsheet that I bought at the Value Village by Eglinton and Victoria Park in September 2021 for $5.49. Official Minecraft merchandise, with the print featuring diamond pickaxes (and outlines of additional, unspecified pickaxes).

Polyester is usually worthy of an eyeroll, but this was a fun find. I’ve been playing Minecraft since August 2012 – desert temples had just been added – and the only reason I hadn’t jumped in a full three years earlier (i.e. barely after the first public release of the game) was that I watched a good friend with very similar taste in games get super into Minecraft in the summer of 2009. At the time, I still had all of graduate school ahead of me, and wanted to get more of my education out of the way before I gave the game a try lest it eat my life. I have a real penchant for sandbox games, especially those involving resource gathering and light strategy elements. What can I say? I cut my teeth on SimCity 2000, Civilization II, and Caesar III back in the day, and all of those are still entertaining as heck.

I already know what I want to make from this: a dress. Feminine-coded shapes with unexpected/nerdy prints amuse me intensely, which is probably no surprise as I am a female scientist. Here we go!

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Straight from the ’60s

Here are a couple of pillowcases that I found at the Bloor/Lansdowne Value Village for a few dollars in March 2017 (the legendary trip I made for a half-off-everything Monday when I kept finding things I would happily have purchased anyway, which culminated in me walking away with an entire garbage-bag of textiles, plus about eight books). One of the pillowcases is slightly ripped, which bothers me not at all. They’re made from a very sturdy woven cotton with large fibres – almost, but not quite, at the tablecloth level. I find the appliqués inspiring. As I remove all the seams from both pillowcases and iron the fabric, I find myself wanting to take advantage of the fact that the appliqués not only match each other, but are each nearly symmetrical around the diagonal. They make me want to show them off in an obvious way.

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Lots of dots

This is a toddler’s dress that I found at the Bloor/Lansdowne Value Village in March 2020 for about $7. A lot of nice cotton in a geometric pattern I liked. Originally I thought the dress was barely used, which had me feeling a bit guilty about buying something perfectly serviceable in its current state. (I understand that I can do pretty much whatever I want with a piece of clothing I’ve purchased; the issue is that I’d rather do some real upcycling and divert something that might have gone into the garbage.) Back at home, I discover this wasn’t entirely true. From a line of four teal buttons that were originally on the back, one is missing, and a third has been rubbed so much that it’s losing its colour along one edge. The ties are both badly crumpled to the point that at least one side of each of them is damaged. So this thing has little enough wear that Value Village would still sell it, clearly, but also enough that anyone who found this at the mall might complain. The dress could be repaired a bit, but the person who bought it was me, which means that this will probably get more eventful.

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Aligning a lining


This is a pillowcase that I bought at the Bloor/Lansdowne Value Village in the autumn of 2018 for $1.99. I liked the print, liked the price, and liked the idea of adding more green to my wardrobe (currently underrepresented). For a while now I’ve been wanting to do some pattern-drafting to make some sleeveless tops anyway, so this provides a good excuse. Let’s do it! Continue reading “Aligning a lining”

A mixed-bag of small problems

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This is a Jane Norman dress (strapless, with an elasticated tube top) that I found at a charity shop in England in the summer of 2018 for £15; if I’m remembering correctly, this came from the Mind shop by Shepherd’s Bush Green in London. I’m thrilled to have found it. The metallic aquamarine embroidery (with incorporated sequins) is done on a layer of fine black mesh, and the whole thing sits against a polyester aquamarine lining. I adore these colours and the exuberant embroidery. However, I am ambivalent about the cut of the top, and am considering removing it. And either way, the skirt portion needs some work. The problems are all minor, but there are a whole bunch of them.
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Throwback: Refashion #0

I was just digging around in a box looking for my rotary cutter (which got put away somewhere among my craft stuff a bit too carefully last time I cleaned the house top-to-bottom), when I accidentally found something at the bottom of an old scrap bag. I am now laughing hysterically. I didn’t think I still had it, but here we are. Everyone, this is my first refashion project ever, from way back in childhood when my sewing skills were absolutely nil. Ready?

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Silk 101!

I went to a clothing swap in January 2018 with a $5 entry fee. There were a lot of good finds, most of them wearable or nearly (the little black dress only needed the seam above the kick-pleat fixed). However, there was one item that left me feeling as if I’d won the refashion lottery. This is a kind-of-worn-out vintage Adrianna Papell dress, 100% silk, which I’m guessing is from the early 1980s. Because, well, 1980s.

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Because polka dots


This is a curtain – one of a pair of them that I found at the Bloor/Lansdowne Value Village in March 2017. I think I paid $10 for them together. They have the visible layer of soft patterned cotton, and a layer of slightly tougher white cotton on the back. I suspect they were designed for a child’s bedroom, but in general I have a hard time resisting polka dots, and this colour combination (white, pink, and green) has been a favourite of mine for many years. It’s not quite enough fabric for a dress, but there’s still plenty there. I go through my stack of commercial patterns looking for inspiration.

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Local emerging greenery


This is a blouse that I bought for a dollar at a theatre costume sale in the summer of 2018. It’s interesting in that I suspect it was artificially made to look damaged. Most of the buttons are missing, and there are two or three pink-brown stains on it. But the shirt itself doesn’t show signs of wear. Most of it is sparklingly white, and all the seams are intact. Heck, there’s still a little plastic tag attached to it! I suspect that it was purchased and then a bunch of the buttons were cut off and the stains were added (tea? makeup? dye?) to better get across a sense of a character on stage being dishevelled. The flip-side is that the shirt fits me really well and I love the textures. And if it’s not actually worn out, I could get years of use out of it. Let’s see what we can do.

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