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Sewing with Sentiment via Up-Cycle Sewing

A Day Stitching with Mom

I had a precious memories of my Mom in my Sunroom Sewing Studio today.  Though she has been in Heaven for 5 years now, working with this sweet cotton print dress she made me when I was around 8 to 10 years old made it feel like she was in my Studio with me. While cleaning through EVERYTHING in our house in prep to move,  I came upon our ‘Dress-Ups’ in the basement, I collected these garments for a ‘someday project. ‘At that point, I found the picture of me in the dress as well! That ‘Someday’ arrived Today  as midnight is the deadline for entering a contest with Up-Cycling at Pattern Review.  Here are the garments I collected – basically because of color:

  1. Cotton print dress

  2. Gym suit from my junior high years

  3. Talbot rib knit top

  4. Jersey knit skirt from my daughter that had been chewed by their dog


Creative Design & Sewing Process

Walk with me through the process to create this modern-day tunic that ‘echoes’ the original dress. And yes, I’m wearing Pants, not skin tight white leggins.  NO white leggins’ on me out in public, thank you very much!


Inspiring Style

I always find it easiest to ‘get started’ if I identify a basic style framework.  Pinterest is my ‘go-to’ for those ideas and above at the right is that garment for this project.  The lowermost print skirt quickly was my dress’ skirt, and the solid top, my Talbot rib knit top.  Off to the races………

Neckline & Sleeve Design Decisions

I  feel the neckline is extremely important on a garment.  As I checked over the original Talbot’s rib knit top, it became obvious that I would need to change the neckline, as it had started to ‘run’ at the center back. I immediately had the thought that keeping or re-creating the original straps might be a precious idea, but I also considered a ruffle of the gym suit. If I used that darker color at the neckline I knew I’d have to also use it somewhere else to ‘connect’ and to bring that darker color down in the garment.  No decision being made, I went on. to trying on the Talbot top,  It was way too big and loose, so I put it on inside out to pin fit a size I liked for this tunic. The jersey skirt of my daughters (chewed by a dog) was also that dark color, so I played with those points for the sleeves.  I immediately liked that idea, and during a fitting, I played with tying those pointed ends into a knot which was a ‘WALA’ moment!    The sleeves do not span the entire armhole.  I utilized my Lastin Clean Finish technique for the underarm area, approximately from notch to notch.


I love designing with ‘red tape’ like they do on Project Runway, and you can see me using that in the photo in the middle above.  I defined the finished edge of the neckline and lowermost edge of the sweater.  On the shoulder, you can see the pocket from my gym suit on which I know Mom had ME do the embroidery.  The bow at the center front?  I love it because I could just feel my Mom’s fingers fashioning it and whipping it together.  However, placing it in its original location at the center front seemed way too childish.  I continued to play with where I might add these as interesting accents, but never came up with a place that didn’t seem corny or looked like I tried too hard.  Whispering in my ear is what I always teach:  “If in doubt, leave it OUT!”.  They will end up on a purse.  It’s too bad the contest deadline looms too quickly, so that purse will have to wait…