Mary’s Closet Refresh Challenge

At our first meeting in 2016, Mary Baxter gave members a challenge.

Perusing articles on wardrobe, we are advised to de-clutter yearly, passing on clothing and accessories that we have not worn in the past year. How many of you have gone through your closet lately and disposed/passed on articles that you have not worn in the past year?

I don’t know about you but as someone who sews most of my clothes, clothes that I have spent time and cost of materials to produce, I am very reluctant to dispose of a number of these articles and so they remain unused.

Picture your closet, or closets. What lingers there unused whether purchased or made by you? Why can you not part from them?

Some reasons that I can think of include:

  • an old favourite
  • related to some event/memory
  • colour
  • fabric

Can you think of any other reasons?

I can think of 3 items hanging unused and there are probably more.

  1. 1980’s wool long length coat with huge shoulders that I purchased at Mills Bros.
  2. Linen longish length dress where I utilized the cutwork border on the sleeve and dress hems.
  3. Silk jacket which I acquired.

Where is this leading? A Challenge for you.

Your Challenge, should you choose to participate, and I hope you do, is to select an item in one of your closets, made or purchased and refresh, restyle, alter, (or whatever you wish to call it) and bring it with you to the March meeting.

If you are able, take a picture of the before and show us the after. If you have already completed a refresh, bring it to the March meeting to show and tell us what you have done.

So what to do. Alter or restyle. Which I did on a 90’s Sewing Workshop top that I could not pass on because of the lovely cotton fabric which was purchased at Goodman’s. I updated the style with a Silhouette blouse.

Determine what you can do that will make you wish to wear it again.

Your refresh does not need to be a total remake. Be as creative or as simple as you wish, like:

  • shorten a skirt
  • make pants into capris or shorts
  • make pants into a skirt
  • make a jacket into a vest
  • change buttons
  • add an embellishment
  • change neckline or collar
  • change sleeve length
  • add darts to shape and fit
  • make an accessory if you can’t part with the fabric but will never wear it again

Any other suggestions?

There are lots of ideas on the web, in books and magazines.

You can do it, have fun with the process!


As an additional note, if you want an “evidence-based” way to clean out your closet, turn every garment hanging to hang in the other direction. That is, turn the coat hanger to hook from the other side of the bar. As you wear something and put it back, put it back in the way you’re used to putting back your hangers. In time, the stuff you don’t wear will be staring right back at you to help you decide whether or not to keep it. If you’re still not sure at whatever time you decide, a rule some use is if it doesn’t get worn by the end of the year, throw it out! Nobody said de-cluttering was easy! 🙂

This will also be the Monthly Spark for January, 2016, as I had the similar idea to upcycle a garment you were going to discard given you probably got new clothes for Christmas, or from presents like gift certificates.

Pictures from Embellishment Challenge (Oct 2015 Meeting)

At our October meeting on October 13, 2015, members showed off embellishments they did to various garments and other things sewn. I took some pictures for the first time at our meetings, and, unfortunately, it kind of showed. I was adjusting on the fly as people presented animatedly in low light, then snapped some quick close-ups at break, also adjusting on the fly. The results weren’t great, and I apologize. However, I know what works now from the shots that turned out well. The next set should be much better but my apologies for messing up this set that had some great work by our members. Well done, everyone!

THINK BLUE Summer 2014 Sewing Challenge

Once or twice a year, our Guild has a sewing challenge issued where those who wish to participate may. This year, we have a challenge for the summer as we break, with results to be seen when we reconvene in the fall.

The theme for this year’s Guild Sewing Challenge is BLUE, as suggested by Tory LeBlanc.

Think blue jeans. Indigo. Denim jackets and skirts. Crazy, dramatic up-cycled/refashioned denim with lace and embroidery and beading.

Or go in the opposite direction, fabric-wise. Blue velvet. Blue satin. Blue sequins.

Blue has so shades and intensities. Baby blue. Sky blue. Teal blue. Turquoise blue. Rich purply royal blue. Midnight blue so dark it looks black.

Blue is also an emotion. When you’re feeling sad and blue, what clothes you pull on for comfort?

Lady Sings the Blues – the jazzy glamour that burns hot.

What about when something comes out of the blue? Unexpected. Be it fabric that falls into your hands, or an idea/design that suddenly pops in your head.

The fun in this Challenge is the way you interpret the word BLUE. Play with it, twist it, make it yours. Then sew it up and show it to us at the October 2014 meeting. Plain and practical, or creative and clever, we want to see
them all!

If you have any questions or concerns, or want to share your delicious idea
with someone, contact Tory LeBlanc.

Pushing Lorna’s Designer Knock Off Challenge Idea

At the Sew It Now meeting Tuesday, ASG member Lorna showed us a winning designer knock off contest entry from Pattern Review blog. It was pretty well done, but our conversation also strayed a bit to possibly having a designer knock off challenge in the guild. Lorna had the idea. I’m not sure how enthusiastic she was about it, but I’m posting this on my own enthusiasm for it. I’m not sure how set we are with our next challenge criteria, but this could be good for later or sooner.

At first impulse, a designer knock off challenge seems like a pretty bad idea. Knock offs of any level have a pretty bad rep. And who wants to take creativity out of the process? However, making a designer knock off isn’t exactly easy. For starters, you might not have a pattern to use, depending on your choice. If you did, you’d likely have to modify it. In other words, no straight and easy sewing involved. And who says you can’t add a touch to a designer knock off? Especially if it’s an improvement to the original that makes your knock off look even better!

Maybe we could reframe the challenge to “improving a designer garment” rather than “designer knock-off”, even if it might sound a little pompous. Given the talent we’ve got and what we can do, I wouldn’t think so.

Either way, it would likely be an easy challenge. Anyone is willing to try, of course. There are simple designer garments to knock off or improve upon, and then there are hard ones. And nobody said you have to knock off common designer garments. That’s probably least fun of all. Try knocking off or improving some of the garments on my Pinterest account, for example! They’re nice organized so you can take your pick, especially among the dresses. Many are relatively simple looking, too. You can decide if they’re actually hard or easy to knock off. Many are also labeled so you don’t have to go hunting to see by whom they were designed.

And if you must know, Pinterest offers secret boards only you and/or select people can see. I have a secret board of garments I thought were nice, but that I could improve upon if I were to redesign it. That’s only in the sense of opinion, though. I don’t think I’d be able to make most of the garments the way I envisioned them to be better. Those are my real inspirational garments, not the well done ones I love pretty much the way they are.

I have over 300 pins on that secret board, but I’ll just keep them to myself for now. 🙂

Year of the Snake Sewing Challenge

Happy Asian New Year, everybody! It’s the Chinese year 4711, the year of the Snake. What’s in store? A few disasters, increased conflict, and more Gangnam Style, if you ask some people.

Actually, I think someone mistyped “and” instead of “because” above. And yes, I just did put Gangnam style on the Sewing Guild blog. Webmaster’s privilege. 😉

With the Year of the Snake lasting basically a year (Chinese calendar isn’t exact on 365 days), I’d like to propose a challenge to all the members.

Between now and some time in February next year, make a garment out of fake snake skin that you would actually wear.

Garment can be gloves, boot covers, hats, whatever, not necessarily shirt, pants, coats or such clothing. Making something you would actually wear makes the challenge all that funner cause you have to take into account your style, not just make something abstract. You also won’t be wasting a garment. It’ll probably spice up your wardrobe a bit, too! Please don’t use real snake skin unless you want to self-fulfill the conflict part of the prediction above with PETA. 🙂

When next February this is to be done doesn’t really matter. Let’s just try not to wait till 2014 at all. By that time, we’ll be looking onward to the horse and forgetting this challenge. The horse should be an interesting challenge if we keep the same theme. I was going to suggest this themed challenge last year, but it’s a little hard to find dragon skin, real or fake, for sewing, ya know? 🙂