Wizard Sleeves on a Potato Sack

So, I bought this dress for work. It is boring and unflattering. I styled it with a belt to give it some shape. But the sleeves were ridiculously large and bulky. The sleeves had to go.

Always knowing that I’d do something with this mauve blank canvas, I set to work sifting through blog posts from my favorite blogger “Refashionista”. She has TONS of great thrifted clothes that she has recycled upcycled into fresh new clothing! I find her posts very inspiring!

let’s get into this dress…or out of it… and sort out what to do!

I wanted to shorten the sleeves, add pockets, and adjust the bottom hem somehow.

I began by turning it inside-out and marking with chalk where I wanted the sleeves to end (plus an inch to accommodate for the hem). Originally, I wanted to have elastic in the sleeves but I scrapped that idea and just went with a shorter sleeve. I can always chop off more later, if I’m still not happy.

Mark the sleeves with chalk.
How do you choose the best thread color when you don’t have an exact match?

My mama taught me just about everything I know about sewin’! One thing she taught me was how to choose the best color of thread when you don’t have an exact match. Luckily, I used to make embroidery items for my etsy shop years ago, so I have a plethora of embroidery thread! “Did you say, ‘a plethora’?” (The Three Amigos)

Mama told me to always go for the one that is slightly darker than the fabric if you are torn between a lighter and darker shade.

Here’s why:

The darker thread is less noticeable.

Speaking of thread! Here is part of my plethora. Do you see the plumb thread?

How I store my loaded bobbins with their spool-mates.

I’ve been trying to cut back on my family’s plastic usage. I rarely buy plastic straws. We switched over to reusable metal straws (as per my daughter’s Girl Scout troop November 2017 challenge) and haven’t gone back since. So we had some plastic ones shoved into the back of the kitchen cabinet. I cut the straws into thirds and slipped them over the spool pegs. Perfect for extending the peg to keep the bobbins readily handy! If you are going to do this and need straws, look for the paper straws instead of plastic. Also, this was like a puzzle trying to fit the straws over the pegs as not all pegs and straws were the same exact size.

You’ll notice only one bobbin in the above picture. That is because I made a challenge quilt a couple of years ago where I used ONLY materials I currently had. In it, I used all of my left over bobbins that were less than half-way filled. The quilt is called “Crumbs On The Stairs”. Look for a post on that at a later time.

How I manage my straight pins.

Organization of your straight pins can be a difficult and a painful lesson in “poor pin management”. To help with this I use ONLY the long straight pins used mostly for quilting. They have a big colorful ball on the end so they are easy to pick up and easy to see. I have long since purged my sewing stash of those short ones with hardly any head. I also use magnets instead of cushions. I have a few pin cushions, but keep mostly needles in them. Typically I keep the big pink magnet on my ironing board. The light blue one is a set. It is intended to be worn, like this:

A wearable pin magnet.

But I’m somehow still too clumsy with it and end up poking myself. Instead, I place it on the upper thread guide or bobbin winder spindle of my sewing machine. Magnets are your friend…espcially if you drop a pin on your carpet. Which, in my house is extremely dangerous as we don’t wear shoes inside (despite pictures with me wearing shoes in the house. Shhhh… don’t tell my family).

Back to the frumpy frock…

Since I’m working with sleeves and pockets, I removed the extension table from my sewing machine.

I got so into my re-design, that I momonterily forgot to take pictures. Luckily, I remembered half way through.

Let’s jump into the pockets! This dress didn’t have any, but all of my favorite dresses have pockets! Notice my picture on my About Me page? My mama made that cute number for me and she added pockets to the pattern because she knows me!

I started by using the cut-off portion from the sleeves and threw on a dress with pockets. I noted where my hands landed comfortably in that dress and put the mauve potato sack on again. I chalked where my pocketed hands would land.

Exactly 6 inches!

I turned my pocketed dress inside out so I could use one of the pockets as a template.

I was going to buy a pocket calculator, but then I thought, “who cares how many pockets I have?”

I left the sleeve remnants in a double layer and traced the white pocket on top of the mauve. I used an “ultra washable” crayola marker.

You can see the original seam from the underside of the sleeve. I just reused this since I was going to sew it together there anyway.
Zigzag around the edges of the pockets.

I don’t currently own a serger. I’ve debated getting one. But for now, I zig-zag stitch around the edges of the pocket that need to be closed, keeping one side open for actual pocketing! Mama always told me to check my seams twice, making sure BOTH sides of the fabric have been caught. I slipped my hand inside and ran my finger along the seam. There was one place where the fabric slipped. I flipped the pocket over and zig-zagged around in the opposite direction, ensuring a secure seam.

I did this twice.

2 (not so) nassty little pocketsess!

Open the seams!!!

Opening the seam where the pocket will go.

I opened one side where a pocket will go. Then I measured from the bottom of dress and marked the other side. After both seams were open I pinned one finished pocket into place.

Inserting the pocket into place.

My mama’s voice, “right sides together.”

Pinned pocket.

There are so many raw edges and a bit of fraying going on. I decided not to use Fray Check because sometimes it can bleed. Since it acts like glue, the dried solution can leave some fabrics looking darker. I didn’t want to risk this. Pinking sheers would have also been a solution to minimize the fray-age. But I was lazy and I’ve dealt with worse fraying before.

After the pockets were in place, I noticed they stuck out from my sides a bit and the openings remained in a rather unattractive open position. Mama taught me a simple little understitch can remedy this. I tried it. It worked!

Understitching the pockets

Sleeves and pockets done, it is time to tackle the hem. I figured just a simple slit up the sides on the bottom might give a better flow to the ensable. I was wrong. It looked horrible. and because I didn’t do it properly, I sewed the top part of the slit together and it looked even MORE like a frumpy grocery bag….with super big hips… unfortunatley, due to the new pockets.

I decided I was done for the day and took my kids to the park.

After dinner I decided to see if Refashionista had any similar dresses she overhauled. As luck would have it, she did! Check out how similar her Blue Skies Dress is to mine! Can’t see it? It’s in the neckline!

Feeling a renewed sense of inspiration, I tackled the hem by whacking off that bottom band on the front and hemming the raw edge.

BOOM! Done!

I know! The shoes should match the belt. It was late o’clock, and the family was all asleep. Besides, they blend in with the carpet. Family will never notice I’m wearing shoes in the house. Shhhhh!

Confession: I wanted to keep it as a dress I can wear to work. But hey, I haven’t worn this dress in a long time otherwise!

… and my husband is the best guy in the whole world.

((Hubs highjacked my compy mid-post and wrote the above sentence. I would delete it, but I kinda’ agree with the sentiment. <3)

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