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Friday, November 11, 2016

10 Minute T-Shirt Leggings

I recently watched an amazing documentary, The True Cost.  It's about US consumption.  It's available on Netflix.   Essentially, the documentary points out that the average American throws out 82 pounds of textile waste each year.  So, for a family of 4, you are probably throwing out 328 pounds of fabric waste per year.  It think we can all agree that is too much waste.   

So, I decided to start a series on my blog, that I will be premiering today, but hopefully posting about every Friday showing you how to reuse items you already have to make new clothes.  I actually do this all of the time at home.  It is partly to cut back on waste, but also because I have things with prints or embroider that I just love and I'd like to see them have a new life in a new piece of clothing.  

This week I'll show you how to make a pair of 10 minute leggings from an old t-shirt.  You can use a pattern you already have.  I've used this Skinny Toddler Leggings Pattern from my shop.
Once you have a pattern, the process is pretty much the same as if you were using a regular knit fabric yardage.  

The only big different is that I line up the hem of the t-shirt or skirt or whatever I am using.  I'm going to use the factory hemmed edge as the bottom.  It saves time and looks great.  

 The pattern will have accounted for hemming, so you need to adjust the length of the pants pattern.  My pattern allows for a 1/2" turned hem.
I just fold the pattern up 1/2' and line it up with the bottom of the t-shirt for cutting.  Then follow the instructions for stitching up your pants.  

I made this cute pair in under 10 minutes.  I did add that super adorable panda pocket embroidery design.  It's available at  All of their designs are on sale for $.25 right now, normally $2.99.  How cute.  A new pair of leggings for $.50 with the elastic.  I could have used t-shirt fabric to make a knit waistband and skipped the elastic all together.  

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Thursday, November 10, 2016

Get the most from your fabric

Have you ever purchased a pattern and followed the cutting guide only to end up with a bunch of odd sized, wasted fabric scraps?  I used to do this all the time.  Then, if you are like me, you cannot bring yourself to throw all those scraps out so you have comforter bags full of scraps you may never use.  In the last several years I've made 3 big strides when it comes to scrap fabric.  1) I do throw out some of the scraps...if they are too small for me to ever use.  I'm going to make one caveat here.  I save many even tiny scraps of fabric like fleece because I use it as stuffing!  Mind blown right.  Along with traditional batting, I use my fleece scraps to stuff soft dolls.  2) I organized my decent sized scraps into plastic shoe boxes by color.  I got them from the dollar store.  It may sound dumb, but just having them sorted out gets me using the pieces.  Sometimes I just need a little bit of red for a pocket.  Instead of cutting yardage, I check my scraps first.  3) Finally, I changed the way I cut patterns.  I don't even look at the cutting guide any more.  I lay out the fabric and the pieces and reposition them until I get the least wasteful layout I can find.  Once you do it a few times, you will see that it saves so much fabric and it doesn't add much time onto your cutting.

One of the biggest things you need to accept to save fabric is that the factory folded edge isn't the only folded edge a piece of fabric can have.  You can refold it however you want!

  This is just an example.  With my raglan top pattern, if I used traditional fabric layout, I'd need over a yard of fabric to make a toddler top.  That's just crazy.  Plus, I'd end up with a weird piece, cut off from the folded edge.  What would I do with it?  Instead, I folded over the raw edge and the folded edge to make 2 double folded edges.

 Now I can cut out 2 sleeves (on the fold) and the front and back (on the fold) from 1/2 yard of fabric.  Even If I only needed to cut out a sleeve, I'd still use this technique and fold over the raw edge.  Then, I could cut out my 2 sleeve at once on the fold and have a nice, large piece of my fabric left with the factory folded edge to use on another project.
avoid fabric waste by refolding fabric

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