Thursday, June 26, 2014

To infinity...and beyond!

Oh, hey! Hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year and has been well since that last post!   My hibernation was awesome!   And productive!  And I come bearing gifts; I'm revealing how I've made one of a kind infinity scarves from a fairly common thrift shop find: vintage maxi skirts from India!

 I usually roll my eyes when I see stupid-easy diy projects on blogs, but I hope this is helpful and informative to some!  This is my first tutorial; let me know your thoughts!

In today's class, we'll learn how to make something awesome even awesome-er.

The downside to seeing the potential in everything, and not being able to resist a deal (or a pretty pattern), and frequenting thrift shops, is that I end up with clothes (and other things) awaiting modifications before I can use them. And until they've been tweaked, they're sorted into a semi-organized tower of plastic storage containers that haunt me:

A few years ago, I fashioned an infinity scarf from a vintage gauzy Indian maxi skirt. It turned out beautifully and I made a couple for friends and sold some in the etsy shop. Recently, I had my seamstress* whip out a few more using the rest of the skirts in my collection. The lovely woodblock-like printed patterns with floral motifs or elephants or peacocks and other designs are almost always from India and usually made out of a really lightweight material. These skirts (and printed dresses and blouses) were popular in the 60s and 70s.

Dem colorz, dat pattern... *swoon*

The blouses and dresses are harder to find (and consequently more expensive...not sure I'd cut one up!)  But I see the skirts often enough... Unfortunately for me, the fit isn't super-flattering on my body; I feel like there's too much fabric on my hips and the length is always wrong. And often, the elastic waistband has dried out and there's a tear or stains near the hem where it probably grazed the ground or was stepped on. But the patterns! They're sooo good! And using the material for scarves is easy and perfectly showcases the print! They're such a fun and colorful layer to add to your outfit! Huge infinity scarves are a favorite because they're foolproof to style; just loop it around your neck a few times and go! Let's get started!

Things you need:
  • A skirt. Duh. You can basically use any skirt for this, but consider a lighter-weight, not-scratchy material that'll drape nicely around your neck. And, for ease, don't use a skirt with gores or tons of panels. (I mean, you can, but it involves more math than I want to explain.) 
  • Scissors. 
  • Thread. 
  • A needle, if sewing by hand, or a sewing machine, or a seamstress 
  • Pins (sewing or safety, dealer's choice.)
Clear, easy-to-follow Instructions:

1.  Cut the waistband off the skirt.  We don't need it.  Try to do this in a straight line and as close to the waistband as possible.  But don't stress about that too much...

Snip, snip.

2.   So now you have a big tube.  Or maybe it's a funnel... Whatever.  You could, theoretically, call it a day at that last step, but the fabric is oriented the wrong way and it's so weird how that one edge is jagged, it just looks like you're wearing a skirt around your neck!  So we're not done yet!  Lay the skirt flat and rip open the side seams so you have two rectangles.  Or maybe they're squares... Whatever.  It's okay if the edges get a little messy, in fact, it's good.  Try not to use your scissors.  If your skirt doesn't have a side seam, or it has more than two panels, just tear it into equal pieces; they do need to be the same width.  (You only need two, but you can use more to make one really long scarf, or multiple scarves, or other things.**)

Frayed edges are yer friends!

3.  If you don't want to do any sewing, you could call it a day have not one, but two basic scarves!  One for you, one for a friend!  Here's one I didn't finish because I wanted it to show the unfinished, fringe-y edges.  And it's okay!  You can't even tell!  It still works!  Yay!  But read on if you want an infinity scarf.

It's not so bad to be basic.

4.   Now let’s look at our two panels.  We’re going to sew these together width-wise; stitching along the hem and stitching along the top (where we removed the waistband) to make a big loop. We can do this two ways: stitching the panels hem-to-hem and top-to-top, or stitching them top-to-hem and hem-to-top.  Does this make sense?  For example, sometimes stitching the two hems together creates a big block of a single color (like if the skirt had a solid border).  If this is your first rodeo, I recommend stitching top-to-hem and hem-to-top because it makes the next step easier…  But it doesn't really matter which option you choose; it just depends on the pattern and your preference.  Use your pins to secure the two panels together, right-sides facing out, with the finished hem of the skirt overlapping on the right side of the fabric. 

Green highlighter on the finished edges that were the hem of the skirt.  If I stitched this together as shown, I'd consider it top-to-top and hem-to-hem.  It's easier to turn one of the panels upside down so the finished hems get stitched over the unfinished top edges on both panels.

5.   Once you’ve pinned down the edges, you’re ready to make it official and sew them together!  What’s really cool about this is that you don’t need to be #prolevel to sew this.  The material is forgiving and the pattern on the skirt will hide any uneven stitches.  Hopefully, you’re stitching top-to-hem and hem-to-top, this way you can just follow the line of the hem as it overlaps the top of the other panel (making a long rectangle), and then follow the hem line from that panel over the top of the first one (making it into a loop).  Does this make sense?  Here’s a picture:

6.   Stitch together the other ends.  In the photo above, you can barely see where the second row of stitching was done; it goes right along the hem to attach the other panel underneath it.  On the reverse side, excess fabric was trimmed away.  You can stitch a single line or two.  I've done two.  Again, I just went over the stitching on the hem.

7.   Now you have a big loop!  Whoomp there it is!  THIS is your infinity scarf!  Depending on the original dimensions of your skirt, your scarf may be really long or maybe it’s short and wide.  It’s okay!  These come in all shapes and sizes and they’re all beautiful!  Real talk.

I believe this skirt had four panels.  I used them all to make a longer and narrower infinity scarf.

Your infinity scarf can be worn in many ways.  Not an infinite amount of ways, but several.  Shrug, shawl, or wrap dress/sarong, anyone?

Mostly, I just end up doubling it over my neck twice.  And it’s easy to convert into a snood should you get caught in a downpour!  The one on the right is probably my favorite.

I also love this blue and white tie-dye one.  I’m seeing a lot of that this season and I’m a little sad I sold it!  So pretty!  It's not an Indian print, but the material; slightly sheer and crinkly, was suitable for a scarf.  If you look closely, you can see one of the panels was stitched along the sides (versus at the top and the hem) so it doesn't drape the same.  It's not bad, just unique!  There's no wrong way to go about this.

Look from Madewell Spring 2014.  They have a similar, non-infinity scarhere.

I went a little crazy and turned a few regular scarves into infinity scarves.  You can easily stitch the ends together on a long, rectangular scarf, or use two large square scarves.  Or stitch together several in a large patchwork panel.  Infinite possibilities!

Let me know if you make anything!  Share your masterpiece on Instagram, or here!  And check out the shop if you’d like to buy a finished one!

*My speedy seamstress, Hilda, completed the ones shown after I cut and pinned the pieces together.  It's amazing and insane how quickly she works, but, I assure you, this is an amateur project and shouldn't take longer than an hour, tops.  Unless you're simultaneously hate-watching a Lifetime movie: why isn't the leading lady questioning this sketchy man/situation/her acting career?  Or you're threading your sewing machine the wrong way and almost break it in frustration.  Or your cat thinks the panel of skirt fabric you've laid out is, in fact, just for him...  In any of these instances, it may take significantly longer to make a single scarf.

Mine! That'll be all.

**I had a skirt with three-panels and used two panels for my infinity scarf and applied the third to the back of a button-down shirt.  Still need to finish it, but you can already see it’s going to be boho-cape-chic!

(Not sure what happened with my font size up there...I tried to fix it and then it messed up the rest of the formatting and then I gave up.)

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