Friday, April 27, 2012

Time to Vote! Week #3--Earth Day Challenge

One fine, sunny day Eco-Princess sat in her tower dreaming of ways she could make the Earth a better place. "I always conserve natural resources, I planted three trees this morning, and my gown is made entirely of reused t-shirts!" she thought. But in her earth-loving heart, she knew there must be something more she could do.  (For the rest of The Tale of Eco-Princess, see my blog!)
My Earth Day look is made entirely out of about a dozen or so old and unworn t-shirts that were either stained, too small, or otherwise just needed a new life. Eco-Princess is made up of two pieces. First is the dress, pieced together with our favorite screen-printed images and tied in back with a large bow. The neck and sleeve bands are cut from the neck bands of the old t-shirts. It has an elasticized waist and is finished on bottom with a double row of stitches. The second piece is a petticoat made out of whatever was left of the t-shirts. The dress was perfectly finished, but I wanted the petticoat to be raw and a bit funky.
My favorite part about the concept of this dress is the many possibilities! Use color dye. Use favorite characters. Use ripped, stained, or otherwise unwearable shirts. Use daddy's favorite team t-shirts! Use her old baby onesies (we used one!). Use the neckbands that are already there for you on the t-shirts. Use any pattern of dress style you want. Use your daughter in the designing process and you will have a custom dress just for her that she will love. The important thing is that you are reusing what you already have and are cleaning out your closets a little bit in the process. Head over to my blog to see all the details and to read the heroic and inspiring Tale of Eco-Princess!

Kiki and Company--White Ruffles
I was so excited when I heard this week's theme. As I went shopping for fabrics for the other weeks, my one goal for this week was to not buy one piece of fabric!  I looked around my house for fabric in different places and came up with a perfect solution for what I wanted to base my entire design around...a duvet cover.   Last year I made a knock off Urban Outfitters ruffle duvet cover, and this year, I cut it up and made it into an outfit for my little girl. Crazy? Maybe, but I LOVE the details and I didn't have to ruffle a single stitch!
The jacket was the starting point for my design.  I love the elbow length sleeves with the ruffles, but the front of the jacket has to be my favorite part. It is so girly and bright.  And it washes up incredibly nice!  The shirt was also made from the duvet cover and I added some trim that I took from an old green shirt to make the detailing and the sleeves.  I also zig-zag stitched with green the ruffles on the front of the shirt to give them just a little pop of color. I fashioned some jeans from old maternity jeans of mine and they are now my favorite jeans that she wears!  I finished off the look by using ruffles that I added to some sweet little white shoes and topped it all off with a big blossom ruffle hair accessory that I whipped up.
What I love most is that by just looking around my house, I could whip up an entire outfit without spending a penny....and that is what I love most about upcycling! Come on over to Kiki and Company to see the duvet cover I used and the little details that went into each piece.

Melly Sews--Fields of Gold
This outfit is actually my third for the Earth Day theme; I really struggled with this one. But making 8 items and then only using the last 3 was totally worth it, as this is my favorite entry so far. I wanted something that referenced my favorite things about this planet, like fields of flowers, as well as using upcycled materials and maybe hinting at the era in which Earth Day was founded.
The dress is from a men's size XL t-shirt, on which I used an old technique, hand smocking, made modern with unconventional materials (knit fabric and beads) and trendy mustard. It took over two days to do the front.  I didn't want to overwhelm the detail with a complicated pattern, so I went with a basic tank dress style, with a racerback and front pockets. I added one tiny smocked flower in the middle of the racerback. I got so addicted to smocking while doing this that I also smocked a headband, (worn 70s style to reference Earth Day's inaugural year, 1970). And for a pop of color, I mod-podged turquoise fabric onto these fifty-four cent shoes. Then my lovely model and I went out to enjoy our nearby Fields of Gold. See more pictures on my blog, Melly Sews.

Sew Together--Liberté, Egalité, Frugalité
For this week’s Earth Week Challenge we created an outfit that shows you don’t have to compromise on style to be environmentally responsible. In fact, frugality and fantastic fashion can walk proudly hand in hand down any French Boulevard! Madeleine’s jacket, shirt, skirt and bag all had previous lives. They are made from preloved clothes found in storage boxes or in the cupboards of our family – long grown out of, stained or attacked by moths but too loved to be thrown out. The only items bought for this project were the vintage bias binding (bought at a great Stash and Treasure recyclers market) and the thread used to sew it all together.
 Madeleine’s jacket started out as a maternity winter coat. Careful cutting resulted in a jacket with a cute Peter Pan collar, decorative pockets featuring the original button loops and sleeves finished with the original cuffs. The fun striped lining was her uncle’s old business shirt. The shirt was created from a woman’s shirt that had been stained. It still features the original pin tucking and decorative stitching. The new floaty sleeves, bias trim and waste band have created a fun new shape that looks so sweet on our mademoiselle! Her 6 gored skirt was made from her grandfather’s moth eaten jumper. (Pullover for the non-Australians reading this!). Thankfully the moths had been generous and we were able to work around the holes. The jumper’s waist band became the casing for the top of the skirt and the seams of the gores and hem are all finished with vintage bias binding. Finally the satchel was made from a felted wool vest and a few scraps of red and white fabric. It features loops so the handle can be made by slotting through a belt or two when they aren’t holding up someone’s pants!
To see more photos from our very fun photo shoot, some “before” photos of the clothes we used to create this outfit and more information about our upcycle please pop by and say hello at Sew Together.

A Little Gray--Sheet to Chic
For this week's Earth Day theme, I wanted to start right in my own closet with things I already had. This dress began as a dingy light blue sheet with a couple holes that had long been out of commission. I set out to make something beautiful out of something very plain, and after lots of twists and turns and "make it work" moments, I ended up with a cheerful little play dress for my 12 month old Elsie. I first had to do a color removing treatment on the sheet and then dyed it this soft grapefruit pink. I kept the shape of the dress classic and vintage-inspired with a very gathered skirt, high neckline, and pleated cap sleeves. The main design element is the asymmetrical lines on the bodice that appear to be pleats, but are in fact lines of  tiny 1/8" double fold bias tape I made from the same sheet material. The lines of bias are individually stitched over the shoulder and onto the back of the bodice. 
The dress is fully lined in the bodice and has a separate underskirt made from a cotton print called Berry Bush that is 100% certified organic. The leggings are made from a funky knit fabric I poached from an old sweater I haven't worn in a few years. I love the contrast of the deep blues with the soft pink. But my favorite Earth-friendly element on the dress is the line of mismatched vintage buttons up the back. They come from a large collection of old buttons my mother gave me, which had belonged to her grandmother. I'm so excited to use them any chance I get, and this little selection makes the dress feel so special. 
Come visit me at A Little Gray to hear more about the original inspiration for this dress and see many more pictures of my little vintage sweetie!

I Still Love You (ISLY)-- Mommy & Daughter Date
 I made it a point to use only items I had on hand with this project, many of the supplies coming from the "donate to charity" pile. I love taking Penelope out on kid dates, so I thought matching/coordinating outfits would be fun for a little date around town together. As soon as we took these photos, we left on our little kid date (felix tagged along, too, but no fun outfit for him). Both of us were comfortable and stylin'. Too bad she forgot her Rayban sunglasses at home.
 We had a great time in our coordinating outfits. Penelope definitely turned heads in her oh-so-trendy leather patched jeans and a symmetrical top. The girl knows how to strut around town.  
 Penelope's look was much more intense. Instead of tailoring and modernizing old clothes, I used old clothes for my fabric and worked entirely from scratch. Penelope's top came from two dresses of mine. One was too shapeless and the other was falling apart at the seams. I used my favorite pair of high-waisted trousers for Penelope's pants and some scrap leather I rescued from a toss bin of scraps at a local upholstery shop. I love how Penelope's top has a lot of movement. She loves it, too. She loves running around with the back flowing in the wind like a cape! She really looks like a little hipster in her outfit, and I love that. She'd be right at home strolling down Mission in San Francisco. She's just missing a killer fixed gear bike. Check out more details and inspiration at ISLY 

Related Posts


  1. Oh my! Another nearly impossible decision! I love how different all the designers are-- I feel like that really shows in this week, for some reason. Lovely work, ladies! You are amazing!!

  2. These are all incredible! How am I going to choose!?!?

  3. I think that this is my favorite PR&P challenge ever ~ sure hope there's another one in the future...

  4. Oh NO! I can't decide; I love these so much!!!! Such a hard decision.

  5. So hard to pick!! Lots of great pieces!

  6. I just wanted to write in and tell you how much I love this week's challenge! What a great idea and I am so inspired. I can't believe these women made this week's clothes from found materials. Wow! Now I want to do this.

  7. Loving the results of this challenge. Super cute!

  8. This is the best round so far!

  9. Crazy impossible to pick the best.

  10. I also love this challenge. We all have things we don't wear and could upcycle. Great inspiration ladies.

  11. All of the ladies should be proud of their creations. They all did a wonderful job!

  12. I love the freebie factor, but you would never know that these are upcycles. These are my favorite creations so far! You ladies are amazing!

  13. They are all absolutely amazing! All of the contestant made such impressive upcycle projects that are very inspiring.

  14. LOVE the looks! I will have to think about my choice. Wish I could vote for them all!

  15. Wow! I love this challenge and I love each one of these looks. Well done!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.