The Renegade DIY Cardigan

This week, I upcyled an old thrift store sweater into a cardigan. I bought this striped 100% acrylic crewneck years ago and have worn it a million times around the house. It’s boxy shape and stretched-out bottom hem were among the reasons it remained just an around-the-house-sweater. As I enter my 3rd trimester (now 29 weeks pregnant), cardigans paired with long tanks/minidresses and leggiings have become wardrobe staples so I decided to refashion my old sweater into a cardigan.

After discovering and falling in love with The Renegade Seamstress Beth Huntington’s website last month, filled with her fantastic sewing tutorials, I immediately went out and picked up her book, The Refashion Handbook. For this upcycle project, I followed Beth’s Merino Wool Cardigan tutorial. Since this project is found on page 60 of her book, I will not be sharing the details with you here, however, Beth has a similar tutorial on her website. After I cut, pinned, sewed, pinned again, sewed some more and then hand stitched the button in place, I pressed the seams and voilà, my old favourite sweater is now my new cardigan!

Before & After
Before & After

I highly recommend Huntington’s book to everyone who enjoys upcycling clothes and working with fabric they probably already own. Some of these projects I have thought of myself and done already and others, like her Renegade Ikat Bag made using an old pretty tablecloth, a black leather sleeve, a denim pocket and an old belt, I will definitely be trying out very soon. Beth Huntington, the MacGyver Sewist!

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Sweater for the Shop (S-I-F)

Happy New Year!!

I hope your holiday break was as lovely and restful as mine. I had intended on doing a lot of sewing once exams were done and the clinic closed for the break but then my niece Ella came to town. All projects were put on the back-burner so I could spend time with the adorable silly bean. Santa was particularly kind to me this year, among my fantastic gifts was a slew of carefully selected thrift store rescues from my mother. Among these relics was an ’80s (I’m guessing) Italian (again, guessing) satin wedding dress.  It’s going to be a fun year!

Before & After
Before & After

Lady E handed me a bunch of soft and comfortable sweaters at the beginning of December. She asked that I refashion them like the previous set because no one was interested in these outdated and oversized knits. This white with red flowers Sentiments sweater is the first of many to come. Voiià, my first Sewing-It-Forward project of 2015, another little sweater ’cause baby, it’s cold outside!

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Tutorial to come as promised with the next sweater refashioning.

Gold Strapless Minidress

Last weekend, I deconstructed and refashioned an old thrift store gold knit sweater into a sexy little mini skirt. I was so pleased with the results that I’m currently taking apart a few of my older brother’s cast off sweaters. No large sweater is safe now!

I love idea of up-cycling and giving old clothes new life, not to mention how economical and eco-friendly the whole process is. I must use all the pieces of these items but what does one do with just the sleeves? I had a few people put forth some great suggestions- leg warmers were something I considered and then there’s always the easy go-to of piecing together a little clutch. I couldn’t decide so I opened the sleeves up, cutting out the seams, to have a better look at how much fabric I had to work with. I was in need of a dress for my staff holiday party tonight so I manipulated the remaining fabric and made it fit, more or less, to my Tashenka dress pattern. I inserted an elastic to the top hem of the gold knit portion for it to hold well. Before sewing the top to the bottom of black stretch knit fabric, I inserted a 0.5″ elastic to the bottom hem of the gold knit top to bring in the waistline for a sexy silhouette. And voilà, I present you my chic lil’ work Christmas party dress!

Gold Braided Miniskirt

I bought this gold braided cable knit sweater the same day I picked up the sequined sweater. Price tag said $7, reduced to $4 as the cashier & I noticed a little hole on the side. This was no inconvenience to me as I had already  planned on taking her apart. Actually having the hole near a side seam as oppose to center was no trouble at all.

Before and After.
Before and After.

I removed the sleeves and the front bodice from the back. I used the bottom section of my Tashenka pattern for the shape, paying close attention to placement in order to utilize the original bottom hem. The fabric began to fray a little so I used an over-edge stitch around the top hem, mimicking an overlock, before folding and sewing the hem in and finally inserting an elastic waistband. And voilà, a gold knit mini ready for the parties over the holidays!

Stay tuned to see what becomes of those sleeves…

I have received a few messages regarding tutorials and step-by-step instructions on the refashioning projects. Thank you for your interest and these tutorials will be coming soon!

Gold Button Down Indigo Sweaterdress

I found this rich indigo size 14 sweater dress at Renaissance a month ago. It had no label, only a small tag saying Made in Canada, 100% acrylic. There was a slight tear in the bottom which reduced the already low price tag to 3$! A steal for an up-cycling sewist!


I dismantled her like the other sweaters (plus interfacing to the bottom hem), only here I had to be extra careful as the front pieces had to line up perfectly to facilitate button placement and the side pockets, which I had to cut in half, had to be symmetrical. I can wear this dress with nylons, leggings and even jeans. I wore her last Thursday to work and then dinner. She’s super comfortable, flattering and soft, my only comment is that she gapes a little when I sit. To rectify this issue, I will pick up some more matching thread, remove the buttons and sew her up the front.

My question for you all, shall I keep these gold buttons or do I opt for something a little less flashy? My mom had suggested a matching indigo satin button? I like the idea of a understated button. Your thoughts?

The St. Michael’s Skirt (Sewing-It-Forward)

Last week, I refashioned an old St. Michael’s dress into a cute sweater tunic/minidress using a donation item that had been given to a local women’s shelter. Click here for the story.

I absolutely loved the print and soft fabric. I received a lot of positive feedback for the pretty paisley print from many of you as well, inspiring me to create something with the remaining 12 inches.

What to do with just a foot? Using my Tashenka skirt portion pattern, I added 4″ of organic black stretch cotton to the top, inserted a 1″ elastic into the waist and created an adorable miniskirt!

The St-Michael’s Dress/Tunic (Sewing-It-Forward)

My 6th Sewing-It-Forward outfit!

As soon as Lady E handed me this size 18, 100% acrylic St Michael’s dress, I knew it had a potential of becoming something wearable and dare I say- stylish. I love paisley print so immediately knew I could create something cool. Unfortunately, my sweater dress idea was quickly squashed when I found a palm-sized shredding moth hole mid-thigh. I felt that patching would look odd on top of the print so I opted to create a sweater tunic instead. I am 5’8″ so this number could probably easily work as a mini dress for a smaller woman.


The dress had a loose elastic sewn into the waist line which I tightened giving a nice shape to the bodice. I dropped this outfit to the shelter’s boutique yesterday along with the Grazia pieces. I’m excited to see who picks this one out.

Now what to do with the remaining 6-ish inches of paisley fabric…

The projects that started it all

Practice certainly does make you better.

I learned to sew my own clothes within a year- I do attend school full time and work as a nurse part time, however within that tightly packed schedule I did find time to explore a skill that I love and enjoy.  My mother sews beautifully and yet, just like her Russian she never taught me 🙂 She did however insist on the piano! I remember watching her create wonderful creations (among many were the best Halloween costumes known to any child).

I have always admired beautiful clothes, women who know how to dress their bodies well and great fabrics & prints. My cousin Nika’s husband Mike, a true Renaissance man, showed me how to use a gifted 247 Singer and that was it!

Here are a few of my firsts…..before I got any good 😉 (not shown, some precious gifts I made for some of my friends and families- which they accepted gratefully, with love)

Projects during the fall 2013 and spring 2014 semesters.

Wool knit sweater blouse with 3/4 length sleeves w/ elastic cuffs.

October 25 2013


Wool knit sweater/blouse.
Wool knit sweater/blouse.


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I then  altered a dress pattern, using the top portion making it a sweater blouse. I used some fun fabric I found at a church bazaar.



Productive study break  Paisley & knit ballet style dress by DIY DIXIE.


It feels incredibly sweet wearing the clothes you’ve made to work. Almost like fantasy world meeting reality but then again, most people did this not long ago and it was just part of life. I made this with discount bin green stretchy ribbed fabric for the bodice and the sleeves from a mustard polyester with brown victorian floral details- a unique combo for the fall months.

T-Shirt mini dress by DIY DIXIE, also can be found at Burdastyle

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 I bought a new blouse pattern from Burdastyle– I tweaked the pattern, as I usually tend to do, dolman sleeves with a gently gathered hem- slightly cinched with a thin elastic so it comes in nicely at the waist.


I bought this Burdastyle Knit V Neck Tunic pattern but wasn’t too sure about the suggested fabric- the furry knit just isn’t my style but I was really into making this fit of tunic. I ended up selecting this lovely slinky medium weight floral fabric I’ve been saving for something special.

I used the pattern for the front, the back and the sleeves but opted out of the facings/bias tape. I also pinned the back, cinching the waist slightly with some brown leather straps I had lying around. I provides that little bit of sexiness, showing off the curve of my mid section but maintain the casual and comfy fit of the loose upper section.

front back

I used the Burdastyle summer shorts pattern (without the lining) and made some for my brothers & boyfriend. 
I used fabric with fun prints to quirk them up a little 🙂


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I used the top section from DIYDixie’s Ballet dress, enlarged the collar, lengthened the bodice and added scalloped velour banding to the bottom hem and voilà!

(sewn to the soundtrack of the 90’s- Gin Blossoms, Alice in Chains and Singles soundtrack)


March 2014

I made this in 30 mins. From cutting the fabric to wearing it!
I’m making my way through the Alabama Studio Sewing & Design book. For this freezing cold March week, I chose to begin with this cosy Tied Wrap number- I opted for a double layer using a woven knit blend of navy, grey & yellow & navy ties.

I made another last night. I found beautiful pashminas on sale, 2 X 16$. I bought a black one and a burgundy and brown floral one. It’s a great reversible number.

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April 2014

New top inspired by the layout of the Burdastyle dolman top– I’ve had this lovely Eastern European-esque fabric for a while now but I had too little of it for most projects. I extended her length with some checked fabric & voilà!