Out With the Old, In With the New

It’s a little funny for me to say out with the old about anything. I tend to embrace old things – old sewing machines, old (style) clothing, old books, old technology (until I’m absolutely forced to update), etc. But in this case it truly was time to be done with the old. The old I’m referring to is actually THIS website.

I was using hosting that was beyond out of date and it was causing all sorts of problems with my site. I had to make all the listings in my shop FREE a few months ago because my plugins (including the one my shop is through) were out of date and no longer communicating with paypal. If I updated the plugins my entire site would crash, so cutting paypal out of the equation was the short term fix. Two months ago my daily backup and a few other features quite working. I wasn’t able to post anything new without risking a crash. So it’s been two quite months here on WhitneySews.com.

But, I’m VERY HAPPY to announce that my site is now up to date! A lot of money and many phone calls later things are up and running as they should! Hopefully you won’t even notice much of a change other than smoother, faster loading and the little lock symbol on the address bar showing my site is safe and secure. Over the next few weeks/months I hope to make a few more updates and changes that will continue to improve the function of the site.

Now that you’ve read all that boring website stuff, I wanted to share some of the things you may have missed while I was unable to post here on my site.

First up is my Instagram page. I have been challenging myself to share beautiful, curated photos showing off my handmade projects and thrifted style. My long term goal on Instagram is to reach 10,000 followers. That is when Instagram allows links to be included in stories which would make promoting new videos and linking to favorite supplies a lot easier. If you aren’t following me in Instagram I would love for you to click HERE and give me a follow!

So, what I’ve been up to…during October I had the idea to recreate the Urban Outfitters ghost pillow.

It is adorable and super easy to DIY. I made my version using only items left from other projects. The faux sherpa was a thrifted pullover I had used to make a costume for Skyler and one sleeve of the original shirt was left over. The backing fleece was a scrap left from my Totoro Kigurumi. The black felt came from making the girls’ poodle skirt costumes. Even the stuffing was left over from my days of making custom memory bears.

You can watch my ghost pillow video HERE and see just how easy and cute it is!

After that I jumped right into another project that uses only repurposed materials. My youngest daughter had a cute cat shirt she loved, but it was way to short for her to keep wearing. I knew I had to come up with a way to refashion it for her. I had pinafores on the brain, so that’s the direction I went.

I used her shirt and a thrifted curtain to make an ADORABLE pinafore dress! The dress turned out EXACTLY how I wanted and Skyler is so happy with it and wears it often. You can watch the making of vlog HERE!

In the video I talk about the idea of make do and mend which was a phrase that really represented the WWII era. Because of textile shortages people were forced to make do with what they had and find ways to mend or repurpose things to work as long as possible. We obviously do NOT have a textile shortage in this day and age, we have the opposite problem! There are so many cheap and cheaply made clothes available and when they fall apart it’s easier to toss or donate and buy more cheap clothes than to repurpose or mend them.

I decided to challenge myself to make do and mend what I own. Does that mean I’m never going to buy new clothing or fabric ever again?? No. But before running to the store to buy something new I’m going to take an honest look at what I have. Is there something I already own that can be repaired or mended? Can I repurpose another item into something new? Could I find what I need at a second hand store? If all of those answers are no that is when I will invest in a new item.

So when I got the idea to make a hooded neck warmer (a variation of my original neck warmer tutorial) I began to think of ways to use what I already had. Six years ago I worked at a thrift store and while I was there I thrifted some faux fur fabric. I had some left in my stash. I also had a cozy hounds tooth fabric I thrifted a several months back. I put the two fabrics next to each other and they looked good together so that’s what I used. The hooded neck warmer turned out really great and I don’t think I could have picked fabrics at the store that worked together so perfectly!

You can watch the hooded neck warmer tutorial HERE and learn how to make your own!

Wow, that was a lot to share! I hope you enjoyed hearing my updates and will check out any of the videos you may have missed. I pray that you are all doing well and staying safe! Until next time, Happy Sewing!

Whitney

Tote Bag with HUGE Pockets

sewing tutorial by Whitney Sews

Pockets. POCKETS. POCKETS!! They are definitely the most requested part of any tote bag tutorial I create. This week I am fulfilling that request with a big tote bag, complete with two LARGE, ROOMY pockets and two regular size pockets inside. You can learn how to make your own tote bag with huge pockets using the step by step video tutorial and PDF linked down below.

While designing the bag I thought it would be fun to show off two different fabrics on the outside of the bag. I chose a large scale print and a much smaller print for mine. Then inside are all those wonderful pockets!

I call this my All Day Tote because it’s large enough to hold all the supplies and activities I might want to take for a whole day out of the house with my kids (and it may or may not take a whole day to make too).

There is a PDF to accompany this tutorial and it is currently FREE! Actually all my PDFs are FREE right now! I was having trouble with PayPal and decided to bypass PayPal by not charging for my patterns until further notice. So head over to my shop and pick up any PDFs you’ve been wanting to try. To help me out please keep sharing my videos, pinning my posts, and leaving comments on youTube. Those things really are a huge help in getting my tutorials in front of more people.

You can find the PDF for this tote HERE.

And the video tutorial right HERE!

I hope you will make your own version of the All Day Tote and share a pic with my on Instagram or Facebook! If you are interested in even more tote bag projects you can find my playlist full of them HERE! Until next time, Happy Sewing!

Whitney

Women’s Land Army Inspired Style

Women's Land Army Inspired Outfit

Ever since I started dabbling in vintage style I have been trying to put together a Women’s Land Army inspired outfit.  The second world war is my favorite time period to read and study about so of course I want recreate the fashion!

I have been on the hunt for the perfect green sweater for a few years…this means I’ve ended up with  a LOT of thrifted, not quite right, green sweaters in my closet.  Good thing I like green…  I finally found a couple that really fit the look.  During all that time I never thought much about what I would be wearing WITH the green sweater.  

Today I was looking through my closet and noticed a pair of pants I made a couple of years ago.  They were a practice pair to test a pattern to make sure the fit was right.  (I later used the same pattern to make THESE dungarees).   I used this horrible orange-y brown fabric that I had picked up SUPER cheap at a thrift store.  I didn’t plan on finishing the mock up pants so I didn’t want to use anything nice.  Well, the pants ended up looking pretty good, but were still made from that horrible orange-y fabric.  

Handmade Vintage Style Pants Simplicity 8447

I decided to give the pants one last chance…and apparently the one color they look ok with is dark green.  The same dark green as my Women’s Land Army inspired sweater!  I added my vintage inspired lace up boots (which also hids the fact that I never hemmed the pants) and the outfit was complete.  I absolutely love the entire look!  

I will definitely be wearing these pants again now that I know what to pair them with.  Glad I didn’t get rid of them awhile back like I had considered.   Hope you enjoyed!  Happy Sewing!

Whitney

Tablecloth to Skirt Transformation

sustainable style

Last week our weather in Oklahoma dropped 30 degrees and now I’m dreaming of all the cute outfits I can finally wear! I grabbed this skirt out of my closet on a whim. I made it two years ago from a vintage tablecloth. I have always loved the skirt, but wondered if it was a bit much for a non-costume outfit.

I now know why the skirt never seemed to look just right…I was trying to style it for Spring when it is really a Fall skirt! It needs a sweater and boots to balance it out. Now that I’ve figured out how to style the skirt I know I’ll be wearing it often!

You can see how I made my skirt (and make your own along with me) HERE!

I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse at my Fall inspired outfit! If you want more daily DIY ideas and inspiration make sure you’re following me on Instagram. Until next time, Happy Sewing!

-Whitney-

Rotary Cutting Tips – Cutting Large Pieces Without Patterns

On occasion I’ll be working on a video and realize a portion of it needs its own dedicated tutorial. This week I’m explaining how I use two rulers to accurately measure and cut fabric when I don’t have physical patterns to use. I had a couple of questions recently about the process and had plenty of footage from my upcoming tutorial so it made sense to make a video detailing everything. Get all my tips and a sneak peek of my next tutorial HERE.

I hope you find the video helpful and until next time, Happy Sewing!

Whitney

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Making a Puff Quilt from Scraps

Whitney Sews

Back in March I started making masks from my fabric stash. I ended up making over 650 masks and was left with a HUGE pile of scraps! I wanted to make a project with the scraps to remember these crazy times in a positive way (and to keep the scraps from hanging around forever). I kicked around a few ideas, but none of them seemed right. Then one day I was scrolling through Instagram (you can find me HERE) and THIS PHOTO was recommended to me. I instantly fell in love with it!

Thankfully the lovely lady who shared it (you should follow her BTW) had also shared a tutorial showing EXACTLY how to make it! This meant for once I didn’t have to design the project, calculate measurements, etc all on my own! I skimmed through the tutorial and set to work making my own version of an ombre puff quilt.

whitney sews

I will be 100% honest with you; this project is NOT HARD. BUUUUUT it did take a lot longer to make than expected. It took me two months from start to finish.

Anyway, check out the video HERE to see how I made the quilt!

https://youtu.be/-s3xrkWl-8k

I hope it inspires you to take a look at your scraps in a new light! Until next time, Happy Sewing!

Whitney

Sew Your Stash Update

Summer 2020 Sewing

A few years ago I set a challenge for myself where I would first shop my stash when starting a project before purchasing anything new. I invited my awesome viewers to join in on the Sew Your Stash Challenge. Every quarter (or so) I share progress updates on sewing through my stash.

Due to some failure on my part it has actually been 9 months since my last update, so I have a LOT to share! I managed to use about 50 yards of cotton fabric and every last bit of several apparel fabrics.

Check out all my sewing wins and stash busting HERE!

I hope you enjoyed seeing some of the many projects I have been working on.

Until next time, Happy Sewing!

Whitney

Recreating a 1950s Book Illustration…With Curtains

Last year I was looking through the children’s books at the thrift store and came across a cute book from the 1950s called Rackety -Boom.

I have a weakness for vintage illustrations, so I bought the book, even though it wasn’t in great shape (it was only 28 cents!). After I got home I flipped through the book some more and noticed the cute outfit the mom wears. She is only shown on two pages of the book (both shown above) but I instantly fell in love with her outfit!

Last Fall I made two different pairs of dungarees from a 1940s reproduction pattern (you can see more about that project HERE).

The top of the dress in the illustration reminded me so much of the dungaree top, so I immediately started making plans. I wanted to “Frankenstein” the dungaree pattern with a skirt pattern, along with self drafted pockets, to recreate the outfit from the book. I already love recreating costumes to wear to cosplay events, so why not recreate vintage clothing too?!?

You may be wondering why I made all my big plans for this project last Fall, but am just now sharing the project. The fabric. I was waiting and waiting to find the perfect fabric. I wanted a nice brown fabric in a medium weight that had a bit of a texture to it…and at a great price!

I never found that “perfect” fabric. But last week I did find two Pottery Barn curtains at the thrift store in a medium weight with a bit of texture…and at a great price! The only thing missing was the prefect brown color. I made the decision that the material was close enough (and at $2.50 it was DEFINITELY the right price!). So I finally got to start my dream project recreating a 1950s book illustration!

I vlogged the entire process so you can come along with me while I make my project. See how I altered the patterns to closer represent the original inspiration and how I drafted and sewed the pockets (my first time making this style).

Click HERE to watch the video! Make sure to stay to the end to hear what parts I love and what I didn’t like as much about the final dress.

I would love to know if you also find style inspiration from unlikely sources. If you enjoyed this style of video please let me know! It is very different from other videos I’ve made, but I really enjoyed making it. Until next time, Happy Sewing!

-Whitney

*Amazon links are affiliate*

Dress Resize

Anyone remember the thrift haul video I did with my mom last Winter??  In that video I showed a Son de Flor dress I found but it was too big and needed to be taken in about 4 inches.  You can see that haul HERE (in the try on portion of the video I had a clip on the back of the dress making it look like it fit).  

Now eight months later I finally got around to resizing the dress and I love it!  I wanted to do it right (which is why I put it off so long).  I started by seam ripping the skirt portion from the bodice then unstitching the sides of the bodice to the underarm.  There is twill tape around the arm opening so I carefully unstitched that as well for a couple of inches on either side of the seam.  I put the bodice on inside out and got an idea for how much I needed to take it in.  Took it off and pinned where the stitching lines would be and tried it back on.  I wanted to make sure I didn’t take it in too much where I wouldn’t be able to get it on and off since there are no closures on the dress.

When I was happy with the fit I sewed the new side seams and tried it on again.  Then I trimmed down the seam allowance, opened it up, and resewed the twill tape in place.  I serged the bottom edge of the bodice and top edge of the skirt (it was serged together before and I had to remove that stitching the separate the dress).  All that was left was to gather the skirt to fit the smaller bodice size and sew them back together.  

For some reason I had expected the resize to be harder than it was (mostly getting the twill tape to look nice again).  

I finished the resize last night and wore it today with a thrifted shirt underneath to add a cute collar detail.  I love how effortless this dress is to wear because it’s still a little loose fitting and comfy, but can easily be dressed up with a couple of accessories.  


I’m so bad at making plans to alter an article of clothing then never actually doing it.  For some reason I find working on existing items intimidating and would rather make something else from scratch.  But since this went so well maybe it will motivate me to tackle some of my other alterations!  

 Well, I hope you enjoyed hearing about my dress resize! Until next time, Happy Sewing!

-Whitney-

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How to Make a Stuffed Bear – McCalls 7849 Sew Along

I was contacted by McCalls a few weeks ago and asked to make a video tutorial for them.  They know a lot of people have pulled out their sewing machines to make masks during the past couple of months and want to inspire them to continue to sew.  They came across my bear tutorials on youTube and reached out to me.  

I am so honored to be asked and have a chance to partner with such a well known brand!

This bear is quite a bit different than the other bears I’ve made.  It is 12 inches instead of 18, does not have a separate sole on the foot, and the arms/legs are connected to the body differently.  Plus it has a tail!  But there are some finicky parts that do make it a little trickier to make, but I’m showing every step of the process in the video below.

The pattern I usually use (Simplicity A2115) has fairly large pieces that don’t lend themselves well to making memory bears from baby clothing.  

This bear, being smaller, has smaller pieces that would make using baby/kids clothing easier.  

Oh and the best part is the pattern is available in print AND digital form from McCalls!  This makes getting your hands on the pattern so much easier.  

You can find my step by step tutorial HERE!

I hope you enjoy watching this tutorial and learned something useful from it. Until next time, Happy Sewing!

Whitney

**I was not paid to create this video, however the pattern and fabric were provided to me for free**