Leather Belt Buckle Metholodogies

One of the easiest ways to buckle your own belt design is to re-use the buckles on canvas woven belts that do not seem to be popular anymore (as I see them at all the thrift stores for not too much money). You remove the belt 'ends' from the canvas (reuse the woven waste for purse handles), and re-stitch them on to the body of your belt.


I like it best when the body of the belt is a big curved rectangle three to four inches wide, and waist measurement long (minus the length of your buckle) so that the wide part curves across to the front of the body, ending in the skinny buckle harvested from the 'golf' belt. Stitch the up-cycled bucket onto each end of your belt body, using the holes that are already there, so you don't weaken the leather by adding more holes. An asymmetric shape is also nice, skinny on one side and wider on the other. If you curve the shape of the rectangle slightly, it will sit down further on your hips, which is much more flattering on most bodies than a tighter waist fit.




This Girl!

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Green Up-Cycled Ensemble

Photography can add excitement and allure to many subjects.  As an up-cycled designer, I have engaged with professional photographers as much as possible to position my craft in the most favorable light. But using professionals is not always possible or affordable, so using DIY options can be an excellent alternative. In this picture, I photographed my up-cycled ensemble on a mannequin, and then erased the background in Photoshop. Using publicly available stock photo sites, I found a suitable photo to drop my picture into!  The results, I think, are better than the parts!




Making Your Own Leggings/Pattern

First, start by noting the following measurements on a piece of paper:

  • Circumference of the top of your thy(s),
  • Crotch depth (measured from bare floor to where you want the waist of your pant to sit,
  • Widest part of hips, and waist (where your pants will sit).

You will need two t-shirts that are wider than the circumference of the top of your thy, measured from under arm to underarm, across the width of the t-shirt. One will be your pattern, the other your sample garment.


Cut  off the top of the pattern tee at a slight angle, directly under (and as close as possible to) the neckline of the tee. You want this angle to be an inch or two higher at the end of the cut than when you started (or more, depending on how much room you need in the rear). Now cut the width of the t-shirt to your thy measurement + seam allowance. Fold the t-shirt in half, matching side seams, with shortest angle on top, and smoothing so that there are no hidden folds. Using your crotch measurement from the shortest angle of the 'waist' cut, cut through the four layers of the tee, creating a shallow curve and straighten out toward the top. You will create a deeper curve for the back using the front crotch as a guide, so keep this curve shallow to begin with. You can cut deeper cuts as you adjust, but you cannot add to fabric already cut.


To guide you for the angle you need for the back of the pants, unfold the tee and measure half your waist (30" waist is 15") from the front crotch cut and place a pin. Stretch this to make sure the waist will fit over your hips (has to stretch to 20" + seam allowance for 40" hips). This is your guideline for the back crotch curve (and for adjusting the front curve). Your back crotch curve will be deeper and curved at an able that ends in a straight angle at the back top of waist. This curve will depend on your body type. If you carry more weight in your waist than your seat, the curve will be shallower than if this is reversed.  This is the 'wiggle room' you will need to adjust as you perfect your pattern.


You should baste stitch your pattern together to see how close you are before cutting out your sample garment. Sew right sides of front and back crotch seams together, then sew inseams front to back, right sides together (there are no side seams in this design). Make adjustments, etc., including tailoring inseam and bottom/length of your pant to your liking. When cutting the inseam, fold in half matching crotches, and cut all 4 pieces together.


Cut a piece of elastic for the waistband that is smaller than the waist of the garment (and comfortable), and fold into the top of your sample garment, matching front/back and side seams of garment and elastic. Zig zag in place! Hem bottom of pants, or leave raw. Enjoy!





Feature White in Your Winter Wonderland Fashion

People tend to wear darker colors in the winter, although I am not sure why.  This Michael Kors white vest 'hand-me-down' from my stepmother inspired me to experiment with softer colors for a winter look. In order to look for specific blends and colors of sweater knits to up-cycle into a winter hat, I shopped on Swap.com, a second hand store web site that allows you to shop using very specific search criteria. 


I found the sweater I wanted to use, but I wanted more drama for my ensemble than just a vest and hat, so I hauled my sweater to the nearest fabric store to find something suitable for a cape.


I try to stay away from non-sustainable solutions when I am designing, but because the color match was critical to the outcome of this ensemble, I made this an exception to this rule. And the match and soft hand/drape of this velour made me feel OK about breaking my rule.  


So if your winter wardrobe only features dark colors, you are missing out on a variety of fashion opportunities that incorporate whites and softer colors.  Especially if your winter activities include snow sports.  Blending into the snowy landscape can create some incredible photo shots, as the background does not get upstaged by your darker fashion.  Try it, you'll like how you look!!!


Baby Its Cold Outside!

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Fish Leather Belts

Fish leather is available in many colors and finishes, and makes a great leather substitute for making belts. Colors are unlimited, as every 'tanner' can use any dye available in the marketplace.  Finishes typically include satin, silk, and suede; I prefer the silk and suede for a softer finish and richer look. As you can see from the belt in this photo, the fish scales are clearly visible  on the surface texture of the pelt, which adds an exotic finish to the belt.


The best pelts come from Salmon, Perch and Carp, although Wolf fish and Tilapia skins are also used.  Rays and Sharks are also harvested, but its important to make sure to be selective about the skins you use.  Rays are used exclusively for their skins, so are not farmed responsibly.  The same is true for Sharks, who are often farmed for part of their bodies and thrown back into the ocean to die.  Salmon, Perch and Carp are, in most fishing industries, farmed responsibly, meaning they are subject to fishing regulations and restrictions, so they are sustainable according to current market conditions.  This could change, so its important to stay on top of current events.


Up until fish skins were harvested into leather pelts, their skins were always discarded, so by using fish leather, you are supporting a recycling process, which is part of participating in sustainable fashion.  However, the fish skin does need to be soaked in a brine solution, which depending on the volume of product being processed, can create a disposable waste issue.   So just stay on top of your environmental issues at all times, and try as best as possible to balance production with the environment, so we can all breathe deeper!


Upcycle Sweaters into Fashionable Winter Hats

Sweaters make a great holiday gift (or gifts), but seem to be vanishing from the shelves of most ready-to-wear department stores and boutiques the rest of the year.  There are many theories for this; mine is that they are largely too warm or bulky to wear comfortably under most winter jackets, and that fabric technology has advanced enough so that today's jackets are efficient enough to do the job this garment was originally designed for.  Also, unless you live on the east coast where you need sweaters for most air conditioned events in the summer time, they take up a lot of drawer space for a garment that is not used very often.


A good solution?  Up cycle them into hats and scarves.  Other accessories such as boot socks and/or arm warmers are easily harvested from sleeves.  The point is that your entire sweater can be used and enjoyed again.


Snow Yoga

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Slow Fashion Metholologies

Recycled, Up Cycled, Re-Purposed Clothing Design: A Slow Fashion Movement


Fast fashion, while its economic value is powerful, has left in its wake such an environmental wasteland, that advocates have been for many years actively rallying around and promoting solutions to this problem.  One of the early pioneers in this movement was Kate Fletcher, who, eight years ago in 2007, then a member of the Centre for Sustainable Fashion, UK, coined the term Slow Fashion.  Originally, Slow Fashion only recognized handmade clothing; later advocating fair wages, lower carbon footprints, and encouraging zero waste.  But as the movement has expanded over the years, it has embraced countless interpretations of eco-friendly design methodologies, including recycled, up cycled, and re-purposed clothing design. 


Fashion, now a throwaway commodity in almost every country around the world, has created mountains of waste that now have to be addressed and managed. Recycle, up cycle, re-purpose design methodologies are emerging design solutions.  Why buy new fabrics that require precious resources to produce when we have more waste products than we know what to do with?


With this in mind, Rachael Boyd helped me illustrate this design practice by modeling an upcycled t-shirt over a pair of re-purposed t-shirt pants.  The top was re-fashioned from a man's t-shirt, sculpting cap sleeves and a heart shaped neckline for a more feminine look; the pants cut and remade from another t-shirt. The colors and design are complimentary, giving this ensemble a unique look that you cannot buy from a department store!!