Thursday, 22 August 2013

How Inefficient Creativity Really Is or the Pink T-Shirt Refashion

I tell my students "creativity is not efficient". It is not about getting things right the first time (or second or third or sometimes ever.) Which is not a bad thing. The journey is fun, it is often better than what you end up with. And while that may sound bad in an results-oriented culture like ours, it really really isn't.

This is a rather long tale of my most recently finished refashion. I understand if you don't want to go on the entire journey. But keep in mind, this is about more than taking some thrifted t-shirts and making them into a refashioned t-shirt, it is also about a creative journey.

Thrifted t-shirts ready to be resewn
initial inspiration for pink t-shirt refashion
It began with the thrifted t-shirts above. I had the luck to find 3 pink t-shirts that were the same colour (the third one I didn't need so isn't in the photo). The hot pink t on the left is my main focus. It has a Pooh logo (yes the bear) embroidered on the front. The rainforest grey-green t-shirt is a poop colour, but out of the softest organic cotton. My original idea was a double-layered Alabama Chanin inspired t-shirt, pink on the outside, poo colour on the inside. A reverse appliqué to bring the grey onto the pink front and therefore subvert some of the pink Pooh sweetness.

I had decided at this point that the Pooh logo would be on the back rather than the front.

I was going for the Alabama Chanin t-shirt with a seam down the front and the back. I had recut the pattern to have a higher neckline and different armholes so that I could add sleeves to it.

My first problem. When I cut out the green underlayer there was no way to avoid the rainforest rescue stencilled logo. If it had been on the outside I would have just kept it (a rather nice parrot) but on the inside it was going to be scratching against my skin. Disappointing but I had to drop the second layer.

At this time I also decided to go back to the t-shirt style I have done before, the one without a seam down the front and back.

drawing on pink refashion
I still wanted to use some of the poo colour because I actually really like it with the pink. I love neutrals with brights. Also I still had to tone down the Pooh pink sweetness for me to wear it.
Pooh lives in a forest right? So what about some trees? I drew these on with a fabric marker.

appliqued and embroidered trees on a t-shirt
Embroidering in the tree trunks

I went ahead with some appliqué with the grey-green t-shirt fabric, and then the trunks were too faint. Here I am embroidering them in. 

Hand sewn shoulder seams
Hand-sewn shoulder seams

It is all put together by hand-sewing. This is one of the reasons I love doing these refashions, I love hand-sewing. For some reason I love hand-sewing but not embroidery. I can't figure that one out.

The front and the back with the shoulder seams sewn up.
Yes Pooh is a bit slanted. I decided to go with the selvage when I cut it out instead of keeping the logo straight. I am not sure I would make that same decision again. 

Sleeve options
Sorry about the blurry photo. 
I am deciding which colour of sleeves to go with. It seemed obvious to me once I put them up. 

Most of the seams are sewn twice. I hand-sew the seam, then felt and topstitch the seam down. I like the way it looks and I want to make it stronger as I don't have the same faith in the strength of my hand-sewn seams as I would with machine sewn. That probably isn't deserved as the hand-sewing is done with thicker than normal and doubled thread.

I could only get one sleeve out of each t-shirt so it was good that I had two matching pink t-shirts.

Both sleeves attached
My next drama has to do with the t-shirt not being long enough. The torso being too short was a cutting decision that I made so I would have enough dark pink fabric from the main t-shirt to make the neck binding from. I didn't want the apricot pink next to my face because it doesn't look good on me.

I love the way you can control stuff like that when you are making your own clothes.

Where can I cut the bottoms from?

The trouble is, I don't have enough red fabric left to extend the bottom of both the front and the back. Here I am seeing if I can get another bottom bit out of what is left from one of the sleeve t-shirts. I finally managed to get enough out of the left one which turned out to be a slightly larger size. Happy days. 

Testing out how it will look. I decide to put the pink on the front and the red in the back. Why? Because there is less contrast with the red and I am hoping it will bring less attention to my generous *ahem* bottom.

Pink refashioned t-shirt

Here it is sewn on. I like it.

This goes on and on, doesn't it? No wonder this has taken me ages to finish. 
I don't really mind though.

I feel like the front needs something a little further up. I find a great illustration of Pooh with the bees.

This could be good, but I have to draw it right the first time. I don't know of any way to get the pen out if I mess it up.

applique, embroidery and drawing

Phew, I was successful. 

Pinning the neckline binding on to sew.

Pink refashioned t-shirt
Pink Pooh Refashioned T-shirt

Finally it is finished. Not too bad, still very pink even with the appliqué  and brown stitching. I do have moods where I want to wear pink so that should be okay. 

pink refashioned t-shirt
Pink Pooh Refashioned T-shirt

 And the back.

I have to say photographing myself wearing my refashion is one of my least favourite parts. I was disappointed to discover that I couldn't get the t-shirt over my mannequin's shoulders once the side seams were sewn - so I couldn't use it for the model. Damn.

pink refashioned t-shirt

I added this one at the end because the light is better than in the one where I am wearing it.

Now the one question I try not to ask myself is: Was it worth it? This particular t-shirt may not be worth the time I put into it. But creating it brought me a lot of pleasure, and who knows where what I learned making it might bring me to? 


Sucre said...

I really like this. It looks like something right out of the Disney store. Your did a great job and made good use out of old shirts.

Creatively yours Fi said...

I love it!! You're SO clever. I love the idea of refashioning old t-shirts (for beginners) as an e- course! ;) Thanks for sharing

Ricë said...

I LOVE this, but I'm sorry: I don't think that's the right question ("Was it worth it?").I think the question is (always) "Was the process good?" Meaning: did you learn something? Did you discover something? Did you try something you wouldn't have tried otherwise? You enjoyed the hand stitching, and I think that even if that were all you got from it (which it isn't, but if), that would be enough. You're perfecting your stitching skills, learning about what the fabric can and can't do. Oh, wait: I'm preaching to the choir here, aren't I? I love this post a lot--thank you for taking time to share the process. XO

Zom said...

Sometimes the choir needs some preaching to remember. Thanks you guys.

Mary Helen-Art Saves Lives said...

Dear Zom I believe this process was exploration in the "what if???" question whenever any of us begin to transform clothing...or a collage... an assemblage! I love what you have created! Party on girl! Any more wild life in the back acres??? have a great week! Peace, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart

Sharon Robb-Chism said...

I, too, have discovered that I really enjoy the process, even if I end up hardly ever wearing the piece once finished. That happened with the Belle Epoque tunic I made. It took forever, I like the way it looks on the dress form, but for whatever reason, I don't actually wear it much. The surprise is, that I don't really care that I don't wear it, because making it was so much fun, and was a great learning experience.

Zom said...

I learned years ago, when I used to do bead weaving, that what I loved to make and what I loved to wear weren't necessarily the same.

It is kind of frustrating in a practical sense.