Sunday, October 3, 2010

Accessories - Part 1

A couple of weeks ago while I was browsing the message boards at, I came across the Accessories contest. Make five accessories and use them to accessorize 4 looks using the same garment(s). I have a idea file full of magazine pictures of accessories I like or that were made using a neat technique or color combination. I consider myself a woefully inadequate accessorizor. On a good morning I will remember to put on earrings, but scarves, necklaces, etc. collect dust in my closet. As I read the rules of the contest I felt myself getting so excited and ideas were just popping up in my head. Here was the motivation to make some accessories and use them. I ignored the fact the month long contest had started two week before.

I decided to use all the accessories on an outfit of brown pants and blue blouse. I don’t know where that combo came from, it was in the mental images that appeared in my head. The blouse was a medium blue, stand collar, long cuffed sleeves, front opening with long shirt tails. It was a style that could be worn tucked in, as an over blouse or tied around my waist. Of course I did not have this perfect blouse in my wardrobe. I found some possible candidates in the stores, but not in the right color blue. So before I started the accessories I made the blouse using Burda Style's 8-2009 blouse pattern 131.
The only difference was I made the straight bottom into a shirt tail shape copied from one of my husband's shirts.

I picked four “events” for styling - All in the fall - Saturday Errands, Day at the Beach, Work Day and Art Opening. I drew a figure with the brown pants and blue blouse plus accessories from my idea file, with notes on pattern location, materials, etc. Here are examples of my crude drawings. I had lots of fun doing this.

The first accessory I made was a hat. The pattern is from the Autumn 2007 issue of Female magazine, a Japanese pattern magazine for teens. I got the magazine several years ago to see what it was like. The crown of the hat is a flat envelope shape pieced from multiple wool fabrics. It is sewn to a small brim. A button and loop at the top corners of the envelope piece allows you to fasten them together and the crown sort of droops, forming soft folds in the fabric. The lining is a typical cylindrical shape that fits the head closely. The fabrics came from two thrift store skirts and scraps from a jacket sewing project.
One of the thrift store skirts was an Abercrombie and Fitch mini skirt. A&F is luxury retailer targeted 18-21 year olds. The skirt was exactly 12 inches long from waist to hem. It was not a good bargain from the standpoint of useable fabric. The zipper was 4 “from top to stop for gosh sakes. Isn’t that the size used for doll clothes? But the fabric was a brown and bright blue herringbone which was exactly the colors needed to coordinate with my outfit. And I was able to reuse other bit and pieces of the skirt; the blue silk lining to line the hat. And the ribbon belt for the inside hat band.
Next I decided to tackle the sandals for my beach look. The flat leather soled sandals have colorful fabric straps that can be wrapped around your feet and ankles. The instructions are in the April 2010 issue of Burda Style. When I think of homemade sandals and shoes, I remember the ugly, crude styles that "back to nature hippie types" made and wore in the 70's. But after I noticed the instructions in Burda Style I came across this Brazilian web site Pape which sells similar soles and a variety of different straps made of fabric, leather and beads, so you can create your own customized sandals. The videos on their site show different ways to wrap/tie the straps. The pattern for the soles of these sandals is created by tracing a pair of your own flat shoes. I traced a pair of flip flops. The soles are cut from thick rigid leather, 2 pieces for each foot. I used a heavy duty utility knife with a new blade for this and it went quickly. Slits/holes are cut in the top piece of the pairs of soles to allow loops to be inserted. The two layers of leather are glued together and then hand sewn around the edge. The leather I used was left over from some long ago Boy Scout project. I did not have a leather punch to make the holes around the edge of the soles. Instead I used a Dremmel tool and one of the tiny size drill bits this tool can use. This was suggested by the clerk at the Tandy Leather store who said I would kill my wrist punching holes in the leather with a hole punch. Hand sewing the two layers of the soles together is done with waxed nylon thread and harness needles. It took me a while to do it and was not fun. Pictures of the assembly process (and my skinned knuckles) are in this Flikr set. Accessories-Sandals While I probably won't make another pair, I did learn some techniques that can be used to repair shoes and purses. And I have some ideas for other top pieces that can be used with these soles.

Then it was on to something easy. A visor with attached head scarf. When I doing outdoor stuff like hiking or sailing, I like to wear a head scarf versus a hat for several reasons. It is harder for the wind to whip a scarf off my head and make a Medusa mess of my hair. And it covers more of my hair. which tends to lighten to a reddish color from sun exposure. A plain head scarf can have a babushka/grandma look, but a scarf with a brim in a modern print doesn't. I got my first brimmed headscarf many years ago on a sailing trip around Granada. It is a square of tropical print fabric sewn to a piece of plastic shaped like a brim. I bought it from a boatboy that had motored out to the sailboat in hopes of selling us cigarettes, fruit, beverages, souvenirs, frsh fish and lobsters This boatboy was a good looking Frenchman and he had a hilarious marketing pitch on the versatility of this head scarf. The brim could be used to funnel stuff into the mouth, or out away from the boat in the case of sea sickness or too many rum punches. It could be used as a blindfold for fun games, a face covering in Muslim countries, You get the gist of his spiel. Even though the print was garish, I bought it and have used it often over the years. The new version is made from a pattern in the April issue of Lady Boutique. The brim is sew to a band with velcro sewn to the back for adjustments. A triagular scarf is sewn to the brim. It works great. I used the same tie dye print fabric for the new visor scarf as the straps for the sandals.


  1. Very impressive. Love the shirt and all the accessories. Looks like you really had fun doing this, and I'm sure you will wear all of it for a long time. Mary

  2. What fun! Looks like you had a great time doing this. I think most of us sewers could benefit from accessorising to bring out the best in our garment sewing. I especially love that first look you pulled together.

  3. Oh what fabulous ideas! I saw the contest and could think of nothing at all to do and so decided to skip. Love the things you have made so far. The shirt is lovely btw also.

  4. Very creative! Everything is so clever and well thought out. Looks great, too!

  5. Love the shirt. You are quite an artist - I was impressed by your inspiration sketches.

  6. How very creative of you, love your drawings and I'm in love with your blouse, I need one just like it...good thing I sew.

  7. Wow. A woman after my own heart because you sound as obssessed as me when it comes to our craft.( I hope you don't take that the wrong way.) I just feel such comfort in knowing others like me are out there.
    Love,love,love the shirt and the accessories are such fun!

  8. Great items! I love your sketches... they're so cute!

  9. I am very impressed with your sketches. It is very clear that you had a lot of fun with this project! I like all of the pieces --- they are all so creative and look fab --- but perhaps I have to give an edge to the visor because the associated story was so fun!

  10. Im on the hunt for a cute hat pattern from fabric, and i have fallen in love with the slouchy hats from the Japanese pattern magazine you have here, i was wondering is their anywhere online i can find this pattern, or can you post the pattern.
    My name is Lauren and you can email me at
    Thank you!