Giddy for a Gitman! (A refashionable tale)

Thrift stores are treasure troves of raw materials for the creative.  When thrifting, I’m not generally looking for items to use “as-is,” although that is often a happy result.  No – I am usually looking for potential.  What a thing can be.  And, with years of thrift store shopping now under my belt, I’ve become fairly adept at scanning the racks for certain choice fibers…merino wool, linen, silk, and corduroy.  What…Corduroy?  you ask?  Yes…corduroy.  Luscious, fine-wale, buttery-soft corduroy.  Is there anything more pleasantly tactile?  More cozy?  More manifesting of autumn comfort than corduroy?

I don’t think I’ll ever tire of wearing long corduroy dresses and sweater-knit tights.  (Although I miss the days when this was actually stylish.)

So, when I spied this floral fine-wale “blouse” in the women’s aisle of our local Goodwill, I was thrilled!DSC_0042

Loved the print!  So pretty and feminine.  My first thought was to just keep it and wear it as is.  I checked the tag…DSC_0043

Hmmm…Gitman Vintage.  I knew the Gitman label from time spent altering fine menswear.  Was this really a women’s shirt?  Checked the front button band…left over right…it’s MENSWEAR!  How interesting!  Into the cart it went!

Once home, a quick internet search yielded a listing on Polyvore for an original selling price of a whopping $185!!!  I also discovered that the print is Liberty of London (coveted by sewing enthusiasts worldwide).  No wonder it caught my eye!

As lovely as the shirt was, it was, sadly, unflattering on me.  Time for Plan B.  Maybe something for my daughter?



Well…it’s pretty large.

But, there is a lot of fabric to work with…

Maybe I could make her a skirt?

Let’s give it a try!




I began by cutting off the sleeves.  (I’ll use one of them later…)DSC_0065

I made a horizontal cut to remove the collar and back facing:DSC_0071

Next I created an a-line skirt shape by sewing new side seams where the sleeves used to be.  My daughter wanted to keep the shirttail hem as a design feature, so I had to blend my new seam at the top edge into the existing seam towards the bottom of the skirt.  Removing some top-stitching was necessary and a bit fiddly, but it worked out just fine.

I cut a long rectangle from one of the sleeves to use as the casing for the elastic waistband:DSC_0090

And, before long, my daughter had a lovely new autumn skirt for about 98% less than this shirt cost new!DSC_0099

She already had a sweater that was a perfect complement, combining the exact shades of red and pink in the print!DSC_0100

One fun feature is that I kept the breast pocket on the shirt to serve as a patch pocket on the skirt front:DSC_0095

We’re both really pleased with how this skirt turned out!  It is long enough that it should see more than one season of wear.  The sweet fabric design appealed to me originally, and I would have purchased the shirt regardless of the label.  But I will always get a kick out of the fact that I found this expensive men’s floral corduroy shirt on the women’s rack in the thrift store and turned it into a skirt for my daughter.  So strangely satisfying.

Here’s a side-by-side to re-cap the shirt-to-skirt transformation:DSC_0039DSC_0091

And, you can bet that I saved the remaining sleeve, collar, and back facing pieces for another project.  I think I might like to quilt it for a small zippered bag.  Quilted corduroy is so luxurious!

Have you done any refashions for yourself or your loved ones?

Tell me about it in the comments!

And, thanks for stopping by the hollow…









“I Spy” Quilt Activity, Two!

Recently, our church quilting group completed an “I Spy” quilt for one of our beloved families who had just adopted their second daughter.  Playing with so many fun and quirky prints inspired me to start another one for my nephew and his wife, who are expecting their first in April of this year.  When I learned of my sister-in-law’s plan to combine a baby shower with our early January Christmas get-together, I had little time to spare.

Who can resist this charming gentlefrog and his violin?

I have been collecting these fun novelty prints for over twenty years.  I probably have enough fabric to make 100 or more of these quilts, and I’ve even thought of putting together some kits for sale.  (If you’d be interested in something like that, would you please let me know in the comments?)

Don’t you just love this cheeky, mustached lobster?

It’s been years since I’ve made an “I Spy” quilt, (and have now made two in as many months), but I can see that I’ll be making more of these in the near future.  I have a lot of blocks already cut and organized, and constructing the top goes fairly quickly using the chain-piecing method.


My nephew and his wife are using lavender in their nursery, so I thought I’d use that color as the corner triangles.  One of the great things about this quilt is that you can pretty much use any color you desire.  Over the years, I’ve used red, yellow, orange, royal blue, fuchsia, and a few others I can’t remember right now.  This is the first time I’ve used a more pastel background color, and I really like the way it makes the novelty blocks “pop!”

Aren’t they the cutest?  We know they’re going to be GREAT parents!

To finish this quilt top, I added a skinny border of a white-on-white floral print, and a wider border of a deeper periwinkle blue with tiny dots that shimmer in the light.  I forgot to photograph the back, but I found a cotton paisley print at Jo-Ann Fabrics that was a mixture of lavender, periwinkle, seafoam green, purple, pink, and chartreuse.  Perfect!

Here is the completed top before the borders were added.  Which block is your favorite?

I used basting spray (my new favorite product!) to temporarily bond my three layers together, then machine-quilted on both sides of all the diagonal seams, extending the quilting to the outer edges of the borders.  I used the same lavender that I used for the triangles as the binding.  To bind straight-edged quilts, I cut 2 1/2″ strips on the straight grain, then fold in half and press.  Stitch to the front with 1/4″ seam, then turn the folded edge to the back and hand sew.  Always, ALWAYS, hand-sew.  You’ll get a neater finish this way.

I would say this is a good intermediate or advanced beginner project.  It does take some time to mark and cut out the hexagons, but if you take the time to prep multiples at the same time, making your second or third “I Spy” quilt will be much faster!  And you probably will want to keep making them…they are addicting!

Do you think you might try this?  Let me know in the comments…

Thanks for stopping by the Hollow!

Kristine Zerby


“I Spy” Quilt Activity

Our church has a small group of women who meet once a month to work on various quilting projects.  When we are blessed to welcome a new baby into our church family, a baby quilt becomes the project-at-hand.

For our most recent arrival, I suggested we make an “I Spy” quilt.


About twenty years ago, I came across the quilting book, “P.S. I Love You, Two!” , that contained the pattern that began the popular and recognizable “I Spy” quilt trend.  The authors’ idea was to create a quilt that was not only functional, but FUN, as well, so that children could use the quilt for the game of “I Spy.”

I began collecting novelty fabrics as soon as I found this pattern.  It wasn’t long until I had a sampling of everything that was available at my local fabric store…and sadly, we didn’t have any other quilt stores locally.  Happily, it was the early days of the internet, and I was pleasantly surprised to find many fabric stores online, (even though it was painfully slow to load the fabric-swatch pages with our dial-up service.)  Over the next few years, as my budget allowed, I built up a very nice stash of novelty fabrics, most of which are no longer available.

Thankfully, new novelty prints are continually being produced, so I should always have fresh designs to add to my ever-changing stash.



The original quilt called for 200 hexagons, “fussy-cut” from various novelty fabrics.

“Fussy-cutting” means that a plastic template is placed on the fabric, with the desired image centered within the shape; the template is traced around, then cut out.

It is a time-consuming process, but the results are so-o-o worth the effort…

Our church quilt group recently created this colorful “I Spy” for a lovely couple who just adopted their second daughter.  We hope that it will be a fun activity for the girls to spend time doing together.  It was gifted in November, 2016.


For a time, I was disciplined about marking, cutting out, and organizing my hexagons as I purchased fabric.  Eventually I got behind.  So, now I have a large bin filled with “possibilities,” as I like to think of it.  It will wait for me, and as long as friends and family members continue having babies, I’ll continue making these fun and functional fabric hugs.

Do you have a favorite sewn baby gift that you always give?  Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for stopping by the Hollow!

Kristine Zerby


What’s More Fun Than A Bag of Monkeys?

Once in awhile, the perfect fabric presents itself just in time for the perfect project.

Enter, monkeys…dsc_4057

My daughter and her best friend have January birthdays two weeks apart.  Her friend loves monkeys and has a bright pink stuffed monkey that goes everywhere with her.  I came across this monkey fabric in my collection while working on another project, and I knew it was perfect for a quick birthday gift.

I decided on a tote bag.  I cut two pieces of the monkey fabric 14″ by 16″.  Because the print is directional, I seamed the pieces so that the monkeys would be facing the same direction on both sides of the bag.  I layered the print on top of two layers of Warm and Natural cotton batting and a solid pink for the lining, and machine-quilted the fabric in a diagonal 1 1/2″ grid pattern.


To personalize the bag, I used the block letter monogram function on my Bernina 150 to stitch her name, and “Happy 10th Birthday” on lengths of 1/2″ twill tape.  I stitched the twill tape onto strips of the pink cotton lining fabric and sewed them onto the quilted rectangles.

Then I made straps to match the monogrammed strips.  After that I finished the bag’s construction by stitching up the side seams, folding the top edge 2″ to the inside, and attaching the straps.


One last finishing touch was to square off the bottom of the bag, which, in addition to the two layers of batting, gives the bag shape and stability.

I hope my daughter’s friend likes her new tote bag!  Of course, my daughter has requested one for herself now, so my project list continues to grow!  She wants fabric with either horses or ice skates, neither of which I have in my stash, so I guess I need to go fabric shopping!

What a shame!


I enjoy projects that are both fun and functional.

Have you used your sewing skills to make something you needed lately?  Tell me about it in the comments…

Thanks for stopping by the Hollow…


Kristine Zerby

The Tale of Two Toe-Dresses (say that fast!)

dsc_4006 My three-year-old niece loves toe-dresses!

What are toe-dresses, you ask?

Dresses that go to her toes, of course!

So, on our last visit, we went shopping at their local Jo-Ann Fabrics and chose these two quilting cottons to make her a few dresses for Christmas.


At home, I pulled out several patterns from my stash and Mom thought Simplicity 9492 was perfect.  (This pattern is now out-of-print, but possibly available on Etsy or Ebay.)

Comparing my niece’s measurements, (including the length to her TOES!), to the pattern measurements, I had a few minor pattern alterations to make.  Once the fabric was washed and dried, we were ready to cut out and assemble.


On the butterfly dress, we used a coordinating pink floral print for the collar and ruffle. This pink quilting cotton, also from Jo-Ann’s, has metallic gold details and is very pretty!  I cut 9″ wide strips of fabric for the ruffle, which I folded in half, gathered, and attached to the skirt hem, right sides together.  I finished the seam on my serger, then pressed the seam allowance upwards toward the skirt and topstitched 1/8″ from the seam to keep everything securely in place.


On the flying birds dress, I used wide eyelet trim for the collar and ruffle.  The pattern piece for the lace collar was a rectangle, and I wasn’t sure how that would work around the curved neckline; but once the edge of the collar was gently gathered, it fell into place nicely.  Because this heavy eyelet trim was finished on both edges, I decided to hem this dress first, then attach the gathered trim to the right side of bottom edge.  I attached it with two rows of stitching for extra stability.


And, here’s my niece wearing one of the dresses!  Isn’t she beautiful?

Her mom added the lavender ribbon sash which is the perfect finishing touch!

Project Details:

We bought 1 1/2 yards of each 45″ wide quilting cotton which was just enough to cut out the size 3 dresses.  (I did add several inches to the skirt length.)  Making the long sleeve version would definitely require more fabric.

The butterfly dress required approximately 2/3 yard contrasting fabric for the collar and hem ruffle.

The flying-bird dress took 3 1/2-4 yards (I didn’t measure) of double-edged eyelet trim for the collar and hem ruffle.

Both dresses took zippers, interfacing, and bias tape, which I had on hand.

I love sewing for little girls!  Have you made anything for a sweet little person in your life recently?  Tell me in the comments…

Thanks for stopping by the Hollow…


Kristine Zerby

The Joy of Receiving

It is an indisputable fact that quilters are among the most generous people in the world.

Quilters love to quilt, and once they’ve filled their own homes with warm fabric hugs, they look around to see whom else might benefit from the work of their hands.  Children in foster care, war veterans, nursing home residents, cancer patients, grieving spouses, those displaced by war or natural disasters, and many other sad and needy people are regular recipients of what quilters call “charity quilts.”

But, quilters also make quilts to commemorate happy events such as weddings, births, and anniversaries.  When our first child was born at our local hospital, we were able to choose a quilt from among several that had been donated for new babies.  What a blessing!

There are A LOT of quilters out there making A LOT of quilts…and what do they all have in common?



All the fabric that gets cut into all those smaller pieces to be sewn back together again to form new and interesting patterns…all that cutting creates SCRAPS!  And, if you’re a prolific quilter, you’re going to generate a lot of scraps.  What to do with it all?  Well, make scrap quilts, of course…unless you really just want to buy new and interesting fabric and generate even more scraps!

About a year ago, I discovered I had a passion for working with scraps, but my personal fabric supply lacked the variety I needed to bring my ideas to life.

What to do?

I put the word out.

I asked my mom to let her quilting friends know that I’d be willing to take their cast-offs, and ever since then, their generosity has not failed.  (See indisputable fact, above.)


It really is a win-win.  Having a lot of scraps lying around can produce, in some people, a feeling of guilt…a feeling that they “should” do something with all those left-over pieces, but what?  They really just want to move on to something new.  By handing their remains over to me, the pressure is gone, and I get to play with a wild variety of color and pattern.


Having access to such fabric diversity is a constant inspiration.  Each bag I have the pleasure of sorting through yields new and interesting combinations and my pile of project ideas grows.  I don’t think it will ever grow old.

What inspires you?  Tell me in the comments.

Thanks for stopping by the Hollow.


Kristine Zerby