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Welcome to Sewing Stadium! Home of the Top Stitcher sewing challenge, and the jaw-dropping creations of the most imaginative minds in the sew-blogging world. You're in for a real treat. Go get inspired!

{upcyclists} Post-Apocalyptic Styles

WELCOME BACK! It's week two, and my personal favorite theme for the series: Post-Apocalyptic Styles. I am a Walking Dead fanatic (it's my pick this month on Sew the Show!), and with it's upcoming season 6 premier, I couldn't help but envision a world where sewist survive a major world wide crisis.... So I tasked Jonie and Michelle with crafting those visions in much greater detail:

Bridges collapse, communication shuts down, and those fabric stores you love so much are over-run with zombies. Most survivors are hunkered down wearing whatever rags were on their backs when The End arrived, or ill-fitting garments they looted from a stranger's closet. But not your kid. Your daughter has a master upcyclist for a mother, and you're going to turn the trash around you into the most durable, functional, and stylish duds for your post-apocalyptic world.

Judges will be looking looking for an imaginative narrative of the post-apocalyptic world you're designing for, and ways your entry is constructed for durability and functionality in this world.(Ie: we'll be foraging for food, so I designed this outfit with a million pockets to store what we find.)


I have to say that I don't know how Becca DuVal comes up with the prompts for these challenges, but they are pure genius. Post­apocalyptic upcycling?!?! There couldn't be a prompt more perfect for me. I love post­-apocolyptic movies and of course, upcycling is my all­-time favorite form of sewing. 

I had a hard time narrowing down what type of Doomsday mayhem I wanted to use as inspiration. Do I go with a Natural Disaster such as no water left on Earth (Mad Max or Solar Babies) or too much water (Waterworld); a Nuclear Holocaust (The Postman); a plague (The Stand), a giant asteroid (Armegeddon), a robot uprising (Terminator)? So many Doomsdays, so little time to sew them all. Then I remembered my fondness of zombie movies. I was never a fan of scary movies when I was a kid, but LOVED zombie movies. I may have even watched 28 Days Later over and over again in college, endlessly fascinated with the use of digital film making. (I was an art school nerd back then.) 

After deciding on zombies came the task of figuring out what I wanted to upcycle for this project. I am happy to say that all the fabric was upcycled, except the lining on the pants pockets (it was a scrap from my stash). While I was digging through my hoard...I mean stash of clothes to upcycle I ran across 2 pairs of my husbands work pants and 1 pair of his work shorts. I knew they would be perfect for a zombie hunter. Luckily the awesome Amy Macdonald offered me a copy of her Calvin Cargo pattern to use. 

Since Miss G is getting so tall, it now takes 1 1/4 pairs of pants to upcycle for her, so I figured I might as well make Mr. T a pair as well. Plus I thought it is always easier to hunt zombies when you have a partner. I made 2 cargo pockets for the pants, using the zippers from the upcycled pants for Mister T and pink zippers for Miss G (just because you are hunting zombies doesn't mean that you don't need some pink in your wardrobe.)

For Miss G's shirt I pulled out the Raindrop tee from Gracious Threads. I just love the high-low hem line and the pocket is perfect in pink to show off her Zombie Hunter pride. I added a pink color blocked section to the back of the shirt and stenciled Z.O.R.T., Zombie
Outbreak Resource Team.  I also made a zipper vest, messenger bag and a hooded­ button-­up to complete the zombie hunter look for the dynamic duo. I self­-drafted the patterns for these items. I have found that sometimes that is easier than using a traditional pattern when upcycling clothes. 

Top Row : Calvin Cargo by Momma Quail Patterns. (Pink Zippers and added topstitching detail) 
2nd Row : Raindrop Tee by Gracious Threads.  
3rd and 4th Row ; Self­drafted messenger bag,made from hubby's old work pants and an old curtain includes freezer paper stencil design, hand­stamped lining and button hole and buttons for adjustable strap. Self Drafted Vest made from an old hoodie with a hand-stamped ZORT name badge. Self­drafted button up hooded shirt made from one of hubby's old button­up shirts and hood from a test version of my Radical Raglan. Head over to my blog Knot Sew Normal for a tutorial on making the messenger bag and to check out some more pictures of my looks. 

One of my favorite zombie movies is Zombieland. I love how Woody Harrelson's character is always searching for Twinkies. So I thought that the best way to end this photo shoot would be with a box of Twinkies. Plus it offered excellent bribes to get my kids to participate. Thank you all so much for coming along on this zombie ride with me. I hope you enjoyed reading my post as much as I did creating it. Also a BIG thanks to Becca DuVal for being an awesome host and challenging me so much.


Day 1,250: This is my log of our days after the catastrophic event that changed our world forever. If you are reading this, you know it was not easy to say goodbye to all that we have known this world to be, and the friends and family we had loved so dearly.

We, the survivors, have formed tribes of like-minded people to create mini Utopian societies. Most are peaceful, and only want to rebuild the world. Unfortunately, not every tribe that has formed, feel the same. There have been a few hostile attempts at invading and stealing our supplies and harming our people. Since then, we have divided up responsibilities amongst ourselves to better protect our own. There are the Scavengers, whose job it is to scour the abandoned supplies and find things we can repurpose. The Hunters and Gatherers are in charge of collecting our food. And the children have the job of being Scouts and Lookouts in the tall trees, since they are the most agile.

My job has been to clothe our people using whatever the Scavengers bring. Today I made one of my daughters an outfit to help camouflage her in her watchman's duties in the canopy. It had to be tough enough to withstand our harsh climate and heavy rains, and yet be flexible enough to aid her in climbing, running, and jumping. There also had to be places she could put the tools she uses most.

They brought me 1 man's stained white t-shirt, recycled bottle grocery bags, part of a patio umbrella, tyvek mailers, a holey sweatshirt with the ribbing in tact, the legs of a black pair of jeans, strips of leather cut from old boots, and part of a flannel bed sheet. Luckily, in my former life, I had a nice supply of notions, patterns, and paints, which we have uncovered in the rubble. I have been putting them to good use.

I started by collecting rain water (which we have plenty of) to steep a few black tea bags and mint leaves that we had, to dye that white t-shirt. I used the Skipper top pattern by Sew Much Ado. I added FMA feathers and grommets. I wanted the stitches to look hand sewn , so I did a blindhem stitch on the neckline and then tugged gently on the stitches so they would show through. I used a stretch overlocking stitch for the sides and tugged on them as well.

The pants I constructed from the patio umbrella and the recycled grocery bags. I used Blank Slate Pattern's Clean slate pants pattern *affiliate link*, and modified them using the sweatshirt ribbing for a yoga waist band and cuffs. I added two large patch pockets for ropes and food, and a few straps to hold a flashlight, some carabiner clips, and safety pins.

The jacket was made using the Moto Jacket pattern by Jennuine Design *affiliate link*. I had 4 tyvek envelopes that I cut open, scrunched up and flattened, painted with bronze and green paint, and then heat set them. I lined the jacket using the flannel bed sheet which makes it nice and warm. I modified the welt pocket to have a zip closure. Lots of top stitching to keep it all laying correctly.

The spats (or gaiters) can be worn for extra shin protection, if she wants. This is actually the first pair I have ever made. They fit snuggly on her bare legs, so I added a separate panel to the back as an extender to wear them over her pants. They are constructed from the black denim pant legs, and lined with the flannel sheet. I used the strips of leather to embellish them.

I have learned a lot about using material that is not normally used for clothing. Through this process, I experimented with Tyvek to discover that it does not take dye at all, but works well with paint. Having to forage for materials taught me to think outside the box, and that can be invaluable.

For more images, head over to Falafel and the Bee.


Before you give your ratings, here's a quick refresher of the rules!

  • You will rate rate each challenger, and every category. Max of 5 stars, 5 is highest.
  • Challengers will receive an average score for each category, and an average score overall. (You can see an example here) New to Season 2 - 50% of the vote will come from 3 Top Stitcher Alumnae who volunteered to judge this season's creations!
  • Your feedback helps each challenger recognize areas that they can improve their craft, and celebrate those areas that they already excel. 
  • As such, please submit your feedback for each contestant only once. Admittedly, I cannot enforce this, but the objective is for each contestant to receive a thoughtful rating, not skewed scores. 
  • It is SUPER DUPER NERVE-WRACKING to put work on display for others to judge, so let's remember to leave some love and encouragement for our challengers in the comments!
  • YOU DO NOT HAVE TO PICK A FAVORITE! Any week, any sew-down, you are welcome to reward both sewists with the highest scores. Or one sewist higher than another in different categories. This is a contest against each contestant's personal best, not against one another.
Rate Jonie's Technique *
Do garment(s) reflect a strong knowledge of the fabrics used, and the methods and tools use to sew them?
Rate Jonie's Creativity *
Do garment(s) relate to the given prompt, and showcase the unique talents of the sewist?
Rate Jonie's Presentation *
Quality photography is key, as is an overall vision for presenting finished work.
Rate Jonie's Degree of Difficulty *
Sew many pieces, or very intricate ones? These points reward that challenge.
Rate Michelle's Technique *
Do garment(s) reflect a strong knowledge of the fabrics used, and the methods and tools use to sew them?
Rate Michelle's Creativity *
Do garment(s) relate to the given prompt, and showcase the unique talents of the sewist?
Rate Michelle's Presentation *
Quality photography is key, as is an overall vision for presenting finished work.
Rate Michelle's Degree of Difficulty *
Sew many pieces, or very intricate ones? These points reward that challenge.
Leave Some Love! *
Let this week's challengers know what you liked best from each look!

Thanks for voting this week! Results on Friday. In the meantime, tune in tomorrow for an expert interview with Sew-blogging's greatest upcyclists; and later in the week you'll hear about another sewing contest you can sew for, for FREE! Until then, click the image below to enjoy the freebie tutorial on Jonie's blog: