It all started ten days ago. I was feeling highly motivated and eager to complete a DIY project sewing embroidery on a pair of jeans. Not mind-blowing, I know, but it was something that I had wanted to try. I made my mental list of items I thought I would need to purchase and planned my trip for my day off on Thursday. I am honestly so much of a Rhode-Islander that this was undoubtedly a designated day-off activity. I mean driving from Providence to Warwick otherwise…not happening. Once Thursday came, I took my fifteen minute drive and headed to JOANN Fabrics on Bald Hill Road. Despite my quick looks at Pinterest and other photos of jeans I gathered ideas from, I went into the fabric store relatively naïve to the fact that I had no clue what I was doing.
As I walked into the store, I was immediately shocked at the amount of customers inside (does everyone have Thursdays off?). Walking through the aisles, it got even worse and upon arriving at the fabric section, I was met with droves of women of all ages purchasing their weight in fabric. My immediate thought was that perhaps they were gathering fabric to make masks with. Later, while at check-out, I was told that the store is normally not that busy, but that those with the JOANN app had a particularly good coupon that day and Thursdays are their shipment day for new goods. Pro-Tip: Anyone who wants primo fabrics or any other potentially out-of-stock items should give JOANN fabrics a visit on Thursday mornings.
After growing increasingly discouraged even after asking for help from kind store associates, I decided to do further research and return to the embroidery section another day. I scrapped my original idea entirely and decided I would go an alternate route of more casual hand-sewing, but without embroidery floss or specific techniques. I trekked back to the fabric section and chose a few different colored threads that I was confident I would use on my jeans.
Lastly, I searched around until I found where the needles are kept and tried to decipher exactly which needles were appropriate for my project. Am I the only person dumb enough to think a needle is a needle is a needle?
After using the handy-guide (seen below) to help select my needles, I ended up choosing a bundle of assorted needles so I could finally be free of the hell this trip was becoming.
So after all of that, I realized that I still somehow purchased the incorrect thread (it was too thick to use with any of my needles) and ended up scrapping both ideas for the time being. If you read my last post, you will remember that I visited a vintage store, The Lady Next Door, where I purchased two vintage collars. My new DIY plan was to make them more wearable for everyday use. Here are the instructions (finally, I know) for how to make a wearable vintage collar.
DIY Wearable Vintage Collar
- Vintage collar
- Fabric cleaner (i.e. Oxyclean, bleach, etc.)
- Basin or large bowl
- Clear nail polish or Top Coat
- Find/acquire vintage collar. I found mine at a local vintage shop, but you can find them occasionally at Savers, Ebay, Etsy, or maybe your grandmothers attic.
2. Clean collar. Though it may not appear dirty by any means, I always prefer to wash most secondhand items that I purchase. Since this particular item is rather delicate, I chose to hand-wash it using hot water, Oxyclean, and a small dash of bleach. You can choose whichever cleaning product you desire as long as you make sure it is delicate enough to not ruin the collar. I use a small plastic container that I had previously purchased at Walmart which I specifically use for soaking items longer term. Feel free to use any large bowl or your sink if you are only planning on soaking for a short period of time.
I left the collars to soak for about 24-hours. Then, I dumped out the liquid, removed the collars, and placed them in fresh hot water in my bathroom sink to rinse out any remaining soaking liquid.
After, I drained the water from the sink and repeated the rinsing process. Then, I removed the collars and let them hang dry until they were no longer wet.
3. Trim any excess threads or frayed edges. As you can see, my collar had a few areas that needed tending to before I could start my project.
4. Lay out thread, needle, scissors, pin, and ribbon you would like to use for the bow. I chose a double-faced, thin black ribbon. Double-faced means that the ribbon looks the same on both sides. This particular ribbon is perfect for a project like this because when wearing the collar, you will be able to see the ribbon from all angles meaning the double-face will ensure that it will always look the same.
I chose a basic white thread to use. Since the collar is white, you do not want the stitching to appear which makes white thread the best choice. Match the thread color with whatever collar your particular collar is. I selected a needle from my bunch that I had previously purchased and simply chose one that had a large enough eye to thread through.
5. Start by cutting a two long pieces of ribbon (about 16.5 inches long). You want it long enough to trim excess ribbon once you’ve tied it on yourself at the end. If it is too short at this stage, you will have to redo the entire process. Better to have it start too long and cut the excess later!
6. Thread your needle with chosen thread.
7. Place your ribbon on the inside edge of the collar (the side you don’t want to show) on the outside corner and decide where you would like it to sit.
8. Once you have found the appropriate spot, move the ribbon a little further down so you have a larger area of the ribbon to adhere to the collar. This will ensure that your ribbon is more secure once sewn! Pin the ribbon in place.
9. Start sewing from the inside of the collar towards the outside (i.e. sew through the black ribbon the collar and back through). Try to sew in the center of the ribbon as opposed to the outside edges. Since it is a thin ribbon, the ribbon will start to fall apart if you sew too close to its outside edge.
10. Once you have sewn the ribbon with enough strength that you believe it will stay adhered, knot your thread, and cut the excess.
11. Cut the excess ribbon on a bias (i.e. diagonal vs. straight across) and put a small dab of clear nail polish or Top Coat on the ribbons edge. Both measures will keep the ribbon from fraying.
12. Repeat the entire process on the other side.
13. Put your collar on yourself with the ribbon part placed on the front of your neck. Tie a bow and position it however you would like it to sit when wearing (i.e. loose, tight, etc.). Look at collar in mirror and cut excess ribbon that you think is too long and would like to remove. I tried to make my bow look symmetrical and trim excess ribbon afterwards. I wanted a looser bow since this particular collar is smaller on me. Adding the bow makes finding a smaller collar more do-able since you are creating a more personalized fit with the length of your ribbon anyways.
Voila! You have now just turned a vintage piece into something that is wearable for everyday use.
I hope you enjoyed this DIY and that it inspires you to think more creatively when finding different items during thrifting trips! Do you prefer purchasing items that are ready-to-wear or do you enjoy thinking about new ways to repurpose old items? If you like creating, drop a comment below and share some items that you have thrifted and altered for yourself!