Q&A Monday: You CAN Sew on a Button!

One of the most common phrases I see in comments and emails for this blog is, “I can’t even sew on a button!”.  No big deal, right?  Some people don’t know how to sew on a button.  Big whup.


What I don’t like about this statement is how it implies “I can’t and won’t ever be able to sew on a button, or sew anything else for that matter!”  Most things can be learned.  Just because you don’t know how to do something now, doesn’t mean you won’t ever be good at said thing!

My big tin 'o buttons!

My big tin ‘o buttons!

Let’s rewind to more than a decade ago when I was a Theatre Major at the University of South Carolina (Go Cocks!).  I was a good bit less than enthused when I had to do my time in the costume shop (mandatory lab assignment).  I had absolutely NO interest in sewing or costuming at the time.

My first assignment was to sew a row of buttons onto some gorgeous brocaded doublet for an upcoming show.  I clumsily stitched the buttons on, shrugging when my task was complete.  The next day, I had to sew them all on again, as they had popped off in rehearsal! The actor was livid and the costume shop staff was incredibly annoyed with my ineptitude.  That’s right.  I couldn’t even sew on a button!  One of the nice costume shop grad students sat down with me and showed me how.

It’s not hard, folks.  If a bored 20-year-old me could do it, so can you!  You’re about to have no excuse for not being able to sew on a button!

For those of you who are visual learners, Threadbanger has your back!

Some of you might prefer written instructions, like these from The Art of Manliness (I seriously adore this blog btw!).


from The Art of Manliness!

Here’s a little tip from me:  Whenever you’re hand-sewing anything, run the thread over an unlit candle.  The wax will keep it from getting tangled!

Wax On!

Wax On!

For those of you who are feeling super-creative, you can even make your own buttons!!!

Let Liz from Offbeat Bride show you how!

Let Liz from Offbeat Bride show you how!

So…now you know how to sew on a button!  It wasn’t that hard, now was it?  :)



Q&A Monday: A Life Refashioned?

Q:  So what’s going on with you?  You’ve been on TV for your blog and it’s gotten pretty big.  How has your life changed since you started ReFashionista.net?

A.  Ah!  The glamorous life of an internet celeb D-lister!  ;)  If you look back at my earliest (and most embarrassing) entries, you’ll be just as surprised as I am at what an incredible following of cool people this little blog has garnered over the past 3 years.  I mean, seriously.  I had a shaved head, a terrible camera, hadn’t written anything in years, and my pics were teensy!

A "before" pic from Year 1

A “before” pic from Year 1

Why did anyone ever read this blog in 2010?  Why?

Having a successful blog that I love has truly transformed my life.  It’s given me a sense of purpose that was really lacking in my go to work/come home/go out/do it all over again routine.  Before I started ReFashionista.net, I was in a real funk.  I wasn’t doing anything creative, and was pretty bummed about it.  My job was okay, but I wasn’t excited by it, and I knew it wasn’t going to lead to any future opportunities.  I was bored.  Which means I was boring.  


Fast forward to now! :)  Refashioning and writing this blog makes me happier than anything else I do!  With each email, comment, and question I really do believe I’m changing the way the world thinks about fashion.  I feel like I’m actually making a difference in people’s lives and helping the environment.  And that feels amazeballs.  I have an energy and joie de vivre that I’d never had before!  :)

So…what has and hasn’t changed?

I get to do what I love…but I still have to do the boring day job.

I make a little more money…but my car still doesn’t have functioning A/C.

I have more energy…but I’m using every bit of it to keep trying to grow this blog and encourage the Ethical Fashion Movement.

I get spotted in public all the time as being “The ReFashionista”…but everyone is surprised at how short I am.

I get lots of awesome compliments…but I also get a ton of criticism.

I’ve been offered several opportunities…and I’ve turned down quite a few that didn’t gel with my blog’s mission. 

So…that’s it in a nutshell.  I’m still the same Jillian from 2010, just more driven and much much happier.  And I have you to thank for that.  :)

Thank you.  Thanks for reading my little blog.  :)





Q&A Monday: How to Refashion without a Dress Form

Q:  I’m new to refashioning and I don’t have a fancy mannequin to measure my dresses on. What’s the best approach for taking something in by myself and with no one else to pin it for me? 

A:  This is the part where I could be total smart ass and say, “Get you a dress form or make you one!”, but that would be really jerky of me, and I’m trying to avoid being a jerk as of late (It’s my new thing!).  :)

When I first started this blog, I didn’t have a dress form.  I didn’t have one for a long time.  So how did I get my pieces fitted?

Allow me to show you!

Let’s start with a dress that has a lovely print, but fits me like a sack.

I dunno. It kind of brings out my ghastly pallor.  :/

I dunno. It kind of brings out my ghastly pallor. :/

Be warned…my method is highly technical!

First, I grab the dress at the bust on both sides and guess how many inches are on each side.

M'kay...about 2 inches!

M’kay…about 2 inches!

Then I grab the waist on both sides and guesstimate how much fabric I’ll want to take in there.

But you can use a tape measure if you like!

But you can use a tape measure if you like!

You can probably guess what I do at the hips by now…

Grab 'n Guess!

Grab ‘n Guess!

If you have a terrible memory like myself, you can write your guesstimates on a piece of paper.  :)

Then, take the dress off and pin the sides at the bust, waist, and hips using your guesstimates.

Measure and pin!

Measure and pin!

Then, add more pins to fill in the gaps, following the lines of your guesstimates.

I take an "Eh...just wing it!" approach to most things in my life, y'all.

I take an “Eh…just wing it!” approach to most things in my life, y’all.

Stitch down those sides…



Then, chop off some length if it doesn’t suit you.  :)



And hem!

And hem!

Now my dress is ready for a night at The Nick!

Fitted & Flattering!

Fitted & Flattering!

I heartily recommend this film!

I heartily recommend this film!



Q&A Monday: Good Form!

Q:  You do a lot of your custom fitting with a dress form!  What kind do you use?  How can I get one if I’m strapped for cash?

A:  That’s right!  If you look through my earlier stuff, you’ll see how I took things in without a form, but I MUCH prefer refashioning with one.  It’s just way easier to do when you have a silent clone of yourself (actually, it sounds a bit creepy when I put it that way)!

I went ahead and spent a little over $100 on this one by Singer.

Ooooooh!  Adjustable!

Ooooooh! Adjustable!

I went with an adjustable model because I knew I wanted to start costuming a few shows around town, and being able to set it to any cast member’s specific measurements was a huuuuge help!

But you can go a cheaper/more DIY route, too!!!!

You could make a dress form out of polyurethane foam like this one I found on BurdaStyle:

Not adjustable, but not too shabby!

Not adjustable, but not too shabby!

I also like this tutorial on how to make one out of duct tape from Offbeat Bride!

The "during"

The “during”

The "after"!  :)

The “after”! :)

Johanna at Making it Well can show you how to make one using  a papier mache method, as well!

I actually the the punk look of her "during" photo!  :)

I actually like the punk look of her “during” photo! :)

Nicely Done!  :)

Nicely Done! :)

Having a dress form can really take your refashions to the next level!  Sooooo…go get you (or make you) one!  :)


Q&A Monday: 5 Tips for Newbie Bloggers

Q: I like your blog, and it seems to have a good following.  I just started a blog of my own.  How can I make it a success?

When people ask how to have a successful blog, it’s hard to know what to tell them. I’ve been blogging at ReFashionista.net for a looooong time and it has only VERY recently gained traction. Here’s a few things that I think I’ve done right.

1. I’ve got a gimmick. My blog is  very focused on a very specific thing. (refashioning and eco fashion).

2. I try to have a clear writing voice and I don’t try to dumb myself down or write like another successful blogger. In the beginning I tried to be way too “cutesy” and it didn’t work, because it wasn’t me. Just trust that you’re as clever as you think you are. I hate reading blogs where the person’s humor is really try-hard.

3. I edit. Poor spelling and grammar can really turn your readers off (unless it’s intentional and/or funny). Their There They’re and all that jazz.

4. I TRY to use good photos. This is a toughie and a major learning curve for me (and something I’m still working on). Get a good camera. Don’t be like me and use the same craptastic one for ages and ages. Edit your pics. There’s an awesome free photo editing site called Picmonkey, and that’s what I use.

5. I have fun! I genuinely LOVE what I’m writing about.   :)

I hope these tips are helpful for you newbie bloggers out there.

Happy Blogging!