There are so many valuable aspects to Upcycled Fashion. It’s planet-friendly, good for your budget and a fabulous creative challenge. We don’t all have the gift of transformation that allows us to envision pieces of our wardrobe magically remade into something new, though. Have you found yourself interested in re-fashioning, but unsure of what to do with clothes that need renewing? Michelle Paganini and her Paganoonoo Patterns are ready to help!
I met Michelle’s company, Paganoonoo Patterns, at the Sewing & Stitchery Expo this past February, but didn’t get to meet Michelle. She was swamped with enthusiastic attendees every time I passed the booth! Since I didn’t get to meet her in person then, we had a nice email chat last week. Paganoonoo is a design house focused on Upcycled Fashion and her booth left me awestruck. The booth was filled with designs made from men’s dress shirts and they were stunning. It was exciting to see finished designs that were fashionable, very wearable and gave hardly any hint that they were once men’s shirts. I was hooked!
Michelle has been a sewist for many years and was always interested in art. She made the leap from the Medical Device industry to Green Fashion when, through a co-worker’s illness, she realized that time to achieve our dreams may be short. She decided her time was now! After enrolling in Fashion Design classes and learning about the high level of pollution caused by the fashion industry, Michelle developed a passionate interest in remodeling second-hand clothes. Soon she was receiving constant compliments while wearing her Upcycled Fashion and a business was born!
You can find Paganoonoo Pattern Booklets online at http://paganoonoo.com/ or on Etsy. Although I’ve focused just on the Patti Blouse here, there are several designs available and they all look like tons of fun. Michelle suggests her patterns for those with intermediate sewing skills. The pattern designs involve upcycling men’s shirts, so you’ll need to get your favorite guy to let you go through his closet. I recommend showing up with a plate of cookies – that should open the door, right? If that doesn’t work out, try your local thrift or charity shop or check Michelle’s web site. She sells shirts to re-make, too!
I could tell from Michelle’s site that her creative wheels are always turning, so in our email chat I asked her what projects she has in the works. Here’s her response and it all sounds great: “Right now I’m working on prototypes for three new patterns. I have a backlog of other designs in the queue. I’m also collaborating with Stephani Knutson of www.onceuponastitch.net on machine embroidery combined with the Paganoono Sandy Pattern.”
I grew up in a “fashion” world full of handmade, hand-me-down, garage sales, tag sales and thrift stores. My kids were clothed that way, too. It’s kind of a tradition in our family and I see Upcycled Fashion as a “new generation” version of what’s been going on for many, many years. You know our grandmothers were doing it, so why not us! My mother-in-law recently told me how she lovingly re-fashioned her brother’s wool Navy uniform into two sailor suits for her sons. One of those was later handed down to another family member and the remakes go on. I bet you have stories, too!
Michelle was fun to chat with and kindly followed up with links to a couple of articles I had already seen on her Facebook page. You may enjoy following her there or on her blog, too. Click here for an article on how upcycled clothing is now very fashion forward. It’s a good, inspiring read and just may lead to a great new passion for you and your family, too!
About the Author
Annette Millard began sewing at the age of three, made her first dress at ten and is always happiest with needle, fabric and thread in her hands. Annette feels very privileged to have spent most of her work life in the sewing industry and loves teaching, making her own handmade wardrobe and writing about sewing. She spent over ten years as the newsletter and web site content writer for the Pacific Northwest's largest locally-owned family of fabric stores and is now thrilled to have the opportunity to share her passion for sewing with the Sewing Secrets community.