ReSew - Turn Thrift-Store Finds into Fabulous Designs

by Jenny Wilding Cardon
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Yearning for a unique look--yet shopping on a shoestring? Learn fashion designer Jenny Wilding Cardon's secrets for finding the creative possibilities in cast-offs! With a snip here and a tuck there, you can turn common thrift-store items--such as sweaters, curtains, and jeans--into sassy, stylish originals.

  • Turn secondhand basics into first-rate fashions with over 20 beginner-friendly projects
  • Make chic tops, skirts, dresses, purses, scarves, bags, and hats--plus a rug, simple quilt, and more
  • View before and after pictures that illustrate the potential of your thrift-store finds


by Jenny Wilding Cardon
8.5" x 11" printed on your home computer
Format Description:
full color, PDF digital download
Product Code:
Publication Date:
February 8th, 2011
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eBook PDF purchases are non-returnable. Please contact customer service for more information.

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Review from

Are you a pattern kind of stitcher or more the make-it-up-and-see-what-happens type? I am rather a maverick when it comes to sewing and more often than not I make it up as I go along. Patterns are not really my thing, and as a result I tend to end up with a few projects that arguably would have been better off as great ideas that never got off the ground! It's all part of the fun of creating. And given that most of the fabric I use for making clothes is found in an op-shop (thrift store), the mishaps are never worth a fortune. My favorite item I ever made was a ball gown from bronze coloured 1970's shot silk curtains that cost me $30!

So, it was with great delight that I came across ReSew. While there are many patterns in this book, my favorite thing about the approach of author Jenny Wilding Cardon is her encouraging nature. Statements such as "design diversions are welcome here" and "use the designs on the page, then jump" hooked me right in.

There's the story of how Jenny began thrifting to hints on shopping second-hand. The patterns are easy to read and use and are well illustrated with tips (or "retips") for techniques that the reader may not be familiar with.

But here's my favorite part, the bit that really got me excited: The designs are as simple or as complex as you dare make them and each project comes with a list of suggestions for "design diversions"--ideas, amendments and thoughts for adding a personal touch to your project.

I made the "Happy Hat, Mitten, and Scarf Set" for each of my daughters and completed them in a little under an hour and a half. I do have to confess that I did the detailing with fancy machine stitching rather than hand-sewing but to have two complete winter sets in such a short time frame and for only a $3 sweater each, I am super impressed.

Next on my list is the "Cuffed Skirt" using men's suiting... or perhaps the "Knit-Knot T-Shirt"... I have so many sticky notes on these pages I'm not sure where I'll start. Perhaps I'll wait and see what the op-shop gods deliver!

Review from Today's Books

Scarlett O'Hara was on to something-curtains can be quite fashionable! So, too can sweaters, jeans, and other cast-off clothes you find at your local thrift shop as you cut up the fabric and give these items a real makeover, the soft version of transformers, as you'll discover in ReSew: Turn Thrift-Store Finds into Fabulous Designs. Fashion designer Jenny Wilding Cardon (The Little Box of Baby Quilts), Kaysville, Utah, has seen her styles on the covers of McCall's Quilting and Quilts and More. Here she offers 20 projects for beginners, among them tops, bottoms, dresses, accessories, a quilt, a rug, and a cushion. Illustrations by the author with photos by Brent Kane. Web resources list thrift shops including Goodwill, Salvation Army, Deseret Industries, and Savers among national chains, along with independent directories including The Thrift Shopper, Thrifty Planet, and National Association of Resale & Thrift Shops. Today's Books editor Lex Ticonderoga puts ReSew on the "A-List!" Websites: Author:

Review from Cindy Baum, Books and Chocolate

This is a fun book of projects for repurposing fabric or knitted items found in thrift shops (or one's own closet!) into updated clothing and things for the home. Most of the clothing projects seem geared toward young adults but there is plenty of inspiration for home decor and toys for children as well.

Some of the projects include turning sweaters into hat and scarf sets; an elephant toy pillow or handbag; turning men's shirts into a dress or skirt; using sheets for dresses; piecing cuttings from various articles of clothing into a quilt; and a tote made out of corduroy pants. There are no patterns, but clear instructions and diagrams are given for measuring, cutting, and sewing to create each item.

I like this book for the ideas it inspires and had fun looking at all the projects. Even if I wouldn't try to refashion a sweater into an off the shoulder top, it does encourage me to think of other ways to turn an otherwise ordinary piece of clothing or a bed sheet into something unique and creative. Many of the projects are for more experienced seamstresses since patterns aren't included but there are some that beginners could manage.

This is a great book for anyone who enjoys the challenge of creating their own unique clothing and home decor items, or turning old things into new.

Review from Quilts, Inc.'s eInsider Newlsetter

Whether you're on a tight wardrobe budget or a re-purposing kick, this book has what you need to create stylish new garments and accessories from common thrift-store finds. Included are 20 beginner-friendly projects--tops, skirts, dresses, purses, bags, hats, scarves, and even a rug and simple quilt--all created using cast-offs. Each project features fabulous before-and-after photos, which demonstrate how even the most less-than-attractive garments can find new life with a little help.

From Michelle Pacey,

Comprising 20 projects over 144 pages, ReSew seeks to help you "turn thrift store finds into fabulous designs." ReSew projects range widely from tops to bottoms, dresses, accessories, and home decor items. The last chapter is a learning section that reviews basic machine and hand sewing techniques, indispensable sewing supplies, the sewing of knitted sweaters and the felting of woolen garments.

With each project in her book, Ms. Wilding Cardon lays out the following:
  • Project materials required, including what you need from the thrift store, all tools, and notions.
  • Detailed cutting and sewing instructions along with hand-drawn diagrams, and before and after photos.
  • A design section in which the author shares "what she could've done, should've done, wanted to do, or just imagined" as a jumping-off point for the reader to infuse her project with her own personality and flair.
  • And "ReTips," which combine ideas to keep each project running smoothly, and tips that help deal with problems that typically arise when sewing with thrift-store clothing.

I very much like this book. As I'm sure you can imagine, the whole idea of upcycling and turning cast-offs into pretty, new, and useful pieces is most appealing to me. Two of my favorite ReSew projects include the aptly-named, sweet and feminine "Two-Tee Tank Top" made from two-tees, and the "Felted and Flapped Purse." So cute. It's made from an old sweater. Wait a minute. I have an old sweater... Guess what I'm gonna make? Lucky guess. I like the fact that this book has something for everyone, from the beginner to the experienced sewist.

Review from Amy Ellis, Amy's Creative Side

Author Jenny Wilding Cardon has pooled all her thrifting and re-fashioning knowledge into one fabulous book! Her introduction gives you a glimpse into her fun personality, and why she likes to "resew."

Jenny shares her personal methods for thrift shopping, like keeping a running list and an open mind while shopping. The best part about resewing is that when you resew, your creation is always one-of-a-kind, and perfectly suited for you! Jenny also has "Design Diversions" for each project to encourage your personal creativity.

Jenny's projects are simple yet detailed, and the instructions are flawless. A new sewist will be equally excited by these projects, as someone more experienced as well. Each of the projects has a list of Jenny's fiber facts, the number of pieces needed, and what you should look for while shopping, including fiber content and recommended sizes. Also included are many "ReTip" sections within the patterns to teach you sewing basics, such as making casings, inserting elastic, making your piece a custom fit, sewing with wool, and dealing with imperfect pieces--really, too many to list!

Jenny has taken refashioning to a whole new level. She has over 20 projects including shirts, skirts, dresses, bags, a scarf and hat set, a quilt, rug and even a child's toy. There is something for everyone in this book, and it will definitely get you thinking creatively about your wardrobe. I really love how useful this book is--I need to look through my own closet for items to resew! This is also a great book for many of you that already quilt, and would love to learn to sew garments.
Review from

Remaking clothing is nothing new, of course, but a downturn in the economy has generated a surge in creativity. Along comes Jenny Wilding Cardon's book, ReSew: Turn Thrift-Store Finds into Fabulous Designs, to inspire you more. It's all about using what you have but no longer want to wear in its current form, or finding things at a thrift store to make your own.

Of the designs in ReSew, we really liked a sweatshirt transformation called the Sleeveless V. Most people know that baggy sweatshirts are not our most flattering look! Trim it up a bit, add some flair, and you're comfortable and hip! The resulting sweatshirt project in ReSew is truly tiny, but you don't have to go that far. You can keep a modest shape and instead focus on the embellishments made out of the fabric that you've trimmed away - Jenny designed strips into a textured box - and add the suggested kangaroo pocket. For all of the projects in this book, remember to keep the original garment's tags so you know how to care for the fabrics. Most wool sweaters, for instance, shouldn't be machine washed or they will shrink.

Moving from the clothing aisles to the home dec aisles of your local thrift store , the Curtain Skirt ends up unrecognizable as curtains because you build in tiers. If you can find the right fabrics to layer, this will look luscious. We suggest natural fabrics instead of the polyester sheers.

The Diner Dress is great if you enjoy fitted dresses. The top (or bodice) is made from one found shirt (make sure it's the wide enough for you at your skinniest waist measurement because this is where the new skirt attaches). The skirt is made from several more cotton shirts and is attached to the bodice at the high waist.

Some of the accessories projects in ReSew incorporate recycled sweaters. The Elephant Cuddle Cushion is one very cute example that would be fun for a friend's child (or your child). Note that chunky sweater knits can be difficult to sew together so you might want to choose flatter knits.

Jenny Wilding Cardon

Jenny Wilding Cardon has been creating with fabric since high school. Back then, she would design eccentric, rebellious items of clothing, and then make her friends wear them to school. After graduating from college in Utah with a degree in Women's Studies, Jenny spent three years with her husband in Seattle, where she quickly caught the quilting bug from her coworkers at Martingale.
Jenny worked as a copywriter for Martingale one day short of 10 years before giving up her position to be a stay-at-home mom. In 2011, she returned to Martingale as their content editor, and now spends most of her work time writing for Martingale's Stitch This! blog.
The birth of her first son inspired Jenny's to write her first pattern collection, The Little Box of Baby Quilts (Martingale, 2007). Her second, the book ReSew (Martingale, 2011), paired her two creative outlets--thrifting and sewing. Jenny's designs have also appeared on the covers of Quilts and More and Quilt It for Kids magazines, as well as in McCall's Quilting and Simple Quilts and Sewing.
Jenny lives on an acre in a Utah farming town with her husband and their two sons, Jack and Charlie. Since the commute to the Martingale office is 818.64 miles, the bosses typically allow her to work from home. Contact Jenny Wilding Cardon

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