Angelina M.: Queen of Upcycled Fashion

Have you ever watched a YouTube tutorial and been inspired to sew along with the instructor?  DIYer Angelina was inspired by the clothing upcycling videos she watched online. But when the instructors didn’t show how they got from thrift store “before” to runway “after,” she decided to start her own YouTube channel. Eight years later, BlueprintDIY has grown into a much-loved sewing and fashion resource for creative DIYers. Recently, she decided to take her sewing skills to the next level with her first industrial sewing machine, and she chose the Sailrite® Fabricator®. With over 100,000 YouTube subscribers, we knew Angelina was a trendsetter and expert in her field, and we wanted to find out how she’s using her new Fabricator to turn overlooked hand-me-downs into fashionable, chic looks.

Her love of denim sent her searching for an industrial machine that could handle thick assemblies. She found the Fabricator and, after some research, knew it was the machine for her. Upcycling clothing is not just a trend. It’s a smart, thrifty and eco-friendly way to restyle your wardrobe. In her videos, Angelina shows viewers how easy it is to take thrift store finds, or clothes from your own closet, and give them a stylish second life. We sat down with Angelina to find out how she’s liking her new Fabricator and to chat about all things DIY, fashion and upcycling.

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Angelina proudly shows off her brand-new Fabricator Sewing Machine.

Q: How did you get the idea to start a YouTube channel and share your upcycled clothing tutorials with the world?

A: I decided to stay home to raise my kids, which meant that I couldn’t shop as much as I used to. This is when I discovered thrifting while watching YouTube. I watched girls go buy thrift store clothes and do small alterations to make it suit them. That was my answer! I started thrifting and altering, and a whole new world opened up to me. Now I could stay on budget, shop and make my clothes fit. So I started sewing again and realized that the girls I was watching on YouTube never showed how they were recreating their clothes. They only showed the before and after. I felt like other women really needed to know how to do this.

Q: What do you love about upcycling clothing and the DIY/sewing creative process?

A: I love the push and pull of taking a limited amount of fabric and creating something that looks like it has no limits. I don’t gain much inspiration from raw material, but I feel like old clothes speak to me. They want to be new again.

Q: What clothing materials do you work with most often? 

A: I work with a ton of denim, men’s dress shirts and T-shirts, which I’m just realizing are all cotton-based materials.

Q: What is your favorite item of clothing to upcycle? And do they come from your own closet or do you thrift clothing pieces to remake for your videos?

A: My favorite clothing to upcycle is definitely jeans. Denim lasts so long and is so strong. I mostly get jeans to upcycle from my local thrift outlet. Each day every item in the store is a single price ranging from $2 all the way down to $.25 on Wednesdays. They always have a lot of jeans, so it’s a great item for me to upcycle.

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This butterfly sleeve crop top was creatively upcycled from a thrifted pair of oversized overalls.

Q: Where do you get the ideas or inspiration for your upcycle designs?

A: I have a constant list of projects that I want to make videos for. My project ideas come from social media, current events, viewer suggestions, runway shows and my own strokes of genius.

Q: When you were looking to upgrade to an industrial sewing machine, what made you look at the Fabricator? What was it about the machine that appealed to you?

A: Before this year, I had never heard of Sailrite. But I had dreamed about upgrading to an industrial sewing machine for years. I was scrolling through Instagram one day and saw an ad for the Fabricator. It stopped me in my tracks. I’m a licensed architect by trade and gorgeous machinery is a passion. I decided to do some research to see if the specs matched its beauty. I was blown away when I saw the level of control it has as it’s sewing through many layers of thick materials.

Q: What have you sewn on the Fabricator and how has the machine performed for you?

A: I’ve upcycled a bunch of jeans and made a pair of two-tone jeans, a detachable sleeve denim jacket, two denim tops and a wrap skirt. It’s working amazing for me! I love that my top stitches look just like I purchased the garment from a store.

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The Fabricator made easy work of this unique take on a denim jacket.

Q: What is the thickest or toughest fabric you’ve sewn with your Fabricator? How did the machine handle the material?

A: I tested it and it actually sews through 16 layers of denim with ease.

Q: How do you see the Fabricator fitting into your upcycle clothing videos? Will you use it for specific materials and designs, or as an all-around project machine?

A: I have only used it for denim so far, but I have more needles and feet coming that will make it possible to use it with finer materials. And I’m so excited to do my next leather project!

Q: Have you had any clothing project that’s been more difficult or tricky to upcycle? Your design didn’t go as expected? What did you learn from the experience?

A: The very first project that I used the Fabricator for was my two-tone jeans project. I was still a little apprehensive about using the Fabricator because it was new to me. I cut the jeans more than I should have next to the zipper fly. The only way to salvage the project was to sew the zipper fly of one pair to the zipper fly of the other pair. There’s absolutely no way that my heavy-duty domestic machines could do it so I turned to the Fabricator. It performed amazingly and took away all my fears. The control on it makes it so easy to use. 

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These two-tone jeans was the first project Angelina tackled with her Fabricator. We think they look stunning!

Q: Are you hoping to teach your kids to sew and pass along the skill? 

A: I just started teaching my kids to sew this year, mostly on my domestic machines. They are 12, 10 and 6, and I’m happy to say that they really enjoy it. After a few lessons, my 6-year-old son wanted to try using the Fabricator. He was able to make a few stitches and control the foot with ease.

Q: What is the most rewarding part of sharing your tutorial videos and being a DIY influencer?

A: Early in my channel, one of my subscribers commented that my videos inspired her to remake her clothes, which was helping her stay positive through her third bout with cancer. I didn’t realize how healing sewing could be. It has been a great source of my own healing after losing my husband to a rare form of meningitis in 2017. During the coronavirus pandemic, I made it my goal to upload as much positive content as possible to be a steady and uplifting part of my viewers’ day. That’s the most rewarding thing to me.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share about yourself, your family or your DIY lifestyle?

A: I think that I make sewing fun and not so intimidating. My sewing style is wild, crazy and experimental. People are more willing to be bad at it and learn from mistakes so that they can get better. I think it really takes some of the pressure off. I’m also building a community outside of YouTube. My Facebook group is taking on a life of its own. People are swapping materials locally, helping each other fix their sewing machines, and applauding one another’s projects. I’m striving for a community or family atmosphere, and I’m very proud that it’s growing into that.

Have you ever thought about upcycling clothing and breathing new life into clothes you don’t wear anymore or thrift store finds? If you need a place to start, Angelina has hundreds of upcycling tutorials on her YouTube channel. You can find her at BlueprintDIY. Thanks for chatting with us, Angelina, and good luck with your future upcycled fashions!

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Sailing Wife, Sewing Life

At the age of 10, Bailey Heyman received her first sewing machine as a gift from her grandparents. What she didn’t know was that this small gift would spark a lifelong passion that would change her life. Bailey is truly a Jill-of-all-trades, sewing everything she can get her hands on, such as apparel, marine projects, pet projects — you name it. Along the way she discovered sailing and then the Sailrite® website, which only bolstered her love of all things DIY. Not to mention it brought her face to face with a world-class sewing machine, the Sailrite® Ultrafeed® LSZ-1.

“I remained interested in the idea of sewing through middle school, high school and college. It wasn’t until after college that I had a well-paying job and could finally spend the money to pick up sewing again. I first bought a computerized machine even though it had been 14 years since the last time I’d had a sewing machine. My return to sewing started with making dog bandanas that I would give out to a local dog rescue I volunteer for. Sewing dog bandanas then turned into sewing dog vests and then it all escalated quickly!”

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Bailey, photographed here among her newly sewn boat cabin cushions.

While always the avid sewist, Bailey wasn’t always entwined with the sailing lifestyle or Sailrite. That she learned from her husband, who is from a long line of sailors and began to teach her the way of the water. This fact, combined with her infatuation with aerodynamics, led her to explore the world of sailmaking. It was here that things really began to gain momentum! Eventually, Bailey discovered the Ultrafeed LSZ-1 Sewing Machine and her ability to DIY grew tenfold.

“When looking into industrial sewing machines for sewing sails, Sailrite is the first thing that comes up. It did not take me long to look at the company and know that it was a brand with a community that I wanted to be part of. I received my Sailrite Ultrafeed LSZ-1 and immediately began to dress it up with stickers. Out of all the things I’ve done with my Sailrite, turning it into an angler fish has gotten the most likes on social media. That’s fine with me because it makes me smile every time I finish a project, turn off the lights, and see it glowing.”

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You might’ve seen Bailey’s customized Ultrafeed LSZ-1 on our Sailrite Instagram page, complete with a smiling sticker that glows in the dark. This gives the machine the appearance of an angler fish, even with the lights off. And if you thought that was ingenious, you should see the great number of other projects Bailey has finished recently using her portable powerhouse of a machine.

The project that Bailey is most proud of? Her lightning bug sunflower dress of course. She was kind enough to share the entire process with us.

“I wanted to make a dress to wear to an engineering banquet that I had coming up. I knew I wanted a dress with sunflowers because those are my favorite flowers. I loved the blue and yellow color combination. After I made the dress, I started to think about what I wanted to add to it next. I love building circuits and wanted to work them into my sewing projects. One day I had the idea to add lightning bugs to the sunflower dress. But I had to figure out how to sew the conductive wire to get them to light up inside the dress. Most DIYers will sew wire into dresses like that by hand, but because of the shape of the dress, I knew that would take a long time. I tried to use my computerized sewing machine first but the thread was too thick for it. I thought perhaps my Sailrite Ultrafeed would not work with it because the dress material was chiffon, but I decided to try anyway. It took a few minutes to get the settings right for the material but once I did, I was able to sew the conductive wire perfectly into the dress!”

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Following the creation of her prized sunflower dress, Bailey has been busy making even more wearable works of art. Her many successes include flowy skirts and gowns with a variety of leaves and creatures on them, each one perfectly showcasing her boundless creativity. She explained, “My inspiration for making them all comes from self-inspiration. It only takes about an hour to an hour and a half to make the base of a dress or skirt and then it usually takes a few hours to days to add appliques such as flowers or iron-on designs.”

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Within her eclectic portfolio of DIY projects, you’ll also find a slew of marine cushions she’s created to revamp her and her husband’s boat. She’s also crafted numerous additions to her Jeep as well as pet projects for her beloved dogs. And not only do these creative endeavors showcase the versatility of the Ultrafeed Sewing Machine, but more importantly, they showcase Bailey’s versatility and expertise as an enterprising young sewist.

We asked Bailey if she had any advice for DIYers who have dreams of following in her footsteps, and she was kind enough to share her thoughts with us. “My biggest pointer is to be self aware. If you do not know yourself and how your mind operates then you risk becoming your own worst enemy when creating things. A personal example of this is that I know I often get carried away with cutting fabric. When this happens I end up over-cutting or finding out the pattern I was cutting was a little off and so now I have a pile of cut fabric that will not work. This means that I have to either throw away the cut fabric, spend time to fix the cuts (if they are fixable), or set them aside (which ends up haunting me until I eventually throw them away). Because I am self aware of this, I always make sure to remind myself to not get carried away when I cut. If I was not self aware of how I operate, then I would continually get carried away with cutting and then kick myself for all the money I throw away.”

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Bailey recently crafted a new netted top for her Jeep. It’s even pup approved!

Bailey also has the support team of her family to thank for her ability to create. She remembers her grandpa having a big smile one his face while watching her sew and when she showed him the Sailrite he was certainly impressed. She likes to remember him fondly as a champion of her creativity.

With a can-do attitude, a great sewing machine and some DIY guidance, you too can create incredible DIY projects. We’re eagerly waiting to see what you sew next, Bailey!