not-yo-gramma’s mini skirt.

Based on the ever democratic process of polling my friends on the internets, I threw together this little H&M-inspired mini skirt last week. I’ll be posting a tutorial on this INCREDIBLY simple throw-it-together-in-two-episodes-of-Ancient-Aliens-or-less piece sometime in the next couple of days.

I haven’t blogged about it yet because I’m trying desperately to have a life that doesn’t involve sitting at a computer all day. Which means that, in addition to the skirt, I have made a metric shit ton of other things in the last couple of weeks and just haven’t tossed them up on here yet. I’m actually finishing Christmas presents already while knitting at my desk at work. Yeah, I totally just blew the surprise, but whatever.

I’m back in the vinyl bag business in a big way. Here’s some recent stuff:

This one was a special project for Sloppy Jodes.

 

Look at that dramatic lighting!

I can’t post a couple of the things I’ve done just yet because they’re for birthday gifts or are waiting on the final touches. I’ll get them up here soon though. Well, I make no promises really. I’m bringing my motorcycle to the city this weekend, so I might never be indoors again. Four wheels is just two too many. LIIIIIVE TO RIIIIIIIIIIIDE!

In addition to not computing outside of the office, I’ve been doing the “tourist in my own city” thing for the last couple of days. I took an absolutely incredible walking tour of Pittsburgh’s Hill District, following Lawrence A. Glasco and Christopher Rawson’s book August Wilson: Pittsburgh Places in his Life and Plays. If you’re from Pittsburgh or intend to visit sometime and care about important things, you should find a copy (try the Carnegie Library Branch in the Hill District, where you can see the stool from Eddie’s Restaurant where August used to hang out) and take the tour. Here’s a great shot from the top of the Hill, with the remains of a funicular (the Penn Avenue Incline) that was removed during a period of not-so-subtle racism.

The incline, removed in 1953, ran to 17th and Penn Ave in the Strip District. Shortly after it’s removal, construction began on the Civic Arena, drawing a distinct line between the Hill and downtown Pittsburgh, further alienating this neighborhood from the rest of the city.

Other miscellany: TORI SPELLING IS STARTING A CRAFTING REALITY SHOW. yesssssssss. How do I get on this?! She’s faboo!

 

 

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Filed under crafts, generally awesome, off week, pittsburgh, sewing

decisions.

So I’m at a crossroads. In honor of summer weather, I wanna use this granny-ass looking fabric to make something cute for my bottom. I have almost 2 yards of it.

Image

Shall it be the Not-Yo-Gramma’s mini skirt?

Image

H&M get-up

Or the Bingo Bag Shorts?

Image

Forever 21 Paperbag shorts

Unfortunately, when it comes to questions like this, Socrates is no help. He only cares about making it impossible to sit at a desk.

That is 18 pounds of pure apathy right there.

Speak up!

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Filed under inspiration, sewing, Uncategorized, vintage looks

blockbuster.

So a while back… we’re talking March here… I decided that I was going to try to knock out a couple of my favorite Pinterest projects. This didn’t go as planned exactly (what does?) but I am here to announce that I have completed this challenge to myself. Sort of.

I started to make that amazingly cute little clutch. It’s seriously cute. I went with a hot pink and taupe color scheme because I had a lot of those colors in DMC thread laying around from the Golden Girls needlepoint I did last year. Oh god, I need pics of that so bad.

I’m slightly further along now than at the time of this photo, but I’m out of embroidery floss AGAIN.

Little did I know that I would need a metric fuck-ton of the stuff. After buying out all of my local JoAnn’s stock of DMC 600 and 611 and the surrounding colors and hoping they’d just look cool and variegated, I still didn’t have enough. SO. That project is on hold.

In the mean time, I picked a different project from my “Shit I Like” board. Berroco offers free patterns on their websites and the Espenson was calling to me.

Today’s word of the day is Caftan. Caftan (noun): a potentially frumpy sweater, ideally worn while staring over your right shoulder at nothing at all.

Lucky for me, I had the perfect yarn handy. You see, one day at work, my boss proposed a bonding experience that involved a 3 hour excursion to get Chik-Fil-A, go craft shopping and drink milkshakes. My boss is a 37 year old straight man. My coworker, Alfred, called it “the worst day of his life.” You win some, you lose some, Alfred.*

So I set to work. And damn it was a lot of work. I learned a few things, like how to increase and decrease stitches and that, for who-knows-what reason, the TSA totally lets you take knitting supplies on airplanes. Tell me how that’s logical.

I mostly finished the thing while I was on a plane home from a wedding in San Diego. When I got home, I stitched it up the sides and put it on.  IT WAS FRUMP CITY. I just didn’t understand it. It was heavy and had no stretch. I should have gotten a photo with it on, but I was damn embarrassed.

Imagine, if you will, putting this on while laying down, then standing up and having it retain that EXACT shape.

I put it in a pile of clothes that I have to repair and consigned myself to just ripping the whole thing out. I was a little sick over it actually. I spent at least 30 hours on this thing. Let’s do some math:

Yarn: 5 balls at about $5/each (sale, woo!) = $25

Time: 30 hours at minimum wage ($7.25/hour) = $217.50

This sweater is worth $242.50. Just think about the last time you spent nearly $250 on an item of clothing. Yeah, never, right? Ok, ok… I know some folks reading this have, but I’m no Oprah. Occasionally I get dressed and realize, hours later, that I’m dressed head-to-toe in House of Goodwill. I fretted over pulling the whole thing out, but I knew it was the best thing for both of us. Just like putting the family dog to sleep.

Then I discovered the knitter’s miracle. BLOCKING.  Oh my lord. I came home from work that day, ripped out the side seams and got the whole thing wet. Just like putting the family dog to sleep.

Get it wet, pin it to something and the rest will take care of itself…

So this is the final result. Pretty swift, huh?

The caftan is cool, but check those earrings. Trent’s amazing at buying me things.

Sincere apologies to my girl Em for wearing leggings as pants in this photo. I’m not gonna lie, I’ll probably do that in public too.

Up next, something summery. It’s fucking hot.

*Note that this trip was inspired by Alfred’s deep seated hatred for the awkward teenage boy that works in our local Chik-Fil-A, offering to grind fresh pepper on your sandwiches and insisting that you take mints. We’ve all had separate encounters with the kid, only Alfred hated him. This trip was entirely about witnessing the interaction between Alfred, a 60 year old queen, and the minty fresh pimpled pepper grinder, but the kid wasn’t working that day. Worst day of our lives, indeed.

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Filed under generally awesome, inspiration, knit

pants inaction.

Holy hiatus, batman.

I think I’m officially back from blog sabbatical. I’ve got some stuff complete that I haven’t written about yet, some stuff almost complete that I can wrap up soon and a positive spring outlook. Or something. I dunno. I’m going to try to get back on schedule, one project a week plus miscellaneous posts when I have the time, ambition or just a damn good story to tell.

This week I made pants. I made these pants, specifically: McCalls Melissa Watson for Palmer/Pletsch M6405. I’ve been meaning to make these pants for months. In fact, I meant for them to be winter pants. I wanted to make a mock-up first to test out the fit, since I haven’t made pants since middle school and that was a bit of a mess. With that project, there came a point where I decided that the waist band was too confusing, so I just didn’t do it.  This meant that they had a front rise that would make Britney blush and my mom kick my ass if she knew that I wore them to school. They were stretchy grey corduroy and they didn’t hold up terribly well in the wash.

ANYWAY. Pants. They’re seriously tricky to get right. I did not get them right, unfortunately. I got annoyed with the mock up portion of my creation and stopped after I did the fly (as that is seemingly the most complicated aspect of this particular pattern). I should have continued with the fake pants but I thought the pattern would just work. I will never assume this again.

Fake pants with a zipper.

Real pants with a zipper.

After I finished the fly, I sewed up the middle and the sides and put them on. Where these designers get their measurements is beyond me. With the standard (5/8 inch) seam allowance, these pants were about 30+ inches at the waist. I have a 26 inch waist and made the size corresponding to that. I had to figure out how to trim back 4 inches. Even more frustrating was the shape of the legs. They’re supposed to be slim-legged. Not skinny, not wide, slim. These had the absolute least flattering cut I have ever seen. Consider:

This guy and I are in an MC Hammer cover band called Bawl P. and Lil Mallet.

It isn’t much of an exaggeration. I even used a stretch gabardine (as suggested by the pattern), so they were kind of shiny. Also, the gabardine was the most unruly shedding beast, everything I touched during this project was covered in tiny black strings.

I finally pulled out a pair of jeans that fit pretty well and traced them onto the pants. Then I set about trying to take these stupid things in. I got them to a point where they looked pretty sharp, attached the waistband and was happy to be done. Well almost done. I still can’t find the hook and bar fasteners that I bought when I bought the fabric, so they have no top closure, but whatever. That’s what safety pins are for. I was ready to wear them, come hell or high water.

Ignore the messy room. No one else was home to help me stage this photo.

After having them on for 20 minutes or so, I had realized how un-stretchy the fabric was and uncomfortable they were going to be. But I was committed. I had to wear them at least once, right? Here’s how that day at work went:

12 pm: Work is hectic and I’m moving around more than I expected. This will surely shorten the lifespan of these pants.They are shedding everywhere.

12:55 pm: Man, this waistband is high. Good thing it looks awesome. Wait. The safety pin is tearing the gabardine. And you can totally see it. Whatev.

1:35 pm: They’re kind of tight. Took a cool pic sitting at my desk. Glad I brought jeans for when these things split at the seams.

Never mind, this picture’s not that cool. I already put it in the post though, so it’s staying.

2:28 pm: Finally had to go pee. I had forgotten about the safety pin latch on my pants and that’s an annoying thing I hadn’t considered when I came up with this solution. Also annoying: the way these pants shed little black threads constantly.

3:40 pm: Had to pee again. Should quit drinking so much water. Little black threads in my underpants. Am currently eating pizza (three pieces total), will certainly be more uncomfortable soon.

4:20 (ish): Compliments from my friend Daina on my outfit today. Didn’t want to sound like an idiot so I didn’t mention that I made the pants, but still feeling smug. I am cute and wonderful.

6:18 pm: My enemy Nik tells me “those pants are weird” and also asks “what’s with your pants, they’re weird?” I explain that I made them. I was hoping everyone would stroke my ego, but instead we talk about The Vagina Monologues. How hysterical would it be if one of the monologues was just a long burp?

6:57 pm: I don’t know why, but I’m convinced these pants are actually making my arms go numb. I can’t explain it. But seriously, any time I lift my arms above waist level they go numb. Am I pinching a nerve?

7:16 pm: Almost quitting time. Made it all day in these suckers. Sweatpants, here I come. 

Finally, here’s a picture of how tremendously helpful it is to have a cat when working on a sewing project. Notice the completely open room around her and how she’s decided to sit on my pattern pieces instead.

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Filed under for shame, sewing, vintage looks

baby mama drama.

It occurred to me recently that I’m at the age now where my friends are actually choosing to have children. Cute kids with expensive strollers and BabyGap clothes and adorable photos in sepia tone. But, you know, that doesn’t mean everyone has their shit together.

ANYWAY. This week’s craft was supposed to be finished two months ago, on or around the time that my nephew and his ex-girlfriend were having a baby. I’m happy to report that we’ve successfully removed ourselves from that situation as the baby proved not to be my nephew’s after all (thanks, science!).

Still, I had come to terms with the fact that I was probably going to be a great-aunt and thought I would do something cute for my great-nephew, Frankie. I bought a trio of coordinating Onesies with the intention of doing a little dinosaur appliqué on each.  Then, as it got closer to the date, I started dragging my feet. Was I really going to put my heart into this, take all this time and then give it to that trashy family where they wouldn’t actually care about my efforts? A derailing, craft-induced ego trip, I know, but still. I was angry about the frustrations these people were causing my family.

I almost gave the Onesies to Goodwill but I decided they were too cute. I’d find a baby to put them on! I finally got around to putting them together this weekend.

First, I found cute dinosaur images on the internet. I’d give credit but that information is on my home computer and I’m work-blogging. I traced them and made dinosaur stencils to work from. I cut out the images from felt using an Exacto knife and my self-healing mat.

As is the case with all crafty undertakings, there was a set-back during this process. That set-back being that I didn't think to check under my felt for stray dinosaurs or stencils and beheaded both the T. rex stencil and felt cut out while detailing that stegosaurus. Dammit.

I pinned the felt dinosaurs onto the Onesies and used the blanket stitch the whole way around the dinos.

Brain-pin.

And voila!

Look at his little french-knot eye! I've done my first french knots, I'm like a real craft-lady.

A trio!

Now, someone make a baby for me to clothe.

Seriously though, having kids? #WTF. No offense to all the parents out there, many (MANY!) of the parents I know are amazing people.  It’s just that I think this animal-like urge to produce another human clouds judgment so much so that people actually start to act against their own best interests, i.e: Snooki. That woman is genetically a couple strands away from being a cat in heat. She just writhed around and moaned and ruined shit until something impregnated her. If you watch the video from the link below, I’m pretty sure you can hear Snooki in the background yelling “Somebody fuck me or I’m pissing on everything!”

zoo-creatures.jhtml#id=1629734

So yeah.

Next week’s project will be wrapping up a knit project I’ve been working on for the last two weeks, which I will totally finish on the MegaBus on my way to visit Rae in Philadelphia! I need this trip. Hard.

 

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Filed under crafts, generally awesome, sewing

pinteresting.

Decided to take up a challenge posted by one of my favorite (and hopefully very soon, relevant) blogs: Young House Love. The young lady running that show and some of her friends decided that we should not just pin in vain, but craft again! That’s my new motto.

 

SO. I’m going to jump into the Pinterest challenge myself, by working on the Needlepoint Clutch that I’ve been a bit obsessed with since finding it on PurlBee. Click on the title for the tutorial.

Needlepoint Clutch, via Purlbee.com

This means that I need to figure out where all my needlepoint stuff is right now and probably make a trip out to JoAnn’s this weekend.I’m thinking of doing neutral with neon accents, as that seems to be the vogue. I love working with needlepoint btw, and haven’t really done a project since the altogether too-detailed Golden Girls picture. Too bad I never took any photos before I gave it away.

This also means that, while digging out my gear, I’ll probably do a little spring cleaning of my craft supplies. I might be giving away some of my extra crap, I’ll keep you all posted.

 

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Filed under crafts, inspiration

too much time on my hands.

Ah, Pinterest. I waste all day at work looking at you and then waste my time at home trying to do the things you do.

Thanks to Pinny, I got a little more obsessed with nail polish than I’ve ever been before. This has lasted like 2-3 weeks. I’m already over it, I think. I was inspired by the tutorials over at Chloe’s Nails.

Funky tips for a dressy party. They look great because I angled my hands in such a way that you cannot see all the mistakes. Also my hands are hideous, that finger closest to the camera looks like it's swollen.

I actually painted these and then fretted about not having the right outfit to wear to compliment them. I need therapy.

Anyway, I could spend my time doing even more useless things. Be glad I haven’t gotten into amateur puppeteering.

Follow Me on Pinterest

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lundi gras.

I gave up blogging on time for pre-Lent. For real Lent, I’m giving up giving up blogging.

Kait seriously loves to host, she knocked it out of the park. The coins! The baby cake! The garland!

If you haven’t guessed from the title of this post, I celebrated Fat Monday instead of Fat Tuesday this year. And I celebrated this ever important holiday with my closest crafty friends at a craft party (note the compulsory upgrade from “night” to “party”). Kait went all out: decorations, glitter buffet, hurricanes and red beans.

We really operate on a level just above summer camp. And I think the only reason it's a higher level is because we have legal access to booze.

I was damn sure I was in New Orleans;  Jodi even flashed Ife for beads. There was such a good response to Kait’s craft party invitations that we had to work in shifts. There was a queue for the glue guns.

If you think a party with 10 available glue guns would have enough glue guns for any situation, you'd be wrong.

Anyway, since we’re soooooo far from the date at this point, I’m keeping it short and sweet. Here’s a collage of some of the masks:

Clockwise from top left: My mask "mask (#2)," AJ's "fabulagasm," Chelsea's "I'm Too Pretty for my Face," Kait's "Dobby on Ice"

Anyway, the night was (as always!) a big success. I got that strange baby in my cake and was thus King of… well… I honestly don’t remember from French class, I guess King of the Craft Party. I was a judicious leader, mostly using my crown for great photo ops and not to take people’s land or attack Spain or anything.

Instagram: You'd be surprised how easy it is to make ugly stuff look kind of good by making it blurry. Oh wait, that's how one night stands work.

As for my recent absence, I think I’ve mentioned something about working at a new place. It’s been a lot making such a drastic change. Yinz know me: I worked with Trent for four years, dating for a lot of that, and this is the first time we’ve been really separated. I work 10-5, he works 6-whoknows? On top of the normal new job stress and a transitional period in my relationship, I sold my car last month (a combination of things made this a necessity, including the fact that I can’t park at my new job) so I’ve been walking and busing everywhere. Maybe one day, I’ll craft an offering to the public transit gods in hope they hear me and know my pain. (The next time some jerk from out in bum-fuck rural Pennsylvania bitches that his taxes shouldn’t go to pay for bus infrastructure in Pittsburgh, I’m going to absolutely lose my shit.) On top of all this, we’re still actively looking for a house and things just feel constantly tenuous. I’m totally fine, I’m a tough lady, but more than I’d like to admit, I can commiserate with Allie Brosh, over at Hyperbole and a Half. I love you guys for reading. I do.

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Filed under craft night!, for shame, Uncategorized

reparo.

The mending charm. What I wouldn’t give for a mending charm. Split your pants? Reparo. Make a weird skirt? Reparo. Get drunk and start a fight with your boyfriend? Reparo.

Anyway, no matter how much I yell at things, nothing seems to get fixed unless I get out the sewing kit. Well, except for Trent. He actually responds to yelling. He listens, tries to calm me and then tunes me out, but c’est la vie, it’s more than the pants would do. We’re good now.

So  I went back and finished fixing up a handful of projects I had laying around the house… A few dropped hems, taking up a pair of pants that were too long, fixing some of Trent’s clothes that had split at the pocket seams. I also tackled fixing the “pleats” on an old project…

Yeah, I dunno.

And here it is good as new:

Proper pleats. Boo-ya.

Up close and personal.

Last weekend, I went to a clothing sale at this chick’s place in my neighborhood. According to the craigslist post, she was a fashion buyer for years and was selling off some of her massive collection of clothing. There was some incredible stuff and some really not so great stuff. Not as many high end items as I had hoped but I got there a bit late, maybe I missed out on some goodies. Still, I spent $20 and ended up with this with these vintage pieces:

Weird thing is, last time JoAnn’s had $.99 patterns, I bought one for a shirt just like these and I haven’t started it yet. Now I guess I don’t have to. Turned out the skirt had a tear and needed to be repaired as well, so I did that the other day and got to rock it at work on Friday. I am obsessed with skirts these days. My new office is way too hot for pants and sweaters most of the time, especially with the comfy temperatures we’ve had (‘cept this weekend, darn it) and I don’t have to carry around keys and a walky-talky and a bunch of other crap all day, so I can wear things that look nice and don’t have pockets!

I also got some great vintage fabric (like 10 yards of it!) from my sister-in-law. I’m pretty sure her basement is a fun house of craft supplies. Every time I go home she’s dug out some other fabulous thing that she picked up here or there for a couple of bucks. It’s incredible.

This scene (and some other people) is replayed around the bottom of the fabric.

As the fabric gets closer to the top, it's just flowers.

It seems like it would lend itself to a great retro styled dress in this style: 

In the Good-News-For-People-Who-Like-Old-News department, Instagram is super fun. Indulge me while I pretend that I know how to take an interesting photo:

My dad actually has worn this hat, in this condition (yes, that's dog bite in in the lower left corner) up until last week. It is also exactly as filthy as it looks.

So I've lost my mind but Trent still loves me. He's great.

That’s it for tonight. This coming week, I’ll cover a couple of old things that I’ve finally completed and probably some gifts for new babies in my life.

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Filed under refinished & reloved, sewing, Uncategorized, vintage looks

blanche deverobe.

Ah, the hand made gift. Kind of tough, right? You put a lot of thought and time into making something for a friend or family member and then you get to the point where you have to give it to them and you think… shit. By far, the worst part is when they open it and recognize that it’s hand made and are trying to search for most tactful way to ask “wtf is this?” when it is very obviously a… well… it’s you know, a squishy kind of thing… you know for your… never mind, I’ll get you something better for the next holiday.

The thing is, lots of people don’t really want handmade gifts. I’ve been making this mistake for years. And you know, it would cost me nearly as much to buy something ready-to-wear or mass-produced as it does to assemble the materials so in a lot of cases, I just go with the store bought thing and don’t over think it. It’s taken a lot of trial and error, but I’m finally finding my audience. The people who appreciate a blanket with some shaky stitching or a scarf that isn’t totally symmetrical or a stuffed animal made out of recycled jock straps. People like Colleen.

Ah, Colleen. She’s my former roommate, she’s a little bawdy, she’s been known to climb into boys bunk beds in the middle of the night after downing one too many pitchers of mixed drinks. She’s my own personal Blanche Devereaux.

I’ve been wanting to make a special birthday present for her, something inspired by our favorite costume from Pittsburgh Public Theater’s production of The Royal Family. The play (written by George Kaufman and Edna Ferber in 1927) was basically a send up of the infamous Barrymore family of the stage. It wasn’t the best play, but it was certainly entertaining and featured absolutely gorgeous costumes. We talked about drinking tea and bossing people around while wearing silk dressing gowns for months. Here’s a not-so-great photo of the kimono in question:

The DRAMA in this image. He's pointing, she's sneezing, the bell boy is wearing that hat and lookin' fly.

When I was flipping through my copy of Vintage Notions for blog inspiration a while back, I spotted the fabulous “Magic Pattern” instructions for a kimono-style robe reproduced from the original pattern published in 1925! Magic Patterns are awesome because you just buy the recommended amount of fabric, gather your ruler, marking tools and scissors and you’ve got everything you need. Except geometry. You have to remember how to do geometry. This pattern required 3 yards of fabric and used almost the entire piece through creative arrangement. No waste! It was perfect. I happened to find some inexpensive but soft and silky patterned material at JoAnn’s the following week.

It's a little dark, but the background is a silvery-blue.

I could have gone for something a little bolder like Julie Cavedish wears in The Royal Family but I just really liked the kaleidoscope pattern. In retrospect, it would have been awesome to do a contrast collar with a bold blue or red.

I didn’t take any photos of the process apparently. I actually made this robe a few weeks back, as Colleen’s birthday was January 18, but I thought I had documented it better. I was surprised to find today that I didn’t have additional photos on my camera. Bummer. Anyway, here’s the final product.

Peggy needed a little something under the robe, so as not to offend.

If you look closely, it looks crooked. I assure you this is just the result of Peggy's swagger and that it's actually symmetrical. She's got a mean lean.

So when it was all said and done, I tried it on and immediately felt like a different lady. It was part Blanche Devereax, part Barrymore, all fabulous. I totally LOVED this project. It was super quick to complete and  it has a really striking effect, looking elegant while being totally simple to construct. I’ll be making another one for myself so that we can drink tea together in style.

For the locals: I had a handful of friends/acquaintances mention that they’d like to learn how to sew. This is a good pattern to start with, as it is all straight seams and very simple construction. If you’re interested in learning, comment me here or on facebook and we can have a class at my place one night coming up.

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Filed under sewing, vintage looks, vintage pattern