Monthly Archives: October 2011

a dress worth dyeing for.

Once again, the project was done a day ago but the blogging was postponed. C’est la vie, amirite?

This week’s project was a quick turnaround, from blue and white striped dress that had some issues:

Obviously, Trent designed this as I have no imagination. I asked him to make it look like there were explosions with words. This is probably better than that. Too bad this is the last photo that I'm adding to this post. The rest look like crap now.

To this, slightly better slate grey dress that still needs work:

One day I'll teach Trent to use the camera so I can have photos with my face in them. That day wasn't yesterday.

My, what a sassy back I have!

When I picked this dress out at the Pittsburgh Public Theater costume and clothing sale last week, it was entirely with the intention of turning it into a wearable silk dress that I could layer with tights and sweaters in the winter and pair with sandals and colorful accessories in the summer. I liked the blue and white stripes a lot, but after some special Oxi-Clean attention didn’t clear up those stains and the fading was so obvious under good lighting, I needed to make a bold decision. Rit. I was going to dye the shit out of this dress.

This meant a trip to JoAnn’s (yay!) around Halloween (sorostitutes!). The place was crawling with cute college girls trying to figure out how to make homemade slutty costumes from slutty things they already own.

PSA: Gentlemen, if you’re reading this, be aware that this happens and take advantage of it. Go to JoAnns around Halloween, ask a coed for help estimating yardage and she might touch you. Jagermeister optional.

Anyway, the fabric dye aisle was a sea of off-the-shoulder sweatshirts, denim mini skirts and UGG boots, and the Rit was way down near the floor, so I needed to pick something quickly and get out of there for fear of seeing anyone’s brazilian. I went with boring old black. I should point out though, that even though I worked quickly that day, I still got out of there with armfuls of project materials for about $20. JoAnn’s coupons are amaaaaazing. My next couple of projects are totally lined up!

So I brought the stuff home on Friday, had a busy weekend with work and all and spent Monday house hunting (again), cleaning my kitchen, making dinner, preparing my work space and then finally putting together a big old pot of black dress stew. Not necessarily in that order, now that I think about it, but it flows so fuck it.

Making some dress stew and a little tea.

Starting to look blackish. More purple really. This was at the beginning of the 30 minutes that I had to stand over the chemical soup, stirring constantly.

Dyeing the dress couldn’t have been easier. I had one unsuccessful dye attempt years ago, resulting in a really bad Tinkerbell costume for an ex-boyfriend. It was bad for myriad reasons and I’d love to show you all of them, but the photos are lost to the ages (or, at least, I’m not going to spend too much time facebook stalking him to find a good example). So I thought dye-jobs were better left to the professionals and didn’t give it much thought again for years. Just the other day, however, while facebook stalking a college friend (who is not an ex-boyfriend but still… well nevermind) I came across a really bad-ass example of some clothing she dyed to make a totally rad steampunk outfit. I’m actually going to try to get her permission to use a couple of her pics for an inspiration post I’m planning to put together. Anyway, her jacket came out really well and I thought I could pull off the same technique with my dress, especially since it was an all natural fiber.

In the end, I loved the color and texture that came out of the dyeing process. I think that part was a total success, I even love that the stripes are still there (albeit very faint). On the other hand, every little flaw and tear that was hardly noticeable when it was a patterned, light-colored dress, suddenly is very obvious on a solid-colored black dress. I made some small repairs (patching holes, fixing seams) that weren’t too offensive, but now I realize that there’s a lot more work to be done on this piece. I only tried it on quickly in the bathroom at the sale and didn’t really look at it in the mirror, so I didn’t realize just how large the bust was, so I’ll probably take that in couple of inches or so. Once the top fits a little better, I’ll make alterations to the length, as right now the sagging bust makes the hem look a little uneven. It hits just below the knee and I’m more partial to above the knee for casual dresses. Then, once I’ve trimmed some of this extra material away, I can use it for patching some of the bigger holes in a less obvious way.

So that’s it. I’ve successfully dyed a silk dress, breathed a little new life into her and know how to go about round two. Honestly, for less than $5, the outfit isn’t bad whatsoever, and with layered sweaters and tights, you can hardly notice the dress’ flaws. Yay!

My project for this coming week is my Halloween costume, which will likely shock and amaze. Think Lady Gaga meets craft blogger. My-my-my-knitting-face-mymy-knitting-face.


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Filed under refinished & reloved, upcycled, vintage looks

a stitch a day.

This week’s craft has been pretty much finished for almost two days. Unfortunately, I was too tired on Sunday night to wrap it up and thought I’d get to it yesterday and just couldn’t fit it in. Today, I finally sat down and finished the seams on these finger-less gloves or wrist-warmers or whatever you want to call them:

This is actually the second set of these that I’ve made. The first set will probably be given to one of my nieces, as I made them a bit too snug. The pattern is super simple: cast on as many stitches as it takes to go around your wrist, do a little ribbing if you feel like it, continue knitting until they’re as long as you’d like, bind off and sew up the seams leaving a gap for the thumb to fit through. The End. Just to give you a time frame, these gloves took me approximately 2 shifts at the theater (during the downtime), 3 episodes of Modern Family, 3 episodes of Parks and Recreation and 2 episodes of Louie. I’m still a slow knitter, but I’m getting better. I think my next big project will be this:

The file name for this photo is Mickey McYarn Pants. I challenge you to find pants in this photo... or not. That probably gets you on some kind of list.

Just kidding. That’s a little ambitious. I’ll make this for a little kid that I know instead:

"Indian" ski mask pattern? This is everything that's right with America. The look in his eyes says it all.

But even that might be too much for a beginning knitter like me. Instead, I can work on this and each piece would count as one week’s craft:

I don't even want to know what the black cloth behind him is covering. Also, is that a really tiny donkey pinata?

Clearly, people who knit are bat-shit insane. Where do they come up with this stuff? The first two are clearly from an era when LSD flowed freely around the offices of McCalls. And don’t get me started on the fetish knitting community, it combines all the worst elements of rubber play and furries. Honestly, I don’t think you could wear any of these items in public without be arrested for indecency. I’ll stick to my very functional, plain, wearable, non-embarrassing knit crafts, thanks.

Dramatic lighting... potted plants... I must be blogging from my parents house.

So the reason I didn’t get everything done yesterday is actually much more interesting than this craft. First, I was going to do my hot girl work out, but it was just too beautiful outside to stay in. I knew I had to be downtown to work by 3 so I decided to hoof it instead of catching the bus. It’s about 3 miles and was absolutely perfect. I didn’t even get all sweaty and out of breath. Once I got to PPT, I was on duty at the costume and clothing sale, which is a cool tradition where the theater sells off years worth of old costumes and clothing in an 8 hour crazy fest downtown. By the time I got in, stuff was pretty picked over, but there were still a couple of things I had my eyes on. The last hour was a total free-for-all: for $5 you could fill a bag with whatever you wanted. I didn’t get as much as I could have, but I picked some things I knew I would wear/could make wearable. Here’s my haul:

The crazy black pants are actually pretty amazing. They just need a little love and they'll look less like hammer pants. I think.

I fell in love with these shoes even though they're at least 25% ugly.

Anyway, here’s my real knitting inspiration for the fall. It’ll take a lot longer than several sitcoms, so I’m making it a side project that I’ll update as I can. The poncho itself should be easy, though I’ll have to use cable needles for the first time. My biggest concern is figuring out how to make that collar, so if you have any suggestions, let me know.

I’m going to wrap it up here, as I’m blogging on location from my mom’s living room. I came out today to spend some time with my lovely motorcycle and I smell dirtbike farts. I should get back to the city and shower, f’real.


Filed under knit

a rhodes by any other name.

To honor the inspiration for this week’s craft, I went ahead and made this person into the craft itself. Let’s give a round of applause to Garrett Rhodes, a long time friend, current resident of South Africa so-we-never-hang-out, and accomplice in many adventures during the years 2003-2008.


"We're going to go caving tonight. It's illegal to enter because it's so dangerous. Wear your Brahma boots."

Other important accomplices in some of my poorer life decisions include:


"You're telling me there's a strip club near here with no indoor plumbing? Well what are we doing? Let's go."


"Do you think we've had this bad luck because Amy Grant specifically told us not to do this? I bet she cursed us. Well, either her or that Native American bartender."


"Hey guys, it's 6 am. You guys wanna get breakfast and then go to Jacks for a morning beer? They open at 7."

Anyway. Garrett and I met pretty much the first day of freshman year in college. Eventually, we dated for a while, broke up and somehow have remained pretty good friends ever since. The best thing about Garrett was that he was always good for an adventure and introduced me to all kinds of awesome stuff that I otherwise would never have given a second thought. In addition to taking me into one of the scariest caves I’ve ever experienced, one time he took me to a shack in the woods to watch bears eat food he put out for them. He neglected to tell me in advance that said shack had recently been rebuilt after THE BEARS TORE IT TO PIECES MONTHS BEFORE TO GET AT THE FOOD STORED INSIDE.

These days, he’s working as a volunteer for the Peace Corps in South Africa. It’s his second tour and I haven’t seen him in almost 3 years. You can read his blog about his frustrations and successes here. It seems like a lonely thing to do, but he’s found some cool stuff to pass his time. Stuff like the internet and, apparently, crafts.

We were chatting about my blog recently and he sent me a little tutorial on how to create a stenciled, bleached out t-shirt design. He sent me his example and it looked pretty good! It’s a photo of Madiba (or, as we call him everywhere else in the world: Nelson Mandela).

Not going to lie... I was pretty confused by the "Madiba" thing. I argued with Trent that it was definitely not Nelson Mandela. Clearly it is.

Pretty sweet, eh? I was pretty excited by this project and thought I had the perfect idea for what to put on my t-shirt. Garrett’s own face. Fantastic. In fact, it was so fantastic that I wanted to make two, so I could send him one. This, of course, involved me figuring out how to make a picture of his face into a stencil-type image that would work well on a shirt. I could have asked any number of my Photoshop savvy friends to do it for me, but no, that would be too easy. I had to learn for myself on a free rip-off of the Photoshop software called GIMP. I got the whole “adjust the threshold” idea, but I just couldn’t quite get the eyes to look right and I couldn’t get the stencil to connect. Several gin and tonics later:

I laughed way harder than I should have at the time. Also, right now.

Not even close.

I had to put it down. It was late, I was drunk and Trent was annoyed. I returned to it a day or so later, after I did a little more reading and finally ended up with a pretty passable stencil. I’m gonna skip all the cutting it out photos (it took me forever) and get right to the stencils mounted to the shirts. They looked SWEET.

Long story short, I got around to spraying these with a 1:1 bleach water solution last night. This is where the craft fail comes in. I did this in my scary basement with poor lighting but that’s really hardly an excuse for the mess that I made of this project. The blue shirt is made of super soft, thin cotton so the bleach seeped right under the sticky plastic stencil. I was left with this:

But there was still hope for the second shirt, right? RIGHT?! Come on Laura, learn from your mistakes, you’ve got this. One under your belt, the other one should be perfect.

LOOK AT HOW AWESOME THAT FACE LOOKS! I mean, the rest is shitty but the face is perfect! It ended up all square and weird because I only had one small table to work on in the basement. It was the perfect size for my girly shirt, so I didn’t think twice about it for this shirt. When I saw what was going on, I quickly tried to move it to a better space and managed to lay it down in droplets of bleach that were on the other table. It’s absolutely a mess on the back. I don’t know how salvageable this shirt is, but I’ll still save it for a project down the road.

So I don’t have much to show for this week’s craft. I’ll probably actually wear the shirt that I made for myself, as it’s kind of indistinct and looks like a ghost or something. I had it on earlier with a cardigan and it looked cool enough. At some point I’ll probably try this again so I can actually send one across the seas, but I feel like there’s some sort of unwritten rule about how many shirts a girl can make with her ex-boyfriend’s face on them before she starts to look a little crazy. I’ll give it a week.

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Filed under craft fail, crafts

a day late and um… well… i made logo tags.

So I’m officially running behind schedule. I think I can catch up from this, though. It was the first week of performances at the theater and was all too easy to spend my evenings drinking and not crafting. While in the past I’ve tried to do both at the same time, it’s never gone smoothly. This week the socializing took preference and I think that’s ok.

Anyway, since this isn’t much of a fun post, I’m going to just overload you with photos. If you get the whole way to the bottom, there’s a special video treat!

This week’s craft was making logo tags to go on my vinyl tote bags and clutches. They’re for sale right now at the Pittsburgh Public Theater gift shop ($15 of every bag goes to the theater)!

Oh look, it's Socs. Everyone's favorite 20 pound lap cat.


Those little letters eventually make your brain and fingertips ache.



This is the smaller model of cat that we own.

So all the above photos and work was done on the first night, Thursday. I thought I had this all under control. Then the weekend happened and yesterday I had to go to my parents’ house for weird, important family discussions. Then I didn’t make it back to the city until 1 am and was totally beat so I had to decompress and finish this deal today. But not until after I slept for 10 hours, did an hour of “Yoga for Your Health (Depression)” that I found on Netflix and watched some Ancient Aliens. Netflix thinks I’m absolutely bonkers, by the way.

I made a logo stamp out of some foam sheets, cut out and glued to the back of a partially full Altoids tin. I say partially full and not almost empty on account of the yoga Zoloft.

Care instructions. It just makes it feel more official.

The final product, with my logo as designed by Trent!

I really like how they turned out. I had a few bad ones in the bunch, mis-stamps and such, but I made 50 of them so it didn’t make much of a difference. These were easy and shouldn’t have taken me days to finish, but ah well, there’s always next week. Which I’m already in. Shit.

ANYWAY. Here’s that ridiculous reward I promised you. See if you can identify the point in the video where her coke drip hits the back of her tongue. Also, she’s only 16 years old but looks 30. That’s a damn shame.

I know this is unrelated to crafting, but this story was too crazy to ignore. Don’t put it on her. F’reals.

Coming up later this week, I’m making bleached out t-shirts with awesome designs. I hope. We’ll see how it goes and how much clothing I manage to ruin.


Filed under crafts