Category Archives: refinished & reloved

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

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

form before function.

I can already see that this is going to be a harder task than I originally envisioned. The blogging, that is. Not the crafts. All the free time in the world at the moment and I look at cat videos and knit.

Anyway. So I have this sister-in-law who is pretty brilliant at balancing work, raising three kids and finding amazing deals at junk shops. Oh, and she farms and cans all her own fruits and vegetables. She gets down with some Suzie Homemaker shit like no one I’ve ever met. So last year, at a garage/church/estate sale of some type, she happened to stumble upon this strange beauty:


Before. Totally before. After, however, the kitten learned to climb it.

It’s a vintage dress form, exactly what I had been looking for. And I’m pretty sure she got it for a buck.

Trent and I happen to like to punish ourselves by collecting things in many states of disrepair and decay that we ultimately find will take more time and money to fix than just buying new in the first place. That made this dress form even more perfect. It’s from the 1940’s-50’s, Fairloom brand produced by Sears, somewhat common to find on eBay and shopgoodwill.

Despite the fact that it kind of looks like hell in this photo, it was structurally pretty sound. These old dress forms are fully adjustable using wing nuts inside the form itself. I’ve discovered that it’s impossible to set it correctly, but it was still in pretty much perfect condition inside. The cardboard wasn’t even too torn up. The outside, however, was another story entirely, which you can see in these photos:

   

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Filed under refinished & reloved