Category Archives: vintage looks


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.


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


H&M get-up

Or the Bingo Bag Shorts?


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

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.


Filed under for shame, sewing, vintage looks


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.


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.


Filed under sewing, vintage looks, vintage pattern

getting felt up for the holidays.

So I’m enjoying one of the last days of my normal schedule and life. I start a whole new job on Monday (It pays more! I get to get an MBA for free! I no longer have to manage a million people!)  and it’s like a real job where I have to show up during the day time. What’s that about?

I woke  up and played Zelda for 3 hours, because I still can. Then I did very productive things, like returning lost keys and buying groceries and windshield wiper blades.

Anyway, now I’m at home, having a very home-y night, waiting to hear back about a home that we made an offer on, just in case it might be our new home soon. 2012 could be bonkers. I’m wearing a home-made cowl and drinking a white russian made with home-made coffee liqueur, both courtesy of my fantastic god parents. I’m going to spend the rest of my night finishing a home-made gift for my best friend, as I won’t get to see him for a couple more weeks and I didn’t have to struggle to get it done before Christmas.

Onto the felt. So, I’ve got this super crafty and fun friend named Kait. I can depend on her to indulge whatever bullshit crafty thing I want to do, so we’re trying to make a monthly-ish crafting night together. We carved pumpkins at Halloween and watched Gnomeo and Juliet. (F’real. Romeo and Juliet with gnomes.) For Christmas, we made our friends Jodi and Stephanie pretend that they liked doing crafts and everyone came to my place for fondue, spiked hot cocoa and to make felt ornaments. For January, we’re thinking about making Martin Luther King Jr. “I Have A Dream(catchers).”

I found this waaaayyyyyy cute tutorial and had to do it: Vintage Felt Baubles by Bugs and Fishes. If you think we’re going to make it another calendar year to next Christmas, I suggest starting these suckers now. I mean, if you’re anything like me, that is. I had to finally limit the number of people that were receiving them as gifts because I just couldn’t enough done.

I’m not going to lie. I put way more effort into throwing a fondue and craft party than I did the crafts themselves. When I went to Kait’s for pumpkins, she had gone the whole nine yards… hot apple cider, rich vegetarian chili with all the fixin’s, a platter laid out with various tools for carving the pumpkin. It was way nicer than anything I’d have done. So for my night to host, I had to put in a little extra effort.

First, I asked Kait if she had a fondue pot. Of course she did. 3-4 in fact. I settled on a seafood fondue recipe from this vintage Christmas craft book:

Christmas 1979: Jello, candied fruits and puffy-sleeved night gowns were IN.

I served it was crusty toasted bread and veggies. I totally forgot Kait has a gluten intolerance and panicked about 95% of the way through our feast:


Something, something. Gluten.




Yeah, I know.


I’m such an asshole.


I didn’t eat it. 

Kait eventually made chocolate fondue, we were all enjoying boxed wine and whipped cream vodka and it was looking like crafting would be limited. At some point, we made the commitment to move from the kitchen to the craft supplies buffet:

Jodi requested a craft buffet. I did my best to oblige.

This is about the point where I realized that I shouldn’t drink and craft. Clear thread is like really, really clear and hard to see when your vision is blurry. Kait had it together and started making crazy cute stuff with no pattern. Kait is to crafting what our friend Hilary is to pretty: too fucking good at it. All in all though, everyone’s stuff came out totally great.

Aren't they cuuuuuuute?

Jodi’s little banana-eating monster was funny and Stephanie made a festive bauble bouquet with gold stitching (which reminded me that straying from a pattern is totally acceptable in the name of aesthetics). Also, did I mention that she had never sewn before? My drunk tutorial went something like this: “Well, you put the thread in the little eye and then… you sew… Like, put it through the fabric. Um… You just sew. I don’t know.”

The night ended pretty much when Jodi (the only one who doesn’t drink!) dumped a box of teeny tiny beads all over my floor and we were in hysterics. When Jodi comes over, we inevitably do something that I’m sure is going to piss Trent off. (See: the ring-in-my-couch incident.)

Besides the felt baubles, I’ve been kind of a felt nut. I made yards and yards of garland to give out as gifts as well. Mostly it’s going out to my two best friends, as we’ll probably all be in new living situations next year by the holidays and we can all have matching decorations! Felt is mad fun. I got the pattern for the garland here: The Purl Bee.

So here are all of my finished baubles, all four of them. I found one more while organizing some craft stuff last night and I’ll probably finish it and keep it for myself since I gave the others away.

Also, here’s my super cute home-made wrapping paper and all of my presents ready for their recipients.

Alright. We’re almost caught up with Christmas crafts now. I’ve got a pile of other projects ready to start this week, so I can finally move past the holiday stuff. Here’s to 2012!


Filed under craft night!, crafts, sewing, vintage looks

it’s electra. (boogie-woogie-woogie)

Rainy Monday in Pittsburgh. It’s the perfect kind of day to sleep until 1, drink too much coffee, fret about life and do some crafts. I even wore my “craft lady outfit” as Trent described it.

Yes, that is a Pittsburgh Public Theater denim shirt, you're not dreaming.

It’s teetering on a fine line between “Michael’s Craft Store Glam” and “Mad About You Casual”

I like to think it's leaning on the side of 'Mad About You' casual, only because I didn't have a clean turtleneck and time to trim my mullet.

So the vinyl bags are getting a bit out of hand. I always have pending orders for them it seems and, while I love making stuff, they are taking up a lot of time. The awesome thing is once I get paid for some bags sold on consignment, I’ll be well on my way to purchasing a new (probably used) industrial machine.  I’ve actually been approached by another local non-profit about manufacturing the bags for them as well, so it’ll be good to get something more appropriate and give my current machines a chance to relax. An industrial (or at least commercial grade) machine should help me get through them a little more quickly as I won’t be fighting the machine so frequently.

Anyway, this week has actually been about a couple of different crafts but I’ve started on Christmas presents that I can’t talk about on here . You know, as my followers are pretty much just my close friends and family, there’s a good chance that you, dear reader, are getting some crappy thing I spent too much time on and I don’t want to give away the surprise too early! I’ve also started the process of fixing up an old Finesse sewing machine from the 70s, but I can’t do much else until I learn how to fix the tension. The one craft I can tell you about is another vinyl bag in a new style:

Finished Electra envelope clutch

Back of the clutch.

This bag was made on commission for another actress from our recent production of Sophocles’ Electra. Now in addition to the wristlet and tote bags I had been making, I have a pattern (modified from this pattern) for an envelope style clutch that I absolutely adore. Honestly, I was feeling pretty guilty about not giving this actress one of the totes that I made, as they had already been requested and paid for by other folks, so I was thrilled that this turned out so well and I can get it in the mail to her soon.

In addition to all my crafts and projects this week, and events at work almost every day, I got my very first dental crown on Thursday. This does not, as I previously thought, make me in any way royalty, though at the moment I have a temporary crown while my permanent is being crafted in porcelain. Fancy shit. Anyway, I drained my savings for one fake tooth and it currently looks like it has Down syndrome. I hope the fancy permanent one I’m getting in two weeks will be based vaguely on what my tooth actually looked like. In the mean time, this thing kind of hurts. Lame.

With Thanksgiving on Thursday and the release of the new Zelda game (it’ll arrive tomorrow!), I’m probably not going to get any crafts done in the coming week.  It’s a hard choice between crafts and video games, but I know what I must do.

I hope you all (those that I don’t get to see, at least) have a great Thanksgiving. If you don’t, you let me know, we’ll fix it.


Filed under crafts, sewing, upcycled, vintage looks

success in the clutch.

This week was one of my favorite projects so far in my 10 weeks (holy crap!) of weekly crafting. I think it comes in second to the pattern chop: top post. Turns out, I really like sewing a lot. I should do more of it. Admittedly, I’ve actually been done with this project since Sunday night and haven’t written about it yet. I was totally tuckered out on Sunday, so I went to bed after I finished. Yesterday, however, my good friend Colleen took me on a whirlwind trip to the Fairmont Hotel for…Wait for it…

A goddamn champagne tasting. It was baller. I drank this and this and endured being talked at by the sales guys. Truly a small price to pay for free champagne for two hours in the early evening. The night quickly escalated and the next thing you know, I’m in a bar eating fried raviolis shortly before falling asleep on the couch.

So for this weeks project, I started with a bag of scraps from PPT’s costume and clothing sale last month. I really tried to avoid bringing home more fabric and craft stuff I don’t have a plan for, but I couldn’t stop myself when I found a couple of awesome scraps. Out of this bag, there were two scraps that I really fell in love with: a hunk of thick, yellow corduroy and a long, narrow piece of patterned silk with pinks and golds and yellows. I didn’t know what to do with them just yet, but the juxtaposition of the two was great.

Then I spotted, on the cover of Making Vintage Accessories, this adorable envelope-style clutch. This was perfect. I had, a few days prior, nearly purchased a pattern for an envelope clutch, ultimately deciding that I didn’t want to pay for it. It was there in this book, I just had to enlarge the pages! So anyway, yadda yadda yadda, I made a purse. Here’s photographic evidence:

Do you know how hard it is to enlarge things using a photocopier? I'll tell you. Hard.


All the pieces cut out.

Shit. It's very obvious on the screen that the front isn't perfectly symmetrical. I didn't notice this until now. It's too late to fix it but it's going to drive me crazy.

I painstakingly made that little fringey band by carefully cutting it out and pulling a certain number of vertical threads. I'm proud, it's a good touch.

Anyway, that’s my craft for this week. I think next week will be the start of my Christmas crafts, presents or whatnot. I’m trying to get real serious about Christmas this year. The tree, dinners, planned and thoughtful presents that I bought more than a few days before the holiday. You know, the whole nine yards.

Oh, the week after that, I might have to take a “sick week” cause I pre-ordered the new Zelda game for the Wii and it’s bundled with a gold Wiimote and I’m thrilled. Look at this. Listen to its songs. I can’t wait.






Filed under crafts, sewing, upcycled, 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

pattern chop: top.

So I’m trying to get this up before midnight, it’s going to be short and sweet. Special thanks to the Steelers for playing an exciting game that I feel obligated to watch and to yahoo fantasy football for wearing out the “ctrl + R” on my keyboard.

This week I realized that I need to do a little advance planning. I started out with no idea for a craft. Then I had an idea: I felt like knitting and still owe my buddy Andrew a hand knit tie. The first tie was a proper craft fail so I ripped it apart and left it alone for a while. Anyway, I thought the tie was a perfect idea, especially since I just found out that, you know, ’cause Andrew’s super talented and stuff, he’s just gotten a job working on a documentary and won’t be around much for the next long-ever. Then I thought it would be REALLY cool if I could try my hand at double knitting and make him a zebra print tie, based off of this chick’s pretty sweet knitting blog.  Then I looked through all my knitting supplies and only had a few colors to choose from, so I decided to make it baby blue (the original tie color) and peach. This seemed like a good idea.

Wow. What bad lighting I have. Holy moley. Sorry.

It wasn’t. The zebra-print tie is the most time-consuming, least satisfying project I’ve done in a while. Because there’s a pattern, I have to pay attention only to knitting and I can’t say… watch TV while I knit or knit in a bar without taking my computer. I only got about 3 inches done on this thing. Oh, and while I tried to knit at a bar one night, I ruined it and had to pull it all out and start over. So I decided that’s going to be an ongoing project for when I have the flu this winter or something. Andrew, you’re going to get a flu tie. You’re welcome.

That brings us around to today. I had no idea what I’d do. I thought maybe I’d take the opportunity to finish some projects that I had laying around the house. Or repair Trent’s pants. Or pretend I was in a horrific car accident and just couldn’t craft while I was laid up in traction. In a last ditch effort, I sorted through some of my bins of fabric and came across this really soft, sheer, cream colored crepe de chine fabric. It was probably a scrap left over from a skirt lining or something, but it seemed perfect for a simple blouse. ‘Cept that I didn’t have a blouse pattern, but I knew exactly what I could do!

1981. That's right, people made these dresses before I was born. I like to think my mom was wearing this dress when... wait. no I don't.

I’ve gotten a ton of mileage out of this pattern. It’s simple, it’s versatile, I already have it so I don’t have to go buy it when I want to sew something.  I thought I could use the top portion of the pattern only to make a blouse. The top of the pattern is pretty short, on account of the waist, so I added 4.5 inches to the length and 1.5 inches on the arms’ length as well (I find that the look is a little summery, I wanted something I could wear with or without a jacket through the fall).

I moved my "craft kitchen" into the "craft living room" temporarily

I didn’t really take any photos of the construction beyond this point. I don’t have a tripod, so photographing myself sewing is damn near impossible. Which is also why I had to take photos of the shirt on Peggy, and not myself. That and my house was sweltering tonight for some reason and I was too sweaty for the internet to see.

It turned out about 90% as good as I had hoped. I used french seams to prevent the fabric from fraying too much, but it made it just a smidge too tight in the arms. Also, the fabric I was using just doesn’t have the natural stretch of knit, which was what the pattern intends to be used. I would add an inch or so the whole way around this pattern, were I to try this again. The sleeves would look prettier if they were a bit flowier.

Here’s the finished product.

Oh snap, untucked. This shirt is gettin' versatile.

I actually have my plan for next week’s craft and will go shopping tomorrow for the supplies. But, while I’m trying to put together a calendar of my projects ahead of time (so I don’t repeat this week’s headache), I’m open for suggestions. What would you like to see?






Filed under sewing, vintage looks, vintage pattern

skirting an issue.

Pretty much the first thing I did today was decide not to shower or get dressed until dinner time. (Thanks fantasy football for making me watch games all day while remaining within arm’s length of the refresh button.) It was great. I thought I would fit blogging in those plans, but it took me until now to get around to it. Check out my previous post (yeah, I just finished that. Double blog post, blowin’ your mind) for some update on the vinyl tote bags and some colorful pics.

Anyway, while procrastinating, I remembered that I love pretty much everything that comes out of Allie over at Hyperbole and a Half. In fact, This Is Why I’ll Never Be An Adult is pretty much the summation of my day.

So this week’s project was a skirt, from scratch, based on a pattern I found at the BurdaStyle website. The Helena Skirt was cute, simple and best of all available for free. It was also made by a Burda user who happened to be from merry old England. I had this great patterned vintage fabric on hand, a gift from friend, fashion designer and all around hot shit, Kari Kramer.

 Actually, in the time line of what happened in the skirt production, it’s like this photo is from the future. I had already cut it out and started making the button stand before I realized I should have some sweet photos of the texture and pattern. Let’s go back in time to when I downloaded the pattern, printed it, cut it out and laid the pieces out to be cut.

Bollocks, you'll have to print it on A4!

All was moving pretty smoothly. I cut out my pieces, being very conservative with my fabric. It was just the right size. No room for error. I started putting the thing together, it was looking pretty neat. That is, until I got to the pleats. They just didn’t work the way I thought they would. I’ve done pleats before, but the pattern markings had me really confused. In the photos there were 3 pleats on each of the front panels. Using the instructions, I could only get 2, leaving me about 4 inches too long for the waist band. I read about pleats on the internet, I reread the instructions, I looked at the renderings and photos of the skirt. I couldn’t figure that shit out the right way. So I decided fuck it. I am master of my sew-main. I am going to make this skirt however I feel like it and I feel like not doing pleats and just doing a simple gather the whole way around.

So I did that. Then I attached the waist band.

Look how good I am at solving problems!

And then, waistband attached, I tried it on.

The little shit didn’t fit. I made a size 8 (US Size 4), which is usually my size. It was like 1.5 inches too small. I was furious. I had taken one month off of Hot Girl Work Out and hadn’t been riding my bike and I was a whole size larger?! Ridic. I chalk it up to conversion issues. I guess I should know my measurements in inches and centimeters.

It was at this point that I realized I should have one week where my craft is working out and cleaning my house.

Anyway, I solved that problem. I added a small piece to the end of the waistband (remember I had very little left over from my original cuts) and moved on.

Yadda yadda yadda, I did some buttons. They didn’t line up. I redid the buttons. I was ready to wear this thing.

Oh come on.

So I put together a little fall outfit: my skirt, a white top with a bow, fun tights and boots. Trent came upstairs and the exchange went something like this:

Trent probably doesn't say "weird" as much as this suggests.


All things considered, it did look pretty unflattering I guess. Since I wouldn’t take pictures in it, I dressed up Peggy. She has no shame. I still think it’s pretty cute, but I’ll probably take the waist band off and re-do the pleats at some point.

Yeah, I dunno.

This skirt was a bad blow to my ego. I’ll be getting back to the hot girl work out in the morning.

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Filed under sewing, vintage looks