Tag Archives: handmade

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

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

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

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

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