Tag Archives: vintage fabric

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

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