Saturday, October 30, 2010

Homemade Halloween

It's official! I've been in Augusta for exactly one year today! Jeff and I drove down last Halloween, a Saturday. Spend all day in a moving truck with absolutely no leg room. Left cold Michigan for a sunny Georgia. I can't believe it's been a year already! I didn't really dress up last year. The week before I left, I put on some cat ears and had an easy costume. This year I thought I'd try something a little more challenging. 

Sticking with my repurposing/recycling, I didn't buy many new materials for either of my costumes. I went last night as Minnie Mouse, and tonight I'm going as a doll. Simple, feminine, not the typical revealing costume most adult women wear, thankfully. I can't do that anymore at my age. And homemade is the most important part. Who would want to see someone else in the same costume as you when you're out? Put some originality into it! Here are some pictures from last night at work.
Sara and I. She's a bit camera shy. I made her costume (tutorial soon), Barbie and the Rockers. I made my mouse ears using felt, a brown headband, and hot glue. Then I bought a yard of polka dot fabric to make the bow for my waist and head. The dress I already had from years ago. I wore it once, to my step-sister's wedding. I think I originally bought it at Plato's closet for about $15. 
Aside from the cost of my dress, I think my costume cost me about $10. Pretty cheap and it was comforable to work it. I wore my red ballerina flats, super comfortable behind the bar!

I just finished my costume for tonight. I wasn't even sure what I was going to be until about noon. I was going through my closet of all the thrifted dresses waiting to be repurposed and found this one. My friend Sarah was over, I was helping her sew sequins on her Betty Boop. She helped me narrow it down to this one:
I bought this at a Salvation Army in Myrtle Beach recently for $3! Walter thought I was crazy to buy it, but I saw that if it were just a shorter dress it would be perfect! It's vintage, probably an old bridesmaids dress or something someone wore to a Prom. I carefully, but with serious time constraints, cut both layer to the desired length, leaving the pink fabric a few inches longer. 
After cutting the satin underneath, I did a quick double folded hem, and ironed the dress. Retrimming the pink fabric so it was perfectly even all the way around. Less than an hour of thought, and I have this new dress:
Now time to shower and make myself look like an actual doll, then off to work for the evening! I can't wait for Halloween to be over! I'm hoping I didn't make this dress too short to bartend in. We'll see. I'm wearing little shorts underneath just in case!
Coming tomorrow: the Evil Kenevil costume I made for a friend!

Monday, October 25, 2010

How to marry a millionaire

Shopping at Goodwill a few months ago I came across this hideous purse. It caught my eye from about 15 feet away and with purses half off that day, I had to buy it. It's an old movie poster from "How To Marry A Millionaire" (1953) starring Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable, Lauren Bacall and William Powell. 
I used a razor blade and carefully removed the entire front piece from the purse itself. It's a very durable vinyl with the smallest seam allowance allowed so that I could repurpose it. I decided to make a small pouch, wristlet style purse, but with a thumb/finger tab instead of a wrist strap. 
I used scrap zipper from a previous project for the tab. When a zipper is too long and I have to cut off 5" or so I always save that piece, you never know what you can reuse!
The interior is a floral cotton from a skirt my sister bought me in Japan. It was the cutest little high-waisted mini skirt, but since Japanese women are basically negative sizes, the skirt didn't even come close to fitting my size 4 body. It was sad to cut it up, I've waited years to figure out what to do with this fabric, but I think it's great for the inside of this.
The zipper is even vintage. Never used, but bought at Catholic Social Services. Vintage metal zippers are perfect for purses; they are so much sturdier than ones you can purchase now at a craft store.
As much as I would like to use this purse for myself, it's available for purchase in my Etsy shop.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Teal Blue Dress

Another lesson with Kaitlyn today. She came over to work on Halloween costume. Both of us were feeling a little lazy and not up to sewing. Instead of actually getting work done, we put on "The Break-Up" and ate Chex Mix in my living room.

Before: A-line. Way too long. Batwing sleeves. Georgeous color! Great detail in the top. My idea was to keep the design in the top but update it with a straight skirt and shorter. After about an hour of sewing it was done. Due to my own laziness and a glass of wine while sewing (ha oops) I make a slight mistake in cutting the skirt. It looks perfectly fine when actually on, but I'm a perfectionist so I chose not to sell it online.

Since Kaitlyn loved it, and it's her size, it's now hers. She just happened to wear it over to my house today so we had our little photoshoot. 
After: looks great with boots and leggings!

But by far, the best part of today: I taught Kaitlyn how to crochet! She tried on the red hat I finished at work the other day, that matches my red scarf, and was dying to learn. I found a little ball of white yarn and showed her a simple single-crochet. I did the first row slowly, explaining how to do it, and then watched her for a bit, then went to work on my own stuff.

While fixing myself a bowl of ice cream I hear her say, "crocheting is so boring, but SO MUCH FUN!"

Now I'm off to work for the evening and she's headed to the coffee shop to sit and crochet. She's worried she's going to look nerdy since crocheting makes her feel old, but I have faith in her, and I think she's going to have an awesome new scarf by the end of the day!

Friday, October 22, 2010


I must admit, I've been slacking a little on the blogging. These pictures are from Wednesday! Kaitlyn came over to get started on her Halloween costume, she's being Adam and Eve with her boyfriend. Before we even got started on her dress, she had this little side project to work on. 
Now that she is understanding basic garment construction, and what she can do to alter clothes to her liking, she's looking at the possibilities of cutting up existing clothes in her closet! It's awesome. She brought three shirts: a plaid button up, a light blue t-shirt, and a sherbert orange t-shirt.
She decided that since she doesn't wear any of these, she could combine them and Make the middle t-shirt more her style. It had one of those tiny non-functioning pockets. The shirt below had a pocket on it already.
 Step one: remove the pocket with a razor blade or seam ripper.
 Determine where you want the pocket to be on the shirt.
 Remove little pocket that was already there. Iron it so you do not see holes from the old seam.
Kaitlyn decided to put it on the opposite side as before. Not many shirts have pockets on the right side. I found the little teal button in my massive jar of buttons. And get this: she did all the sewing on her own! I sat and hand stitched a purse I've been working on. 
I've been sewing non-stop at home this week. So many Halloween costumes to work on! Pictures and more blog posts about them all after Halloween. I can't wait until this terrible holiday is over. I have to dress up twice, two different costumes for work.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fabric shopping

Yesterday was another day to get together with Kaitlyn, the high school student I'm mentoring. Taking a break from her project of repurposing clothing, she is making halloween costumes for her and her boyfriend. They are going to be Adam and Eve; it's really cute. Oh, to be young and do the matching halloween costumes with the boyfriend. Years ago, a boyfriend and I did "Shaun of the Dead", he was Shaun and I was a zombie. I liked sneaking up on people and trying to eat them, saying, "braiiins!"
Kaitlyn bought a Burda pattern for a strapless dress, three yards of tan knit cotton, two green shades of linen, one yard each, and a yard of some lace. She'll be using the tan knit for the dress and her boyfriends skirt thing. The greens will be little leaves sewn all over the dress.
I thought it would be good for her to sew from a pattern since she has never sewn from one. She's cutting it out and coming over tomorrow to get it started. We both laughed about how it was strange hanging out together and not sewing.
I spent a few hours in the last couple days making this scarf she's wearing. Kaitlyn was making fun of me on the way to Joann's when I was finishing the last row, calling me an old woman for crocheting. I finished it, then didn't like it, typical with most things I crochet, so I gave it to Kaitlyn. She loves it! It's a blue cotton yarn that I got at the CraftCSRA fabric swap, and some scrap cotton teal yarn I use for coasters around the house.

So glad she likes it, and it looks much better on her than it did on me. I just finished this chunky red scarf that is about 6 feet long, 6 inches wide, fire-engine red! It's awesome. Red is my favorite color! I love this scarf! I always wondered how Etsy shops like Miss Indie make a profit on crocheted goods, but with chunky yarn like this, and a crochet hook about as big around as my thumb, I finished it in one sitting! I bought three skeins of yarn at Joann's, used a skein and a half for the scarf, which leaves enough left for a hat! And at $5.99 a skein, one half off, makes the hat and scarf only $15! 

I started the hat!
Time to work on my friend, Sara's secret halloween costume! I'm using old clothing and all scrap fabric! She's going to love it. Pictures after halloween. Can't spoil her surprise costume.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Patching jeans

Ever walk behind a complete stranger with holes in their jeans and see their underwear? You don't even know their name but you know they're wearing penguin boxers. It's terrible. I can't stand it when people walk around with holes in their jeans! It's gross. Fix it. No one wants to see your undergarments through your ratty jeans, am I right? Maybe I'm old fashioned to think it's inappropriate to have undergarments showing. 

My dad used to throw away my jeans without telling me if they had holes in them. He'd say I, "looked like a bum." My dad's a funny guy. I even fix his jeans that he's had for years that have holes in them. This is an easy fix that takes about 5 minutes! All you need is an iron, an ironing board, and  With about 5 minutes and an iron you can repair worn jeans so they are able to wear again!

I'm using Dritz Iron-On Patches. It comes in a sheet like this. One piece of this will last forever! Or at least a five pairs of jeans depending on what you're patching. I'm only patching the back pockets on these Levis.
 Cut out the size patch(es) you need and round the corners. They last a lot longer with rounded edges.

Place patch on inside of hole, covering the hole and at least an inch of fabric on all sides. This fusable patch will hole onto the existing fabric.

Iron. Press hard. I iron it for about a minute. Let it cool before checking if it's adhered to the fabric well enough.

 Iron from the other side. If you are patching knees of jeans you can use a patch on each side, the same size, and iron on both sides. And if the hole is really big you will also need to patch both sizes.

The inside will look like this when you are done.

Trim loose threads.

The end result: your old ratty jeans look a million times better! No one will see your unmentionables now! If the patch comes off a little bit in the wash, simply iron them again. The patch will continue to stay for countless washes.

Friday, October 15, 2010

A new approach to framed pictures

Pictures above my dresser.
My dad and I on Lake Michigan when I was a little girl.
Sick of boring framed pictures on your walls? Here is a great new way to hang pictures of friends and loved ones.

I originally made these when I bought four framed cross-stitched horse wall hangings at Valueland in Muskegon, when I still lived in Michigan. I used the fabric with the cross stitch, scrap materials, and zippers from old pants (they're so short you can't do much with them) to make little coin purses. A girl in Hong Kong bought two of the four pouches. I forget where the other ones went. I think a little girl bought one at a show and the other was also sold on Etsy. 

When I was done making the coin purses, I had these awesome rubber frames I didn't want to go to waste. Since I had photo transfer paper that I used to make labels, I thought, "Well hey, why don't I print a picture on this fabric and frame it like a picture frame?" I made four wall hangings, my cats, my sisters, my dad and I, and my friend Sara and I.

I've wanted to make more and create a wall collage of pictures like this, mixing in color photos and some more black and white. I've been collecting them and now I'm finally making more. I found these funny cross stitched bears at a Salvation Army in Myrtle Beach.

You will need:
  • plastic frames, from a craft store, or thrift store
  • an inkjet printer
  • photo transfer paper
  • scissors
  • a picture
  • a photo editing program
  • all purpose glue (optional)
  • a marker
  • fabric, I'm using old linen napkins 

Start with the frame. Remove the cross-stitching and set aside. You can use this as applique on something, maybe even turn it into a pouch! The frame is two seperate pieces. Measure it and find out how big your picture needs to be. You can measure the frame itself or the fabric you took from it. These oval ones I will be using require the picture to be 5 1/2" x 4" but the fabric is 6 1/2" x 5".

Pick out some pretty pictures, I choose pictures of me with my cats. Using Photoshop, do whatever color corrections you'd like and flip the image horizontally. Print the pictures on the photo transfer paper. I'm printing both pictures as 4.5" x 6.75" prints so I'm not wasting the paper. A 4"x 6" print would work just fine for this size of frame.

 After printing is complete, cut out the prints and place face down on clean linen. I make sure I run a lint brush over the fabric first because my cat's hair is on everything! The last thing you want is fuzz or hair in between your transfer. Space them far enough apart so you have a border. An inch or two will do. Using the instructions provided with the paper, iron the print onto the fabric. Press hard!

 Once it is nice and cool, remove the white paper. Your transfer will be revealed!

 Using a permanent marker, trace around the wide piece of the frame. You will need enough allowance for the picture to be clamped will in the frame. Cut out around your marking.

 Sandwich the transfer between both pieces of the frame, centering it just right. Carefully work the frame back together, the picture should fit perfectly.

 Trim excess fabric from the back so it will lay flush with the wall you choose to hang it on.

Your new pictures are complete! Now you can hang them anywhere. My crazy cat lady photos will probably remain in my living room. Clementine and Stella will certainly love them! I think a wall of cat pictures would be fun. Or creepy. We'll see.

Another idea, combine mediums and create a combination of a print and cross-stitch. This technique of framed pictures can be used in combination with other photoshop techniques as well, like adding words to a fun picture of you and your friends!