Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Remember Martin Luther King Jr., in sewing...

In celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s march on Washington, 50 years ago today, I've made a purse for you all. Listed in my Etsy shop, it's made with scrap from a crazy MLK sweatshirt, that was given to me years ago, I've sewn a beautiful recycled purse from 100% recycled materials.

Do you ever wish your clutch could be a handbag by the end of the day? This purse solves that problem. One strap is a detachable wristlet strap, connecting on one of two zipper loops on each side. These loops can also function as a thumb/finger loop when the strap is detached. Fold the strap up and store it in the purse's interior. 
The second detachable strap is an over-the-shoulder strap for a more hands free purse. One interior pocket is perfectly sized for an iPhone or cellular device or other goodies. Includes bonus change purse from scraps of "I have a dream" sweatshirt. 
Made from 100% recycled materials and the smallest scraps from the Sally Ann studio. Men's khaki's are upcycled to create a sturdy bottom, easily cleaned, and an old sweatshirt is recycled for exterior design. Interior lining from two different dresses. Strap is recycled from men's golf shorts.

This purse was made from scraps from the above sweatshirt, that I gave away on my blog on Martin Luther King's birthday two years ago. I saved the sleeves, as I save all unused fabric, and combined with men's pants, and a pair of men's golf shorts, made a beautiful purse. See the original purse here.

Saving the last little bits of fabric, I even made a small coin purse to match.

How are you celebrating this day?

Friday, August 23, 2013

Zeus' First Trip To The Ocean

Matt and I, and the rest of our fur family, have lived in Jacksonville going on three months now, and believe it or not, of all our trips to the beach, we had yet to bring Zeus with us. The beaches here are dog-friendly year round (BONUS! Most beaches are only dog-friendly in the off-season) but only after 5 P.M. Rarely do we leave the house that late in the afternoon to go to the beach, so Zeus has always snoozed on his bed while we have fun in the sun. The other day, Matt had some shots he had to film by the beach, and it was quarter after 4 P.M. We tossed Zeus in the car, Matt threw on his trunks, and I put away my work for the day to join.

For being a part Great Dane, part Labrador, Zeus is definitely a water dog. His coat, more like a Lab's coat, repels water, and his feet are webbed. I'm not even sure if pure bred Danes generally like the water, or if they have webbed feet, but thankfully we have a mutt. We take him swimming in the river a lot, and he's been to the beaches of Lake Michigan on our trip back to my hometown last year. 

And let me tell, he had a blast. Before we could get down to the water, and Matt was filming the amphitheater at Jax Beach, Zeus was whining and running in circles because he could hear the waves crashing on the beach, and he so desperately wanted to get down to the water, and get in on the action.

My favorite part of the day was watching children become enamored with him. Zeus always attracts small children because of his size, and he's the gentlest dog in the world, so it's win-win. In no time, two small girls wandered over, their mother with her small dog, I think it was a Pomeranian, and their own tennis ball to add to Zeus'. Each was taking turns throwing the ball and he'd retrieve. And when they'd grab his head and kiss him, I just about melted.

Two more young boys joined in on the fun, and Zeus was in absolute heaven! Before we knew it, an hour passed of Zeus swimming, running, playing, and having the best day of his life. 

Right before we left the house, I had just finished making this skirt. Made from two scarves and some elastic, it's super comfortable and flowy. The bright colorful scarf used for the front of the skirt, was just given to me by my sister, Rachael, when she was unpacking her apartment here in Jacksonville, and I'm 99% sure I originally bought this scarf at Valueland back in Muskegon, Michigan, when I was in high school. The "top" is actually a dress from I'm Your Present (similar one found here), that's a little too short for my frame, since I'm a little above average in the height department. I always have to wear it with a skirt, unless I'm home. Earring c/o Forever Becky (yay my first "c/o" in an outfit-ish post). "Forever Becky" are fellow vendors at RAM every week, and Becky's amazing daughters, 10 and 11 years old, I believe, make handmade jewelry to sell at their booth. These earrings are my staple earrings lately, and I just love them!

Lessons learned this trip: bring more towels, bring gallons of fresh water and giant dog bowl, make sure Zeus drinks at least a gallon before the beach, and an umbrella so Zeus, being the black sun magnet he is, can have a rest, and we can stay a bit longer.

Happy Friday, friends! I hope you all are having a great week, with some fun plans this weekend. Myself, I'll be working all weekend. RAMI-CON tomorrow at RAM, and I'm trying out a new market on Sunday, Northside LOVE. You can find Shelby and I, and possibly Matt and Zeus, at both of these markets in Jacksonville. 

Check out our Facebook page for Shelby stops, new listings, sewing tutorials, and more. Have a great weekend, y'all!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

DIY Video: Sew A Bra Strap Holder Into Your Top

Don't you just hate it when your bra straps fall down from beneath the shoulder of your shirt or dress? This video tutorial is something I've been wanting to share for a very long time. I sew these into most of my tops, and it's so easy, even the most notice seamstress can do it once give it a try.

By hand crocheting thread, a metal snap and a bit of thread will miraculously hold your bra strap in place, and you can wave goodbye to that nuisance of always pulling your bra back up. Safety pins? No more! Watch the video below for the full tutorial. Questions? Comments! I'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Day Trip to Saint Augustine

Nothing beats a greasy burger on the beach! Greasy food at a mom and pop restaurant, washed down with sweet tea. I'd been craving a cheeseburger for weeks, and since we rarely eat red meat or burgers, this was a great little trip. We had two goals, eat on the beach, and relax on the beach. Both perfectly accomplished.

We were on our way to the beach in Jacksonville, which is normally a 30 minutes from home. Realizing we hadn't been to St. Augustine in a while, and it's so close to Jacksonville, we drove an extra 30 minutes to this beautiful historic beach town. It's one of America's first settled cities, with so much history! The beach is flat, white sand, calm, and we even park on the beach!

Growing up in a beach community, the water is in my veins. It's great living in a city where the water is so close, no matter where you go! Becoming a beach bum is my new favorite past-time. When I can eventually shut off my brain, which is very few and far between, I love to just sit on the beach, watch the waves, or swim in the ocean. 

Next beach stop, Fernandina Beach!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Shop Update

New slouchy crop tops and batwing sleeves galore! I've been sewing like crazy on these new pieces in our Etsy shop. Using vintage hem tape and seam binding, combined with french seams, there is superior craftsmanship and construction on these ultra comfy shirts.

This one is my current favorite. "Stuffed Duck Handmade Slouchy Crop Top". It's made from thrifted pattern fabric, originally printed to be used to make a stuffed duck, and vintage hem tape. That's all. It's a cropped top, to be worn with high waisted jeans or skirt.

And some dressier pieces, like this one. I can't wait to make TONS of these. Check with my Etsy shop for updated listings, and more early next week in all colors and sizes.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Growing my Green Thumb

Confession: I kill everything. Plant life that is. I'm horrible at keeping plants alive. Once upon a time, a long time ago, I kept a plant alive in an Augusta apartment for a year, only because I watered it every Sunday when I did laundry. After getting a little off my routine, it died, mysteriously, but that was my record for keeping something alive. 

Now that my sister, Rachael, has moved to Jacksonville, and we live in the same city, she is coaching me. Complete opposites in many ways, Rachael grows most of her plants from seed and they just flourish in her care. A few months ago she brought me lavender, hibiscus, and her advice. Last week, we found a cute little nursery in Avondale, around the corner from my house, and bought some herbs. Parsley, rosemary and thyme. Rachael gave me a lesson in repotting and they are still alive a week later, and doing great. Hooray.

Since Christmas, I have nurtured a Jade plant, and since we left Augusta, I turned a clipping from a pothos plant to a real plant! It's a miracle. My old workplace, Stillwater Taproom, had beautiful pothos plants lining the wall opposite the bar that my manager and friend, Gene, takes care of. I wanted to bring a piece of Stillwater to Florida with me. The clipping rode in the front window of the Montero for the 5 hour drive, and the sun turned it black. It was too hot and almost killed the clipping. Somehow, with my care, it has two new leafs and enough roots from sitting in a glass of water for two months, to be planted.

Since my new house has a Florida room, a closed in porch on the front of my house that is all windows, it will be my dedicated plant room. Soon enough, I'll get a cozy little loveseat and small table with two chairs, so it will be a great place to cozy up and read a book, or drink a cup of coffee in the morning. In the meantime, the plants are sitting on the steps going up to the Florida room. My house is finally starting to look like a home.

Even something as simple as cat grass in this small planter is so exciting to me. I planted the seed in soil and watered it like crazy. It was such a great feeling to walk into the Florida room yesterday and see the grass popping through the soil! I've never successfully grown anything from seed, and something so simple as grass makes me so happy. And that little planter is so cute.

My goals for plants:
  • Herb garden, a huge variety I can go and pick from then I'm cooking in the kitchen
  • Pepper and tomatoes. I want to grow all kinds of peppers and make my own cayenne pepper from the harvest. Grind them up and use all natural peppers in my cooking. Maybe even grow enough so they can be a very thoughtful gift to friends and family.
  • Flowers, and lots of them. I want my Florida room to have things blossoming in it at all times, and be a little room to just forget about work and stress and kick back with sweet intoxicating smells taking over
  • Vegetable garden. Am I pushing it with all these goals when I've only just begun. With Matt's help, I want to build some raised boxes in the backyard and have a vegetable garden. There is nothing better than picking your vegetables from your yard for dinner. Especially home grown potatoes and carrots. Absolutely delicious!

Friday, August 9, 2013

What I've been sewing lately...

New work this week: silk tank tops. I've been turning all the hideous shoulder-padded short sleeved blouses in my fabric piles into pretty, wearable blouses. I tried wearing the shirts as is a while back, but they just don't work. They fit ill when the shoulder pads are removed, with extra room in the shoulder that can only be eradicated with sewing. And if they're going to be sewn, I might as well make them completely pretty again. Also using vintage seam binding, I'm finishing the sleeves in the proper way, as if they were made to be tanks originally. The seam binding is also used to create a new neckline. 

Why not just make tanks from silk fabric? Well, in order to keep these a reasonable price, repurposing is key. Silk is a pain to sew! I think these repurposed shirts will be priced around $20, depending on the added accents and details. By utilizing an existing piece, and simply changing the neck and arms, it keeps the cost more reasonable than if I cut out front and back pieces, sewing the shoulders, sides, and then finishing work on all edges. That would be more like a $60 shirt.

The cats and dog always keep me company in the office. Clem is getting sweeter (not really) towards Zeus. For about two seconds that is. Then she smacks him in the face, or hisses, or both. While they are all sweet and nice to have around, sometimes I can't wait to get an office outside of the home. I've been making due with the room I have set up, moving and shuffling to get work done. I'm at about 75% capable in the room that I'm in. But now that we have internet in the house, *crossing my fingers* production doesn't drop with added distrations ("Orange is the new black" on Netflix may or may not have taken up an hour or two of my workday today, dang it.)

Aside from making clothes, I've been perfecting a unisex wallet using scrap leather and elastic. I'm toying with the idea of making them phone cases/wallets as well. This demands more product testing. Matt is getting a new prototype every few days to try. They are SO fun to make, and will be up in my shop soon. 

This top, was the highlight of my work day, yesterday. It was a shirt that had been in my wardrobe for the last few years, but only worn once when Matt and I went to Atlanta for a Ben Gibbard show. That was literally the only time I wore this handmade floral top. I just LOVE the print! But the original cut, meh.

When going through my closet, searching for the best outfit for an evening out, it's fun to play "what's the least worn thing in here?".. a game to find something fun to cut up and rework. This shirt was handmade from a pattern, and there were a handful of existing flaws to correct, as well as resize and turn into a new cut.

I started by removing the sleeves and collar. Since the back had pleats, I ripped out the center back seam, and resewed the facing to the back piece, no pleats. By taking out the pleats, it made the back left about 3 inches too wide. I then cut the extra and all other side seams to take it down a size. Folding the shirt lengthwise, with vertical symmetry (left shoulder on top of right shoulder), I cut the new neckline. Finish with facing and create a new v-neck, finish hem along bottom. Done. I belted it with an elastic black belt and paired it with skinny jeans and Toms wedges. 

Every week, I've decided I'm going to play this game. Find something I never ever wear, but can't part with for whatever reason, and make it something I'll add to my rotation. Next time, I'll show more detailed how-tos,  promise.

Matt and I went to see Jay Pharaoh last night at the Comedy Zone, hence the reason for something cute to wear. Jay is an SNL cast member, and a very funny guy. Matt interviewed him after the show, and we chatted for a bit and snapped a few iPhone pics. See Matt's interview here.

Happy Friday, friends! Shelby and I will be at RAM tomorrow. Hope to see some of you there!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Little Talbot State Park

Between work days, sick days, market days, and everything else on our agenda, we always make time for beach days, even if it's a beach "half" day. Late last week, Matt and I ventured out to a new beach, at Little Talbot Island State Park

North of the busy beaches like Jax, Nepture, Atlantic, this beach was a little more of a hike. We drove to the north east side of town, at Mayport, where we then took a ferry across the St. John's River. A few miles down the road, we hit this state park. It's a very empty beach, full of wild life preservation, sea turtles, picnic areas, bike trails, and a generally quiet beach. It was beautiful.

For the sea shell collector, this place is worlds away from the tourist beaches we normally frequent. Just walking down the beach, I can feel the shells crushing beneath my feet; they were everywhere! I have a large collection of local shells I've been dying to make into a large wind chime for my "Florida room". If only I had spare time somewhere in my schedule...

This beach reminded me so much of home, Lake Michigan. The bare beaches and vast openness of it all, plus the wildlife and nature walk to get to the beach, was very reminiscent of one of my favorite beaches back home, Bronson Park.

Next on our list: bring bikes! This beach is a 5 mile long island that would be perfect to bring out mountain bikes. Ride 5 miles down on the beach, and 5 miles back along the bike trails. Maybe we will spot some sea turtles if we come early enough in the AM!

Florida wildlife baffles my mind. Coming from the north, we don't have a whole lot of biodiversity or tropical species. As we took pictures on the beach at Little Talbot, we heard all kinds of bird, insects, and sounds we couldn't even decipher! 

Unfortunately, at the tip of the island, it's not safe to go swimming, because the mouth of the St. John's River was so close. The current and undertows are too strong and the shore drops off suddenly. We would have gone swimming (as you can see, my 'shirt' is actually a one-piece bathing suit), but all the other access points on the island this day were filled with hundreds of school children. Screaming, loud, summer camp kinds. Ugh. I swear I'm not a hater of all kids, just the ones that are running around like crazy and making large amounts of noise. I.E. summer camp kids. I like children in small doses. And ones that are well-behaved. Long ago, I had aspirations to be a teacher for about 5 seconds. I now know it is something I could have never done. The older I get, the more thin my patience.

Next time: biking and swimming. And peace and quiet.

We can't wait to explore more beaches in this area. North of Little Talbot Island, is, of course, Big Talbot Island. With tree roots exposed from erosion, it is a beautiful beach they call skeleton tree beaches. And north of that is Amelia Island. A swanky beach destination full of tourists and beautiful beaches. We want to explore every beach in our area before summer is over!

See Matt's video from this trip here.

Lately, I've been battling with a nasty cold. A week and a half, going on two weeks of being sick. I believe it all came from visitors in our house, or being at the market, and lack of rest and sleep, combined with not sticking to my vitamin regimen that Matt is so adamant about. Thinking I was back to normal this past weekend, Matt and I went out for a celebratory dinner on Saturday. My martini with dinner kicked my cold back into full swing on Sunday, and here I am, on Tuesday, not leaving the room without a tissue in hand. Argh! I just want to get back to normal!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Repurposing Hardware From Thrifted Finds

What better way to get hardware for my handmade accessories than thrifting! While some are purchased brand new, I try to get everything second hand when I can. It's important to me and for my branding, that all my work have as much second hand, recycled and repurposed pieces as possible. All fabric is second hand, and most hardware I find second hand as well. I love reconstructing trash pieces and purses that have met their end, and helping them live on in new beautiful handmade pieces.

Yesterday, Matt and I drove across town and hit up a few thrift stores on Beach Blvd. At the Humane Society's Thrift Store, we scored big on vintage never opened zippers, and a few other shops I found some other sewing notions. And at the last shop, they had a sale on purses. I picked out four purses that had swivel clasps, O rings, zippers, and magnetic closures that could be repurposed in my handbags.

This faux Louis Vuitton purse made me cringe, and needed to be destroyed. Nothing IRKS me more than knock-off handbags. Buy the real thing or sport a no name purse, before you buy something fake. From this purse, I got two zippers, two swivel clasps, and 2 D rings. All for only $3. A pair of swivel clasps alone costs $3.59 at Joann's, so why not find some second hand?! 

Total yield from four purses, $11: 5 zippers, 6 swivel clasps, 2 D rings, 5 O rings, three small leather straps, fabric, leather, and two small magnetic clasps.

There are so many ways to make use of things found at a thrift store. What are your favorite thrifted things to repurpose?!