Monday, April 29, 2013

Shelby Update

Here we are, in the last few weeks of working on Shelby. It's finally here. Just a few more long work days left before she is finished. The end is closer and will be here before we know it.

Since we last updated you all on her progress, we've made some difficult but necessary decisions. After weighing the pros and cons with our solar panels, we've decided to return them. It's one thing after another with the company that made them, problems upon problems. We asked ourselves, what happens a year from now, when they break, and we have to take apart the wall to remove them and return them, and what if they don't accept the return with our warranty. I wouldn't put it past this company to screw us over again in the future. 

I'm boxing up the panels and all the accessories and attempting to return them this week. Cross your fingers for me, as these people are so nasty. If I can't get my cash back, which comes to around $275, I'll be investing in some more tools or a tool cabinet, and getting more supplies for Shelby.

The interior will also be done in the next week. I'm finishing putting up the rest of the wood and sconces in the next few days, then sanding and staining, and then up with the fixtures. We've decided to power the interior with a deep cycle battery. It should keep the 60 watt bulbs lit for a very long time, and we'll also install an outlet for a cell phone/iPad charger. 

Hope you all had a great weekend! I'm headed outside to start work for the day. My friend is cutting more wood for the walls soon, and I'm using up every last piece before I head to his shop. Sconces here I come!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

DIY Boy's Bow Tie

Are you getting married soon and need some cute little boy bow tie for your special day? Or even a cute bow tie for your Sundays at church. If the answer is yes, then this tutorial is for you! It's super easy, and you can use any color. The options are limitless. 

My best friend, Sarah, was married two weeks ago, and the boy ties above are worn by her 8 and 12 year old sons, Finlay and Aiden. Matt and I were the best man and maid of honor. It was such a great day! Everything was absolutely perfect.

For one bow tie, you will need:
  • Two piece of fabric, cut 4"x10''
  • One piece of fabric 3"x Y (Y=neck measurement. Loosly measure the neck of your little boy, add two-three inches)
  • One piece of interfacing, 4"x10". Optional if you want a stiffer tie.
  • One small piece 3"x4"
  • Matching thread
  • Hand needle
  • Scissors
  • Velcro
  • Iron
  • Straight pins

 1) Cut out all pieces of fabric. Note: the above picture shows me making two bow ties. 2) Iron interfacing to one piece of bow fabric. 3) Pin two pieces for bow together, right sides together, leaving a small gap along shorter edge. 4) Cut corners. 5) Turn right side out and iron. 6) Sew short ends together. Not pictured: Take small piece 3"x4" and sew lengthwise, right sides together, turn right side out. Sew long strap together, like bias tape, right sides together, to create a long thin tube. Turn right side out. Press. 7) Pin small strip on bow tie. Hand stitch. 8) String strap through bow, using a pen or end of scissors to push it through if necessary. Sew velcro on opposite sides of the ends of the straps. Trim threads.

The boys' ties turned out even better than I expected! And it was the most perfect day. I hope this tutorial finds it's way to some eager sewing hands! It can also be used simply for the bow and more feminine projects like a bow hair clips, headband, etc.

Happy Thursday, friends! Hope you are all enjoying the onset of this gorgeous spring weather. Tomorrow: Shelby update. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

And I'm back...

It's been a little break since my last post. Apologies. My sister and I drove back to Michigan for a family affair. Here are some Instragram pics from the trip. Today, I've been settling back in after an entire day on the road back to the south. Two wholes days there and back were spent in a car. I can't believe I lived to tell the tale, with the craziness of Rachael and I being together again. While we weren't there for very pleasant circumstances, we made the most of it. And it was nice to see my family.  Enjoy some pics and I'll be back later this week with a fun children's DIY and my thrifted scores from my trip!

My sister, Sarah, and little Trey. It's so funny being called "Aunt Sally", and this little boy is the sweetest little thing ever. Sarah thinks he's got me wrapped around his finger, but I can't help it. He's a four eyes like me, and so so cute!

I loved telling the little boys ridiculous stories and tricking them into believing silly things. Kids are the greatest. As soon as we arrived, we caught a few hours of sleep and then had breakfast and drawing time with the 4 and 5 year olds. When Trent tried to draw a picture of me, he used a gray crayon for my hair, and when I asked why he used gray, he picked up the white crayon and exclaimed, "Well I can't use this white crayon on white paper!!" As if it was a huge "DUH, Sally!" Kids say the darndest things.  

The mandatory shopping trip to Goodwill with my sisters and mother resulted in some grrrreat finds! Two coats, a few shirts, a dress, this dress, a few shirts. And a miracle almost took place: this size zero dress almost fit me. It was about one inch too small when it came time to zip up. I bought it anyways for a friend. I can't turn up a $5 Ann Taylor dress this cute!

Also, a mumu style 70s dress I bought will make a great DIY project coming soon. It was a hideous floral polyester zipper dress with sleeves. Not as much fabric to work with, like the last dress I made, so I'll probably be making a cute skirt with a fitted waistband.

The four Keiser kids. Rach, me, Mark, and Sarah. I bet you can't guess the age order! Hint: We're in some kind of order as we stand...

Our hotel was on Lake Michigan and I was able to catch just one sunset. Breathtaking as usual... I'll never get over how lucky I was to grow up one mile from this gorgeous body of water. This summer, Matt and I have to make a week long trip back home again!

The birthday girl on Sunday! Sarah hated that sombrero! But she just looks so lovely, doesn't she?

 Stealing Mark's soul. He hates having his picture taken hehe.

Okay. Coffee and cleaning and unpacking. Like a mad woman. I'm already one pot down. Happy Tuesday, friends! How was your weekend?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tuesday Tunes - Xiu Xiu - Fast Car

Be prepared when you listen to this song. It's not for everyone. It's terribly depressing and very emotional. You will either love it or hate it. I haven't listened to this song in years. Back in college, I was a huge fan of Xiu Xiu; they are weird, eccentric and unlike any other band I've ever listened to.

This song just came on while I'm packing my suitcases, and it just hits you like a ton of bricks. It's brilliantly depressing and sad. I couldn't help but listen to it three times in a row. Then, I went back to the Tracy Chapman version, and back to this.

I'm in a rough spot this week, personal stuff I'd rather not discuss on here. After the explosions yesterday, with family in the marathon, and seeing photos, hearing stories of the child that passed away, it's gotten me quite down today. This song makes me feel okay, okay to be sad.

Enjoy it or hate it. If you hate it, come back to this song when you're sad and you'll get it.

Have a great day, friends. See you in a few days, maybe...

Monday, April 15, 2013

What I Wore: Mumu to Masters Dress
Masters 2013 at the Augusta National

Yesterday was the last day of the Masters golf tournament in Augusta, and the day Matt and I went out to watch some golf and eat pimento cheese sandwiches. The whole week, the week all Augustans dread more than any other, the city swarms with thousands and thousands of tourists and golf fanatics. It's a madhouse around town. Being the most prestigious sporting event, I love dressing the "country club girl meets Betty Draper meets Good Housekeeping". Last year, I made some plaid bloomer shorts, and this year I wanted to do something a little more.

An exercise in patience, and practice to keep me on my toes, I sewed a dress for myself from a pattern this past week for the first time in probably years. Vogue pattern V8725. A simple lined dress. The trickiest part of this sewing project was cutting out the fabric just right since there was only so much fabric, and it had to be cut out along the vertical pattern of the sailboat print.

Sewing tip #1: Press as you sew! It makes a world of difference and the dart/seams will lay flat. In the above photo, I pressed the bodice darts open, and the side seams open. I also did this for the bodice lining, then sewed them together, matching the side seams and center front, also attaching the straps at this step.

Bodice before skirt is attached. For the lining of this project, I used bed sheets that my friend Sarah gave me. Blue and purple floral, they were a wedding gift to her parents over 30 years ago. I used to use the flat sheet when I had a queen sized bed, but now that we have upgraded to a King, both the fitted full sized sheet, and flat sheet are of no use to us. The flat sheet is in the picnic section of our linen closet, and the fitted sheet in my sewing pile. I just love to reuse old relics from people past, utilizing them in such a way that it makes the garment more meaningful.

Another favorite part of this project: pockets! I love dresses with pockets. When one attends the Masters tournament, there are very strict regulations of what one can bring into the National. No electronic devices of any kind, no cell phones, cameras, and the size restriction on purses is very small. Pockets were super convenient for a little bit of cash, lip balm, and my photo ID. 

When sewing pockets, cut one of the lining, and one of the shell fabric. The pockets cut out of the lining are sewn to the skirt front, and pockets cut out of the sailboat/shell fabric are sewn to the skirt backs. This way, passers by see the sailboats and it has a more polished finished look. While pockets add a little more work to sewing a dress, they are very much worth every second. Pattern doesn't have pockets? Find a pattern that does, and with a little bit of planning, it's super easy to add pockets that weren't originally there.

There was one fault with the dress I have to admit, even though I'm sure I don't have to. It drove me nuts that I didn't notice until right before we left the house. When sewing the back slit, sewing the dress and lining together, there was a slight buckle and pucker. It pulled the skirt back up just a hair. This is something that could have been prevented with a mirror behind me, and pinning the fabric together when I was wearing it before sewing the topstitched seam. So close to a perfect job, Sally, so close!

Another fun little detail I planned with the dress: vintage ribbon with carousel horses was used for the seam binding. The invisible hem sealed the deal in making the dress perfect and just fancy enough for Masters. I received so many compliments throughout the day, and caught women here and there talking about my dress as I walked by. Nothing is more flattering than overhearing a positive comment about what you're wearing. 

All in all, I'll give myself a B+ overall. What do you think? Do you ever sew for yourself from patterns? Or do you prefer to use your own? I'd love to hear from you!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Full blooms

Finally. Our gorgeous azalea bushes have bloomed in the yard. Today is the fullest bloom yet, with just a few buds waiting to open. In a week or so most of them will start to fall off, so we have to quickly enjoy their beauty while it lasts. I don't recall if we have these flowering bushes in Michigan; I'm almost positive they wouldn't survive the cold. Today Zeus and I took a moment to snap a few shots of the gorgeous bush and my obnoxiously high bun I'm sporting today.

It's funny how beautiful these beautiful bushes only bloom once a year, and only for a very short while. Makes me wonder if they're worth it? I drive by houses up in "the hill" area of town, all the mansions that line Walton Way, and this week their yards are full of pinks, reds, whites, and it is the most beautiful thing! But most of the year, they're just all green? Wouldn't it be worth it to have a flowering rose bush that blooms a few times a year? Hmmm.. I need to think about these things for my eventual home someday in the far off future. 

My new favorite thing. This bun! My hair almost matches the bush in lightness; I am so thrilled! When I Facetimed with my dad the other morning while baking some blueberry pies (yay my dad has an iPad!), he shrieked, "My GOODNESS Sal! Your hair isn't blonde, it's white!" Needless to say, he's not a huge fan of my hair. But what can ya do? He's far, far away, and he can't tell me no. Hehe.

I'm loving the blonde though. It's so different from what I'm used to. Perhaps red will be next when the leaves start to change in the fall. Although blonde is very high maintenance, I'm not minding the new routine too much.

For those of you loving this as much as me, and with long hair: To do this bun, I flip my head upside down and brush it out. Then I gather my hair about three inches from my forehead and voila. Make a bun. I pin back the little whispys hanging out and tuck them on the backside of the bun for a more dramatic effect. 

Also, use a good creamy pomade for fly-aways, and and a quick shot of hairspray on the bun.

"HEEEYYY ZEEEUUUUS!" That dummy is so exhausted today from a really long walk and adventure around town. When he's tired, he is not smart. He is obstinate and moody. Restless and whiny. Or sweet and super attentive so I'll take him any way I can get him.

We snuggled for about 10 seconds on the sheet in the yard before he ran away from me to go sit on grass. I never understand him. In the house, he lays on everything nice and clean. Outside, I bring him something to lay on and he prefers the dirt (and sometimes poo) to roll around in. Oh, the inner-working of his mind are something I can't even begin to comprehend!

Also! I made these jeans. Tutorial here. Hope ya'll are having a great Thursday. The weekend is almost here! Hooray. Matt and I head to the Masters on Sunday. I can't wait to see the azaleas at the Augusta National. Last year, they bloomed a month before the tournament, and this year will be perfect!

Are flowers blooming where you are? I've always known April showers bring May flowers. Here it's March showers, April flowers, and that doesn't quite have the same ring...

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Change is good

Sometimes, you just need a change. When I'm stressed out, or my work isn't going well. The "ADD" starts to feel like it's real. Coffee does no good. Days pass and frustration grows. That's when it's time for some massive reorganization. Yesterday, I did a huge makeover to my work room.

With my desk previously in front of a window, the volume on my computer was so much lower when the window was open, and it was driving me bonkers! Plus, pollen season is miserable, and there was yellow dust all over everything on my desk, errrgg even worse! The desk and sewing machine are now where the china cabinet holding all my fabric previously sat. Everything is now in a new place. New place, new mindset!

Like many self-employed, I work from home in a large room, about 20' x 12'. It's the second living room in my large one bedroom apartment. The two rooms are seperated by pocket doors, and it's more like a giant room when the doors are open. It feels great to work in such an open space, but the distractions of being home become daunting sometimes. Two cats begging me to play, a dog always shoving his slobber covered toys on my to throw over and over again. The temptation of Doctor Who and crocheting my afghan. Baking. Cleaning the rest of the house that is always dusty since it was built in 1886.

This week has been rough. That's all I'll say. I'm not quite ready to talk about it on here. Family matters. Rearranging my room has helped clear my head, and it's kind of like my therapy. I'm not the kind of person that loves to clean and reorganize normally. It takes a special day where it's ALL I do that day. And then it'll be slightly messy but still in order for a while.

Today, I'm making a dress from a pattern I've had for years. I need something fancy to wear to Masters when we go on Sunday. I cut up an old mumu and a vintage bed sheet for the lining. The navy blue large dress was covered with little sailboats (And Rachael, when you read this, no, you can't have it! hehe... My sister likes to steal Nautical themed clothes of mine..). The lining is white with blue and purple flowers. It's going to be beautiful. Sometimes, it's nice to sew from a pattern that isn't your own! Post coming soon of the transformation. 

This lovely print from Thimble Press is finally up on the wall. In a thrifted mat and frame, it mismatches just right with all the rest of my decor. I love walls of chaos, all kinds of wall hangings, the kind of go together, but you're not quite sure. I always thrive on organized chaos, probably since that's what my brain constantly feels like. My favorite was the wall at my previous apartment that lined the stairway entrance. Everything hung straight, but in no particular pattern or order. They just fit. My sister has the same thing going on in her apartment, and it's lovely.

This print is one of my new favorites. A friend of mine, who just turned 60, copied this from a print his mother bought in an airport in Iceland in the 50s. It's absolutely breathtaking. I wish I could steal the original or get a better copy of the original drawing. For now, this will do quite nicely. The pencil detail is so beautiful.

Zeus approves of the new room. I think. Or he's pouting. I can't tell these days. He's been super moody since Matt is working long hours. Poor dog misses his papa. I can only do so much, since he loves Matt so much more than me. I've made an extra effort to get him out to parks and for walks around town. Socializing him to distract him from little papa time.

And lastly, my Little Things Studio print. Again, in a thrifted frame that accents the print just right. I still have to frame and hang a few more prints from Little Things Studio and Thimblepress. Check out these ladies sites. Their work is so fantastic!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Tuesday Tunes - The Postal Service... 10 years later

It seems like just yesterday I was in my dad's basement, on the computer, headphones on head, playing my burned copy of Give Up a friend burned for me with other Death Cab songs on it. I'd play Nothing Better over and over and over. Shortly afterwards, I went to our local Best Buy and purchased my first Death Cab For Cutie album, You Can Play These Songs With Chords. 

Bring on Sally's love affair with all things Ben Gibbard. Shortly after, I discovered The Photo Album and I started college. I quickly owned their entire back catalogue of albums, EPs and low-fi recordings. That fall, my roommate and I saw Death Cab during my first semester at Michigan State, with about 200 other people. I was IN LOVE! I even became a super nerd in college and loved the album that inspired the project, Life Is Full Of Possibilities from Dntel.

And that all started 10 years ago. Can you believe it?

Give Up is one of the best pop albums I have ever heard, and I don't think anything will ever fill that space in my musical heart as this album does. It's perfect. Romantic, sad, emotional, beautiful, depressing, hopeful, and happy. All at the same time. 

My musical mentor and role model, Bob Boilen of NPR's All Songs Considered released this video and article today, above. Today, Give Up is being re-released, a special 10 year edition. I'm so tempted to buy it on vinyl when it is released today! Today! Agh has it really been 10 years. It's going to be so strange in another 10 years when it is still in my music rotation. 

Thank you Jimmy and Ben, for such an amazing piece of music. You forever changed me. I love you.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Free Art Friday

Local artists in my city of Augusta, Georgia have teamed up to create a great activity to get local people excited about the local art scene. It's called Free Art Friday. Following other cities that have started their own chapters, and through social networking, FAF is bringing together locals to create a new kind of scavenger hunt. This past Friday, I took part and created my piece of art to hide for someone to find.

So here's what happens on Free Art Friday here in Augusta. Head on over to a local gallery that has wood cutouts for artists to "art" on. Paint, draw, collage, whatever your medium may be. I embroidered a needle and thread with a little spool of thread on an old dress sleeve and then used elastic to create a type of cover on the wood. If you look closely, it has my signiture in the thread, an "S" and "A" for Sally Ann.

Once you create and hide your art, you, the artist, posts a picture of your work, with a suggestion to where it's hidden, and locals can come and find it! I hid my piece in a tree that lines Broad Street on the 1100 block. Since these trees line many blocks of Broad, I posted a nonspecific picture, letting followers know it was in one of these types of trees.

On the back of your work, be sure to include artist's twitter name, Facebook page, website, etc, so the finder can look you up and see your work. Include "Free Art Friday" and their website. Don't live locally? Start a FAF in your town! 

Not only was it a good excuse for me to exercise my own creativity, and work on some embroidery amongst all the sewing and renovations I've been doing lately, but it let me have my own little adventure. Got my wheels turning, brain working, and then allowed Zeus and I to have an afternoon date before dress rehearsal on Friday. And there's nothing he loves more than smelling each and every tree on Broad Street!

Participating in FAF is something I plan on doing every Friday here in Augusta. I had such a blast!
Does your city/town have a similar event to get locals involved in the art scene? I'd love to hear about it.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Friday Favs

Vintage Floral Suitcases. Source.

I just scored two matching floral suitcases on Etsy, from two different sellers. While these suitcases can be a pain to carry, since they don't have wheels, they are so worth the trouble! You just feel prettier when you  have gorgeous luggage to tote around with you while traveling. I hate all my black wheeled luggage that shows every strand of cat hair, because luggage and cats are like peanut butter and jelly! The cats always camp out on or in our luggage after a trip, when it takes a few days to unpack. Lint rollers don't quite cut it. With these floral suitcases, the patterns will definitely hide that cat hair, yay! And why isn't there a company making throwback luggage. All the wheeled luggage these days is hideous or way out of my budget. My dream luggage is Louis Vuitton, the real deal, but I don't quite have $3,000 to spend on luggage. $100, yes, but not 3k! 

Twin Syndrome's New Red High Rise Bathing Suit Bottoms. Source.

I have these in black, and they're my most favorite bathing suit bottoms ever! Since I have a very large tattoo on my back, and the sun is my enemy, these bottoms are the best when it's time for fun in the sun! The sun is the worst thing for tattoos, it fades colors like crazy, and I want mine to be beautiful when I'm old and wrinkly. These bottoms are perfect, super comfortable. Twin Syndrome just released them in more colors this spring, and I can't wait to buy them in red, and get a matching red bandeau top.

Blonde hair with pink pastel tips. 

It's so funny how time changes perspective. This time last year, when pinks and pastels were hitting the hair salons and super trendy, I thought pastel hair looked ridiculous. Now that I'm blonde, I am itching to get some pink tips in my hair. After my friend's wedding this weekend, I'm going to play with some pastels and try some hair chalking.

Thimble Display Cases. Source.

Collecting thimbles has been a hobby I started a few years ago. While I only have a few, I am hoping to collect more, finding one each new place I travel to. And what better way to display them then a thimble display case? A friend of mine made a lamp out of thimble displays, and it's so amazing. Maybe Matt and I can get crafty and make something. In the meantime, I'll daydeam on Etsy and eBay, searching for cute vintage ones...

Happy Friday friends! I'm off to wedding rehearsal soon, and the wedding.. is... tomorrow... *singing in ABBA voice. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

DIY Sewing: How to hem a skirt or dress with seam binding and an invisible hem

Do you have that one dress in your closet you thought you'd shorten and never finished? A hem that isn't sewn and you don't know what to do next? If so, then this tutorial is for you. It can be used on any kind of skirt hem or dress. Be sure you try your dress on before hemming it, and leave an extra inch or two depending on your seam allowance. 

This particular dress was a gift from a friend of mine. It was floor length originally. Without measuring to save room for a dress, I cut off the bottom half of the skirt for this piece from my winter line of lingerie. I assumed I'd cut up the entire dress, before trying it on of course. And then I realized I'd just hem it and wear it as is! It worked out perfectly. It's been sitting in my work line ever since, and it just happens to fit me perfectly! It could have used an extra inch or two for it to be optimal, but what can ya do? 

For this alteration, you will need:
  • a dress
  • seam binding of any color, as long as it doesn't show through the fabric. I chose vintage "Hug Snug" I bought at a local thrift store. 
  • needles
  • sewing machines
  • thread that matches dress fabric
  • hand needle
  • iron and ironing board

Start by sewing seam binding to bottom of dress/shirt. When you come full circle around the skirt, back stitch on seam binding. Pin hem with a slight overhang of fabric, about an inch or more. Press. Thread hand needle and put on some music. This will take a few minutes..

Sew an invisible hem along the bias tape, grabbing the slightest bit of fabric. Because this particular skirt is a very circular cut, I stitched tiny little darts along the bias tape every 10" or so. This allows the skirt to flow and the hem to lay just right.

 Keep sewing, almost there...

Press again and you're done! Trim excess thread and clean up your sewing area. You can see in the above picture, the white thread showing through just a bit. This hem is optimal for vintage polyester dresses such as this. It is less bulk than a double folded hem.

Isn't it gorgeous!? I can't wait for a hot spring or summer day to wear this dress. It's so bold and bright. It'd be perfect with some vintage pumps, my wayfarers, and a skinny white leather belt. I love the way simple A line polyester dresses fit. Spring is here and I am about to break them all out of my closet!

Hope you all found this tutorial helpful. It can be applied to all kinds of clothing. Scared to start sewing? Just jump in. You can do it. For other helpful tutorials on my blog, click on the tutorial index at the top of this page. Questions? Comments?!