Monday, June 30, 2014

Shelby Renovation: Driver Side Wall and New Electrical Door

 As we approach the one year anniversary of our mobile boutique, Shelby, we are revamping and perfecting every inch of her body and interior. Today I'm sharing with you the messy renovations from yesterday, my Sunday Funday. Seriously, this is fun for me. Plus, I don't know what a "day off" means for normal people, and this is my way of spending a "day off".
The driver side wall's polishing began a few weeks ago, and it was 75% complete. Along with the completion of polishing, I changed out the electrical door. The previous one, white and broken, has been an eye sore and conundrum for months. Finally, after some googling, a "duh" moment stuck me, when I realized I could buy a new white one for $6 online. Since the camper is now silver, I wanted something to match. But I couldn't find one. With some patience and careful spray painting, it became a silver electrical door, the very kind I couldn't find online.
Also, the door is slightly small than the previous one. It's not surprising since the original door is 40 years old, but becomes a big more work since the white paint underneath the old door wasn't exposed to the elements like the rest of the camper, and the original white paint is still there. It will need some elbow grease to remove, and that's just what I'll give it. 
My before and after faces. Before: relatively clean, channeling John Rambo with my red head wrap, and safety first. I always wear goggles and a face mask to prevent the inhilation of aluminum dust. That stuff's nasty! And super messy. I'm covered in small particles of black dust when grinding and polishing the exterior (which I'll show you in another post…). And after. Dirty, grimy, and wet from multiple hose-downs to keep cool in the hot hot heat.
 Step one: remove screws. Step two: scrape off 40 year old caulk. Step three: prep for polishing with a metal brush on a rotary tool, and then a brass attachment to smooth out the surface (not pictured). Anyone renovating a camper and need more specific instruction of guidance, email me at
Zeus likes to join me on my break. Hey, it's Sunday! PBR, why yes please. 
After finishing the careful painting, coats between polishing, it's time to attach the new door. Thanks to Matt for snapping this pic. Don't mind my wild hair!
So beautiful. Now it blends in with the wall. It's the little things that make all the difference.
Dirty and happy. Pleased with my work. Productive day for sure. Tomorrow, I'll share with you the polishing of the front wall, and NEW DECALS! Woo-hoo! She's going to be a beauty this weekend for her birthday party!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Shelby Turns One!

Be there or be square.

Next week, we'll revisit some old Shelby moments from her renovation, and show you some never before seen photos! Hope to see you at the birthday celebration. And if you can't make it, hang around at our Facebook page and blog for video updates and news. ALSO! We'll be debuting a small collection of handbags, online and at the market, debuting that day.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Jaxson's Night Market

Last Thursday, we were a vendor in one of our favorite night market's in Jacksonville, Jaxson's Night Market. All things local. Local food trucks, fashion trucks, artists, wellness companies, and more set up at the corner of Laura and Adams from 5:30-9:30. 

Some other local vendors we have to mention and point you towards: 
  • Byrd's Nest Soap, I highly recommend their Lemon Grass
  • Liberty Bakery, our favorite new vegan friendly bakery in Jacksonville
  • Rethreaded, a local company that employs and empowers women that were victims of sex trafficking. They learn how to sew and build a new life. 
  • Fresh Jax, our favorite food and wellness company in Jacksonville, I recommend the Ghost Pepper Salt and Coconut Bacon
  • Black Hog Farm, a local farm to door service
  • Vegan Sun, a new vegan cheese company that is currently taking over my fridge, my personal favorite is the Aged Rosemary Cashew Cheese.
  • Fellow Jacksonville fashion trucks: La Fashion Coach and Belle of the Blvd
It was such a great night, with my our new head wraps selling like crazy, I know what I'll be making the most of this week, prepping for the upcoming market days. Also, we've been polishing up Shelby, and getting her in mint condition for her upcoming birthday party, and were able to try out our new night setup, with new lights and displays.
Left to right, friends Heather, Natalie, and myself. We're getting to that point in Jacksonville, where Matt and I run into people we know, almost every time we go out around town. It helps that people see the giant silver camper, and come and see me, but still. Even when it's not a market day, we almost always see these ladies and other friends around town. Now if only we had time to spend more time hanging out with friends… Gotta work on that.. 

And back to my morning sewing and check lists. Happy Monday, friends!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

My 'new' 1947 Brother Sewing Machine

As I walked into an estate sale on Sunday morning, I never imagined the above machine I'd seen on Friday would be available at Sunday's 50% off price of $75. Upon arriving, I B-lined for the back bedroom, where I'd seen it a few days before, and there she was. Sitting next to the bed in the almost empty master bedroom, in the one story house in a small neighborhood just a few miles away from my home in the west side of Jacksonville, Florida. I couldn't believe it was still there!

I sat down with on the carpet with the machine, plugged it into a nearby outlet and as I pressed on the foot pedal with my hands, it started to hum that sweet sound only old machines make. A woman behind me asks, "Oh do you collect vintage sewing machines?" I politely tell her that I sew for a living and continue to examine the machine. "That was my mother's machine," she says, and I'm floored. Never when shopping at an estate sale do you ever consider that the family is actually present. I then realized she was straightening the linens on the bed, not just browsing. I'm torn between getting a little choked up at the perspective she must have, watching people buying her mother's belongings, and genuine interest in her mother and then ask her to tell me more about her mother. Gail continues to tell me more about her mother.
Her mother's name was Katherine, and this beautiful Brother sewing machine was her graduation present from high school in 1947. She taught Home Economics as well. Gail tells me all about how her mother sewed on this home machine all her life, and that Gail herself learned how to make doll clothes on it when she was a young girl. 

She was so happy to see me take it home, knowing it was going to a home where it would be used and appreciated. It was a beautiful moment. I was sure to also pick up some clothing and fabric, to make something special on this machine, using Katherine's fabric. 
Taking inflation into account, this machine's original price of $189.50 would be a whopping $2014.58 today! And I got it for a ridiculously low price of $37.50. Absolutely incredible. I love that it came in the original carrying case, and with the manual. It appears as if baby Gail got her hands on the manual on day back in the 1960s, while mom was sewing, with a few scribbles on the back page, clearly made from a child. 
There's a reason the saying "They don't make 'em like they used to" is popular. It is so true. This machine is such a beauty. As soon as I got it home, I plugged it in, grabbed a rolled hem foot from my Brother in my sewing room, and cut out and made curtains for my kitchen.

While not as fast as my pink Brother, it's just as beautiful. My favorite part about these machines is the throttle. That's what that long metal lever is. All the way down, the feed dogs pull the fabric and you sew forward. All the way up to the top, you sew in reverse. Straight in the middle, the machine sews at a stand still. The knob on the right is the stitch length. It's a real trick to get the two in unison, takes some getting used to if you're used to sewing on a standard sewing machine, but it's like second nature to me. 

Another fun feature on these machines, you can make a bobbin as you sew, just like industrial sewing machines. See that funny contraption on the front of the hand wheel? If you press down on the horizontal piece of metal on the right, it engages the bobbin winder. The spool of thread would sit where I have two bobbins, thread it through the thread guide to the right of that, and up to the bobbin winder. Personally, I prefer to use an external bobbin winder to reduce unnecessary wear and tear. Plus, when I make bobbins, I make a ton so I don't have to come back to it later in the day.
Now this is comical. A 20 Year Guarantee Bond. Going on 70 years old and still kicking it pretty good, I'd say Brother out did themselves with this machine. It turned twenty when my pink Brother was just a toddler. 
To make the machine really shine, like it does in these photos, I used soap and water on a microfiber rag, removing all the dust and dirt. Washing out that same microfiber wrap, keeping it a little damp, I used the car polish my step father always store by, the same wax that I used to earn $20 for waxing his truck every year. Coating it in one coat of wax, I then used a dry rag to wipe it clean. 

The only thing I will have to do to this machine, besides lube it up a little next time I sew, is rewire the cord. Because it's so old, there may be a little dry rot on the plastic on the cord, where there is currently electrical tape at the base of the electrical. Otherwise, it's the find of the year! I'm so happy to add this to my permanent collection of machines. This baby ain't going anywhere!

****If you are in need of a sewing machine, or know someone who is, and you live in the Jacksonville area, I'm giving away 3 sewing machines at our birthday bash for Shelby, on July 5th.***

***If you have a sewing machine you are willing to donate to us here at Sally Ann, we are super passionate about getting young girls (and boys) back into the field of sewing, and LOVE to get machines into their hands at NO cost to them. We act as the middle man, email us at for information on shipping your machine to us.***

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Power of Social Media
European Street "Tweet Up"

Just another day of the week. Matt and I are hanging out in Riverside, our favorite neighborhood in Jacksonville. Matt heads over to Sunday Tattoo to get his newest tattoo touched up by his artist Aaron, and I head to European Street for a 5 PM beer with our friend, Jeff. Half an hour later, Matt joins us with a sore and bandaged arm, and we begin to enjoy our beers.

A few minutes later, we see some familiar faces, ones we've met in person, and those only online, via Twitter and other social media. Little did we know, Kerry Spector, the Spectator organized and set up the European Street "Tweet Up", a meet up and mixer for Jacksonville twitter people. Oh the powers of social media. We all put on our name tags, twitter handles (mine is @sally_ann).
It was so great to meet new people and talk about things in Jacksonville. We just hit our one year anniversary for living in Florida, and some days it feels so new still. We have a handful of friends, but it's always nice to meet new people in the community, small business people, and those that are just excited about what is going on in the city.

And how funny to meet people that you know on Twitter. Putting faces to names and making new friends. Social media is so wild. I don't know how many times I've met someone in person, only to find we're Instagram, Twitter, or friends on some social media site. Or the one time I met someone at the market, and she sheepishly came over and comically admitted, "uhhh… I totally stalk your Instagram." Makes me laugh and love the connectivity of the internet. It's amazing to be able to connect in more ways that just in person, especially for someone like me, that spends all of my workday at home alone in my sewing room. Social media is such a huge thing for us small business people and bloggers. 
And of course it doesn't hurt that my boyfriend is becoming a big deal and local celebrity the longer we live here. Matt is a local man around town, literally, that's his job. He (and I) shoot videos around town, reporting on "what's good in Jacksonville". He works for the Florida Times Union, our newspaper here in Jacksonville, writes a weekly restaurant review, appears on Jacksonville's version of The View every Friday, and we shoot events around town. You can see his work here.
What a blast! And it helps that European Street has BOGO beer for their happy hour from 4-7pm I'm so looking forward to the next one and becoming more connected in the community. And we even have a potential doggie date for Zeus coming soon.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Fixing A Bad Hem Job On A Vintage Skirt

After the last clothing swap I attended, I scooped up this skirt. I just love clothing swaps, but many times, the previous owner is getting rid of the garment for a reason. It's the worst when you find a great pair of jeans, and realize the zipper is busted, or there is a hole in the knee. But many times, these 'flaws' are fixable for someone that sews. 
Think twice before you pass over a second hand piece of clothing because it isn't perfect. Expand your horizons and learn how to mend them! This skirt caught my eye right away, especially the striped print, length and cut, but one problem, someone hacked off the bottom half of it. 
I didn't notice the bad hem until I got home. Eager and so excited about the two bags of clothing I swapped for two bags of clothing I didn't want, I tried on ALL my new threads for Matt in a little fashion show, though he mostly ignored me and watched Louie. But discovering the bad hem wasn't the only issue with this skirt, it also was a little threadbare, with holes in the side seams from old cotton thread disintegrating over the years. But not to worry, these are both an easy fix. It took me a few months to get to it in my work line, since sewing for myself comes 4th or 5th after working on handbags and such. Follow along and apply this to any skirt you want to shorten.
Heading straight to my machine, with white thread, I started off by reinforcing every side seam from the hem to the waistline, as high as I could sew without removing the waist band. 
Meet the newest addition to my vintage sewing machine collection. A Kenmore Ultra Stitch 8. Discovered on Craigslist, it was a great deal, and a very hearty machine like my other Kenmore. I haven't decided if this machine is a permanent addition to my collection, or if I'll find it a new home with a local young lady at Shelby's 1st birthday bash, or third, resell it for about what I paid for it, to someone looking for a nice starter machine. I hoard first, and then reevaluate if I really need a machine.
Random fun fact about this skirt, it was made by the International Ladies Garment Workers Union. Made in the good ol' U.S.A. This little tag was sewn to a side seam and a nice surprise. I picture a young girl in her twenties working in a garment factory with a scarce on her head, whistling the day away while sewing skirts. 
After sewing all the side seams, I went over to my serger to stitch the raw edge. If you do not have this machine, as most will not, simply zig zag the edge or use seam binding along the raw edge if the skirt is a little on the short side.
Now the most important step, and also a fun one. The chalk hem  marker. If you do not have one of these, they are worth the $10-20 investment to add to your sewing tools. It measures the distance from the floor, all the way around the skirt's hem, and using a hand pump, marks the skirt with a little bit of white chalk. Use it on floor length dresses or knee length ones. If you don't have the luxury of a sewing friend to help mark the skirt, this will be your third and fourth hands.
Look straight ahead and pump the chalk. Looking down will interfere with the accuracy of the mark! This will mark the NEW hem. Don't go too short! Look closely at the animated gif above, and you can see the horizontal white chalk marks.
Fold the fabric at the chalk marks, all the way around, pin perpendicular to the hemline.
Switch the stitch on your machine to the blind hem stitch. It's a combination of a straight stitch and a zig-zag. Every 5th stitch is a zag or a zig to the left, picking up the underside of the fabric. I'm awfully glad this 'new' Kenmore of mine has this stitch, so I didn't have to hunt down my Riccar or sew it by hand. 
Fold the fabric like so, above, and the zig to the left of the blind hem will grab the skirt, and the straight stitch sews along the serged edge. Take your time here. I rushed it a little, with a video shoot across town coming in between the sewing and after pictures. You only need to grab the littlest bit of the skirt's fabric.
Thanks to Clem for interrupting my after pictures. I don't think she's made an appearance on my blog in a while, but she's still around, grumping and always in my way. Hitting Zeus when he comes in to say hello, waking me up every morning sleeping with her nose touching my nose. Cats are the best.
If you look closely at the hem of the skirt, you'll see a slight shadow an inch and a half above the bottom of the skirt. That is where the blind hem stitched the skirt. This is what happens when you rush. and the stitch grabs too much of the fabric. As soon as I hit publish on this post, I'll most likely rip out the seam and sew it by hand or go back to the machine.
And I'm sure some of you are saying, well, 'why show us a hem that isn't perfect?'… well, when I photograph AND sew at the same time, and with time constraints, it's easy to let perfection slip away from your work. Another lesson, don't rush
And don't let this little brat fool you. She's currently head butting my elbow while I'm typing and meowing, rolling over, showing me her belly and begging for rubs. But that face, so full of sass!
Hopefully this tutorial and little lesson will inspire you to give that old banged up garment a second change. Just because it isn't ideal, doesn't mean you can't make it near perfect.
That's the beauty of sewing! You can give an old garment a facelift and make it your own. Don't discard that ugly skirt with a beautiful print; change it! What is your favorite alteration of vintage clothing? Or what would you like to learn? 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Sally Ann: In The Studio
The Making Of A Denim Clutch

Welcome to my sewing room. Enjoy a behind the scenes look at the making of a clutch, cut from a women's denim skirt. My favorite part of my work is transforming old discarded textiles into wearable fashion. Whether it's the denim on the exterior, or the small bits from a woman's blouse, t-shirt, and blanket that make up the lining of this clutch. 

The deconstruction and the construction, together, make the process and product so wonderful. Available for sale here.

More listings and new work up in the shop today as well. It's been a super busy week, shining and shining and polishing Shelby. I'll share some progress pictures soon!