Saving the planet... one garment at a time!

... and one upcycle at a time... Welcome to my blog: A place to have an "over the fence conversation" about sewing, altered couture, upcycling, and all kinds of crafts using found objects, beads, ephemera and other vintage finds!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Opinions Please

Recovery is proceeding nicely since my clumsy tumble down the stairs. The one good thing about it was that while elevating my foot, I was forced to watch Season 2 of Downton Abbey. I was held in thrall for many hours, and now I have to worry about the fate of cousin Brendan (it's a joke... Please see my maiden name) until Season 3 hits stateside :-(.

Now that I'm ready to resume sewing, I think my next project will be a blouse of some sort, possibly the lovely (and free) Colette Sorbetto. Then, in keeping with my pledge, it'll be back to the UFO pile to see what else awaits me there.

Aside from these plans, I've been wondering... Is there anything in particular that you'd like to see featured on these pages? A technique we could explore together, or a topic you haven't found covered elsewhere? Please comment and let me know!

Image credit: The Graphics Fairy

Monday, February 27, 2012


Hi everyone.  Had a somewhat wasted weekend due to a sprained ankle.  I fell down the basement stairs trying to carry down an overly full laundry basket and rolled my left ankle.  RICE is nice! It could be a lot worse, so I'm resting, catching up on Downton, and working on future stuff for this blog.  I can't really sew for a few days... it hurts to leave my foot dependent for too long, and the sewing room is upstairs.

When I'm feeling a little down Handmade Ryan Gosling always makes me laugh, so here's one for you, too!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Completed Project - Boxy Jacket

New Look 6619 is done!  I'm not sure why I relegated this to the UFO pile, but I'm glad it's out and done!  I'm happy with the way it looks with the previously completed skirt, and it fits nicely.  Here are some pictures:

My biggest critique of myself here is that I did not carefully match the plaid.  I remember not really caring at the time I cut it, which is very uncharacteristic of me.  I remember having enough fabric to cut it, but not to match.  All in all, not bad for a UFO completion project.  Have a super day!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Buttoning Things Up

Having worked all morning on it, the lining is in, tacked, hemmed, and generally looking good.  Or, at least I hope its looking good.  The jacket still needs some final pressing and the buttons and buttonholes.

Which is what led me to my button stash.  Modest I suppose, compared to my fabric stash(es), it's still always confusing to pick buttons for a project.  With the sailor dress, I really did not already have in my stash, the button that was needed for that project, but with this jacket, I was pretty sure I had something that would work.  That being said, it was more work than I anticipated to choose!

First I sorted a little by size and general appearance.  "The One" needed to be about an inch in diameter in order to be seen, but not so big as to steal the show.

Some were too brown for a grey suit, some were too bright.  I finally settled on these, a 7/8ths inch faux tortoise shell set.  I hope to finish this one tomorrow, but we'll see what the day brings!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Chipping Away

Just a short post today... I wanted you to see that I'm chipping away at the jacket.  The sleeves are in now, as well as the lining, though that is not complete, as it isn't completely sewn in and tacked in place.  After that, I plan to hem the sleeves, and then, more buttonhole and button fun!

Also, as you can see, the skirt I made to go with the jacket two years ago has been dug out of its place in the stash and pressed.  It looks nice on Betsy, and she needed something to go with the jacket. 

Better pictures once the whole ensemble has been finished, I promise!  Thanks for looking!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

But I Digress

Yes, I am working on my jacket.  However, I often have more than one project in the pipeline.  My first loves (garment sewing and altered couture) tend to get the lion's share of my attention, but every once in a while another project calls to me.  I started this wallhanging quilt this past summer.  It was another time intensive kind of thing because I designed the cat applique, the top was machine pieced and then the cat was hand appliqued into place.

Then, I hand quilted the top to the other layers and hand closed the binding.  I learned hand quilting on a hockey trip with my son to the outskirts of Amish Country in Pennsylvania.  I happened by a quilt shop when two Mennonite women were demonstrating the technique.  Up until that point, though I'd tried to follow instructions in books, it had just not really sunk in.  Seeing them do it made all the difference!

I think it's a really cheerful piece.  I love the bright colors in the batik squares, which were purchased as a set from Jo-Ann's.  It'll make a really nice hanging on someone's wall.  Ok, enough procrastinating... back to my jacket!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Next Project: UFO #1, New Look 6619

So, the first of my UFOs to be rectified is New Look 5519, a cute boxy jacket.  I believe I started this two years ago.  I had a great menswear wool suiting fabric on hand and I decided to make a suit.  I completed a nice pencil skirt, and chose this pattern to make a jacket from, and then cut it out and never began the sewing.  Though I have made many successful jackets in the past I remain intimidated by them - buttonholes and buttons and linings - oh, my! 

I have now gamely started the process of sewing and have put together the main body of the jacket, view C.  Next up is adding the sleeves.  I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


I'm sure you're quite aware that I speak not of the alien spaceship, but of the ever troublesome Unfinished Object. Recently, The Sew Weekly did a UFO challenge, and, inspired, I dusted off one of my own UFOs to complete. I have to acknowledge that I have quite a few of these, and so I began thinking about the psychology behind all those unfinished projects.

Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, captures the guilt associated with confronting UFOs, in a 2010 article for Psychology Today.  She says that "the thought “I should finish that…why haven’t I finished that?” makes [her] flinch". I have to agree, when I come across my little unfinished gems hidden in my fabric stashes, the feeling that I most often become aware of is guilt. The wastefulness of having cut into perfectly good fabric, but not completing the garment, seems almost sinful.

One theory about UFOs comes from the world of ADD literature, where it seems to be assumed that a body simply becomes distracted by other brighter and shinier projects. In other words, once the excitement of the initial phase of the project has worn off, the sewist just moves on to something else. While that may be the case for some people, I think my own answer lies elsewhere.

I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist. "Researchers have identified six major dimensions of perfectionism—extreme concern over making mistakes, high personal standards, the perception of high parental expectations and criticism, doubting the quality of one’s actions, and preference for order and organization". This describes me to a "T". I often fear that my work will be judged lacking if it is not absolutely perfect. Hence, most of my UFOs tend to be garments that challenge me, or require some skill or technique I've not yet perfected.

My plan for reducing my UFO guilt is to commit to pulling out these projects and completing them, or salvaging what I can, and moving on. My plan is to do one of these in between each new project taken on. I'm sure I'll learn some good skills along the way, and hopefully gain confidence as well. Perfection, after all, is an illusion that is not realistically attainable. And, I plan to bring you along for the ride to keep me motivated to follow through. Thanks, in advance, for your support. Tomorrow, the first of the UFOs!


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sew Love

Roses are red,
Violets are blue. 
Sewing's the thing that I like to do.

When times are sad,
When rewards seem few,
Sewing's the thing that pulls me through.

It's always fun
To make something new
And, with my blog I can share it with you!

Happy Valentine's Day to all the sewers and crafters and bloggers, wherever you may be.  My poetry may be poor, but my feelings for my craft and for the others who engage in it are real.  Have a wonderful day! 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Completed Project - Vintage Sailor Dress

As promised, I completed the sailor dress, Simplicity 5566, today!  I am very happy with how it came out.  The fabric was from Vogue Fabrics, purchased several years ago at a sewing show.  I was waiting for just the right pattern for it, and I think it works well here.  The pattern is a "look slimmer" pattern, and I have to say it looks very nice on.  As noted earlier, I did alter the pattern slightly to accomodate larger hips.  I didn't have anyone handy to take pictures of me in it, so I used my dress form, Betsy, though I have to say I like it better on me than on her - don't tell her I said so.

Not sure what's up with the way the sleeve is hanging here in these pictures, but it honestly hangs fine in real life.  Thank you for reading, and stay tuned for my next project! 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Making Progress

I'm finally making some real progress on my vintage sailor dress (Simplicity 5566)!  I am quite excited about how things are going now.  I have one more sleeve to attach, the buttons and the hem.  I did decide to hand sew the buttonholes.  They aren't as uniform and neat as I might like, but I am glad that I did them.

I also finished binding the seams.  There's nothing I like better than a nice, neat, finished look to the inside of a garment.  Well, ok, there are some things I like better ;-).

I'm also pleased with how my hand stitched hems came out on the sleeves.

So, I should be able to reveal the completed dress within a day or so.  Thank you for hanging in there and watching my progress!

Monday, February 6, 2012


Yes, yesterday was Superbowl Sunday, but the SCORE I'm speaking of didn't have anything to do with the game (Yea, Giants!), as I'm really not a football enthusiast, though I do live in a house full of them.  No, my score occurred earlier in the day at our local Friends of the Library Book Sale.  Being frugal in the extreme, I usually attend the sale on Sunday because Sunday is bag day...all the books you can cram into a standard size plastic grocery bag for one low price.  If you love to read, that alone should be enough to get your heart pumping.  Of course I always peruse the non-fiction area, specifically in the DIY category.  Yesterday I found a copy of the Good Housekeeping New Complete Book of Needlecraft by Vera P. Guild.  This is the 1971 reprint of the 1959 original, with sections on sewing, embroidery, quilting, rugmaking, crochet, and much more.  As you can see, the dust jacket is not in the best shape, however, the book within is practically mint!  And, this book must have been a donation to the sale, as it had an inscription on the flyleaf.
"Janie, Christmas 1971, Have many happy hours! Love, Mums".  Well, Mums, I hope Janie did have many happy hours with her book.  Now, forty years later, I hope to as well.

Also, I did manage to purchase the buttons I needed for my sailor dress.  Back to work on that project!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

In the Interim

I'm stalled on my sailor dress, waiting to find just the right buttons.  So, in the interim, I decided to share another of my thrifted vest upcycles.  These are fun and simple to do.  Find an old men's vest in a thrift sore, and embellish, or alter as you like!  In this case I took a thrifted men's tie with colors that compliment the subtle stripe in the vest and turned it into a ruffle.  I added some burlap flowers and buttons to feminize it.  This can be worn with jeans and a top, over a dress, or with a skirt and blouse!  The materials cost for the vest comes in at about $6.

Also, I wanted to share one of the Yule gifts I made, this one for my son.  It's a simple throw made from his old ice hockey jerseys.  It was fun, easy, and quick to make, which is what I really needed while I was in the throes of gift production.

Hopefully I can acquire the buttons I need over the weekend and get moving on the sailor dress.  I didn't want to start buttonholes until I had the buttons they are intended for in hand.