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!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Owl get it all done by Yule

This is the time, each year, when I wish I'd crafted and sewed my ass off all summer, and that all my Yule presents were made, wrapped and ready to go.  <Cue the maniacal laughter>  Well, needless to say, I haven't and they're not.  I'm going to make these cute little owl pillows for Mike's three 3 year old grandchildren.  This guy is the prototype.  Theirs are going to be made in a cuddly fleece instead of the recycled menswear, but you get the idea.  I'll post other things as I get them made, as long as it doesn't spoil anybody's surprise.

I've also been working on getting some garments finished for my Etsy shop, though this has been a painfully slow process as well.  Where does time go?  Anyway, I finished another upcycled vest.  The vest itself was obtained from a Goodwill shop some years ago and the embellishments were added by yours truly, and completed this morning!  Hope you like it!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Tale of Two Tops

This week I've been sewing tops. The top image is an upcycle on a tank top that I really didn't like. I added a tulle ruffle and some beads, and now I plan to sell it. The second is Simplicity 0405, and has kind of an early seventies retro feel to it. Made that one for myself - small amount of self interest there, I guess. (You're seeing the detail view of the back of the top). Now I need to start thinking about Yule gifts. My budget is very limited this year, so I have to think homemade. I hope people can appreciate the time and effort that goes into handmade. What the gifts may lack in dollars spent will be more than made up in hours spent! But they're worth it!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Art of Scavenging (Lessons From Randy)!

Some people make things look so easy. I have a friend, Randy, who is the world's best scrounge. His home should be featured in a magazine. The decor is impeccable - tasteful and expensive looking. The interesting thing about it though, is that there is hardly an item in the house that was obtained at full retail price. We aren't merely talking about good sales either. We're talking deep discount on down to (possibly my favorite word in the English language after "love") FREE. How does he do it?

1. He is opportunistic. When presented with opportunity, he strikes, often not really knowing what he's going to do with an item once obtained, or how he is going to transport it. Our former place of employment was undergoing some renovations, which included the demolition of some Victorian era buildings. One day Randy noticed that workers were dismantling a marble staircase. He stopped one and asked what was being done with the marble. When he discovered that they planned to scrap it, he picked out a large slab from a landing and put it aside. Through one connection, he got ahold of a truck to move the marble, and via another he had the slab cut and polished into a top for a four seat table!

2. He is not afraid to take a chance on a sow's ear. Randy sees the potential in every cast-off pile of household detritus sitting by the side of the road with a sign that says (here's my favorite word again) "free". One day while I was visiting, Randy was focused on some activity going on outside. Some neighbors were moving a chaise down to the curb for trash day. Before they had made it all the way back inside, Randy was downstairs figuring out how to move it up to his place. On close inspection, it was not in showroom condition, but no matter, in it came, a once and future chaise. One man's trash is truly another man's treasure.

3. He invests time and elbow grease in his finds. The aforementioned chaise was treated to a full reupholstery job - but not in some fancy and expensive shop. No, Randy did the reupholstery himself with fabric also obtained at a deep discount.

4. A corollary to #3, he is not afraid to learn a new skill. When Randy "inherited" a cast-off dining room set from friends, he learned to strip the finish and lovingly applied layer after layer of tung oil. When the original owners saw the refurbished set, they were amazed at the result! As the result of this willingness to learn, Randy can do electric work, basic plumbing, furniture reupholstery and wood refinishing, stained glass, painting, wallpapering and much more.

Randy is one of my favorite inspirations as I look to reuse and upcycle. I think of him fondly whenever I see that pile by the side of the road, a scratch and dent item in a store, or an item in a thrift store. Thanks, Randy, I've learned a lot from you.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Things I've been up to

September flew by without one post, but that does not mean I haven't been busy! In fact, I don't really know where the time went. Time management has become a forefront issue for me, lately. I even drew up a Daily Routine sheet to remind me what I "should" be doing, and a Weekly Housework list, as well. Sounds all rather dull, until I think about the things I've been making. The cute Halloween Frame, above, was soooooo easy! Googly eyes, foam letters and witch, frame from the clearance rack at Target! Very good for pictures of the family in all their costume finery!
I completed a little jumper for Mike's granddaughter. She looks so cute in it, but of course I did not have my camera when she was wearing it, only in my studio, so here's a flat, girl-less photo so you can at least see it!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Max's Quilt

Well, Max's quilt is finally done! This was quite an interesting process, and took a long time, partly due to losing a place to sew part way through the project (a couple of times!)! First I went through all of the baby clothes provided by Max's mom, looking for interesting motifs that would make nice memories for Max's mom, as well as provide visual interest in the quilt. The motifs were then cut out and stabilized, and joined to plain denim pieces by machine piecing. Some motifs were too small, so these were hand appliqued to the quilt top. Then, I added lots of brightly colored buttons to the quilt top (it's ok, Max is well beyong the age to eat buttons!). The entire quilt top was then backed and bound with recycled fleece fabric to make the quilt cozy and warm for snuggling. The entire piece is twin bed sized. I hope Max gets many years of enjoyment from it!

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Wedding Gown

So, for the past several weeks, I've been consumed with sewing a wedding gown for a client... the lesson learned in the process was not to try to do such a big project in such a short period of time again (stay tuned to see if I actually learned the lesson, or if it's just the PTSD talking). I had three scant weeks, start to finish, soup to nuts, concept to finished gown! The gown itself was not a problem and the bride was lovely (no bridezillas here), but several aspects of the dress gave me fits. If I had it to do again, the skirt would have been attached differently so that the belt would lie the way I wanted it to. Also, the hand embroidered celtic knot, in the wedding colors of royal blue and emerald green, was WAY more time consuming than I thought it would be - yes, that very simple looking little knot, took hours. My favorite parts of the dress were the chiffon cloak, which took the place of a veil, and the way more chiffon overlaid cotton to make the perfect shade of ivory for the dress.
Now that that project is complete, I'm turning my sights back toward a major project I began over a year ago for a friend. It's a quilt made from discarded baby clothing, and I have to say, it's coming out super! Check back soon for pictures!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ancient Chinese Wisdom

We don't do fast food very often - a combination of fiscal prudence with health concern. Recently, we broke down and did a Chinese take-out night. I love fortune cookies (as well as all other forms of omen and divination) and I found mine quite appropos.
" We are made to persist. That's how we find out who we are."
Hmmmmm. Of course, dear Sherri and Marcy (whom I miss) at my former place of employment, would have added, "in bed", but let's not go there...

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Welcome to the Seams Sustainable blog. This is an off-shoot of my home-based business, which is clothing design and munufacture, using as many recycled and upcycled materials and embellishments as possible. I also do custom sewing (costumes for dance and historical re-enactment, formal wear, wedding attire, etc.) and I give sewing lessons, including lessons in clothing repair - an essential sustainability skill. The blog will give me a forum to share some of these things with you, and will probably frequently digress into other topics that interest me (and I hope some of them will interest you, too!). Just a few of these interests are sustainable living, frugality, gardening, cooking, Pagan spirituality, jewelry making, paper crafts, quilting and creativity. I sound like a granola crunching Grandma Moses (well, ok, I do like granola!), but I'm actually just learning about a lot of these things, so if I "say" something that doesn't sound quite right, please join in the conversation and help me out here!