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!

Monday, April 30, 2012

HB 2 Me!

I'm sure I'm not alone in treating myself to a couple of goodies for my birthday.  At least I hope I'm not just utterly selfish and the only person who would do such a thing. 

I "found" a new antique shop on the outskirts of town.  Apparently they've been there since February, but who knew?  Certainly not me.  Anyway, I decided that today, being my birthday, I was not going to clean or do other housework, I was going to treat myself to an outing.  So, I went to the antique shop.  There I found two soft cover books of interest to sewists.

The first is the 1940 Simplicity Sewing Book, which sold for 15 cents at the time!  This gem is packed with advice on everything from fabrics to pattern fitting and alteration, and all manners of finishing, including facings, plackets, buttonholes, frogs, edging and hems.  The copy I got is worn around the edges, but still in very servicable condition!

The second item is the 1942 Make and Mend for Victory, produced by the Spool Cotton Company. The inside front cover contains the Consumer's Victory Pledge:

     "As a consumer, in the total defense of democracy, I will do my part to make my home, my    community, my country ready, efficient, strong.

     I will buy carefully -- and I will not buy anything above the ceiling price, no matter how much I may want it.

     I will take good care of the things I have -- and I will not buy anything made from vital war materials which I can get along without.

     I will waste nothing -- and I will take care to salvage everything needed to win the war."

Good advice to this day, really!  This volume teaches how to mend and patch, reclaim used wool, and restyle a variety of garments.

I had also indulged myself in a couple of patterns from Sandritocat's Etsy Shop.  I can make patterns larger to fit me, but I love it when I don't have to.  She had a couple of larger sized patterns I loved, so I treated myself and they came in today's mail.

Butterick 4228 is a skirt and top with the look of a sheath dress.  There is no date on the envelope, but it certainly screams 60s.

McCall's 6199 is copyright 1961, and is a suit with two skirt options, a slim pencil skirt, or a flared skirt.  I'm eager to sew both of these.
As far as the UFO dress, goes, I am working on that as well.  Just a few more tweaks and I should be able to reveal!  Thanks for attending my little birthday party and watching me "open" my gifts!

Friday, April 27, 2012

AL. most. Done.

So close and yet so far.  I'm almost done with the dress portion of Butterick 4355.  I want to slow down a bit and pay attention to some details.  But here are some sneak peeks.

It has grown and grown on me as I worked on it.  I really like the hand of the fabric.  The zipper went in with very little trouble, but there was the internal lining to deal with.

And it still needs a hook and eye at the top of the zip.  There's a kick vent at the back hem which I really like, but that still needs reinforcing.

And, as you can see, the whole thing still needs a final press.  So, it looks like I was overly optimistic in thinking I could finish today.  The weekend is upon us with lots of plans.

We're supposed to be going canoeing with another couple on Saturday.  I say "supposed" because it's only predicted to be 50 degrees here tomorrow and windy.  Then, we're going out for dinner to celebrate my birthday, which isn't until Monday, but weekends were made for celebrations.

Sunday brings a celebration for Beltane (Maypole dance included) so I'll be at that for most of the day.  No time to sew again until Monday.  Tune in then to see the final result! 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Darn Good Stuff - Webaliciousness!

Gee, and I thought I wasn't a hand model! This stock photo looks like "The Werewolf Gives a Stamp of Approval", but it's really my little stamp of approval. Here are some favorites from around the web for the week of April 22nd.

Justine from Sew Country Chick is one of my blog heroines.  She's a very talented designer, a mom and a homesteader.  Loved her post this week about buying thrift store clothing for children.  It was right on the money (tee hee)!

At Vintage Girl, Gina made the most adorable shorts from Kwik Sew 3854.  These would be super for those upcoming hot summer days!  But is the world ready to view my thighs in all their glory?

Spring is a time for proms and other formal dances.  The Urban Rustic posted the gorgeous taffeta gown she made for her college aged daughter's May Ball.  It is in one of my absolute favorite shades of blue.  What a lucky young lady to be able to wear such marvelous gown to her Ball!

I read tons (well, tons if you could weigh websites) of blogs on sewing, environmentalism, vintage goodies, crafts, thrift and frugal lifestyles.  Each week I'll try to bring you a few of my favorites, just to spread a little more love around.

Hey, the dress UFO is coming out so cool!  Should be finished tomorrow, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Workin' on the UFO

I get so angry with myself over these UFOs sometimes!  It frustrates me that I would begin a project and cast it aside without finishing.  That's just not something I would do in any other aspect of my life.  And yes, I suppose sewing is a "hobby" and perhaps not on the same plane as, say child rearing (Imagine putting your baby in a closet and coming back years later to finish "bringing him up"!), but there is an investment here.

First of all, it comes out of the bag looking as though someone slept in it!  This is the dress lining.

This is the fashion fabric for both the dress and the jacket, after pressing.  It's a charcoal grey with a subtle white check.  I think it's a good pick for the pattern.  It's deceptive in this picture but it's a very light weight suiting, definitely wearable in spring, summer and fall.

And I even managed to save the instructions!  Yay, me!  Well, heigh ho, heigh ho, it's off to work I go.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Another UFO Project: Butterick 4355

OK, so several years ago I started this pattern.  At the time, my job entailed dressing professionally for meetings and conferences.  Now my job entails sewing in jeans and a t shirt, mopping the floor in my jammies and walking the dog.  This will not exactly meet my everyday needs.  Perhaps an interview suit, should something open up locally in my line of work.  In any case I cut it ages ago, the dress and the jacket.  As you know, my goal is to sew through all my UFOs until there are no more, so, now's the time to finish this one.  Dress first, then the jacket at a future date.  What do you think?  Is it too dated?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Recipe? On a Sewing Blog?

Yes, a recipe, but not for food.  If you've read many of my posts and looked at the pictures featuring my hands, you can tell I have some issues with dry skin.  A hand model I'm not.  In addition to the dry skin on my hands, (well, pretty much everywhere) I also get eczema on my face.  Around my eyebrows and along the hairline.  I've been reading a lot of natural remedy sites and I've tried a few of the various creams and lotions. 

I have always found plain coconut oil to work well, but have you ever tried to get it out of the jar when it's cold out?  So, I decided to whip up a little something of my own.  Though I researched a lot of sites, I think this recipe is original.

Dee's Dry Skin Coconut Balm

2T finely grated beeswax
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup rosewater
1/2 tsp vegetable glycerin

In a large Pyrex measuring cup mix the beeswax and the coconut oil.  Heat at thirty second intervals in the microwave, stirring between each interval.  Add the glycerin when all is melted, and stir.  Using a hand stick mixer, begin mixing the warmed oil, beeswax and glycerin.  While mixing, slowly add in the rosewater.  Continue beating until the mixture looks fluffy.

This can be used as a hand cream, or on eczema.  It is somewhat greasy, but if you are patient, most of this absorbs.  Just the thing for those hands dried out from slaving over a hot sewing machine all day!  If anyone tries it, please let me know what you thought.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Vintage Shopping Break

Today I went to visit a little vintage shop we're lucky enough to have in town called Laura's Vintage.  I have been meaning to visit for some time now and just never seem to get the chance.  So, I decided to make the time today.  I was really glad I did.

First, let me say that there is a Laura, and she's very friendly and helpful.  Just the right balance between letting you browse in peace and being there when you need her.  This can be a challenge for a shop owner.

The selection is lovely and spans many decades, but I would say that the proponderance of merchandise is fifties to sixties in origin.  There are lovely dresses, both day and evening, hats, bags, and all manner of accessories.

She even had a little basket of (gasp) sewing patterns, so of course I snagged two.

Simplicity 5375 from 1972 looks nifty for lounging.  And Simplicity 6470 from 1974, which is primarily of interest to me for the blouses.  They are both "Look Slimmer" patterns, which was also the claim to fame for my vintage sailor dress.  Bonus for me.

Also in that little corner I found a needle book, intact save for one darning needle!

And, the piece de resistance, I could not leave without this adorable, happy, springy sixties dress.  I had to have it and it was so cute.  And it was just $25.  So I had to buy it.  Right?

I especially love the pink plastic buckles at the shoulders.  This is very me.

Anyway, I absolutely love this shop.  I need to stay away for a while for the sake of my budget, but I can guarantee that I will return to shop again another day.  Occasionally we all need a little break from sewing!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Upcycled Mom Jumper

I call them "mom jumpers".  Those shapeless long jumpers that fill the racks at thrift stores.  Even if they are not your style, they offer lots of potential for restyling. Here's one I picked up at Salvation Army yesterday.

I felt as though the price for this one was a little high, given how very worn the jumper was in appearance.

There was fading along major seam lines and pleats.

And the kick pleat on the skirt was tearing.

But it was a nice sturdy jersey material, and I really liked the fish print!  So, first I cut off the skirt.

Next, I sewed the new raw edge to create what would become shoulder seams on a new crop top.  I left a wide opening for a boat neckline.  Next I made bias binding from more of the fabric.

The I cut sleeve holes just beneath the new shoulders.

I bound the neckline and the sleeves with this self bias binding.  I left the hem of the former skirt intact as the hem of the new top, but that left a problem because the kick slit was ripping.  So I made a little bow from more fabric and covered it!

Then I added my label!

And here's the finished product:

That was fun, and it took about two hours, start to finish.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Art of Chaos - My Sewing Room

 "You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star." ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Today I thought I'd give you a glimpse into my little world of chaos, my sewing room.  Not too long ago I wrote a post semi-whining about not having room to cut in my sewing room.  In my defense, the room is tiny.  But it's also full.

Confession is good for the soul, right?

The sewing table contains the two main machines, various tools and notions, the directions from whatever I'm working on at the time, etc.

“Our real discoveries come from chaos, from going to the place that looks wrong and stupid and foolish.” ~ Chuck Palahniuk

There are piles of bins with stash fabrics and saved scraps.  In these bins you can clearly see satin and tulle netting saved from my mother's wedding gown - but no archival acid free tissue paper gently swathing it, no obvious effort a preservation beyond the bins themselves.  In another corner is an antique steamer trunk, also FULL of fabric.

 “In chaos, there is fertility.” ~ Anais Nin

Here you see the twin towers of terror, the stacking drawers which hold all manner of things.  Zippers, boning, horsehair braid, embellishments, fabric paints and dyes, rubber stamps for surface designs, snaps, pins, needles, and almost anything else you might need.

There's also a bookcase for all those sewing books I can't live without and a storage cube unit which houses trims and ribbons and buttons. 

“Invention, it must be humbly admitted, does not consist in creating out of void but out of chaos.” ~ Mary Shelley

Believe it or not, I thrive in my little chaotic bubble.  I love spending time in my sewing room, whether I'm planning my next project, working on completing one, or sharing the results with you, I always feel inspired here.  I'll never make it into an issue of Where Women Create, but I love what comes out of this familiar jumble.

“I like it that order exists somewhere even if it shatters near me.” ~ Elizabeth Moon

Thanks for stopping in and joining me in my little sewing space today.  I hope you won't leave appalled, and can forgive me my eccentricity.  Do you have organized chaos, or do you sew in airy, roomy, luxurious order?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

I Have Been Redeemed

So, after the confidence shaker earlier this week of completing the Edwardian Skirt, only to find that it did not fit, I decided to sew up the Colette Meringue I had cut a few weeks ago.  This was a fun skirt to sew.  It went together very easily and there were no snags.  I made it in a cute dragonfly print I've been saving for years, never quite sure what to do with it.  I like it in this skirt.  I think it makes an already fun piece even more so.

And, yes, that really is me in it!  I had to show that this one actually fit!  My junior photographer had a little trouble getting all of me in the lensfinder without making me look distorted, so I'm afraid a torso shot is what you get!  At least with school being out for spring break there was someone home to act as photographer! Can't wait to wear this skirt - I hear it's supposed to be warm this weekend!

Well, I feel better!  Have you ever needed to bolster yourself with a success following a sewing failure?  Thanks for looking, and thanks for your comments!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Sewing a Basic Sustainability Skill?

I've been sewing since I was in junior high school.  At that time, one could pretty consistently sew a garment for less than the cost of ready made.  My first creation was a peasant styled purple maxi dress (that fairly accurately places the time period as the very late sixties/early seventies).  I remember feeling so stylish in it.

With that first garment, I was hooked.  I made skirts and blouses for school, and lovely dresses for parties and proms.  As a young wife I made curtains and small appliance covers for my first home.  And, as my daughter grew and became a dance soloist, I made her many costumes.

Since the time of that first maxi dress, sewing has become more of a boutique hobby.  As I've already posted on this blog, sewing can be quite expensive if one uses all new materials and  full-price patterns.  So why do I call sewing a sustainability skill?

We can pretty much agree that, unless you live in a nudist colony, clothing is an everyday essential.  I'm not talking about high fashion, or the latest fad clothing, but instead about the clothes we need to go about our everyday activities.  The clothing that protects us from the elements.  And that clothing
need not be unattractive.  Adornment is as old as humanity.

Here are just a few of the ways I feel sewing qualifies as an essential sustainability skill:
  • Making garments out of other garments, fabric remnants and discarded softgoods.
  • Altering existing garments to fit a wearer.
  • Repairing garments that are torn, worn, or otherwise compromised.
  • Making totes and sacs for carrying things.

The "Make Do and Mend" mentality is essential to a sustainable way of life.  Sewing is one means of keeping your garments functional for many years, and for extending their life into something new when their usefulness has seemingly come to an end.
Linked to Frugally Sustainable and The Thrifty Home.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Amazing Shrinking Pattern?

I am puzzled, befuddled and bamboozled!  I am sad and bereft.  My beautiful Edwardian Skirt does not fit me!  In fact, It came out INCHES too small.  I am confused.  And I want to cry.  The pattern was for a 34 - 36 inch waist.  Check.  I followed all instructions and the 3/8ths inch seam allowances to the letter.

So, why oh why did the waist on the finished garment come out to 31.5 inches?  It didn't even fit Betsy, my dress dummy, with all her dials dialed to the smallest possible numbers.  Oh well. live and learn.  I didn't think I needed to do a muslin for a skirt.  I thought wrong!  And it came out so awesome, too, and I can't even wear it. 

Back to the drawing board... another restyle?  A UFO?  Or the Colette Meringue I cut a couple of weeks ago?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Skirt Progress

My Edwardian skirt progresses.  I found a sueded cream fabric to use as a facing for the scallops.  The picture above shows the joining process.  I really like the result.  On the other hand, those buttons were giving me fits!  I had no idea the buttons wouldn't practically snap themselves together!  Now maybe I was doing something wrong, or maybe my fabric was too thick, but this was not easy.

And, I don't think they came out that great...however, I have 12 little buttons for the side of my skirt.  Have any of you ever used one of these kits?  How were your results?

Hopefully I will finish this tomorrow.  Please come back to see how this came out!  Thanks!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

I'd Like to Thank...

I am floating on cloud nine this morning because one of my projects, the Upcycled T Shirt, was named as one of the top ten projects submitted to the Green Craft Showcase for March on Crafting A Green World!  I am so honored to be included amongst some fabulous green artists, and I'm thrilled that my entry was the only garment on the top ten.  Thank you to all of you for your support, and your wonderful comments on that project, and on all of my work.  I really appreciate all of you.

And a huge thank you to the very wonderful Denise at The Blue Gardenia learns to sow her blossoms for nominating me for a Liebster Blog Award!  I love Denise's blog, where she chronicles not only her sewing progress, but also gives us little snippets of her life.  I love it when she talks about her dogs, or when one sneeks into a picture when she's showing a completed project.

This is an award for blogs with less than 200 Followers, so, alas, I do qualify.  What's great about this is the extra encouragement and support, and that is the award's intended purpose.  I'm feeling quite encouraged and supported!  It's working already!

What are the rules attached to this award, you might ask? 
  1. Thank the person who nominated me on my blog - Thank you, Denise, I really do appreciate it!
  2. Link to that writer's blog - done, and please do visit not only her blog, but her fabulous pattern shop.
  3. Exhibit the badge on my blog - done.
  4. Nominate five other blogs for the honor to keep the love going!
  5. Leave a comment to let those bloggers know they've gotten a Liebster.
Here are my five picks:
  1. Sewing and Music
  2. Scared Stitchless
  3. Cotton Creek Sewing
  4. Sew Vintage, So Fun!
  5. biblioblog
All of these blogs are great fun, so please be sure to check them out.  I'm very sure you'll be glad you did.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Favorite Early Re-Style

Spring is so beautiful and cleansing!  Here's a picture from last weekend at my favorite retreat center!

I wanted to have something to show you at the end of the week, but I'm really spending a lot of time on my 1912 Skirt.  So, I thought I'd show you one of my first restyles.  It's not a major overhaul, but an enhancement that I love.  I wear this jacket constantly in spring and fall!  Even sometimes when the air conditioning is too intense in the summer.  It's my go to outdoor jacket.

You may remember that I LOVE dragonflies.  I had found the denim jacket in a thrift store for about $3.  And, though I wanted to wear it as a jacket and not alter the structure, it was a little plain.  So, I drew my little friend dragonfly amid the moon and stars. 

I made a pattern using paper and cut out each piece with an extra quarter inch allowance for tucking under.  Using the paper applique method, I stitched each piece of fabric onto the paper pattern, turning under the allowances as I went.  Then, I pressed the pieces and gently tore away the paper.  I placed the pieces on the starry sky background fabric and stitched them in place!

If you ever see the crazy lady with the dragonfly jacket at a yard sale or sewing show, that's me!  Stop me and say hello!