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!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Lessons From The Past: Back to the Laundry

An important part of this blog has to do with sustainability.  We’ve spoken before about my desire to keep textiles out of landfills.  It almost goes without saying that we can better preserve what we have by taking great care of it!  Of course, THAT begins by choosing or making quality goods to begin with (and that’s a topic for another blog post), but once you have an item of clothing in your wardrobe, its useful length of life is determined, in part, by how you launder it.

Preparing to launder can be as important as the actual process itself.  As you place items in the hamper, examine them carefully for stains and visible wear (a future post will also deal with mending clothing to get the most life out of it!).  Pre-treat before throwing the item into the hamper, or, mark any trouble areas with a wooden clothespin.  This will remind you that some pre-laundry work is required!  Examine areas that conform closely to the body like the insides of collars, cuffs and armholes.  These areas come in contact with body oils and with perspiration which may lead to staining and discoloration of the fabric.

Stains and discolorations should be handled as soon as possible.  There are some great places to get information on stain removal, including: here, here and here! Even if you don’t see any obvious stains, a pre-soak can help to loosen dirt.  Once stains have been treated and the item has been laundered, check it carefully BEFORE drying.  If you use the dryer, the heat can permanently set the stain.  If you need another try at stain removal, do it while the item is still wet.

Grandma was right: always, AlWaYs, ALWAYS separate colors!  Whites stay whiter when washed apart from your colored clothing.  Over time they may still begin to look dull or gray, but this can be remedied with a capful of hydrogen peroxide every few months.

Lastly, take the time to zip up all zippers, turn clothing inside out, and place delicates in lingerie bags.  Zipping up helps to preserve the original shape of the garment in the laundry, as well as protect your washer from the metal pull.  Turning things inside out helps to keep colors from fading and protect any embellishments that cannot be removed for laundering.  And I just love lingerie bags.  I have them in multiple sizes (available from Crate and Barrel).  I use them for bras, nighties, hosiery, and even exercise clothing!

Happy laundering!  More to come on preserving and caring for your wonderful wardrobe!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Isn't that Pinteresting?

I admit it.  Pinterest is one of my guilty pleasures.  And I'm far from alone.  The internet is abuzz with with, well, buzz about one of the most successful and addicting social media sites to be invented.  And it's not just nameless, faceless hoardes of web trolls who frequent the site, its almost everyone I know.

When I'm looking for inspiration, whether it's planning my various home makeover projects or planning my next sewing project, I turn to Pinterest.  I follow many boards, not because I hold the pinner in high regard, but because I love the pinner's taste, or they are pinning about something I am passionate about as well. 

In this recurring feature, I'd like to share a pin from one of my boards (concentrating on sewing, of course, but I may stray a little now and then!), and tell you a little about why I pinned it.  I'd love for you to chime in, too, and let me know your opinions about the information, and point me in other directions if you've seen something similar, or maybe, in your opinion, better!

For installment 1, I'll start with something simple.  On my board, Sew Inspired, I pin anything that could inspire my sewing.  Patterns, sewing rooms, notions, tutorials (possibly some of yours!)... you name it, if it's related to sewing, you could find it here.  Here is one of my recent pattern pins, McCall's 4408, from 1957.

This pattern appeals to me on a number of levels.  You all know I love vintage, particularly the 50's, the thirties and the Victorian/Edwardian eras.  Come to think of it, I won't put my nose up at Medieval or Rennaisance stuff either!  So, the fifties MadMen vibe was of instant appeal.  I love that there is a wiggle dress option and a full skirt option... I can also see the wiggle with a sheer full over dress!  But the thing I loved the most was the cute bow embellishment on the hem.  This could be added to other patterns, or used to restyle a thrift shop find.  I even liked the nice earthtones the artist used to render the fashion illustration!  I can see this made up in a nice silk (or two).  This was originally pinned from the Etsy Shop of sydcam123, and, at least at the time of this post, was still available.
What do you think about this pattern?  Is this something you would pin, or are your pattern tastes different?  Let me know, and feel free to share the links to your sewing boards.  I'd love to take a peek!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Making Over Victoria: Laundry Rules

 One of the more minor decorating projects around the new home has been completing our laundry room. This is also temporary home to my sewing area – in the spring we hope to begin renovations to our 140 year old basement to put in a finished room down there which is planned to be my new sewing room.  The planned room will be large enough to accommodate an actual cutting table, as well as multiple sewing machines and ample fabric stash storage!

I believe this pretty much un-insulated laundry area was once an upper-level back porch, with its five bright windows, and near access to the back stairs.  I’m not sure when it was converted to a laundry, but that was the purpose the previous owners assigned to the room as well.  I think the it is coming out pretty cute, so I’d like to share a few pictures from the room… while not haute couture, I am sewing the curtains for this room, using one of the latest Pinterest trends, burlap and lace.  These are the completed valences.  The burlap was purchased from, and the lace was a yard sale find.  I scored a whole spool of it for pennies.  As you can see, there’s plenty left to complete the curtains, and then some.

This legless dresser was left behind by the previous owners of the home.  It makes a great place to store sewing supplies, and an equally nice window seat.  I’m planning on covering a cushion to make it even cozier.

While I lack a “before” picture, the walls in this room were formerly stark white. We definitely wanted to jazz things up a little, and we wanted to pay homage to the Victorian era without sacrificing modern convenience.  Corrugated galvanized steel roofing is the paneling we chose for the walls, with a periwinkle blue upper wall.  We first saw this used as a wall treatment in a regional fish fry restaurant. Galvanized buckets are used as light shades, and antique washboards, wringers, and clothes drying racks help to tie the theme together. 

We chose to stack our front loading washer and dryer because this saves floor space, and allows free access to the attic via the pulldown ladder in the ceiling of the laundry.  Please feel free to comment and let me know what you think about this room renovation.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, January 6, 2014

The New Old Machines

So, it’s been a very long while since I blogged.  I really have missed it, and my plan is to begin again this year.  So much has happened since I was last here.  I think I let life overwhelm me a little.  I pretty much stopped sewing last year for a while because my husband and I bought a new home.  I’ve been spending tons of time on decorating our 140 year old Victorian.  We live in an older section of our little city, and Victorians abound.

We've been doing a lot of work on the house, and I'll post a few of our makeovers and DIYs.

But before I get to that, I wanted to tell you about my very special Yule gifts!  I got, not one, but two wonderful antique singer sewing machines.  These machines are in terrific condition and date from the very early 1900s.  Both are housed in Cabinet Table No. 6,  though they have their differences, which I will elaborate on.  The first is in a lovely oak cabinet.  In researching the serial number, it was manufactured in Elizabeth, NJ in 1910. 

And of course the drawers were not empty!

The second machine dates to August of 1915.  It, too is a model 66 machine, but it is electric - a Singer motor was added later.  Both machines sport the "Red Eye" decal set very popular at that time. What really makes this machine special is that the cabinet is pristine birdseye maple!


 This one came with some swag as well, including the original manuals!

I hope you all had wonderful holiday seasons, no matter what you celebrate!  I hope it was merry and bright!