Vintage Spring Top

Well, I had to get in on the Vintage May action too, especially when I came upon this sheet set at Goodwill last month. 

The woman in front of me was fairly certain that her parents used to own a set!  Sweet.  My thinking was to use it for muslins, as I wanted to delve into some more advanced sewing.  But, then again, it would be great if I actually could wear my “practice” Spring Ruffle Top (minus the ruffles).  What do you think?

I like it!  You can find this tutorial by Rae, which appeared as a guest post a couple of years ago, on Sew Mama Sew, or in Rae’s tutorial section.  Looked easy enough, and I was really excited about maternity alterations that were suggested by another contributor (help, can’t find a link to the woman who made a few of these, one with a tie on the bottom hem?).  Anyhoo, yes, I said it, maternity.  16 weeks ya’ll! And now for the baby bump reveal…

Due date is very close to my birthday in early November, but I’m targeting Halloween, cause I just love it.  I don’t think I will have any trouble fitting into this as I expand, it is pretty roomie.  The new skill I attempted was adding piping to the bust seam and straps!  Check it out… and allow me to enjoy my temporarily voluptuous (ha!) bosom.

I thought the addition of the lime green piping added to the retro-vintage vibe.

I hemmed the back piece a good bit shorter than the front.  You kinda have to try it on and figure it out for yourself a bit.  I really wished I’d included the arm divots, but it wasn’t making sense to me in the tutorial pics.  I needed my mom to help me, but she was out-of-town!

Attempting a pigeon-toed pose.

I can just hear my childhood ballet teachers scolding me now.  Seriously though, what’s with all the pigeon-toed poses out there?

Anyway, I’m pretty psyched to be sewing for myself for a change.  I have a few more ideas up my sleeve, and some pretty fabric to cut up, so stay tuned.

Just for fun, I whipped up a couple of “Garden Skirts” for Ellery and Avery out of the big sheet.

Nice fourth position Ell!

I might have to make a grown up Garden Skirt.  I actually have yet to sew with elastic thread, gonna try it.

Cheese!

~Caroline

Feature: The Beaded Ladies

Warning: photo heavy post!  For a while now I’ve wanted to show off my mother-in-law, Arlene’s beautiful beading work.  Last visit out there, I remembered to snap some photos, but regretted that I’d left my nice camera back in Virginia.  Anyhow, these are (a few of) “The Beaded Ladies”…

For years these women, and others, have been meeting in the park daily (seven mornings a week!) for slow-tai-chi exercises.  On Mondays a group of them gathers afterwards in the Santa Anita Mall food-court for beading and socializing.  We see them every time we visit, and they are the cutest ladies EVER. Often, one of them has returned from Taiwan with orders of Swarovski beads fulfilled for her friends.  It’s all cheaper in Taiwan!

When I first met my husband, 7+ years ago, his mother and her friends were mainly beading little figurines and simple jewelry.  Now they are focused on jewelry.  New patterns arrive from Taiwan every year.   The ladies have the inventory for a mean Etsy shop.   But no, they do not sell any of it!  As we crafters know, it is almost impossible to put a price tag on our hard work and time spent.  Arlene’s work is either on display in her dedicated beading room, or gifted (most often to me!).   Here are some of my faves:

First, the old stuff:

And the newer products:

Oscar night anyone? If I had fancier places to go, these would all get much more wear!  They really are statement pieces, aren’t they?  I love the new beaded cuff-style bracelets.  Avery loves to play with the less fragile pieces.  She says , “pees-cay-pay-yith-yo-jewry-box-m0m?” as if it were one really long word.  During our last visit, she spent hours with “Nai Nai” in her beading room.  All those colors! I can totally see her rockin’ this bling to elementary school in the future!

An oldie but a goodie.

Thank you Arlene, we love you, and cherish your gifts!

~Caroline

 

Super Soft Ear Warmer

When Erin recently linked me to a blog post by Delia Creates, I immediately bookmarked it with mulitple stars.  I knew I would get back to it when I had the chance.  When Mary Wade (my first-ever-Mom-friend) had a birthday, the lightbulb when off (on?), and I whipped up a little something for her.

Pei’s old, semi-girly, cashmere sweater was begging to be upcycled into something seriously girly! I followed Delia’s tutorial as I got started, and then I went off on my own a bit.  The underside is a fun fleece from Joann’s, purchased 2 years ago I think (wasn’t there last time I checked).

 Though I attempted other options, the flower wound up being my own whimsical success.  Working with a long length of the cashmere (20 inches by 4 inches or so), I folded the piece in half and began to hand gather and twist until it looked cool. Then, I just stitched it until it stayed put, and later attached it to the headband.

Another mini-victory was that I happened to have a button on hand that matched perfectly!  Choosing to go with a button closure gave me some good ol’ button-holeing practice on the machine too.  A valuable skill indeed! 

And without further ado…Mary!

Work it girl!  That little guy there is “Baby Bobby”, Mary’s third baby, who is also decked in Hungie Gungie gear (a bib from Erin, and a bjorn cozy from me).

Forget it boys, she’s married (and the mother of 3, so…). 

A look from behind:

 Ah, I love it!  I have a feeling I will be stuck on making these for a while.  You don’t mind do you?

~Caroline

UPcycled: old dress to new dress

There’s a great little  thrift shop here in Charlottesville that’s located in the back of a baptist church- When you walk in, you are handed a plastic grocery bag.  It’s only $2 to fill the bag, which pretty much feels like you’re stealing.  I actually felt guilty stuffing my bag and then handing over a couple of bucks to the nice old church lady (who was so sweet- she kept bringing me little kid’s clothes to see if I liked them).  I wouldn’t say this place had the greatest selection of clothing, but I was really looking for things to repurpose anyway- I found a bunch of old vintage dresses that had some interesting prints (but not such interesting style).  This one in particular caught my eye:

Ain’t she purty???  I liked the stripes a lot, the fabric is nice and thin, and it moves easily.

It was really had to part with those sleeves…. but I decided to hack it up and just use the skirt. 

Basically, I cut off the skirt and attached it to a black T-shirt that I had.  I tried on the shirt, pulled the skirt up to where I thought the waist should be (I opted for a high-waisted dress here).  I marked where I thought the two should come together, then cut the bottom half of the shirt off.  I then did two rows of gathered stitches on the top edge of the skirt.  I stuffed the shirt into the skirt and lined up the raw edges (you end up sewing the right sides together).  I used my serger to keep the seam nice and neat inside.  Then, I pulled the shirt back out to reveal my new and improved dress.  No hemming required.

I had to make a little belt out of the top part of the old dress, because the seam where the shirt and skirt meet looked a little bumpy.  I put a couple of buttons (taken from the shoulder of the old dress) off to the side and sewed a couple of buttonholes.  Caroline suggested that maybe I add a couple more buttons to the other side so it looks symmetrical- what do you think?  I kind of like it off center, but maybe it would look better?  Do the buttons to the side look intentional or does it look like I need to adjust my belt? 

I’m very happy with my thrifty find, and my new dress.  It’s comfortable and it was pretty much free.  And I’m all about free these days!  Amen!

-Erin

Momma’s got a brand new bag…

Ever since last week’s creation, I’ve been on a bag kick.  Now that I get the gist of basic bag making, I wanted to try something different.  A few pleats, several buttons, lots of topstitching, a pocket, and a heap of scraps later, this was born:

I liked the adjustable strap idea from the Awesome Bag, but I didn’t want to get button-crazy with this one…. SO, I sewed one side of the strap to the bag, and made three buttonholes on the other side of the strap.  I recycled some sweet buttons from a sweater (which sadly, I only got a few wears out of before it started unravelling into oblivion! …I’m so annoyed with you, J.Crew!).

The flower fabric is Anna Maria Horner’s square dance voile.  It makes a perfect pocket.

The green print is Amy Butler, and the solid blue is cotton twill.  Instead of interfacing to give the bag some structure and heft, I used some old fleece I had lying around- the bag has a nice weight to it without feeling stiff.  The main lining is made of  muslin.  I’m kicking myself that I didn’t put a pocket on the inside too to hold all my small junk like lip gloss, keys, loose change, and loose crumbs… oh well, next time.  For now though, I love that this bag is pretty, bright, and soft.  I especially love that it looks so nice with my new (and more importantly cheap) yellow Target shoes.

-Erin

awesome

I made this bag using a super easy tutorial by Meg of Elsie Marley.  It’s called “the awesome bag”, and for good reason.  It’s reversible, and the strap is adjustable… It uses 2 different fabrics- using only a 1/2 yard of each, which is…. dare i say it- awesome.  There are 5 buttons going up each side of the bag, so you can adjust the strap length to your liking.  Make it long, and it’s like a messenger bag- or keep it short, and it’s more like a handbag.

It is completely reversible- the strap as well…. (that means there are… 20 buttons in all- 10 on the outside, 10 on the inside.  yowza.)  So, you can change it up based on your outfit or your mood.  The inside fabric on mine is a khaki linen, and the outside is some Japanese fabric that I’ve been wondering what to do with for a long time…. it’s by Echino.  I think this was the perfect project for it.

I’m not sure if I’ll keep this one for myself, or give it away… I have it in mind for a friend who happens to be…. you guessed it- awesome.

-Erin

Schoolhouse Tunic

I was a little nervous about making this.   A homemade shirt?  Ehh…. a little risky.  I didn’t want to end up looking like I belonged with these fine girls:

(No offense ladies- I definately fit into your color scheme as you’ll see below…)

I came across this Sew Liberated pattern and googled some images.  Lo and  behold, lots of girls have made these tunics and they actually look kind of cute!  (p.s. why do I not like the word “tunic”?)

So I went to our local fabric shop armed with a birthday gift certificate from my sis, bought some really nice quality powdery blue cotton, let it sit there for 3 weeks and then got sewing….

 

I have to say that a few things went wrong here.   First, I ran out of my blue thread about halfway through.  So, I ended up using some gray instead- luckily you can’t tell.  But, that did require some seam ripping here and there.  Then, I had a major issue with the sleeves.  The directions say to gather your sleeve at the shoulder first so it will fit the armholes in the bodice when you attach it- thus giving a slight gathered look at the shoulders when finished.  Well, I found that my sleeve pieces fit the armholes perfectly and when I tried to gather them and sew them on, it totally didn’t work!  I tried twice and after the second time seam ripping… I wanted to seam rip my eyeballs!  Extremely frustrating to say the least.  When I googled this issue online, I found many people had the same problem.  Ugh. 

…Anyway, here is my “tag” as of late- a cute little piece of bird ribbon….

The last little glitch in all of this was when I sewed the skirt to the bodice.  I had to take in the skirt about 1/2″ at the center and create another pleat.  For some reason my skirt ended up a little wider than the bodice… so, that wasn’t too big of a deal, but really this shirt is only supposed to have 2 pleats on the front.  But, I’m happy with it.  See?  I’m smiling.

So, what do I think of the finished look?  Worth all the seam ripping.  I will make another one- maybe next time I’ll shorten it so it’s less of a tunic and more of  a shirt.  But, we’ll see… With these things, sometimes you kinda just have to go with the flow, cross your fingers and hope you don’t end up looking like a sisterwife!

– Erin