Archive for June, 2008

Etsy at 50 items!

While waiting for calls, I’m cleaning house of all kinds of things I’ll never wear or alter, and getting them up on Etsy.

Here’s hoping they go.

Refashioning… a work space

I used to have a dining room.

It’s now my work space, home to files and a printer and a few spots to post ideas and deadline reminders and all.

Computer sits on this small table pulled from an alley when it still was green and had a narrow shelf underneath. The shelf since has been dropped, redrilled and bolted on and the whole thing a stunning shade of purple found on the Home Depot Oops paint table. Scanner machine fits underneath now, and the alterations are less apparent.

I can’t sew right now. I’ve knitted a tiny bit while watching TV news, but I don’t feel like I have the luxury of crafting quite yet. Soon, I hope, once the chips have fallen and I have a productive daily routine.

At least I’m finishing something. 

Cleaning house

At least while unemployed and looking for work, I will get done some little stuff I couldn’t manage while on the job full time. Like post to the Craigslist the stuff that has been cluttering my apartment for a few years.

A mini fridge I bought from for the Mister’s birthday to make a kegerator. Turns out the stainless upgrade they gave me didn’t quite hold a pony keg. Has sat in living room ever since, unplugged with the protective film intact.

And a steamer trunk I’ve had since 2004 and used as a coffee table. Giant thing’s an antique, made in Racine, Wisc., by the Whealy luggage company. While looking it up online, I found this patent information for its “Wardrola” technology. It’s super cool – stands up on one end, and the front swings open. Wooden hangers and a box fit inside, and the locks are pretty elaborate. Love it — but ran out of room since I expanded the home office from a desk for paying bills to a room with my files, ideas and a comfortable place to write.

Must update my Etsy store too with the thrifting I did right before the bomb dropped.

Might be time to have a lay-off sale!

how to…make ruffles

This top started out as a thrifted nightshirt with a plain front and a bottom rounded bottom edge. Which I promptly cut off and then hemmed up the shirt edge. Those scraps stared at me for months until I figured it out: Ruffles for the front.

ruffles-finished finished close up of ruffled front

Making ruffles is really easy with t-shirt strips, fabric strips w finished edges, or in this case, fabric tubes made from scraps.

ruffles1-before slices of fabric removed from bottom of original shirt

Either fold the strips in half, lengthwise or measure the halfway mark.

ruffles2-fold in half slices of fabric folded in half
ruffles3-measure half or measure strips in half

Cut straight down the middle.

ruffles4-cut in half cut fabric in half

Fold each piece in half, lengthwise, wrong sides facing, and press.

ruffles5-fold them in half fold and press in half, wrong sides together

Sew each strip, wrong sides together, close to the edge.

ruffles6-sew close to edge stitch

I ended up with four tubes, two long and two short.

ruffles7-stitched 4 stitched strips

Turn the tubes, so the right sides are out, and press them with the seam in the center back.

ruffles8-flipped flip tubes right sides out

Baste down the middle of each tube.

ruffles10-baste down middle baste down the middle

Fold the top and bottom edges over and stitch, by hand or machine.

ruffles11-finish ends finish ends

Lay strips out on the shirt. I decided to do three, and combine the two short pieces into one long one.

ruffles12-lay out strips strips laid out

Pin the top of each strip to the shirt neck. I pinned the right side of the top strip upside down at the V point of the shirt.

ruffles13-pin tops pin strips at top

Then gather the strips by gently pulling the underthread of the basting. Pin as you gather. When you get to the bottom, fold the edge under.

ruffles15-gather gather strips and pin in place

All three are pinned and ready to be sewn.

ruffles14-pin as gather strips gathered and pinned

Stitch down the center of each strip.

ruffles16-stitch down middle stitch pinned strips in place


As if leopard could get better!

How to…sew French seams (and why bother)

French seams encase the raw seam edges securely inside two seams. They’re necessary for delicate fabrics, because two seams are stronger than one and the two lines of stitching prevent fraying. But French seams also are fabulous for garments with simple, straight lines because they’re beautifully clean and neat, and need no more finishing. I’m hooked, mostly because I hate finishing edges.

Here’s the center back seam of BurdaStyle’s Minna top.

Take the seam allowance of the seam and divide it into two whole numbers. So a 5/8″ allowance becomes 2/8″ (1/4″), plus 3/8″.

1 measure seam allowance measuring seam allowance

Pin the pieces together wrong sides together.

2 pin wrong sides together pinned wrong sides together

Sew the smaller number first – the 2/8″ (1/4″) seam allowance. I’ve done so by using the 3/8″ guide, and setting the needle placement to the right.

3 sew 2 8 first first seam always should be smaller

Trim the raw edges, leaving 1/8″.

4 trim close trim so threads don’t poke through finished seam

Push the raw edges to one side, and press flat.

5 iron edges flat ironing while sewing’s a must

Now fold the fabric over at the seam, so the right sides are facing each other. Press and tack with a few pins.

6 fold fabric over and press take the time to press

Back at the machine, sew your remaining 3/8″ seam.

7 sew 3 8 sewing the bigger seam second leaves more room to catch edges and threads

Voila! A 5/8″ seam with no rough raggedy edges.

8 finished french seam French seam from wrong side

9 finished from right side And from right side

Check out the how to on Burda Style here.

how to… shorten blouse sleeves-3

I was playing with short sleeve a while back by making new short cuffs, and by resetting the whole sleeve to preserve the original cuffs.

Thrifted a long sleeved black cotton blouse this week because of the great wrap detail – a button plus tie with a cummerbund sort of detail – and decided, so I can wear it to work, to do the simplest shortening of all – a basic chop and hem – while watching the nightly news.

blouse black wrap before & after after… and before

You can see the long sleeve as a before, and the sleeve I shortened as an after.

Flip the blouse inside out to work with it. Mark where you want the short sleeve to end, cut straight across, and then hem using this failsafe method: Measure an inch from the raw edge, fold up wrong sides together and press. Then fold the raw edge into the fold, and press again. Tack with a few pins, then stitch with a basic straight stitch. I like to use excised sleeve #1 to mark and cut sleeve #2.

Doesn’t get much easier – unless you chop and wear, a la t-shirts.

wrapped up in purple, vol. 1 (or how to… freezer paper stencil)

Wrap clothing is my salvation and my downfall both. Tops and dresses that wrap always fit – and that’s the problem – there’s no telling how snug they should be since there’s always plenty of give. in the end, I seek out stuff that wraps around because it always looks good on me. I get my much-needed waist, and there’s room for many or no layers underneath.

The purple-ing of my wardrobe continues. Wardrobe Refashioners advised me many moons ago to figure out what I like and need and stick to it. I like purple and I need clothes that fit well, and nothing adjusts more easily than a wrap. My stash is full of purple fabrics in one- and two-yard lengths.

So I made a dress from a pattern I had, McCalls 4007, and some purple linen-like fabric from the Joann clearance rack bought last summer, maybe.

DSC04463 finished dress – cute but boring

I finished my size and didn’t love the neckline – which prompted me to get cracking on Burda Style’s Desira wrap – but it fit nicely and screamed out for a freezer-paper stencil.

I used a blown-up evil eye design, the simplest I could find online and still it took a lot of skill with scissors to cut out precisely. (Note to self to choose something with fewer pieces next time.) Image also known as a hamsa or hand of Fatima and my superstitious self adores it.

enlarged printout to 8.5 x 11 setting on copier

Traced the outline with a pencil on the flat side of freezer paper.

DSC04462 compare to original

Cut it all out. I like to use tiny scissors. Ironed the bottom skirt flap where image was going. Carefully placed pieces onto the skirt, ironing a piece at a time (no steam!), first the outline, then the small motifs.

iron one piece at a time, no steam
all ironed on

Mixed gold and purple craft paint with white fabric paint medium. Put the fabric on a chunk of newspaper in case of bleeding, then dabbed the paint on until the whole stencil was well covered.

freezer stencil paint two coats of paint did it – added more gold streaks in second coat
freezer stencil protect paint on something protective like newspaper to avoid bleeding paint onto another layer of the garment

Let mostly dry, then applied a second coat, streaked with gold. Let paint dry overnight just in case. Peeled off freezer paper pieces carefully.

that hamsa’s finished!

Held up for Mister to admire.

dress wrap purple finished dress so much cuter with the design

Other freezer paper tutorials available on Craftster, Freezer Paper Stencils on Flickr.