Wednesday, October 22, 2014

WIP Wednesday: Progress and New Projects

Well, I've managed to keep my knitting pace steady ... until this past Monday (but I'll tell you about that in a minute). On Sunday night I made a thrilling yet terrifying progression on my Emelie cardigan - I separated at the arm holes!
Technically I have deviated from my original plan for this sweater over the past week, lol. I measured the body and it was 11" long sometimes about a week ago - this is where I was originally going to separate for the arm holes. I decided to hold it up on my body to double check and while the length was ok, it hit me that I've only made cropped cardigans and it sure would be nice to switch it up a bit, lol. So, I kept knitting until I hit the next length up - 13". The pattern then has you put the left front and back on scrap yarn (I use extra cables thanks to my amazing needle set), and just work on the right front.
That's an arm hole alright! I did manage to screw up the armhole pretty quickly and had to tink back about 6 rows (including bound off stitches - ugh). I was really excited to make this great step in the progress of this sweater, but at the same time I am terrified that the length isn't right, lol. I've never made a bottom-up cardigan before and that is definitely one of the main draw backs in my opinion - no length tweaking. Hopefully I got it right though :) I'm excited to keep going.

Monday night brought a sudden change in my routine. Colette Patterns sent out the sneak peek of their newest pattern, Dahlia, and I was immediately in love. I quickly (and responsibly) searched through My Pattern Stash just to make sure I didn't already have anything similar, then snapped that baby up. Because I signed up for the sneak peek, I got a special discount so I snagged the pdf for $8.80 - sweet! I immediately printed it out, put it together, and traced off my size(s). (I traced the 14 and 16 in two colors on the bodice because I straddle the sizes so I can try to see how it ends up). Then last night I cut out my muslin from a sexy thrifted sheet of the 1970s. Brown and orange plaid, mmm... lol.
I managed to get the darts and boob gathers sewn before I needed to go pick up something exciting from a friend :) I'm really curious how this will end up fitting straight off the bat. I've learned a new trick for my hollow chest adjustment that is about 10 times easier than what I was doing, lol, so I'm going to try that out probably. I can't wait to have more time to spend on this project. I even have
fabric in mind for my first version:
Remember my Sewing Studio Haul from this past July? I had plans for everything picture here except for the green/gray/black check fabric on the bottom left. I knew I wanted to make it a dress and use the black batiste above it for the waistband, but I hadn't picked out a pattern yet. The green check fabric was an industry remnant, so I don't know the fiber content but it drapes beautifully like a rayon. So, my plan is to make the Dahlia with the sleeved top and gored skirt out of this :) Even better - Colette Patterns made a guide to using plaids or stripes with this dress and you can download it for free, so I know this will come in handy on this fabric as well.
So, that's what I am up to this week :) I've actually been doing more (non-crafty) things as well, but I will report on them later. Tami doesn't seem to do the WIP Wednesday link ups anymore, but you may get lucky and see more links later here.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Refashion: "Bake Them Cookies, Lucille!"

I've been dabbling in altering thrift store clothing over the past year, but I had yet to completely remake a thrifted item ... until now :)
Let's start at the very beginning. I honestly can't tell you 100% why I was so drawn to this particular old lady shirt a few weeks ago at a local thrift store. I mean, this baby was granny-tastic to say the least. I guess I have just developed the eye of a refashioner and saw potential in the awesome green color and cookie recipe print. I've certainly never seen anyone with a cookie recipe printed on their shirt before. Why not see if I can breathe new life into this old gal? I got excited just while I was in the shop about the sheer challenge of it all. I mean if I can make this into something acceptable by today's standards that would certainly up my fashion cred several points, right? I thought so.
Here's a few close ups of the sheer wonder of this baby. Isn't the baking print awesome?! The collar on the other hand ... I honestly could barely fit my big noggin through that neck opening. The thing is - this is just a normal crew-neck t-shirt that has a ridiculous polo-style collar. The collar has a little embroidered design of hearts - isn't that sweet? lol Ugh. The funny thing is that the collar is just zig zag stitched over the seam line of the ribbed collar.
Anyway, the collar was obviously the first thing that needed to go. I just cut along the seam allowance to separate everything and the above is the carnage I was left with. After the collar was loose, I cut the sleeves off. Fun fact - apparently lots of t-shirts don't have seams down the sides - they are just one knit tube that a neck and sleeves are attached to. So when I got it all apart, it still looked like this:
I lined everything up as perfectly as I could and cut down the sides. Next, I had to make a decision. I knew I wanted to use one of my previously used t-shirt patterns, so I started laying out the body pieces from each to see what would work best.
In the end, I went with the Plantain pattern by Deer + Doe. As you can see up there, the pattern fit the pieces pretty well except that I would lose some of the hip width. This was inevitable give the shape of the piece I was using, but the plantain has extra ease built in anyway so I took a chance that it would fit ok. The only change I had to make was to raise the neckline to accommodate the awesome screen printing. I just laid the Renfrew pattern over the plantain and traced that neckline.
The neckband became a bit of a brain puzzle. Since I was using the full width of the fabric for the body, the only option I had was to take the existing hem off the shirt to repurpose. This would make the shirt shorter, but after trying on my other plantains, I knew it wouldn't be too short with this change. So, I chopped off the entire hem and unpicked the whole thing. It turned out there was just enough width to use the neckband pattern piece. Another issue was that I changed the neckline height, which means the neckband piece should be shorter. To figure the difference, I measured the plantain pattern neckline, then the neckband and noted the difference. I just lopped that difference off my new neckband piece - no biggie. I was worried about the fading and stitch lines from the unpicked hem - I steamed the living daylights out of it, but some of the fading still showed. I just had to accept it and move on.
I put out a little Instagram teaser after I got the pieces cut out last Friday night. After I got home from work on Saturday, the real fun began. I just stitched this together following the instructions of the pattern. It took a couple of hours and I had to be creative with seam allowances in a few places, but everything worked out great :) And here is my finished result:
It's a little tighter than my other plantains to be sure, but I actually kind of like this more fitted look. The only place it's a smidge too tight is the sleeves. I kept the original hem there so they would be a bit longer than the pattern (which I'm happy about), but because I had cut the sleeves open completely, I lost the extra bit of the seam allowance. It's not unwearable, just not the usual ease I prefer.
And the back - tighter, but not a deal breaker. The length is clearly not an issue like I worried :)
I get a lot of wrinkles at the underarms, but the neckline came out the perfect height for the design. I love that it looks like the screen printing was meant to be where it is, you know? The neckband isn't too close or too far away from the printing.
I am particularly proud of the neckband :) I decided to use a twin needle this time because 1) I want to use it on everything and 2) my very favorite plantain (the Cherry, Cherry) has to have the neckband redone because I accidentally popped one stitch - so frustrating! I figure two lines of stitching is more secure than one. I think the double row really helped the fabric lay nice and flat and it also seems to have hidden any of the fading and holes from the previous hem.
All in all, I am beyond thrilled with this refashion :) I love that technically speaking it didn't take all that many changes to take this total Granny shirt and make it into something wearable for someone today under the age of 65. I also love that I don't feel like I'm squeezing my brain out of my head when I put the shirt on, lol. When showing this to my family, everyone was impressed but still thought it still looks like a Grandma shirt. Hopefully the gals at Deer + Doe don't cringe too badly when they see this rendition of their pattern, lol. I don't care - I am gonna wear the heck out of this thing and be super proud doing it!

As far as the name of this shirt, I was struck with genius in homage to one of my favorite moments of the incomparable Disney film, Meet The Robinsons. Bake Them Cookies, Lucille!

This project has really made me excited to try this on every t-shirt I can get my hands on, lol. I mean really, this just solidifies the fact that everything is just "fabric" that can be used differently to make it your own. I found seriously the greatest t-shirt I've ever seen at a thrift store last week and it has super cool plantain written all over it. It's soaking right now to hopefully get some age stains out. I can't wait!

Fabric: Grandma's Cookies's T-Shirt, $1.00 at Thrift Store
Pattern: Plantain by Deer + Doe Patterns, Free :)
Hours: About 3 In All

Friday, October 17, 2014

Scotch Gard All The Things!

As I mentioned in my Camera Shoes post, I have recently fallen in love with Scotch Gard. Back in my heavy-couponing days, I used to request every freebie the internet could provide, and I got lucky with scoring a full can of Suede & Nubuck Protector and Leather Shoe Guard. At the time, I had not suede shoes to even test it out on, so the can sat in my freebies bucket until this past month when I came across it. I have 2 pair of suede shoes now - one pair which is ruined from several unannounced Florida rainstorms, and one pair that I am consequently afraid to wear in case of said storms. You really just never know when it will rain here, but it usually always does when I decide to wear suede shoes. Since I planned on Scotch Gard-ing my Camera shoes anyway, I decided to use all of these products on several items I felt needed a bit of babying, and I did it all at the same time.
I started off with my Camera Shoes, but I had an enormous cardboard box I was using as a spray surface so I included my beloved Shinzi Katoh bags as well :) I used Fabric & Upholstery Protector on all of these items, and I definitely did not skimp on the coating. I used almost a whole can on just these three things, lol. The bags are mostly white and I certainly couldn't replace them being that my parents brought them from Japan, so I have only carried the tote bag a few times then set it aside so I don't get it dirty. The Scotch Gard says it blocks stains, so we will find out in the coming months as I plan to use these bags like they deserve now :)
While the fabric items were drying between coats, I took care of my White Mountain Ballet Pink Leather Oxfords and my Lucky Brand Suede Cut Out Toe Oxfords. The pink oxfords are leather, but they are definitely cheap leather. I've worn them a few times and if they even get a drop of water on them they puff up and turn a weird dark color - not a good sign. The suede ones were just awesome and I wanted to protect them from the fate of my other suede shoes. Each of these shoes got 2 coats of product.
After about 30 minutes the fabric and leather items were completely dry with all their coats. The suede shoes needed to dry at least 30 minutes between coats, but the final coat took longer so I left them overnight. Int he morning I had this nice site in my sewing room:
I know it's probably silly to post about this on my blog, but I honestly feel I've gained 5 new items for my wardrobe after this simple process. .I put off using Scotch Gard for a long time because I was afraid it would be a hassle or make a mess - man was I wrong! This was so easy to do, and I am so glad I finally bit the bullet and got it done.

My hope with this post is to expose you to this option if you weren't already. I really couldn't be happier and now I want to SCOTCH GARD ALL THE THINGS! I really recommend you give it a try :)

*I was in no way compensated for this blog post by Scotch Gard - though I did receive the Suede and Leather products for free though a completely unrelated random giveaway several years ago. All these opinions are 100% my own.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

FO: Altered Camera Shoes

Here is a break from my normally scheduled programming, lol. I found this pair of what I call wanna-be-Toms at Marshalls a few months ago in their clearance section. I'd never tried out this type of shoe before (being too cheap to buy Toms brand), but I was always curious on how I would like them. This Esprit pair for $9.00 would be a great chance to try out this style, but even when I made the purchase I planned on embellishing them in some way. I mean what good are plain fabric shoes if you can't make them your own, right? At the time, I just put this notion away in my "good ideas" file of my brain and moved on for a while. Not long after though I found out that Spoonflower was offering a free test swatch of your choice in their new Eco Canvas fabric on that day only. Of course I immediately headed over and looked through to pick out my swatch. I was quickly overwhelmed as they have so many amazing prints to choose from (you could also make your own as part of the promo - so cool). In the end, I went with a category that is near and dear to me: Cameras.
This fabric is called Vintage Cameras B&W and was designed by Andrea Lauren. Back in my film photography days I was obsessed with vintage and toy cameras, both of which are featured in this print. - I actually own and used all but 1 of the cameras shown :) The scale of the print was perfect for this project too, but I knew this thanks to Spoonflower's gauge rulers next to the print photos (so helpful!)
After much deliberation, I decided to use the Diana F+ and the Imperial Mark XII cameras on my shoes. These were two of my favorite cameras back in the day. I had two vintage Stellar cameras (the Diana but with a different name) as well as two Mark XIIs (a black one and a Girl Scout mint green one), and my husband eventually bought me the Lomo repro of the Diana F+ while we were dating (complete with the polaroid back - so cool). I used to love putting 35mm film through the Mark XII - you end up with one long picture due to the overlap of the shots and the picture goes up into the sprocket holes. Anyway, I could geek out on cameras forever - you can see my old work if you go here. After choosing my cameras, I cut them out evenly and put them on the shoes until I liked their shape and placement.
Then came a whole lot of hand sewing. No joke I must have spent 2 hours just stitching these things on like patches. I just used a running stitch around the edges in black thread. It went fine until I had to cross the toe - do you know how hard it is to strategically place a needle and push through thick layers of fabric with your needle held between your 2nd and middle finger in a tight area? Pretty stinking hard I can tell you, lol. The whole process did kind of take me back to my high school backpack embellishing days - I had a red Jansport with Weezer and NFG patches as well as an "Arm The Homeless" patch I got at Warped Tour one summer. Classic. Anyway, if you can stitch a patch, you can do this project. I just had to be very patient and constantly reposition the needle across the toe to keep the stitches even from the outside.
A problem I had the whole time I was sewing the cameras on was how much this fabric wanted to fray. I mean, I know it's canvas and all, but holy cow - that was a lot of fraying. I wanted it to happen a little just as an edge detail, but I didn't want them to unravel into nothing. So, after stitching these "patches" on, I went around all the edges with a liberal squeeze of Fray Check. Now I have the distressed look without any actual distress to myself - man I love Fray Check :)
After doing all this work, I wanted to make sure my shoes would last a while for me to enjoy. I had pre-washed the camera fabric, but I was afraid that the red canvas would bleed into the patches if these got wet (which is inevitable - I live in Florida). Enter a can of Scotch Gard. I had never used any Scotch Gard products before, but consider me a convert :) It was quick and easy to apply (I even did 2.5 coats), and now I have the peace of mind that these shoes won't look awful the first time I wear them out.
And now I have a supa-fly pair of camera shoes that have an added bit of personal meaning :) My husband and I met through my crazy film photography, so even though I haven't been as obsessed in with it in recent years, these shoes are a nice little bit of nostalgia for us. Justin loved these :) 

I know it's a silly little project that any high school student has probably done by now, but I was really happy with how these came out. This was quick to do, and only cost me about $10 when you factor in the amount of Scotch Gard I used. Not bad for a pair of custom shoes!

*Just for the record, I was not endorsed by Spoonflower or Scotch Gard in any way for this project. I just really enjoyed my experience with their products :)