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 :)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

FO: Mindful Marion

Well guys, I have finished another sweater :) This time I managed to finish this in 3 weeks and 3 days - a personal record - and I didn't have to give up on the rest of my life while I made it, so that's a good sign :) I made this to participate in the Marion Knit Along with Andi Satterlund (the pattern designer herself). I've always loved this sweater as I saw others make it, so I decided this was a prime opportunity to try it out for myself at long last.
I'm going to lay it all out for those of you who haven't been along for the full ride :) I knew I wanted to make this sweater, but I also knew I needed to make it out of yarn in my stash since I'm on ultra-frugal-mode right now. I have a few wool yarns, but nothing that really spoke to me for this sweater, plus my last wool sweater was hot as the dickens (causing me to still not wear it - ugh, Florida). I do happen to have an obscene amount of Caron Simply Soft yarn though. Back when I first started knitting, Walmart was my "local yarn store" (so sad, I know), and when they put most of their yarn aisle on clearance I sprung into action ... leaving me with 11 (yes, ELEVEN!) skeins of this yarn in this colorway called Blue Mint. I had no idea what I would make with it at the time, but at $1.50 each that is still the best price I've ever gotten on this yarn so at least I did well money-wise. Anyway, now that I know much more about yarn and knitting (2 years later), this yarn just sits there taking up a ridiculous amount of space in my closet. I thought, "I wonder how this sweater will turn out in an acrylic yarn?" After a little research to make sure I wasn't setting myself up for disaster, I made the decision and off I went.
The sad part is that in my research I really couldn't find much of anything to tell me it would turn out ok. Most of the blogging world is full of yarn snobs and wool purists it seems. Us sad, uneducated bumpkins with our cheap yarn must cower and hope none of our wool-wearing cohorts notices what our sweater is made of. Frankly, I decided to use this yarn just as an experiment for myself. Happily, my experiment was a big success! Does this yarn have its faults? Absolutely. But I still have yet to find any yarn that I 100% love (and for the person who decides to comment and say that's just because I haven't bought "really nice yarn" before, the answer is No. I would not feel 100% happy with any really expensive yarn either because I would feel ridiculously extravagant every time I put it on. End rant.)
Anyway, so my Marion is knit with the recommended needle size and this time around I decided to play with customizing the size a bit more for my body. This is my 3rd sweater from an Andi Satterlund pattern, so I felt confident about what I could expect fitting-wise. My adjustments were still quite basic: I knit the size L up til the waist decreases, then switched to the instructions for the size XL. I made the sleeves in size L and ended them 1 decrease set early because I like my sleeves to hit just below the elbow.
When I had the knitting finished, I realized I had yet to pick out buttons for it. Oops. I shopped my stash and came across these fancy fabric knot buttons that my friend Tara gave me. To be honest, I never thought I would use these buttons in a million years. When I saw them in my stash, I was still skeptical. Could they match too well? I'm not usually one to go for matchy-matchy, but I just could not deny the hand of fate in this choice. These buttons are: the exact color as my yarn, the right size, have a texture that compliments the cables, and I only had 5 in my stash. I think in the end it was the fact that I had the exact number I needed for this project - no more weird knotted fabric buttons languishing in disuse. Hooray! One thing I did have to do differently was blocking this due to my yarn choice. You can't just wet block an acrylic yarn, you would be wasting your time. You have to block this stuff with steam. This was another dicotomized issue around the internet - some swore steam blocking would ruin your yarn, other said it was the best way to go. I decided to proceed with caution, keeping the actual iron at least 2 inches from the sweater to avoid scorching/melting. I pinned the sweater out to the size specifications first, then went over each section with the steam, making sure to blast steam directly at any places that needed extra effort. I paid particular attention to the cables and made sure to puff them up as I went. All worked out great :) I just left it pinned with a fan pointed at it until it was dry again and we were good to go!
I will confess that my sleeve adjustment was a last minute decision. As I finished the 2nd to last decrease of the pattern, I decided to try the sweater on. Seeing that I liked where it was going to hit at that point, I just began the ribbing. It was too late to figure out how to incorporate this change into the fancy cuff design, but I was able to just knit the extra stitches creating an additional rib piece. The extra knit section is along the underarm seam, so now one will ever know it's there unless I show them. I won't tell if you won't :) I do absolutely LOVE the little cables in the sleeve ribbing - probably more than is acceeptable, lol. I don't care though, I point out those cute little twists to anyone who will listen.
All in all I had a lot of fun making this sweater :) The knit along was fun to read everyone else's design choices and see everyone's progress. I particularly enjoy reading about other people's fitting notes (I'm a knitting nerd, I know). I would definitely be tempted to join in another one of Andi's KALs (I really wish I had bit the bullet and worked on her Christmas Sweater KAL - such a good idea!).
The day after I finished this sweater, we had a freak cool front here and the temp went into the mid 70s. This was just enough of a low for me to wear this and not die of heat stroke, so I wore it to work that day :) It was super comfy, not to hot, and got several compliments from random customers who had no idea I made it - that's a score in my book, lol. My only issue I had was that the shoulder seams came out a bit boxy. I've never had this happen with any of Andi's other designs, so I'm chalking it up to my yarn choice. One of these days I will try steam blocking the seams on a tailor's ham to try to push them down, but I just haven't felt like it yet. Other than that, I love this sweater :) So yay!

Oh, for anyone who is curious, I name the the "Mindful Marion" because of all that happened while I was making it. I had some of the most stressful experiences of my life toward the end of this project, so I would just knit and think things over - knitting is great for that :) Things still aren't completely fixed, but they are much better and I know everything else will work out. Knitting is such a great activity for just thinking, you know? I'm glad I have this ability to help me through the ups and downs of life.

Anyway, I definitely recommend giving this pattern a try if you feel the inclination. Those cables are just too cute! That said I think this will be my last Andi pattern for a while in the sweater department. A girl needs to branch out sometimes, you know? I'm plugging right along with my Emelie which is quite different from all the previous sweaters I've made in so many ways. Lots of fun expanding my knitting skills though :)

Yarn: Caron Simply Soft in Blue Mint, 2.09 skeins (658 yards), $3.25
Pattern: Marion by Andi Satterlund, $5.20
Buttons: 5 vintage knotted fabric buttons from stash, Free :)
Time: 3 weeks and 3 days