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Sunday, May 28, 2017

Little Dress on the Prairie

More like big dress on the prairie, am I right?
The content of my blog posts typically consist of three things:
1. Apologizing for the length of time between my infrequent posts, despite how few are actually reading.
2. Complaining about how the weather never cooperates with my outfit choices.
3. The frustration I experience with the oversized, tent-like '80s dresses.
This one hits all those marks. Le dress:
Many of these dresses are by Liz Claiborne and this is one of them. They're always so big. It's only a size 4, and in the Savers dressing room I thought I could easily make this wearable. Nothing is ever easy, really.
It's always the bodice and its extraneous folds of ballooning material. As usual, I'm drawn to the print. It has a romantic boho kinda style. To start:
This will be the start of my de-collaring series. You see, taking in the sides of these things never does the job. I figured that I could try to take it in from the middle. Also, I ditched the long sleeves. This is all part of my effort to take a big dress and make less of it. This also included taking about 4" off the bottom.
It was still kind of big, but of course I had to wear it before it was too hot for rayon. That's why the wide belt is here.
 Creative pose + filter = nice picture. They're so heavily edited because they were taken at night using flash and on an older camera.
Look, it has pockets. I wish you could see the little circular floral things that make up the print.
Bodice closeup. I actually decided to take it in from the back after these pics. Size 4, my ass.
Coming soon!
Other dresses with unflattering styles but great '80s prints!
And this hit from the 1990s!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

'Cuz you're hot and you're cold

It seems like just a couple weeks ago, the kids were shedding their coats at recess and I was putting both my Uggs and faux Uggs in the closet. Yea, spring time!
Not so fast. Suddenly the temps dropped...the spring coat went back on the hanger as I retrieved my furry boots. Before I knew it, it was April Fool's day and I was clearing several inches of heavy wet snow off my car. New England winter came right back like some unfunny internet troll whom you thought was banished.
So I guess I had the chance to do another winter refashion or two. I quickly took a "before" pic of this mohair sweater. I know I did. Seriously, how the frick do I keep mysteriously losing my "before" pictures! This one's an easy fix:
I took an "after" shot and edited it back to its original state! It was a plain black sweater dress with a high neck. It was a Goodwill half-off item and made of soft, fuzzy... mohair? Fake mohair?
That's how much I cut off the hem. Just a little, knowing it would curl up. Hoping it would. It was actually a wide hem, like a cuff. I removed the same little cuff-like piece from the neck. I did it with scissors and it was so easy I just kept cutting!
That right there was a bad idea. I felt the pockets didn't look right as they were in the front thigh region. You can't just slice off pockets and move on. I sewed that thing right back on.
It needed some "jazzing" up...finally, an opportunity to browse my extensive button collection!
I chose three round, white dealies with little sparkles in the center. Anyway, here it is with some jeggings.
You know how I took this picture? I moved my bedroom mirror (which just leans against the wall, unattached) into the kitchen with that white curtain I use for a backdrop. My room is too messy for mirror selfies.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Forever in blue-green, baby

You have to sing the title. It's "Forever in Blue Jeans" by Neil Diamond. Google Will Ferrell's version for a little chuckle.
Velvet is so beautiful and luxurious... but it's also very impractical. I mean, it's not like I'm some medieval queen on a throne. "Ooh, look at meee! I'm dressed in my fancy velvet fineries!" I love fancy stuff, but I'm realistic.
Look at the beautiful color on this vintage thrift store thing.
 It had these little button details. I like the idea, but not the execution. Looks bad.
It had those stupid poofy shoulders that I hate. By the way, this is the front. Here's the back:
This dress needs a complete 180. That back should be the front! I was going to turn that thing around...you know...a 180.
But first; I took off the sleeves. I just don't mess around with sleeves, I'm not patient.
Then I turned it inside out and trimmed/sewed a bunch or random crap into place. What even is this?
I had to do some sewing down the front on each side to keep some extra material in check and working with velvet can be challenging. I wasn't eager to take it on the sides but this dress was shapeless and unflattering. Surely, there's some kind of shortcut I can take? There was. Behold:
Do you see what I did there? I just folded one side over the other and secured it with a belt. This worked because of the velvet texture which keeps it from sliding.
Now, it's not only impractical because of its material, it's also not structurally sound!
Side by side! That before pic is bad, huh?

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Valentine Girl

That title actually is a song title. "Valentine Girl" from New Kids on the Block. Not sure if they were describing a girl as a "valentine girl" or if they were addressing the object of affection as "girl". Like, "Will you be my valentine, girl?"
You don't even know what I'm talking about. Here's the "before" incarnation of my Valentine's day dress:
It was great, it looked like a big sack of nothing, thus easy to work with. It's made of a polyester-textured material. I really liked the shirred waist which had sadly lost its elasticity over the years as had the elastic around the cuffs.
I was just planning on wearing it to school for our little first grade party. I was envisioning a cheapo version of a romantic era dress.
Actually no, I have no idea what I'm talking about. I guess I was thinking about bell sleeves, jacquard ribbon, cameo jewelry, and velvet. Ummm...the period costumes from the 1994 adaptation of Little Women?
I could only find a few pictures of this lovely gown worn my Winona Ryder as Jo March. I went for a veeery loose inspiration of that.
First thing I did was remove the nasty old elastic from the sleeves before figuring out how to deal with that waist. I had a trick in my pile of sewing supplies that could totally work.
(Made big to show details of package.) Looks like you just sew it on and then pull those little elastic strings. How could that go wrong? Did I mention this is a secondhand item that came in a big box of notions?
(Once again; picture embiggened.) This doesn't even show the full scope of damage this damn thing caused. You see, after sewing the damn thing in place I went to pull the elastics only to have them disintegrate into waxy little pieces that become stuck during the process. Oh, it was nasty.
At this point, I really should've given it up. This is not some one of kind, designer piece. It was a non-remarkable, simple shapeless dress made of acrylic fabric.
But I'm stubborn and not in the good way. Have you heard of the sunk cost fallacy?
It's defined as "Reasoning that further investment is warranted on the fact that the resources already invested will be lost otherwise, not taking into consideration the overall losses involved in the further investment." Here's the source.
So, I sat down in front of the TV and seam ripped out the whole thing. At this point, I had used up all the perfectly matched thread from a small spool that I happened to have on hand. I would have to buy more. (Once again; I should've just tossed the thing.)
New thread in hand, I decided I might as well take in the dress just a tiny bit.
Nope, needed to be taken in quite a bit more. Unpinned and repinned and finally sewed.
Now...the waist. I sure as hell wasn't going to re-shir it. What I did was sew in a wide elastic band and didn't take any damn pics. You just pin it on and the stretch the elastic while sewing.
I also lowered the neckline and cut off a few inches from the bottom. I considered using this awesome ribbon that I knew I had stashed for something, possibly the neckline.
When I went to retrieve said ribbon, I realized all I had was the tiny section seen here. I'm sure it could've been useful, but I had wasted too much time for creativity. The after:

Not exactly exciting, but comfortable and practical. I do have several cameo style necklaces, but I went with the roses pendant on a chain.
Here's the side by side:
I have so many mostly completed projects that I want to show off. So...I'll get right on that.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Big Time

Hi there!
After typing in title of this post, I started singing the actual song in my head. 
The 1986 hit "Big Time" by Peter Gabriel starts with the singer cheerfully greeting "Hi there!" before the song about what a big time hot shot he is. 
The subject of this little post here is big thrift scores. Not big in quantity, big in size. I'm specifically talking about large wall decor! Since I'm not the dedicated blogger I was when I started, I'd like to take the opportunity to share some of the big-ass pieces I've loved.
Long ago, I posted about one of my most excellent finds; this ginormous '70s, silk screen canvas.

I just love big wall hangings! I can't put my figure on why, and no I'm not going to make any more Freud jokes. I guess I like a big statement piece, the more old fashioned the better. For instance, the great unicorn art that greeted readers who clicked this post is bigly. I was very excited to have found it at the Goodwill one night for $6. It was a three-fer: It was oversized, had unicorns, and it was a painting on black velvet! I sold it though. Gotta pay rent.
It was a lot like this one from years ago that I purchased for a whopping $3 at a yard sale. Of course, when selling items like this, their size does pose a challenge. You pretty much have to build your own flat box using cardboard, a box cutter, and a shit ton of shipping tape. I don't care I just want to share my love of fine art from decades past with others. In exchange for a little money for which to buy food.
 There's another biggie that I found while searching through the archives. That one was cool.
The coolest one of all  might have to be the map. A great roll-up wall map like those that once hung in classrooms can be quite rare. So I couldn't believe my luck when I found this:
Wow. I get a wistful sense of longing when I look at this picture. This was taken in last year's kindergarten classroom which was the best school year ever! It took me a week or two, but I finally noticed that the only way to really hang this up so I can photograph it would be to use the little clips, like they have in schools like the one I work in. When I shot some of these, my precious little AB (read posts from last summer) was looking on and in a few pictures. Miss her and that class so much! As I can tell from that 5 on the whiteboard, I found this in May at Savers for a very fair price of $19.99. It has such great colors and in such good condition. I gave it a nice little price and it was quickly purchased.
That brings us to the piece that I still currently have in my apartment. It's a little hard to describe, but I know I've seen something like this before. It's a tree and sun scene made with carpet and attached to a big piece of wood.
Earlier this winter, I was leaving school when I got a text from Greyson, a buddy of Chris and I. He asked if I wanted this thing; his parents were just going to curb it!
It's such a cool '70s piece. It's made out of carpet! It was free! 
I have to remind myself to share my story of selling stuff to the set of a Netflix show. I'm gonna do something else now, bye.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Double Vision

It was a snow day...and by that I mean it had snowed the night before but the school cancellation that we anticipated didn't happen so I had to go to work. I wanted to wear something comfortable and warm. I had a great idea for a quick no-sew!
Except I didn't even have time to do that. I had to go to school. I don't refash in the morning before work. That dress in the godawful mirror selfie is a great winter piece. It's a nice thick cotton made by LL Bean and it's an extra small! (With adult clothing labels like LL, XS is good.)
It's hard to tell in those pictures but the dress has a nice blue-gray color. If I can be all poetic and shit, I'd like to call this color "storm blue" or "stormy skies" or this:
After I brought it home from the Goodwill and laundered it, I noticed it seemed familiar.
I looked in one of my vintage suitcases full of garments to be refashed and what do ya know?
It's another LL Bean dress in the same color. If my memory serves, I picked it up at the Goodwill outlet over the summer and stashed it away. Yea, two dresses. That one looks like a nightie. Blank canvas!
First on the chopping block: the longer one. I cut off part of the sleeves. I don't know why, but I'm into medium length sleeves, I always do that. Then I cut off the that neckline right around the seam.
I was thinking about doing some sort of weird, jagged hemline but I didn't have faith that I would do it right. Maybe that would be better with a thinner material. So, I went with the ol' high-low.
See? You just fold it sideways, with the side seams together. Then chop a triangle shape off. So, there's that.
I had plenty of excess material for a sash belt (the elastic waist was funny looking) but I used a black sash from a previous project. No-sew! Here it is.
Did I mention the pockets? Nice, it's got pockets. They're a little big, though, they add some bulk that hip section doesn't need. Still like it.
 "I want to stick around 'til I can't see straight."
Look at that picture, it's all blurry. It's like the lyrics I just quoted from that song by Foreigner from which I took the title of this post.
And the other dress. Here's what I did:
 First step; an asymmetric hemline! I laid it flat and cut out another triangle. Now one side is longer.
Then, I put it sideways and cut off some of the  neckline in front. Then I cut the sleeves again.
I actually took it in on the sides. I didn't want to, because I wasn't sure it was worth the effort. Yes, I am that lazy. Everything's a damn project to me.
After that, it still bored me. I looked through a bunch or sewing notions and scraps for something to make the dress more interesting.
How about just a zipper. Yeah, that will work. The hardware gives it a little "edge" along with the slashed hemline. I just sewed it on there and called it a day. Oh, no. I did another thing. Belt everything! I used the excess fabric from the bottom of that last dress and made a sash for this one. Ta da...
I like it. I don't like how my boots are all scuffed. Also, look at that pose, I'm so tough.

The before and afters look bad because of the color variations. Before=late night, After=day time.