Friday, June 29, 2012

Recycling Curtains--Angels Among Us!

This little angel will make sense to you after reading this post about recycling curtains!

I have a rust colored, mini-print pair of curtain panels that I would like to reuse. One panel is in perfect condition, the other must have been in direct sunlight a bit more as there are some variations of color brightness due to fading.



Wondering what to do with these curtains, I was reminded of my very first experience ever in repurposing items around the house. The project that comes back to mind was completed many years ago, (about 16 years ago, I think) which means even back then my mind's wheels were spinning around the whole reusing, repurposing, and upcycling phenomenon.


I had taken down a pair of cream colored curtains that had ruffled edges. We had changed the wall paper in the kitchen and I wanted to replace the curtains that had actually come with the house when we purchased it.

My middle daughter was in elementary school at the time (she is now 25) and she needed a George Washington costume for an oral presentation. While my middle daughter was an absolute delight as a young child, she did tend to procrastinate on everything. She claims to work more proficiently under pressure. I on the other hand do not, so when she told me two days before her report was due that she needed a costume, she threw me right into panic mode.

I found a hat that I thought we could use at our local party/costume store. I took a navy suit coat from my husband's closet (he'd never miss it) and I duct taped the lower front of the jacket on both sides to make it appear to be a cutaway style. I ran to Joanne Fabrics and grabbed the gold trim for the shoulders and collar and replaced the buttons with larger gold buttons. I cut a pair of black opaque, nylon stockings at the the mid thigh so she could pull them over her shoes and up to her knees. We already had the cream colored leggings.

BUT, she needed some ruffles.....that is where the kitchen curtains came in. I simply cut the ruffles and basted them to the sleeves and the collar of the cream colored shirt she wore underneath the jacket. This is what "we" came up with:

My Little Angel as :  GEORGE WASHINGTON


She was "proud as a peacock" with her costume. I, on the other hand, was sewing trim and buttons on until 2:00 am and worked on a white wig which I made out of batting. When she got up four hours later to get ready for school, she wanted to know if her costume was all done. George did not know it at the time, but I did not exactly get a very refreshing night's sleep. Surely now, at age 25, she appreciates the effort, however, she still PROCRASTINATES!

Anyways, there is a reason I told you that story. You see, I had some ruffles left over from the cream curtains as well as the pocket that the curtain rod goes through. I came up with an idea so that I could finish using these ruffles and the rod pocket and here she is.


My "Other" Little Angel

I sheered a long piece of the rod pocket onto a clothespin and glued a wooden ball on the top pf the clothespin. I then glued some cream colored eyelit lace all around the shirred on fabric. I used a piece of the ruffle to make 2 wings and glued them onto the back with my glue gun, added hair, a halo, hanger, one tiny pearl and a bow. I have had her out year-round ever since. She is usually in my kitchen but sometimes I place her in a wreath. She would look adorable on a Christmas tree. I think I will make some more angels at some point. I love angels and we can never have too many angels keeping watch over us!


Back view


In a fall wreath


In a Christmas wreath


I will put my thinking cap on as to what to do with the rust curtains and I will let you see the results in an upcoming blog.


"The guardian angels of life fly so high as to be beyond our sight, but they are always looking down upon us."
Jean Paul Richter

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Silky Pink Posies Top--A Copy of a Favorite Cropped Top

Today's sewing project began with a crop top that my daughter had previously purchased and worn. She loves that it is loose and cropped and she wanted another one similar to it. We found some fabric in the clearance section of Joanne Fabrics and we bought a little over 2 yds because it was so pretty. We thought it would drape nicely for her cropped top as well.


This is the top I was trying to imitate. It is a little difficult to see but it is cropped and very boxy.


Here is the fabric that we were using for this project. The photo does not do it justice--it is very pretty with a nice sheen to it. There are only 2 pieces to this pattern so this is another easy and quick project.


I began this project by folding the fabric so that I would be cutting the front and back of the top at the same time. I simply traced my daughter's purchased top onto the new fabric. By tracing, I mean that I cut around the top as it was placed on the fabric.While cutting, I added about 3/4" to allow for seams. I also added about 1 1/2 " to the bottom just to give it a tiny bit more length.  


After cutting out the front and back, I "eyeballed" the front neckline scoop and cut out a piece as shown above. Below are the two pieces, wrong sides placed together.


I pinned and stitched beginning with each side seam including the bottom of each sleeve. I stitched with a regular straight stitch and then zig-zagged the seams. My serger probably would have worked very well for this project.The next step was to stitch the top of the sleeve to the top of the neckline. I pressed all the seams neatly. 


After turning the shirt right side out, I pinned the bias tape to the neckline, right sides facing each other, and stitched.


 I then folded over the bias tape to the wrong side of the fabric, pinned and top-stitched in place. This made a very neat neckline.


Next, I ironed the entire top. Note below how the left side puckers prior to ironing and the right side does not. I used a very low heat setting on my iron so I would not melt the fabric.



For the sleeve openings, I did a rolled hem. I turned the fabric to the wrong side by folding it 1/4" over and then I fold it over an additional 1/4 " and stitched close to the folded edge.


Here is the completed top. Total time 2hrs, total cost $4 maybe..... I still have most of the fabric left for another project.

easy to make top



I will try to get a photo of my daughter wearing the top. She did try it on and it fit perfectly but she is not always the most willing model and today was no exception!! It is very cute though and I will probably make a few more out of some silky print fabrics. I would like to try a tank top in a longer length. Another day........


"And I will make thee beds of roses and a thousand fragrant posies".....
 Christopher Marlowe


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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

1 Hour Skirt--Perfect Project For a Rainy Day


Last night while rummaging through some bins in the basement I located a lime green (you know that lime sherbet color?) jersey sheet. I laundered it and thought I could repurpose this full sized sheet into more than one useful item. 

The first thing that came to mind was a short skirt with a fold over waistband. These skirts are all the rage with teenage girls, and since I have one of those (teenage girls) in the household, I decided to give it a whirl.

This was very easy! I wanted the skirt and the waistband doubled for a little extra body to the skirt so I folded the sheet and decided that I would use the fold for a hem line. That way I would not have to hem the skirt when I was finished.

I cut a wide piece of fabric (doubled) for the waistband and stitched a tube.  (31" wide x 8 1/2") You will want to make sure that you use the stretchy direction of the sheet for the width.


I did not get my serger out for this quick project. I used a zig-zag stitch instead. Worked well.


Wider piece cut from skirt to form the skirt. (39" wide x 16" long)


 I then cut a much wider piece of fabric (doubled) for the skirt and sewed it into a tube. The waistband and skirt pieces have just one seam in the back. While attaching the waistband to the skirt I stretched the band to accommodate the few extra inches in the width of the skirt.

Determining the size was easy because I used a skirt that my daughter already owned and used that as a guide. One hour later, this is what I came up with:



Paired with a simple white Tshirt with ruffle flower made from scrap of skirt fabric.


Add a cute bag = new outfit in 1 hour!

When I get some additional time, I will include measurement amounts and easy instructions on how to
make this skirt in an hour. It was fun, cost nothing, and it provided some instant gratification.


If life gives you limes, make margaritas, or a key lime pie, or a 1 hour skirt....

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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Pretty in Pink Figure Skating Costume

The last example I have of of hand sewn skating dresses was the third and last dress that I made for my daughter's annual show. The last two years I was too busy with the planning  details of the show and making decorations for the rink. I hope to get  back to making her a costume for her last year--her senior year of high school and most likely her last year skating with the club.

In 2010, our theme was BROADWAY,  she performed her program to Once Upon A Time, from the Broadway musical, Brooklyn.

Because the song is about fairy tales, and believing that anything can come true if you wish for it or believe in it, we decided to include some pink tulle in it's design. She also wanted it to be pink. The tricky part was how to include some "street looking graffiti" in the costume since the musical takes place on the streets of Brooklyn. This required some thought.

My family had given me a serger for Christmas so I was excited to give it a try on this costume. I decided  to experiment with costume separates (mix and match) so i designed it with a skirt that had a fold down waistband. Underneath the folded waistband I sewed in snaps which allowed the tulle skirt to be attached to the underskirt in the event she ever wanted to wear the other skirt alone.


Skirt with fold down waistband with attached briefs. (see below)



Under the waistband are hidden snaps to attach the
tulle skirt which has the snaps sewn into the inside of the waistband.



Tulle skirt--multi layers of pink with gold tulle



Tulle skirt attached to underskirt.




Underneath it all--attached briefs




For the top, we decided on a halter style.  I recalled an earlier purchased hip hop costume that she wore and realized we could recycle part of that top and incorporate it into her new costume. I actually cut a piece from the old top and appliqued it to the new top and it went together very well. I accented it with hot fix crystals which are barely visible in this photo.



The Completed Costume


I made gauntlets for her arms and also placed a few random crystals on the tulle skirt. After the previous year's costume, this was a piece of cake to construct. I fell in love with my serger but have not had an opportunity to use it since. I plan to make some time over the summer to try some other projects with this  fabulous machine.


Pretty in Pink on the Ice







"Pink isn't just a color, it's an attitude!"
Miley Cyrus

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Obsessed with Linen

As I mentioned in my profile, I love fabric! A friend of mine had a trunk full of fabric remnants left over from years of costuming, and she told me I could take anything I wanted! Thanks Phoebe! There were satins, shantungs, silks, lining fabrics, taffetas, moire taffetas, etc. The colors were amazing jewel tones and some neutral colors as well. I was intrigued not only by the colors but also by the different textures. I was in fabric heaven! I filled a large box and more than once I dumped out the box just to admire the array of colors! I know it sounds crazy!

 I used some of these remnant pieces to construct several banners to decorate the boards of the local ice rink during the annual figure skating show! At some point in the future, I will show you how to make decorative banners for backdrops for recitals, ice shows. These do not require any sewing, go together very easily and are quite showy!

More recently I have found a new fabric item to obsess on! Linens! Last fall, a friend and I were poking around a small shop that sells antique and new items and I went upstairs to the "old" section and found shelves on one side of the wall with stacks of vintage linens. I found the most beautiful 60"X 84" linen table cloth for $11.00. It was in impeccable condition, no stains and no signs of wear.  I also purchased a linen dish towel and a square table topper during my first visit.

My second visit concluded with a purchase of a couple of beautiful linen dish towels. I paid $1.00 for each. I also purchased a linen table runner for $3.00 and another 60"X 84" linen tablecloth for $10.00. Subsequent visits have yielded an array of linen napkins, dish towels, and table toppers. I love them all. I picked up one 52" square table topper for a gift.

One of the table cloths was very familiar to me and I believe that my grandmother had embroidered the exact pattern on some linens she had around her home. Even as a child I was impressed with her handiwork! It's funny what sticks in your mind when you are young and it is rather humbling to take a stroll through an antique shop and see items that were used in your home growing up.


This is the tablecloth that reminded me of the linens my grandmother had cross stitched....If you click on the photos, the detail is much easier to see.


This linen napkin is difficult to see but the fabric is very light weight and just exquisite...


This is just one of the few linen dish towels I purchased for $1.00. It looks like new. It is doubtful that
I will ever purchase new dish towels for myself again. These are much nicer and less expensive!

I cannot wait for my next visit to this charming little shop in Ashburnham, Massachusetts! The rink that my daughter skates at happens to be in that town and we commute there a couple times a week for her lessons. It is a nice way to spend some quiet time looking for simple treasures to bring home. I have my eye on a beautiful, cream colored, coverlet for $90, and someday it just may adorn my bed.


"Love is like linen: often changed the sweeter."

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Making a Quilt Tops My Summer "To Do" List

I love quilts! I love the way seemingly mismatched fabrics all come together to create a beautiful fabric masterpiece. I also love the way that one quilt, strategically placed in a room, can instantly put me in my happy place!

For a couple of years now, I have wanted to make a quilt. I have a shelf in my bookcase devoted to quilt magazines and books. I take them out to read and reread. I have even gone into Joanne Fabrics with yardage requirements, fully intending to purchase the fabric to make my quilt, but I become so overwhelmed with what fabrics and prints will look right together, that I just walk out without my purchase.

This is going to be the summer I make my first quilt. I do not mean potholders, I have made a few of those. I want to move beyond potholders. Here are two potholders I have made. "Sew what", right?


I saw an adorable strip, rag quilt on PINTEREST recently. Maybe if I start with a project like that, I won't be so overwhelmed. So, I publically pledge, that before summer 2012 comes to an end, I will make my first quilt and post the results.

"A bed without a quilt is like a sky without stars."

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Skating Costume Fit for a Princess!


A fairytale sewing project with a happy ending!

In an earlier blog, I promised to post a photo of the skating costume that I made for my daughter's performance to A Whole New World. This was the second skating dress that I made and it really allowed me to be quite bit more creative. I learned that it is really very easy to sew on silky, slippery fabrics. I will be honest and tell you that I cried while making the top of the costume. It required 3 layers of fabric and it was a tad challenging at one point.

I had a vision in mind and this is what I came up with....



Here is a close up of each piece so you can see the trim details.....The belt was the most fun to create. It was a little difficult to turn it right side out. I think I may have used a stiffener that was too heavy. I found the floral applique at Joanne Fabrics and it matched perfectly.


Here is the top. (Yup, the part that made me cry) If you look closely you will see a brocade-like fabric (see crown fabric below) underneath the very sheer fabric on the top part of the bodice. I cut out the first piece and when I ironed it, it melted right to my iron. I forgot to turn down the temperature. Thus, my first crying episode!

The off-the-shoulder puffs/sleeves did not line up exactly and I had to compensate for that while stitching the sleeves to the top. The experience led to my second crying episode.


The headpiece was also fun to make and so, so easy! I went to a fabric store and asked the sales clerk for a bridal veil form. It was a white, stiff fabric. I then cut about 2" wide strips of fabric and just wound it around and around the crown until it was completely covered, added the trim and sewed on the jewel.
Here is a photo of my daughter modeling her costume!


She did not wear a veil. It was just a piece of extra fabric. She did wear a nude bodysuit under the costume and a pair of aqua colored briefs under the skirt. The skirt and top was a little big for her, but the belt provided some extra security and I was able to add a pair of extra snaps in the back of the top to make it fit a little tighter.

Here is how it looked on the ice. I apologize for the quality of these photos:



My daughter was very pleased with her costume and her skating performance! One 4 yr old little boy who skated in the show, called her "Pwincess Fwindsay".  We still call her that, to this day!

This costume really was a whole new world for me too. In the past, I had always been very intimidated by chiffons, georgettes or any silky, sheer fabric for that matter. The skirt was very easy and I gained a lot of much needed sewing confidence . I used a long, two layer, bellydance skirt pattern by Simplicity and cut the pattern to the desired length and gathered both layers together at the top. Then I attached an elasticized waistband to the skirt and did a simple rolled hem and it was done. The skirt was beautiful during a spin.  Who doesn't love a sewing project with a happy ending?

I will devote a future blog on how to sew a 2 layer chiffon skirt suitable for dancing or skating. They go together so quickly and easily. You can save a lot of money sewing your own performance wear. It also provides a creative outlet--I had more fun selecting trim and making the accessories!

"Like star dust glistening on fairies' wings, little girls dreams are of magical things."
Sherry Larson

Repurposing Cut-off Legs of Jeans




My sixteen year old daughter came to me with a pair of jeans and asked me if I could cut a straight line. She needed a pair of shorts "right now" and wanted me to do it. Upon examining these jeans, I realized they were a hardly worn pair of American Eagle jeans but they didn't "fit right". Not wanting to spoil these jeans completely, I cut them off according to her specific instructions regarding length. She wanted to be able to roll the leg up once with raw edges.

Not thrilled that I had just cut off the legs of a perfectly fine pair of jeans ($39.99 on sale), I knew I was going to have to salvage them by repurposing them into something. Hmmmmmm.
I have been wanting to make a bag to take shopping that would allow just enough room for a wallet and glasses, and with a long strap that would allow me to wear it diagonally across my chest. I have had neck problems for years and I have always paid dearly for carrying a heavy purse on one shoulder.
So an idea was born. The denim fabric was like new. I gathered some other fabric scraps that I could line the bag with and make pockets for the outside front and back. Little pockets are an ideal place for all those little business cards that I pick up at craft fairs and gift shops.
I started with the legs and cut off hems on both sides.


I cut two rectangles 11 1/2" long by 9" wide from the denim fabric (using just one leg) and two rectangles with the same dimensions from the lining fabric.


From the denim I cut another rectangle that was 5" long and 9"wide. (Inside pocket)


From another scrap of fabric (coordinating) I cut two pockets by tracing around an actual pocket
on the pair of jeans.  I placed the pocket right side down on the ironing board and ironed all raw edges over 1/4" and then once again and ironed.  I placed the pocket slightly above the center of the front of the bag and top stitiched it around both sides and the bottom. I repeated this step for the back side.




Next I placed the denim pocket on the front of the lining and sewed the sides. No need to worry about the raw edges since they will get sewn into the side seam of the bag. I zig-zagged the bottom of the pocket to avoid too much thickness but it can be folded over under once and stitched in place.

I then cut about a 1 1/2" square out of the left and right bottom corners on all 4 pieces. This will allow some extra width at the bottom of the bag.



Using a 1/4" seam allowance, I sewed the denim pieces, right-sides together, on each side. Across the bottom, I sewed from the right corner approximately 3" toward the center and reinforced the stitching. I repeated this step for the left side of the bottom as well. The center is left open a few inches to turn the bag right side out at the end.


Next I opened up the bag and matched the corners sideways and stitched close on both the right and left sides.

This is how the bag should look from the right side.



From the remaining pant leg, I cut 2 fabric strips (for the strap) approximately 2" wide and the entire length of the pant leg.  I knew I wanted the strap to be long enough to wear the bag diagonally. I placed it right side down on the ironing board and rolled in a good 1/4"  to the center on each long side and ironed. Then I folded the strip once again completely in half, lengthwise to achieve a narrow strap width. I ironed, pinned and stitiched it close to the open edge.

At this point my camera ran out of batteries so I will insert photos from the next bag that I make. For placement of the straps, I took the end of the strap and placed the right side of the strap to the right side of the bag top, at the side seam with the raw edge of the bag slightly extending over the top raw edge of the bag and pinned. I repeated this step the left side of the bag. Then I sewed the strap in place on both sides at the 1/4" seam allowance and reinforced the stitiching several times. I almost sewed the strap in place twisted, so you'll want to be sure the strap is sewn on both sides in the right position without any twists.

Now place the lining of the bag right side inside the denim bag that is turned wrong side out. If you have done this correctly, the right sides of both pieces will be touching each other. Be sure that the straps are not in the way and are flat inside the bag. Pin the tops edges together and sew all the way around the top of the bag using a 1/4" seam.

Reach inside the bag and pull the bag through the opening that you left while sewing the bottom of the lining. Turn the bag completely right side out. Iron. Then top stitch the bag opening all the way around. I actually left a tiny bit of the lining fabric showing. Whipstitch the inside lining opening closed or feel free to use your sewing machine. You will want to press at this point as well. It leaves a very nice, neat finish.



This is a perfect first-time sewing project. It is easy and can be completed quickly for all you people that need instant gratification. I will put up a few more of these simple to create bags completed in more interesting colors when I have the time.

Since I just cleaned out my daughter's closet, I found many hardly worn clothing items that I intend to repurpose. This bag would be cute made out of cargo pants as well, plus there is the added benefit of reusing the pockets that are already on the pants. Just be careful while cutting out the pockets. You may want to zig-zag the raw edges if you decide to use the pockets.



"I'm also all about comfort. Just hanging out and wearing jeans."
Sung Hi Lee

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