Sunday, December 23, 2012

Freeform Sewing

If sewing was like music, this dress would be freeform jazz. The other day I just grabbed some fabric scraps and started sewing. This is what happened...

The base of the dress is a large piece of purple flannel that I had leftover. It was already cut into a half-circle shape.

From there I cut a neck and some arms holes. I cut strips of the pink fabric on the bias. To give it a little different look, I didn't finish any of the edges (other than using a zig-zag stitch). I love "techniques" that double as a time-saver :)

Friday, December 7, 2012

It's a Wrap Top... and a tutorial!

how to make a wrap top
About a year ago I was introduced to a friend of a friend. She had on this really, REALLY cool wrap top. I mean it was REALLY cool. I didn't want to seem all creeper-ish or anything... so I refrained from taking pictures or feeling the material, but I did ask her about it.

Turns out she was a dancer and she said that she was wearing a ballerina wrap top. I had never heard of them, but when I saw it I knew I could try to make one.

wrap top DIY

make your own ballerina wrap shirt

A little over a year later and I have finally gotten around to it. I looked at some ballet style wrap shirts online, and also found a tutorial here at Creative Spaces that was very similar to what I had in mind. I started with her tutorial and changed it up a bit.

The project was fairly simple and the shirt is a keeper! So here is my very unprofessional tutorial:

Sunday, November 25, 2012

I'll Take That Zipper and Raise You a Blind Hem

I've been feeling a bit spunky since I got my new sewing machine a couple months ago. I've been using patterns, sewing zippers, and now... I can add blind hem to my list of techniques.

My latest project uses all three! Seriously, who do I think I am lately?  Some kind of seamstress or something?!

I made this skirt from a thin wool blend that I found at a very discounted price. It came from the same place that the wool and silk skirt fabric came from.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Has Anyone Tried Poshmark?

I'm usually the last to find out about anything these days. By the time I heard about Gangnam Style it was sooooo yesterday.

So, I came across this website called Poshmark and I was wondering if there is anyone else out there using Poshmark? I really like the concept.

The whole idea is like consignment really. You sell your old clothes (hopefully) and buy unwanted clothes from others. I found out about it yesterday, after I had already spent a good part of my Saturday looking around town for used jeans in my size.

I have already purchased a pair of jeans from Poshmark. Obviously they haven't had time to arrive yet. But they were much cheaper than a pair of used jeans from my local consignment stores. And, the prices are also higher than what I get when I try to sell back my jeans to my local jean store. It's like cutting out the "middle-man."

You can bargain with people like you would at a yard sale. Or you can ask them to "bundle" some items together and offer them a price. You can also ask people to make a trade.

I was wondering if anyone else out there has used this site. I can see where it can become very addictive. I have posted a few items so far if you want to check out my "closet."

Poshmark is made to be an iPhone app. It is designed to take pictures with your phone. And now that I am looking at them on my computer I am not as happy with them. Anyway, check it out:

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Wool and Silk Winter Skirt

Do you ever obsess over your next sewing project?  Last week I was chomping at the bit to get to a fabric store. All week long I tried to squeeze in a fabric splurge, but I couldn't quite make it work.

I knew I wanted to make some winter clothes. And being the impatient girl that I am, I ended up at this very obscure discount fabric warehouse that is close to my work. I have only been there once before and last time I wasn't happy with the results of my trip. Out of desperation I gave it one more try. This time I am happy that I did :)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Baby Blanket Dress

I used a Pattern, y'all!  That's so not like me.  But I had seen an adorable "little grey dress" pinned on Pinterest recently that looked perfect for autumn.  And then I came across a wonderful free pattern here.  I think she did a knock-out job replicating the dress :)

For the fabric I used one of BB's old baby blankets.  It's a medium weight fleece. And it makes the dress super cozy.

I added rik-rak to the bottom. It's the Disney kind that you may have come across in fabric stores.  It was on clearance at Michael's recently.

So... free pattern... free fabric... cheapo rik-rak... about two hours of time... and PRESTO CHANGO!  A fab new dress!

The pattern is labeled as a 4/5, which is what BB wears. It came out a little short. She will probably be wearing leggings with this one.

Here are some more shameless pics of my little princess modeling her new dress:

Friday, October 26, 2012

Skirt From a Sweater... Second Time's the Charm

This is my second attempt at a sweater skirt. My first one was a flop, but I did learn a couple of valuable lessons along the way. And knowing is half the battle, right?

Lesson number one: When sewing a sweater, it is MUCH easier to work with a fine gauge knit than a chunky sweater. The first sweater I tried to work with was made of a thick cotton yarn that easily fell apart when I cut it.

Lesson number two: Sweaters tend to stretch when you sew them. I was able to prevent the stretching by increasing my stitch length.  I also used a "straight stretch" stitch for this project, which is one of the stitch settings on my machine.

So, after losing one sweater and painstakingly learning the above lessons... here is what DID work...

Monday, October 22, 2012

Wonder Woman - The Tutorial

I have had so much positive feedback about the Wonder Woman costume. Thank you so much! As promised, here is the tutorial.

I must warn you that I could not find all of my pictures. So I am going to do the best I can with what I have. ***deep breath*** And I am really OK with that (insert half-smile here).

Here's what I did:

Friday, October 12, 2012

Wummer Woman

wonder woman costume kid
This may be the most fun thing that I have ever made. When I was a kid, I used to have an awesome Wonder Woman bathing suit.  So when BB told me that she wanted to be "Wummer Woman" for Halloween, I was so excited!

I knew that I wanted to make a costume for her. But as it turns out, there just weren't a lot of Wonder Woman costume ideas that I was happy with.

I showed her examples of some that had tu-tus, but she wanted the "real Wummer Woman bottoms."

Monday, October 8, 2012

My New Vintage Workspace

Last week my sewing machine died mid-project. My initial reaction of sadness was quickly replaced with the excitement of buying a BRAND NEW SEWING MACHINE (insert angelic sound here).

I'm a Singer girl. I grew up with Singers and they are what I know. And I'm a sucker for marketing. So when the marketing folks down at Singer dreamed up the antique looking Singer 160, I'm pretty sure they had me in mind.

Now I know that many sewing enthusiasts would prefer to buy an ACTUAL vintage machine, rather than a machine that just LOOKS vintage. But.... let's face it, I could really get into some bells and whistles.

And let me tell you. This beauty sews like a dream. I am so in love with her. I love her so much in fact, that the thought of lugging her in and out of the closet every day just seemed cruel and unusual. Clearly she needed a proper home... And so I went antique shopping.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Giant Floor Pillows

Seriously... this fabric is just plain yummy! I know I have bragged before about the awesome discount upholstery fabric in my neck of the woods. The place is called U-Fab, and they really are... well, fabulous!

Which is exactly why I could not resist jumping on the giant-floor-pillow-bandwagon. These pillows are fun for BB, incorporate my color scheme into the living room, and are not overpowering.

They are pretty simple to make and they are a great stash-buster. In addition to the yummy fabric, I used unwanted fabric from my stash pile, unused blankets, an unused mattress pad and even an old quilted grocery cart cover.  Plus I had some leftover stuffing from the loveseat project.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Extending the Life and Length of a "Favorite"

BB has two kinds of clothes: her "favorites" and the "crazies." These are her words not mine. Her favorites are very limited. So when I pick her up from school and a "favorite" dress is shorter than one of Cindy Brady's dresses, well, then I know I will have a problem.

Rather than leaving BB with one less "favorite" to wear, I decided to turn this favorite dress into a favorite skirt.

This was a very quick and painless refashion.  Here's what I did:

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Pink Pencil Skirt: A Fast Refashion

You can really never have too many skirts. Well.. at least I know that I can't have too many skirts.

This skirt was once a thrift store dress that was... let's just say...not quite my style. It probably enjoyed a life of clubbing at one point.

I picked it up at a thrift store because it was made from a thick stretchy knit. Even the check out girl gave me a sideways look when I brought it to the counter.

Sadly, the before pictures are nowhere to be found. So you'll just have to trust me on this one.

Anywhoo... refashioning this to a pencil skirt was quick and painless.  Here's what I did:

Monday, September 3, 2012

Featured Crafter

Green Issues by Agy
I am so excited today!! Today I am being featured on Green Issues by Agy. This is one of my favorite blogs. Agy is a green crafter. Her blog features many of her amazing upcycles as well as fabulous refashions.

What I especially love about Agy's blog is that she introduces us to other green crafters in blog-land. And I was lucky enough to be one of her featured crafters today.  If you have not seen Green Issues by Agy then stop by and check it out.  :)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Back to School Teacher Treats

I don't usually like to brag.  But I really do have the best job in the world. I am a middle school counselor.

As if that wasn't glamorous enough, I also happen to work with the most awesome group of teachers ever.  So, I wanted to make them all a little treat to kick off the new school year.

I'm really not sure why I was determined to get pop-rocks. But I was... and they are actually pretty difficult to find. And since we have been on a big super hero kick here at my house lately, I decided to tie in that theme with the pop-rocks.

Simple... and cute, right?  :)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Covering an Old Ikea Chair

cover a chair diy
I was fortunate enough to inherit this old Ikea chair from a friend.  It was in great shape, but the cushions were a bit stained.  So, I took a trip to make favorite fabric store to liven it up a bit.

This was a quick and easy project.  I don't even know how long it took, because I did it all while I was waiting for the paint to dry on my dressertainment center.  This super-fast solution has had a huge impact on our living room.  Here's what I did:

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Dressertainment Center

As soon as I finished the sofa, it was obvious that the whole living room needed an upgrade.  So I went on the lookout for an old dresser that I could convert into an entertainment center.  

Entertainment centers can be expensive, and I wanted to create something unique.  I got this idea to use an old dresser. I envisioned that the right dresser would have interesting lines and would also allow me to store things.

It didn't take long for me to find this old (oak?) dresser.  It was only $40! Here's what I did...

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

(not) Always a Bridesmaid (dress) - a Royal Refashion

How to make a princess dress
My little princess is about to turn FOUR!  Usually I get a little psycho around birthday time and plan out an elaborate party.  This year I decided to relax and let someone else do the work.... except (of course) for BB's dress.

upcycle princess dressBB wanted a princess party.  Which means princess attire is needed.  Which means I get to make a fancy dress!!  I realize most of my friends would not have been as excited about that, but I am hoping that some of you crafters out there know what I am talking about.

First thing first.. a trip to a local thrift shop!  Aren't you excited already!!  Well... I was :)

Monday, July 30, 2012

Lovin' My New LoveSeat: Totally Rad ReUpholstery

reupholster couch loveseat

I love the 80's more than the average person.  I like the music, the movies, the clothes and even the hair.  But, this red couch in my living room was reminding me of my favorite decade a little too much.  The sad part is that it was actually purchased in this century.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Old Tool Boxes for Updated Craft Organization

mandy made mandy chambers
Every so often I feel like I am being swallowed up by toys.  BB has been very artsy lately and my living room was beginning to feel like Hurricane Art had ripped right through it.

We have a small living space; so our living room is also our play room, craft room and sometimes usually our dining room.  I finally decided to face the art supply situation head first. Due to the drastic nature of the art supply situation, I feel I am doing you a favor by NOT posting any 'before' pictures.  But, trust me... it was BAD :(

Monday, July 23, 2012

Knit Circle Skirts for BB and Me

easy circle skirt

I used to be terrified of knits.  I always loved the feel of knits, but every time I tried to work with them, my project became a disaster. Now that I am no longer afraid I seem to be on a knit-quest.

I bought this fabric several months ago.  Every couple of weeks I had a new plan enter my head about what to do with it.  Even after I started making this skirt, I wasn't sure how it would end (which is often the case for me).

I decided to try a circle skirt.  I've never made a circle skirt before. And, if I'm going to make a skirt with a LOT of fabric at the bottom, I might as well use a fabric that doesn't need to be hemmed.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Introducing Rose

Meet Rose. She joined our family this week as part of my I-think-I-will-just-buy-anything-I-want-with- no-regard-to-my-finances-spree. So far, she has been a very welcome addition to my sewing collection. My daughter named her Rose, after Briar Rose in Sleeping Beauty, and the name just kind of stuck.

I used to have a dress form many years ago. She wasn't much to look at. She was one of those "adjustable" kinds.  She was supposed to help you find the "perfect" fit, put she did not work out that well for me.  And, she really wasn't very pinnable. So I donated her to the theater department of the school I was working at during that time.

This time around I decided I wanted something a little more pretty. I pictured her as a pseudo art piece when not in use. I did not spend a fortune. I went for a Roxy, which is pretty bottom-based price for that type of dress form. She is foam on the inside and covered with a jersey fabric.

She has already helped me make a skirt; which I will write about this weekend. The totally weird part is that she is almost EXACTLY my measurements to a 'T'. Her shoulders are a bit lower and her waist is a teensy bit smaller. But other than that, it's almost like she was made just for me. That's why I don't see any reason to try to pad her to my body shape at this time. Maybe later down the road...

Does anyone else out there use a dress form?  If so, did you buy a fancy one?  Do you use it often, or does it just sit there?

I'm also soooo excited this week!  My swimsuit refashion was featured at Practically Functional, Threading My Way, Mine for the Making, as well as on the Facebook Page of The CSI ProjectIf you haven't been to these sites yet, you should check them out and link up your projects.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Swimsuit Refashion

Today I have a whole new respect for the swimsuit industry.  I'll admit that there have been more than a few times that I have bad-mouthed them; perhaps even used expletives. 

bathing suit upcycle
It just seemed like they could never get it right.  I mean, if the intimate apparel industry can get it right, why can't the swimwear folks get it?  We women are not all the same size and shape.  And, for goodness sake, can't a mom have a cute swimsuit that is actually flattering?  

Saturday, July 7, 2012

I'm Back, Baby!

It has been a while since I have posted; and I feel bad about that.  It has been a whirlwind week for me... quite literally.  

It started with a very destructive derecho last Friday night.  I had no idea what a derecho is until I was huddled in the downstairs bathroom with my daughter, a flashlight and couch cushions over our heads.  It's an intense thunderstorm that sounds like a tornado and feels like a hurricane.

It knocked down trees and power lines in it's enormous path.  Our house was without power for 4 or 5 days.  Luckily, there was minimal damage at our house and we left for the beach the morning after the storm.  In fact, I think the only casualty at our house was this mirror that fell from the wall.  For some lucky reason there was a box filled with padding just below it where it safely landed.  The crack in the mirror was already there.

Even though I wasn't blogging, I still had an awesome week!  And I'm not just talking about the beach part.

My Pantsformation post was featured at Crafting a Greener World this week.  I am so excited about this!  If you have not visited this site yet, then you need to check it out.  They have all kinds of great crafty ideas re-using things that we might otherwise throw away.  

Also this week, my Ruffleback Dress was featured at Mine for the Making.  This is another fantastic DIY site with lost of tutorials and links to other nerdy crafty folks such as myself :)

Of course I have some very big, ambitious, crafty plans on my agenda this week.  I am afraid to tell you what they are because I don't want to jinx anything.  You will just have to wait and see ;) 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Old Shirt + Old Bedding + Packaging = RuffleBack Dress

girl dress tutorial

I originally thought this dress would be dubbed "The Mullet Dress."
Thankfully my husband had a better idea.  We officially call this dress the "RuffleBack Dress" (a nod to JT).
Besides, this dress is all party in the front AND the back :)

Monday, June 25, 2012

My Little Big Girl's Room

girl's room diy
It has been awhile since I have written anything.  And it isn't because I didn't want to.  It is because I have been working on something big; or, shall we say, lots of little things for one "big" girl.  We have finally finished redecorating BB's room.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Zen and the Art of Wrap-Skirt Making

mandy made

This may appear to be just a denim wrap skirt, but this skirt has become much more than that.  I realized as I was making this skirt, and as it kept transforming, that it was really a metaphor for me. Okay, okay, so maybe I'm a little crazy, but I can learn a lot about myself from sewing.

So, let me back up and start at the beginning.  It all started when I went to the local fabric store and purchased Burda pattern 8176, medium weight denim, and a zipper.  I've been wanting a denim skirt for awhile now.  And for some reason they are surprisingly hard to come by in any shape but straight.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A Pantsformation - or... How I Made a Skirt from a Pair of Pants

There is a lot to love about upcycling.  First there is the obvious recycling benefit, which is also nice when you are working with a budget.  Second is the creative aspect; it really is more exciting for me to figure out how to re-arrange my existing clothes than it is to buy a pattern and cut along the lines.  The third, and perhaps most compelling reason, is that it usually takes a lot less work.

There, I said it.  I love love love to sew.  But it is really really cool when I don't have to sew in a zipper or finish every little last edge.