Tuesday, December 24, 2013

#62: Happy 1st Anniversary New Dreams for Old Seams!: Country Western Santa Jacket

Merry Christmas! I can't believe it has been an entire year since I started this blog! I've greatly enjoyed all of the wonderful, sometimes hideous pieces I found throughout the year that both challenged me and made me excited to give new life! This year personally has been filled with some great ups and lots of downs, and I found that sewing is truly self-care for me :)

Since I started off with a Christmas-themed post last year, I thought I'd begin this second year with one as well. And it's a doozie.

I found this jacket at my favorite thrift store for about a buck:

Before: Country Western Santa Jacket

Before: From Behind

I'm not completely sure what this was used for before. It reminded me of some kind of country western Santa jacket. Tack some fringe on that puppy and you've got a HoHoHo-down!

I actually attempted to re-make this into an actual wearable jacket, but running out of time and patience, I went another route:

First, just like in my Santa Jacket post last year, I bought a bunch of fluffy white socks from the 99 Cents Only store.

I carefully cut along the heel of each sock to open them up.

Cutting open fluffy socks

Then I sewed about 10 socks together at the short ends to make one long line of fluffiness. This was also perhaps the messiest project all year, as there was fuzz all over the place!

After sewing all the socks together, I pinned them around the edge of the jacket to cover the white trim on both sides with the edges folded under to keep them from shedding on the final piece. Then I sewed the edges down.

Sewing fluffy trim

Once I had one side sewn down, I pinned on top of the fluffy material some Christmas-y ribbon I got in a 75% off sale at Michael's, tucking the ends into the edges of where the sock ends met. 

Fancy ribbon

I didn't sew the back side of the white sock trim down at first because I didn't want the sewing lines from the ribbon on the top to run throughout the bottom fluffy trim, so I sewed down the ribbon first, then sewed down the opposite side of the fluffy sock line.

Here is where I decided that this would no longer be a jacket. I carefully folded, pinned, and sewed away the entire sleeves so the piece could be as round as I could make it.

Folding, pinning, and sewing away the sleeves

Once the sleeves were gone, I was left with a round-ish flat piece that no longer resembled a jacket (but did it even look like a jacket in the first place?)


 I folded and cut a large hole in the center of the piece,...

Coming together now...

 ...and then cut a line straight up the back to open it up.

Open sesame!

As you can now see, this is going to be a tree skirt!

I finished it off by sewing hems on the edges I had just cut, and sewing some red ribbon at the opening to use as a tie to keep the tree skirt from slipping.

Afterward, I thought I'd sew some extra sparkly red ribbon over the edge of where the red and fluffy parts met to give it more flair.

Glitter ribbon!

 And that was how I turned a country western Santa jacket into a lovely Christmas tree skirt!

Here again was the before piece:

Before: Country Western Santa Jacket

Before: From behind

And here is how it turned out under my tree :)

After: Christmas Tree Skirt

After: Close-up

After: Closer up

I think this turned out pretty well, and leads me off to year 2 of blogging about my sewing adventures. 

I plan to keep sewin' and keep postin'! I hope you follow me on this journey as I develop my skills, take on new challenges, and turn out some new creations!

To you and yours this Christmas: many, many blessings,


Sunday, December 1, 2013

#61: Black and White Lace Dress

Happy December! I hope you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving weekend. I was sick, but it gave me some good time to rest and relax at home.

My Thanksgivings are full of food and family. Typically I spend pre-Thanksgiving with my family, and Thanksgiving Day with my in-laws. I worked on this dress for Thanksgiving dinner with my family over a week ago, but I haven't had consistent internet for over a month now to post it (sucks, I know. Hopefully it will be fixed soon).

Before: Black and White Lace Dress

Before: From behind

I liked the dress structure, but the off-white thick lace strips covering the seams and the over-frilly back was throwing it off. I'm pretty sure it was someone else's project before it landed in my hands.

There wasn't a whole lot I did to revive this dress. The first thing I did was carefully remove the off-white lace strips from the whole piece.

Removing the lacy ribbon

Almost all off!

Next, I removed the scratchy shoulder lifting material so the shoulders would lay more flat.

No more puffy shoulders

After that, I cut and sewed a new bottom hem because the under layer edges were very ratty. I also snipped around the edges of the sleeves and bust to make it look more clean (like I said, it looked like someone's project that was all unevenly cut).

Lastly, I folded and sewed a new hem across the top back to reduce the frilly-ness a bit.

Added some accessories and I was ready for dinner :)

Here again is the before photo:

Before: Frilly Black and White Lace Dress


Before: From behind

And here's after the simple alterations:

After: Less-frilly Black and White Lace Dress (AFTER dinner : P )

After: From Behind

Sometimes all it takes to make a piece look better is taking something off that shouldn't be there : )

Now that Thanksgiving has passed, and Hanukkah is chugging along, and Christmas, Kwanza, and other holiday festivities are barreling toward us, I wonder: what is your favorite part of the holiday season? Got a favorite tradition? A favorite food? A favorite song? A favorite scent? Let me know in the comments section below!

Until next time, blessings.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

#60: Angelic Red Lace Dress

Hey everyone. Welcome to today's post. Let's get straight to it.

I picked up this red lace dress at a thrift store a few months ago, and I finally made time to transform it.

Before: Red Lace Dress

Before: From Behind

Maybe it was a bridesmaid dress, or maybe a choir dress. I don't know, but it certainly had me feeling angelic ;)


 I love lace, but this dress was no longer in style. I found a backless lace dress at the store that I wanted to model this after to make it more modern.

The inspiration dress

My first move was to remove the sleeves and take it in on the sides.

Sleeves gone, cutting off some width.

I wasn't liking the shape of the neckline, so I next took a seam ripper and separated the shiny under layer from the lacy outer shell at the neck and shoulders.

Separating the layers

I took the outer lace and re-shaped the neckline to a simple scooped neck.

Reshaping the neckline

After sewing the new neckline and arm holes and cutting the excess, I then re-shaped the inner layer to allow for a detached sweetheart neckline underneath the lace.

Pinning a new under layer neckline

Once I had sewn and cut the new neckline, I made a more dipped effect at the bust by hand-stitching a straight stitch at the center of the shiny layer a few inches down, then pulled the thread taut to create a small ruching effect.

Simple ruching to make a bigger dip in the sweetheart neckline

After the front was done, I began working on the back. Like in the inspiration picture, I like the backless look with only the lace covering the back. However, as a woman with substantial bust-age, I have to wear a bra, and I don't like the tacky look of the bra through the lace, so I decided to add a panel across where my bra would go.

To do this, I separated the shiny under layer from the zipper, and marked out where I would cut out the scooped back, leaving the bra-covering strip in tact.  Then I cut and sewed around the new openings.

Cutting and pinning a peek-a-boo back

Once I had re-sewn the zipper in place with the back the way I wanted, I cut some length from the bottom of the dress.

Making it shorter

I attempted to shape it in a way that's longer in back than in front, but turned out funky, so I ended up making it shorter than I originally intended. Oh well.

Finally, after a few more size adjustments and darts at the bust to reduce gaping, the dress was done.

I added some red rose accessories and a matching ribbon at the waist, and I had an outfit I got to wear to my friends' baby shower over the weekend!

Here again is the original dress:

Before: Angelic Red Lace Dress

Before: From Behind

And here's the new look:

After: Red Lace Party Dress

After: From behind

I'm not yet fully happy with the fit, with how I look in the dress, or with the lighting of the pictures, but I never claimed to be perfect and I felt confident as I wore it. Most of all, I had fun!

I hope each of you takes with you this week that you are perfect just as you are, flaws and all.

Standing perfectly-imperfect with you, let's enjoy the day.

Until next time, blessings. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

#59: Pleated White Skirt

Hey y'all. Thanks for visiting my blog. I've been trying to handle a lot of emotionally heavy stuff lately which has left me worn out. Pray for me, please.

I spend my days working long hours and with a lot on my mind and haven't been very intentional about sewing. Sorry for the long gaps between projects. I'm choosing to be more intentional about sewing now, as I find it very life-giving.

For today's project, I found this pleated white skirt at the 99 Cents Only store for just a buck.

Before: Plain pleated white skirt

Before: From behind

It was missing a button and had a few stains, but was in otherwise good condition.

No button :(

I immediately knew that I wanted this to become a shirt when I bought it. 

The process was so simplistic, that I didn't take any process pictures. I first draped the skirt over my shoulders and pinned how wide I would need for my waist. 

Next, I flipped the skirt inside out, measured about 7 inches in from the seams on both sides (space for the sleeves), and sewed 2 parallel lines about 1cm apart joining at the top where my underarm would be. 

Then I cut in between the 2 straight stitched lines all the way up (I had to adjust it higher a few times to be the right length for the sleeve to begin). Once I got the right length for the side and underarm seams, I fake-serged the newly cut seams to keep it from fraying. 

Finally, after trying out a few ideas with the neckline, I simply folded the original waist half way down and sewed it around. 

And that was it! 

Here again is the before skirt (not that the reminder's too much of a scroll this time):

Before: Plain pleated white skirt

Before: From behind

And here is my new blouse:

After: Pleated white blouse

After: From behind

I even  took a picture outside for the friends who complain about my little hallway ;)

I'm glad how it turned out. I feel kind of like a pirate :) 

Arrrrrr! Ahoy mateys!
I especially like the pleating at the neckline. I feel like it is a feminine way to frame my shoulders and bust. 

Still pleated!

I hope you liked this transformation. And I hope you know that if you're gong through hard times, you're not alone. 

Take care.

Until next time, blessings. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

#58: Happy Halloween: The Power is YOURS!!

Happy belated Halloween everybody! I hope you had a fun, safe night :)

I can't believe it's November already! I always like this time of year. My birthday and Halloween are at the end of October, and tonight is one of my favorite treats that I consider part of my birthday gift each year...Daylight Savings Time!!!
Last year I made up my Halloween costume character. I was Hero Girl, a female hero of color (you can see pics at this link). 
This year, I tossed around a number of ideas, but the week before, my husband jokingly suggested he be a certain awesome 90's cartoon character. Though he was joking, I totally took the idea and ran with it! Here's my inspiration for this year's costume:

"Captain Planet, he's a hero
gonna take pollution down to zero..."

But before that...

For my birthday my husband planned a day of food and fun. I got to try out Sky Zone in-door trampoline gym! It was SOOOO much fun, but equally exhausting!

Crepe Studio Breakfast

Sky Zone. What a blast!


Can't have a birthday without ice cream! (Or in this case, frozen yogurt at Cherry On Top)

Dinner in a train car on Sunset Boulevard

Thanks Honey!

Now, back to Halloween. I decided to be none other than the 90's cartoon hero fighting against pollution, Captain Planet! And I wanted to make my costume myself. I began looking online to envision Captain Planet's look, when I noticed that there are very, very few female Captain Planets! There are plenty of female portrayals of other male superheroes, and lots of male cosplay Captain Planets, but not female. That strengthened my determination even more to be Captain Planet!

Captain Planet's got quite an interesting look

I had a blue long-sleeve shirt, a black belt, and a pair of red shorts. Everything else I went on the hunt to either make or buy super cheap. So I went shopping at the 99 Cents Only store.

For his skin, I found a pair of light blue tights at Target on clearance for around $3 to go with my long-sleeve shirt. I also found some great blue and white face makeup at the 99 Cents Only store which I blended together to make a light blue tone.

Tiny peak of the blue makeup

I found a curly green clown wig at the 99 Cents Only store.


I tried a number of ways to make the wig less curly (boiling water, ironing, etc), but it just wouldn't give up its intense curl. So at the last minute I found a short, mullet-like blonde wig at a thrift store on a half-off Halloween sale for only $1.50, cut the hair to give it Captain Planet's signature front curl, and spray-painted it with green hair spray I also found at the 99 Cents Only store.

Sneak peak at the final wig

Again, at the 99 Cents Only store (I'm beginning to think I should be their spokes-person!), I found a plain red t-shirt which I measured and cut the sleeves and the length with a dip in the center in the shape of Captain Planet's chest-area (shirt? skin? I don't know).

Marking where I want to cut


I also drew out and cut the collar in his zig-zag pattern.

After Cutting

For the chest emblem, I took a large plastic can lid and covered it with a square of yellow scrap material I had and sewed the back edges together so it would be taut.

Doesn't matter how the back looks

Then I drew the longitude and latitude-like lines with a black marker on the front to match his, and sewed it to the front of the shirt.

The world

For the belt buckle, I cut out the buckle's shape from a plastic cover to an old daily planner I had...


...wrapped the same yellow material around the edges, and sealed it with fabric glue.

Wrapping the buckle

 I also used ribbon to add some loops to hold the buckle onto the belt.

Belt loops

 On the front, I drew the outline Captain Planet has (can't see it very well in the photo).

Belt buckle

The hardest parts for me were the gloves and boots. I didn't want to go out and buy red boots just for this costume, and I thought it up too late to order long red gloves online (I scoured the stores with no luck). So I decided to try to make them.

Initially I thought about finding red short gloves and long red socks and sewing them together, but the only pair of red gloves I found were $28. $28!? No thanks! After looking at multiple stores again, I could not find ANY long red socks. NONE!! I tried spray-painting white gloves and socks red...

Mustache gloves

...but I just ended up with a half-done mess when the spray can spout broke.

I happened to find ONE pair of fluffy red socks in the whole town, and remembered that I had been given some red bath scrubber gloves as part of a Christmas set which I still had new, so I had to make due.

I cut off the toes of the red socks...

Fluffy red socks

No more toes

...Re-stitched spaces for my fingers to go through...

~Making gloves~

...and slipped my red bathing gloves over the socks.

BAM! How you like me now, lack-of-long-red-gloves-and-socks town?

For the boots, I bought a stretchy red sweater at the thrift store on the dollar rack, removed the sleeves, and sewed the ends closed to fit over a pair of flats so it could look something like boots.

Removing the sleeves

My favorite, yet surely insignificant part of my costume was the ring! If you've never seen the show, there are these kids collectively called the Planeteers who come from all over the world and use special elements rings together to summon Captain Planet to save the day. (I think Captain Planet and Smokey the Bear would be friends). Though Captain Planet himself doesn't have a ring, I wanted one anyway.

"Water! Earth! Fire! Heart! Wind!"

Quick aside: This picture I found online cracked me up.

Planeteers grew up on... the Magic School Bus??

Back to the ring; I found these nifty ones on Etsy that gave me some inspiration.

I decided to go with Earth since it seemed the easiest. I found this gaudy ring at (where else?) the 99 Cent Only store, which I promptly took apart.

Before: Gaudy ring

The base underneath

I painted the base with fingernail polish, then added a smaller inner circle of darker green paint once dried.

Green base

Darker green circle

Then I drew the longitude and latitude lines using a pointy wooden skewer.

Once dried, I added a layer of clear nail polish to act as a sealant, and used a decorative glass rock to press on top and magnify the globe.

Simple Magnifiers

The result?


After lots of searching, trying things out, failing, and trying out other things, my costume was ready to go.

I pieced it all together, carefully applied the make-up and hair, and even spray-painted my eyebrows green. I folded under the edges of the shorts to make them look look like briefs (I used double-sided tape to keep fabric in place).

Here again is the look I was going for:

Fighting pollution!

And here's my Halloween costume:

Captain Planet, she's a hero!

I hung out with my sharp-dressed warewolf husband as we walked around Old Pasadena, 

An odd pair

...partied with a fellow blue sistah,

Avatar and Captain Planet...both here to save the ecosystems!

...and a legit Storm Trooper.

Wolfie and Stormy

(*I'm gonna take a risk here and be publically vulnerable for a moment. So this Halloween my body is "larger" than last year, which is totally not what I had wanted, but it's where I am. I was so excited about the idea of my costume, but I found myself quite leery of my confidence of wearing a skin-tight costume with nowhere to hide. As we walked through Old Pasadena seeing all the skimpy, cleavage-filled, underwear-like female costumes, I found myself getting even more self-conscious. All power to those who want to wear a barely-there costume, but I hated that I felt inferior for not dressing the same, or for looking thicker in my costume. But I found confidence in my creativity. So many people recognized my costume with excitement!*)

I hope you all enjoyed the night, whether you celebrated or not. Don't forget to be thankful as we draw nearer to Thanksgiving this month. And don't forget to set your clocks back!

And remember...the power is YOURS!

Recycle, kids.

 Until next time, blessings.