Thursday, March 31, 2011

Up-cycled Renaissance Sweater

Before I post the last in my Crack Coats series (I bet you thought I forgot, huh?), I wanted to share with you a sweater I had made in the fall because this ended up being the inspiration for one of the coolest jackets ever. Seriously, wait till you see it. This jacket is a rock star. But back to the sweater (I'm imagining saying that part like they say "and now back to the studio" on the news so say it that way in your head). If you missed the other posts, Crack Coats, Phase One: The First Taste is Free and Crack Coats, Phase Two: Children of the Corn, you might want to check them out now. You don't want to feel like an idiot not being up to speed.

I created this sweater after seeing something similar on Etsy that was fetching over $400 dollars. You know what? I'll just show you. The seller is named Enlightened Platypus, if you want to see more, but here are a few pictures of her work.

Sure, they were cool, but there were a few downsides. #1: I'm cheap. I guess that's my downside, not really the sweaters, but hey. Also, the sweaters were loose and baggy and although they were creative, would look like a tent on me and my slender (okay, flat-chested) frame.

So using an old skirt, a henley, and some scrap fabric, this came together in one day and is one of my favorite creations for myself.

I mixed and matched buttons that I had bought from an antique store in St. Pete.

I used an over lock stitch on all the seams so I didn't have to worry about getting anything perfect. But I did learn later that needed to go back and put a regular straight stitch under the seam to hold the satin fabric in place or the seam just tore when I went to take off the sweater while sliding down the stripper pole. Oh, I mean while helping the elderly load groceries into their cars.

The Enlightened Platypus has her own signature style of an elf-like hood on all of her sweaters but I didn't want anything that, well, stupid looking. So instead, I made this little leaf at the bottom of my hood.

For the cuffs, I used two layers of the skirt fabric and edged them in contrasting thread.

Then for some reason, I really don't remember why, I decided to use more of the plaid flannel left over from making Abby and the baby's coats from the first jacket post and did a facing for the inside. It might have been to help reinforce the buttonholes. BUT- in order to keep this facing flat, I decided in a genius-like move to not sew this down, because that would look stupid, but instead used No Sew, which is like super glue for fabric.

The end result was that it bled through the fabric so it looked like I was constantly lactating in a steady stream right down both nipples.

So even though these were never intended, I ended up making two satin ruffles that went right down the front of both sides and even though they don't cover the glue stains entirely, they at least draw attention away. And right to my huge size A boobs. Great.

I actually ended up really liking these ruffles. My boobs are the only really skinny part of me so I'll take what I can get.  

In the end, this is my favorite piece that I've made for myself. Bobby really liked it too, until I told him it was for me. The first time I wore it out, the face he made was like I had just let one in public. And here he was telling me how great it was just hours before! It turns out, he liked it- just not for me to wear out with him. As you can imagine, this has become my favorite date night outfit since then.

The few times I've worn it out in public since I made this, I always get people stopping me and asking me where I bought it and when I tell them I made it myself, the reaction I get is: "You should sell those." Maybe someday I will. Hello, outsourcing to China! If they can make my alarm clock, computer, car, and hopefully one day an illegal baby girl smuggled out in Bobby's carry-on luggage for me, why not some sweaters? Until then I'll just keep recycling my clothing into more outfits Bobby will be embarrased for me to wear in public with him. I'm getting my wife of the year award next month.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Birthday Outfits- done at last! Thank god almighty, they're done at last!

So last Friday night was our "Let's Get Sew Drunk" party and I have to admit that the sewing part was kind of a bust. It's hard to motivate a bunch of people to sew once they've gotten into the eating/chattting mode. Oh, and I'm a super-crappy teacher and the first thing that happened was that both machines immediately got all tangled up by yours truly. Our MVP of the night is Jen who came all the way from Orlando AND brought food and alchohol! We're so lucky our cousin duper her into marrying him. But the best thing that came out of that night was that Shrimp finally finished Echo's birthday outfit!

Here she is showing us all that compared to her daughter, she is like Godzilla ready to eat Tokyo. Look at those tiny little pants! And she finished the shirt off too. I didn't realize that the girls were wearing their outfits for the family pictures the next day. Check this cutie out.

Porkchop's sitting in Jett's car seat! Does it get much cuter? Oh, I guess I should show you pictures of the girls in their outfits too.

They're pretty okay too.

And- the most amazing part- they actually stayed together during the birthday party the next day!

See, no pieces flying off, no pins left in the outfits to rip the blow-up slides as they slide down, and as Shrimp likes to point out, nothing is hot glued! Although by the end of the party Echo's 'stash had grown back. Poor kid- forget about 5 o'clock shadow. She's gonna have a 2 o'clock fu man chu after she goes through puberty.

I like this picture of baby Mary because this tunnel she's in makes it look like she's coming out of a big birth canal. Honestly, that's probably what Abby's vajayjay looks like after pushing that baby out.

Here she is with her beautiful mama. They are pretty stinking beautiful. They take after me.

So all in all, the outfits were a success. Of course, they did look like spanish hookers but that's the look we were going for anyway. Next year we're going for the 'trashy nun' look. It's gonna be hot!

Lose 10 lbs in 30 Days page is dead

I'm sad to announce the death of my 30 Day weight loss page. I had added a bunch of days to get it up to speed and when I hit 'save as draft', all the work was gone and then some. Since I don't have a back-up copy, I have no way of recreating the posts from past days so I am taking down the page. Sorry if you were following along; I can always post updates if you want. I'm almost halfway through the month and have to do a weigh-in today so I can see if I've made any progress. I'm still doing the EA Active workouts and using to log my food and activities but not adding them to a page here. Damn blogspot.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Update: Gabriella's Mural and birthday outfits

Hey, sorry to jam all this into one post, but I've been doing double duty this week trying to work on the birthday outfit and Gabi's mural. So you all are getting it double fisted today. Wow, that sounds dirty no matter what context it's used in.

First up, birthday outfit. Shrimp came over last week and worked on Echo's pants. I believe her exact quote was, "See, I AM good for something!". That remains to be seen. However, she did manage to make some major progress. Echo's ruffles are in the opposite order of baby Mary's ruffles on her pants:

Tres adorable, if I do say so myself, even though I had nothing to do with making this pair. I take credit for my mojo.

As you may recall if you weren't too far gone when you read the last update (I'm usually pretty far gone while writing these things), we had decided on this to be the basic design of the shirt:

Well, I just didn't like it. Sure, it's fine for Shrimp's kid, if you don't really want to put too much effort into what you child looks like. But for my goddaughter? I don't think so. I was lying awake the other night, tossing and turning, and this was just festering in my mind. I had this idea that was brewing and finally I just sat bolt upright, my head rotated 360 degrees, split pea soup.... oh, wait, wrong moment. Anyway, I got this other idea.

So I took this black ruffle off, cut it in half, then edged it in pink thread to have two of these going down both sides of the shirt:

Then I took apart the pink bows and stuffed them with netting to make them fluffier (again Erin, thanks for the fluffing advice), then layered them at the bottom of these ruffles with some pink tulle and black lace puffing out at the end. And I put the little black bow at the top of each ruffle. Here, it's easier just to show you.

I have to hand sew on the bows but then I'm done for the front. Almost finished; I have something really cute for the back of the shirt.... Oh, and I had to shorten the pants. They ended up being full length on baby Mary so I took off the rick-rack, cut off 2 inches, then sewed them back together and used the rick-rack to sew over the seams. Almost finished!

Now for Gabriella's Mural: 

I was able to work on this a few hours each night last night and tonight. Here was the progression.

Last night, I put blush on the princess but I didn't feel like messing with that ho any more. I wanted to do something big, like the tree. But before I could do that, I put up the star clouds up in case the tree went on top of any of them. I used 2 brighter shades of blue than the backgrounds and some purple, then painted in the tiny stars with metallic silver paint.

Then up went the tree. After I painted in the trunk, Krissi helped out by painting in the heart shaped leaves while I did the much easier to manipulate while drunk green leaves.

We decided to let that dry and packed it in for the night. Tonight, I painted in the details of the trunk (SUPER cool, I gotta tell ya), then added more leaves and some detail to the hearts.

First the trunk

Then the metallic purple polka dots on the hearts and more leaves

How pretty is this? I have to admit, I'm feeling pretty good about now.

The last thing I do for the night since the kids have this uber-supremacy 'bedtime' mandated every night is chalk in the mermaid and then put a base colour in her tail.

You can almost see the chalk outline here:

Then here is Jett modeling the tail:

God, how cute is this kid, right? So fricking adorable. But we are heading in towards the finish line. Once the mermaid is finished, it'll be about the small details like adding in the fish and some flowers on the grass and that's it. I can't wait to show you the finished product! Let's face it, I can't wait to see the finished product. Sober. In daylight. It's amazing what you can do in a blackout drunk phase!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Princess & Mermaid mural for Gabriella

After I finished the owl mural at my house about a month ago, my neice Gabi and I have been looking for what to paint in her room . She is a girly girl but she also likes to express her individuality so I wanted to find something that really seemed 'her'.

I headed to my favorite idea shop- Etsy- and found a woman who painted all of these whimsical paintings of girls and mermaids and trees and water. They were great and just what I was going for, skill-level wise. I sent the link to my sister-in-law and Gabi picked out a favorite.

The picture she picked out was great, but not very wide and we had a big wall to cover. So I chose 2 more photos and we'll use elements from all 3 of these:

I'm using the fish & one mermaid from this photo for the left side of the wall.
I'm using one tree from this photo to put to the right of the princess and also I'm copying how the water laps around the grass.

And this is the princess photo. We're copying the girl but making her with brown hair and eyes like Gabi and no cougar. She had wanted a cow but I think that's outside my range right now.

So a few weeks ago on a weeknight, I head over there and using just plain blue paint and a circular sponge, I put up the blue background pretty quickly. The kids practice making waves and painting grass and we call it a night. These first few pics are from my cell phone so they're a little blurry
That next Saturday, I fill out the 3 hills first. Oh, and my genius sister-in-law came up with the idea of using chalk to sketch it out before I paint. Brilliant. That idea saved me so much re-painting time. With the hills, I was careful  so that they ended up looking like 3 hills instead of a wavy mound of grass.

Gabi and Jett help to paint in the ocean and I sketch out the rest of the waves and then go back and paint them in.

We sketched out the princess and where we want the tree to go but packed it up at this point. The hills and water took all moring so we saved the princess for next time.

Yesterday morning, I figured I'd get over the part that makes me the most nervous. The princess. I've never drawn a person and I didn't know if I could get the face and hands and feet right. I start with doing one coat of every color just to get her filled out.

At this point I have added some details to the dress and started the castle in the pocket. The crown, hair, and cape all need a little more depth added. Oh, and she needs a face.

I add in the flower and swirl detail to the dress and give the hair some texture by using some lighter brown paint and some gold around the curls to make it a little shimmery. I need to put another layer of color on the face and draw it in. I'm just stalling up to this point.
I finish up the crown, add a realistic skin tone to the face and hands, and after sketching it out with chalk at least 3 times, I get the basics of the face complete.

Ah, it's done! Well, not completely, but the fact that she has 2 eyes that don't look like they were drawn by Picasso, I'm happy. I have to add in cheek color, finish up the eyes, and the nose was a little smudgy but I don't care- the hard part is over. I still have to outline the hands and feet and then she'll be done. The next step will be the tree, which I'm really looking forward to. I think it'll look so cool with the heart leaves. Until then, this is where we are at:

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Turn your wet t-shirt into your church shirt!

We all have those old t-shirts we just can't seem to part with, despite the fact that they are riddled with puke stains and smell like your cat's BO. But there's just something about them, right? Or maybe your husband has an abundance of t-shirts that fit him like a onesie on a teenager but he just can't bring himself to donate them to the Army that is our Salvation. Any way you ended up with them, there is finally something you can do with them that requires very little skill and sewing so even a dope like you has a shot! And to prove it, a dope like me will demonstrate!
This is outside my comfort level, despite how basic it seems, because there's no pattern. For me, using patterns means having all the vital parts of a garment included, like armholes and an opening for your head. But since we're just adding onto a t-shirt that already fits, I'll give it a shot. I had originally seen this idea on a blog months ago and I was amazed at the time and thought, "Hey, I should totally make that", then of course I completely forgot about it two minutes later. Luckily, my pea brain retained that thought somewhere because yesterday, when I felt like I needed to sew something quick and easy, that thought somehow floated to the top of my brain pond and I scooped it right up.

Oh, and in case I forget to mention it later, the great part about working with t-shirt material is that it doesn't fray and therefore you don't have to hem the cut edges. That alone saves you a ton of tedious work so get cracking on this project!
I found this blog that had a bunch of links to other blogs that give you a ton of different ideas for upcycling t-shirts:

And ladies, your eyes are not failing- there IS a link to make your own maxi pads! Finally! Your days of using old rags and tube socks are over- you can finally follow a pattern to make super cute reusable pads! Holy crap, I think I barfed in my mouth just typing that. That started out as a joke but I think I grossed myself out. But that blog has a lot of other links that could give you inspiration.

My personal favorite, and the one that I found months ago, is this site:

How pretty is this shirt? And when you read her blog, you'll see she used 2 t-shirts that she bought for a dollar each and came up with this. Let your jealousy course through you now and get it over with. You'll be addicted to this blog and the things she makes. I'm a little nervous about giving you the link because it makes my blog look like monkey poop. Come back, okay?

Step 1: Identify which crappy t-shirts you don't mind sacrificing to the sewing gods. Here's my plethora of crappiness I have to choose from:

You like the gratuitous picture of the cat licking himself? I thought so. Skipper is so classy like his mama.

I decided to use the dark green shirt that I got from Old Navy for $5 about 3 years ago. Bobby refers to this shirt as "that shirt you wear all the time that you think looks good".

Needless to say, I will use Bobby's shirts as needed. Maybe for those maxi-pads. Anyway, I like the fit of this shirt but it's a little too low cut in the front and honestly, it looks like a $5 shirt. So I don't have anything to lose here.

Step 2: For the accent ruffles, I am going to use this old black shirt I got from Target a long time ago. I know the example shows ruffles made from the same color t-shirt but tough crap. This is whats I gots. For your shirt, try to pick one without so much cat hair.

And I wonder where it comes from.

I start by cutting the bottom band off the black shirt and then cutting the rest of the shirt into strips.

I'm going to be doing my ruffles a little differently than the example so instead of doing my loose stitch at the top of each strip to create the ruffle, I do it right down the middle. Then I gather the fabric until the ruffle looks the way I want it to look and I lay it around the neckline of the shirt. 

The first thing I realize when making these ruffles is that they tend to get all twisted up. I tried straightening them out but I like some of the twist so I leave a few in as I pin it to the shirt to give it some texture. 
I really want my ruffle to go all the way around the neckline and past it a little so I sew 2 strips together to make one extra long ruffle. I'm planning on doing a zig-zag pattern down the front of the shirt.

I make another double ruffle and sew it around the other half of the neckline and cross it over the first ruffle and zig-zag it back so now I have kind of a diamond shape on the front of the shirt. Now I need to fill it in with more ruffles. 

By the way, after I pinned this on to see how it all looked, I had to unpin it and sew on one ruffle at a time.
I start with the next ruffle on the left side and have it go down and pivot so it crosses over the diamond and over to the other side. The little bit of a tail left over get crossed back to make the last of the pattern.
I do the same with the last ruffle. I really like the look so far but there's a small empty spot in the middle.

I make a short ruffle and sew that on.

I'm not crazy about the cuffs on the shirt- it's kind of a weird arm length so off with the cuffs!
I cut the band I cut off from the bottom of the black shirt in half lengthwise, make 2 more ruffles, and sew them to the cuffs. The ruffles aren't really an even width all the way around so I trim them up to even them out. This makes me really nervous, like when you try to cut your own bangs. Because it always seems like no matter how hard I try, I cut them too short and I'm afraid of over-cutting these ruffles.

But somehow they come out okay so I leave well enough alone and try on the shirt. I like it but I spend a few minutes sewing the ruffles in little spots to hold them in place and the neckline is still too low to wear without a tank top. And I don't want to have to wear a tank top. So I take the cuffs from the green shirt and make them into a fatter ruffle and tuck it into the neckline. I'm not super crazy about this part but it covers up enough so that you can't see my bra so I'm happy. And here is the finished product!

I have to tell you that this looks better in person than in the pictures.

Overall, this project took maybe a few hours. And the nice part was that it was fun to figure out the pattern of the ruffles and just do whatever I wanted. The colours came out better than I had thought they would so I am definetly going to try this with a few other t-shirts. If you have a t-shirt upcycling project that you've done, send me a picture and description and I'll post it up here. Have fun with this one!

By the way, if you're coming to my house for the "Let's Get Sew Drunk" party, I think this might be the project so bring some old t-shirts- and a bottle of wine or I won't let you in- and in Abby's words, "It's on like Donkey Kong." Later, bitches!