Velociraptor Head!

Raaaaaagh!

It’s not quite done yet; there’s a couple of little things that need tweaking. There’s a few places where I can still see the newsprint through the paint. But the silver plaque is so professional! Ish.

Look how cute he is, with his lil’ cardboard teeth and his marble eye! Don’t you just wanna hug him, even at the risk of injuries?

Sweater dress? Why, yes!

I went to the thrift store today with my charming friend Carli, and found, mysteriously, two sweaters that were exactly alike except for color. Same size, same brand, same everything. So, what did I do? I combined them!

It’s not the most flattering garment I’ve ever made; it has a tendency to hang. But it is incredibly warm and brightly colored, and it’ll be just the thing for chilly fall days. If those ever arrive. Keep your fingers crossed, folks.

I also had most of the blue sweater left over when I was done, minus some ribbing for the bottom and the bottoms of the sleeves. I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to get that; I might have to sacrifice part of another sweater to do it, creating a vicious cycle of sweater alterations. I’ll post that one when it’s done, probably in the next few days.

Total cost for this dress? $10. And I get a second sweater out of it, to boot.

I may have perfected the art of the man’s shirt to dress recon. Maybe.

I have a minor obsession with men’s button-down shirts, as you might have noticed from previous posts and a strangely truncated run of tutorials therewith. I like that they arrive as pre-constructed things with lots of style and structure already; it’s fun to play around within the limits of the original shirt. And I’m finally starting to get really good at it. For example, here’s my latest baby:

If you’re a particularly obsessive reader of my blog, you might have noticed that this is the shirt I was complaining about in the post “On Failure.” I ripped out all the seams I’d sewn into it and began taking it apart with an eye toward making a little sundress. It’s a heavier fabric, but I like to wear short dresses into the fall, so I figure it’ll be okay. It’ll look especially nice with tights and cardigans.

If you look up at the dress, you’ll notice a particularly neat detail. See how it comes in at the waist and then fans out at the top? That was part of my multi-step solution for getting rid of the extra bulk of the fabric while still having a full skirt and bust.

You’ll also notice that there are no buttons on the front of this dress. That’s because my mother came in while I was doing a try-on, mentioned that the buttons were pulling in the front, and suggested I spin the dress around and wear it backwards. It turned out that it looked much better that way. Here’s the back:

The back is heavily darted and tailored because it was originally the front, but I think it looks good. I have a tendency to ignore the backs of dresses; maybe what I need to do is just make a front and then spin the dress around.

I’m feeling particularly autumn-y this week, maybe because I just got back from Portland and the Virginia stickiness is getting me down. So I put my electric fan on its highest setting and took a photo of the dress in its native environment, a fall outfit:

(Socks and boots both gifts from my mother, who knows exactly how to pick things for me. In case you can’t tell, the socks feature crows on a telephone wire.)

This outfit makes me so happy. It’s sort of innocent and country-girl but also sort of witchy, a perfect combination for fall. I have this whole story in my head that goes with it, and maybe later I’ll get myself out to a place where there are some hay bales and do a photo shoot. I can already tell that this is going to be one of my favorite outfits as soon as it gets cool enough to wear long socks again; in fact, I’ll probably wear it on a day I know is probably going to be too hot and then tell everyone I “misread the weather report.”

Total cost for this project? $2 and change, plus a lot of time. And a lot of seam-ripping. But turning failure into success is beyond price.

Crafty Things to Do During the Heat Wave

This morning, I checked the weather forecast, only to learn that it’s supposed to be about…oh, 97 degrees. For the next four days in a row. Ew. Just…ew. So I immediately began scouring the Internet, as only I can do, for things to do to keep cool. Here’s my favorites:

  • STAY INSIDE, and avoid contact with hot outdoor air, by taking some time to reorganize your crafting supplies. Threadbanger has a great blog post on clever and innovative ways to get your things sorted out.
  • IF YOU KNIT with wooden or plastic needles, stick them and your yarn in the freezer for a bit before you knit. It reduces the sweatiness factor of a hobby that’s usually a little too cozy for summer. Don’t do this with metal needles or you might get stuck.
  • BUILD A squirrel-powered sculpture. I’m not sure if this will help you stay cool, but you should do it anyway. Maybe you could build a squirrel-powered fan.
  • MAKE YOURSELF some ice cream. Doing it by hand instead of with an ice cream maker takes some time, but it has periods of downtime, in which you can play video games or stare at the freezer door wishing your ice cream was done.
  • GO NOCTURNAL. It’ll probably drive your parents crazy, but since it’s the middle of the summer, try switching all the way over to a night-oriented sleep cycle. The forecast calls for 70 degree nights; wouldn’t you rather be out jogging then? And if your parents work, the only time they’ll see you is at 7 AM. They’ll think you’re an early riser.
  • MIGRATE. This is the solution I’ll be employing tomorrow at dawn. If you can’t migrate, then follow my Portland adventures gratuitously through this blog.

By the way: if you end up making a squirrel-powered device, please let me know in the comments, or send me a picture. I’ll post it and give you full credit for being an amazing human being.

Tanks!

So I’ve been in a kind of lightweight summery tank mood lately, and this is what’s come out of it so far. I’m finally daring to work in knitted fabrics, realizing that stretchiness is fun.

This is the first one:

Why, yes, I do look spiffy. Let’s stare off into the distance, shall we?

I made this out of a piece of fabric I found in my basement, left over from an ill-advised project I did when I was 15 or 16. I didn’t really know much about sewing then; I always learn by jumping in, making a lot of crap, and then later regretting ruining so many materials. Luckily I didn’t use up all this purple; there was just enough for an asymmetrical shirt with knot detail. Total cost for this project? $0.

This second one was made out of an oversized gray t-shirt. Using a tank top as a pattern I cut it down to size, and then I just stuck crap on there. I’m not completely happy with this one; it feels like there’s not enough going on. I want there to be a third element, like a cluster of black shiny things covering the non-lace end of the chain, or maybe a skull-and-crossbones button, or SOMETHING. Total cost for this shirt? $3, for the chain. Lace and t-shirt were both found in my basement.

From this…(The t-shirt is underneath, just fyi.)

…to this.

I’m also thinking it’s time to go into business, because I kind of like this new batch of things. I also just tried a new cheap-ass screenprinting technique that I’m loving (non-toxic mod podge and leftover sheer fabric, hooray!) and I think I could easily print t-shirt designs that are way more complicated than my previous stencilling technique allowed. The results of that experiment in tomorrow’s post.

Le Cheap-ass Sash

Like most people, I have a few deep, abiding loves for things that I’m a little embarrassed to admit in public. One of them is American Apparel. Now, we can either get into a long conversation about their ads demean women by sexualizing them, or we can remember that being sexual isn’t a bad thing and that women have agency and we can move on. Good? Good. Anyway, they make products in the USA and pay their factory workers a living wage of $12 an hour, so if you feel like running out and buying some of their merchandise, I’m all in favor of it.

Anyway, back to my point. They have this neat thing in their online store called The Sash:

I looked at it and I was like “Well, that’s exactly what I need for (insert list of clothing items here.)” And then I looked at the price tag, and thought “Well, maybe I DON’T want to spend $16 plus shipping and handling for a long piece of cloth.”

So here’s my tutorial for making your own sash. It’s superbly easy.

MATERIALS:

  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine or needle and thread
  • Pins
  • Pair of kinda-shiny, kinda-stretchy dress pants you don’t want anymore. You could use any material for this, mind you. I just went with pants because I had a pair of tiny-ass ones from when I was 12.

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Lay pants out flat. Cut up through the crotch to divide the pants into two pieces.
  2. Lay your pieces of fabric out in front of you. Now, figure out how wide you want your belt to be. On the American Apparel website, they say that The Sash is 5″ wide. It’s doubled over, so that would be a little over 10″ of fabric, plus seam allowance. You might not be able to get that out of this pair of pants.
  3. Separate the front of one of the pant legs from the back. Now, you can do this quick and dirty with a pair of scissors, or be really fancy and use a seam ripper. It takes forever with the seam ripper but it saves you some fabric.
  4. Lay your two long, narrow pieces of fabric out side by side. These are going to be the back ties for your sash. Even them up so that they are uniformly wide.
  5. Cut a piece from the other pant leg that is either as wide as, or wider than, your sash ties. If you go wider you’ll have a wide band at the front and some little ties that loop around–like a Japanese obi, almost. Like this one: If you go wider, fold the fabric over and cut it so that it’s wide in the middle but only as wide as your ties are at the ends.
  6. Lay pieces end to end, with the new piece in the middle. Pin edges and sew.
  7. With the wrong side outside (i.e. the ugly side, with the visible stitching), pin up your tube and sew it. Then turn it right side out.
  8. Turn under the edges of your sash and pin them. Then sew up. You should probably use matching thread; I didn’t because I’m too cheap to buy new thread.

Voila! Your sash is done!

I used mine to fix a problem I’d been having with a dress that I won on the Internet. The dress showed up and it was too big through the waist but fit fine elsewhere. Solution? Le Cheap-ass Sash.

You can make versions of this out of all kinds of different stuff. I have one that I made out of red and gold brocade, as you saw–although in retrospect I can’t remember why I thought that wasn’t tacky. This project is just about free, and best of all, it’s guaranteed to have no sweatshop labor. Unless you’re a really harsh boss of yourself or something? Anyway, go easy on yourself.

Seven Ways to Dissect a Button-Down, Day 3: Modified T-shirt

And now we’re back on schedule with Seven Ways to Dissect a Button-Down, which is in retrospect, a really long name. Maybe I can just call it ButtonDownFest. Or something. Anyway, here’s project #3.

(Picture taken by TJ, boyfriend and photographer extraordinaire. He’s also really tall, as you can tell by the downward angle.)

I swore I’d never buy one of these shirts, the two-shirt hybrid. I tend to find them a little silly. But if the button-down is falling apart, or the t-shirt is falling apart, or if you have sleeves and a collar left over from another project, this is a good way to dress up the t-shirt and/or bolster a sad-looking neckline or sleeves, which is what I did. And I’m actually pleased with the results.

One note: for this shirt, I went with short, cuffed sleeves. If you do longer sleeves, instead of sewing the button-down sleeves to the very edge of the t-shirt sleeves, sew them at the shoulders instead. Otherwise they’ll be saggy.

MATERIALS:

  • 1 t-shirt that needs some stuff added to it
  • 1 button-down shirt, or sleeves/collar from same
  • A sewing machine, or needle and thread
  • Scissors

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Lay out button-down shirt, flat.
  2. Cut off collar and sleeves.
  3. Place t-shirt over collar and sleeves. Take  a gander and make sure it’s all you thought it’d be before you sew. Still good? Good.
  4. Pin the back of the collar to the back of the t-shirt. Sew.
  5. Pin the front of the collar to the front of the t-shirt and sew. Be sure to leave it unbuttoned, and don’t allow the two sides of the button-down collar to overlap when sewing. If you don’t, the neckline won’t fit over your head.
  6. Be sure to zigzag stitch all the edges of the button-down (which is now sewn into the shirt.) This will keep those edges from fraying.
  7. If you’re doing long sleeves, try the sleeve on your arm. If the sleeve is too baggy on your arm, take to your sewing machine. Turn it inside out and and sew it smaller, in the same genera area as the seam. Try on, see if it fits your arm now, trim the excess.  Pin the button-down sleeves to the insides of the t-shirt sleeves and sew, being careful not to sew sleeves shut.
  8. If you’re doing short sleeves, unbutton and roll up the cuff. Pull the sleeve up your arm and mark on the sleeve the place where you want it to overlap the shirt. Take the sleeve off, and leaving about a quarter to a half an inch excess, cut off the unnecessary part of the sleeve. Use this first sleeve as a template for the second one.
  9. Unroll the cuffs. Pin the sleeves of your button-down into the sleeves of the t-shirt, all the way around, gently stretching the t-shirt fabric if necessary. Sew.
  10. Roll cuffs back up, so that they cover the edges of the t-shirt sleeves. Sew into place in a few different spots around the sleeve, so that they won’t come uncuffed at inconvenient moments. 

If you’re doing a long-sleeved shirt, you can ignore this step. You were already done back at step 7. Why are you still reading?

And there you have it! A much dressier t-shirt, and a lot of extra fabric to play with.

Tomorrow we’ll talk about what you can do with the leftovers. Are you excited? I know I am.

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