{ thrifted + modified } the closet part 2

Thank you, ever so much, for your sweet words of encouragement on my last post.  I am so much more comfortable behind the camera, but your comments gave me the confidence to push onward and show you another one of my projects from The Pile.

Staging photos like these makes me want to laugh my head off.  However, they are necessary if I'm going to show you the proper before and after.  Draping stuff from a hanger just wouldn't do it.  We also have very few blank walls in the house.  This is in the master bathroom.  I am standing next to the toilet looking down, very seriously.  Excuse me, I have more giggling to do...

Okay.  Let's do this.


My sister gave me this dark gray stretch t-shirt jersey dress back in 1998 when she worked at Old Navy AND got a hefty discount AND it had gone to clearance.  Seriously, I think she paid about $1.50.  I wore it to work with a cardigan all the time.  I wore it to school functions.  I wore it to at least one funeral. 

And then I stopped wearing it because, somewhere along the way, the length started to bother me.  And it felt a bit too drab.  And, let's be honest, I was bored.

So it sat in The Pile for a very long time.

Until I got it out last week, chopped off several inches, and hemmed it.  It was instantly better.

But it still needed something.

that something extra

So I took a lesson from Tif and cut a straight enough strip from a vintage lace tablecloth and attached it to the inside of the neckline.  It was exactly what I needed.

after! (shorted + embellished)  with boots, of course.

Here I am -- with The Boots and one my favorite cheapo XXI cardigans -- wearing it for about the third time in two weeks already. Hurrah! 

(My grandmother wanted me to have that picture when she passed away.  I have it hanging in my bedroom and I love that it pops up on the blog when I'm posting about clothes and stuff.  She was the ultimate accessorizer and girlie-girl.  She would appreciate this, too.)

There is more in The Pile.  I think I'm going to have to have a better attitude about it from now on.  This is actually fun. 

What's in yours?

miss chris

{ thrifted + modified } The Pile and The Boots

So, part of my Need to Clean and Purge includes attacking the pile of mending and alterations that has been collecting in my studio.  It's not going anywhere if I don't address it, right?

And it's largely stuff for me, which is fun. 

Thrifted_refashion-017Case in point, this pretty little vintage skirt. (The sweater is vintage + thrifted, too.  However, the sleeve cuffs were too tight.  I just snapped them off and now I can push the sleeves up.  Much better.)

I bought the skirt years ago for $8 and loved it, but rarely ever wore it because of the length.  It is A-line and cut on the bias, which are both universally flattering, even if you think oversized plaid isn't. But I totally had this Librarian thing going on.

I just insulted librarians.

I meant the matronly shhh-ing types.


I just insulted them again.

I hope you know what I mean.

It just wasn't working for me.


So, scissors, thread and about 25 minutes later....

I cut off about 6", hemmed it by hand -- such a nice touch on garments, don't you think? -- and used some of the extra fabric to make a detachable flower.  I would never dare to wear this length without tights or leggings, but it's an acrylic woolish blend that needs leg wear anyway.


And now I love it.

And yes, those are The Boots I picked up in Seattle at a flea market.  Where Jade was holding them up for me across the store and I could swear there was a gentle glow and a choir of angels.  I had been looking for vintage Frye Campus Boots for two years. 


And there they were.  I quickly discarded the stack of olive green Texas-Ware I had been admiring and ran across the store in that underwater kind of haze you have in dream sequences. 


She was saying 'size 6, right??!!'  Yes, yes, yes!

And as I got there I saw that, yes, they were exactly what I had been searching for. 

I'm not going to lie.  It's ridiculous to get this excited about boots.  And I'm pretty sure there is a Peter Cetera song that would aptly describe my joy at that moment.  It was kismet, me and my found boots.  All worn in and aged.  Scuffed and softened and teeming with character. 


I took them home and after a trip to the cobbler for new soles and a cleanup they are thrilled to be back in action.  (If that is what you call the grocery store, library and dance class. )

And all we lived happily ever after.

Next up: Dottie'd up funeral wear.  Happy weekending!

miss chris

{ tutorial } tee-to-tot sundress

As promised....

That cute shirt in your closet?  The one that doesn't fit right or you're just done wearing or from that special vacation?  Don't put it in the Donate pile just yet.  Time for refashion. Tee-to-Tot Sundress style!

Let's go!


Tee?  Scissors?  Elastic Thread?  Coordinating Thread?  Check? Check! (click on any of these photos to enlarge.)

1. Lay your tee flat, keeping in mind the where the design will hit the shirring.  This was a fitted ladies medium.


2. Cut off the arms, and continue down to create an a-line from the body of the shirt. 

3. Stitch up the side seams & trim.  If I were one of the cool kids and had a serger, I would do that on the sides as well.  But I don't.  And that's okay. 


4. Time to Shirrrrr!  Wind your elastic thread around your bobbin -- not too tightly -- and thread it through the machine as normal.  I would switch your stitch to Elastic or a narrow Zig-Zag to keep the extra elasticity of the knit.  If it doesn't matter to you because the shirring will be enough stretchiness, you can do a straight stitch.  Totally up to you. 

I started at a side seam and went around and around until I had about 4 inches of rows, with about 3/8 inch in-between.  Some people mark lines; I use my presser foot as a guide instead because I'm lazy.  When you are done, iron the shirred part.  Wooohooo!  It shrinks up even more.  It's like a magic trick!  Fun.

5.  Resist the urge to shirr everything in your closet.  {I mean it.}   And I also meant what I said about the serger.  I do a lot of sewing and I have never felt I couldn't tackle a project without one.  That's all.


6.  You'll have these wonderful wonky pieces left over.  Cut the folded hemmed sleeves as close to the hem stitch as possible.  I decided to overstitch the sides of them with a pink zigzag, just for contrast.  I love to 'lettuce-edge' my knits for wee ones.  If you pull on the fabric as you are overstitching, it will create this ripply effect.  Really, it will rock your world.

7. I did not get fancy when I attached these new straps to the front.  I estimated where they should go, as Wonderbaby was sleeping, and stretched the shirred part out a bit while I was sewing them on.  I am lucky they did not end up entirely in her armpits.  I would recommend trying it on strapless first.  ;)


8.  My shirt was way too long for 13-mo-Wonderbaby.  I used another one of her dresses as a guide for length, chopped it off, and overstitched again. 


And that, my dears, is it.

10.  Grab a chair and do a photoshoot!





Bonus round:

Use your leftovers and the same general techniques to make a matching headband:


Have fun!  And let me see what you're up to, 'k? 


{ sewing } t-shirt to tiny dress refashion

What started out as a simple 'mommy's t-shirt to toddler dress refashion' turned into a photoshoot with my cheeky Wonderbaby. Happens like that sometimes.

I have a tutorial in the works, but I thought I'd just show you the fun we had yesterday while I was trying to get The After Photo.  (Because everybody like Wonderbaby pics, right?)

{ oh heavens, I'm melting. }

{ not thrilled about the headband }

{ ace }

{ 13 mos }

{ 13 months }

Thanks for indulging me.  There are days I just want a Pause button.  Yesterday was one of them.  


My baby isn't really a baby anymore.

She is starting to take steps.

We are in the beginning stages of saying words we all understand.  She has kind of decided she likes a sippy cup of milk better than a snuggle with mommy.  Don't get me started on that one.  Sniff. 

She is growing into this happy go lucky little toddler that just wants to hang out with her older sisters and play and put on makeup and pet the dog and say Mooo and blow kisses and dig in the sandbox and eat everything in sight.  She is a snuggle-bunny and a hide-and-seeker.  She has a deep belly laugh that reminds me of Fidget at that age.  

What a privilege it is to get to raise these kiddos.  They teach and delight me more than I ever could in return.

Well.  I didn't mean to say all that, but I guess I'm feeling sentimental. 

All-righty then!


In other news, Craft Hope's Project 9 was announced yesterday!  This is such an amazing community, I get goosebumps just thinking about all the beautiful, generous hearts there are in this world.   Over 65,000 washcloths were made and delivered by crafters to the IMMS Center for Project 8.  There was such a response that the project had to be put ON HOLD because the center now has more towels than they can store or will need to clean rescued wildlife for quite a while.  Awesome. 

And I'm sure the outpouring of love will be just a great for Project 9!  From the Craft Hope site:

For Project 9 we will be working with ConKerr Cancer to benefit terminally ill children. ConKerr Cancer was established two years ago to put smiles upon the faces of terminally ill children in the hospital. They provide bright and cheery handmade pillowcases for these children. They have succeeded in delivering 225,000 pillowcases up to this date. They have a goal of providing a beautiful pillowcase for every seriously ill child in North America by 2012. Well I think we can just help them achieve that goal don’t you?

If you are planning to participate, please visit the link above for details and leave a comment so they can anticipate the response.  Thank you!

miss chris

{ sewing refashion } Crew Redux, but not until after the rambling

When I had my first Aha! Moment about 3 years ago online upon discovering the World of Craft Bloggers... (it went something like, omygoodness there are people like me out there who make stuff and buy things at thrift stores and like to buy fabric just because and make more stuff.  I could spend hours just reading all these blogs.  I need a blog.  I  need to sew.  Wait, I want to make THAT.  Ohmygoodness I never thought of THAT.  I have never seen THAT before.  Where is my sewing machine?  I need to get to the fabric store STAT.  I can buy FABRIC ONLINE??  I don't really need sleep, do I?  If you are reading this blog, I'm pretty sure you had that moment, too.  I remember laying in bed that first night, with my head swimming with ideas.  It was crazy. Like the Mothership calling me home.)

...anyway, I knew I had discovered a wealth of talent and resources like nothing I had ever experienced before.  I did not know that I would

a) ever venture out of the safe zone of quilters cottons
b) experiment with stretch fabrics
c) get addicted to ripping fabric
d) start up an etsy shop
e) make the bestest friends
f) use my crafting obsession to help others
g) want or use a schmancy camera
h) looove my schmnacy camera
i) gain confidence I didn't know was missing.
j) and the friend thing again.  It bears repeating.

That is a long way of saying that although sometimes I feel totally overwhelmed and inadequate when I surf around the interwebz and see what all is going on OUT THERE, I still get that ohmygoodness this is so awesome feeling, too.  It makes we want to try things I wouldn't have before.  (And send things in the mail to people I've never met in person.  It is a small world after all!)

For Example (rejoice! this post has a point!):  This Plain Jane light blue Gap stretch crew sweater I picked up two weeks ago, thrifting.  $2.50.  

crew redux - before

It got turned inside out, and introduced to quite a bit of iron-on tear-away stabilizer.

crew redux

And it got marked up.

crew redux

And stay-stitched.  And cut into.

crew redux

crew redux

And then I guess I stopped taking photos.  Because I decided to cut 1.75" strips from an old green t-shirt, overstitch the stretched the edges to make them ruffle, and apply it somewhat like binding to the now raw edges of the sweater.   Then I tore off the extra stabilizer which left no residue or marks.  Done.

I made a little flower pin from a hankie and stuck it on for good measure. It's going to get lots of play this Spring because I like how it looks with denim.  (Not sure how I'm really going to finish this cardi -- with a giant button or a tie or not at all.  For now, this is good.)

I threw it on with a tee and jeans and went about my business.

after - cardi-cu

I think I'm going to shorten the sleeves, too.  I'm liking the way they look with longer shirts poking out from underneath. 

after - cardi

And that's it.  Not quite a tutorial, but I think you get it.  By the way, cutting up old tees is now my favorite thing to do. Favorite.  No serging or hem rolling or whatever required.  Makes everything faster.  Which is spectacular, in my book.

Now go!  Go find a old sweater you don't use very much and chop it up!  xoxo

{ sewing refashion } the ruffled tank

Oh my.  When I ask for ideas, I sure get them.  Thank you!  Some bags have already been given away, a few others are on hold for a friend, and the others are coming to coffee with me on Friday...  (I liked the idea of cutting them up to use as cards or tags, too.  Of course, I'd feel compelled to keep them all if that were the plan.  And we might be back at square one.  Ahem. )


I've been a little obsessed with the ruffles I'm seeing everywhere this spring.  In every catalog.  In every store window. On tons of blogs. In magazines.  And at Target.  Oh Target, how I love thee!

Knowing that I would not be happy unless I tried my hand at ruffled applique, I picked up two tank tops last week at one of my local thrift haunts.   I cut one up into strips and ruffled to my heart's content.  The other got a hefty dose of iron-on stabilizer on the inside.  Knits tend to stretch out every which way when you are sewing with them and, while I don't always use stabilizer for my smaller appliques, this project would not have been the same without it.

thrifted tank, ruffled

I didn't pin the ruffles, but sewed them on as I went, stopping and turning the tank on my machine every few stitches.  It wasn't elegant stitchery -- which might explain why I have this giant ruffly flower that should probably be about one inch to the left and about two inches higher -- but that's ok.  I'm going to chock it up to experience and wear it anyway. 

thrifted tank, ruffled

My almost fourteen year old wants me to make her one in black with tan ruffles. Love that.

thrifted tank, ruffled

It looks better worn than draping and sagging from the hanger.

But it's March.  And I'm nice.  And I am NOT going to expose you to the lily whiteness of my upper arms today and risk scarring you for life.  


(I get a lot  of comments and questions about my crocheted hangers. I pick them up thrifting whenever I can, rarely paying more than a quarter.  It's such a great deal, and a fun item to keep your eye out for...  We might have about 20 now, and they are wonderful for some items that usually slip off hangers.)