crafts, holidays, sewing, style, tutorials

a wearable handmade valentine: minkee heart wristlet

One of my favorite times of year is here—making handmade valentines with the boys! This year we’re going with this supremely cool idea from I am Momma Hear Me Roar. Photos, construction paper, staples, and Pop Rocks:

Jack valentine copyJack rocks with all the energy of a late '80s hair band (without the hair).

Charlie valentine Charlie rocks, too. Straight-up three-year-old grunge. See the angst?

I also took on a handmade challenge at work and made a special valentine gift for… myself!

Minkee heart1

This simple wristlet is made from a scrap of denim and a scrap of fuzzy Minkee. If you have button-sewing, hand-appliqueing, and scissor-wielding skills, you can whip this up in less than an hour.

Seven other staff members joined me in the handmade valentines challenge at work. Talk about getting creative on the job!

Valentinecollage

You can get the how-to for all of these Valentine’s Day projects on Martingale’s Facebook page (scroll down to the February 6th posts). The projects are all of the quick-and-easy variety, which means there's still plenty of time to create something special for your sweetheart. Even if your sweetheart is you.

If you'd like to stitch up a wristlet, read on!

a wildcards tutorial: minkee heart wristlet

Denim heart bracelet
Materials
  • Large scrap of denim from jeans
  • Small scrap of pink Minkee fabric
  • 3 small pink buttons
  • Dressmaker’s measuring tape
  • Washable or air-soluble marking pen
  • Hand-sewing needle and thread to match Minkee and buttons
  • Seam ripper
  • Freezer paper
  • Glue stick
  • Tweezers

Directions

1. Measure around your arm, 4" up from the bottom of your wrist (my measurement was 8"). Cut a rectangle that is 3" wide and as long as the measurement around your arm (my rectangle was 3" x 8").

2. Lay the rectangle flat, right side up. Space the buttons evenly along one short side of the rectangle, 1/2" away from the edge. Mark button placement with a pen; hand sew the buttons to the rectangle.

3. Using the button placement as a guide, mark placement of the buttonholes on the opposite short edge of the rectangle. Make small slits in the fabric for the buttonholes using a seam ripper. (Make the slits small—you should have to work to get the buttons through the holes.)

4. Machine wash and dry the bracelet so the edges fray; clip and pull the frayed edges until you like the look. Clip any stray threads away from the buttonholes.

5. Print out this heart pattern (it should be 2" high):

Heart

Cut it out, trace it onto the freezer paper, and cut it out again. Iron the heart template onto the back of the Minkee scrap, shiny side down. Cut the heart shape from the Minkee, adding a 1/4" seam allowance.

6. Center the Minkee heart widthwise and lengthwise on the bracelet; glue to baste in place. Hand appliqué the heart to the denim, turning the 1/4" seam under as you go.

7. Fuzz up the heart edges by rubbing the tip of your seam ripper quickly and lightly along the appliquéd edges. This releases the fuzzy fibers from the sewn edges and softens the look. Cut a 1/2" vertical slit in the center of the denim on the back of the wristlet where the heart has been appliquéd; pull the freezer paper out using tweezers. Whipstitch the 1/2" slit closed.

If you don't like the frayed-edge look, you can turn the long edges of the wristlet under 1/4" and press; then topstitch the folded edges down.

For more more repurposed projects, check out my book ReSew.

Thanks for stopping by. Cheers to an extra lovey-dovey Valentine's Day!

style, thrifted!

Thrifted!: five quirky dresses

It’s 6:58 am. Thirty-eight people shuffle their feet in front of a store, waiting for the doors to unlock. They’re sleepy, but poised for a treasure hunt. I’m standing with them. I'm stealthily dressed in a loose tank dress and slip-off shoes. A small purse with a long strap is draped over one shoulder and across my body, holding only a debit card, a finely curated shopping list, and Burt’s Bees lip balm.

I had my morning shot of Diet Coke. I listened to loud, happy music on the drive in and I sang along, loud and happy. The anticipation amplifies. I’m pumped.

I hear the theme from Rocky in my head.

Okay, now you're just getting weird, I think to myself.

The doors open. It's time to play.

It’s 50% off day at the thrift store. I’m ready!

Amidst the fun of the 4th of July weekend—filled with food, fireworks, and a mass of mosquito bites (welcome back, little Beelzebubs)—I found a bit of time for a cheerful jaunt to the thrift store.

It was what I call a “jackpot” day.

Five summery dresses. Five. In my size. In my style. And most certainly in my budget. None made more than a $6 dent in my debit card.

I brought my dresses home to my three boys. The response? Kind. They care, of course. But they don’t care, you know, like dress hoarders do. Any dress hoarders out there? I need a little share 'n care.

Dress #1: the doily dress

Dress1What a unique mix of woven and knit fabrics, stripes and piping. And then they go and throw in a doily.

Dress1detail1and2

Right side, left side.

Dress1detail3

The dress had ties sewn into the side seams. Didn’t like ‘em. Took ‘em out. Now it’s just right.

Dress #2: the linen flowers dress

Dress2
An everyday dress for summer. Such a pretty pattern, I think. I love that linen doesn't like to hug your curves too much. Thank you, linen.

Dress #3: the girly-girl dress

Dress3This dress is frilly, no doubt—more frills than I’m used to. But it was unusual enough to catch my eye. I love the texture of raw edges, and this has lots of raw-edge and machine-embroidered detail. I played down the girly-girlness a bit by pairing it with jeans and heavy shoes.

Dress3detail1

A close-up of those pretty details.

Dress #4: the mod-pod dress

Dress4Holy bizarro. I could not NOT take this dress home. The outside layer is cotton cutwork; the inside layer is a white cotton tank-style slip. I figured, why not bizarre-it-up even more with polka-dot leggings?

Dress4detail1

Here’s hoping I’ll find a way to pull this dress off, sometime, somewhere.

Dress #5: the date night dress

Dress5detail1

Bretty likes it. Enough said. Now we just need find a date for a date!

A quick thrifting tip: if you live near a Savers or a Value Village thrift store, they announce 50% off sales a few times a year. You can sign up for their newsletter to get reminders about their sales. Next one is around Labor Day.

Thanks for letting me share my finds. I hope you had a happy weekend!

ReSew, sewing, style, thrifted!, tutorials

a wildcards tutorial: the t-skirt

I’ve been playing around with the idea of morphing a t-shirt and skirt into one piece for a while now. I finally tried it. This is the result:

T-skirt12I’ve hung on to this skirt for several years. I love the print but the skirt just didn’t fit me quite right after Jack was born. Bummer. I saved it hoping my body would return to its former shape. No luck.

This turned out to be a pretty easy project. If you’d like to know how it was done, read on!

The TSkirt Tutorial

Here’s what you’ll need:

T-skirt1One lightweight, elastic-waist skirt. Make sure it fits comfortably around your chest and you can take it on and off over your head.

T-skirt2Mine has thin elastic around the waist.

T-skirt3One form-fitting t-shirt. This one has a bit of spandex in it.

You’ll also need thread to match your t-shirt and your skirt. (You might need one more t-shirt to get the job done. Or not. Keep reading, and then decide.)

And that’s all you need.

T-skirt4Put on the t-shirt; then put the skirt on over it, right where you want it to rest around your chest. Safety pin the front; ask a family member or friend to help you safety pin the back. (If you’ve never met your neighbors, now’s a great time to break the ice.)

I am digging the photo above. I never look busty.

T-skirt5Remove the shirt/skirt and pin well so the layers don’t shift. You can make the job easier by placing a large rotary ruler or a book in between the layers (see next photo).

Note: I inherited a “gross” of safety pins from my mom years ago. Sometimes I just want to use them so I can justify keeping them. How much is a gross, anyway? A LOT. Anyway, in the step above, regular straight pins would have worked just fine.

T-skirt6
Use thread that matches your skirt to sew around the bodice, following the existing stitching lines on the skirt waistband. My skirt had two lines of stitching, and I sewed along both of them.

At this point you can either 1) turn the piece inside out and cut away the length of the t-shirt to about 1/2" away from the seam you just sewed, or 2) leave it as is and wear your t-skirt with the full shirt underneath. I had planned to cut away the shirt length, but when I tried the piece on the spandex held in my two-baby stretch a bit. So I kept the entire t-shirt intact.

If you cut away the t-shirt length, congratulations—you have fabric to embellish your t-skirt. If you decide to leave the shirt intact, you’ll need to round up another t-shirt for embellishment. I chose this one:

T-skirt6.5Now, lets add a few details.

There are lots of ways to embellish with the t-shirt fabric or with any skirt fabric you’d like to cut from the length. This was my initial sketch of the project:

T-skirt14I decided that although I like this sketched design in theory, I wasn’t sure I would end up wearing it. So I changed my mind. Be sure to change yours too, if you like. But here’s exactly what I ended up doing.

T-skirt7Just below the skirt’s elastic waist, I sewed a 1" band of t-shirt fabric around the chest. I cut two 1"-wide strips from the width of the t-shirt—one about 1/2" longer than the skirt front, and one about 1/2" longer than the skirt back. No need to measure; just cut strips from the t-shirt, lay them across the front/back widths of the skirt, and cut the strips at least 1/2" longer than that.

Pin the back strip to the back of the skirt. Using a 1/8" seam, sew along the top of the strip. Repeat along the bottom of the strip. The strip should reach past the side seams of your skirt by about 1/4". Pin and sew the front strip to the front of the skirt in the same manner, overlapping and sewing over the back strip at beginning and end.

T-skirt15Sew a tight zigzag stitch to connect the front and back pieces together.

When I tried on the piece again I decided the skirt was a bit too long for me, so I cut away 1 1/2" in length from the bottom. To do that, I measured 1 1/2" from the bottom hem all around the skirt, making dots with a washable marker every two inches or so; then I cut along the dots with scissors. I tried it on and liked the length better.

I added a thick, doubled black border to the bottom of my t-skirt. I cut two 4"-wide strips from the width of the t-shirt—one 1/2" longer than the skirt front, and one 1/2" longer than the skirt back. Again, no need to measure; just cut strips from the t-shirt, lay them across the front/back widths of the skirt, and cut the strips at least 1/2" longer than that. Press the strips in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, and then unfold.

T-skirt8With right sides together, align and pin one long edge of the border along the back of the skirt; sew using a 1/4" seam. Repeat to attach the front border to the front of the skirt, overlapping and sewing over the back border at beginning and end. Press the seam toward the bottom of the skirt.

T-skirt9It should end up looking sort of like this on the outside.

T-skirt10Pin the short sides of the two overlapping borders together, making sure the seam you pin is perpendicular to the border seam you just sewed. Use a tight zigzag stitch to connect the short edges of the borders. Clip any overlapping fabric on the wrong side to 1/4", if needed.

Fold the border to the wrong side of the skirt, using the fold you pressed in earlier as a guide; pin. Change the thread on your machine to match the skirt. Sew the border layer to the bottom of the skirt using a 1/8" seam.

T-skirt16When you’re done, it should look like this on the wrong side of the skirt.

T-skirt17This is how it should look on the outside.

Now, I know I’m not model material. (Reason one: I’m 39. Reason two: I wear glasses. There are more reasons, but I’ll stop at the main two.) At the same time, I love to sew things to wear. When I see what others have sewn to wear, I really like to see the project on a body; it helps me envision what it might look like on me if I make it. I think others who sew might like that too. So, a bit uncomfortably, I asked Bretty to take some pictures of me in my t-skirt.

T-skirt13I wanted to try different backgrounds to get the best picture, so we took pictures in three different places. After a while, I started to get self-conscious. I asked Bretty for inspiration.

T-skirt11Me: “Bretty, I don’t know what to do with my hands.”

Brett: “I dunno. Just do something else. Look in the pot. Imagine that you love the pot.”

Me: “Okay.”

I look down into the pot.

Me: “Oooh, I love the pot!”

Click.

And that’s the end of my t-skirt story.

There are many variations for playing around with this basic idea—as many as there are skirts and t-shirts! If you make one, I would love to see it. You can upload your photos here.

Hope you enjoyed your visit here. For more refashions you can check out my book ReSew. Thanks for stopping by!

style, thrifted!

Thrifted!: Hand-embroidered flowers. With love from Taiwan.

I love dressing up. On any average day, it’s unlikely that you’ll find me in sweats. I don’t typically head out (or stay in) in a t-shirt. And I never, never wear shorts. Long story. (We all have our body-image issues, right? ‘Nuff said.)

That being said, I’m no girly girl. I’m not into ruffles, or puffy shoulders, or lacy edgings. Flowery feminine flourishes aren’t really my style. But when I noticed a big, bright bouquet of fuzzy flowers on a sweater at my local thrift store, I stopped. I swear that sweater was pointing and giggling at me. I just had to point and giggle back.

Perhaps it’s a bit too flowery; a bit too feminine. But to me, it’s hand-embroidered happiness. And I just can’t say no to wearing that!

Flowersweater2

Flowersweater3

Flowersweater4

Flowersweater5

Flowersweater1

Ah, yes. A good thrift.

Next on my thrifting list: sweatshirts. Lots of them. I’ve been told I’ll be sharing a few of my sweatshirt refashions from ReSew on the PBS show Sew It All. I’ve got some major sweatshirt shredding to do before taping time come October. Get ready, rotary cutter.

Happy weekend—thanks for letting me share one of my favorite thrifts with you!

crumbs, style

My life. In hair.

In the past few weeks I've seen several posts on blogs I follow about new haircuts. Those posts reminded me of something:

Hey, I was gonna do that.

According to the date on my photo scans, I was planning to document my hair history back in 2009.

Got a new haircut last week.

Pixie1See?

Somehow it feels like the right time to use the photos I so meticulously scanned two years ago. Otherwise, it'd be an awful waste of computer memory.

With that, I give you my personal history. In hair. Mine is a journey filled with innocence and simplicity. With rebellion, lies, and deceit. With dangerous chemical abuse. With dozens and dozens of cases of cheap hairspray. (Seriously, cheap stuff only, please. I need it to work like glue.).

Here goes the long and short–and long and short, and long and short–of it. You'll see what I mean.

Exhibit A: The innocent years. With and without perms.

Hair01 Kindergarten. There are a few photos of
myself that I love. This is one of them.

Hair02Shortly thereafter, we find Dorothy Hamill in her
living room sorting Girl Scout cookies
.

During my growing years, I begin to notice that genetics are going to assure me a lifetime of arrow-straight locks. Thin and limp? Envision a chewed-up piece of bubble gum stretched between two lamp posts. In an attempt to battle nature–and with mom's help–I try a perm. At home.

Yes. You know what I’m talking about. It’s the DO-NOT-TRY-THIS-AT-HOME home perm.

Hair-3-4-5 That's my sister Melainie in both shots above, and my old friend Cathy.
I love the bottom photo. Magically, with a home perm I can become
almost as handsome as my brother-in-law. We’re practically twins!

Luckily, home perms fall out of my hair as quickly as a toddler falls out of a tantrum when you give him a sucker.

And anyway, perms are out. Even though they were never in. Fancy feathering becomes all the rage.

Hair-6-7-8I would've had the hippest hair around…

Teen-idols  … if I had been a boy.
photo photo photo

At some point during my teen years, I decided to take hair matters into my own hands.

Exhibit B: The rebellious years. With and without bleach.

Hair09
Perhaps I worked on this ‘do above just for the photo; perhaps I was on my way to school. It’s hard to know for sure. At the time, I would try anything. Except dyeing my hair.

I wanted to dye my hair so very badly. But mom wouldn’t let me. So secretly, I started “dyeing” my own hair. With bleach. Just a secret spritz every morning from a trial-size spray bottle.

Hair011 I’m sure my mom never noticed.

Hair012If mom ever said anything about my hair, I was planning to
blame it on these guys–my high-school buddies.
I mean, look at the hair here. Major peer pressure.

Now that I'm looking closely at the photo of my friends, I guess perms were in.

Somehow, my hair survived those years. It didn’t fall out, and I don’t think the bleach gave me cancer or anything. Yet.

Exhibit C: The college years. With and without politics.

Hair013 Arm-wrestling a mannequin at the Utah Shakespeare Festival.

Above: early college. Major: education. When I cried the first time I taught a class because an 8-year-old called me a name, I decided teaching wasn’t for me.

Hair014
Above: late college. Major: women’s studies. And the hair to prove it.

Exhibit D: The get-a-job years. Where the growing gets tough.

Hair016Our first year in Seattle. Slowly leaving the pixie cut behind.

Hair017Still short at my first Quilt Market as a copywriter
for Martingale & Company, but growing.

Three years later, we moved back to Utah. Hair can grow a lot in three years. I was growing it long for one reason. An impending wedding.

Hair021Sometimes I wore my hair down. (I like this picture of
me. I like this picture of Bretty even more.)

Hair-22-23-24
More often than not, though, I wore my hair up. No patience for fussing and flyaways. (Flanked by my gorgeous, now all-grown-up niece and nephew, top right. Both valedictorians and full-ride scholarshippers, yo! Okay, I'm braggin'.)

Hair026Aaah, the wedding day. Long hair, curled
and flowing. As much as my hair can curl and flow.

Wedding’s done. Long hair, be gone! Or . . . not.

Exhibit E: The baby years. A hairdentity crisis.

Hair027In the time of baby Jack. Short.

Hair029In the time of toddler Jack. Medium. (This scarf was featured
in
Quilts and More magazine; pattern here.)

Hair028 Another perm? Really, Jenny, you should know better.

Hair030In the time of growing Charlie. Long.

Oh my goodness, I was so very pregnant.

It is so very nice to not be pregnant.

Hair031In the time of kid Jack, toddler Charlie. Short again.

Hair032These photos were taken for ReSew by a
wonderful photographer out of Southern Utah, Juanita B.

I've pretty much worn the haircut above for the past two years. Until last week.

So that brings us back to present-day hair. What a long, confusing, indecisive journey it has been. But rather than confusing and indecisive, I prefer to call it "creative." Yes. A creative journey.

That's my hair story. And I'm sticking to it.

The other day, my sweet husband–who has always leaned toward liking long hair on me–said of my new haircut, "You look so cute. You look great with short hair. Yeah, keep the short hair."

Between the two of us, it's decided. Welcome back, pixie!

At least, for now.

Pixie2