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!

quilting, sewing

sewing it: the denim sheet quilt

Denimquilt1
Quilting is a huge industry today. I think it’s like, B-B-Billions of dollars big. But when it was just a start-up, it was practiced pretty much out of necessity. Little bits of leftover fabrics sewn together to warm bodies.

The origin of quiltmaking is, somehow, insanely romantic to me.

The quilters of yesteryear probably wouldn't be very happy with me about the romanticism. I’m quite certain they wouldn’t describe it that way. But I’ve read lots about American quiltmaking history. It’s fascinating. For me, the whole idea for making the very first quilt could be pared down to this little rhyme:

Use it up, wear it out
make it do, or do without.

I’m not sure who originally said this. I googled it and came across pages about getting the last of your lipstick out of the tube, raiding the fridge instead of eating out, and fixing a broken strap on a mary jane with a heavy needle and fishing line. All 21st-century ways of living the old adage.

Good on you, 21st-century people.

I guess I’m just in love with the idea of getting creative. Instead of running out to buy something you want or need, you find a way to make what you want or need using what you already have.  

That said, I’m starting up a new quilt. Putting that old saying to use. One striped sheet and four pairs of denim jeans. To start.

I wanted to make one block design to repeat throughout the quilt in an interesting way. This is what I came up with.

Wallpaperborderblock1It’s inspired by a wallpaper border I spotted, sitting rolled up on a shelf at a dollar store years ago. I remember sketching what I remembered of the design later that day in the car. My memory of it was, well, sketchy.

Let’s just say it was a mistake not to spend the dollar.

Anyway, I’m calling it the “Wallpaper Border” block. Certainly not as inventive a name as “Monkey Wrench” or “Nonsuch” or “True Lover’s Knot” or “Arabic Lattice” or “Devil’s Puzzle,” but it’ll do for now. After all, I’m just at the beginning.

When I get the blocks completed, the inevitable question pops up: how to set them?

Setting1I like the simplicity of this setting.

Setting2I think this would turn into a bunch of letter H's. So, probably not.

Setting3Rows like this could be a bit of a mind boggler, but maybe in a good way.

Setting4How about pairing two different ideas? Hmmm…

Setting5On point?

Setting6Maybe a weaved, lattice-y look?

Setting7Oooh. Me likey.

I haven’t made a quilt in a while. I forgot how fun it is. It's also quite maddening.

Any setting you like best? Or perhaps you have a smarter suggestion for a block name (please)? I’m all ears.

Setting8Ah, yes. Quilting. Very romantic indeed.

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

quilting, ReSew

I went to Quilt Market and all I got was this lousy photo.

Many of you probably know that Quilt Market–the place where sellers and buyers of all things quilt converge–was in Salt Lake City this past weekend. For me, it was just up the street. I was very lucky to attend courtesy of Martingale & Company, my supernaturally-awesome publisher. (And my soon-to-be full-time employer. Again. Long story. Those guys just can't get rid of me.)

Perhaps it was the people I met–both beloved old friends and new quilting buddies. Perhaps it was the unexpected opportunities that fell into my lap. Perhaps it was the sheer excitement that comes with walking a new Market floor. Perhaps it was dancing with abandon at Market parties not one, but two nights in a row. Whatever the reason, my camera stayed in my purse, fully charged, for the entire four days I was at Market. Except for one photo:

Tile
A tile wall at the Blue Lemon, downtown SLC. Taken during
the packed-to-the-hilt Blogger's Quilt Market Meetup. Congratulations to
this
talented young woman for putting on an incredible, standing-room-only party.

Seriously, of all things, Jenny … the one photo you take at Quilt Market is of a tile wall!?! Yep. Sadly, with all the flurry of seeing and doing and meeting and laughing and twisting my right foot into my boot a teeny-tiny bit differently so it didn't hurt THAT bad and I could keep on walking, I neglected the wonders my camera could have captured. And there certainly were wonders to be captured each day.

Day One: I was introduced to some coworkers of mine who I'd never met in person before. They were warm, funny, interesting, and easy to talk to. Plus, I got to spend time with a woman who I have known, loved, and admired for well over a decade, and hadn't seen in a very long time. (Yes, YOU, Chris Wright from M&C.) I was too busy being in the moment. No photos. Crap!

Day Two: By a stroke of chance, I saw a friend I hadn't seen since Charlie was a baby–Annie Smith of Quilter's Stash. She invited me to talk about ReSew for her round of Quilt Market podcasts. What a treat! Annie is such a natural conversationalist; she makes it easy to forget you are being recorded, and that her many fans will be listening in on your casual chat. And sure enough, I forgot. Just like the camera. Why didn't I take our picture together, Annie? WHY? (You can listen to Annie's podcast with me here.) 

Day Three: I was in the M&C booth waiting for an appointment when who should walk by but Carma Wadley, reporter for the Deseret News. She let me know that the article she'd written about ReSew was going to be published on the front page of the "Family" section of the newspaper on Monday. And sure enough, it was! (Here's the online version.) I spent the afternoon thinking about how proud my dad was going to be when he saw it. The article begins, "Thrifty is nifty — especially the way Jenny Wilding Cardon does it." Hee-hee! Thank you, Carma. I think you're nifty, too. Even nifty enough for a photo. But alas, I forgot again. Dang it!

Day Four: I briefly met with Ellen March, Editor-in-Chief of Sew News and host of the PBS series Sew It All. Ellen invited me to be a guest on her show–we're taping this fall in Golden, Colorado! Why no photo? Well, that's simple–too nervous. Then, that night, I was invited to hit the town with THE. COOLEST. BLOGGERS. AROUND. We ate and laughed and talked and danced to '80s music. No time for photos. Too busy having a great time. But now, I would very much like to kick myself.

I've been to Market many times over the years, but never have I had so much fun. And as I think about it, I understand why I had such a wonderful experience. People–talented, kind, energetic, generous people–reached out to me. And I was surprised. Surprised enough to forget a photo opportunity or two. Or twenty.

Too in the moment. Too chatty. Too excited. Too nervous. Too surprised. Too busy with the fun of it all. And now that it's all said, done, packed up, and back home, I've come to a realization.

Yeah, sure, I'm kicking myself, But really, I wouldn't have wanted it to happen any other way.

crafts, crumbs, sewing, thrifted!

hoping for bags and bags of … bags.

I was recently invited to become a committee member for a humanitarian group. Their goal this year? To help people locally. By sewing stuff. Invitation accepted!

Several years ago I spent some time volunteering locally at a domestic violence shelter. So when we were brainstorming at our first committee meeting, the shelter immediately came to mind. We came up with the idea of “welcome bags” for children who enter the shelter. When a family first enters the shelter, Mom has lots of paperwork to fill out and lots of talking to do with the shelter staff. It can take a long time. Kids who enter the shelter will receive a welcome bag as soon as they walk in the door, filled with items to occupy their time while Mom sorts out the details of their stay.

Since this group has no budget to speak of, we came up with an idea for making the bags for free (aside from the cost of time and thread). We are sewing bags out of people’s donated jeans (or other pants made from sturdy fabric, such as canvas or corduroy). I designed two bags—one for girls, one for boys—made entirely out of denim for the project.

Girlbag

The girl bag uses the bottom half of each pant leg, the back pockets, and the waistband from one pair of jeans.

Boybag
The boy bag uses the bottom half of each pant leg, back pockets (or side cargo pockets—the committee chair’s cool idea), and strips of denim for the bag tie and back strap.

Boybagback

Here’s the simple two-layered back strap for the boy bag.

I wanted to make these bags as simple as possible to sew so even beginners could join in. And really, who doesn’t have a pair of jeans that have been hanging unworn in their closet for six, eight, or twelve months (or, for us clothes hoarders, two years)?

The bags will be filled with items that are age and gender specific. We’ll have bags for 2-4 year-old boys, bags for 12-14 year-old girls, and for everyone in between. Still in the planning stage, we’re not quite sure what will go in the bags just yet. Cheap, clever ideas are welcome.

Our goal is to sew and gather contents for the bags over the summer, and then present as many bags as we can to the shelter in the fall. Interested in joining in the fun? If you are, you could participate in a number of ways:

  • Sew bags (instructions available)
  • Donate denim or other sturdy fabric pants
  • Make toys to fill bags (we need toy makers and ideas for making small, inexpensive/free toys)
  • Gather supplies to fill bags (coloring books, crayons, pencils/pens, and journals to start)
  • Donate toward the purchase of items to fill the bags

I am so excited to be a part of this project. When I volunteered at the shelter, I remember the faces of children walking through the front door for the first time. It was heartbreaking. It didn’t matter their age—innocent preschooler or tough teenager—you could see it plain as day. They were scared. I believe these bags will help, even if just a little, with the first few moments of what could become a huge time of transition in their lives.

Really, these bags are just a little something. But to a kid who has just fled his or her home with nothing, for children who just left everything they used to call theirs behind, these bags will be something they can immediately call their own. I hope it helps. Even if just a little.

If you want to help—even if just a little—please let me know.