King Richard’s Faire 2012

After three weeks of late nights and finger pricking, my family and I went to King Richard’s Faire in Carver, Massachusetts.  I made my dress from Simplicity pattern 3782, and my husband made matching musketeer outfits for himself and our son. We were excited to find matching man and boy musketeer patterns through McCalls, but failed to realize until I went to buy the pattern that the child pattern started at size 3–much too big for our 16 month old. Fortunately, we are a crafty family through and through. My husband improvised our son’s costume based on his own.


Making Vintage Re-fashionable–black and silver zig zag skirt

I have to admit, if circumstances were different I would have loved to wear this skirt:

The black and silver zig zags would disorient and confuse all pursuers, making it much easier for me to escape to safety. And really the stretch and shimmer is just plain fun. Sadly, the waist of this skirt would perhaps fit around one of my thighs, or perhaps on a very tall nine year old girl. Perhaps that is why this skirt was nominated by Dame to be taken off the vintage “for sale” rack and get a new life as a hat.

With the zig zags now going in different directions, the hat is even more reminiscent of dazzle camouflage than the original skirt was. I added some nylon wire scavenged from another old hat to give the brim some shape and a black millinery flower I had laying around for decoration.

Making Vintage Re-fashionable–Blue Maxi Dress

When I first got my back of vintage goodies from Dame to work on our collaborative refashion project, this blue maxi dress with white polka-dots jumped out at me immediately.

The white floral lace trim, the sheer blue polka dot fabric–it just screamed “picture hat” to me. Picture hats were popular in the late nineteenth century and featured broad brims with fancy decorations. So I built a picture hat frame out of buckram and wire, cut up the dress, removed some of the trim, and approximately five hours later, I had this hat:

I used the ruffle at the bottom of the dress to create the overhang on the hat and transformed the lace trim into a decorative hatband. This and other hats refashioned from vintage clothing will be available at Dame: Fine Vintage and Independent Design, in Jamiaca Plain, Massachusetts beginning in March.

Making vintage Re-Fashionable-Collaborative hat project with Dame in Jamaica Plain

I believe that some of my most creative moments happen when I have the opportunity to try and mesh my mind with another person’s. So when Dame, a boutique specializing in fine vintage and independent design, asked me to refashion a line of hats for them I jumped at the chance. What is “refashion” you may ask? The wonderful people at Dame define refashion as “an exercise in finding inspiration in the everyday, in the passe, and sometimes in the ‘what were they thinking?'” It is “a creative exercise in with a focus on reuse and renewal, blending the lines between what is old and what is new.”

Basically, they give me a big back of fabric scraps from their own refashioning projects plus some vintage clothes that wouldn’t sell for one reason or another and asked me to make hats out of them. The resulting hats will all be inspired by the particulars of the fabric and by spring and summer hats of yesterday.

Take this dress for example:

My husband dubbed it “the Dr. Seuss dress” due to the ruffles at the color and sleeve. Some of the ruffles were a bit stained, and the stains combined with the overall style of the dress made it something that wouldn’t sell in a fine vintage boutique. (Woozles likes it though!)

So I cut it up, cleaned up some of the trim, and turned it into a cloche style summer hat:

This hat, and the rest of the Elephunk’s Trunk: Refashion line will be available exclusively at Dame in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts starting this March.

Wedding dress progress update

My maid of honor finally got back from her vacation, so I was able to go over to her place and work on my dress today. I got the lining and underskirt finished and the lining and over dress basted together. I still need to put the straps on and do the underlining with the interfacing and boning and hem the bottom and do the drapey bits and embellishments and sew on the buttons and…and…and….(!) but I am making progress. Here is what is looks like so far:


The white bit at the top is actually a bit of the lining folded over–it won’t be there in the final product. I’m really happy with how it looks so far.

Crafty Wedding Update

I can’t believe that my wedding is less than 2 and a half months away! With the semester ending at the beginning of May, much of the spring snuck by without much progress on the wedding crafts. This weekend Hassan and I made up for it by cranking out the last of the invitations. I’ve written before about our shared love of crafting and the first steps in our invitation making. After making our paper, we airbrushed the outline of a tree with our initials carved into it, and the outline of two peacocks: one in blue and one in green. On the front we airbrushed the words “You’re Invited” and an elephant. We finished the front off with a flower stamp we carved from lino blocks for our save the date cards.

On the inside, after we airbrushed the peacock outlines, we added peacock feathers to their tails (you can see them poking out of the folded invitation). We printed off all the relevant information on transparent vellum paper and glued that to the inside:

And today I finally got over to my friend’s house to work on my wedding dress. I’ve posted the basic design and some wedding dress progress photos before, but I haven’t gotten to work on the dress at all in over a month. I’ve finished what I’m calling the main part of the dress now–I still have to do the lining with the underskirt, the boning, and the weird wrappy bits.

Here is the front:
and here is the back:

The mannequin has larger hips than I do so the main part of the dress doesn’t close all the way. The white train that you see is actually part of my mock-up and will be a silver-blue silk in the actual dress

Tips for beginning sewers

I am not the kind of person who should enjoy sewing. Sewing takes patience, and precision, the ability to measure and to follow directions. Sure, once you get good enough you stop following other people’s directions and start making your own patterns, but sewing is never as free form as, say, finger painting. I have no patience, I dislike precision, and anything involving numbers (including measuring) makes me feel slightly nauseous.

And yet I really love sewing. Go figure.

I figured I should share some really basic tips for people who have never sewn anything before and are thinking of taking the hobby up. Tips for people just starting to learn to sew. Tips for people who maybe don’t think of themselves as exact, or neat, or patient but really like the idea of making things they can wear.

These tips are all based on lessons I have learned as I’ve taught myself to sew.

1. There are no shortcuts. Do not try to take shortcuts, or invent shortcuts. They will only cause you to have more work later. All other tips are essentially subsidiaries of this one.

2. You can (almost) never have too many pins. There may be some instances in which too many pins is a bad thing, but I haven’t run across that situation yet. You can, however, have too few pins. One pin in each cardinal direction is not good enough. Your fabric will slip around and your finished product will look funny. This is especially true of slippery fabrics.

3. Measure twice, cut once. But make sure you move the tape measure before your cut, and make sure that it isn’t hiding somewhere under your fabric. You wan’t to cut the fabric, not the tape measure. I’ve lost at least two tape measures this way.

4. Iron your fabric. BEFORE you cut the pattern pieces. Believe it or not, wrinkles in the fabric affect the size and shape of the fabric you cut. Also iron your seam allowances.

5. It does matter what the inside of your item looks like. Not as much as what the outside looks like, of course. But it shouldn’t look like a small war has been fought on your seams.