Friday, October 28, 2016

Men's Ties

I am going to start off saying that I have been collecting men's ties for many years from the thrift store and garage sales. I refuse to pay more than $2 for a tie. I have collected these ties with the idea of making garments, but instead of cutting the ties up, interfacing them and using them as fabric, I wanted to use them in the original tie shape. These have been largely unsuccessful. A couple of years ago, I had a men's tie garment challenge. I went on YouTube and from the video I saw, I created this skirt.
 This skirt is cute, but there were two problems with it. One it is shorter than I would like ( my fault of course) and second the wool interfacing in the ties make the skirt heavy and pretty stiff. So I wanted to come up with a solution that left the ties intact, but softer and more flexible. Also, I want to say upfront that another problem using the men's ties for me is that because they are all different sizes, width wise and length wise, it is difficult to piece them together without getting a curved look, which I do not care for.
 I started out with a skirt that I bought at the thrift store that fit me. I measured how long I wanted the ties to be for the length of my skirt and then I cut off the part of the skirt that I didn't need.
 Now for what I figured out on the ties. After I cut the length of the ties, I realized that I could turn them inside out and expose the wool interfacing. Now you can do that with the whole tie, but it is more difficult. Not impossible but more work. Anyway, what I found was that when I turned the tie, I could machine stitch along the hand stitching row of thread holding the tie together.
 After that you can cut away the interfacing on both sides leaving just a thin line of interfacing under the machine stitching. The nice thing about this is that the thin line of interfacing left, along with the line of machine stitching will keep the tie in it's tie shape with minimum distortion. To be honest, I thought I was totally brilliant when I came up with this procedure.

This shows the narrow end of the tie, turned, stitched and trimmed.After trimming, turn the tie back to the right side. Also let me say, that I have a Fast-turn tool that I used to do this. Now you can do it without the Fast-turn but I love how easy my Fast-turn makes it..
 Now I started to lay and pin my ties together to make the skirt. I pinned them until they started to curve. You can see from the above pictures the gaps in the ties that vary in size.
 I then added a gusset, I guess you would call it, to keep the skirt waist even. The brown in the above picture shows this. I used the narrow ends of the leftover ties for this.This is the front of the skirt.
 This is the back of the skirt and the purple are the gussets. I stitched them in the shape of a V. As you can see it is hard to see the gussets in the top of the skirt unless you really look for them.
 I measured the skirt bottom and made the ties the same size and stitched the two pieces together. To help tie the black of the top skirt to the tie bottom, I used the narrow ends of the leftover ties in sections to applique down on the black top skirt. It might be hard to see, but I tired to match up the narrow end of the tie with the same tie in the bottom of the skirt. I used 19 ties for the bottom of this skirt.
 This is my new tie skirt with a vest that I made several years ago, but only wore once or twice. It was too boring for me. I had only put the ties on the vest back seen below. And prairie points along the lapel edge. This time I put bright ties all down the front, mirroring the back of the vest.
 I am now not bored. I love how it turned out. BTW the original vest came from the thrift store.
 Now here is my skirt with a tie jacket (the jacket came from the thrift store) that I made to go with the first skirt, but I didn't wear it much either. I am very happy with how my skirt goes together with all my other pieces. Now that's my men's tie story and I'm sticking to it.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Halloween Fashion Fun

 Halloween happens to be one of my favorite times of the year for fashion fun. October has 31 days and I enjoy dressing for almost every single day. Some of the things I have made in the last couple of weeks are these bags that started out as  three separate bags (above) that I bought on sale before Halloween last fall for one dollar each.
 These are the nylon mesh type bags like animal food bags material. The bags had the picture of Frankenstein on one side and the Bride of Frankenstein on the other side. I took the binding off one side of two bags. Sewed the two bags together so the different pictures were on each side. I used the straps on the two bags to make straps for the one big bag. I really love how it turned out and this bag will be super fun to take shopping .
 Several years ago, when my husband I were traveling we saw a woman who had a fabulous purse with I believe Frankenstein or Dracula on the bag. I believe that she said she got it at Universal Studios. Anyway we really like it. So with this third bag I decided to make a purse. I took all the bindings off and cut it down. Sewed it back together.
 I added a purple nylon rip-stock quilted lining for more stability. I also added a zipper for a closure and now I have a fabulous purse that only cost me a dollar. I had the rest of the supplies in my stash. Of course the Bride of  Frankenstein is on the other side.
 Now for some Halloween clothing. Here in Phoenix, October still has temperatures in the 90's and shorts are still a definite part of my wardrobe. I took a pair of plain black shorts and cut out these appliques and did a loose zig zag stitch. I prefer that more relaxed look over a regular dense applique zig zag stitch. I used treat bags that I got at the Dollar store last year for my simple applique patterns.
 I always feel people see you coming and going, so you should give them something to look at from the back. Here is the back of my shorts.
 I made this Halloween hat earlier this week. With my shorts, I will be totally styling in my Halloween fashion.
 My Mr. Partner in Crime also likes to have fun with me. I bought two of these shirts for him last year and used reverse applique to put the second shirt on the back. When we were in Disneyland last October, some man came over and was talking to Mr. Partner in Crime about his shirt. He said that his friend had the same shirt, but his friend's did not have anything on the back. Mr. Partner In Crime told him the back of his shirt was courtesy of his wife. And of course we love our bat hats. We wear these all month.
Finally here is my Halloween Day fashion. I love wearing this ensemble. The skirt was made with my t-shirt applique technique which is very easy to do. As you can see, I have fun during October.

Friday, June 10, 2016


 Lets start with the bras we all have and that are readily available at the thrift store. Not this cute Minnie Mouse bra that I got at the Fashion Institute Scholarship store in the LA Garment District but just regular bras. I am still trying to figure out how to make this bra smaller so I can wear it. Minnie Mouse and her fabulous use of polka dots is my role model of polka dot fashion.
 Anyway, I sew across the bottom of the bras and then cut them out. The thicker ones work the best for these covers for hangers. I fold them in half and stitch them to fit the hangers. I usually do a double line of stitching and then cut off the extra pieces. Snug them on your plastic hangers and then hang your sweaters or any item that has a tendency to get hanger marks on the shoulders.

Now originally these were supposed to be made with shoulder pads, but when I moved, I gave away most of the shoulder pads that I had so using bras was the idea I came up with. Another fun thing is that bras come in a lot more fun fabrics and colors than shoulder pads, which is a plus for my closet and I !!!
 Now for the second thing you can do with bras. The shoulder elastic makes great watch bands. I started with a watch that had a similar watch band as the above band.
 It is hard to see with this picture, but after the band was removed, there is no outside opening to attach a watch band. It is a solid piece.
 Mr. Partner in Crime was able to cut a opening in the solid piece so I was able to run the bra elastic through the opening. So if you had a regular watch, you can just use the watchband openings to run the elastic through.
 With this band, I decided to run two pieces of bra elastic through the openings. I like the thicker feel of the two pieces but that is a personal choice. The bottom was a smaller piece than the top elastic. Both were from bras. I stitched the two elastics together.
 I was able to fit the watch band perfectly and since all watch band are too big for me that is a great plus. I am also able to get any color band I can imagine. As long as I can find that bra. I finished the watch band off with a large snap.
The nice thing about this watch band is that it was cheap. I could make it fit my wrist just as I wanted and I can change it out as I want. Just remove the snap and replace the elastic.

One other thing you can use bras for is use the back closure of the bras with the hooks as a closure on a journal or fabric book. Bras have lots of uses besides the normal one of intimate apparel.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Altered Garment Challenge

 I belong to a on-line Altered Garment group and our challenge this last month  was to use something off Pinterest as an inspiration and starting off point for a garment. This was my inspiration. I believe this was made from a vest. I am not sure why I like it so much. I do like suspenders but have tried to wear them before and haven't been real successful.
 I decided that instead of a vest, I would use a jacket I had on  hand. As you can see it is too big through the shoulders and chest so the fit was going to take some doing if I was going to use it as a jacket.
 This was my first jacket/vest. I found the suspenders to be more of a problem than making the jacket portion. I am not sure what to call this except a vest. Anyway, I measured from under the jacket arms all around and cut the jacket in two. I actually made three of these, I liked them so much and one had a jacket lining, which I turned under and hand stitched closed. Because the jacket was also too big in the chest area, I took up the jacket/vest under the arms so it fit better. I had to do that alteration on all the jacket vests. Anyway, on the two jackets that had no lining, I made a bias strip facing and sewed one to the front of the jacket as a visual interest and the other jacket I sewed it to the wrong side. Those facing worked great to finish the raw edge. The suspenders were actually a lot of work. I used men's suspenders from the thrift store and remade them smaller. I also don't like suspenders that need buttons, so I managed to find clips to use on the suspenders.
 Here is one of the jacket/vests. I really love how they turned out and I loved wearing them. One of the reasons I like these is the long lean look I get.
Under my favorite short jacket is another jacket/vest I made using a striped jacket. I know you can't see the top under all my jewelry, but it's there. My favorite jacket/vest I have made is this stripped double breasted vest. I really enjoy wearing these little creations. They are fun and funky.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Really, You Can Do That To Upholstery Furniture

 Okay, I don't know when I thought about the possibility of painting upholstery furniture. I probably heard about it some where, but when I found this cute little pink velvet love seat in a thrift store, I couldn't resist it. Unfortunately pink does not fit in our color scheme and reupholstering would of not been cost effective for this little piece and I certainly didn't want to upholstery this piece myself. So after viewing a lot of how to videos on YouTube, I felt confident enough to attempt a try at painting it. Frankly there were a lot of mixed reviews of painting upholstery success.  My Mr. Partner In Crime didn't like the pink but he sure didn't think this painting plan was going to work.
 My first try was using this spray paint I got at JoAnn's. They had two kinds of upholstery paint. Both were terrible colors and this one was for outdoor fabric and a closer color to what I wanted but figured it would work on inside furniture too. Thankfully the little sofa had two pillows that I could try out the paint on. They were not a velvet but a flocked design that painted well.
 I did not like the result of this spray paint at all. It was stiff and felt like a plastic. Of course this could of been user error.

 This sample was with Home Depot Behr paint and primer All in one, semi-Gloss. I liked this much better. I also bought a quart of chalk paint since several of the YouTube videos used chalk paint. I decided against that because I haven't used chalk paint before and was more comfortable using acrylic paint and textile medium.  With this color, I had some plans buzzing around my head to use a darker paint to paint subtle polka dots on the love seat. Now Mr. Partner In Crime was definitely suspicious of the subtle part.  
 So here it is partly painted. Now the formula for this technique appears to be 2 parts paint, 2 parts textile medium and 1 part water. I didn't really measure but I did use a lot of textile medium. More than the 2 parts. You are also suppose to spray the fabric down with water. One person on YouTube said water with a fabric softener which I decided to use. You are also suppose to sand between coats of paint.
 One coat applied. Now I thought one coat covered really well, but I had a couple of problems. One the velvet had a nap, which made coverage and sanding a more difficult proposition. Also all those buttons made painting in those areas and folds difficult.  Second problem was that this velvet has a flocked design with little indentations on the velvet. Those were very hard to cover. You can see them on the picture below.
 Okay, here is the other problem I had. I used 100 grit sandpaper and it was too rough for the velvet fabric. I would recommend using 220 grit or higher. I am sure I didn't sand in the direction of the grain all the time either. A total no no. That was my fault. You can see the difference in the naps of the fabric. I was surprised at what a difference the sanding made to the feel of the fabric.
Here is the finished sofa. I am actually surprised at how well it turned out. I think it looks really nice. Now for the feel. I think it feels like corduroy. It also definitely needed to be sanded and I did a final sand after the second coat of paint with very fine sandpaper. It will also probably get softer over time. Mr. Partner In Crime is still unsure about this painted piece but it was way cheaper than getting it upholstered and that makes him happy. Now for the real question. Would I do this technique again. ABSOLUTELY. I think that if the fabric had been just a regular plain or patterned upholstery fabric it would of been super easy to paint.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Painted furniture 2016

 I have been excited about making this post since I am very excited about my painted furniture. I only work on these painted funky pieces in the springtime, usually in April and May when I can work both inside and outside here in Arizona. Anyway, I want to start with the lamp that I started and posted about last  spring. I lived with this lamp all winter, really all year with the little pieces of blue painters tape. I got lots of suggestions last spring, but I decided it needed something.
 What else but my favorite black and white checks. I did decide that uneven circular checks would be more pleasing to the eye. My Partner In Crime and I looked at this for a couple of weeks and first we said that it was great this way. Then I put the flowers back on it and I asked my Partner In Crime his opinion (I of course already had one) and he said he like the flowers on it. So here is the finished lamp below and we love how it turned out. The small box to the side of the lamp, I painted last spring and it hold some of my favorite fabric post cards.
 Next is this white bookcase that is in our bedroom. This is new and the surface was slick. I used sandpaper to scruff up the surface so the paint would adhere and washed it down with TSP.
 Here is the top in progress. I didn't use any fabric on this piece and not using fabric was a definite departure for me. This picture shows how I drew in my design in pencil so I knew where to paint.
 This picture shows the top painted but no separating lines to define the design and no shading to add depth. I might add that I hate to do shading but there is no doubt that it makes a difference. I  should of added shading on the lamp stripes but I didn't.
 Here is the shading, and the designs that I created. I also used stencils which I have not played with very much. I did like the way the stencils helped my design process.
 One of the bookcase sides in the creative progress
 The other side of the bookcase in progress
 The above side finished. Again using stencils and of course the black and white checks that I love.
 The other side of the bookcase finished.
 This is the front of the bookcase
 The finished top of the bookcase. Now this bookcase was designed to go in the same room as the big chest I painted last year and they look great together and my craft and art books look great in this bookcase.
 This table is the second piece. I had to also sand this piece and washed it down with TSP.  I used two coats of Kilz Latex 2 which covers the dark color of the wood.
 This is the table top in progress. I used painters tape to paint the strips. You can see the tape still on the table in the top section of the table. I painted black and white checks (what else) in the white areas.
 Here is the finished top. I used fabric for the designs and also continued my use of the stencils. As you can also see, I painted blue checks in the top section which I thought broke up the large expanse of the table top. I absolutely love the way this table turned out. Unfortunately a problem that I have discovered is that this table (and all the tops of my pieces) usually have something on top so you can't see the designs. This table was also supposed to go in my bedroom but I am rethinking where I want to put it so hopefully I will be able to keep the top cleared off because as I said, I really love this piece.
 Here is a side view of the table. The whole piece is fabulous. At least in my opinion.
 The third piece I worked on this spring painting session is this fabulous retro lamp. I found this at a garage sale for $5 last summer in Sheridan, Wyoming. A man was clearing out his Mother's estate. I just couldn't resist it. My Partner In Crime couldn't believe that I bought it, much less that he needed to bring it back to Phoenix but I had plans for this lamp.
 Well this was the first idea I had. It just wasn't working for me or for my Partner In Crime. This piece was going to go in our living room where the top lamp was residing.
 Here is the top with a new painted design. I used the painters tape to make the strips.
 One design that I tried using floral fabrics. It was okay. Nothing to get excited about.
 Here is the finished top using different floral fabrics. I also used the stencils for a layered design.
A full view of the lamp. My Partner In Crime put the lamp shade from the top lamp on this lamp and I like it. When we get a new lamp shade, I will probably make it similar to this one which I think looks great with this piece.

What I learned this painting session is that #1, I really love using fabric in my pieces. To me it just makes the pieces more interesting. Although I also love the bookcase which is only painted. #2, Creating these furniture pieces is not easy for me. I have to work on the major design parts. #3, I found out that my children think that these pieces are art and they are very impressed with their Mama. How wonderful is that? #4, I have to remember that in my house the tops of tables always have something on them so perhaps I shouldn't create a design on the tops that I love so much I don't want them covered. #5, My Partner In Crime says that he is afraid that I just might paint him. While he doesn't always see my vision, he likes what I create. I already have my projects for next spring painting session. My Partner In Crime can hardly wait !!!!