Valentines – Upcycle love

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I can’t get no loving anywhere else so I guess I’ll love up on my clothes! I’m just kidding. There is tons of love in my life, just not currently coming from a romantic relationship. I know I’m where I am supposed to be. I’ve learned that love is far too complicated to understand and that I’ll just keep loving how I love and it will be the right thing. I know my plan is far bigger than I can even wrap my head around and I know that I’m not the one in charge. So for now I’ll get my love where I can get it and a whole lot of it comes from my family and friends.

This is an up-cycle post, and I will get there, but I want to start somewhere else first. I have to admit that I am one of those crazy women who are all about the LuLaRoe craze. Now I don’t have 35 pair of leggings or 25 shirts or anything to that extent, but I am a fan of the brand and have multiple pieces. Yes I think the leggings are incredibly soft, but no I don’t think they feel like butter. Butter is gooey to me and leggings are solid and not melty. My entire life I’ve been told that my clothes don’t match and then here comes LuLaRoe. They encourage pattern mixing and crazy prints and colors. I’m over here like I’ve been trying to show you how cool these crazy patterns and colors are for years now. I’m glad the rest of the world (well a lot of people) are finally on board with pattern mixing. I feel like I’ve been trying to get these weird trends going for years now or at least getting people to accept my personal style and now it’s finally happening. People are embracing and celebrating their inner wacky style and I love it. And one more note…If one more person tells me that $25 is too much for leggings I am going to hand them a mirror, turn them around, and let them see their underwear shinning through their $15 dollar leggings. And for someone who doesn’t really like to wear jeans, $25 isn’t that much for what is essentially a replacement for them in my particular wardrobe.

I told myself I wouldn’t buy Valentine’s leggings and that holiday leggings were ridiculous, but I was having a rough day and I was perusing some online groups for what was maybe a little bit of a retail therapy session. There they were. The red leggings with white hearts. The only Valentine’s leggings that I’d seen that I really liked. I didn’t have to fight for them. They were just there and no one had claimed them yet. I made myself wait 5 minutes. Was I being ridiculous? While I was waiting I came across an oversized black and white stripe classic t-shirt. This was actually something I’d been looking for for about 2 months. I didn’t feel ridiculous about quickly typing sold in that comment box. I’d been waiting on that. Then I realized how cute of a pattern mix that top and those leggings would be, so I bought them both. My best friend informed me that it had been a full moon and she had done some retail therapy that night too. Maybe it was the moon, maybe it was my blue feelings, or maybe it was just the most adorable outfit fell onto my computer screen and I hadn’t done anything for myself in a while. Either way I scored both items.

They arrived and I was super happy with my decision. As I was digging around my craft supplies I found a black and white stripe maxi skirt that I had purchased for $3 at a thrift store. It was super cute, but a size small. I mainly got it for the fabric, but when I saw it I knew it would be a part of my Valentine’s outfit. I would use it to make a long vest that is similar to the LuLaRoe style joy. I don’t own a joy because they are mainly lace and I’m not a huge fan of lace vests. It’s odd because I love lace.

(Please forgive my pictures in this post. They were all taken on my phone and not with a camera. Also, it’s really hard to see the details on such a dark piece.)

bw1Here it was in the beginning. Pretty simple. Basically a straight skirt with a roll down waist. It was soft and stretchy and perfect for my vision.

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The first thing I did was remove the waist band. Then I cut the skirt all the was down the front. Here it is laid all out on the floor.

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I used a vest I already had to help measure where I wanted the arm holes to go. I actually cut the holes bigger than the original vest because I wanted this one to be a little bit baggier and looser of a fit.

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This is what it looked like after I cut the arm holes. Now onto some sewing…

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I started by finishing the edge that would be the opening in the front. I turned the hem under and sewed all the way down the front (where the red lines are). Make sure if you are sewing with stretchy fabric you use a stitch that will stretch. I use a zig-zag stitch and a needle specifically for stretchy fabric. At this point I could have turned the arm holes under and sewed them, but I waited. It may have been easier at this point.  On the diagram there are two purple circles. These are around the fabric that will be the front of the vest. I wanted this fabric to be ruffled. I sewed a straight seam across the small section and pulled the thread to scrunch the fabric.

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After I scrunched the fabric, I lined up the top of the vest at the shoulders. I sewed the pieces together and created the shape of the top.

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Next I turned under all the fabric around the arm hole and sewed it down. I also did the same for the back of the neck creating a bit of a rounded edge.

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To finish this vest I wanted it to have 2 slits in the sides that went to the hip. I used a seam ripper to take out the current seem and then just folded the fabric down and sewed along both sides to finish it off.

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Here is a side by side of the before and after. I think I will get a lot of use out of this transformed piece.

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I really liked this vest with my 2 LuLaRoe pieces I had purchased to wear for Valentine’s day. Not too many things are better than black and white stripes, but I think 2 sets of stripes is pretty snazzy!

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Check out my date for the day. This girl is my love!!! In true girl fashion she insisted on me buying her dinner for the holiday. Honey please! I buy your dinner every day.

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Feeling a little something-something in this vest. A little feisty-ness perhaps.

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And of course a kiss to send you off. I hope you had the most lovely of Valentine’s days. I hope the day was filled with love, hugs, kisses, candy, and kindness. I love you all!

Football Fashionista

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Every once in a while artists and creators hear some great words that sound a little bit like, “Make whatever you want.” For real? I don’t have limits? Maybe a few limits, but I was granted creative liberty on this particular project, and I was so freaking excited! (If you couldn’t already tell.)

I love up-cycling and I love making children’s clothing. I think both can be super creative, fun, and don’t have lots of rules! Children’s clothing allows for much more cuteness and freeness than adult clothing. I was commissioned to make some pieces of clothing for a little nugget and here is the story…

There is an uncle who is a high school football coach and there is a niece that attends almost all football games. The uncle has lots of t-shirts representing the school so the mama asked me to make some cute stuff for the nugget to wear to the games out of the old t-shirts. Most specifically she wanted some warmish items (for chilly nights) and maybe some dresses (because that’s kind of my specialty).

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Here are the starting supplies. Tons of shirts from her uncle and 2 jackets from her mama. I made 4 pieces and here they are.

1- For the first piece I used the most vintage looking t-shirt and the corduroy jacket. I felt I could play on the vintage feel with these 2 items.

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Along with the vintage feel of the fabrics I tried to choose a classic shape. Fitted at the top and looks a little bit like a jumper and then more full at the bottom. I thought it was kind of classic/preppy/football seasonal looking.

Check out these cutie details – ruffles and elbow pads!!!! Makes me smile!

2- For this dress I used a shirt that was designed by her uncle, so I wanted to used the whole design of the shirt and include the last name on the back.

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I’ve made lots of t-shirt dresses so I kind of kept my usual shape with this one. It was easy to pull from knowledge I already had, plus I was able to keep the full design of the shirt. It’s basically an A line dress with short sleeves and a ruffle bottom. I wanted at least one short sleeve item for her to wear while it’s still warm outside. You can always layer later.

I attached the sleeve almost like a baseball tee would have the sleeves attached. I was able to make the best use of my supplies by doing it this way. And the ruffles – a perfect addition to all little girl clothes.

3- This is where I went wild and totally didn’t follow the guidelines, but it’s my favorite of the 4 pieces and I’m glad I veered off track. When it’s chilly outside you have to cover up your cute clothes with a jacket, so why not make a jacket?

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I mostly used one of the jackets for this project. I sized it down from adult to basically a 5T, created a stand up collar, used excess for a ruffle bottom, and lined the sleeves for a pop of orange as they roll up. For the back I used iron on interfacing to make a giant stiff patch that was then sewn into place. I made bows for the front and used the original buttons from the jacket.

I know I’ve already told you how cute ruffles are, but seriously??? I can’t even handle this. It really is one of my favorite up-cylce projects that I’ve ever made. I don’t want to be a cougar, but I would totally rock a jacket like this in my size! I’m very proud of this one. (Okay…I’m proud of all of them, but this one really is the best!)

4- This was the most simple of the pieces and it was created from the same t-shirt used in the jacket and then scraps from the navy dress.

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It’s a simple, sweet, elastic waist pull on skirt. It’s soft comfy and will look great pulled up high on her waist or sitting more on her hips. It would look pretty with the jacket or just a plain t-shirt. Tights look adorable with skirts and so do suspenders.  It’s mainly just a little something that she can probably wear this year and next.

Hello football fashionista! This kid might be the best dressed cougar at the games. My mom made clothes for me and my sister growing up, but not too many kids get the opportunity to have someone make custom clothes for them. I always felt so special having my “own” clothes that no one else had so making kid’s custom pieces is so exciting. You get to allow a child to feel super special and unique! I heard she put them all on for a fashion show at the house and modeled like a champ! I know she will be knocking everyone’s socks off at the games!

I know you already know from my previous excitement that this was fun for me. Seriously it was a blast! One night at around 1 am I had to force myself to go to bed but I didn’t want to stop working. It’s been a while since I’ve really thrown myself into a project with that much gusto. Maybe this was just the change up I needed to get me re-excited about all my projects. It really has been a bit of a kick in the butt to get me going again. I’m thankful for a friend and her daughter who trusted me to “make whatever I wanted”. It’s always nice to have someone trust your judgement and it’s always nice to let loose and have fun with sewing. This project was definitely fun! There were some t-shirts left over, so maybe there is more of that in my future. ; )

Carolina Girl-Game Day Ready

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In my last post I had made a dress out of one of my dad’s old shirts. I wore it to church last Sunday and had tons of compliments. Some of those even came from people who hadn’t seen the blog post or known that I had made it. I don’t know about you, but it makes me feel good when someone compliments my outfit, and it makes me feel even better when the compliment is directed at something that I have crafted myself! I really loved wearing it. It is super comfortable, but not sloppy. It was a little bit structured and a little bit loose and still had some girly elements to it.

I had an event coming up (which has past now because I just got home from it) and I wasn’t planning on making anything to wear. I didn’t really think I had time and I figured I could just wear something I already had. But like always…the crazy kicked in and I knew, while I was at church, I wanted to make another of these dresses to wear. I left church, checked the time, and hurried over to the thrift store. I knew exactly what I wanted. Well, almost exactly. I knew it needed to be a shirt that was carolina blue and big. They had exactly what I needed, and I actually headed home with 2 shirts.

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Here we have the 2 lovely shirts. Please ignore the wet hair and pretend I look decent in this photo. I was on a time crunch and had to take the photos when I could.

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First things first – cut off the collars and the cuffs and store them for an awesome project one day. I actually have a whole little tote container of them. Let me know if you have any ideas. I’m still waiting on something great to pop into my head.

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I cut off the sleeves as close to the seam as possible as to save material. I didn’t take them time to seam rip it because I knew I would make a new arm hole anyways.

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I put the shirt on and determined where the new shoulder would be. I also put some pins under my arms to try and figure out where the bottom of the new arm hole was going to be. This is honestly the hardest part because….men’s shirts have gigantic arm holes and women do not typically have quite as giant arms or need as much room. The smaller you make the arm hole the tighter you are making the shirt across your chest. It’s not too bad for me because I don’t have much in the front to consider, but I also didn’t want the shirt bulging open at the buttons. Unfortunately I didn’t make them the correct size. I pulled the shirt too tight, but keep reading and you will eventually see the solution.

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After marking the new arm holes I cut the seams down the sides of the shirt. I used the cut off sleeves to create a new more feminine sleeve. It attaches more at an angle instead of straight out and has more of a curved line than a men’s sleeve would.

After the sleeves were sewn to the shirt I then sewed the sides back together all the way down. I sewed on an angle down the side of the shirt so the bottom of the dress would still be full and the top more fitted. It I guess was kind of an a-line.

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I used fabric from the other shirt to create a cuff for the new sleeves. It just gave it a cute little finished touch on the sleeve and some contrast.

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Because button down shirts are curved at the bottom they make awfully short dresses when you hem them straight across. I used fabric from the other shirt to add a few inches of length to the bottom of the dress. I loved the blue and white accents on the bottom and on the sleeves.

After I finished the bottom. I finished the neck line by just turning it under and stitching it down. I worked great on the last shirt dress and this one also.

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Here is the finished project. The event was a Carolina Tar Heels football game and my dad’s fraternity reunion weekend. (I’m sorry for the quality of this picture. I took it in the hotel room and thought it looked fine until it was on my computer and it didn’t look very fine at all, but it’s the only fully body pic I took this day.) I wanted to make a dress for this because I knew it would be a hot day and a dress would be cool and comfy. You can see that my solution the the tight armpit holes was to just add a tank underneath and leave a few buttons open. I like how it turned out and I even liked how it looked with open buttons at the top.

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This dress went great with morning Bloody Mary’s…

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And this dress also went well with afternoon pre-game beers!

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We made it to the game and I took a stadium selfie to prove it. It was hot and I was a little sweaty at this point, but feeling comfy in my dress. I did sneak in a little nap during the 2nd quarter. Football is long and I was tired from partying with the guys from the night before. You might not should be jamming to Janis Joplin with your dad’s fraternity brothers at 2:15 in the morning when you know you have a long day the next day. It was fun though!

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Here is one last picture to prove that I was actually at a live sporting event since at least one person was convinced that I would not go. Haha. Maybe I shouldn’t tell people how much I dislike sports. I’m not big on sports at all but this entire weekend was great and even the game was fun. It’s always more fun when you win!

My Little Mermaid

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Sometimes I ask myself, “Why did I agree to do this?” But this time I can’t ask myself that question because it was basically my idea and I volunteered for it. It wasn’t too bad and was actually mostly fun.

A few months ago my sister and I stumbled onto an old beat up prom dress that was probably never going to be worn to a prom again. It was teal and beaded, and very pretty at one time. I mentioned to my sister that it looked like a mermaid tail and that is where the idea was born. My niece would be a mermaid for halloween. We tossed around some ideas about the construction of it but dropped the ball for a little while.

Time went on, Halloween was quickly approaching, and that meant it was back to the mermaid drawing board. The biggest dilemma was what to make a shell bra out of, but we found a solution. On a girl’s day visit to our favorite dollar store we stumbled upon a mermaid toy. In the pack was a mermaid, hair trinket thing, star fish, and a clam that opened like a compact. You know, it was one of those little junkie toys that kids beg for and then they loose all the pieces that day. The clam was the key! It was basically perfect size for a 2 year old bra top. (I don’t know why it feels so weird to say a 2 year old bra. haha)

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Here are what the shells looked like after I broke them apart. It wasn’t very difficult. I just cut them with regular scissors.

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The base of this costume is a nude leotard and I knew just glue wouldn’t hold the shells on because they are hollow in the middle. I used a nail to poke holes near the edges of the shell so I could sew them on to the leotard.

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Now it’s time to decorate the shells. I covered them with mod podge and then sprinkled glitter all over them. When they dried, tons of the glitter was falling off so I repeated this step to ensure that even if glitter was lost they would still be covered.

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Sparkly shells will make the perfect Ariel bra top. They are gorgeous, but I might be finding glitter in my house 10 years from now. You know you can never get rid of it. It’s a curse!

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I had my little Tater-Tot try on the leotard and marked where the shells needed to go. I then sewed them into place. (We ordered this leotard from Amazon. It is made by Eurotard.)

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I then turned to some of my dance costume making supplies to finish the bra top. I used E6000 to glue crystal ab rhinestones to the shell and in-between to hook the 2 shells together. I also used some purple beads, and purple ribbon to finish off the bra. I’m starting to think this looks more like a “Dancing With The Stars” costume than a little girl’s Halloween costume.

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Here is the prom dress I used for the bottom. You can see that there are tons of beads missing. What you don’t see is how someone has washed it incorrectly and the lining is messed up. It’s good that these things don’t matter for this project.

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I cut out the shape of the skirt and began to sew it together. I was cursing myself at this point. This part sucked majorly, and the sad part is I kind of knew that before I started. I broke 4 needles working on this, and I was being what I thought was extremely careful. There are probably some tips on how to sew beaded fabric, but I didn’t look any up, and I never want to sew beaded fabric ever again!

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I used 4 colors of tulle to make the little ruffle around the waist and the tutu on the bottom. I then used elastic in the back of the skirt to hold it up and on the inside of the bottom to synch it together for the mermaid effect. I couldn’t make it too tight. I wanted her to be able to walk.

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Here it is! I finished late on the night before her 1st Halloween party at her dance class. I was crossing my fingers and hoping it fit perfectly. My sister did have to add a safety pin to the waist. The skirt is pretty heavy and the elastic was not quite tight enough, but no one really knew about that part.

As much as we thought it would be hilarious to put her in a red Ariel wig, we knew she wouldn’t keep it on. My sister said she wasn’t wasting money on that part. I made her a hair clip out of the star fish that came in the stupid mermaid toy. I covered it in glitter the same way I did the bra top, added stones, and a clip to the back. This kid refuses to wear a hair bow, but left the starfish in the whole time. I think she really loved her costume (even though 2 days before she said she was going to be Anna, and then she said she wanted to be a girl…2 year old logic?)

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Look at that model. So proud of her costume.

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There is my beautiful girl!

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Her mom bough her some Ariel high heels from the Disney store. I realized that even though she liked her costume, it was these shoes that were her favorite part. This kid might turn into one of those girls that can do anything in heels. She can already run and jump in them. We might be in trouble.

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This is her demonstrating how she can jump and run.

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This is her picking out her poses for pictures.

Yoga anyone?

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And now she is showing off her needle. Not a good outfit for this particular move. It’s not slowing her down at all.

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This is where she posed when we told her not to go up the stairs. She’s a smart girl!

I love this little mermaid more than anything. She does drive me quite crazy at moments. I know 2 year olds love to exercise their opinions because it’s like they’ve just realized they have one. Sometimes I think she just wants to have a different opinion from me and sometimes I think she might be bossier than her mom, but she is sweet, loving, caring, and full of life and excitement. I think Ariel was the perfect costume for her personality! Just a little bit spunky, sassy, and stubborn…Just like her!

Everyone Loves Thomas

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Thomas the train is everyone’s favorite engine! Well, actually my niece really loves Percy. That surprises me because her favorite color is blue, and Thomas is blue. Either way, Thomas and Percy were coming to town.

My sister asked me if I would make something for my Tater-Tot and her friend to wear to see the trains. I had a lot of stuff going on and I said I will do it if it’s really, really simple. I wanted her to buy a Thomas t-shirt so we could “girl-y” it up by adding a skirt to the bottom and maybe some bows. A little time passed and there was now less than a week before they were headed to Thomas when I accidentally invited her to the fabric store. I really just wanted to hang out, but she still wanted dresses for the girls. I can’t believe I forgot about this little detail. While we were there she suckered me into making something from scratch. It’s so hard to say no to a little blonde headed blue eyed girl when she says, “Please make me a dress, Aunt Sammie?” How do I get myself into these rushed predicaments?

We needed a plan, now that I had gotten suckered into this. It needed to be a quick and easy plan because I had one week to make 2 dresses. Those weren’t the only special orders I had to finish that week. I wanted it to be Thomas inspired, but not look just like Thomas. We chose a blue and white striped fabric for the top so it would look similar to conductor overalls, a red polkadot for the bottom, navy for straps and ties, and yellow to match the #1 that Thomas wears. I had to get to work immediately!

The top is almost like an apron. It was basically just a square with 2 straps that tie around the neck. Under this panel was a row of navy that will be the sash around the waist. And then of course, my favorite, polka dots scrunched together with elastic in the back to form the bottom of the dress. A dress this shape could probably be warn in the middle of summer with nothing under it, but it was chilly and rainy on this particular Saturday, so they layered.

The last extra special detail was the “1” on the top of the dress. I used iron on appliqué stuff to make this. I used 2 pieces of yellow fabric and the iron on stuff to bind them together. I cut out the “1” and then stitch around the edges with red thread in a zig-zag pattern. This made a red outline, just like on Thomas. I strategically hand tacked the number onto the bib of the dress so that it could be removed at a later date. They might like these dresses to be more than just Thomas appropriate.

Since it was a chilly day, the girls wore their dresses with a peter pan collar shirt and navy leggings. I think they look adorable. What about you?

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Beautiful girls with a front view of the dresses!

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Those bows sure look cute in the back.

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Riding Thomas!

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I wish I could have been there for all this fun!

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Why is Tater-Tot at the wheel? Let’s hope she doesn’t drive like her mommy.

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These three amigos are going to be best friends for a long time!

Ole Little Red Bird

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This project has been on my mind for a looooooonnnnngggg time! This is not a finished project and will never be finished. It will hopefully be an ongoing process that I keep around for way longer than I’ve been thinking about it. I opened a shop on Etsy recently. For years people have told me that I should try to sell things on Etsy. I have really been intrigued by the process of this online marketplace since I first heard about it when I was in college. There were so many parts of it that seemed so simple, but there were other things that made me feel very apprehensive. Shipping scared me, and it still does. I think it might take me a while to figure out the best way for me, but living approximately 2 minutes from the post office eases my nerves a little bit. Then there is also always nerves about how people will receive your creations. Will they be good enough to sell? Will people like them? Will they be comparable to other sellers items, but be unique enough to be purchased? Will they be priced fairly? etc…… I think those fears will probably never totally go away for any artisan. I have also really, really had to think about the finances of this thing and what was the best way to keep up with everything and make the most of what I had. I know all the kinks aren’t worked out and I’m sure I will find unseen problems along the way, but it’s a process, not a final project.

After I finally convinced myself (with a little help from some people who love me) that this was a good idea I had to figure out exactly what I wanted to sell. I’m a little bit all over the place with what I like to make. I bounce around and try all different kinds of projects, so I had to dig deep and determine what craft I would be willing to repeat over and over for a period of time and not get bored or want to abandon.

Ta-da I chose up-cycled children’s clothing. Up-cycling is economical for cost of goods, it’s good for the environment because you are using someone else’s waste, and it constantly forces creativity. This way I would not technically ever have to make the same thing more than once, and if you’ve been around enough you know I get tired of making the same thing over and over again. It’s also a constantly evolving field with trends changing seasonally so I will have wiggle room to create lots of things. I do hope that this grows and evolves and becomes more than just children’s clothing and accessories, but for now I think it’s a good place for me to be in.

Next I needed a name. Maybe that didn’t happen totally next but it did eventually have to happen. I ended up with “Ole Little Red Bird”. There is a song called “Winter’s Come and Gone” and it starts like this:

Oh, little red bird come to my window sill Been so lonesome, shaking that morning chill Oh, little red bird open your mouth and say Been so lonesome, just about flown away

So long now I’ve been out In the rain and snow But winter’s come and gone A little bird told me so

I love this folk song for many reasons. It always seems to give me comfort if I’m feeling bad about anything because it’s a reminder that you can move on from whatever is happening. The red bird brings good news of times changing. In some round about way it can be applied to my clothing too because the old worn clothing/fabrics are gone and are turned into new items just like the winter turns into the beautiful new spring. With the combination of lyrics from this song and conversation with my sister the name became “Ole Little Red Bird”. Just think of a fat old red bird bringing you good news and good clothes.

I had been collecting supplies for a while now so I did some more shopping and started creating. I would wake up early and stay up late washing supplies, making patterns, researching, and sewing. All these cute little things were starting to appear in my house, but I still had other things to do.
Luckily my sister and her husband are really great friends with an amazing Graphic Designer/Artist. I had ideas of what I wanted, but he made them amazing. After a few emails with poorly drawn and cut and paste art he created this banner for the top of my Etsy shop.
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He also created this button, which ended up being the tags in my clothes.

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They make fabric that you can print on. How freaking cool is that?  I got mine at Hobby Lobby, but I’m guessing it’s at multiple craft stores. That is what I used to make the tags and then I sewed them into the clothing.

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There is my tag in a skirt. I was so extremely proud after I sewed this first one in. It seemed so official and professional. It felt more like a real thing at this point than it did at any other time.

I still have have so much to do, or that can be done. I still have items that haven’t been listed or photographed. I’ve already started thinking about what I need to make for the fall season, and I think I’m behind on that part. This is just a side thing, but and important side thing. A side thing that makes me smile really big. I do wish I could be a little more super girl like and do 500 things at once. Or maybe I need a time travel device so I could keep going back and giving myself extra work time. The thing thats good about Etsy is that you can have as much or as little in your shop as you want, so I don’t feel as pressured with needing inventory right this moment.

Please wish me luck and hope that people will buy my stuff. It might seem like junk to some people, but I think it’s very cute junk! I’m very thankful to all the people who pushed me to do this!

An Ultimate Up-cycle

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I’ve been dropping hints about this project for months and am beyond excited to finally write about it and share it. This was the most daunting project that I have ever taken on, but it might also be the most rewarding. I probably have just as many emotions about this dress as I have when I watch “Steel Magnolias”. I cried over it a little, but ultimately I am extremely happy about the outcome and very proud of myself. This was not an easy task and it’s not just something I would do for just anyone.

You see, I love Kat. She is an amazing person and friend. As she was planning her wedding she approached me with a task that she thought I could take on. At the time she obviously had more faith in me than I had in myself. She wanted me to turn her mom’s wedding dress into a reception dress for her. Ahhhhhh……… I knew it would be very difficult. My biggest fear was that I was going to mess up. You can mess up anything, but when you are up-cycling a wedding dress you have a limited amount of fabric. If you ruin the fabric, you are screwed. There is no more to work with!!! I don’t know how many days I looked at it and thought, “Maybe tomorrow I will be able to cut it.” I had to really work on my confidence before I started this bad boy.

I’ve been thinking about this blog post for a while and trying to figure out just how to write it. I often think in spider web form instead of in a linear fashion, but I want this blog to make sense. I believe I will just tell you what happened chronologically and try to leave out as many unnecessary things as possible. This is not really a “how to” blog because I truly believe you could never do 2 dresses like this exactly the same. It wouldn’t really be that important to give you instructions. I do however want to share with you the process, so let’s start at the beginning.

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The first thing we did when she brought the dress over was play with the veil. A crown and floor length veil aren’t for everyone.

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For real though, this thing was massively long and massively fluffy. Totally over the top! I actually didn’t end up using anything from the veil, but it was too fun not to share.

dress 1This is the front of the dress. As you can see, it was damaged during the preservation process. My advice to every bride now…Don’t preserve your dress. I have actually heard of many horror stories about preserved dresses being ruined when they opened them up again.

IMG_0067Here is the back. Can you imagine that train with that veil? It would be a little overkill now, but when her mom originally wore it, I’m sure it was quite lovely.

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The beauty of this dress was actually in the detail. These lace appliqués are actually very very gorgeous.

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This is the lining that was worn under the dress. You can’t see it in the picture, but this part actually feels a lot like plastic. I have no idea what it was made out of, but it was a little bit yucky.

After I had the dress and looked at it for about a week I decided to come up with a plan. One issue with this was that this dress was super tiny. Kat is very fit and athletic, but the waist of this dress must have been like 10 inches around. That might be an exaggeration, but you get my point. I couldn’t use the bodice of this original and change it. I had to create whole new dress from scratch. The good part though was that this dress was super long and I had plenty of fabric to work with even though I panicked at the beginning.

One day I was at Hobby Lobby and their patterns were on sale for a dollar. I don’t usually use a pattern, but I figured it would hurt to look through and see if there was something I couldn’t live without.

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I found this pattern and I knew it was perfect. It would show off her awesome legs and her tattoos, just what she wanted. It also has a very fun vintage-y feel to it that would make it fit with her personality and the rest of her wedding. You can see where I drew on the pattern. I didn’t love the back and ended up changing it.

Time to get to work….

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The first thing I did was disassemble the dress. I took off every piece of appliqué with a seam ripper. It was very time consuming because I didn’t want to ruin the appliqués or the fabric. I knew I would need almost everything.

dress 3I told you the beauty was in the appliqués. These things were gorgeous and I just wanted to stick them all over my house because they made me smile.

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After I took all the lace off I realized the dress was actually pretty dirty. Once again, it shouldn’t have been because it was preserved. I had to enlist my mom for some help on this one. I didn’t know how to clean everything with out ruining the pieces. One Sunday night after family dinner we gave all the pieces a Biz bath.

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This Biz stuff is pretty awesome. It took off almost all of the dingy stuff. I loved seeing all of the pieces laying out to dry. It was quite amazing how much detail was put into this dress.

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That night at home, the dress and lining got a Biz bath in my bath tub. I couldn’t believe how dirty the water was once I took the dresses out.

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It took them quite a while to dry. My bathroom floor got really wet.

So far what I have done was pretty easy, but I knew the hard part was quickly approaching. Not too quickly. I had a few months to get this completed, but I couldn’t hold off forever. There were many days when I pulled out the dress and the pattern and decided it would be a good day to start. Then I would think, “If I had just one glass of wine I would be a little more relaxed and probably way more focused on cutting straight lines.” Then I would perhaps have that glass of wine and think, “What was I thinking. I can’t drink and sew. That’s absurd.” So another day would pass and I wouldn’t have started.

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I got the giant dress all laid out and pinned the pattern pieces to it. It was like a puzzle trying to figure out where to cut the pieces from. I knew there could potentially be some weird seams different places in the skirt, but I managed to line it up so there was only 4 seams; the two on the sides and one front and back center.

IMG_0099After cutting and sewing this together I swore of ever working with slippery fabric again. Not only does it move, but there were 2 layers to cut and sew through so it moved way more. I might have used an excessive amount of pins to hold everything together. I couldn’t be too cautious while working on this project.

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I also had to use the liner to be the liner of the new dress too. It did feel like yucky plastic, but I was determined to only use this dress and not add any new fabrics to this project. I cut off the tulle underneath and puzzle pieced the pattern together on this too. It was more difficult because this dress was shorter and had much less fabric to work with. I had to get creative and ultimately the liner of the new skirt was not quite as full as the outer layer.

After I made the initial shell of the dress, I installed an invisible zipper. Zippers are the most difficult thing in the world to me. I feel like I can do so many things, but not this, no matter how hard I try. It only took me 2 tries to get it lined up correctly and I was thankful for that. I might have given up if I had to try again.

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Now it was time for the interesting part. I started to put the appliqués back on this dress. I pinned them to the front in a shape that I thought looked nice and I had Kat come over for a fitting. At this fitting I made sure the bottom of the dress was even all the way around and I made the straps for the back of the dress. At this point it was totally backless and I pinned appliqués together to make it almost like a racerback, but kind of like and “x” shape.

After this fitting I carefully sewed all of the appliqués together. I also added snaps various places to make sure she could get in and out of the dress. And I added the scalloped trim from the bottom of her mom’s gown to the bottom of her fun dress. Since the dress was so short, it helped weigh it down a little bit, and it also looked great.

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The last thing I made was headpieces. The small one was for her wedding dress, to be worn with her birdcage veil, and the bigger one for the reception dress.

I was finished and sworn to secrecy. Many people knew I was making this dress, but I wasn’t allowed to show anyone. I didn’t even take pictures of it because I knew I was too excited and I would slip. The bad part is she didn’t end up keeping a secret. She showed her mom the surprise. I guess I wasn’t the only excited one.

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Before I show you the finished product, I just wanted to show her mom from her bridal portraits. She is still just as lovely today!

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Ta-Da!!! Here is the dress from the front and the back. I loved how it turned out.

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Here we are at the wedding. I love these pictures of us. She is such a special friend!

The wedding was absolutely perfect. It was an amazing (and hot) day, but mostly amazing. It was so much fun celebrating with her, her new husband and daughter, and her awesome family and friends. I wish everyone this easy of a wedding day. I also wish them the amount of love shown.