Monday, July 29, 2013


Silence on my blog has not at all meant no projects have been going on. Quite the opposite, actually. I'm a little overwhelmed trying to write about massive projects I have done in the past several months, so I am going to start very small. 
I was recently in the market for a new chair for the desk in my bedroom. I would have loved a Jonathan Adler Chippendale chair--or any Chippendale chair really, but something new was just not in the budget.
I headed to the local Habitat for Humanity ReStore--they were having a Grand Re-Opening Celebration!! which included 15% off everything. I thought I may have some luck finding a unique chair there, and I was right.

I got this bamboo arm chair for a song- it was marked $10 but as I said before everything was 15% off. So I paid about $8.50 for it plus tax. It has a little damage in the form of discoloration on the back of the chair, but I think it just gives it some character.
The next step was to find some fabric for recovering the seat, and decide what to do with the frame.
For the frame, I thought I had a couple options- 1) paint the frame a bright, fun color, or 2)clean it up and maybe apply some polyurethane but keep it natural.

In the end, I decided to leave the frame natural, although I did give it a thorough cleaning and a coat of clear poly. It still has some color variation but at least now its all shiny!

I originally had bought a purple/grey patterned fabric from Joann's for this chair. I laid it out on the chair and let it hang out that way for a couple days, and then decided this just wasn't the fabric for the project.
I made a trip back to Joanns, and found this awesome fabric called "Hazel" in navy, from KAS/Richloom. 
Getting the seat off the frame took some work. The two screws in the front were easily removed, but the screw holding it on in the back was striped, and it seemed at one point the hole had been filed with woody putty or something, so that now the hole was smaller than the head of the screw. It took a couple hours and a lot of patience to get the screw out finally!
I won't go into details about recovering the seat, but it involved a staple gun and some patience to get things just right without wrinkles. I think all my hard work turned out well-- see below!

Eventually I will get to the point of showing you the desk set up in my bedroom. Until then, this is the chair in my living room. At this point I haven't recovered the back cushion. For one, its a more involved project including my sewing machine and some cover buttons. But also, I don't think its necessary for making the chair comfortable and usable. 
What do you think? Should I recover the back cushion? 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Changing Directions

Hello. It's only been about 8 months since I last posted! I intend to start posting more regularly starting now, however I'm going to take a slightly different direction with the blog now. I started this blog purely as a way to share my projects with my family and friends that lived far away, and then started adding in some sewing. Sewing sort of took over...and then nothing.
So I'd like to start writing more of a "lifestyle" blog. Naw, I'm not going to tell you how to live. I'm just using that term to mean I'm going to write about whatever pleases me that day. It will probably center around decorating/DIY house stuff, sewing, personal finance and organizing/housekeeping. Why? Because sometimes I have thoughts about these things. 
So yea, keep on the lookout for a post from me soon. 


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Dress

This is my first halloween at this job, and they seem to celebrate it a little more than other places I've worked. In addition to a cube decorating contest, there was a costume contest and a party. I took the costume contest as the perfect opportunity to make myself a ridiculous dress from halloween fabric at Joann's. 
I found this velvet-y black fabric with silver glitter spiderwebs and thought it would be PERFECT. At first I was just going to make a skirt, but I wanted a full skirt and since I've never made a full skirt before I didn't want to mess up with this fabric. Plus then I would have to have a top to wear, so I decided to just make a dress. Again since I wanted a full skirt, I looked through my pattern collection to find something that would work, and what did I stumble on but Simplicity 2444?
I've made this pattern at least twice before (once documented on the blog)  so I thought it was a good choice. Since its cold now, I made it with 3/4 sleeves and the stand up collar. I'm rather happy with how it came out. Below is an iphone picture of me wearing it at work. Lots of people have commented on it, and I'm sure the custodians will have comments after they see all the glitter at my desk. It leaves glitter EVERYWHERE.

And now, pictures of my halloween decorated cube: I went for black and glitter. 

I got this idea from a kit at target. The kit was $5, I spent like $1.50 on craft foam and recreated the project myself.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Third Sewing Class

Last night was sewing class number 3, and I made some great progress! I had finalized my muslin in the previous class, so this session was time to start cutting the real fabric. I was super nervous about cutting my precious fabric but took a deep breath and went for it.
After I cut the wool, I cut out the underlining. We're using organza for the underlining, which the teacher provided. I had a choice between black and charcoal, I went with the charcoal because it was already out. No one is going to see this when the dress is finished so I wasn't worried about the color.
For the underlining, we used our already cut out wool pieces as the template, and cut at least 1/4 inch extra around each edge. The reason for that is so when we sew the two pieces together the organza will stay bigger than the wool. If the wool is bigger than the organza, when sewn together it will pucker. So I left a generous sidewalk around each piece. After they are sewn together to my liking I will trim the excess.

I'm excited to keep working on this through the next two weeks, as we don't have class next week. Michelle asked that everyone be done underlining their pieces by our next class. I am super excited for this dress to take shape!

Below: The pile of all my wool and organza pieces!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Sewing Class #2

Last night was our second sewing class, and we continued fitting work on our muslin. I had spent a little time over the past week tweaking the muslin myself, so I had time to draft and add a sleeve to my muslin. In the picture it is full length but on the final dress it will be 3/4 length. 

In addition to adding a little room around the waist, we pinched out some fabric along the neckline to get it to lay flat. I have always had a gapping problem in that area but was never sure what to do about it outside of making some darts. But now I have learned a way to fix it! 

I'm not sure why the back looks so wrinkly, but perhaps its because I'm fitting over my pants. 

Also, a fabric update, I did go ahead and buy the raspberry wool. And I think it is going to be awesome!

I think its a great color for my complexion and also a color that will never go out of style. I can't wait to start cutting the dress and underlining it! We'll start that next Thursday. I'll have more pictures then.

Friday, October 12, 2012

First Sewing Class and Fabric

Well, I had my first sewing class last night. What a great time!
We talked a little about the techniques we're going to use-- hand picked zippers, hand stitching, fancy couture darts, hand stitching...apparently we're going to do a lot of hand stitching.

We took our measurements and then started on making a muslin. Once the muslin was put together we made some adjustments, and by that time it was time for class to end! I am still working on my muslin adjustments, but I will post some pictures later this weekend or early next week.

Now on to the fabric- the fabric that I have purchased is this:

An apple green wool with some texture. I got it at Haberman's for about $24 a yard. There's a couple problems though, so I may end up going with something else. This wool is a little thicker than the instructor would like us to use, and the texture will hide any of the decorative hand stitching we do. So I will probably end up back at Habermans, and if I do, I know just what I will buy...

This raspberry wool crepe.

It's also $24/yard, which is about normal for Haberman's wool. This wool is lighter than the green wool, and it also lacks the texture of the green wool so those details will show. I can then save the green wool for a coat or maybe a skirt.

Also, I picked a pattern. I am going to use Vogue 8667, view F, possibly with 3/4 length sleeves. I am going to eliminate the darts on the front skirt, I think. This is because the skirt falls better on my body without them, as I discovered last night. This really is one of the biggest benefits of taking a class with a professional-- professional fitting advice.

I'm kind of undecided on the sleeves. On one hand, this is going to be a cold weather dress so the sleeves might be nice, but on the other hand, I like wearing cardigans/sweaters/blazers over dresses and if its long sleeved that wouldn't work as well. I think I may need to take a trip to the mall this weekend to do some sleeve research. Maybe I can try on some similar wool dresses with long sleeves to see how I like them? Anyone have input about the sleeves?

Sunday, September 30, 2012

American Sewing Expo

I am fortunate to live only about 30 minutes from where the American Sewing Expo (ASE) is held each year. I missed it last year, as I was knee deep in buying a condo, but this year I made it!
I went to the blogger meetup first thing in the morning, and met some of the lovely ladies behind blogs I read regularly!

First was Kyle of Vacuuming the Lawn. I've always admired the garments Kyle makes and the amount of time and dedication she puts into her pieces.

SECOND! Was Gertie, of Gertie's New Blog for Better Sewing! Her book was just released and she was in town doing a signing and teaching some classes. And she was so nice! She told me she is coming to Ann Arbor in January to do a book signing at the public library. I will be there for sure!!

Lastly, a picture of all four of us (Gertie, Sunni from A Fashionable Stitch, Kyle and Myself)

Sunni's pencil skirt is made of the exact wool I NEED for my couture dress making class. I shopped the expo for some similar wool, but came up empty handed on that front. I did, however, find some other fabrics to take home.

From Vogue Fabrics, I got three pieces. Two yards of a pretty flowery pattern, which I plan to use to make a blouse, 2.5 yards of a berry colored garbardine, which I will probably use to make a dress or skirt, and 2 yards of a pink/red/yellow/black pattern which will also be used for a blouse.

At Haberman's, I got 2.5 yards of a geometric border print ponte knit, and 2 yards of a leafy pattern knit. I am going to make a dress out of the border print, probably my favorite Simplicity 2648. For the leafy print I am planning to use the new Angela Wolf pattern that I also picked up at the expo.

I got the new Angela Wolf ruched tee pattern. I've seen this pattern on a couple other blogs and was interested in trying it. I am also after the Sewaholic Renfrew top but wonder if maybe this pattern can substitute? Anyone have thoughts on that?

Overall, my experience at the American Sewing Expo was great! I am excited for next year and taking advantage of the classes (which I didn't do this steps). I'm also excited to use the fabrics I found!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Couture Dressmaking Class!!

There is a sewing studio in Ann Arbor called Nonpareil that I've been to on occasion.  The lady that runs it, Michelle, used to host "Crafts and Cocktails" once a month- a chance to see her studio, work on your project on her machines and of course get her expert advice on your project. Some of the projects shes helped me finish are the best projects I've completed! 

I was very excited to see that she was offering a Couture Dressmaking Techniques class this fall, but then saw that it was to be Monday nights, and I have other commitments on Mondays. I tried to forget about it, until YESTERDAY, I got an email from her studio saying among other things, that the class had been changed to Thursday nights! I registered immediately and now have started daydreaming about how awesome this is going to be.

Here's the description of the class from her website:
Know the basics of sewing, and have made yourself a few (or many) garments? Ready to take your skills to the next level? Learn couture techniques like underlining, stabilizing edges, easing fullness and hand finishing a zipper to make your garments fit well, and look beautiful. 8 sessions. Must purchase Vogue 8828, 8648, 8280, or 8667 (only one), lightweight wool and lining  of the appropriate yardage, and matching thread. I will give suggestions, and help locate fabric, if needed.

So I have to pick a pattern and fabric! I'm hoping to get some insight from my readers about which pattern to chose. Here are the options and my thoughts.

First, Vogue 8828
The description says " Lined dress has princess seams, fitted bodice, raised waist, semi- or loose-fitting skirt, back zipper and top stitching  Narrow hem. A,B: flaps. F: button trim and sleeve bands. C,F: collar. D,E,F: back slit. E,F: welts. A,B,C,D cup sizes." I think I would probably make view D, as that would be the most versatile for me and my wardrobe. However, I like the buttons shown on view F. I could easily add that detailing to my version of view D. 

The second option is Vogue 8280:
The description says " Fitted dress, lined bodice, back zipper closing with front flange. A, B, E, F: back slit opening. C, D: pleated lower section. Armhole and sleeve variations. A: sash with hook and eye closing." While I don't really love the sleeve options for this dress, I do like that it has a v-neck and I think that it might be most flattering for me.

Vogue 8648 confuses me the most. The line drawings make the dress look a little wacky in my opinion, especially the versions with a fuller skirt. I think I would go for view A for this pattern. Despite my being unsure about this pattern, Sarah at Goodbye Valentino made a gorgeous version of view A using a bright pattern. 

Finally, Vogue 8667:
From the Vogue Website: "Lined, mid-knee length dresses A, B, C, D, E, F have fitted bodice, princess seams, A-line or straight skirt and back zipper. A, B, C: front pleated skirt. E: contrast skirt. B, C, E: cap sleeves. D, E, F: back hemline slit. A, B, D, E: collar."
I already own this pattern, but I haven't made it yet. I like all the views with the straight skirt, but probably like view D best.

So those are my options. Opinions? Anyone made one of these patterns and have pictures of their finished project?

Friday, August 3, 2012

New Vogue Patterns

Vogue recently released some new patterns, and since there is currently a sale on them at Jo-Ann's, I picked up a few. I thought I would round them up as my favorite picks for fall.

First up is a dress, V1314: I like the ruching on the sides of the dress, and that is the entire reason I bought this pattern! I think this would look excellent with horizontal stripes, and I have some fabric that just might fit the bill.

Second, V1317- This is a Chado Ralph Rucci pattern. I like the open neckline and the front tie. The A-line skirt will also be flattering for me. I can see this as a great fall/winter dress with tights and boots. 

Next is V8825. I really like the sleeves on this dress and again the tie waist. The crossover top is not too shabby either. I can see this as a work dress too.
Next up is V8827. Another dress. I do love dresses! This is a wrap dress with a drape on the front color. I think this dress is super and will get a lot of wear if I take my time to make it well.

Lastly, V8835, a skirt. While its not a dress, it still has a wrap element to it. I like that there are no darts on the front and the buttons on the waist band. This could be a pattern I use over and over!

What new Vogue patterns are you planning on picking up?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Dresser Redo

The dresser pictured below was a purchase I made in college- second hand of course. It's an older style from Ikea, and I happen to have three pieces that match- the one pictured, a chest with 6 drawers, and a short style with only 3 drawers. I have certainly got my money out of this dresser, but recently I have been wanting a change. 

At first I thought I would just buy a new dresser, but months of looking at the Salvation Army and other local resale shops plus trolling craigslist turned up nothing that I liked well enough to schlep back to my house. 
I recently started a new job, but had a week vacation between jobs, and decided this was the perfect time to tackle my dresser and give it a new look. I decided I would paint it and change the knobs, and then while in the process had the great idea to also change the feet.

I always love the colors that other people pick for the furniture but tend to be a little more conservative when it comes to my pieces, and this time I really wanted to be bold. I decided an orange color would be great and went for it. The color I picked is a Martha Stewart color, but it was mixed in Behr paint because I only wanted a quart and Home Depot didn't have quarts of Martha Stewart paint. I also went out of my comfort zone and picked high gloss paint.

I didn't take lots of progress pics because I didn't do anything special- just did a light sanding, a coat of adhesion primer (this is veneered Ikea furniture after all) and then two coats of the color. 

After looking at all kinds of different knobs, I decided to go with this pendant knob that I found at Target.
They came in packs of 4 for $14.99, so I needed 3 packs of them for a total of about $45.

I also mentioned that I switched the feet on the dresser. I wanted something more dramatic than what was there already, and I found these bun feet that I really liked at Home Depot. They were $8.84 each, so about $36 total for the four.

The final product looks awesome in my opinion, and fits in my bedroom nicely. 


Primitive and Proper