Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Home alone!

Hubby and the Sprog are going to California tomorrow and will be gone until Sunday afternoon. That means it's just me for three whole days!  I have the house to myself, no schedule to keep, no driving to Kung fu, no making dinner at a certain time. Just ME. Yeah, I'm a little excited. 

I spent some time this evening plotting what to do with this glorious freedom. I plan to spend lots of quality time with my sewing machine. I'm going to work on creating a pattern for wide legs pants that actually fit me. Pants are a bear for me (I'm oddly proportioned) but I think I finally understand what I need to do to alter the pattern. I'm also going to tackle the dress I have planned for a wedding I'm going to in a couple of weeks.  This will likely involve quite a bit of pattern altering or outright pattern drafting too.  And lastly, I have a pair of pants I bought the other day at Goodwill that I want to alter.

Here's the pile. 

Patterns, 7 yards of muslin, gorgeous silks and cottons, and 3 days of peace and quiet.  I think I'm set! I'll let you know on Sunday how it went. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Long Long Time Ago...

Anne's 52 Pick-me-up prompt this week, "Rococo" seemed like a good opportunity for me to show off one of my favorite sewing projects; my wedding dress. It's not quite as "frothy" as truly rococo gowns but close enough. Plus there's a good story to tell.

Originally my dress was going to be white brocade with a beautiful burgundy and gold embroidered ribbon as trim around the neck. I knew I didn't want white next to my face but thought I needed to stay within the convention of white for weddings. The ribbon would give me the color I wanted and needed against my skin.  

So I bought the fabric and commissioned a seamstress to make the dress. This is where things started going wrong.  At the first fitting I discovered that she had forgotten to put on a train and there wasn't enough fabric to re-cut the dress.  Grumble!  But life goes on and it wasn't really the end of the world, right? But seriously, what other occasion will I every have to wear a train?  Then I took delivery of the dress and got it home and really looked at it. Stark white (why did I talk myself into that?), no train, and the neckline didn't fit the way I wanted it to.  And then I discovered the the smudge. Seriously? Yup, the seamstress had managed to put a stain on the front of the dress.  

Frustrated and slightly heartbroken I discussed the situation with my mom and Soon-to-be-Hubby and the decision was made that I really should go ahead and make the dress I really wanted. So with just 6 weeks left and limited funds, I was back at the fabric store.  I was able to afford 5 yards of the tapestry plus the taffeta for the underskirt. Oh, and did I mention that I was still in college and finals were coming up?  It is probably the most technically complicated thing I've ever made but I'm awfully proud of the end result. I mean look at how perfectly I lined up the stripes - chevrons for the win! So what if I was hemming it at my maid-of-honor's house the night before the wedding? It's a dress that I designed and made myself and it's exactly what I wanted.

Here's the entire wedding party.  Geepers, we were young! 

Thanks Anne, for the excuse to walk down memory lane!  

Monday, August 25, 2014

Shaking things up. Etsy Sale

We're in that final stretch, the dog-days of summer.  Fall is coming but summer isn't ready to let go just yet.  The world feels hot and completely dried out.  The plants are starting to look overgrown and worn out.  They'll put their last energy into the lovely fall bounty and then call it quits for the year.  This day after day of hot and dry has given me an industrial strength case of the blahs. But today I decided to try to shake myself out of it by wearing bright, exciting clothes. 

I paired this brightly patterned, two layer, wrap skirt with a T shirt embellished with a gold paisley patten.  

I love swishy skirts!

Wheeeeee!  Look at me; I'm linking up with Visible Monday!  

And I even put on a touch of makeup!

And no outfit would be complete without something on my wrist. Today it's three not-bakelite-but-really-nice-anyway plastic bangles. Everything I'm wearing is thrifted. 

And to shake things up in my Etsy store,  I'm offering a 20% off any purchase over $10. Just enter the coupon code "shakeitup" at checkout.  Thanks for stopping by!

Whew!  I do feel better.  

Monday, August 18, 2014

Summer: It isn't About the Clothes

I was so intrigued by Anne's 52 pick-me-up prompt, "Goddess" this week that I had to come up with something. Problem is that for me summer is about picking raspberries, cucumbers, and tomatoes from the garden. It's about grilling corn and smoking chickens on the BBQ.  It's about kayaking and swimming. It's not about clothes. Summer is my wardrobe wasteland. But then I remembered this dress. With its slightly draped bodice and long straight skirt, it has a Grecian feel to me so here I am seeking my inner Athena. 

I added in my scarab bracelet just to mix the metaphor a little. Bast works for me too.

I'm barefoot here because summer is also about walking barefoot in the grass. But I'd love to find a pair of gladiator sandals like these.  

So I shall keep my eyes peeled, be patient, and trust the thrift store goddesses will provide.  Speaking of thrift store goddesses, here are some finds from the past week.

Darling hair clip with faux pearl.  I love finding vintage hair accessories!  

The powder jar has a celluloid lid and I'll use it to store jewelry. Cattails are another thing I associate with summer and I was quite happy to snap up this pin today for a whopping $3. 

Also linking up with Share-in-Style as long as I'm talking about summery things even if the dress doesn't exactly scream summer. 

Hope you're all doing your favorite summer things this week!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


It's been beastly hot and I've been wearing clothing only under protest so an outfit post was right out.  So I decided to give you peek at me jewelry collection instead. 

Yup, that's a Smurf. My grandparents got him for me on one of their trips to Europe prior to the introduction of Smurfs into the US. He has a place of honor on my dresser and in my heart. 

I believe I mentioned having a plastic bangle obsession in an earlier post, well, there they are.  The rack on the right is actually a mug holder and I rather like it better than the one on the left. Most of the bracelets on the right are bakelite and most of those are thrift store finds at $5 or less (in some cases a lot less.)

I generally don't wear necklaces due to an issue with my neck so finding the right jewelry box with the right set of compartments has been a bit of a struggle. The fact that I also wanted something funky and preferably vintage, and didn't want to pay very much didn't help either. 

I was exstatic when I found this at the thrift store. It has two pull out drawers, each subdivided into smaller sections which are perfect for storing pins and bracelets.  I absolutely love the brass and faux leather which give the whole thing a steampunk vibe!  I smile every time I look at it. Once again proof that if you are patient and persistent the right thing will eventually come along.  

The plastic containers on top hold overflow. 

I also did a small repurposing project today. A while back I found this at an estate sale.  

The carved rose is bakelite and I think it started out life as a necklace.  The necklace part is completely trashed and I wouldn't be able to wear it anyway. The rose is damaged but still worth having so I needed to figure out how to turn it into something I can wear. 

Yesterday I picked this up at the thrift store.

The agate is nice but not special.  So this...

Became this...

Now, if the weather would just cool off.  

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Oh Hats!

It just so happens that the knitting book I wrote is entirely hat patterns!  So for the lovely Style Crone's Hat Attack 13 I've put together this post all about the creation of the book from start to end with some behind the scenes peeks and nice little tid-bits about the people involved. 


Here's the photo of me for the back cover.  I'm wearing a simplified version of "Carmen" from the book.  I love this hat and wear it all the time in the winter. 

Hat Couture by moi!

I still can't quite believe that I up and decided to write a book and it actually happened!  To say I'd never done anything like this before is a major understatement, but somehow, working step by step, it all came together.

The idea for the book came about when a knitting friend, who makes the loveliest hand knit purses and bags, invited me to join her in a gallery show. “Why don’t you make some hats?” she said. And so I did. But I didn’t want to make standard knit caps. I wanted to make hats that hearkened back to the days when a hat was an event. I wanted to make true millinery style hats; confections to wear. The hats I designed had shape and structure, but were not felted, and were embellished to the nines. The hats were knit as one-offs just for the show but once they were together on display, I realized that I had a cohesive collection that simply needed to become a book!

I sent the proposal off to Shannon Okey/Cooperative Press who thankfully, said "yes." Next I contacted Cascade Yarns about providing yarn for the samples.  Again, I got a "yes."  So armed with a publishing agreement and plenty of lovely yarn, I got to work.  Based on those original hats from the gallery show, I created a collection of 13 stylish and unique hats.

And then it was time for the photos.  Oh the photos!  I hooked up with the very talented Melissa Mills-Koffel at Aedan Studio to do the photography and three of the most stunningly beautiful young women, Brandi, Natali, and Shannon to be my models.  There was a lot of scrambling on my part to sort out all the wardrobe options and get everything organized but by the time photo shoot day arrived I had things pretty well in hand.  Well, except for that last second stop at Goodwill on the way to the studio because I still needed a couple of more jackets.

An entire book's worth of hats boxed up and ready for transport.

The talented Miss Natali is a budding Esthetician and did hair and makeup for the shoot.  

Melissa hard at work doing her magic.

And now for the best part of the post, I get to tell you about my models and show you the stunning pictures.  The idea for the shoot was the Golden Age of Hollywood and boy did these ladies bring the glamor.  Natalie and Brandi are burlesque dancers and whoo baby! if you're ever looking for a model who knows her angles and isn't shy in front of a camera get a burlesque dancer.  

I don't know if I can say enough good things about Brandi.  Besides being about 10 feet tall, blond, lithe, and all around drop dead gorgeous, she's also a genuinely warm, outgoing, and funny person.  She knew exactly what she was doing and put everyone else at ease, setting the tone for the whole shoot.   

Each hat was named after an actress (or fashion icon in the case of Jackie Kennedy) and I had a picture printed out to go with each one to guide the photography.  I wasn't trying to make exact copies of the original pictures, just capture the feel.  I showed Brandi the iconic picture of Marlene Dietrich in a top hat and she gave me this.

Chills!  This is my favorite picture and my favorite hat in the book.  We cropped the picture to better show the details of the hat but part of the fun of having a blog is that I get to show you un-cropped photo. 

Carmen hat. (Carmen Miranda)

Brandi dances under the stage name Angelique DeVil and if you have an opportunity to go see her, DO IT!  Her routines are high energy, wildly creative, and often very funny.  

Here are a list of place you can see her over the next few months:
9/6/14 Geeklesque: Get Animated - Star Theater (Portland, OR)
9/20-28/14 Caribbean Burlesque Festival- Montego, Jamaica
10/17/14 The Fringe Benefits presents : Burlesque As F<3ck!- Crush Bar (Portland, OR)

(Oh hey, I can go to that show on the 17th!  Runs off to buy tickets...) 

Jackie hat (Jackie Kennedy) and one of the last minute Goodwill Jackets.

Gracie hat. (Gracie Allen)

Shannon is a sweetheart and did a really wonderful job capturing the coy innocence that I love so much about Gracie Allen.

Clara Hat (Clara Bow)

Natali dances under the stage name Stilletta Maraschino and is a delight to watch.  She captures the innocent sexy vibe of a 1950s pin-up girl.  Her routines are classic burlesque with just the right mix of sex appeal and humor and her facial expression and gestures are flawless.  She's adorable and if you're in the San Francisco area you should go see her.  Like, right now!

8/8/14 Hubba Hubba Revue- DNA lounge 
8/15/14 Trapeze- Rickshaw Stop

Greta hat. (Greta Garbo)

Lucille hat. (Lucille Ball)  It turns out that Lucille started out as a model and boy, was she a looker!

If you're still here, thanks for reading all the way through and letting me show off a bit.

Monday, August 4, 2014

It's Hot and This Flower is Wilting

This week's Share-in-Style prompt, "flowers" inspired me to finally fix the broken strap on this dress so I could actually wear the darned thing. I don't generally wear florals but I rather like this one.  It's my own private rose garden. 

I try not to show this much skin in public but it's been 90 degrees every day for over a week now and I just don't care any more.

Too much cleavage?

Who cares?  I'm wearing a rose garden and I'm not melting.  

I was tempted to pair this with a big stack of black and red plastic bangles but decided to go with the cooler (do you sense a theme?) feel of silver tone jewelry. The pin and bracelet are both vintage finds from the thrift store. I'm not sure why I like this pin so much.  Close up the the glued in bits of abalone shell are kinda ugly but there's something about it I find kinda perfect. 

I spent my (very hot) Sunday working on another sewing project for The Sprog. 

This is his summer weight (cotton) cloak for being stealthy in the woods. The cat eyes were his idea because he's been told he sneaks up on people like a cat. I love how the whole thing turned out. I think he looks pretty badass! 

Stay cool everyone!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Life is Back to Normal

The Sprog is home from camp and the house feels right again.  I enjoyed the quiet time but I prefer having him around. He had a fabulous time doing his LIT (leader in training) orientation week.  He'll now do two weeks of day camp and one more week of sleep away as an assistant. I'm really proud of my guy!

Trackers Earth is really the most amazing organization. They offer all kinds of great outdoor camps, homesteading skills, and role playing fun for both kids and adults.  Sprog has done archery and blacksmithing in addition to learning a wide array of useful outdoor skills.  I've also taken up archery again. Shooting arrows at things is really fun!

This is not a current picture but I didn't think to snap one when I picked him up today. That's probably just as well considering he had just spent a week roughing it in the woods.  

Our participation with Trackers has also given me great opportunities to flex my costuming muscles.  Here's Sprog's Costume from the Halloween party this past fall.  He won a prize!  

The leather part I actually made the year before for his dwarf costume.

The gauntlets are knit and the pattern is available if you're interested. 

Whew!  Sorry for the flashback.  This post is getting a bit out of hand.