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And after

22 Jul

Well, besides all the outdoor stuff we’re trying to cram in while the weather is so gorgeously gorgeous, I’ve also got this new hobby that rears its head ferociously on occasion.  Back in May I blogged about how I’ve started upcycling things I’d found at the Salvation Army, inspired by Marisa at New Dress a Day.  After those first couple of projects, I found a few more things to work on.  Which meant I lost a lot of sleep because sewing is an evening project, and once I start on something, I find it hard to stop until it’s done.  Especially because all these projects were “oh-so-simple-it’ll-just-take-another-few-minutes-to-do-this”.

These new projects were all dresses —I am obssessed with dresses this summer!  I discovered a couple of years ago that if you can’t find shorts that fit (and don’t ride up!) a nice skirt will do the job.  So a dress is just an extension of that, right?  Besides, you don’t have to find a top to go with the skirt.

I didn’t bother doing before pictures, so you only get the “and after” part of the story, I’m afraid.  No one was around to do the before pictures and I was too impatient to just get started.  But TRUST ME, they all needed help.

These “after” photos were done my friend Leslie Leong, who happens to be a professional photographer.  (You can check out her books here!)  She is so awesome — we laughed all the way through this photo shoot.

This green number was given to me to use as a maternity dress, and it’s wonderfully light and summery, very comfy to wear on a hot day.  The elastic shirring was a bit old and tired and I found the spaghetti straps unflattering.  I started by adding the daisy chain (which I picked up for $5) to disguise the frayed edge, then tightened up each side of the bodice.  Finally, I added a wee bit of yellow ribbon to the straps to make them wider and add a hit of colour.

This skirt started out as a size 16 dress.  I spotted it at Sally Ann and fell head-over-heels in loooove with the fabric.  When I started working on it, I realized that the bodice wouldn’t work without a serious makeover beyond my skill level, so I changed plans and turned the thing into a skirt.  Since the material is stretchy, it simply pulls on and off.  I love simple!  I made the belt by sewing some red satin ribbon to a length of woven strap material and adding a few embellishments.  The belt loops were easy to make, since I still had the spaghetti straps left over from the dress.

This dress doesn’t look like much, but it’s one of my favourites because it slips on easily and is a lightweight denim which means it can put up with all sorts of abuse.  It was a great find because all I had to do was shorten it and take it in a bit, which I did by cutting it straight up the back and then sewing it smaller.  I added a couple of darts for minor shaping in the back and it was all done.  It’s wrinkled because it had been sitting in the dryer, having just the previous day made a trip to the local water park with the girls.  (I slipped in a puddle of clay and landed on my tushie!)  The buttons on the side mean I can still get boob access when Halia demands it (which she does!) and can I just add that pockets are totally awesome?

This is another favourite.  I bought it without even trying it on because I was so obssessed with the stripy fabric.  You can’t tell from this far away, but the skirt is cut on the bias so that the stripes are diagonal, meeting in the middle.  Whoever sewed this really paid attention to the details — all the stripes match up!  Unfortunately, besides the very functional zipper down the back, there was an ugly, ugly white zipper down the middle of the bodice.  When unzipped, it revealed an even uglier white mesh-like material.  (It was trying so hard to be sexy and coming off way gross instead.)  (Or maybe it was sexy in the 80’s?)  There was a long strap included with the dress, meant to be used as a sash.  I cut some of it off and — after removing the yucky mesh — I used the sash material to disguise the zipper.  I took in the sides a bit, shortened the skirt, adjusted the straps, added a couple of darts to the front, and — whew! — was finally done.  Besides being cute, the awesomest thing is that with that zipper in the chestal area, I’ve got a perfect nursing dress!

Here’s the last one.  Before I fixed this one up, it was so wide on me that those sweet little ruffled sleeves looked like ridiculous cherub wings trying to take to the air.  I cut the dress up the back and removed, I’m not kidding, a 12-inch-wide strip of fabric.  I removed the ties that were sewn into the seam and used leftover fabric from the back to turn the ties into a longer sash, which I attached right below the bust (as you can see).  The little bit of ruffle from the bottom of that extra swath of fabric became a wee pocket, perfect for holding a cell phone or keys.  Finally, I remembered that I had a few daisies left over from the green dress above.  I had exactly three — one to cover each of the black buttons at the neckline, and one to embellish the pocket.

I can’t resist adding one last picture Leslie took, one of Jade making mischief in the garden while I was changing outfits.  I’ve been busy making cute things this summer, but she’s definitely one of the best things I’ve ever made in my life.

What I did

5 May

Well, I certainly made the most of my three “days off” while Michael and Jade were in Vancouver.  Other than the nap I took immediately after making that post (oh yes, I did!) I didn’t get much sleep, staying up until 1 a.m. every night.  But how could I sleep where there was so much delightful stuff to do?!

Wednesday and Thursday were dedicated to sewing projects.  In the past few months, I’ve become addicted to shopping at the Salvation Army thrift store and Sequels (one of the local consignment stores).  After I lost 15 lbs following Michael’s new allergy-free diet, I couldn’t justify buying a whole new wardrobe of new clothes, but I’ve been able to revamp by going with used stuff.  I love it!

More recently, I’ve become addicted to a blog called New Dress a Day; Marisa has vowed to spend no money on clothes in clothing stores for a whole year, but yet is wearing something “new” every day by making things out of garage sale/thrift store finds.  (And her budget is just a dollar a day!  LA must have some crazy awesome thrift stores.)

With this new blog addiction as inspiration, my last Sally Ann trip included buying a few pieces that I normally would have ignored.

My first sewing project was not a Salvation Army piece, nor was it clothing, but it was inspired by the same thrifting mindset.  I had bought two 8 kg bags of rice that I emptied into bins in my pantry, but thought it was a shame to throw out the perfectly good bags.  So I turned them into totes.  Thusly:

I just love the colourful rooster!

Next I tackled a skirt that I bought for $5.75.  I loved the fabric, which was sheer, mostly red, with golden flecks throughout, and there was a lot of material, making a lovely full skirt, but I am so not into the long, broomsticky skirts.  Here’s the before:

Am I the only one that finds this type of skirt always dips in the front and is shorter in the back (because I actually posses a butt)?  Anyway, to fix this one up, I got out a pair of sewing shears and snippy-snippy-snipped off the bottom.  Oopsy!  I didn’t realize that after the weight of the fabric came off, the remainder would sort of bounce up a bit and suddenly this thing was way too short.  In order to save it, I took the material I cut off, gathered it, and sewed it back onto the liner, making it a tiered skirt, like so:

Much better!  (Those shoes, by the way, are super-cute wedge heels I got at Sequels.  They were $20 and I got them for free because I had over $20 in my account from selling old suits and dresses that didn’t fit me anymore.  Score!)

My last project was this pair of hot pink granny pants that I had to have because of the fabulous colour.

Too big in the hips?  Check!  Much too loose elastic waist? Check!  Excess crotch fabric?   Check, check, and check!

I’ve never sewn pants before because I was always scared about fitting the pieces together.  But at $3.75, if I failed on these, it wasn’t a huge financial loss.  I started by snipping off the waist elastic, and then taking in all the seams.   Then I chopped off the bottoms of the legs to turn them into the capris I had envisioned.  Then I swore a lot as I tried to figure out my sewing machine’s blind-stitch function.  I added a drawstring waist using some grommets I had lying in my sewing kit, although with the custom-fitted seams, the drawstring doesn’t do much.

Michael is anti-pink, so he doesn’t appreciate the final result, but I’m looking forward to wearing these when the weather warms up a touch more:

After all that sewing, I spent Friday cleaning house so that I could have a music party that night.  I know it sounds terrible to have a party while the hubby is out of town, but really it was just a laid-back music jam, a weekly event we’re trying to get started up here in Whitehorse, with someone different hosting every Friday.  We can’t really host at our house when Jade is home because the music room is directly above her bedroom and sleep-deprivation is really bad for her.  Halia, on the other hand, can sleep through almost anything, and she proved it by sleeping right through the fiddling, accordion, upright bass, banjo, multiple guitar, piano, belting, and foot-stomping din we all made.

I actually managed to cram in lots of outdoors time, sushi, and plenty of one-on-one quality time with Halia in those three days, as well.  It wasn’t exactly restful, but I think I’m too Type A for that.  It was… really good.  And let’s just leave it at that.