Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Pink Sweater Top Recon Part I: Ruffles

I found a beautiful, soft, pink sweater top at the SA and I've been trying to figure out how I'm going to revamp it. It's a Sag Harbor brand petite medium acrylic knit top, very nice. I know I want ruffles, and I'm thinking about a belt. As I was cutting and sewing, it occurred to me that there are many things that I could do, and many stopping points along the way if I didn't want to do any more. For instance, I could put ruffles on the collar and call it done. That would be fine. And that's what I did today.
However, I'll also probably put a belt on it, some buttons, and maybe make a brooch to go with it. Those will be subsequent Parts. Today, here is Part I: Ruffling the neckline.
1. Lay shirt flat. Cut a straight line up the middle for the new opening.
2. Cut off the collar. Even up any wavy parts, so that it is smooth.
3. VERY CAREFULLY, turn the new raw edge over and hem it. I did the entire front opening and the whole neckline. I'm not sure that this part is actually required, but I wanted a more professional look. Make sure NOT to stretch it AT ALL. Since it's a stretchy material, it will turn out wavy if it stretches as it goes thru the machine.
4. Trim up the pieces that you cut off of the collar. These will be the ruffles.
5. Sew a running stitch down the middle of each part, using very loose tension and long stitches. Pulling the bobbin thread, gather the piece up to the desired length and pin it in place on the collar. I didn't have enough ruffles to cover the whole collar, so I did the two front parts, leaving the back bare.
6. Sew the ruffles to the collar. Remember, don't stretch it!
7. Round off the edges of the ruffles and trim your threads. There ya go! How pretty!

A Few Pioneer Pieces

After much research into pioneer-esque outfits that can be made easily and quickly, I have come up with a few more pieces for my booth in August at the Threshers Bee in Hamilton, IL.
What we have here:
A peasant-style top and petticoat.
This petticoat was practice. The bottom tier will be much fuller.

A skirt. This is how the skirts will be; lots of fabric, drawstring waist (in order to be one size fits all), very full.
A simple apron. These will go better with the dresses that I plan to make. A simple, peasant-style dress without much form, that you wear an apron over at the waist to give it shape.

More pieces to come! The good thing about these costumes is that they come together VERY quickly. The bad news is that, no matter what I'm making, they all require LOTS of fabric.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Today, It Finally Hit Me

March is half over!
Naturally, whenever I realize I'm wasting time and burning precious moments, I have a small internal freak-out. This morning I realized that I am very quickly running out of time to reach my big goal--that is, my smaller large goal that is a stepping stone to the "BIG" one. So I called about it.

And, I don't want to make any formal announcement or anything, but I found out that it should be well within my abilities to have a costume booth at the Western Illinois Threshers Reunion this August!!
There are still a lot of unknowns, but I'm going for it! I just need a good stock of merchandise before August. This SHOULD be attainable. Especially if I continue to have mornings like this one!
This morning I cranked out a 2T-4T prairie girl outfit, including dress, apron, and mob cap. Is it historically accurate? No. Period perfect? Not at all. But is it adorable, under $50, comfortable, and something that someone will see and love? Well, that was the plan, anyway. :)

My model was napping, but I assure you, this is adorable on an actual toddler!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Product Review: St Ives Fresh Skin Moisturizing Olive Scrub

Figuring out that a dairy allergy was the main cause of my acne was only the first step in the mystery that is my skin. Now, since I've resolved the source of my problems, I get to work on the condition of it all--the marks, the scars, making sure the blemishes don't last long when they do come.

I've been trying different things, and the brand I've found most effective and satisfactory has been St. Ives. And that holds true again for their "Fresh Skin Moisturizing Olive Scrub with olive oil all natural exfoliants" facial cleanser. It leaves my skin soft and clean-feeling without making it oily or dry. Yay for St. Ives, again!

Monday, March 15, 2010


These weren't meant to be anything special, and it's a good thing! Scuffed already... but that's okay. They took one and a half nap times to make from start to finish. That is, all of my son's nap time this morning (about 1.5 hr) and half of my daughter's this afternoon (1 hr). Not bad for construction and a quick coat of paint (dear Hubby cut the corners for me last night).
The plans were GREAT! Thanks again, Ana at Knock Off Wood!

I'm really not sure what I'm going to do with them. I just knew that I wanted them, and that they'll fit in somehow. I could use them when I do craft shows, EASILY, in 1000 different ways. Or in my sewing room here at home. I have a counter top in my scrap pile in the basement that I'm thinking about mounting on top. Oh, the options! Sawhorse tables are very popular at the moment (not that that's ever mattered to me when it comes to furniture) but I'm not sure where I'd put it. Here's an example from coolmaterial.com:

Maybe now I'll get some sewing done. I have noticed a strong tendency toward woodworking over sewing when I have a project available. This one was eating at me. I can't help it! I'm totally hooked!

Shoot, I totally forgot... TOTAL COST: about $13 (for both). I used paint we had in the basement.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I'll Be Back More Now...

...since I'm done with my TABLE!
Here is Pottery Barn's $500 table:

And here's mine:

Okay, so I don't have all the cool candles and great lighting yet, but I'm getting there!

My entire kitchen is a work in progress, and it's starting to feel like I'm actually getting somewhere. I actually wanted this table a little smaller. I held my breath as I pushed it against the wall. It's less than half an inch shorter than the wall! And THANK GOD! I'm really not sure what I would have done if it hadn't fit!

So, if I'd come home and found this table in my kitchen, and knew that the expense to get it there was very minimal and that I didn't have to work for it at all, I'd be tickled pink. Hubby, however, apparently would not be. :) He wasn't very happy that I didn't ask his for advice or help with it, but frankly, I didn't need it (I think he disagrees with that statement solely on principle). I tried to explain to him that sometimes a housewife needs a big project all for herself, but his 8 years of construction experience wouldn't let him see things from my side. The dining table, which will be much like this one but much larger, will not be done all by myself. He insists on it.

So, clearly, I didn't finish the parts that you can't see unless you're sitting on the floor. I also probably should not have photographed them, either, but I did.

I am no good at keeping receipts. In fact, bookkeeping my probably what I'm WORST at. In a way, it's a good thing I'm not making enough money yet to have to pay taxes. Who knows how that's going to go! :) But here's my estimate, based on the checks I wrote and the receipts I can find:

I think the wood was between $20 and $30. For the sake of overestimating, let's say it was $30. Glue, Filler, Stain, Seal, Brushes, and Wood: EASILY under $50, probably more like $40, especially when you consider how much of the stain and sealer I actually used. (I won't have to buy any for a while, that's for sure.)

And here's another fun fact about Ana and Knock Off Wood: she's just received a letter from Pottery Barn's lawyers telling her to knock off knocking-off. She's been blogging 4 months and already has over 3300 followers. No wonder they're nervous!

Monday, March 1, 2010

I'm Still Here

I think it happens to all bloggers, at least once in a while. That is, disappearing into... well, into reality, frankly. I'm not online all day, even when I'm keeping up with my blog, but lately I've been more than just "not online all day". I've been in the basement, mainly! And the kitchen. Well, I'll show you...
First I did this to part of my kitchen:
It was This:
And now it's This:

(Please forgive the shadow across the middle--that's from the window, not a dirty wall!)

And in between, in various stages, it was This:
I do not claim to be done with this, obviously. But I was able to get it to a point where we can live with it (cleaned up, painted, floor put down) until I get the trim cut and painted and the console table built that will hold my coffee pot, napkins, and whatever else I want to put there.
That's what I did when Nick was away for the weekend.
On to my most recent carpentry... the console table that is behind our tv.
It doesn't look like much--and it's not--but it's SO handy to have!
Our tv is ridiculous. It is huge and cumbersome, and I am terrified that if I elevate it, it will fall on one of the kids. It cannot be easily anchored to the wall, and we don't have appropriate furniture for it in any case, so there it sits in our awkward living room space by the front door, taunting me: "Look at me! I'm a big eyesore sitting on the floor, reminiscent of the days when you were fresh out of college, too poor to afford matching--or any--furniture! I'm going to phone my friends in the kitchen--you know, the mismatched plates and silverware and card table that you're still eating dinner on every night--and we're all going to make fun of you together!"... and so on. I am on my way to fixing our tv situation, and this console table is the first step. Like my liberated kitchen wall, it is also in limbo: it's done enough to use, but I plan to do more with it at a later date. Not only will I put a darker stain on it, I plan to build a short platform to stack the table and the tv on (maybe I'll put a drawer in it... hmm) so we'll have a small entertainment center. It's not that we can't afford to buy a big enough entertainment center, btw. We're just too frugal. :)
Another reason I haven't gotten around to doing this sooner, and opt to work on more pressing things (like a kitchen table), is that I don't know how much longer we'll have this tv. We've been talking about buying a flat screen to mount on the wall, and I don't want to invest time, energy, and money into something that we'll soon have no use for. My carpentry skills do not yet allow for selling my stuff, and who needs more... STUFF???

So, until we figure out something more attractive, here's our purely functional tv spot.
I'll say here what I'm sure I've said before: I DO NOT like tons of things about our house. One is the awkwardness of the space arrangement. The layout doesn't allow much open space, and the rooms are totally closed off from one another. It's too full of personal opinions. In someone's personal opinion, a cabinet system would be nice in the living room. In my opinion, they've just taken up valuable floorspace in such a small house and should have left it open. But it doesn't matter because the fact is: I'm stuck with all these cabinets and only a tiny wall to put the tv on, greatly limiting my options. Also, in someone's (probably the same "someone") personal opinion, a cabinet would really be good in the kitchen, where it was. Well, I had different thoughts. I'm so excited to finally be filling my house with my own personal opinions. Hopefully that'll open things up a lot. Lord knows, when you've only got 1200 sq ft, you can't have heavy, deep pieces around every corner. We have to live in here somewhere! All right, enough of that. Back to work. :)