taking something old... making something new.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Luncheon Napkins

Today I am making napkins for my wedding luncheon. I thought about renting napkins..costs money and I'm already over my budget, thought about buying paper napkins...okay but a little boring. Then I thought about this really great king-sized sheet I got at a thrift store that was the perfect sort of fabric for napkins!
So to make my napkins, I took the sheet and tore it into 17" inch squares. The great thing about cotton fabrics is that it tears on grain, so I don't have to measure each square and cut by hand. Next, I serged all the edges of each napkin. I used a 3-thread rolled serge with "sour apple" colored thread.
After doing that, I went through all my fabric scraps and picked out pieces with flowers I could applique onto each napkin. I used wonder-under so I wouldn't have to stitch them on. Wonder-under is truly a wonder. I ironed it onto the wrong side of my fabric, then cut each flower out using small scissors, so I basically ended up with a big pile of fabric patches.
Once I was done serging and ironing all my napkins, I peeled off the backing and ironed them on to the corner of my napkin. In the end, I'll tie them with a brightly colored grosgrain ribbon, and voila! Spring is here! I'm so excited for the color that this is going to add to the table settings!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

magazine wreaths

I saw these wreaths on a blog for the rag & bone shop and fell in love with them. Since my wedding is going to have a vintage recycled fabric & paper feel with it, I felt that these would be a perfect addition!
1. First, I bought some wire wreath bases at Michaels and separated them so I could have two separate rings to use for my wreath base.
2. I cut the catalog pages into 10" squares (this is as big as I'll go... I actually prefer a 6-8" square) and used a thin metal rod to roll them diagonally. I had to make sure it was a tight roll, then I taped it at the end.
3. Once I had at least 100 straws, I sewed them snugly together on the sewinig machine about 2" from the end, ending up with a long string of straws sewn together.
4. I took embroidery floss and used it to attach the staws to the smaller wreath base.
5. Once this was done, I carefully flipped it over and used hot glue to attach the larger wreath base to the straws.
6. After gluing, I used more floss to attach the outer ring to the wreath. Voila!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

milk glass vases

Wow. It's been a long time since I've posted and I guess it's for a few reasons. First of all, I'm realizinig that time is quickly slipping by and my wedding will happen before I know it. So I've decided to hang up the dresses (pun totally intended) and focus on working on wedding details.

With a very small budget, I'm determined to make this DIY wedding still stunning. So I'll start posting my projects as I do them, keeping in mind that the postings will follow my attention span. Since Thanksgiving is almost here, let me use a thanksgiving dinner analogy. When I fill my plate for Thanksgiving, I like to take a bite of each thing first, tasting everything. Then I go back and work on something that I especially like. I jump around quite a bit and like to enjoy all the different tastes in no particular order. Bartek, on the other hand, is a compartmentalized eater. He will start with one thing and eat it completely before even trying the next. In fact, he also will ALWAYS save the sweet things (fruit, jello, etc..) for the last. Me on the other hand, the first thing to go is the sweet :)

So my friends, that is how my planning will be going. I jump from project to project as I feel inspired...often leaving things undone until I feel inspired by it again. Now, it will all get done, but it will get done when it's meant to get done!
Enough blabber, this is my project for today. I have been collecting jars over the past several months so I can use them as vases for flowers and my top secret table centerpieces that I'm thrilled about. I wanted everything to be colorful, but also have a cohesive feel since they're all different shapes and sizes of jars. So I decided to try my hand at making faux milk glass jars. It was quite simple, actually.

First step: I collect my assortment of random jars, pull labels off and clean them inside and out. If I can get rubbing alcohol on the inside, I clean it with that as well. Make sure it is completely dry before doing anything with it.

Next, I prepared my paint. I bought these paints from Michaels. It is called Gloss Enamel and is meant for wood or glass. I wanted the paint to be a little thinner so I used a little water to thin the paint a little.

I poured the paint inside the jar and swirled it around the jar slowly until the entire inside was coated with paint. If I added too much water, it would be a little see-through so I'd have to thicken it a little with more paint.

I poured the excess paint back out into my original paint cup and wiped the lip of the jar to keep it looking nice. There should be no paint on the outside of the jar. After letting it dry for a bit, I needed to do a second coat for some of them.

Here is the almost finished product. I like the look of these so much better than if they were spraypainted on the outside. Because the paint is on the inside it gives it a high gloss look. So what I'll do next is let them dry for 48 hours, then I actually bake them to set the paint. You put them in the oven and then let it heat to 325 and bake it for 30 minutes. This should then make it so the paint won't come off when you put water inside. Keep in mind that these are not safe to put food in! I plan on finding a cute yellow ribbon to put around each one as well.

My colors are not red, white, and blue. In fact, I don't plan on having any "colors." My colors are going to be anything bright, cheery and springy. I want my wedding to have a vintage feel to it with a lot of color and vibrance. I just think that red, white, and blue are colors that complement most other colors.

So FYI, here is the place we're going to get married. Quite excited, it's on 75 acres with a spectacular view of Mt. Si

Saturday, November 6, 2010

mattie complete

After a long break, I've finally found the time to finish dress #2. I am really pleased with how it turned out. It fits me perfectly, is comfortable, and seems like the perfect dress for a girl getting married in a barn... The diamond pin I attached to the front of the tie is actually a clip-on earring that I got from an estate sale years ago.

Monday, November 1, 2010


Sorry for the hiatus on sewing and blogging about it. I spent five days climbing in Kentucky and then came home and had to scramble to get my halloween costume put together. I'm pretty excited about this last-minute creation. Bartek was a fly--no symbolism, I promise!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

dress design for shabby apple dresses

I am taking a little break from making wedding dresses now to submit my entry for the Shabby Apple Dare to Design contest. Shabby Apple dresses are perfect for those of us who want to wear a modest, elegant dress without having to mess with wearing a camisole or sweater over it!This contest is an awesome opportunity given to those of us who have not had the chance to follow our dreams! Each designer submits her design idea on her personal blog and the great people at Shabby Apple review them and choose their 15 favorites. They post those finalists on the Shabby Apple blog where the readers get to vote for their favorites. The winning design will be part of the Shabby Apple line. Pretty exciting, I must say!

My design is something that I think could work really for any season depending on the fabric and styling choice. This is actually an adaptation of an idea I've been toying with for a cotton wedding dress I would like to make. My inspiration? I live in Seattle and it is Salmon Run season which is quite an exciting time. The female salmon swims upstream to the place where she was born to lay her own eggs. It is an arduous journey and spectacular to watch. Salmon are a truly beautiful bright orange fish and make the rivers come alive. I have incorporated this into my design with the bright pop of color and the herringbone pattern created by the bias cut stripe down the front of the dress. I love the classic black with yellow piping, but think that the dress would also be gorgeous in a spring floral print and contrasting stripe. I imagine that fabrics would range from knits to lightweight cottons. Since the skirt is cut on the bias, it will provide a beautiful drape for whatever fabric you would choose. I imagine that the florals would be bright and cheery with a vintage feel. I am in love with Heather Bailey's fabrics and that is the sort that I picture for the floral version of this dress. (Here are a few that I love)

it always looks better in person

I wish I had better photography skills because I don't feel like these pictures do this fabric or dress the justice that it deserves! I think part of my problem is the lighting in the room--even with my spotlight umbrellas everything turns out pretty dark. I know if I could adjust my camera manually I wouldn't have this problem! Anyway, today I finished the bodice and attached it to the skirt and I absolutely love the combination! Originally I feared there would be too much going on with the lace and the busyness of the skirt, but it is actually a great combination. Once I get the bodice lined it should have more structure and not look as droopy as it does on my dress form. At this point, I'm working on the zipper. I put it in once but realized that it was a bit big on me still, so I took the zipper out to take it in a little. I am contemplating making a beaded/flowered belt for the waistband to give it a little more umph. With the contrasting fabric I want it to have a more eclectic feeling. Overall, I'm excited about where this dress is going and think that it may end up being my favorite.

The skirt is a perfect length for me. It lands just below the knees at the most flattering part of the leg. It is so nice to not have to alter that part of the dress. Come to think of it, those boots in the picture behind the dress may look really cute with it :) I do dream of having square dancing at my reception!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

cutting $300 lace

Yes, you read that right. I spent $300 on this lace when I went to NYC. I fell in love with it and bought a yard for my future wedding dress. I don't regret buying it, but it's taken me a long time to want to make the first cut--considering that every cut was worth about $50... figured it was time I took the plunge!

After making sure that my patterns were just right, I cut the pieces out of lace, keeping the edge in tact so I can use it for the edge of the neckline. The tricky part of this lace is that it is beaded with every bead sewn on individually. Before I can sew the seams, I had to cut off all the beads that would be part of the seam. Talk about tedious work!

So far, I have the bodice yokes attached to the front and back bodice pieces. I love how it looks so far. Unfortunately, that's as far as I got today... I'm hoping that life will slow down for me a bit so I can get back to sewing more.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

draping 101

I've never technically learned how to drape patterns. I've always used pre-made patterns or made my own patterns by combining existing ones. For the longest time, I've looked for local classes or stores that could teach me to make my own patterns or drape patterns, but I have been unsuccessful. Unless I want to attend design school, I am stuck learning by myself. I couldn't even find a good video on the internet. So, I invested in a few new handy tools: some draping tape that is used to tape the desired seam lines on your model, and a french curve ruler. To be honest, this ruler seemed a bit of a mystery to me, but then I kept hearing the people on Project Runway act exasperated when Michael C. didn't even have a ruler so I figured they must be quite handy. Here I go, trying to figure out on my own how to drape a bodice.
I started off simply enough with taping the general seams on my dress form. I changed my idea from my original design to include a yoke. The front and back yoke will be in the lace, while the bodice portion will be in the silk. This tape is pretty fun to use. it is basically really thin-cut duct tape. It follows curves nicely, sticks to the dress form, and is slightly raised so it makes it easy to trace the lines of the dress through the fabric. Which leads me to the next step.

Next, I draped and pinned a piece of muslin over the dress form so it fit snugly. I took a sharpie marker and drew lines over the tape to show where the seam lines would be.

Once I finished that, I took the muslin off the dress form and used my french curve ruler to smooth out the curves and straighten the straight lines.

After adding on a seam allowance, I cut the pattern piece out and pinned it to the dress form.

Once the yoke was pinned to the dress form, I used those seam lines to drape the bodice as well. Before marking the lines, I had to fold the darts in the appropriate place and make sure everything was nice and smooth.

I lay the pattern pieces on the dress form one more time to be sure they all seem to fit together

Now I sew the muslin pieces and try it on myself, adjusting the seams until the bodice fits me perfectly. While wearing it, I tried my best to create a pattern for a sleeve as well. This proved to be quite difficult as I don't currently have detachable arms.

The finished sewn muslin bodice. Please forgive the awful picture. If I knew my camera better, I could adjust for the dark room, but alas, my years of high school photography have gone to waste. I did just order some studio umbrellas on ebay this week so perhaps I'll have some better light in my room for my late night sewing fests.

Now that I've got the bodice perfectly fitted, I unpicked all the seams and created new pattern pieces for the bodice. From here, I am ready to cut the pieces from my actual fabric. That's the part that is scary! I will need every little inch of that gorgeous lace!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Project 2: Mattie

My second project: Mattie. I'm naming this dress after my paternal grandmother, Martha "Mattie" Sharp who passed away this last year. She was such a classy, elegant woman who had such a wonderful laugh. She was the type of woman who raised a house full of boys (5 boys and 2 girls) but still managed to have her hair and makeup done every day. Shortly after my grandparents got married, my grandfather was called to serve an LDS mission. He told them that he wouldn't go unless he could bring his beautiful bride with him. With a special meeting, he got permission. She's a woman worth fighting for...and my grandfather seldom left her side. Shortly before her death, my grandparents celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary

Not all the materials I'll be using will be recycled. Two years ago, when I decided that I wanted to marry Bartek, we went to New York to visit his parents. As a fan of the show Project Runway, I decided that I needed to visit the fabric store Mood to look for some really great fabric for a wedding dress. I found this incredible French lace and fell in love with it. However, it was quite expensive and I wasn't sure if I was just loving it because it was from Mood or because I really loved it. I ended up getting a fabric sample and spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around the fabric district to see if I could find anything else. However, weeks after returning from New York, I couldn't get that lace out of my mind. So, I called my friend Leslie who lives in Manhattan, sent her the fabric scrap and some money and had her buy me a yard. I don't regret it. It is so beautiful and unique--unlike any lace I've ever seen. I'll use this for the bodice of the dress.

The fabric I chose for the bottom is from a dress that I bought at a local consignment shop while looking for shoes for my sister's wedding. I love the combination of these two fabrics. The lace has a paisley pattern to it which really compliments the circular motion of the tulle on the skirt. I'll use silk from my last dress to make a tie that will go around the waist and break up the two busy patterns. Overall, I think this dress is going to be an elegant but fun dress. Definitely not a typical wedding dress style, but will be perfect for the right bride.

Here's the sketch and a quick drape to show what these fabrics will look like together.

Monday, September 20, 2010


I've decided that I will start naming my dresses as I make them. For starters, it will make it easier to identify them later on, and I think it gives them a bit more personality. I am naming my first dress after my mother, Diane. She is such a classically elegant woman whom I look up to so much. She is a true pioneer woman who taught me to sew and taught me to be industrious. While my dad worked his way through medical school, my mom raised six children. She spent her days baking bread, gardening, cleaning, and sewing clothing for us. Some of my favorite memories are during the summers when my mom and sisters and I would pile in the car early in the morning on Wednesdays to be the first to hit the garage sales in Mission Hills--an expensive older neighborhood filled with treasure. I feel that it is only fitting to name my first dress after the woman patiently helped me cultivate a talent that has become a passion.

I am finished with my first dress and am really pleased with how it turned out. It looks very classy and elegant on and fits like a glove. I've learned a lot from this first project and look forward to not making the same mistakes on my next project! Overall, it took me just under 20 hours to complete. Here is the final product...
I've decided that I won't post any pictures wearing it until I do my photo shoot at the end. When I'm finished making all the dresses I decide to do, I'm going to have a bridal photo session with a great photographer. Not only can I have great pictures of all the dresses to keep for myself, it will help me start my portfolio. Thanks for sharing this experience with me! I'm looking forward to my next project!