Housecleaning Haiku: Shoe Storage

I love me some shoes. It's not without good reason I earned the nickname "Imelda" back in high school. I can't resist an awesome pair of shoes. In my old age, I've become more selective about which shoes I keep. But when ShoeDazzle and JustFabulous debuted, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. Designer shoes? Delivered to my door? Are you kidding? BLISS. Unfortunately, between my shoes and the shoes of my progeny and my better half's three pairs of shoes, we're sort of running out of space in our shoe bin by the front door...

Imelda's Woes

Shoes, how I love you
Too many overflowing
bin inadequate

It Is Finished!

The Male Pattern Boldness Men's Shirt Sewalong, that is. At least for me. I finished both shirts that were on the plan by February 15th. That gives me 13 days to finish my dress/fluffer for the Vintage Sewalong.

Originally, I'd planned to give a blow-by-blow of how my progress lined up with the MPB sewalong, but since I'm not using the Negroni *and* my shirt choice is constructed slightly differently, it just made sense to finish up and then post.

First things first! I sewed a flat fell seam or three for the first time EVER. And while I think it's a nice way to finish a seam, I can't see myself doing it with twitchy fabrics. I WOULD make the seam allowance deeper, though, because 5/8" isn't really enough for me to work with and I have TINY fingers.

The short sleeve version is vintage fabric and it's plaid. Now *some* people would say not to take on plaid as a first attempt because it's so "hard" to work with. I found the opposite to be true. I LOVE working with plaid. Why? Because if the colors are bold enough and the blocks clear enough, it's like a freaking AAA TripTik pointing the way you're supposed to do. Sure, you have to exercise caution when cutting, but no more so IMNSHO than with regular fabric. Of course, I'm the girl who obsesses over pattern matching on EVERY fabric, so plaid was WAY easier for me.

I LOVE the way it turned out, don't you? There's only one little visible flaw. See if you can guess what it is! The pocket had to be pieced because I ran out of fabric.

Mad About Plaid Men
The next one I did was the long sleeve version. The fabric cost me $8 and the buttons $12. The fabric is a spandex/cotton(?) blend. It did NOT take well to being ironed/pressed. It just wouldn't hold it's shape unless I cranked the iron up to high. It's got a LOVELY drape, though. And it's soft, so my better half SHOULD wear it. He better.

The pattern on this one is also a plaid, but it's so tiny it was worthless to try and use as a guideline. This fabric also shrank and went off grain like CRAZY. I mean for REALZ. I had to lop off a TON on either edge after washing and *hanging* dry. God only knows what it would've looked like had it gone in the dryer.

Here's a nice close up of the cuff. I did the continuous lap but screwed it up a teeny bit when setting in the sleeve to the cuff. And yes, those buttons ought to have been gold-plated for how much they cost/cost over fabric, but they were totally worth it because they just MADE the shirt.

Fancy dancy buttons!
The one thing I LOVED about this pattern is that the sleeves are sewn in using the flat insertion method. When they're cut properly, this method is BY FAR the easiest nicest method for making sure the sleeves are eased properly. I hate setting in sleeves the *other* way with the fire of 10,000 suns.

As for whether or not I'd make this pattern again? Oh heck, yeah. I LOVE it. It's easy to put together, didn't cause me to curse the pattern piece gods OR the pattern instruction sheet gods, so it's all good. The deal is, you HAVE to have great fabric to pull this shirt off. Don't go with wimpy fabric that is boring. Next time I might do the yoke/collar in a contrast to the main shirt/sleeves just because I can. Which reminds me, I'm making up a much smaller version for my son's 5th birthday on St. Patrick's Day.

I've done a little research and it looks like this style of shirt was pretty popular in the 50s. It's been called an "Italian" shirt on an Advance pattern from the time period. It was made for girls, boys, women and men. The flat front shirt was also pretty popular as well with an asymetrical front yoke. I'm so on that.

Housecleaning Haiku: Dust Bunnies

I live in an old house. It was built in 1921 by a banker in the Celery City and we're approx. the 4th owners since it was first built. Like most Florida houses of that era, it's NOT airtight. Not even close. So the amount of dust we get is prodigious to say the very least. An antique dealer friend of mine once claimed that dust was the "protective finish" on antiques. And while the lazy side of me might agree with her, the technogeek side of me protests mightily. As you know, dust is the nemesis of electronic gadgetry. And since we're a highly connected household, we have to keep the dust at bay. Well that and the fact that my better half gets strep EVERY TIME the poor man cleans the paddle fans. Dust is evil.

Dusting the furniture

Dust bunnies, evil
Eradicate you, I must
Force with me, it is

Crafty Saturday!

I've recently been cleaning out my clothes horse middle child's drawers/closet and culling out things that she no longer wanted or that didn't fit.

The Children's Place
circa 2006
 After collecting a bag full for donation, I asked her about this white cotton dress from The Children's Place. It had belonged to her sister a couple of Easters ago and it still fits my little fashion plate to a "t", but she's not a big fan of white. When asked "Do you want to keep this?", she replied, "I don't like the color. Can you make it a different color? Then I want to keep it." I asked what she'd prefer and her response was "hot pink". In the words of Iago from Disney's Aladdin, "I'm gonna die of not surprise". She's my pink girl, that's for sure.

Image credit here
As for the dye, I've used Rit, Dylon and iDye, and of those three readily available products, I have to say that Dylon is my absolute favorite. It doesn't stink like iDye and the colors are truer to the example on the packaging than Rit. There aren't a million shades of Dylon available, but Flamingo Pink fits the bill nicely. If you click here, you can see the range of Dylon colors available.

The process of changing the color is pretty simple. I've dyed tshirts before and dyed polyester dresses before with the expected result. I use my humongous stock pot and place it in the work sink on the back porch to make sure I don't splatter anything important.

The finished product hanging on the line!

Instructions should you care to do something similar

From the package:
1. Weigh dry fabric. Wash thoroughly, leave damp. 2. Using rubber gloves, dissolve dye in 4 cups warm water, stirring thoroughly. 3. Fill bowl/stainless steel sink with enough warm water for fabric to move freely. 4. Stir in 4 Tbsp salt. Add dye and stir well. 5. Submerge fabric in water. 6. Stir for 15 mins, then stir regularly for 45 mins. 7. Rinse fabric in cold water. Wash in warm water and dry away from direct heat and sunlight. Helpful Hints: * You will need 1/4lb salt(4 Tbsp) * One pack dyes up to 1/2lb fabric (e.g.large shirt) to full shade shown below or larger amounts to lighter shade. * Suitable fabrics: Cotton, linen,ramie and rayon. Wool, silk and polyester/cotton mixes will dye to lighter shade.* Not suitable: Pure polyester, acrylic, nylon & fabric with special finishes. * Wash separately for first few washes to remove any excess dye. * Please note: Color mixing rules apply (e.g. blue on red gives purple.) WARNING: Eye irritant. Exposure may cause allergic reactions. Precautions: Avoid skin contact. Keep away from eyes. Keep out of reach of children. First Aid: If eye contact occurs, rinse with tap water for 5 - 10 minutes. If irritation persists, seek medical care. For further health information, contact a poison control center.
Here's how I do it.
  1. Forget weighing and washing. Rinse in warm water and then squeeze out most of the water.
  2. Dissolve the dye packet in the 4 cups of warm water using a wooden stirring apparatus. I've used paint stirrers, leftover bits of moulding and wooden spoons. I don't use gloves.
  3. Fill up my stock pot almost to the brim with warm water amd add the salt.
  4. Put items to be dyed in the pot and shove down with the stirring apparatus. If I'm going for a gradient effect, I'll hang whatever it is on a hanger and dip the bottom edge in and let the dye creep up the garment. I'll dunk the garment up and down a bit and then submerge a little deeper to make the dye move farther up for the gradient design. Otherwise I shove the whole thing down, swish it around and then leave it there for an hour or so.
  5. Remove item once I'm satisfied with the result.
  6. Transfer to washing machine and set to COLD wash/rinse. Delicate cycle or handwash with extra rinse. While the washer is filling, I rinse the item under the water stream and then add a teeny bit of mild soap.
  7. Remove once wash/rinse cycles are complete and hang on the line outside so any drips of dye go in the dirt and not all over.
  8. Thoroughly scour my stock pot with HOT water and a scouring pad so that I don't poison my family next time I make a batch of Pho Ga.

Fashion Friday: Vintage On A Budget Part 1

As promised, I'm going to give you my tips for how to go "vintage" on a budget. Understand this, you won't be able to do "authentic" vintage or repro vintage without some serious cash to invest. However, you can go for and get a vintage feel for less than what repro costs in many cases.

Since the devil's in the details, I'm focusing on accessories. Specifically my favorite accessory: SHOES. While I've owned vintage shoes in the past, the sizes/widths available and the cost involved make them almost impossible to have at this time. So I make do with vintage inspired stuff.

If you've got the cash, Dillards is the best place to get brand new, vintage inspired shoes. Every shoe I've linked is under $100.
  • Oxfords were the workhorse shoe of the 30s/40s. These are a more 40s style.
  • T-bar sandals like these or these were worn dancing and ballroom dancers still favor them today.
  • Sandals and wedges were worn during the 30s/40s for "play" time.
  • Mary Janes like these or these or these have a retro feel without being necessarily time period specific. This pair is early 20th century in feel. Maybe 1920s/30s.
  • Round toed pumps like these or these hint at those shoes popular during the war years.
  • While peep-toes like these, these, these and these say 1950s.
  • Moving on to pointy toes takes us into the 60s with these, these & these.
While those are available at a major department store, there are shoes to be had at lower end chain stores and big box type stores.

Payless has (all under $50)
Moving on to Target! Again - all under $50 with many under $20. And if you've got a Target RedCard (either debit or credit) you'll get an extra 5% off!
This is by no means an exhaustive list, and I'm not getting anything for these links - just so you know. I own some of the above and some of them in multiple colors. :-D Here's my collection of retro inspired shoes.

Handbag c. 2004 - Payless Shoe Source

"Mia" brand found at Goodwill - $4

Shoes to match the handbag - ~$20 at Payless
Gianni Bini peep toes, year unknown - $7 at a thrift shop.
Retail price was probably in the neighborhood of $80.
Ginger Rogers wore a pair similar to this in a few movies.

Currently available at Target for $25
Again, very much a 30s/40s feel.

Currently available at for ~$20.
I picked them up on clearance for less than $7 last week.
I also have them in camel.
 These are only a sampling of the shoes I have that are vintage/retro in feel. There aren't that many vintage shops in my area and the thrift stores are getting to be fewer and farther between as well. Most of what's available as "vintage" these days is pretty much late 80s/early 90s and prom dresses. Gone are the days of finding that special one of a kind piece stuffed in the back of a rack for who knows how long. Since Vintage Style became so popular beginning in the late 90s-early 2000s, the availability for a decent price has just disappeared.

Until next time!

Sartorial Splendor

Fair warning, this post is going to be word-intensive and picture-light.
Solanah over at Vixen Vintage had a post not so long ago that caused a combox uprising! She was irritated with those that wear "dirty PJs" to the grocery store and let go with a little bit of a rant on the topic. Let's just say it didn't earn her a lot of friends. Many combox posters were kind but some were downright mean.

I agree with BaronessVonVintage's thought that perhaps Solanah could've been a wee bit more diplomatic and that would've headed off the ire at the proverbial pass. And yes, one's blog is one's home turf and one should feel absolutely free to say what they really feel without editing themselves.

When I was younger so much younger than today... I used to be very, very opinionated and had very little brain/mouth filter. Which led to people thinking I was stuck up and a "mean girl". I'm going to blame it on having ADHD and not being diagnosed and not having the same emotional maturity as my peer group. That sounds like a pretty good scape goat, no?

Once upon a time, I wore authentic vintage clothing a lot. I had vintage 1920s sheets and furniture and dishes and whatall. And then I turned 16. 20 odd years after that, I live in a vintage 1920s home furnished with some vintage pieces ranging from the early 1900s to mid-20th Century. I don't dress in authentic vintage any more and for GOOD reason. Vintage clothing is DELICATE. If I can't toss it in the washer and hang it up to dry and not think too much about it, I'm not going to be bothered. Why? Because I have three adorable school age children who are in Girl Scouts and Religious Education and go to a performing arts magnet school and who take ballroom dance class and I have to be able to DO stuff without worrying if I'm going to spoil my antique whatever-it-is-I'm-wearing-today. That doesn't mean I don't still OWN vintage clothing or appreciate it.

I think I appreciate it more now that I'm older and realize just how freaking RARE some of the pieces are. I've got a 1960s coat by Balmain, a 40s era coat that I can't remember who the designer was, some gloves that belonged to my nana in the 50s, a sweater from someone famous in Scotland, that sort of thing.

Over at A Dress A Day, the issue of vintage vs. retro repro was raised and I fall squarely in Erin's camp.
I see repro as supporting lots of things I love: independent fashion, vintage aesthetics, and a deeper, more thoughtful relationship with the clothes we wear. And traditional vintage should only be helped, not hurt, by the repro movement: once you make a Claire McCardell pattern, your taste will definitely be whetted for the real thing.
To me, the limiting factor in wearing DIY repro vs. wearing the real deal is not only one of the rarity of the real deal but also the $$$$$ involved. I don't know about you, dear readers, but I don't have the hundreds of dollars to spend on *a* garment or *a* pair of shoes! Remember those three adorable kids up a ways? I've got to keep them clothed and shod too! Don't get me wrong, I LOVE a pair of shoes. I love lots of pairs of shoes. Kitten heels, classic pumps, peep toes, wedge sandals, sling backs, even canvas sneakers. I love them all. As long as they fit my feet. Heck, I'm a member at both ShoeDazzle AND JustFabulous because they offer me shoes - lots of them - every month.

Sorry, folks, for a second I got lost in my contemplation of shoes, glorious shoes!

One commenter on Solanah's blog suggested offering ideas for dressing with vintage style or more glam on a budget since not everyone has access to the sheer amount of vintage that Solanah does. I think that's a great idea. And I'm going to steal it. Be on the lookout for more on this in the near future. I've got to get through February's Sewalongs before I can commit to any more serious blogging. But rest assured, I've got your back!

Housecleaning Haiku: School Papers

With kids in elementary school, there are ALWAYS papers coming home. Thankfully Tuesday is designated "backpack mail" day. Let me tell you that I DREAD Tuesday afternoons. Because with two kids, I get DOUBLE the crap information. Which is ironic really when you consider that our school is LEED certified. Or working on becoming such. And next year, Thing 3 will be going to the same school. The extra paper just goes in the recycling bin, but really, folks, do we NEED to waste the energy making/distributing extra copies? Could we NOT have an online version???? PLEASE??? I'm drowning over here! And then there's all the worksheets/homework sheets from school. With rare exception, it's all headed to the recycle bin, too.

School Papers

Killing Trees, so sad
Duplicate papers, so bad

Drowning here, I'm mad!

MPB Sewalong Day 5!

So I was a total slacker on Day 4. Yes, yes I was. But I'm still up to speed with the rest of the gang. I totally need to add my pics to the Flickr group, though. Today we're supposed to start putting it all together, but it's Sunday and we rest on Sunday. Or at least we try. And we've got a get-together to go to this evening and it's a school day tomorrow and [insert justification here].

However, I have managed to construct the yokes/collars of two shirts *and* the sleeve plackets of the long sleeve version. There was a little bit of difficulty with the continuous lap (there always is in my experience), but overall, I'm happy. I wasn't able to do the cuffs yesterday other than cutting them out because the cuffs are inserted AFTER the sleeves are inset into the shirt. The McCall's 3087 uses a flat insertion method which I GREATLY prefer to the eased in method.

Another thing I've managed to do is to create a boy's version of the McCall's 3087. So I'll officially be sewing THREE men's shirts for the Sewalong. I know, I know. I'm crazy. Especially since I've got to finish my Vintage Sewalong dress including fluffer this month. This morning I woke up with the clearest of clear visions of how to make the McCall's 3087 into a boy's shirt. So I did. I'll be drafting it up and putting it in my Etsy shop for sale pretty soon. Or something. But only after I test drive the shirt I cut out for The Boy for his birthday shirt. Since he's a St. Patrick's Day baby, I always make him something themed for St. Pat's for his birthday. This year it's a shirt like Daddy's.

Back to yesterday though... I made an apron for the Etsy shop! But not just any apron. A retro repro of an Advance Pattern offered through Penney's in the early 50s based on Walt Disney's Cinderella. Cinderella is my favorite movie of all time and when I saw the pattern come up for sale, I snapped it up quicker than you can say "PATTERN SALE!!!" Of course I'll have pictures of everything coming up soon! Stay tuned!

MPB Sewalong Day 3

Okay dear readers and sewalongers, first a recap from Day 2:

I panicked when I realized that I didn't have enough fabric for Shirt #2! While the girls were at Scouts, I made a quick run to the local fabric mega mart where I originally scored the $2/yd fabric. I nearly passed out when I couldn't find the fabric right where I left it. Good news, though, there was still enough for me to get the remainder (long sleeves). The bad news is that the price had gone up to $4/yd. So the shirt was $4 and the sleeves were $4. Which brings me up to $20 for Shirt #2 including thread/buttons/tax.

No on to the pix from yesterday...
Cut It Out Already!
Remains of the day(s sewing)
Can you spot the piecing?
Pieces of Pocket

Today (Day 3) was a light sewing day since I'm making the McCall's 3087 and not the Colette "Negroni". I managed to sew the collar and the yoke and attached them to each other. I'm calling it a day for sewing. Pay NO attention to the spots on my ironing table. My poor Rowenta has an incontinence problem.
Check My Plaid!

Male Pattern Boldness Sewalong Day 2

OK, so yesterday I was a TOTAL slacker. Make a note, right here, right now that the term "totes" drives me UP A WALL. Totes are what we carry things in. And also a brand of umprellas and such. It is NOT an expression that means "absolutely" or "completely". I don't care that certain individuals - I can NOT call them "ladies" or "gentlemen" - use "totes" inappropriately. Maybe I'm OLD, but there's my line in the sand.

Day 1 of the sewalong was nearly gone by the time I was able to catch the blog post and see what we were supposed to be up to. I managed to sneak in a little time tracing the pattern out. I finished the tracing this morning before the Day 2 post went up.

Today we're supposed to cut out our muslin. I don't "do" muslins for the most part. It's a waste of fabric (at least to me) and time if I know that the size I'm using is the correct size. In this case, since it's a men's shirt and it's the correct size already, I don't really need to make a muslin so I'm using Fabric #1 for the short sleeved version. I'm making TWO shirts during the sewalong - one short sleeved and one long.

For #1, I'm using a vintage fabric of which there is JUST enough to cut the pattern out without facings. I'm musig over what I'm to use for facings. I've got some vintage cotton from a crib sheet which might fit the bill since it's white and the plaid background is white.

As a reminder, here's the fabric and pattern for #1: 
Perfect Plaid!

Short Sleeves!

Housecleaning Haiku: Laundry Quandary

I don't know how we manage to ALWAYS have laundry piled up since we wash nearly every day. I swear the stuff breeds. I can manage to get through all the laundry and then the very next day it's like I never washed anything.

Mt. Washmore, so huge
Where'd you come from, nemesis?
Will it never end?