Thursday, November 20, 2014

Altered: Navy Coat

When I got this navy coat at an estate sale months ago, I wasn’t sure if I was going to keep it. I bought it (along with everything else), mostly on a whim. I think I tried this coat on and thought it fit well enough to get, even though I wasn’t necessarily happy with the entirety of its design. But for 50 cents, I wasn’t going to be super picky. As it was summer, I didn’t have an immediate need for it so it just sat in a corner for a while.

Once the weather started to cool down, I was more motivated to take a look at this coat again. I decided I liked the general shape of the coat, but disliked certain design details that I felt dated it. As is, the coat looked like it’s from the early 1980’s. I didn’t like the stitching detail on the collar and the cuffs. In fact, I didn’t like the cuffs at all; I just wanted a straight sleeve, which meant I needed to sew fabric to the ends of the sleeves.

I didn’t want to try and match the navy color of the coat because I thought it was bound to be off, so I decided using a different color would be best. And while I thought a cream color would make an excellent color combination with the navy, I decided to go with black because it’s more practical. I can easily see a cream sleeve brushing against a wet dirty car and getting dark smudges all over it (and no doubt that would happen if I were to wear it). [Sigh.]

I removed the stitching on the collar and removed the cuff part of the sleeves. I just attached the black fabric to the ends of the sleeves in a way that made sense to me. It wasn’t very difficult and took an afternoon to do. Overall I’m pretty satisfied with the result; it’s a small change but I think it makes a large difference.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

DIY: Spool Banner

When I went thrift shopping with a friend, she bought a bag of thread that had older and newer spools. She just wanted thread and didn’t want the empty wooden spools, and I gladly accepted them when she offered them to me.

Looking at the spools, I thought I could make a cute banner with them. They could be used for place setting names on a table for a party or a special message for someone.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Forgotten Sweetness

I don’t eat candy often. Gummi candies don’t really interest me. Some hard candies I like but don’t eat often. When I want candy, I want chocolate, and I’ll occasionally have it, but it’s dark chocolate. I tend to avoid the mainstream cheap candy bars that are just too sweet for me. I’ll see TV commercials for them and feel nothing (well, maybe just a bit skeptical at their claims). When I’m at the supermarket I never look at these candy bars (that are supposed to be “tempting” at the checkout line) with desire, so I don’t buy them or eat them.

A co-worker brought unwanted Halloween candy to work and left them in a bowl in the kitchen for anyone to take. These free small candy bars were sitting there and I’ll admit, my resistance was low. My brain said, “Don’t eat them. You know they’ll be too sweet.” But my stomach said, “Go ahead, have some. It’s been a long time.” And it has been a long time. I’m guessing the last time I had any of these sugary concoctions was last Halloween. [Pause.] I’d actually forgotten what a lot of these candies taste like.

So I ate some Halloween candy. The Almond Joy was pretty good because I like coconut and almonds enough that I could over look the milk chocolate coating. I’ve always been ambivalent of Snickers, but when I had them this time, I liked them even less—they’re just too sweet. As a child I liked Kit Kats, but when I had them this time I was overcome by its cloying sweetness. Luckily, Halloween candy is smaller than full-size candy bars, so I only had a couple of bites of these “fun-size” candies—which was more than enough for me. I came to conclusion that, yes, my brain was right: stay away from these overly sweet sweets. If I’m going to eat candy, I’m getting chocolate that actually tastes like chocolate, not candy that just tastes like sugar.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Nothing Looks Good. [Pause.] Good.

On Monday we often have pastries at work (perhaps to help lessen the blow of a Monday morning). The actual assortment varies, sometimes it’s doughnuts, danishes and muffins, but often it’s English muffins and bagels and sometimes fruit. I’m always curious to see what the selection is, but I rarely eat the pastries because I’m a snob. If these pastry goods are from the supermarket then I ignore them. I turn my nose up at cheap overly sweet doughnuts and mediocre bagels. They don’t look delicious. They don’t taste delicious. And any time I breakdown and have some, I always regret it because they’re just not worth it.

However, once in a blue moon there are good pastries from an actual bakery. There are flakey buttery croissants and slightly sweet muffins and scones. I know I shouldn’t partake, but good pastries are difficult to resist because they’re tasty. After careful consideration I’ll often select a pastry to eat. And while I don’t regret these pastries for their delicious flavors, I often regret my lack of restraint of eating something so bad for me that inevitably spoils my lunch.

So I always have mixed feelings on Monday morning when I see supermarket pastries. A part of me is disappointed because I want good pastries, but another part of me is relieved because it’s easy to say no to supermarket pastries. I certainly don’t need to be eating pastries and it’s rather nice to have a reason not to eat them.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Revamped: Black and White Skirt

From my pile of garments that I got at the fantastic estate sale I went to in August, I selected a black and white skirt to alter. It was a dry clean only garment that lacked a fabric content label (but it may be wool or at least in part); I hand washed the skirt and afterwards saw that it had shrunk. The lining of the skirt could be seen peeking out from under the hem of the skirt. Luckily I was tearing up the skirt, and as long as it didn’t shrink again in the future, I didn’t care about this shrinkage.

I loved the fabric but hated the skirt design. Unfortunately, I don’t have a photo of the skirt in its entirety; just the top portion of it can be seen in the above photo. The worst part about the skirt was the four pleats in the front—it’s just plain wrong. I think it would make just about any woman look like she has huge hips. The length of the skirt was about mid-shin; it was likely meant to be a loose pencil skirt with a slit in the back. Basically, it was an incredibly unflattering skirt.

My first step was tearing up the black and white skirt. I ended up cutting off the top section, below the pleats, because I didn’t want to deal with those pleats. I undid all the seams (including the zipper) because I had to take out the lining as well. So it took a bit of time.

Once the skirt fabric was taken apart, I used a skirt pattern (that was actually the skirt portion of a pencil dress) to cut the fabric down and add some darts. I sewed the zipper in and then sewed the sides together. [Pause.] I admit, I’m terrible with using measurements to my advantage, so I just sewed the sides together (through trial and error) until it looked right to me. I repeated this process for the lining. And then I attached the lining to the skirt at the top and around the zipper.

I wanted to have a waistband because I tend to prefer skirts with one. I didn’t want to use the fabric that my skirt was made of because I thought it would look too busy. I decided to use fabric from the pile of clothes my mom gave me. I selected a black wool jacket as my fabric. I hand washed it before I tore it up. Although I didn’t like the style of the jacket, as I took it apart, I could appreciate its craftsmanship—it was well made. [Pause.] I wish I could sew like that.

I used a slightly curved waistband from a skirt pattern because I thought it would fit better (since when I use a simple rectangle strip of fabric for my waistband, I’ll often have a bit of a gap, which I find annoying). I did my best to align the seams of the waistband to the skirt seams; this took me longer than I anticipated, as I messed up the alignment a couple of times. [Sigh.] The last step was hemming the skirt.

I’ve made a couple of blouses sleeveless, but I kept the basic integrity of its design. This is the first garment I’ve really revamped, breaking it entirely down before building it up anew. I took my time with it; one weekend I tore the skirt up; a second weekend I sewed the skirt section; a third weekend I added the waistband and hemmed it. There was no rush (especially since the weather wasn’t quite cool enough to wear it yet). I was pretty happy when I finished. Although I can see its flaws, I’m overall satisfied with this skirt. At least it looks better to me than it was before; it’s wearable.