Saturday, February 28, 2009

Recycling a white cotton shirt and the March fashion wallpaper

Every month is defined for me by the changes of nature. As I step out into my own little garden, crocuses and camellias are among the early blooms that surprise with their bright, proud colors against a backdrop of spidery bare bushes and tress. With that image of renewal and my thoughts about a lovely spring around the corner, I created the March screensaver.

Sketched is a project that you will find in my book, Denim Revolution - the “Teddy Bear Tuxedo Shirt” - which has all the comfy elements I love -- a big, over sized vintage man’s dress shirt, (the way they used to be made, with fine detailing) that's been stamped with a personal fashion statement with rugged denim, crazy vintage buttons, cotton bandannas and gingham. It's sketched with opaque black stockings and lacy boots, and, naturally she's reading – Denim Revolution – planning her new spring wardrobe, what she’s going to make, where she’s going to wear it and how she's looking forward to springtime.
Gotta go and start sewing and hope this inspires you to search through your sewing baskets and see what you can make for yourself or to gift!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

re-cycling to make a pretty dress

Along the way of writing "Denim Revolution" I made more projects than could fit between the covers, and this was one of them - a favorite dress.

I adore vintage slips, all kinds. They are a lovely luxury but to wear them as day dresses I like to have a little more substance, so I re-style them by adding some other fabrics and materials. For this dress, I used rugged denim scraps that add a hip charm to the femininity of the slip.
Using two shades of denim cut from lighter weight cast-off jeans, I cut them into strips - the narrow band is cut on the bias, the other not - washed them, zigzagged the edges with a pale yellow silk thread and appliqued them along the bottom. The colors and pretty scalloped details are enhanced by the denim.
The leftovers were used to form bows with vintage rhinestone buckles. One bow gives the slip an empire shape and the pair of bows I wear as barrettes or shoe clips. I so hope it will inspire you to dig out some of your favorite "finds" and put them all together in new ways!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

diy yourself a little denim top

Prada marched out the bra top this spring layered like a twin set with a matching jacket and skirt. OK, I love faded, worn denim, so why not diy-it in denim ... just cover a lacy bra with denim patches—with several rugged, worn patches, that are all hand-stitched—to make yourself a flirty top, to wear layered under your fav denim jacket and skirt. (I've sketched it here with a backdrop of some vintage cotton fabric.) It's a cool way to do denim.
So here's a tutorial...

How Difficult? I’d say it’s an intermediate level. Even though it only takes a couple hours to complete this project, a bit of sewing experience is necessary to fit the pieces together and to hand sew with some gentle ease to keep the top stretchy.
What Denim Do I Need? A variety of softly worn scraps. The denim needs to be old and faded so it won’t discolor the white lace. Sort through all your denim scraps to find the faded denim colors and textures that look interesting together.

What Other Materials Will I Need?
Your “Sewing Basket” (scissors, straight pins, sewing needles)
Creme embroidery thread
Bra—it should be new and pretty with lots of white, lacy trim peeking out and firm-ish cups so it’s easy to sew the denim bits on and to maintain the shape. I found this one at H&M.

How to Do It Step by Step:
1. Assemble the Patchwork: Lay the denim patches on your bra. The patches should overlap each other a good 1/2" (13mm). If you have a scrap that you love the faded stitching but it’s too big, cut it to size. Play with the textures to get a diversity of faded textures.

--The key to success: Your bra is stretchy, and you need to maintain that stretch even though the denim does not stretch. To do so, pin the denim patches loosely at the elastic pressure points (like the joins to the front and back straps), so they have some soft gathers. On the cups, which are not stretchy, you want to mold the denim around the cup shape.
Once you have all your patch pieces, machine wash and dry them to get nicely frayed edges. Then pin them on the bra the way you worked it out before. With cream embroidery thread, using a running stitch, sew the patches on, one by one, 1/4" (6mm) from the frayed edges. Knot all ends securely and hiding knot ends. When you sew, remember to maintain the bra’s stretch, joining the patches with ease and a bit of gathers at the elastic pressure points.
Sewing lingerie is fun. Try wearing this top in different ways, layered over or under a camisole, or T or an oversized men's striped shirt.

Monday, February 9, 2009

a crochet edged bandanna

... as I continue with my "scarf project" -- adding camp color to my wardrobe by crocheting colorful edgings to scarves - I sketched the just-finished-turquoise bandanna, with a romantic dress, and one of my plastic bottle necklaces. I adore cotton bandannas, they are wonderful new when the colors are bright and the texture crisp, and as they age, and the color fades and the texture becomes soft, they are just as beautiful, but in another way. Like jeans, bandannas become personal, individual, they fit in that category of an amazing classic design, that transcend fashion, and putting a funky crocheted edge (in this case white and fuchsia cotton string yarns) feels like the right thing to do. Anyway, below a photo ......of a vintage silk Dior scarf edged that I edged in all kinds of metallic, boucle and fantasy yarns (it's just about using odd ball yarns in kooky colors and texture combos) and also the chocolate and creme dotted fabric, that I cut on the bias into an elongated, triangle shape, and edged it with a neon lemon wool yarn. If you want to make them yourself, there's a tutorial, or if you just arrived and need some background about my scarf project, hit this link.

Above, the group of four where we are today, from the bottom left, -- my first try, the organza, the Dior, the vintage chocolate and the turq bandanna!
I hope it inspires you to get your crochet hook out and see what you can re-fashion and along the way have some fun with creating something new out of something old!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Sweet guest and kitchen towels

I've been cutting creamy linen into guest and kitchen towels - decorating them with tender embroidery, ribbons, ric-rac or whatever else looks delightfully right at the moment. I love to hand stitch, love embroidery thread, and so these projects, that pack light and small, are fitting into my bag for train rides and spare moments grabbed here and there. Anyway, don't you think that lovely guest and kitchen towels, are like warm hospitality, they brighten up and spread some special charm around the home?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Valentine stockings and a pretty card

(Click on this link to download the image or the card.)
When I saw Chanel's black lace stockings in the fall collection, I was simply knocked out. Beautifully knit into one-of-a-kind designs, they are the new, ultimate fashion accessory.......and became the inspiration for this sketch. Think, pretty, lacey, stockings in pinks, violets and reds hearts and patterns, worn with spectacular patent leather shoes with funky heels. It spells love, and I'm using it as my valentine's card for Mom and friends, and spreading some cheerful, fashion hype and love around.