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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

How to make a baby sweater from an adult sweater

First you need some adult size sweaters. These are two old cashmere sweaters that didn't fit well. I washed them in hot water and dried them to felt them. Cashmere doesn't really shrink up that much.  It took awhile to get the lint off the brown one.

Next you need a sweater pattern for your baby. There weren't any baby sweater size patterns at Joanns so I cut up a sweater her size that was 50 cents from the thrift shop  and traced it to paper . I laid the pattern on the ribbing so I didn't have to do any hemming on the sleeves or hem. I still had enough sweater left to make something else too. Maybe some matching leggings from the sleeves?

Sew together the sleeves and side seams with a zig zag stitch.

This is the sewn together sweater. Now I needed to finish the edges of the front and the neckline.

I made some bias tape and pinned it on. The bias tape needed to be sewn on by hand . The machine stretches the edge out too much.

Here is Gigi in her new sweater. I sewed on a pretty bird applique and wooden button. Doesn't she look cozy?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Mercury Glass Madonna

This is a mercury glass Madonna I bought at the Rose Bowl awhile back. I don't know if she is an authentic antique or not. There is some authentic looking age on it, however so I think she really is old. The guy I bought her from had no idea so I got her for ten dollars. She is about eight inches tall. She has a special luminous quality which I find so inspiring, that I can't imagine she was made in a factory in China or Bangladesh, but I guess you never know. Mercury glass has been a popular knock off item recently so you have to be very careful when you buy pieces you think are old because there are a lot  of fakes out there. Original Mercury glass was made from about 1850 till the 1930's in  Europe. The glass pieces were  blown double walled. Originally a solution of  liquid silver nitrite was poured into the glass wall created by the double layer of glass to coat the glass and then the glass was sealed at the opening with melted glass or cork. Mercury was never actually used. Mercury was used to coat mirrors, however, so this mirrorlike glass came to be known as Mercury Glass. It was a cloudy moody day outside, very un- Californialike. I was gazing at my Madonna on my windowsill and I thought I should take a picture of her to share her special beauty.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Antique French Rattan Bistro Chairs


 One of the things I love about  old things is trying to solve the mystery of how they came to be and what their history is. I found these beautiful old bistro chairs last year on craigslist and snapped them up. There were eight of them at about thirty dollars each so I was very excited to have a full set .They were very dirty.  BTW if you ever have any old rattan and want to bring it back to life, buy some Linseed Oil from a painting shop and coat the rattan with it. It dries to a shellac like finish. I once restored some old French Terra Cotta Tiles and the Frenchman who owned the hardware store nearby let me in on this age old treatment. It's apparently used for lots of antique restorations. While I was cleaning the chairs I noticed a little plaque on the back of a few of the chairs. It said, Le Rotin Paris Fabricant , 4 Rue de Atlas. At first I thought maybe it was a restaurant called Le Rotin but Fabricant means maker so what it means is  Rattan Maker 4 Atlas Street, Paris. How cool to have found authentic vintage bistro chairs! I googled the factory in French and English and found nothing and the girl I bought them from didn't know where they were originally from so I left it at that. Well when I was in Paris in June at Les Puces at Clignacourt  a gem of a flea market but not inexpensive , I saw the exact same chairs sitting in a stall! They were being used by the stall owner  to display some old books he was selling. I asked him about them and he said they were most likely from the 1920's and were common in outdoor bistros. He only had two and they weren't for sale. They weren't so easy to come by anymore, he said. When I told him I had a set of eight I found in Los Angeles he was bemused. Merde? How did they get there? In France things have to be over one hundred years old to be considered antiques so these would still be in the category there known as Bricolage which translated means bric-a -brac. So here are my bric-a- brac chairs:
One of the bistro chairs

Paris Flea Market

The badge on the back of the chair. It was covered with grime.
The chairs I found at the Clignacourt Flea Market which were the same as mine.
The set of chairs in my yard


Monday, October 18, 2010

Vintage letter magnets

I found these vintage magnetic letters at a rummage sale. I bought a bunch of vintage childen's books and the church ladies gave them to me for free. I loved these kinds of letters when I was a kid. Why does old plastic smell so different? Maybe the Bph or whatever you call that toxic chemical that was taken out of baby bottles recently. Am I poisoning my kids by letting them play with them?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


The following are some directions for how to make your own pattern for a basic A-line skirt from a class I am teaching to some high school girls. Once you make this basic pattern you can make lots of other designs from this pattern. You should save your pattern as long as you stay the size you are when you made it.I hope you have fun and please disregard the wierd large numbers. I copied and pasted this from my textedit program and I couldn't erase them!
For our first project we are going to make an a-line skirt, which is a simple and classic shape that flatters everyone. You'll get to decide whether you want yours more straight or a lot more flared ; if you would like it to sit at your waistline or below your belly button; if the hem should fall below your knee or higher up or whether or not you want pockets . As far as fabric choices go you will want to use a stable woven. It could be corduroy , denim , cotton twill , or a fun cotton print. We will be taking our measurements and developing a paper pattern for the a-line skirt. This paper pattern is also referred to as a sloper in the design industry. Once we create a perfect fitting sloper and fit it in a muslin we will sew it up in our fabric choice. From this sloper which you should save as long as you stay the same size , you can create lots of individual and creative original designs of skirts based on the a-line style. Keep an eye open when looking at catalogs and magazines and when you are out and about in the shops and you will realize so many styles are based on this one simple sloper which you will learn how to make!

  1. Take your waist measurement and divide it by 4 To that number you calculated add 1/4 and write the number here _________
  2. Take your hip measurement and divide it by 4 .Add 1/4 and write the number here ________
  3. Take the length measurement from where you want your waist to fall to where you want the hem to be Write that number here _______
  4. Calculate the sweep of your skirt which is how much you want it to flare at the bottom. The minimum for an a-line skirt could be just an inch added to your hip measurement and the maximum can be about 4 inches more than your hip measurement you wrote above. Write that number here ______
  5. Calculate the distance between the widest point of your hip and where you would like to place your waistline . Write the number here ______
  7. The measurements you end up with will be one quarter of your actual waist and hip plus 1/4 inch added for ease which is ease. This will be a fitted skirt so if you would like it to fit looser you can make your adjustments later after we do our first muslin fitting.  
  8.  Patterns are usually made for only one quarter of the body. Even though the skirt covers the whole body the pattern is made for only half. We will be making the left front skirt pattern and the left back skirt pattern. The final front skirt will end up being one piece because you will cut the fabric out on the fold and the final back will also be one piece cut out on the fold. You will put the zipper into the side seam
    1. Cut a piece of the brown craft paper which is the length of the skirt you decided in number 3 of your plotted measurements plus 4 inches added for room to work on the paper. 
    Fold the the paper in half. The fold will represent the Center Front of the skirt. 
    2. About an inch down from the top of the paper draw your fist straight line bisecting the fold. This will be your waist measurement you figured out in 
    number one of the measurement section . Don't forget to include 1/4 inch for ease. Draw that line with your ruler. 
    3. From your drawn waistline measure down the length you came up with in number three, the distance between where your waistline will sit and where 

    the widest point of the hip is. Mark the spot on the fold. 
    4. From the marked spot for the hipline draw your hipline measurement straight across like you did for the waistline. 
    5. Now draw your hemline which you measure down from the waistline. That number you came up with in number three of the calculations.Mark where the hemline will be on the fold. 
    6. Take your ruler making sure you keep a right angle on the fold and draw the width of the sweep of the skirt from the hemline mark 
    7. Connect all the lines of the side seam of the pattern. We now have the basic skeleton of the pattern. Mark the waistline and side line A. Mark the hipline 
    and side line B and mark the side line and hem line C. 
    8. MAKING THE DARTS. Find the halfway point along your waistline and mark it. From this point draw a line perpendicular from your waist and parallel with 
    the center fold. Draw the line 3 " long. Then on the waistline mark 1/4 inch on either side of your center dart line. Connect the two points with your ruler to the bottom of the center dart line. It will look like an upside down triangle. 
    9. Now we need to add back the 1/2 inch we just pinched out with the dart back to the skirt or else it will be too tight. Extend point A of your waist by 1/2 inch. Connect that new point to the hipline with your ruler. 
    10. Now you need to square the waistline. As you may have noticed so far we have only been drawing straight lines. As you now we are not straight lines so now it's time to add some curves into our pattern so it will fit the curves we have! Take your ruler and continue your side seam line up 1/2 inch from point A. Now take your ruler and to connect that new waistmark to the waist line place it perpendicular to the side line and draw till it meets the waistline. 
    11. Blend and soften straight angles.

    For the Back:
    Use the front pattern piece . All you have to do is extend the back dart 2 inched down from the front dart. Mark your pattern piece. Put a little hole in the patern 1/2 inch above the end of the front dart on the center dart line and poke another little hole 1/2 inch above back dart. When you trace your pattern you will mark through the hole on your pattern onto the fabric to help you guide the folding and sewing of the darts.
    Detail of the front and back dart

    This is a skirt with one inch of ease added to the overall hip measurement.If you ever wonder why the fit of big 4 patterns is off for the measurement listed, it's often because they add 3 or 4 inches of ease which is often way too much, especially if you like your clothing to be fitted.t

Friday, October 8, 2010

A busy sewing week

It was one of those weeks you have when you have kids and the school year is really starting to get in full swing. Grandma came to visit; our son had his first rock band gig at a church festival; we did a community cleanup with my daughter's scouting group; there was a baby shower to go to; I taught a beginning pattern making class to the high school girls' class; we attended a debate for my stepmother who is running for City Council; went to roller-skating day with the school; ( I'm thinking of joining the roller derby league if I can fit it in, but we'll save that for another post.) Not to mention driving to and from school, getting kids to musical theater and acting class and various friends houses. However, life is a bit easier when one of your kids is driving. But oh, did I mention how worried you get when that same kid starts driving? 
 I must have had an unusual burst of energy this last week because I also managed to sew up these things below. Life does have a way of getting out of balance though, and it wasn't until my mom came to visit that I looked at my house through her eyes and realized it was a MESS! I don't have the luxury of a sewing room, and even if I did I need to be in the middle of the house so I can keep an eye on my baby who is crawling through all the different rooms at any given moment.
 I've been collecting sweaters to recycle into baby sweaters for my Etsy shop and had the luck of hitting a sweater jackpot at a church rummage sale . Sweaters are piled up in my dining room as I write this post. I think I need to watch an episode of Hoarders to set me straight again! I always feel a compulsion to clean out a room after I watch that show. How many of you secretly fear becoming an old lady buried under thousands of pounds of junk with seventy five cats living with you? Flash to your grown children on the Oprah show crying and saying, "It all started when I was seven and my mom started dragging me to those Church Rummage Sales. The sweaters just started piling up around her..."
An example of the A-line skirt I am teaching girls to  make a pattern for  and sew up. I used some vintage fabric I bought at a Flea Market. It was a flour sack.

G wearing the Jackie O sweater I made from an adult sweater. Somehow she doesn't look very Jackie Oish right now!
The Jackie O sweater with bias trim from Liberty of London

Some kimono sleeve pajamas I adapted from  the pattern in an Amy Butler Sewing Book.

Love the Breyer Horse print!

L in the Flutter Mushroom Dress. I used a pattern I bought  from McCalls 6063 pattern.

I added an applique and gathered pocket. This will be selling in my jumbleberri Etsy shop. I love the little deers and mushrooms on this fabric.

The Aflutter sweater made from an ugly man's sweater.  My sleeves seem to be flying away this week.
G in the Aflutter sweater.

Linking some of these projects to:


Monday, October 4, 2010

The Wardrobe Refashion Pledge

An embroidered t shirt that was ill fitting but had beautiful motifs.

The  embroidered bit I chose to cut out. The t shirt fabric is easy to work with because it doesn't unravel.

The Old Navy shirt I altered. I let out the hem, took in the side seams and made the darts wider, then re-hemmed it.
The improved fit with a new applique

I just wanted to talk about a blog that has me really excited. It's called Wardrobe Refashion. You make a pledge not to buy anything new but to remodel things in your closet, make clothing from scratch, or buy things at the thrift shop to rework or wear as is , but you can't get anything new. You sign up for a certain date.  I'm going to start November first. You agree to a time period of two months. You have to post a photo every week of what you made. It's a group blog and it's really interesting just to browse through it to see what people have come up with. I was so jazzed by the idea I started before my sign up date, digging through a pile of clothing in the back room that I was going to take to the thrift shop. I found a plaid shirt I bought at Old Navy after I had my last baby. It fits through the bust still, but I have lost weight since I bought it, and it was pretty frumpy looking on me. I also had an embroidered T shirt I bought about six years ago that was too low cut with a weird stretched out fit and just kind of busy in general as you can see. I have been saving it because I think the embroidery is beautiful and I wanted to cut it off to use on something else. I wasn't totally sold on the owl applique but it was fun cutting and pasting!
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