Friday, December 25, 2009

A Crafty Christmas!

Merry Christmas all! I hope yours was wonderful, I know mine was. Lots of food, gifts, and family... what isn't to love about that? I also have some finished projects to show you! None of them are sewing projects, but side things I wanted to finish.

Yesterday, my dad helped me upholster the set of dining room chairs I found at a Goodwill downstate.

Here's the before:

And here's the after!
And here's me enjoying the two inches of new foam padding and pretty upholstery fabric!

I think they turned out beautifully! They will have a whole new life! We only had enough fabric to complete two of the chairs. Since I bought it downstate where I go to school and am now home for break where we don't have a fabric store that I can simply run to to pick up a couple more yards, the other two will have to wait just a smidge longer. But they are stripped of the old fabric and the foam is cut, so they will be a breeze once I get more fabric.

Ok, moving on to the next project on the list: Kris' warm woolies! I finished these Christmas eve as well.

Here I am hard at work!

and the completed warm woolies!

Here's Kris modeling them:

Aww, doesn't he look handsome and cozy? And the hat was a homemade Christmas present from his Grandma! He just has handmade love from head to toe :)

The woolies were really easy to do on the Knifty Knitter loom, but my joints in my hands get really sore from the tedious loom work, so I had to do them in increments. They turned out nicely, one a little longer than the other, but when they are stretched onto his feet you would never know. Now his toes will be nice and toasty for the long, cold (last!) winter semester at Michigan Tech in Houghton, MI!

So those were my two Christmas eve projects, and they were both successes, I think! Now moving onto some sewing for the new year. Santa was a dear and was somehow able to fit my dressform down the chimney ;) I love it! I don't have it together yet, as today was a whirlwind of a day, but I at least took the bodice out of the box, and I love it!

(I don't get dolled up to open gifts Christmas morning, I just roll out of bed, so don't mind my not-so-fresh morning look haha)

And a quick shot of our beautiful tree!

Next on the list are some small curtains and tie backs, and then little wool herringbone dress, here I come!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Tiki Piki

This is just as a little side post that has nothing what-so-ever do with sewing... I just wanted to share an awesome photo of my loved one and I decked out in our tropical attire for a tiki party!

Kris's shirt is great, no?

Long time, no blog!

Hi all! Sorry I have been away so long. The past few weeks have been filled to the rafters with academic ickiness. But Fall finals are over and I am officially on Christmas break!! I haven't had any time to even think about sewing... until now! I have a few things lined up for the upcoming weeks:

-I just cut out the pieces to make a little red herringbone wool dress, it will be my first! Hopefully tomorrow afternoon I can get started constructing it.

-I am finishing some warm-woolies for Kris for Christmas (even though I have been slowing making them since Halloween hehe).

-Some small curtains are in order for a friend, so those should be a breeze.

-I would like to make some warm lambswool-lined mittens, but we will see how much time I have! I know the end of break is going to come too soon, as always.

-I am also planning on finishing these chairs from my December first post. My wonderful father pulled out all of the old staples and fabric so they would be ready to go when I got home. Thoughtful, right?

I also pre-ordered 2 lovely colette patterns that I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of in the mail:

The Sencha Blouse

And the Rooibos Dress

For today, I am feeling lazy and might work on the warm-woolies a bit, but I just need a little time to do absolutely nothing after a hellacious semester. So stay tuned as I post these finished projects in the next couple of weeks! Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Professor Plum

On this very snowy evening, I have finished my "Professor Plum" skirt! I have had this wonderful plum wool-blend for a while now, but finally got to make use of it. The pattern used was McCall's 5523, view C. I left off one of the ruffly bits, added some buttons, and took up the hem a bit, but other than that no alterations were needed. I had taken this pattern out of the package and tried to make sense of the instructions about a month ago, as I was planning on this being my first project, but quickly got overwhelmed and put it away. I went back to it last night and the instructions and construction were easy peasy!

Here's the front:

And the back, with a little gathering and some cute buttons:

A close up of those cute little buttons:

And a SUPER close up :)

And a side view:

I call it the professor plum skirt, well, because it's plum, and because I made it to wear for a final presentation in my Public Health class that I wanted to look professional for (but still cute!). I think this mission was accomplished!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Collection of Little Thoughts

I was pretty busy over the Thanksgiving holiday, so I don't have anything new to show you, but I will soon I promise! I just have some snip-its that I've been meaning to post. First off, my wonderful parents are getting me a dress form for Christmas! I had gotten a 50% coupon for Jo-Ann's in my email, which made the cost of a dress form a little more reasonable for a Christmas present, but the site and phone lines were jammed up all weekend! How frustrating! I eventually found the same dress form on the Target website... for half the price that it was on the Jo-Ann site and with free shipping... mind boggling, right? Its the singer 150 adjustable dress form with 12 dials in a shnazzy rad hue:

I can't wait to unwrap this beauty on Christmas morning! I have a feeling it will making my little sewing world an even better place :)

On a completely unrelated note, I'm going to have a little jump up onto my soap box. People, curves are back, and they are sexier than ever. The new Colette Patterns were revealed last Friday, and as I sat oogling them for the first time, I naturally showed each one to my boyfriend, who was less than interested but tried to act excited for me. When I did my rounds in the blogosphere yesterday and read Gertie's latest entry regarding a comment made by some fellow regarding the Colette models, my feathers were a little more than ruffled, to say the least! Apparently, these are HUGE women, and the clothes would look better on "skinny" models:

These women are a size 4/6 and an 8/10. I hardly think that women in these categorizes of size are huge. Immediately after reading Gertie's Blog about it, I called up my boyfriend to see what his thoughts were when he first looked at these pictures with me. I knew he would be honest, and I wanted to hear a true mans perspective. I must say that I was a bit surprised when he admitted that he too thought these women were "a little bigger" than usual. He said it very cautiously, as if I might explode into bits and start screeching at him, but I didn't. I just hmmed and hawwed and absorbed it. He said that he is just used to seeing models be super skinny, and that it is just part of our American culture to think that skinnier looks better and sells more. I can see what he is trying to say, but at the same time, I thought a curvier look was making a comeback. I must have been mistaken. I am a size 4, I have curves, I like it like that, and so does he. Right after reading Gertie's entry about this, an I love Lucy episode came on called "The Diet" in which Ricky will finally let Lucy be in his show if she can fit into a size 12 costume:

This is just the first part of the episode. If you want to see the rest you can find it on youtube, but she starves and steams her way to a measly size 12, performs with Ricky, and then is promptly diagnosed with malnutrition. Just a side note, the performance they give in the end of this episode was one they used to do together in a vaudeville act.

ok. Hopping down from my soap box.

Here are the fabulous chairs I found for 8 bucks at Goodwill! I purchased some awesome black and white retro geometric upholstery fabric and some 2 inch foam that I am going to re-purpose them with, and then I will probably paint them a bright red. I'm hoping I can get this done over Christmas break with the help of my dad's staple gun (and maybe my dad himself hehe). So here's the before, and I will soon post the after!

For now, I'm starting a different project. I have a final presentation in my Public Health class next week, and I want to make a cute, professional looking skirt to feel and look confident. I am going to use McCall's 5523 pattern and create view c:

I have had this gorgeous light-weight royal plum wool for a while, and I think it will be perfect for this skirt:
Well, I'm off to get started on my skirt and to watch the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show!

Monday, November 23, 2009

There's a Blouse About the House!

It is finished! Here is my very first blouse!

Well, I'm not sure if its exactly a blouse, but the word just sounds so fancy! I followed the Amy Butler pattern for the Lotus Cami. There was an option to add sleeves which I had full intention of doing, but then liked it so much without them I just left them off! I also dropped the neck a little lower than on the pattern. I tried it with the higher neckline, but with my chest size it just looked wonky. I made it in a size x-small, which is the equivalent of a size 4, which is my normal clothing size. It fit perfectly everywhere, except around the bust. Its fine in the front, but those poor little back buttons that have to bear the brunt of the bosom! The cami version called for 7 buttons up the back, but I put 8 for just a bit more security. Making the buttonholes were a bear; I am just not a natural at making nice pretty buttonholes. I also added some clear nail-polish to the inside edges of the buttonholes to give them a little more stability and to help with the fraying of the cotton. I interfaced them, but they still frayed a lot. Once the polish dried and I snipped away some of the fray, it was loads better and more neat looking.

For the record, this is really hard to put on by myself!! But I managed so I could show you guys how it looked. It is a different look for me, usually I prefer blacks and reds, but this fabric was just calling to me, and it does really give it that nice lightweight spring look. Too bad the snow is about to fly so I'll only get to wear it with a thermal underneath!

Here's an up-close of the pattern on the fabric, since you can't really tell what it looks like in the picture:

Isn't it cute??!

So there were a few firsts in this project:
-first darts
-first "real" buttonholes
-first time following a pattern
-first blouse

All in all, it went well. It was a lot more time consuming than the skirts I made, but still enjoyable. The pattern instructions were pretty easy to follow, though I'll admit about halfway through I stopped looking at them and just went for what I thought should happen next. I did a few things a little differently, but no one would ever know except for me. This was also the first pattern I actually paid (almost) full price for. Luckily, I would make this again and there is a dress version and a tunic version included, both with zippers (I don't have to fuss with those buttons again!) so I can get a couple projects out of the pattern.

I am taking a little break from sewing this week, as it is thanksgiving break and I will be home with family and my boyfriend, so I am going to spend time with them rather than my sewing machine. I do plan on re-purposing a set of dining room chairs with the help of my mum while i'm home so I should have an update sometime this week. I hope everyone in the states has a good thanksgiving, and that everyone else has a happy week!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Belated Halloween & Weekend Project

This is a little late, but I just wanted to share a picture of my Halloween costume I created this year. I made a cute, yet comfy, skeleton costume!

There is just something refreshing about a flattering, yet non-bare-all costume. It seems that Halloween has become an excuse for girls to let it all hang out, and while I'll admit I have had a scandalous Halloween costume or two in my teens, the past few years have been about being festive and comfortable, and people still seemed to really enjoy my costumes without me baring my cheeks or chest! And I think this costume made my legs look fabulous! It cost less than 15 bucks to make, and with a little construction help from my roommate Julie, it really was a breeze to put together. An old black shirt, a $5 pair of leggings from Target, a roll of that "fake blanket of snow" that people put in their Christmas villages, and a can of spray adhesive, and I was good to go. Kris was "El Superbeasto." It's a character from a movie not even I have seen.

On a totally unrelated note, I am working on a blouse this weekend from the Amy Butler pattern for the Lotus Cami. I cut out my pieces and marked everything tonight, even completed a few darts, but then I somehow misplaced one of the back panels I was working with. I never left the room, but it somehow disappeared. So I took that as a sign to call it a night and do another mad search in the morning. Hopefully I will have something amazing to show you by the end of the weekend!

Also, I picked up some wonderful Waverly upholstery fabric this evening, as I found some wonderful chairs at Goodwill that I am going to re-purpose over Thanksgiving break. I will post before and after pictures in the upcoming week as I complete them!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Soap and Glory

This post has nothing to do with sewing, but rather Soap and Glory products. I have been an avid Soap and Glory user for over a year now, and am still in love with every product I have bought by them. I thought I would share them with you since they are vintage inspired, and since lot of you found my blog through sew retro, you probably share a love for vintage. Soap and Glory is only sold at Target in the US, and is relatively cheap for how great the quality is. Each item is adorn with a vintage black and white snap-shot of some retro beauty and a cute tag-line.

Every time I go to Target the first thing I do is rush over to the soap and glory aisle to see if they have any new products, and they usually do! I was thinking the other day how fantastic it would be if they made a deodorant, since the rest of my body usually smells like their signature scent because I use their body-wash, lotion, and hair products, and low and behold they started making deodorant! They must have gotten my wishing vibes :) It is called One Pit Wonder, and smells dreamy. So what I am trying to say is that I love these products and you should, too. They have character, they smell and feel amazing, and they won't break the bank. What more could a girl ask for?

Some of my favorite items that would be good starter products for those who are new to S&G are the Clean on Me body wash, the Great Shakes hand cream, the Hair Supply glossy conditioner treatment, or the Off Your Face wipes. My absolute favorite product is the Calm One Calm All bubble bath, but I don't have a bath tub anymore, so its been tucked away under my sink. Go pick up one of these great products, you won't be disappointed!

The Day of the Dead Party Skirt!

So it was another late night last night when I couldn't put my project down, once again. For my second project of the weekend I made this day of the dead party skirt!

For the detailing on the waistband, I sewed some silk flowers onto lapel pins so they can be removed for washing, and to tie in the colors and flowers from the hem fabric:

I love everything about this skirt, except that it is a little billowy on my frame. But I don't really have any skirts that are like it, so maybe its not so bad to have a tea-length big billowing skirt in my wardrobe. I'm on the fence, what do you think? Should I take it down a notch? Tell me your thoughts!

P.s. I entered this skirt in the fall party time competition over at Sew Retro! So far, people are liking it!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Its that time of year again!

The time of year when I start to panic because I have no Christmas ideas for anyone on my list! Usually I have a few items thought up, or even purchased by now, but not this year. I am really hoping that my new found sewing skills can help me out with this and I can make some fun personalized gifts for the main people on my list. Now, that adds a whole new complication in the mix: what projects make good gifts? Especially for men! Gertie's latest post got me thinking about the men in my life and what I can do for them this Christmas. I'd like to make my dad something, but he's verrrry picky when it comes to Christmas gifts. One year, I made him a tie blanket out of a fleece that looked like birch bark and that was a huge success, but I am at a total loss for this year. And I thought about making a cotton zombie print chef coat for my amazing chef boyfriend, but he lives 10 hours away so I couldn't really fit it to his body. Plus, I am having an impossible time trying to find a zombie print cotton. I didn't think it would be so hard!

so now I turn to you, my 9 followers (:-}), and ask, what are some wonderful Christmas gift projects? If you have any ideas at all, throw them out there!

On a side note, have any of you heard of They have amazing prints. I have ordered a few prints from them, and all were just so fun! Here are some I am drooling over at this very moment:

Monkey Around

First project of the weekend: COMPLETE! Tonight I decided to make my sock monkey sewing machine cover:

I have been eying up this cute fabric for a while, but could never really think of anything I could make with it. So tonight when I was perusing Field's Fabrics for something to make into a machine cover and ran across this again, I could envision nothing else!

I'm pretty pleased with how it came out. It adds some inviting playfulness to my little sewing corner.

I hope you like it!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Looking forward to a weekend of projects!

I have a whole slough of fabulous ideas cooked up for the weekend! Usually, I lose a whole Sunday to physics homework every weekend, but not this weekend! So that gives me a whole extra 24 hours to do as I please, which will be to sew. I don't know if I will have the time (or finances) to get everything I want done, but here's what I have in mind:

- Give the retro 52 butterick pattern in my first post a go
- Make a cute sewing machine cover
- Make a poppy/button broach for the lapelle on my houndstooth coat
- Paint some dining room chairs I found at Goodwill retro red and pick-out some geometric black and white fabric to re-upholstery them over thanksgiving break
- And if I have time, I want to try this little jacket from the book Design-It-Yourself Clothes by Cal Patch:

I want to get started on all this asap, but I have some studying for a physics exam tomorrow evening that calls for my attention for tonight.

On another note, does anyone have some good Christmas gift project ideas? I want to get started on those asap as there isn't a fabric store in my hometown, so I will be out of luck once I am home for the Holidays.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Holy Gathers, Batman!

I was about to write an email to a seamstress down the street asking if I could bring my machine by for a looksies, but I figured I would try to solve it's issues myself one last time, and that apparently did the trick! I have no idea what was it's deal or what I may have done wrong, but I re-threaded the bobbin, re-threaded the top thread, made sure everything was squeaky clean and running smoothly, dials properly adjusted, and we were in business! I jumped and screamed and did a little dance. My roommate even came over to join in my rejoicing! I had tried all this about 1o times before, but the 11th time's the charm in my case, apparently.

Unfortunately, it was 11:30 at night when my machine was resurrected, and I couldn't help but start sewing when I should have just gone to bed. So the result today is one very tired girl wearing one very fabulous skirt! I was up until 4:30am putting it together, being a bit obsessive over the details, as it was my first "real" project and I wanted to get it just right. But it was so (sew) worth it! I wore it today and already got compliments! I followed the instructions that Gertie had on her wonderful blog. Thanks Gertie!

Here is the unveiling of the "retro bubble" gather skirt, as I call it!

A close up of the gathers:

My first zip!

I hand stitched the inside of the waistband to the skirt:

A little button for subtle personality:

A view of the inside:

I also had my first experience with interfacing. It went well, except I used some muslin as a pressing cloth, and when I had to get it damp it smelled HORRIBLE! I had to open my window because my entire room smelled like a large family of cats had crept in and peed everywhere. I have no clue what the deal was! I was hoping the smell wouldn't fuse into my skirt as I was ironing the stenchy fabric on top of it, but all was well and my skirt smells fine :) The zipper was a bit tricky withe gathers, and I had to rip it out about 3 times, but I am pleased with it now. The skirt came out to the perfect length and fits perfectly around my waist, yet again. It was quite enjoyable to make I foresee a few more of these in my future. I think this weekend I am going to make a heavier red one, with this fabric around the bottom for a wide hem:

and perhaps some kind of festive embellishment on the waistband. Maybe try my hand in a little embroidery?

After that, I am ready to move on to something a bit more challenging. I am thinking a blouse of some kind so I will have the basics of the bottom and top learned separately, and then combine them to start on some of my dress patterns!

This whole sewing thing is coming to me a lot more easily than I thought it would... what's the catch?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

My Machine and I: We are both too tense!!

I have deduced that I have tension issue, rather than a bobbin issue. The thread picks up just fine now, but when I make a stitch or two it just completely jams up! I am using the same thread and fabric as before, so i'm not so sure why this is happening... I think I am going to email this really awesome crazy sewing lady that owns a shop down the street and see if I can come in with my machine and she will show me how to adjust the tension properly. There is only so much the manual can show you, ya know?

All I want to do is sew my skirt!! Maybe after I finish all of my homework on this freak 75 degree fall day I can watch some videos on how to adjust the tension and see if I can make any sense of things...

A Lover's Spat

I. Am. Frustrated. I had my fabric cut and pinned and was a few stitches in when I realized I forgot to change the thread from black to gray. So I threaded a new bobbin, threaded the needle, and was all set to go. Well the machine did not want me to go. I spent hours trying to get the needle to pick up the bobbin thread. HOURS! I figured that if I kept trying it would eventually catch, but it never did. I cleaned the bobbin casing, I changed the needle, I re-threaded everything, but to no avail. Sometimes it would bring up a loop, but then the thread would wrap around the bobbin casing and get all jammed up. So there will be no skirt this weekend :(

I really think this is the "almighty-one's" way of making me get all my homework done this weekend. Doesn't he know that I would have gotten to it, after I had a fabulous skirt made?

Has anyone else had this problem? I googled it, but can't really seem to find any solutions other than things i've tried.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


Have you ever taken the time to watch the original Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein? Well, I did last night, and I must say that I was a bit disappointed in the Bride of Frankenstein. She was barely in the movie at all! And the monster wasn't named Frankenstein, he was called "The monster," even in the credits, so the movie should have been called "The Bride of the Monster!" I do realize that she is technically the bride of Frankenstein, since he did make her, so she is his, but it still bothers me.

Ok, I'll get off my high horse and get to the sewing. I watched these two movies last night as I practiced buttonholes and zippers, and they are both MUCH easier than I ever imagined! I watched some tutorials on youtube and referred to my lovely Dressmaker's Technique Bible for guidance. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants a quick reference of clothing techniques (not just dresses!) to keep close to their sewing machine. I am very much a visual learner and can do something after I see it done (usually) so both of these resources are god-sends for me.

I made a trip down to Fields Fabric's last night and picked up some awesome retro fabric for my skirt!

I actually found many other colors of this fabric and thought to myself, if only they had a yellow and gray print of this, and then tucked away in a random hiding spot, there it was! It's not exactly what I had in mind when thinking about what I wanted to happen with this skirt. I was envisioning it to be white with red polka-dots, with a lipstick red waistband and a chunky 4" hem around the bottom, also in the red. But then I saw this fabric and said, polka-dot and red fabrics are always going to be around. And my mother also said I should go for the "funky" one, hehe.

I am running to the Jo-Ann's Superstore this afternoon to pick up some pinking shears, interfacing, and some other fun fabrics to have on hand. They are having a great sale where you get 20% off everything you buy ALL WEEKEND! Plus I have two 40% off coupons, too, and they usually take all my coupon's together, so I am beyond geeked! I should also share that all threads and buttons are 40% off at Fields, so I might head back there today and pick out a few of each, just to start building my collection.

I know it's not how the usual 22-year-old spends their weekend, but I like to create things and engage my mind, and sewing seems to be just what the doctor ordered to fulfill both of these. Plus, all of my roommates are gone this weekend, so it's just me and my sewing machine!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

From What I Can Gather...

I write to you now as a woman accomplished, currently dressed in a not-to-shabbily constructed gathered skirt! I made use of some of my muslin, mustered the courage, and sat down to start my very first project. It took me about 4 hours, but I have my first wearable piece! I wouldn't wear it out, however, because it is made of muslin, but now this weekend I can make the same skirt (for real this time) with a red and white polka dot cotton... or maybe a houndstooth? It fits my waist perfectly and hits right above the knee. I had to fuss a bit with the waistband, but a little fuss is expected! My bedroom looks like a tornado ripped through and deposited pins and fabric and thread everywhere... but it is worth the clean up. I love my new sewing machine! It has really been a treat :)

And here is the very first Kelsey O'Donnell creation!

It is as bare-bones as you can get, but remember it was just for practice...I've got big plans for the "real" one!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Bringing the Machine to Life

I bought a good many yards of muslin on sale today and arrived home with a mission. I sat down in front of the machine tonight for the first time, determined to make a seam... and it was a success! I read every word in the manual and followed all of the instructions carefully. Everything went swimmingly! Could this hopefully be a sign of things to come? It may not seem like much, but I felt very accomplished. So far, the machine and I are getting along quite well, but we're still getting to know each other.

This is my very first seam. It may not be pretty, but I am proud!

The stitching:
The lovely inside:

I can go to sleep with a smile knowing I have just taken my first step into the world of sewing. On the agenda for tomorrow: tackling a pattern.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Greetings from a (near) future dressmaker

Hello all! I've been inspired to start a blog of my ventures in learning to sew. I know that most ladies pick up their sewing skills at a young age from family, but I will break that mold, as usual.
I have absolutely no experience with a sewing machine or tailoring clothing to fit my body, so this is as close to scratch as you can start from! My wonderful Aunt is letting me use a her beloved sewing machine that she has been quilting on for years and years, and I am starting a class this coming Saturday to get down the basics. It's all so exciting! I have been reading the Sew Retro blog for a while now, getting up the guts and inspiration to make a project and join. But I must say that Gertie's New Blog for Better Sewing is what really snapped me out of my hesitation. I sometimes go in craft stores to mosey around and oogle the fabrics, dreaming of what I could make with them, but thinking that sewing was for the young, who learned with their mothers, or the old, who had done it their entire lives. I am usually the only 20-something in the store, and feel very much like a "stick in the mud" for spending my Saturday afternoon there. But then I happened across Gertie's blog. She is young, beautiful, tattooed, loves vintage clothing and patterns, and has such an intriguing blog that it is usually the first thing I read in the morning. She is not a stick in the mud at all! I thought to myself, its never stopped me before to go for something that may not be the popular choice of my peers, so why should it stop me now? I love clothing, I love creating things, and I love putting my personal touch on everything I own, so how could I not love sewing? I know it may try my patience, and I know it may boggle my brain, but I really think this will be something I will be doing the rest of my life. I can just feel it!

So here's to a new venture down a path I've been glancing at from afar. And this blog will be my place to share the frustrations, triumphs, and (hopefully) awesome finished projects!

I think this will be my first project:

I fell in love with this dress the moment we found each other. I've been told it will be relatively simple and will look impressive for a first finished piece. So now I ask you this: What colors and fabrics? I want something retro, but something wearable. Any suggestions??