Friday, December 2, 2016

DIY Agate Coasters

You may have noticed from my choice of decor (here and here) that I love rocks, and whenever I saw the Agate Coasters that have been trending recently, I just had to have some!

This would also make a great Christmas gift!

Just remember that they are on the pricey side. They range from anywhere between $25-$50 for a set of 4. That's $6.25-$12.50 per coaster. I got mine for $4.45/each in an assortment of colors.


Materials:
  • Agate Slices (I got mine from Science Surplus)
  • Gold Paint (I used DecoArt Dazzling Metallics in Glorious Gold)
  • Sponge and/or Paintbrush
  • Stick-on Felt Pads

How To:

 Decide if you want the sponge look or the paintbrush look.



I ended up choosing the sponge look because I liked how the feathered edge glittered in the light.

For Paintbrush: just paint the edges (If you get some on the face of the rock, just use your nail or a blade to scrape it off!)

For Sponge: sponge the edges with moderate pressure so that the sponge molds around the rock and leaves a feathered edge (You will still need the paintbrush to get into the small cracks on the side.)

Allow the edges to dry. I used thread spools to elevate my stones.


Apply stick-on felt pads (if desired). Use 4 per stone to keep them from rocking under your drink glasses!


All done! So lovely!


Here they are on my side table with my thrifted gold leaf.



Chicken Salad

I have't posted a recipe recently, and as I was enjoying my Chicken Salad Sandwich tonight, I thought, "Hey! Why am I being so greedy? I should share this delicious recipe with everyone!" This is a great quick recipe to make for lunches or dinner. You can serve it on a sandwich, in a pita, or on a bed of lettuce.


Serves: 6
Prep: 5-10 mins (depending on your chopping speed)
Cooking: 5 mins

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1 large chicken breast, cubed
  • 1/2 cup grapes, sliced in half
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 1/2 cup celery, diced
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

 Directions:

  1. Heat oil in small skillet and cook chicken cubes until done.
  2. Meanwhile, mix remaining ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Stir in chicken and enjoy!

Super quick! And easy clean-up. You only need a small skillet, cutting board, and bowl. You can eat right away or chill in the fridge. This keeps in the fridge for several days and tastes just as fresh and delicious as the day you made it!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Bodice Block Alteration: Dart Manipulation

Now that you have a Basic Bodice Block, what can you do with it?

In this post, I will show you how to manipulate darts.

This should be where you are currently...



I like to use a notebook to sketch out how I intend to alter my pattern instead of jumping right in and having to do a lot of erasing.



There we go. Let's start by removing some darts. Remember, the length of the sides (not including the dart) should remain the same regardless of whether you remove or add a dart.

There are two methods of removing a dart. You can either combine your two darts into one or get rid of them all together. Most people use the rotation method. I think it is the easiest, but my method doesn't use a drill hole to pivot.


Combine Two Darts into One:


Step 1
1. Cut out the "wedge" of the dart you wish to remove.

2. Select one side of the dart you just removed (red line) -- it doesn't matter which side, but you will select that same side of the dart you wish to combine it into (blue line).

3. With tracing paper, trace everything on your pattern between the two dart sides you chose (black arrows), AND trace the red lines.

3. You will now pivot your pattern to close the dart you are trying to remove. To do this, just pair up the dart arm you didn't trace with the arm that you just did.
Step 2 and 3

4. I have marked the part you already traced in black. Once you close your dart, you can trace the rest of your pattern (red).

5. The new dart will be larger than the original waist dart was (green). You can keep it or remove it all together by connected the ends of your dart legs. This will result in a looser waist.



Step 4 and 5
Remember that the bottom of your Blouse Block is only the waist line. Unless you want a mid-rift top, you will need to extend it. I will cover this in a later post.

For now, let's learn how to move a dart. It is very similar to removing a dart.




Moving Darts:

Step 1, 2, and 3
1. Decide where you want your new dart, and draw a line from the apex of your old dart to the new location.

2. Cut out the "wedge" of the dart you want to move.

3. Cut in the line of your new dart.

4. Rotate to close your old dart -- which will also open up your new one!


Step 4, 5, and 6
5. Smooth out your pattern where you closed the dart, and trace your pattern minus the new dart opening.

6. Cut out the new pattern and leave a little extra paper around the dart opening.

7. Find the center of your dart opening and draw a line between it and your Bust Point (BP).

8. Move 1.5 cm away from the BP on your line (never start directly on your BP or else you will have pointy boobs); this is your new dart apex. Connect this point to the two sides of your dart opening.
Step 7 and 8

9. Close your new dart and cut off the extra paper you left at the opening. Unfold, and you have your new dart point!


Coming next...

Examples of ways to use your Basic Bodice Block

Step 9















The Basic Bodice Block

Frankly, I hate commercial patterns. They never seem to work out for me. I've read many articles about how to properly read and follow the instructions, but nothing seems to help. Then I thought, perhaps it wasn't the instructions but the pattern itself.

You can't expect to pick up a pattern and find your exact size. Everyone is shaped differently, and commercial pattern sizes are crafted for the "ideal shape". That is, the ratio between hip-waist-bust on an average person. If you want to use a commercial pattern, you have to alter it in order to get a garment that actually fits you.

Or you could just make your own patterns using your Basic Blocks.

You may have heard of sewing Blocks (not to be confused with Slopers). They are the very basic form of a type of garment that is used to create different versions of whatever type it is. For example, the Basic Bodice Block can be used to make different tops, vests, and jackets. Best of all, you can craft your block to your unique measurements so that anything you create from it will fit you!

This is my Basic Bodice Block, front and back.

It looks simple enough, but it does take a little math. If you absolutely hate all math and don't want to take the time to make one, there are numerous places online where you can purchase various blocks made to order in your size.

If you want to make one yourself, you'll need a large sheet of paper (I like to use this paper), a pencil and eraser, and various rulers (12", yard stick, and curved, if you have it; if not, use a plate).

I tried 4 different Bodice Block tutorials before I found one that was easy to follow, complete, and made sense. I'm not going to name any names, but some tutorials were just horrible. These were popular bloggers with lots of followers, but the tutorials were full of mistypes and just bazaar measurements that seemed needlessly complicated.

So, I suggest that you use this tutorial by Em Makes Patterns because I think she did a great job explaining all the measurements and the "why" behind each step. There are other useful tutorials on this site, but sadly, she doesn't post on it anymore.

Coming next...

How to alter your Basic Bodice Block and projects you can use it for!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Silky Black Camisole


A staple for your closet! A silk camisole looks amazing under a blazer or by itself, with pants, jeans, or a skirt. Black is universal. You can make this in any color, but black goes with everything.

Supplies:

  • Pattern paper
  • Ruler
  • Measuring Tape
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • 1 Yard Silk or Satin Material
  • 1 Yard Black Rattail Cord
  • Black Thread
  • Sewing Machine

Figure A
Make Your Pattern:
(Refer to Figure A)

1. Use the measuring tape on yourself to obtain the following measurements: Measurement C is the bottom of your V-neck to where you want your camisole to end.

2. Measurement E is your hip measurement divided by 4, plus 1 inch. Draw this line perpendicular to C.

3. Measurement A is the distance from where you put the bottom of your V-neck to where your straps will go.

4. Measurement D is the top of your camisole, where the straps will connect, to the bottom of your camisole.

5. Starting from the top of line C, measure over the distance of A and mark this spot with a dot (this is a placeholder). Next, measure up from line E, intersecting your dot, the distance of Measurement D. This is the location of where your straps will connect.

6. Draw a line from the top of line A to the top of your camisole where your straps will connect (found in Step 5).

7. For Measurement B, start at the top of line A (the bottom of your V-neck) and drop down to where you want the bottom of your armhole. For me, this was 2 inches. This is approximate. Eyeball where the top will wrap around. Next, take your bust measurement divided by 4, and add 1 inch. Measure this far over from the point you just found on line A; this is the bottom of your armhole.

8. Draw a line from the bottom of your armhole to the top and bottom of your camisole as shown in Figure A. Optional: You can curve the armhole line if desired, but be careful not to overdo it or you'll have major side-boob.

9. Add seam allowance to your pattern; I used 1/2 inch and 1 inch at the bottom for the hem. *Note: Line C is a fold line; you don't need to add seam allowance here.


Directions:
Note: I suggest making a muslin first and altering pattern as needed before cutting your good fabric.

1. Cut 2 on fold (line C) of pattern. Cut 2 facings using the same pattern, but stop halfway down (gray line in Figure A).

2. With wrong-sides together, sew facings to front and back pieces at neckline and armhole. (Do not sew side seams!)

Note: If using stretchy material, stay-stitch the neckline first in a directional manner. This means, stitch close to the edge (within the seam allowance) starting at the bottom of the V and going up on both sides. This is done to prevent stretching while sewing your garment.

3. Snip into the seam allowance at the bottom of your V, careful not to cut into the stitches. Grade your seam allowance by trimming down one side (this prevents bulky seams), trim around the points of where your straps will attach, and snip triangle pieces from your armhole if it is curved.

4. Invert, push out points, and press.

5. Now is time to finish the bottom of your facings. You can zig-zag stitch, serge, or, if it doesn't fray, leave it as is.

6. Baste the sides of your facings to your camisole.

7. Right-sides together, sew front and back pieces together at side seams. Finish seams. Press.

8. Edge stitch all the way around top of camisole. (Note: if you don't want to see any stitches on the outside, you will have to stay-stitch your neckline instead. To do this, you sew your facing to the seam allowance; this keeps the facing from rolling out and showing.)

9. Measure how much Rattail cord you will need for your straps. To do this, I suggest trying your camisole on and deciding how far down you want it to hang.

10. Hand sew straps in place.

11. Hem bottom of camisole.

Done!


I know it seems like a lot of steps, but this is actually a very simple project. And it's inexpensive. I got my satin from the remnant section at Joann's for only $4.25! It is usually $6.49/yard (still super cheap). The Rattail cording is only $0.73/yard.

Total cost of project: $4.98!


Tip: Change it up by adding lace to the neckline or side-seam. Now that you have a pattern, you can make it again and again!


Thrifted Shadow Box: Garlic Breath to Museum Chic


I've been searching thrift stores for a while now looking for the perfect shadowbox frame for a souvenir I picked up while in Montana. I finally found one that was the right size and shape!


Who has framed garlic in their house?

Apparently no one... because this was at the thrift store for only $1.99! I knew I'd find the perfect one eventually.

Here's what I did:

1. Remove everything from frame. The backs are sometimes covered with paper. I used an x-acto knife to cut off the paper and expose the backing held in place with metal prongs.

2. Optional: I used a leftover container of sample paint and a sponge brush to paint the frame. Use a regular brush if you want; I just like the sponge because it seems to coat better and not leave brush strokes.

3. Also Optional: While the paint dried... I used double sided tape to cover the wood back with white card stock paper.


4. Decide where everything should go (I used the mat for reference), and glue it all down. I used the double sided tape to tape down the description and hot glue for the stone.


5. Put it all back together!


The only thing left to do is decide where your new frame should go. I tried it first in the living room next to all my other thrifted frames, but I didn't like it being stuck in the corner. I want people to be able to read the description.


So, currently, I have it in the hallway leading to the guest bedroom and bathroom. I hung it at head-height. I try to hang all my frames at around the same height throughout the house. Keep it consistent.

Decorating Tip: Display your collections. It will mean more to you than some pre-made thing you bought just to keep from having blank walls. Decorate your home with what you love.




Did you notice my mistake in the photos with the green background? My matting was backwards. Whoops!


Thursday, November 3, 2016

T-shirt Refashion: Split Seam Tunic


Part 3 of cheap-o Michael's t-shirts! This one is my favorite one yet! (and the easiest)

Inspiration
Materials needed: t-shirt and scissors.

You might also want to sew a little. I stitched up the sides slightly in the waist area.

The problem with the Michael's t-shirts is that they are unisex and have no feminine curves and are too long. But, hey! That means you can use them to easily make tunic tops!

All I did was cut open the side seams to just above where my pants sit. I didn't want too much skin showing (the inspiration photo was a little too high for me although she's wearing an under shirt), but I wanted a peak of skin. ;)

Next, I cut out the neckline so it was a deep scoop neck. To do this, I used some fabric chalk to sketch a basic outline, cut the first side, and flipped that piece over to use as a template for the other side. That way, both sides are exactly the same. Make sure the bottom of the scoop isn't too pointy!


That's all! I didn't finish any edges. Jersey fabric doesn't fray. I plan to wear this with black leggings and black boots. I also love the current lacy bralette trend; this would be a good top to show off a peak of sexy lace.

Total Cost: $2 (or $4 depending on coupon/sale)



T-shirt Refashion: Sequence Minimalism


T-shirt #2 in the cheap t-shirts from Michael's series.


Inspiration
This shirt was what inspired me to cuff the sleeves and go high-low seams on my National Geographic t-shirt.

For this t-shirt refashion, I did cuff the sleeves, but I didn't make the hem lower in the back. I also brought in the sides to make it more form-fitting. This is a personal preference. While I love the loose-fitting slouchy look on others, I tend to look like I'm wearing a tarp.

I used strands of black sequence to make the lines on this shirt, which was slightly annoying because the sequence would fall off as soon as the pieces were cut.

I used plain glue to adhere the strands to the fabric. I'm not sure if this was a bad idea; I know they make special fabric glue, but after drying, it appears to be well adhered. However, I think this is definitely a hand-wash only shirt.


I ended up cutting out the neck area so it was more like the inspiration photo. I didn't finish the edges.




I bought 4 shirts from Michael's because they were BOGO50% off: light gray, charcoal gray, hunter green, and white. I tend to gravitate towards darker colors; I owned exactly 1 white shirt before this one. So, I was unsure about getting a white t-shirt despite loving the inspiration photo.

I think it turned out well, but will I actually wear it? That's something to think about when picking out your own t-shirts to refashion. You should have a pretty good idea of what colors/styles look good on you.

Here are a couple alternative ideas I had for this shirt:
 


T-shirt Refashion: National Geographic


Michael's (and other craft stores) sell cheap, plain t-shirts. They go on sale regularly; usually priced at $4/each, I've seen them go as low as $1/each.

I didn't have to wait very long before they were BOGO 50% off. I picked up 4.

T-Shirt #1:
Inspiration

I picked up some fabric paint medium that allows you to convert any acrylic paint into fabric paint. I don't think this is a necessary item, but I was interested in trying it out.

Remember to put a piece of waxy paper inside the t-shirt before painting. You can cheat and use regular paper, but be sure to remove it and hang up your shirt (to keep the front and back from sticking together) before the paint dries. With wax paper, you don't have to worry about anything; even after the paint dries, it should just peel right off.

I used masking tape and a sponge to get the crisp yellow rectangle. I also used it to mask around where the lettering belonged (to keep my letters straight) but painted the words free-hand. You could also sketch out the letters with some fabric marking chalk.

These t-shirts were unisex. Women's styles were available but not in all the colors I wanted. For each shirt, I hemmed the bottom and brought in the sides around my waist in order to make them more feminine.

For this shirt, I hemmed the bottom so that the back was longer than the front (just because I've been seeing this tend recently and wanted to test it out).

The Inspiration shirt doesn't have sleeves, but I decided to keep mine. This is personal preference. I cuffed my sleeves and stitched them in place by sewing in the upper and lower seams (this is called "stitching in the ditch").

So, what do you think? Not bad for a $4 t-shirt.





Total Cost of Materials:
T-Shirt = $4 (or $2, BOGO50%)
Fabric Paint Medium = $1.25 (with 50% off coupon)
Paint Brush / Sponge Brush = already had
Masking Tape = already had
Thread = already had

Total Cost = $3.25-$5.25