Monday, December 14, 2009


I whipped out these handmade potholders tonight as a last minute Secret Santa gift for coworker. It took about 1.5 hours for the two of them. My first ever potholders! I feel accomplished.

Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A proud mother: Vintage Valentino Blazer for sale

I have been thrifting my entire life (yes, even as a babe in a diaper, my mother would take me along on her expeditions). It was a lifestyle choice my mother made because of economics, but truly has developed into an expression of creativity and resourcefulness for the both of us. In junior high school I started buying clothes at the thrift store and reselling them at consignment stores. I still do a lot of thrift store shopping for myself, but I haven't been as into the reselling aspect of it, mostly because I haven't had the capital to invest. Instead I focus my energies on buying cheap sewing patterns and fabrics to make custom made clothing for myself.

My step-sister runs her own etsy vintage shop, and she was kind enough to accompany me on a thrift store shopping trip, share some of her etsy knowledge, and even to post a valuable vintage find of mine that I have been hanging on to til I had the right opportunity to sell it. Please check out her etsy shop.

At her shop you will find tons of affordable vintage clothes, shoes, bags and jewelry - including a vintage Valentino blazer of my own finding. It was thrilling to see it up there with proper photography highlighting it's features. I feel like a proud mother :-)

Saturday, May 30, 2009


I love these checkered shoes! Unfortunately for me they are size 7 1/2.

I got them at the Savers sale. They were one of my 20 purchases. If I ever get a vintage etsy shop up and running, these will be there!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Disco Dress

Dress: thrifted, $12.50/ Shoes: thrifted, $6.00

This vintage 80s (?) dress is only slightly impractical, but really fun. I haven't decided if I will keep it yet, but it is certainly resellable. The sequins are all intact, and it looks like it was only delicately worn. I may keep it around just in case I get invited to a disco party, or for the sheer joy of having an open back sequin dress.

I got my fix thrift store shopping

Still no sewing machine, although I am supposed to pick one up today. Instead I got my fashion fix thrift store shopping this week. Savers/Value Village had one of their semi-annual 50% off sales. I may be crazy, but I went to all four Savers in the Bay area. A friend of mine mentioned that I probably spent any extra money I saved on gas plus I had to deal with crowds of people. First of all, the gas wasn't too expensive, but the crowds were massive. However, I enjoy shopping partly for the thrill and adventure of it, and going to those four stores was an adventure. I think my favorite was the Milipitas store, because it had a rather large stash of patterns, including many vintage 70s sewing patterns (most of which I snatched up - photos to come). Also, they had a very large selection of dresses. I wish I would have taken my camera with me just to document all of the interesting people. I saw people with three shopping carts full of stuff. It makes me wonder whether they just wait til the sales to get all of their household goods and clothes, or if they resell them at flea markets or something.
The Stats:
Total Savers visited: 4
Total miles driven: 100
Total time spent: 5 hours
Total items purchased: 20
Total money spent: $64.65
Total gas purchased: approx. $17.00
An afternoon of bargain hunting: priceless

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

New vintage patterns

I am moving, so Idon't have access to a machine right now. I am knitting to feed the itch.

However, I did just acquire a new stash of vintage sewing patterns from a friend who was cleaning out his parents storage, found these patterns, and thought of me. Stoked!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

New Haircut

I got a haircut! I had it chopped off into a blog. I was excited about experimenting with braids and pincurled vintage dos with my long hair, but there is no point in having long hair if it isn't in good condition. I had my hair cut previously by a not-so professional, and they used a razor on my dry hair and it left my ends stringy and damaged. I haven't had my hair this short in 4 years or so. I like it, but I don't love it.

Haircut: $35 from Roxanne at O Salon in Montreal, Quebec (the first time I have paid for a haircut in several years)
Vintage Floral Shirt: $1 from Battery Street Jeans Exchange in Burlington, Vermont

Monday, April 13, 2009

JJ Ruffle Blouse: Burdstyle 6009

Pattern Description:
This pattern is for a short sleeve blouse with ruffles on the chest and a stand up collar.

Pattern Sizing:

Standard Burdastyle sizes, I used size 38.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?

Yes! All that and more.

Were the instructions e
asy to follow?
There were a few parts that I read several times over before I got them, but that may have been because they were newer techniques to me. Overall, the pattern was pretty straightforward. The hardest part for me to understand was inserting the sleeve slits.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

I like that the ruffles and the stand up collar give the shirt a refined look, but they aren't complicated to install. I like that the shirt has princess seams - I find it really straightforward to make fit alterations.

Fabric Used:

Plaid cotton. I was concerned about issues with matching due to the plaid, but a) the matching wasn't such an issue with this pattern or the multi-color plaid and b) with a little intention during cutting it wasn't difficult to match the pattern.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made:

I had to make my usual 1 inch reduction of the shoulder width. I also took the back in about 2 inches total through the mid-back. At first I took the back in from the shoulder blades all the way down, but it became to tight as it draped over my behind, so I let out the bottom fabric I had taken in.

Original pattern image

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
Yes! I want more shirts in this style. Highly recommended.


I found this pattern easy to follow, and I am happy with the style. It can be dressed down with jeans, or dressed up for work with slacks or a skirt. I think that the style seems refined, and like something you could pick up at a boutique (My roommate has one just like it that is vintage. I have always coveted it, and now I have my own custom made one!).

Saturday, April 11, 2009

What to do with my vintage Valentino blazer?

So I thrifted this blazer from Salvation Army for $10. It is too big for me in the shoulders, but I knew that it could be worth some money so I got it. It is Valentino, vintage and in great condition. The extra buttons are still attached inside. I don't know when the jacket was made, but it looks like an 80s style?

I suppose this is how many people got into selling vintage clothing: you see something at the thrift store that you know someone would want, but it doesn't fit you!

Any advice how much it is worth or where/how I could sell it?

It has great detailing with bright colored lining behind the collar, button binding, and cuffs. (Detail pictures below)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Style 1828

I created this skirt to wear to the Down East Country Dance Festival in Topsham, Maine.

The skirt was a success. I got many compliments on it, and the swirl factor is ideal! I shortened the length from the pattern to knee length. The only other adjustment I had to make was to make the waist a little wider because it was a size 10. I love the two gathers in the front and in the back. I used waistband interfacing for the first time, and it really did make the process a lot easier.

Butterick 6624

"Semi-fitted, partially lined, wrap top has short sleeves, tie ends and peplum."

I almost trashed this project several times. My original version I edited a lot in order to get the correct fit. By the time I had added all of the necessary adjustments, the bodice was junky. So I took it apart, and used that as the muslin/pattern for a new bodice. I didn't have the right size black fabric anymore, so I used a contrast floral print for the back bodice.

I like the way it turned out, although everything isn't perfect. I took in the shoulders, but due to the fabric stiffness and the higher sit of the sleeve, the sleeves don't fall like they are supposed to. All in all, definitely wearable.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

puffy skirt

I sewed this skirt without a pattern. The main measurement I used was based on my waist measurement. The skirt part is a rectangle. I doubled the waist measurement to figure out how long of a rectangle I needed, then gathered it to fit the waist measurement. I also included a built-in net underskirt for volume.

Inspired by:

(pictures found on Adventures of Me and Eilowny. The three-tiered skirt is by Built By Wendy)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Shirt Refashion

My roommate left a bunch of clothes behind when he flew to Argentina for his biking trip (check it out at I nabbed this men's size medium billabong button-up and converted it into a shirt that fit me better.


I gathered the front at an empire waist. I took in the sides. I shortened and gathered the sleeves.

Monday, March 9, 2009

new top

I made this cowl neck top yesterday.

Pattern: Simplicity 7719

Fabric: brown synthetic stretch knit from Value Village

Construction details: I took in the sides so they hugged my curves, and gathered the sleeves to accomodate the taking in. I had a hard time sewing the knit with my standard sewing machine. Wish I had a serger. I took in the shoulders, but I wish I would have done so more, because the sleeves fall at the side of my shoulder, instead of starting at the top.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Kasia Skirt

I have been wanting a high wasted skirt. I tried another one in purple wool, but the fit wasn't good, so I tried my hand at a new project. (I gave the purple skirt to my roommate and it fit her fabulously!).

The pattern is from They offer open source patterns, and it was therefore free. I was drawn to the pattern because it was a high wasted skirt, but also because all of the photos of user creations turned out looking fabulous.

Pattern modifications: none.

Fabric: The fabric is a purply-blue heavy weight cotton, with a little bit of stretch. When I washed it after getting it from the thrift store it got a wrinkle-dye look to it. I liked the effect so I went ahead an used it!

Construction details:
I saw another users creation (after I had finished mine) that recommended cutting the inside pocket piece to the full length of the skirt so that the seam line doesn't show across the thighs. Also, she added a snap attaching the button flap to the inside liner to avoid gapping. I think both of those things would help my skirt out, although the snap is the only one I can help now. Also, I used a bulky zipper and I saw it show through the fabric in a few of the photos I took.

I learned how to make bound button holes for this one! Yay! Oh, and how to use the button hole attachment on a sewing machine. However, the buttons are slightly crooked, but I don't think it is too noticeable.

Conclusion: Fit is great! I can't wait to wear it out. Thanks to my partner Curtis for taking these photos! He was very patient and considerate, and the photos look gooood.

Spring fever

I have been inspired lately by a) the birds singing and b) other bloggers excitement over springs arrival. I can't wait for the weather to wear this dress! Although it has been warmer, there is still lots of snow on the ground.

Pattern: I combined two patterns: McCalls 3148 for the bodice (size 12, view A) and Simplicity 2884 (size 12, view B) for the skirt.

Pattern modifications:
In order to combine the two patterns I just substituted the button up top with princess seams for the halter. I kept the side zip of the dress, but still kept the buttons from the bodice for looks. Fit-wise I did end up having to take a little in on the sides, and overlap the button flap more, but I am really happy with the fit. My best fitting hand sewn garment so far! I also added the blue pre-gathered lace.

Fabric: blue fabric with lilacs. I'm not sure exactly what kind of fabric it is. It definitely has cotton in it, but the fabric has a waxy sheen to it. Looks vintage. Bought it for $4.00.

Conclusion: As I said, I am excited to wear it for spring, and the fit is great! It looks great with a petticoat, as in these photos.

contra dance dress #4

Pattern: Kwik Sew 914, Ebay $10.00
size 14-16-18-20
I searched for square dance patterns on Ebay and this is what I got!

Pattern modifications:

I unintentionally bought a size that is too big for me. The black and red contra dance dress I made is from the same company. When I made that dress I just added extra fabric in the darts, but it still didn't fit quite tight enough. This time I slashed and tucked to create a smaller size. I focused on the bust fit. The size 14 bust measurement was 38.5 inches, and mine is 34.5.

Also, I used the square neckline bodice and the belt from view A, but used the alternating gores from view B.

Fabric: I used three 100% cotton fabrics with a green and white theme. Two have green dots, and the third has little green hearts. I got all of the fabric from Value Village for an estimated $0.25 a yard.

Construction details: I learned how to use a narrow hemmer sewing attachment for the first time. It saved me a lot of time hemming all those yards of ruffle.

Conclusion: The fit was better on this dress than the other one I made, but there are still some issues. The biggest one being that the back gaps. If I ever feel motivated I will try to edit that, but for now it is wearable. Great for spinning!

Good news and bad news

The good news is that I got to keep the sewing machine for another week and a half. Also, my boss said I could borrow her machine! Yay.

The bad news is that I have created four new projects in the last week or so, and haven't posted a single one.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Kiss the sewing machine goodbye

I have been able to feed my sewing addiction by using my roommate's sewing machine. Unfortunately, tomorrow she is moving out and taking the sewing machine with her! I have talked to my mom about shipping my sewing machine out here, but it will certainly be over a month until she has time and it gets here. I might try using my other roommates sewing machine, but it is an antique/old and it is very challenging to get it thread right and with the right tension.

In the meantime, I was super excited to find a series of blog posts on with collections of free knitting patterns. The posts feature free patterns for form-fitting knit hat designs, beret and slouchy styles, funky hat designs, and cowl and scarflet patterns.

There are plenty of exciting patterns on there to keep me busy even without a sewing machine.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


pattern: $0.75 from Value Village, view 2

skirt: fabric $3.00 from Value Village, purple wool

I am not very happy with how the skirt came out. I was going for the high-wasted skirt look, but the skirt wasn't quite high wasted enough, and the wool seemed too bulky in the waste. The fit isn't great. I used a French seam, like I learned how to make for the petticoat. However, because the seam was finished nicely before I had a change to check the fit, I wasn't able to edit the side seams at all. The original pattern had pleats in the front and darts in the back. I had to change the pleats in the front to darts so that the waste would fit (the pleats made it too small). But the skirt gaps out right around the mid-thigh in an unattractive way...

contra dance dress

the big enchilada, aka my third, and most successful attempt at a contra dance/square dance dress!
pattern: $10.00 from ebay

I created view B, on the left.

dress: fabric, approximately $10 from Value Village, $2.00 zipper from Fabricville, $2.00 ribbon from fabricville

petticoat: pattern from sugardale's How to Make a Petticoat tutorial, nylon netting $2.00 at Value Village
dress with the petticoat:

Over all I love this dress! Unfortunately I accidentally bought a 14-16-18 pattern without realizing it, when I wear a size 12. I tried to make the dress fit best I could, but it's still a little looser than I would like. Room to grow I guess!


Pattern: $0.75 at value village

Hoody: fabric $7.99 at value village

I used a polyester knit hounds tooth fabric for the hoody, with a wool hounds tooth lining. I wasn't sure how the two fabrics would mesh. It looks eclectic, but I think it works. I edited the pattern quite a bit, first by adding puffed gathered sleeves from the blue dress. I also had to bring in the sleeve holes and shoulders a bit, but I didn't change the size of the hood. That caused it to be proportionally large, which I like! Also, the lining was additional. I made the hood detachable with buttons. I used buttons down the front instead of a zipper.

Attempt at contra dance number 2

Pattern: $0.75 Value Village

Dress: Fabric $7.99 Value Village

The pictures of the dress aren't great. I added some inserts to the skirt to try to make it fuller. Turns out that was hard for me to do, and they don't look so hot up close.