Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Mailbag: Drawing for Fashion

I haven't posted in a while (or gone to yoga in a while) because my day job has been more like a day and evening job. I've also made some serious sewing blunders recently... I'll post the blooper reel later. For now, I'm too excited about Things The MailLady Brought Me. Take a look!

USUAL COST: $150ish

I GOT IT FOR: $25 (Used and the next-to-latest edition -

INSPIRATION FOR PURCHASE: I've been on a two season Tim Gunn marathon on for the past week. This has inspired me to sketch! Bad news: I suck at sketching. Everything I draw looks like a fine 3rd grade rendering. In crayon.

VISION: Myself at my sewing table practicing my sketches into the wee hours until I have awesome skillz and can just let my inspiration run out my pencil! The essence of self-taught, baby.

GOAL: To be able to play with design ideas by drawing them instead of trying to make them! (It takes a lot of fabric, you know?)

So far I've finished half of chapter one. It's harder than it looks, but I'm better than I thought. Acceptable trade off.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Tutorial: Craft Storage Peg Board

My project this weekend was to begin the long journey to an organized studio. My inspiration: peg boards around the internet! Some examples:

So I went looking for a peg board at Lowe's, to find that they only come in dirty-white and wet-cardboard-brown. To get this cute crafty look, I decided to paint mine. TaDa!

As you can see, I need to get some ribbon and other fun things to hang up. Until then: here is how you can make a pretty peg board too.

Craft Storage Peg Board Tutorial

  • Peg board - mine was 4'x8', but you can use a larger size, or have someone cut it for you at the store.
  • 2"x4" plywood to frame the back of your peg board. I bought 3 in 8 ft long pieces, and had a Lowe's employee cut one of them down to fit the two short sides of the frame. NOTE: Line up your frame while the guy who is cutting the wood is still standing there! You don't want to get it home to realize it doesn't fit!
  • Drill with 1/8" bits (one to make the hole and one to put the screw in)
  • Eight 1/8" wood screws
  • Peg Board Hook Kit
  • Spray paint
  • Painters tape
I purchased all of these items at Lowe's

1. Line your long plywood piece up flush against the edge of the peg board. You want to mark the place for your screw so that it secures the plywood about 3/4" from the end of the plywood.

2. Once you've marked the peg board, put the plywood down and drill a hole in the peg board only. Do so on all four corners, approximating where the whole should be.

3. Repeat this process with the short pieces of plywood.

4. After all the holes are drilled, line the plywood up again. Place the screw inside the hole you've drilled in the peg board. Using the other drill bit, drill the screw through the hole and into the plywood.

You now have a back-framed piece of peg board! The problem is that it's an ugly color.


1. Lay out some newspapers in a well ventilated or outdoor area. Place the peg board on top.
2. Shake up the paint and SPRAY! Until the whole board is covered.
3. Let it dry for an hour - then move it to a safe place and allow it to set over night.


1. Arrange painter's tape on the pegboard in whatever pattern you desire. I chose stripes. Remember that the part you cover will remain the original color.
2. Repeat the spray painting procedure from before!

To finish it off, attach your peg board hooks and hang it up!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Oh My Shirt

On Friday, I wore this freshly completed shirt to work... and got a compliment from a stranger in the elevator! To make it even better...she asked me where I got it - the perfect set up for beaming "actually, I made it!" It was the perfect sewing conversation.

This is an incredible, magic shirt. It fits perfectly, not too snug, not too loose. The shape looks great with a professional skirt or jeans. Best of all, the steps were all nice and easy - I think the whole thing took me 5-6 hours to make.

As I get better at sewing, and start to see the possibility of making all my clothes, I'm on a positive body image high. My closest friend, S, and I had a long conversation about this the other night. Our conclusion: much like making your own food allows you to control the nutritional toxins that enter your body, making your own clothes allows you to control the body image toxins that enter your mind. As I've grown up, I've realized that no matter how much you love your body, those toxins are still out there - and every time you go shopping you're confronted with them. Consumer culture is set up to make you feel inadequate, and therefore in need of more STUFF.

But then there's sewing! Instead of looking at style and fashion as something I can only be part of if I fit into it, I'm looking at style and fashion as something I can make to fit me. It's being creative instead of trying to keep up.

I'll leave it at that for now. It's something I've been thinking about more and more... so don't be surprised when I bring it up again!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Lazy Louisiana Dress

This dress is "lazy" on multiple levels:
  • It's maxi length and jersey fabric means you don't have to shave your legs and you can eat as much as you want... and still look elegant.
  • I sewed bra cups into the bodice - the stiff kind - so you don't have to wear a bra with it.
  • I was lazy on the finishing - I used the machine where I should have slip stitched, I didn't understitch the lining... whatever... at least I hemmed it.
  • It took me three weeks to make this dress because some nights I just wanted to come home and watch House Hunters International on HGTV. (I mean, it's important for me to know what to look for in a villa in Belize, right?)
But it was all worth it... because this dress is comfortable, flattering, and keeps the girls in their places. I wore it to pick up Gus for the evening... he lit up when he saw it! This fabric is a favorite of his (he doesn't like the florals I pick out.) I must admit - I'm a sucker for chartreuse and fushia together. Check out the lovely gathering at the waist:

Technical Aspects: I used Butterick B5491 for this dress. The bodice is lined - which included a magnificent line of stitching the traced the entire edge of the bodice piece...

My other project right now is trying to figure out the best way to photograph myself in the dresses I make. I'm a complete amateur, using my boyfriend's camera. Half the time the photos are just ever so slightly blurry. I tried taking photos on my patio today... but the Louisiana humidity fogged up the lens and it took me a while to catch on to the cause of the haziness. Here are some examples:

Tips on sewing project portraiture are greatly welcomed!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

White Pleated Skirt Found!

Last month I posted that I was searching for a white pleated skirt. Lo and behold, strolling through Baltimore, I came upon an enormous antique store that claimed to have vintage clothes "downstairs." We only have a couple vintage stores in Baton Rouge, so naturally, I wanted to avail myself of this opportunity to see a different stock.

I descended an enormous staircase to find the white pleated skirt I had been dreaming about staring me in the face! It wasn't on the racks with the other clothes, and I worried for a moment that it might be on hold for someone. Not wanting to chance it, I snatched it up and made my way to the cash only register, $16 in hand.

I didn't even try it on - I just figured the $16 was worth it no matter what happened to the skirt. But as if by some miracle, it fits perfectly - waist and length! I pranced around in it for my friends, demonstrating this divine gift, until dear Kelly pointed out that it's completely see through. Oh well. I'll have to stitch a slip into the waistband. Yay! What clothing item are you hankering for these days?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Love in Baltimore

Between traveling and working, it's taking me longer than expected to finish the maxi dress I'm currently working on... until then, I'll continue with highlights from B-more!

We saw this adjacent to a high traffic gas station in Baltimore. Way to turn an ordinary fence into a force-field of positivity!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Luxurious locks

This little duck lives on my dear friend Kelly's porch in Baltimore. Later in the day, the heat caused his magnificent mane to wilt. Too cute not to share.