Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sunday Sew-Day:Tie-Dye Top

I don't know why I do this. I see these adorable strapless dresses with the shirred busts and think how cute they are, how comfortable they'll be in the Texas heat, and how easy it'll be to just toss one on and go, without a care in the world!

Tie-Dye Top - Before

Then I remember how much boob I have and how strapless dress implies strapless bra. I mean, I couldn't even be bothered to put on my strapless bra for this before picture. What are the odds I'd do so any other day? Yep, pretty darn slim.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Yarn Crawl Yarn Haul

For the past three years, the fiber enthusiasts of the North Texas area - knitters, crocheters, spinners, all of them! - have banded together to celebrate my birthday in style with the DFW Yarn Crawl!

MadTosh Tosh Merino Light
MadTosh Tosh Merino Light Mini Skeins in Thistle, Vintage Sari, Log Cabin, Jade, Graphite,
Aquitaine, Mirth, and Fathom - Purchased at MadTosh Crafts in Fort Worth, Texas

For over a week, these intrepid tricoteuses trek around the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area, visiting as many amazing yarn shops as their schedules and wallets will allow.

Vice Blurred Lines
Vice Blurred Lines in My Bloody Valentine - Purchased at Fiber Circle in Farmersville, Texas

But it's not just yarn shops. There are also farms, where you can see and pet the animals that produce that fiber.

Classic Elite Silky Alpaca Lace & Cascade Yarns Forest Hills
Top: Classic Elite Silky Alpaca Lace in color 2462 - Purchased at JenningStreet Yarns in Fort Worth, Texas
Bottom: Cascade Forest Hills in Silver - Purchased at Holley's Yarn Shoppe in Dallas, Texas

There is a knitwear manufacturer, where you can take a tour of the factory and watch the machines at work.

Fiber Lady Superwash Sock
Fiber Lady Superwash Sock in Chocolate Cherries - Purchased at The Fiber Lady in Lewisville, Texas

Many of these savvy stitchers challenge themselves to visit all 15 stores, spanning an almost 100-mile radius.

Dye2Spin Lace
Dye2Spin Lace in New Mexico Skies - Purchased at Wildflower Studio in McKinney, Texas

These noble men and women throw caution to the wind, abandon all pretense of a yarn diet, and amass considerable stashes beyond the limits of what one person could feasibly knit, crochet, or weave in a lifetime.

Two If By Hand MCN High Twist
Two If By Hand MCN High Twist in Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock
Purchased at Knitting Fairy in Grand Prairie, Texas

Those brave brandishers of hook and needle make such sacrifices and go to such great lengths to honor the anniversary of my birth. It really is quite touching.

Lotus Mimi & The Barbed Dragon Dragon's Wing & Dream in Color Wisp
Left: Lotus Mimi in color 18- Purchased at JenningStreet Yarns in Fort Worth, Texas
Center: The Barbed Dragon Dragon's Wing in Elba - Purchased at Jacob's Reward Farm in Parker, Texas
Right: Dream in Color Wisp in Absolute Magenta - Purchased at Yarn & Stitches in Dallas, Texas

Okay, so maybe it's not really intended to celebrate my birthday, but the timing is pretty convenient, don't ya think?

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Thursday Thrift Score: LBD

Yesterday was my birthday! We had reservations at a fancy sushi place downtown, so I needed to class it up a bit. I threw on this LBD I found for $20 at Buffalo Exchange a couple months ago.

Black Lace DressBlack Lace Dress

It's all-over black lace with a nude-colored layer underneath (except the arms - that's my actual flesh). I paired it with some black and nude wedges I got on the clearance rack at DSW a couple years ago. I don't recall the price exactly, but I believe they were around $20 as well.

It was a fantastic meal that was in no way thrifty. Good thing I saved money on my duds!

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Sunday Sew-Day: Tie a Bow Around It

This is my sewing desk sans beading supplies.

Sewing desk

Yep, that's right. It's back to sewing, for now at least.

I recently picked up this nice black blouse with cream-colored bows all over it. It was $3.99 at Goodwill, it's Lauren Conrad from Kohl's, and it's brand new.

Bow Blouse - Before

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Thursday Thrift Score: Putting on the Ritz

Thrift scores come in all shapes and sizes - and prices. It's all relative really. You'll see what I mean.

This past Friday, my husband and I got all spiffied up for a charity gala for his company. He warned me weeks in advance how fancy it would be - that he would probably be in the minority by not wearing a tux. I hadn't been to an event that formal since prom, so I knew I had some shopping to do.

I was hoping to find a old bridesmaid/wedding/prom dress at the thrift store and refashion it. I really loved making my Cinderella costume last Halloween and have been itching to do something extravagant again. In fact, I was recently honored to be included in Paris Ciel's 55 Intelligent & Fun Ways to Refashion Prom, Wedding & Formal Dresses, and some of the other projects on that list are so inspiring! Makes me wish I had more excuses to go all out!

Alas, it was not in the cards. I went to all my usual haunts, searched high and low for the gown of my dreams (or perhaps nightmares), but I just didn't find anything suitable. My last resort was a consignment store in a pretty wealthy area of Dallas. I knew they would have something - maybe something that might only needed slight alterations since I was starting to run out of time to do a lot of reworking. I also knew I would be paying more for that luxury, but I figured, "What the hell! I don't get all dolled up very often. Might as well splurge a little!"

Not only did I find the perfect dress that needed no alterations, but the tag just happened to be the color of the day, so I got an extra 40% off the ticketed price. Behold, my Carolina Herrera black chiffon gown.

Carolina Herrera Gown

I can't find this exact dress online, but the least expensive CH dress I saw was about $2500. So I feel like my $171 post-tax price was well worth it.

And, of course, we can't talk about fancy outfits without mentioning the shoes, right? I picked up these Tory Burch strappy heels at Nordstrom Rack for a mere $75 (retail $399). Just so we're clear though, these are not dancing shoes. They are not even walking shoes. They are by no means gracefully-descending-the-stairs shoes, though I was forced to at least attempt the feat (after a few glasses of champagne to boot!). I'm proud to say I did not fall on my ass, though I was certainly not graceful about it either.

Tory Burch Heels

Now that I was properly clothed, we still had to address the hair and make-up. Being the cheapskate I am, I like to go to the nearby Paul Mitchell beauty school for all my coiffing needs. My thinking is, I could go to Super Cuts and get my hair cut by someone who just graduated beauty school, or I could get my hair cut by someone who is about to graduate and has an instructor there to fix their mistakes. Plus, I feel like my super thick hair offers the students a healthy challenge. Three hours later, I left with my hair styled and my face painted for just $50, including tip. So if you're keeping track, that brings the total for this whole night to just under $300.

Sadly, we were a bit rushed to get to the party on time, so there was no time for pictures. But as luck would have it, there was a professional photographer there taking complimentary portraits for the attendees. So here you go, probably the only chance you'll get to see me in full make-up. I threw on pale pink pashmina (thrifted of course!) to cover the tattoos, and accessorized with a handsome hubby.

All Dolled Up

In other news, tada!

Pearly Pink Peyote

That's right! The peyote bracelet is complete! I finished it Tuesday night, meaning it took less than a week - a lot better time than I thought it would be when I first started it. It was super tedious, but I really loved the process. I definitely see myself doing more peyote work in the future.

Pearly Pink Peyote

Be sure to follow me on Instagram, where I'll be posting something pink every day during the month of October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

Pearly Pink Peyote

Monday, September 29, 2014

Beads, Beads, They're good for your art

This weekend was the Dallas Bead Market, which I didn't even know was a thing until a friend called me up on Saturday after seeing a sign for it while driving past one of the local civic centers. So on Sunday, we hit it up, not because I need more beads, just, you know, out of curiosity. I wouldn't be gone long, I told my husband. Yeah, that happened.

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But look at all the pretties! I fell in love with these blue metallic beads and bought three strands for $3 each.

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Then there were these freshwater pearls. I realize pearls are more valuable the more round they are, but I actually like the oblong ones better. Maybe I'm weird. I snagged these two strands for $5 each.


I found some cute black skull beads on the clearance table for $2. These are going to make a great gift for a friend who loves all things skull.


Finally, I sorted through a bin of fossil pendants and picked out the very best one to bring home with me. This set me back $6.

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I was still on a bead high when I got home, so I immediately made a quick and simple necklace and earrings set with the blue beads.


Meanwhile, the peyote bracelet continues apace. It's definitely getting easier and faster (but still super slow) as I get more practice with it. It's about twice as long as last time you saw it, but only because I haven't had much time to work on it the past few days. I'm really happy with how the transition between the pinks is going so far.

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Experimentation

I feel like I can be honest with you guys. I've been a bit out of it this week.

You see, I've been experimenting with peyote, and I'm afraid I made have become addicted.

What?

Oh no, not that peyote! This peyote:

Peyote Pearls

I made a couple practice swatches using two different sizes of fake pearls. I've learned I like the smaller beads better. The fabric - for lack of a better term - they create just looks more delicate and more uniform.

I've also learned that the first few rows are quite fiddly. Once the pattern's established and you've got a solid piece to hold on to, it isn't that bad, but getting it started can be a chore.

Then I got to eyeing these pearly pink glass seed beads in my stash. I'm thinking they'll make a lovely gradient bracelet, slowly fading from the paler pink to the darker one.

Pearly Pink Peyote

Finally, I've learned the whole process is really slow and tedious. Tedium, I love - getting all those little beads in neat, tidy rows - but slow isn't exactly my cup o' tea. The beginning of my bracelet, a mere inch long so far, took at least a couple hours.

Pearly Pink Peyote

It's great. I'm really enjoying the process. I just wish it were a faster process.

So have you tried peyote before? What did you think?

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sunday Sew-Day: Frankenstein

I got back to sewing today, but the project was a little... different than usual. First, let's flashback to roughly 46 weeks ago, when I introduced you all to our newest family member, Laika.

Laika

One of her first toys (and probably her favorite) was a stuffed alligator we creatively called "Gator."

Laika

Laika got bigger and more destructive, and we went through three Gators, each of whom had many surgeries to prolong its life before we would give in and buy her a new one.

Laika

Sometimes there even would be multiple surgeries in a single day when she would rip him open again almost immediately after I returned him to her.

Laika

Eventually, we gave up. The third Gator was retired (to the closet in my craft room), and we vowed to only buy her hard rubber toys after that.

Laika

But the three Gators stayed in my craft closet, wondering if they would ever be restored and reunited with their canine companion (Stockholm syndrome much?).

Now, with Laika's first birthday tomorrow, I decided to give her the gift of Gator. I pulled out all three and surveyed the damage. A detached leg. A notched tail. A single remaining eye, the other having been torn off and the socket closed up. And of course, many, many tooth holes and gnaw marks, mostly on the heads. For some reason, the heads were always her favorite part.

Gatorpillar - Before

Since the heads were more my stitches than original fabric, I decided to just remove them from the equation entirely.

Gatorpillar - In Progress

I joined two bodies together, tucking the damaged tail inside the rear-most body's neck hole.

Gatorpillar - In Progress

Then, I reattached the severed leg to the third body...

Gatorpillar - In Progress

...before attaching the third body to the first two.

Gatorpillar - In Progress

Next, I salvaged a fourth squeaker (there's one in each Gator butt) from another disemboweled toy and stuck it in the front of the third body. Then I used the most intact swath of fabric I could find from the three heads to patch the last neck hole.

Gatorpillar - In Progress

Tada! Headless Gatorpillar!

Gatorpillar - After

Gatorpillar - After

Laika was camped out in the hallway outside my sewing room the entire time I was stitching these guys together. She could smell her long lost toys and was very upset with Mommy for playing with them without her. The whining and sniffing and pawing at the door was too much to bear. So the birthday girl got her present a day early.

Gatorpillar - After

I think she likes it! This was the least blurry picture I could get.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Bling It On!

In my ongoing obsession with refashioned jewelry, I present to you these lovely little barrettes a friend gave me to re-purpose. It's been a good 20+ years since I've worn barrettes, let alone sparkly ones, but these are mighty cute. I think we can find a way to make them a bit more age-appropriate.

Barrette Necklaces - Before

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Bejeweled

I haven't sewn a single stitch this week. You see, I've been on a jewelry kick, and since it's kind of an ordeal to get out and put away my copious beading supplies, I like to make sure it's all out of my system before I clean up and proceed to the next craft project. So at the moment, my entire sewing desk is covered with beads, wire, jump rings, and whatnot.

It all started when I noticed the dreadful state of my boss' lanyard for her keycard to get into our office. It was essentially a ribbon with colorful rhinestones glued to it, and now that most of those rhinestones have fallen off, it's looking a little sad. So I decided to make her a new one. I went to Joann's and grabbed some lanyard clips for $1.12 (25% off $1.49) and two strands of bright, cheery beads at $6 (40% off $10) to supplement some similar beads I already had. Those beads were in the form of this necklace, which I had made several years ago from an old brooch that was my grandmother's. I just never wore it though. The colorful brooch plus the wild beads was just too much bling.

Upcycled Brooch Necklace - Before

So I took it apart, and used its beads - and the beads I had just bought - to make this brand-spanking-new [and much more durable] lanyard!

Colorful Beaded Lanyard

Then I added a length chain to the brooch using jump rings. I feel like simplifying the necklace will help keep the brooch the focal point, as it deserves to be.

Upcycled Brooch Necklace - After

But as I said, I couldn't just put away my jewelry stuff after two items. So I pulled out this necklace, which a friend had given me months ago. She said she was never going to wear it, so I could have it or re-purpose it if I like.

Lapis Drop Necklace - Before

I'm not that keen on chokers (they're a little too '90s, right?), so I disassembled it and made it new again. I used head pins to dangle the stones from a basic chain necklace. Then I added a second, shorter chain with a few more drop beads on it.

Lapis Drop Necklace - After

The best part of this one was when the friend who had given it to me complimented it when I wore it on Friday.

Lapis Drop Necklace - After


Next up was an old bracelet (with I totally forgot to photograph) from a different friend. It was just a basic, single-strand bracelet in shades of purple.

Purple Dangle Necklace

I took all of one kind of bead from it (the rest went into the stash) and put them on head pins. A little chain, some jump rings, and a clasp later, and I've got another new necklace.

Purple Dangle Necklace

After that, I went through my stash and grabbed a few random one-of-a-kind beads.

Drop Necklace

Dangled on head pins from a bit of chain, and they look like they belong together!

Drop Necklace

Lastly (for now), I pulled out another necklace I made years ago. This one began life as a pair of clip-on earrings from my Granma's jewelry box.

Clip-On Earring Necklace - Before

I had wired them together and strung up a necklace, but the wiring wasn't the most attractive solution, and I wasn't happy with how I strung the beads. The smaller beads at the top just made it look like I ran out of the red and silver beads at the bottom (which I had).

Clip-On Earring Necklace - Before

So this time, I used jump rings to join the earrings together and created my own linked chain with the red beads incorporated.

Clip-On Earring Necklace - After

Vast improvement!

Clip-On Earring Necklace - After

Fair warning: I'm not sure it's entirely out of my system yet. So don't be surprised if you see some more beadery in the near future.