Let us count our blessings! Hope your 2016 is full of growth and joy!
Let us count our blessings! Hope your 2016 is full of growth and joy!
First off: Sorry all.
I have been MIA this last month. No real excuses, just an inertia I couldn’t seem to pierce.
Part of this scattered malaise I can attribute to trolling through endless posts of possible investment properties in NYC. Not unlike Facebook, these sites are a total time suck and fairly overwhelming. Particularly as I am poking into such environs as the South Bronx and hoods I know nothing about. (IF, I ever buy something, I will be sure to post. My ideal is a great “deal” with just enough renovation to make it sexy. The ultimate Trash to Treasure!) However, for the time being, my search has led to…nada.
Another reason for my lack of gumption is grief. My Dad had his stroke and went into hospice and died two years ago in November. Two years. I think I’m over it. I think it should be easier now. But it isn’t. And after pushing my feelings away for weeks, I am now owning them. The realization that I am not “done” brings me a strange comfort. I am still allowed to be sad. I am still allowed to cry.
Lastly, the horrific events in Paris leave me fixed to my couch as if somehow by absorbing every bit of the news I can take on just a fraction of the pain these poor folks are experiencing. If only it worked that way.
So, between trying to write, and 700 sqft apartments (that are mostly dumps), and re-runs of “Fixer Upper”, and yoga, and, yes, grief, I am posting a re-run of something I did years ago.
This is a hutch is hardly Trash. But my friend was tired of the heavy look and hired me to re-do it. She wanted it more French Country.
Painting lovely wood furniture is always a gamble. But my friend assured me that I could “do no wrong”, she just wanted something different.
So, after sanding priming, crackling, painting, and gilding this was the result~
A pretty dramatic difference. Right? I am sure some folks will be just horrified, but my friend was very pleased and so I was happy as well. (if you mouse over you can see more of the detail.) Let me know what you think of the transformation.
November is a tough month for me since my Dad’s passing. But it is also a time to reflect, to feel, and to be thankful for all the blessings in my life. To Re-Boot!
(BTW, The Dressmaker’s Duke, goes on sale for 99 cents starting the 20th (tomorrow!) on Amazon!) Enjoy a bit of romance with your Turkey!
But first things first! I promised you photos of my flower girl “tablecloth” dress in action! Here are Anna Claire and Leah in their frocks~
You’ll notice a rainbow in the last shot. There was actually a double rainbow! And then a super moon later in the evening. Congrats to Greg and Katie!
I have hand-painted greeting cards and T-shirts for a long time.
I have always wanted to paint a dress. So, when trolling through my neighborhood thrift store, I came across a Victoria’s Secret dress (with the tag still on) for a whooping $6.50. So I snapped it up.
It’s made of a very light silk. I wasn’t in love with the pattern already painted on it, so I thought this would be a great dress to paint.
I have a bunch of fabric paints already, but they are very affordable if you wanted to purchase them. I like “Jaquard” brand. I have plain paints and also “Lumiere” paints which have a pearlessence sheen to them. Here are my tools below. (Notice a LARGE cup of coffee!)
I use an old ice cube tray to mix the paints. The iron I use to iron the fabric flat and to set the paint into the fabric. You can also use permanent markers to augment your painting. I usually like to outline my painting with markers but I didn’t in this project.
I looked at some painted dresses on the internet and was going to do flowers but then I thought of doing peacock feathers and liked that idea. After looking at a few pictures I determined that my feathers would start with a blue/purple center…then lime/turquoise in the middle…and then finally a yellow/bronze on the outside. (Those colors would also blend with the painting already on the dress.)
Then I used blue, purple, and green to paint the long “feathery” part of the feather. As I moved toward the top and bust line of the dress, I painted the feathers closer and closer together.
I tied the ties in a bow instead of drawing them around my neck, but I always have the option of changing it to tie around my neck. (click on picture to see the detail.)
Since I had my paints all ready, all I spent was $6.50!
Finally, The Dressmaker’s Duke is ONE YEAR OLD! I know, you must be saying, write another book for goodness sake. Well, the good news is I am! In fact I’m writing two new books~Mad for the Marquess, and Captivating the Countess (working title.)
SO, If you have not read The Dressmaker’s Duke, please try it!
If you have read it, and reviewed it, THANK YOU!
If you haven’t yet reviewed would you please consider writing one? A few honest thoughts will suffice.
My youngest nephew is getting married at the end of this month. One of his sisters has two little girls, Anna Claire and Leah. They will be flower girls. (pretty cute, huh?)I am call Aunt SoSo. Why, you ask? Well, when my nieces started hatching little ones I said, “So what am I called? Not GREAT Aunt Jess!” (said with appropriate dramatic horror.) My sister replied, “Well, would you rather be a great aunt or a so-so aunt?” So Aunt SoSo was born.
I digress. After sketching a few options and getting some inspirational pictures from Megan (my niece and the girl’s mom) I came up with a VERY simple dress. The fabric is the real star of this little frock. Once I determined I was going to use an old table cloth, I was set.
Table clothes are often gorgeous and not used very often (at least they aren’t in MY house.) They stain and have to be ironed (something I try to avoid at ALL costs). This one had a few stains which I got out and a few tiny holes which I would work around. I dyed it a pretty blush pink to try and mimic the bridesmaid’s dress color.
Here it is drying over the railing of our house in the mountains.
I knew I had to make these dresses very forgiving in terms of fit as I would not be able to try the dresses on the girls till a day or so before the wedding. Megan sent me some measurements, but really all I needed was the length of the strap and the length from the breast bone to mid calf. Anna Claire’s is 26″ in total length and Leah’s is 19″. Not a lot of fabric needed. Perfect.
Next I folded the cloth in half and cut off the end bit of lace
Then I cut out the body of the dress which as you can see is incredibly simple. The fold is on the left (longer) and the back seam is on the right (shorter).
I sew up the back using a French seam so it’s nice and neat. (Basically a French seam hides the raw edges of the seam.) Then all I have to do is stitch two rows along the top using a basting stitch. (It sort of looks like rail road tracks) These will allow me to pull the top threads and gather the fabric.
Next I take the bit of lace I’ve chopped off and gather it as well for the collar and straps.
1. sewing basting thread. 2. pulling the thread 3. rough collar and straps
Next is the hardest part of this dress. I cut lengths of fabric about an inch wide and as long as I can given my leftover fabric. This narrow piece will be the casing for a ribbon or elastic. It will also enclose the raw edges of the collar/strap and the gathered edges of the dress. This is where I will add in the slip as well.
1. slip 2. pinning slip in 3. attaching facing to collar
Basically, for the slip you just make another dress and insert it into the shell of the first dress. Then you bind the raw edges with the strip of fabric.
As a final touch I use a bit of fabric to make a little rose.
And here are the finished dresses! (I hope they fit!)
These little jewels didn’t cost me a thing. I had the dye and I used an old slip of mine for the under dress.
In next month’s installment I will have pictures of Anna Claire and Leah in their Tablecloth Frocks! So be sure and stop by!
As I was trolling through a magazine I came across this shot.
Maybe I’ll do something for myself!
Thanks for tuning in!
Some exciting news for my book, The Dressmaker’s Duke. It has now finaled in several Readers Choice Contests! And continues to get Five star Reviews! The little book that could! I am nearly finished with Mad for the Marquess and will submit it soon!
I am thrilled, The Dressmaker’s Duke has finaled in the:
Winners will be decided September 26th. My book’s first birthday!
This month I wanted to try something that would be very accessible for my readers. After all everyone has a old T-shirt and everyone has a pair of scissors. So the “SQUEE-Shirt” was hatched! Well, to be fair, folks have been hacking up their clothing for some time now from distressed designer jeans with their artful rips and frayings, to “deconstructed” classics and the grunge fad.
So let’s have some fun! I bought several T-shirts in some very juicy colors. I figured at $2 bucks a pop I could indulge in a rainbow of yummy shades. And the option of layering was in the back of my mind as well.
BTW, this would be a great project for tweens!
Here is my panorama of possibilities…
If you make the cuts closer together you will get a finer weave–farther apart (easier) you will have a more open weave. But be sure not to cut too closely or the fabric will fray and you won’t have a strong thread/cut to weave.
Start weaving from the back to front. (I accidentally deleted the beginning weaving pics, so this is taken when I am half-way through. Sorry.) No worries just begin at the top with the first cut, lift it up, and then take up the thread/cut just in front and pull it through the lifted back one. Drop the back one. Once you do that you will have a LOOP, or a “door” so that the next cut will go “through the door”. Again, once you have your “new loop” drop the old one. And so you progress till you come to the last (front) cut and are left with a final LOOP.
(Or two loops in this picture because I have done a double braid.)
You can either stitch this down with needle and thread. OR: You can cut a thin strip of t-shirt material, and then cut a little hole just at the end and thread the strip through the LOOP and then through the hole and tie it off in a knot.
OR: Add a chain loop with a bead.
There are any number of ways to secure the end. Just know you MUST secure it somehow or it will unravel. BUT, If you hate what you’ve done and want to start over, just let the loop go and pull the sides and POOF! You will get a fresh start!
More advanced: You can also do double and triple braids. Simply “comb” the weave out to the sides and begin a new braid right down the middle. NOTE: the narrower the cut channel, the trickier it is to weave.
You might want to use a tool. I made a little hook with a paper clip. (A large crochet hook would work well but I didn’t have one on hand). Simply use the hook to “fish” for the cut “thread” in front of your loop and pull the fished thread through. This tool helps when weaving in a narrow channel.
This find is really a diamond in the rough. The “diamonds” and beading were what attracted me to this potentially fabulous Frock.
I actually love this Ballet pink color. It happens to be very flattering on most complexions. Below you can the hem is pretty trashed and (hard to see) in the above photo but it’s big on me. So the first thing I do is chop off the nasty hem and some of the skirt.
Next I wash it. Now this can be tricky. I have a suspicion it’s going to shrink. It is handmade so there is no label to tell me what it’s made of (chenille and ??) Actually it doesn’t really matter because I am not going to spend the money to dry clean it. So, as a test, I wash the skirt bit I’ve chopped off in cool water with Woolite.
Tip: When at all possible try to test the fabric before committing the whole garment to the suds.
Sure enough, the fabric shrinks a good bit. I can tell because the lining does NOT shrink while the pink fabric does. (You can often stretch the garment as its drying to try and get it to stay true to size, but it doesn’t always work.)
So, I take the plunge and PLUNGE! You can (sort of) see the shrinkage. I am pinching the lining that is “extra” now after washing. I did put the dress on while it was damp to make sure it was not too tight. (Have you ever done this with tight jeans? Same concept.)
I still need to take in the sides some. I baste a new seam and then go ahead and stitch it on the machine. This dress has several darts as well as seams. This is great because I can “sculpt” the dress by nipping and tacking at any of these points.
Then all I have to do is mark a hem and hand-stitch it in place.
So, this little gem was $9.99… BUT, it was Wednesday, so it was 1/2 price! Yes!
I’m all in at $5 bucks. Sweet!
So what do you think of my Diamond in the Rough? Did I end up being Pretty in Pink? You be the judge!
And the earrings are from Jane Diaz!
My 40th birthday was September 15, 2001. As you might guess we had other things on our minds than celebrating my birthday. How about simply being alive? Counting your blessings not the candles on your cake? Anyway, you get the picture.
We scaled the party down and ended up having it in late October. It was a lot of fun and some folks even flew in for the festivities. Towards the end of the evening, after a few drinks and toasts and roasts we got to dancing. My jacket ended up tossed on a table which held a votive candle which caught it on fire and burned several holes in the sleeve and charred a few other spots.
I don’t know why, but I held on to it. (Well, some of you who know me well will never question why I kept it. I tend to keep just about everything. Hey, you never know!)
I used a seam ripper to open the seam at the shoulder. And then chopped off the burned part and did the same to the other perfectly good sleeve.
Then I cut a piece of the lace the same width as the bit I just chopped off. I sewed it onto the sleeve.
The charred spots I simply covered with a bit of lace.
So, what could have been deemed unsalvageable, I saved with a bit of lace! This is an easy fix. If you have a favorite garment that has a stain, a pull, a hole, a rip, consider embellishing it by adding a bit of lace to cover the flaw, or some feathers, or (as I did on a black organza dress in an earlier post) sew some silk flowers over the holes. You just have to have a bit of imagination. And the best thing is, if it doesn’t work, you haven’t lost much!
So here is my “fixed” jacket. It cost me nothing as I had the bit of lace and already owned the jacket.
The Dressmaker’s Duke is a finalist in the National Readers Choice Awards for both Best First Book and Best Historical. I am really thrilled! Writing can be such a solitary endeavor it is so lovely to get a bit of validation. The winners won’t be revealed till the end of July at the RWA (Romance Writers of America) National Convention, so fingers crossed!
Thanks for stopping by.
Also, I would love a review if you have not done so yet. Just go to Goodreads or Amazon click “write a review” and post! You don’t even have to use your real name!
Happy Thrift Hunting!!
I’m calling it:
I unearthed this “little” beauty (as you can see its HUGE) from my church thrift store on 96th Street. It was $7. I honestly did not know WHAT I was going to do with this HOT MESS, but I liked the tomato color and it is %100 percent silk–the chiffon and the lining. (Silk moves so nicely.)
Here it is:
Yes, this gem has shoulder pads and could fit another half of me in it.
I thought about removing the pads, hacking it off at the beaded waistline, and calling it a day. But, that would be too easy. Cheating. So, I dropped the whole thing down to my waist and decided it would be a skirt.
I marked the sleeve to cut off. And sewed them up to form the side seam.
Next I ran a piece of elastic though the casing in the back to cinch it up and in a bit.
The skirt was too long. So I thought about chopping it off and hemming it-a LOT of work (the bottom of the skirt is nearly a full circle.)
Then I thought I’d cut it off and shred the bottom as a kind of funky hem. (Trick, on polyester and man-made fabrics, you can actually singe the bottom by running it quickly though a candle flame. You have to be even and fast, but not too fast. Tricky because you can burn a big hole in the garment.)
So I decide to do the LEAST amount of work and I simply picked up the front of the skirt at the beaded midline. This will do two things: 1. Save me time and 2. make a pretty and slimming line. Win Win!
I pin the new beading line and then just hand stitch it into place. Easy Peasy.
Now for the finished skirt. I didn’t use any other materials other than a piece of elastic. So I’m all in at a whopping $7 dollars!!!
First I paired it with (do you recognize the crop top from my previous post?? I just turned it around.) A tad revealing but surprisingly comfortable. Just hoping there are no wardrobe malfunctions!!
Next I paired it with a simple burnished Gold tank. (thanks Amy Scheibe! dear friend and author of, A Fireproof Home for the Bride!)
Then I tired a cream and gold top I had on hand (again from a thrift store.)
I thought I was done, but then, as I was taking the skirt off, I saw it might make a fun cocktail dress. I simply added a gold belt:
So, what do you think? Did I go from HOT MESS to On FIRE? Let me know!
Thanks for tuning in! My next installment will be May 12th!