Linen Table Cloth to Flower Girl Froth

 August’s

trash to treasure bannerI am calling Linen Table Cloth to Flower Girl Froth.

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?)ac and leah 2I 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.

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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

(this will become the collar and the shoulder strap.)IMG_6635

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).

IMG_6634I 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.

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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

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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

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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.

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As a final touch I use a bit of fabric to make a little rose.

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And here are the finished dresses! (I hope they fit!)

flower girl dresses   IMG_6792  IMG_6806

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.

0811151211Humm…I like!

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!

 

 

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More Good News!

I am thrilled, The Dressmaker’s Duke has finaled in the:

Heart of Excellence Readers Choice Contest!

Winners will be decided September 26th. My book’s first birthday!

TheDressmakesDuke_w7674

ALSO,

 the Aspen Gold Contest for Best Historical

(winners Oct. 3rd)

AND

New Jersey’s Golden Leaf Contest for Best First Book

(winners Oct. 16th)

AND

a Double finalist in the National Readers Choice awards for:

Best First Book and Best Historical (winners were chosen July, 23)

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T-Shirt to “SQUEE”-Shirt

Welcome to July’s

trash to treasure banner

I’m calling it T-Shirt to Squee-Shirt

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…

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I started with a big (wide) cut in the back in the shape of a triangle. I folded the fabric in half and made the cuts.IMG_6508

 

 

 

 

     IMG_6511     IMG_6567   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. IMG_6554Drop 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.)

IMG_6606You 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.

IMG_6616There 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 IMG_6570 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. IMG_6543   IMG_6545    (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 IMG_6585and pull the fished thread through. IMG_6586                         This tool helps when weaving in a narrow channel.

 

 

Tips and Things I learned:

  1. Best not to have a cut on the tip of your finger when doing this project. Ouch!IMG_6568
  2. If you want to mark the shirt with either pencil or Taylor’s chalk turn it inside out first, mark on the inside, cut on the inside and then turn it right-side-out to weave.IMG_6583
  3. If you want to subtler (flatter) weave, braid on the inside (wrong side of the shirt).
  4. It’s easier to weave from back to front. So simply turn the shirt to position it this way.
  5. Sharp scissors are a must!
  6. Folding the fabric in half and cutting into the fold helps keep the cuts even.IMG_6508      Using straight pins will stabilize your cuts (keeping the fabric together and the cuts even is key).IMG_6584
  7. You can always expand your weaving area by simply extending the cuts on the sides (even after you have woven.)

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So here are some results. The point is to play around. If you “mess up” all you’ve lost is a bit of time and an old T-shirt!

IMG_6604  IMG_6614

IMG_6617      IMG_6608(You can enlarge the pictures by mousing over and clicking.)

Thanks for stopping by!

As always my book, The Dressmaker’s Duke is available at:

AMAZON, B&N. iTunes

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Diamond in the Rough to Pretty in Pink

IMG_6434

Welcome to the June edition of

trash to treasure banner

I’m calling it Diamond in the Rough

to Pretty in PINK.

This find is really a diamond in the rough. The “diamonds” and beading were what attracted me to this potentially fabulous Frock.

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Here it is:

IMG_6425     IMG_6417

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.

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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.)

IMG_6444 I’m not so worried about the shrinkage because the dress is too big so I’m thinking it may even save me some time.

IMG_6432   IMG_6440

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.

IMG_6437   IMG_6436

I trim and clip the new seam.        IMG_6439

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!

pretty in pink 2            pretty in pink

The shawl is from Lavanya Coodley through VIDA.

And the earrings are from Jane Diaz!

Thanks for stopping by!

My Regency romance, The Dressmaker’s Duke is available at:

Amazon, B&N, iTunes

 

 

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Burned to Beautiful!

This month’s

trash to treasure banner

I am calling Burned to Beautiful.

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.

IMG_5503  IMG_5504

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 dragged it out the other day. Humph. What to do? I happened to have a piece of red lace from a mask I made when I was Lady GaGa one Halloween. Pretty darned good match.Lady GaGa

IMG_5505

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.

IMG_5511  IMG_5507

Then I cut a piece of the lace the same width as the bit I just chopped off. I sewed it onto the sleeve.

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The charred spots I simply covered with a bit of lace.

IMG_5564  IMG_5565

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.

finished  IMG_5565

I have a good news!

NRCA Icon Best 1st book           NRCA Icon Historical

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.

And if you haven’t checked out my book, please give it a try! Available at: amazon, B&N, iTunes

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!! 

 

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NRCA finalist! Twice!

The Dressmaker’s Duke is a finalist in the National Readers Choice Awards for:

Best First Book!

NRCA Icon Best 1st book

Also…it is a finalist in the Historical category!

NRCA Icon Historical

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Hot Mess to On Fire

Welcome to this month’s

trash to treasure banner

I’m calling it:

“HOT MESS” to “ON FIRE” 

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:

red front  red back

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.

IMG_6096  IMG_6097  IMG_6098

Next I ran a piece of elastic though the casing in the back to cinch it up and in a bit.

IMG_6102  IMG_6103

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.)

IMG_6104Then 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!

IMG_6099

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!!

crop top  IMG_6115

Next I paired it with a simple burnished Gold tank. (thanks Amy Scheibe! dear friend and author of, A Fireproof Home for the Bride!)

gold tank

Then I tired a cream and gold top I had on hand (again from a thrift store.)

cream top

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:

short dress

So, what do you think? Did I go from HOT MESS to On FIRE? Let me know!

<noscript>
<a href=”http://polldaddy.com/poll/8771952/”>HOT MESS to ON FIRE</a><br/>
<span style=”font:9px;”>(<a href=”http://www.polldaddy.com”>polls</a&gt;)</span>
</noscript>

Thanks for tuning in! My next installment will be May 12th!

And remember The Dressmaker’s Duke available is at:

Amazon, B &N, iTunes

 

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Heavy Metal to Midriff Melody

Welcome to #4 Heavy Metal to Midriff Melody this month’s~

trash to treasure banner

I unearthed this “Treasure” at the Salvation Army on 96th Street.

 gold front midrift back

They were just about to put it on the floor when I snagged it for a cool $24.99. Expensive for me, but I thought it just might be worth it. We’ll see…

The dress is obviously too BIG for me. So I decided to hack it up!

IMG_5772

I thought making separate pieces would make the dress more wearable and more versatile. (Face it, that’s a WHOLE lot of BLING!)

So I looked for some inspiration~

sequens   Gwenth P

Okey Dokey. I am inspired. (BTW, the gal on the lefts legs CANNOT be that LONG.)

I begin with the crop top. I lay out the bodice and cut the sides to form “cap” sleeves, sew the side seams, remove the sequins in the selvage, and then clip the curve:

(*Any curved seam must be clipped in order to  allow for movement and shape.)

IMG_5799   IMG_5801   IMG_5802

Next I cut off extra fabric at the hem. Then I make a facing and sew it to the bottom edge, and hand stich the hem. I do this for the raw selvage on the armholes as well. Lastly, I cut off the ties at the shoulder and move them to the back bottom as a new closure. Finito!

IMG_5806   IMG_5804

Now for the skirt. Again,–too big. So I rip out most of the zipper, and then remove the sequins that I will not need. I tack the zipper back in its new place and then sew. I also sew a facing into the waistband to finish that raw edge.

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Hummm…I have extra pieces left over (the big dolman-type sleeves.) I can’t stand not to use them. So, I use one to make another handkerchief halter-like top.

handkerchief making

My only purchase for this project was the dress, so I am all in at:

Dress………$24.99 (no tax)                                                                                                      SWEET! Considering I made a skirt, a crop top, and a handkerchief  top.                         (And I have another sleeve left over for something else.)

So, what do you think??

(remember, you can click on any photo to see it bigger. Just don’t go too big on the face!)

crop top front crop top back

Crop Top

Handkerchief stretched  handkerchief draped   handkerchief back

Handkerchief Top two ways: stretched (left) and draped (middle).                                (I added a peacock feather detail on the shoulder. It had originally been on a hair band.)

silk tied  silk belted

Simple Silk Blouse.

Now you all weigh in. Was I successful? If so, which look do you like best?

<noscript>
<a href=”http://polldaddy.com/poll/8697576/”>Heavy Metal to Midriff Melody</a><br/>
<span style=”font:9px;”>(<a href=”http://www.polldaddy.com”>polls</a&gt;)</span>
</noscript>

Thanks for stopping by!

Tune in Next month on April 14th for my next Trash to Treasure!

If you haven’t picked up The Dressmaker’s Duke, it is available at:

Amazon   iTunes   Barns and Noble

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The Dressmaker’s Duke is .99 cents!

Woo Hoot! The Dressmaker’s Duke

is still a mere .99 cents!

Already have it?

Then Spread the Love and gift the book to someone in need of a little steamy romance!

Don’t have a e-reader? Download the kindle app to the computer!

So many ways to love!

Amazon

Barns and Noble

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MY BIG FAT BLOG TOUR

 

MY BIG FAT BLOG TOUR

I’ll be featured on various blogs over these two weeks From February 23~ March 9th. Please stop by and take a gander. And remember The Dressmaker’s Duke (e-book) is  ON SALE for .99 cents  through March 3rd!

February 23rd

~Laurie Michele

www.lauriemichele.wordpress.com

You’ve traveled back in time to the era of The Dressmaker’s Duke…what career would you choose in order to remain an independent woman, and why?

~Paige Bradish

http://paigebradish1996.blogspot.com/

Lucky Me!

February 24th

~Reading to Distraction

http://readingtodistraction.com/

Review

Febuary 25th

~Boom Baby Reviews

http://boombabyreviews.miadarien.com/

What is the appeal of writing and reading regency romances?

 

~Romance Novel Giveaways

http://romancenovelgiveaways.blogspot.com/2015/02/the-dressmakers-duke-by-jess-russell.html

Fun Facts/Behind the Scenes/Did You Know

 

February 26th

~Kristy Centeno

http://booksbycenteno.com/

Interview

February 27th

~Mel’s Shelves

http://www.melsshelves.blogspot.com

Spotlight

 

~Cafinated Book Reviewer

http://caffeinatedbookreviewer.com/

Review

 

February 28th

~Musings in Fiction Alley

http://musingsinficitonalley.blogspot.com/

Review & Spotlight

 

March 2nd

~Offbeat Vagabond

http://offbeatvagabond.blogspot.com/

Review

 

~Chica Loves to Read

http://www.chicalovestoread.blogspot.com

Spotlight

 

March 3rd

~Apocalipstick the Book

https://apocalipstickthebook.wordpress.com/

Spotlight

~Swimming in Words

http://patriciamarqueswriting.blogspot.co.uk/

Review

March 4th

~Romantic Reads

http://romanticreadsandsuch.wordpress.com

Spotlight

March 5th

~Ramblings of Cassie

http://ramblingsofcassie.blogspot.com/

Spotlight

March 9th

~A Tattered Copy

http://unshelfish.org

Review

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