Thursday, December 3, 2009

Stimulus Jacket

At my favorite thrift shop there is a long row of quality jackets which do not seem to sell that well. When most of them survived the semiannual $10 a bag sale, I decided to take action. Using the forest green plaid jacket as the base, I found two jackets and a vest to echo the accent colors in the plaid. I cut off the bottom of the plaid jacket and replaced with the bottom of the red jacket. Red scraps embellish the lapels. The blue jacket provides inserts in the sleeves and accent triangles at the bottom. Plaid scraps embellish the blue. The back is cut off the vest, and the front pieces are sewn onto the top of the jacket. Four pieces are cut from the sweater, sewn together the long way, and serged around the edges to make a coordinating scarf.

This is the base starting jacket.

The bottom of this jacket replaced the bottom of the plaid jacket. Pieces of the red jacket embellished the lapels.

This jacket supplied embellishments for the bottom of the new jacket and for the middle of the sleeves.

This vest goes over the jacket.

This sweater cut into strips made the long scarf.

Tools and Materials

Three jackets about the same size
Vest large enough to fit over jacket
Thread, scissors, pins, sewing machine

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Disco Ball Handbag

A disco ball gives a festive atmosphere to any space. I transferred the concept to a handbag. The result is fun but not for the shy and retiring.


This is the bag I started with, a plain silver saddle bag style.

Tools and Materials

1 plain smooth surfaced handbag. Mine was plastic.
Large sequins in silver, black and multi-colors. I used Tree House Studio brand from the craft store.
All-purpose white glue
Super Glue


Glue the silver sequins on the handbag in rows. I avoided gluing over seams. On one side I randomly scattered black sequins, and on the other side I scattered colored sequins. The glue dries clear, so it can be spread thickly on the handbag. I used the white glue on the flatter middle area and the Super Glue on the edges. Any glue showing on the sequins can be wiped off or scraped off after it dries using a kitchen sponge with a scrubby on one side. Glue one side, let it dry, and then glue the other side. This handbag looks better the fuller it is, more like a disco ball.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Playing with Houndstooth

A black and white houndstooth weave jacket was the inspiration for playing with the houndstooth design on the plain turquoise silk sheath.

To make the jacket a bit more playful, I removed the velvet color and slip stitched closed the neckline fabric. The jacket was cut off and refinished below the bust in front dipping down to just below the waistline in back to make more of a caplet. The lapels were closed in front with two buttonholes and two shell buttons added.

The sheath was shortened to knee length and spray painted with silver paint in an enlarged houndstooth design. The back of the stencil was sprayed with tack adhesive so that it would lie very flat on the fabric.
The Web site has examples of several different types of houndstooth weaves. The one in the jacket is called Turnberry, so I enlarged and printed out a sample of that design. I used the enlargement as the template for cutting the stencil.

Tools and MaterialsDress
Two buttons
Stencil paper
Heavy duty craft knife
Spray paint
Spray tack adhesive
Transparent tape
Sewing machine


Shake the spray paint and clean the nozzle frequently.

Wipe the stencil off front and back before each use.

Mask areas around the stencil so that overspray does not ruin the design.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tattooed Handbag

Temporary tattoos are colorful, inexpensive and very popular for children’s parties. Grouping them makes a bigger statement than single tattoos. Why not use them to embellish a plain handbag?

What I Used:
1 plain smooth surfaced handbag. Mine was plastic. I do not know how this technique would work on leather or cloth.

Assorted temporary tattoos. I purchased the smaller tattoos (approx. 2”x2”) at a party goods store. I found some larger ones (approx 2”x4”) in a vending machine at a local restaurant.

Clear acrylic matte spray. I used Blair brand.

Washcloth or sponge

Weight, like a rock from the garden

Decide on a shape for the tattoo group that complements the shape of the handbag. Anchor the design with the larger tattoos. Then fill in the shape with the smaller tattoos. Some of the smaller tattoos have more than one design and can be cut up to fill in small spaces.
Follow the instructions that come with the tattoos to attach them to the handbag. In short, remove the protective cover on the tattoo. Place it face down in the desired position. Moisten the washcloth or sponge and put it over the tattoo. Weight it with a rock for about 30 seconds. Remove the rock, the cloth or sponge, and the tattoo backing. Let dry.
Spray the handbag with the acrylic matte coating, let dry, and spray again.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Soft, Feminine, Victorian Inspired Outfit

Sheath before

The plain but pretty silk sheath started my creative thinking. Remove the cutwork decoration from a satin slip and sew behind the scoop neck. This picks up the peach color. Remove the lace from the bottom of the slip and sew it to the lining of the dress so that it hangs about 1” below the dress hem. This picks up the cream color.

Lingerie before

The baby doll top had a slit up the middle, which I sewed closed. I put snaps at the shoulders to hold the top in place on the dress. The dress and lacy top were included in the Spring 2008 issue of Altered Couture magazine.

Shrug before

The rose shrug was made from a long-sleeved silk pajama top. Cut off the sleeves to short sleeve length, about 7” from the top of the shoulder, and finish the cut edge with edging lace. Cut off the collar and front button and buttonhole plackets. There was a pocket, which I removed very carefully. Cut off the bottom so that the shrug fits comfortably under the bust. From the bottom piece cut two ties 4” wide and about 18” long. Sew these to the front of the shrug at the bottom so they can be tied together. Sew edging lace all around the neckline, ties and bottom of the shrug.

I found two lacy rose decorations on sale in the bridal department of the fabric store, but they were bright white. To make them blend with the creamy shades in the outfit, I made some strong tea with hot water in a bowl and dipped in the roses. Perfect!

Sew the rose decorations on the shrug near the shoulders using a zigzag stitch. With the small sharp scissors cut away the fabric from behind the roses for a sheer look.

The cream, peach and rose colors reappear in the braided belt. Cut 3” wide strips from the three fabrics with a length of waist size, plus 36”, for each strip color, piecing as needed. Sew a seam along the length of each strip and turn to form tubes. Hold the three strips together 18” from one end and sew through all three to anchor them. Then braid the strips to the waist size. Sew the three strips together again. Trim the tubing tassels to the same length on each side. Slip two beads onto each tube, and knot below the beads to hold them on.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Two-piece Winter Outfit

A coat, vest and sweater are usually layered for winter, but I decided to combine them into one outfit. This was a fairly quick transformation, about two hours. I removed the sleeves from the coat, trying not to get the down all over the house. I was partially successful, and now I have a bag of down for some future project. I cut off the last cylinder of down from each sleeve and replaced them with the lower part of the sweater sleeves. I sewed the sleeves to the vest. I used the body of the sweater for the skirt, adding waistband elastic for the waist. A camisole is used under the top. Now I need to think of some sleeves to add to the coat, from a bulky sweater, perhaps.

The sweater body was made into the skirt, the sleeves were sewn to the down sleeves.

The beaded vest had sleeves from the coat and sweater sewn on.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Bee Couture

This is a cozy bee blanket I made from a contractor trash bag and R19 insulation.

This is how it is wrapped around the top bar hive and secured with a bungee cord. I also stuffed some insulation into the back of the hive where there was a gap, and I put in a small hole for the entrance instead of the long slit.

There's never a dull moment around here with the hot air balloons and parachute jumpers.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Denim Can-can Two-Piece Dress

Moulin Rouge entertainment of the early Twentieth Century has inspired generations. The can-can is still performed. To update the ruffled skirts worn by the chorus girls, I made the ruffles of denim. The black lace bustier with red peeking through is more authentic to the times. Red and black lace shoes echo the bustier to make a complete outfit for a modern party girl.

The black lace bustier was lined with beige nylon. To turn that to red I dyed the whole garment with Jacquard iDye Poly. It was also extremely stiff with wiring (probably why it was on sale), so I removed the wiring under the bust. The stocking hooks are removable, but I decided to keep them and clipped a little red bow into the hook.

For the skirt start with a cute, short denim skirt. For the different shades of denim ruffles I used four other thrift store denim garments, some both front and back, giving several denim shades. The bottom ruffles are 8” wide, the middle ones 6” wide, and the top ruffles 3-5” wide. Round the corners. Zigzag stitch along the outer edge about ¼” in from the edge. These edges will fray in a pleasing manner when washed. I snipped off the straggles after washing the garment.

Cut the tulle the same width as the ruffle to which it will be attached, and 2 ½ to 3times as long as the ruffle. Gather the tulle to fit the ruffle. Sew the tulle on the back of the ruffle, and then gather the ruffle a little bit. Do the same for all ruffles. I pinned the ruffles on the skirt as I went to help design the color arrangement. Then sew the ruffles onto the skirt so that the ruffle covers the seam. This helps the ruffle to stick out a bit.

Protect the inside of the pumps with masking tape. Paint the outside of the pumps red, including the soles, and let dry. Put clear gloss medium on the shoes, then the black lace, then more clear gloss medium. Let dry.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

“I Love NY” Sticker Clutch

The scrapbooking department of craft stores is a treasure trove of themed embellishments. The stickers work great on a plain handbag. I’m inspired by the look of well-traveled luggage with a lot of stickers from various places.

I used one plain smooth surfaced handbag. Mine was plastic. I think this technique would work on leather, but probably not cloth. Stickers are from the scrapbooking department of a craft store. I used 2 packages of Stickabilities by the Paper Studio in the “I Love NY” design.

This project is extremely easy. Just place the stickers on the handbag in your desired design. Rub over them to be sure they are stuck down flat. I went for an evenly scattered look, but they could also be grouped to good effect.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Mix and Match for Seven Outfits under $20

Mix and match outfits have always fascinated me. They usually consist of a couple of neutrals plus an accent, such as black, white and red, or cream, brown and navy, and these make very serviceable combinations. When I found an Indian cotton floral print dress in all my favorite colors, I decided to try to mix and match with spicy warm analogous colors and a neutral (denim). Nearly every scrap of fabric left from the alterations was reused in some way.

Here is what I started with:

Purchases:Floral print culotte dress $ 6.99
Jeans 2.95
Hot pink jacket 1.00
Violet shirt 1.00
Orange blouse and pants 1.00
Shoes 3.00
Purse 1.99
Napkin rings (6x$.25) 1.50

TOTAL $19.43
From My Stash:Golden acrylic paints and mediums
Black cord for necklace
Button cover for pin
Button for fabric pin
Krylon gold webbing spray for necklace
Metal foil scraps for necklace
Pin backs
Ribbon and fabric scraps for the scarf
Snap for hot pink jacket

Here are the finished items used to put together the seven outfits:

The first task was to convert the culottes into a regular dress.

The long-sleeved lavender shirt was used as is, but a pin was added to gather it under the bust to give it a little more shape. The pin could be placed elsewhere, or more than one pin could be used, or no pins.

The collar was removed from hot pink jacket and the new neckline stitched closed with the existing facing. I wanted to keep a little cap on the sleeve, so I opened the seam on the bottom half of the armscye and cut the sleeve off so that fabric could be doubled for the sleeve cap. I cut a facing for the lower armscye. Patch pockets were removed and replaced on the reshaped jacket. The former lapels were folded in flat. On the left side a 2.5” buttonhole was made. On the right side a piece of fabric was sewn to the lapel to go through the buttonhole. A snap holds the flap in place.

The orange pants were cut off below the knee and a band was added to make ties to knot at the side. The orange shirt sleeves were gathered to the shoulder seam and tied with self fabric made into two tubes each 12” long. At the hem of the blouse I rounded the corners in front and at the sides with the overlock serger to echo the scallop shapes in the sleeves and pant legs.

The jeans were painted with acrylic paint. The colors of the flowers echo the colors of the Indian print dress.


The shoes were rubbed with alcohol and painted with acrylic paints. I painted the soles a bright red (why not?). Then I sealed all with acrylic gloss medium.

The beads are napkin rings. Scraps of metal foil were glued on and let dry. Then acrylic paint was daubed and dripped on. Next I sprayed them with Krylon gold webbing. Finally they were sealed with acrylic gloss medium.

The scarf was made with leftover fabric from the alterations and with scraps from my stash. The scarf edge was overlocked. One pin was made from the jacket shoulder pads, and the other from a fabric scrap onto a covered button.

The purse is used as-is.

Day One
Lavender shirt

Day Two

Lavender shirt
Orange blouse

Day Three

Lavender shirt
Orange blouse

Day Four

Lavender shirt
Button pin

Day Five

Hot pink jacket

Day Six

Orange blouse
Orange pants

Day Seven

Lavender shirt
Hot pink jacket

Of course other combinations are possible.
The jeans, shoes and scarf were included in the Spring 2009 issue of Altered Couture magazine.