Yes, I’m still alive.

And, yes I’m still talking about the Tiny Pocket Tank.

I’m sorry.

At least I’m not showing you another before and after picture of a men’s button up shirt. Not today.

At Sew Weekend, the Tiny Pocket Tank pattern experienced a remix it didn’t see coming. No, this is not your typical slow-love-song-turned-hip-hop remix. R. Kelly came nowhere near the Tiny Pocket Tank pattern. Let’s all whisper a tiny hallelujah for that.

Instead, just a few subtle changes were incorporated. Things like reversing the bias tape, so that a perfect fabric contrast is clearly visible.

Aren’t a polka dot and seersucker great together? Me thinks so. My friend Naomi whipped this beauty up in no time flat.

My sister bought some great gingham fabric on super sale at Walmart. I believe it was $1.50 per yard. So this shirt basically cost her nothing.

And she can sew a camouflage pocket. That is talent.

I dare you to find that thing. Oooh, she’s good.

A final, unfinished Tiny Pocket Tank in another insanely cheap Walmart fabric. This time with no pocket and reverse bias tape as well.

Last week my mother gifted me a great black and white plaid to make another Tiny Pocket Tank when I return to Colorado. I absolutely cannot wait. Summer is officially not allowed to end until I get my fill of Tiny Pocket Tanks.

The first annual Sew Weekend was a huge success!

But, honestly, there was no other way it could’ve turned out.

When you’re surrounded by the most inspiring people on earth, in the most beautiful place in the world, on the rainiest weekend of the year, life doesn’t get much better.

Until you have to leave.

Then, you might shed a tear on the drive home.

It could happen.

A two day downpour at Swan Lake in July is odd. Completely out of the normal.

The sewing gods were shining down on us through those showers. Because creating on a rainy day is a million times better than creating on a perfect-weather-to-be-sitting-in-a-tube-on-the-lake day.

Five little sewing machine presser feet humming along at a constant pace and the hiss of the steam iron created a lovely soundtrack for the weekend. My mom’s amazing ginger cookies and fresh berries were our weekend snacks. And early mornings with several cups of hot coffee were a time for quiet and peace.

I have so much to show you. I can hardly wait.

But for now, I’m still living in last weekend. Give me another day.

Life is so hard. I have huge quantities of fabric and low quantities of motivation. What a conundrum. A total first world problem.

What’s worse is I’m well aware this problem will multiply if not handled in a timely manner. Soon, fabric is going to be stacked to the ceiling and will occupy the bathtub. It’ll cover the ground until no sign of carpet is visible and I’ll be sleeping in a tiny vacant corner. Soon, I’ll be crazily yelling at my family that I don’t have a problem, and that my fabric infested house and I are just fine!

My name is Allie, and I am a fabric hoarder.

Despite an obvious problem, I am continually hunting for fabric at the thrift stores. And about a month ago, I really lucked out.

This geometric print is a breezy polyester/silk type blend, says my mama. The combination of orange and purple look somewhat vintage, and it smelled old. But so does everything at the thrift store. Still, I’m betting this print was made into an awesome 70’s women’s blouse with the neck ties and all.

After perusing my new favorite blog, I stumbled upon this awesome pattern by Grainline Studios. I immediately used Oh Sweet Joy!’s discount code and purchased it, and it was in my inbox not long after.

And then you know what I did? The next day I took that vintage silkyish material and I whipped up that tiny pocket tank, sans pocket, in no time flat. Yep, that’s what I did. You betcha.

Photo credit: one adorable, little mama Olson. Thank you!!

Besides a few printing snafus, which were entirely my fault for not reading the directions before printing the pattern, this sucker was a breeze to make. And except for one rather violent button pushing, due to a machinery malfunction, my frustration levels on this project were nonexistent. Next time I’ll sew the size 2, but this pattern is definitely a keeper.

Secondhand fabric made into a brand new piece of clothing? This year of nothing new is the bee’s knees. Too much fun friends. Too much fun.

Oh friends. I have such grand dreams. Such ambitions, but sometimes little motivation.

My life feels like a constant battle between what I should do and what I want to do. I’m letting go, more and more, of the shoulds, and embracing the wants. And trying to feel less guilt.

It’s working. Slowly.

Enter my new project.

I’ve had a grand dream for a while now. It was conjured up during a walk on a Hawaiian beach with my amazing little mama. It has been lodged firmly in my brain since that November day, refusing to leave. It feels less like a should, and more like a want. So I’m going with it.

It’s probably going to be hard. And frustrating. And I’ll probably think about giving up more than once.

But, lately I’ve been loving that little quote, “They didn’t say it’d be easy, but they said it’d be worth it.”

This is going to be so worth it.

Confused? Yeah, I figured. So here’s the scoop.

Starting today, July 1st, I will not buy anything newly manufactured, firsthand. No new clothes, no new sporting goods, nada. Clothes will be bought secondhand. Broken items will be fixed, rather than replaced. And for those items that I use so rarely, I will simply borrow them from friends or family. For 365 days. One year, folks.

Of course, there are certain items that will have to be bought new. So my small list of excludables is:

-Food: No brainer. And kind of gross to think about used food. This includes the beagle’s eats.
-Toiletries: Also a no brainer. This includes anything found in a typical girl’s shower or under her bathroom sink. For hygienic issues, obviously.
-New edition textbooks that can’t be bought used.
-Possible purchases for a new entrepreneurial endeavor next spring. These are even grander dreams that we’ll save for another post.
-Digital files: Music, audiobooks, movies. Because if I didn’t buy these firsthand, I’d be considered a criminal. And I ain’t no law breaker.

That’s it.

This next year will be full of craigslist scouring, ebay auctions, and lots of Facebook posts searching for items I need. I will be spending many hours in thrift stores, and many more hours behind my sewing machine. I am so excited. Pumped, one might even say.

It’s not all butterflies and rainbows though. I’ve quickly realized that I am going to have to plan ahead for EVERYTHING. And I don’t do that. Ever.

No longer will I be able to hop on over to Target for a cheap basic tank for a particular outfit. New climbing equipment can’t be picked up at REI on my way to the mountain. My dreams of a shiny new ipad? Out the window.

Why am I doing this you ask? Good question.

For starters, I spend way too much money on things I just don’t need. Having to spend several hours or even days looking for, buying, and acquiring an item that I deem necessary will force me to reevaluate a need versus a want.

Also, I’ve found my creativity repurposing thrifted items has, well, rather blossomed in the last year, contrary to this post. This challenge only makes me feel more inspired. This might be the year my wardrobe gets an overhaul!

I’ve received some mixed feedback about this project. People are skeptical. Most don’t understand why. At this point, this project is for me. My soul feels like it needs this. Something to call my own, and something that will be so gratifying.

That being said, I’d love some support. Can you do nothing new?

 

 

 

I’m going to apologize right away. I would love to tell you this is the last time you’ll see a before and after photo of a men’s oversized shirt. Lord, would I love to.

But, I know myself too well. And I know I how comfortable I get with the same old routine. I know how much I hate change. And when I find something I am actually half decent at? Well, let me tell you, I exploit that talent (if you can call it that) until everyone is begging me to please, for the love of all that is good, just stop.

It happened in high school when some fool once told I had a good singing voice. I’m sure my parents will never again be able to listen to a Aladdin’s Magic Carpet Ride without getting a little nauseous.

I swear, one day, I will change. Maybe.

Back to the shirt. Or shit. (Am I the only one that often reads “shirt” as “shit”? I swear it happens at least once per day.)

The really special thing about thrifting in the metropolis known as Great Falls, MT is the thrift stores are practically untouched. Not a single Portland hipster or tree hugging Boulderite has scoured those racks leaving the only the occasional pit-stained, torn, sad Old Navy rejects. No sir, these racks are bulging with authentic pearl snaps, lovely silk blouses and versatile vintage skirts. What’s even better, shopping at Great Falls thrift stores almost feels like stealing, it’s so dirt cheap.

This pearl snap had to be some cowboy’s favorite shirt. The back is at least a shade lighter than the front, and the arms are worn down to that soft, nubby feel of my favorite sheets. I like to imagine that it was worn by a rancher constantly on his horse.

It was probably worn by a porta potty maintenance man.

Because that profession exists…and it’s not a pretty one.

I’ve heard.

On Sunday, I’ll be announcing my new endeavor. It will be interesting…to say the least. Stay tuned!

 

I spent a grand total of 8 or so hours yesterday frantically sewing up my entry for the VintageModern Design Challenge. Mind you, in that time, I did six loads of laundry, walked to get Froyo, walked back to get groceries and bathed one very muddy Beagle. You could say I was…umm…less than enthused about this project. But it’s done, and I’ve think I’ve gotten more satisfaction checking “Make Vintage Dress” off my to-do list than actually completing the project. So it goes.

If you remember, I had great visions to update this retro pattern.

jumper-dress-pattern

That pattern, turned out to be just a tad bit frustrating. After many, many adjustments and about a half yard of fabric taken in, I came up with this.

I’m not thrilled, but it’ll do. I didn’t press my seams, sorry Mom.

I added some vintage table cloth material for the pocket and neck facing. A little vintage makes everything better.

Check out all the entries here!

Over a relaxing, Hawaiian Thanksgiving break I stumbled across an amazing pattern. This little summer frock looked comfy and cool, but also completely out of my skill range as a dress making newbie. I bookmarked the source, and moved on with my life, and tried to forget that beautiful, jersey dress.

Until…I entered the thrift store a few weeks ago and found the 1980’s polyester copy-cat (possibly…if you squint your eyes really tight) of my inspiration. We shall call her…Fuschia.

I liken Fuschia to my high school choir robe. Shapeless, matronly…something out of Big Love, if you will. The first thing that caught my eye about this piece were the awesome skirt pleats that looked something like this. Gorgeous, perfectly spaced, neatly pressed pleats. It turns out that when you machine wash a piece of clothing that says “Dry Clean Only” in huge letters on the tag, those pretty little pleats wash right out.

A quick image search of Karin Stevens apparel yielded some pretty freaking fantastic results. Check out these vintage gems on Etsy!

And now, I present to you…the infamous shoulder pads. I’ve had one of these stuffed in my winter coat pocket for about a week after toting it to the fabric store to find matching thread. I feel a weird affinity for them now. They will not be thrown away! Though I have yet to think of a clever repurpose for them.

Since this is my first tutorial, I’ll be the first to admit I forgot to document several important steps. It might have something to do with the fact that I hastily ripped the arms of this little gem off in a fit of rage in the wee hours of a Monday morning. Seam ripping is the best therapy.

Since I was attempting to imitate my inspiration piece, the arms (and shoulder pads) obviously had to go. Then, the back had to become the front and the front had to become the back. This would require some neck tidying.

I added a 1/4″ topstitch to the fraying neckline to clean things up. Easy peasy.

Next, it was time to sew up those arm holes. Now this part is not pretty, and I welcome any insight you have about transforming a sleeved piece into a sleeveless piece. This is my second attempt at removing sleeves, and it seems the arm holes always look a little wonky afterwards.

To do this, I folded the arm holes in towards the inside of the fabric once about 1/4″ and then again over itself to create a nice inner seam. I carefully sewed around the edge with about a 1/8″ seam allowance.

The last step would require a fair bit of fabric to come off the bottom of this sucker. Karin and Steven designed this little lady to hit just about mid-shin. Flattering.

I cut about 2.5″ off the bottom with my rotary cutter. Then, I folded the fabric over 1.25″ and pressed, and folded over again and pinned. This time I sewed with about a 3/4″ seam allowance. Now, the dress falls above the knee.

After taking so much length off Fuschia, I had plenty of fabric to whip up a little belt. Because the elastic waist is completely stretched out, I needed something to suck it all in. To make the belt, I simply sewed the raw edge of the extra fabric towards the middle, keeping it in a loop. It’s a bit strange to tie, but it creates a neat little bow-type thing in the back. For me, it works.

I have to say, I don’t totally hate this look. Not quite the inspiration dress I was going for, but certainly wearable.

It was a sunny day in Boulder, imagine that. Hence, the eyes stay shut.

And one totally dorky picture for good measure.

I hope you enjoyed! Any feedback on my tutorial skillz is gladly welcomed.