Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Back to School Shopping for $50

What do you do when you're short on cash, but need to purchase some new clothes for school? Hit consignment stores like Plato's closet (which is like a thrift store for name brand, trendy clothes) and don't go into a regular store unless they're having sales.

I went shopping last week after finally getting through most of my wardrobe, gutting and altering as necessary. I had sworn that I would not buy any new clothes until I'd cleaned out my old ones and this saved me a LOT of money as I went about half a year without buying a single item.

First off is a pair of earrings... I've got extremely sensitive ears, but I love the way I look with earrings so I thought I'd give this brand a try. My ears ARE handling it better than they do ordinary earrings, but they're still infected. *sigh*
Now the clothes! I love Plato's Closet because t-shirts rarely cost more than $6, and everything else ranges from $8 - $12. And this is for really nice pieces that would ordinarily cost at least $20, if not $40 or more!

The following is a really lovely knit... dress! Yes, it doesn't look it when laid flat on the ground, but the knit actually hangs lower. Even on my very long thighs it comes down a respectable distance, although I probably wouldn't go out in it without leggings underneath.
Isn't this t-shirt cute? The blue is actually a sort of fuzzy pseudo velvet, and best of all it's from Express! (I love finding Express items at Plato's closet, as they're about the highest end you can get there!)
I adore long shrugs/wraps like the one below. This one was a tad small for me, but since it was only $4 I figured I'd play around with it. You can get away with more size variation in a wrap like this than with a t-shirt or such.
I'm a sucker for tie-dyed anything. Especially if it's in colors that I like. This t-shirt was a must have!
I really like graphic t-shirts. It can be hard to find ones that have appropriate designs or words though, so I was pretty happy to find this one. It's a small, however, so it's more of something I'd wear in the winter with a jacket than something I'd wear on its own in the summer.
I tried on a lot of brown pieces but this was the only one that actually fit. There's some lovely lacework in the back and I just love the distressed hippie design. Plus it's LONG.
After finishing up at Plato's Closet, we headed over to Payless Shoes. They had a pretty intense sale going on of all of their socks and such, so I stocked up! Everything you see below was just $2 each!

I'm not a huge stripe person, but the blue ones were too "Ravenclaw" for me to ignore!
I desperately needed a pair of cheap flipflops. And I dare you to find a cheaper pair than this.
Tights and knee-highs! I love argyle patterns, and apparently opaque colors are in for tights this year. So fun stuff!
And in case you've forgotten... I managed to aquire all of this for just $50! WIN!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Plaid Skirt Redesign

Several years ago, when I worked in the alterations department at JCPenneys, they had these really nice long plaid skirts. Long skirts for reasonable prices can be hard to come by, and I loved the plaid design so I picked up two -- one red, one blue.

However, I've found that nowadays the skirts don't get much wearing. While they're a good staple to have around, I don't need two. So I started thinking about how I could redesign the red one into something I'd wear a bit more...

I decided I'd go with a shorter, pleated skirt. First step was cutting the yoke, which was determined by where the zipper ended.
I then cut the lower portion into two equal halves. This included both the plaid fabric and the black lining.
The yoke was a little loose for the skirt design I wanted to do, so I took it in about an inch and a half on the non-zippered side.
Next I took the two lower panels and sewed them together at the side seams to make one long strip... this would become the pleats. (Pleats take a LOT of fabric!)
Next I had to figure out how big I could make the pleats with the fabric I had. This involved a complicated mathematical algorithim that WORKED but I couldn't possibly hope to explain. Needless to say, there is a reason why fashion design majors need higher level math classes than English Majors.
I worked in 1 and 1/4 inch segments. I quickly figured that I could mark off the spaces on the pleat fabric and fold it in the pleated pattern according to the marks. It went smoothly and speedily this way.
Pleats sewn, and pleated fabric hemmed. I sewed the pleats in place before attaching it to the yoke to make sure nothing shifted.
Then, to help it all lie a bit flatter and to make a very formal skirt look a little more casual, I added topstitching along the bottom yoke/top pleated edges.
Next I had to add a bottom panel to the lining.
And of course iron down the pleats.
The result? A very classy, cute and well made skirt that even my guy friends were awed by!

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Amazing Awesome Textbook

THIS is why I am braving the world of tests and grades again. Because I actually get to study this stuff.

Seriously. How can I not freak out over a textbook that includes an iconic picture of Elizabeth I that I've literally grown up with? And not because it's talking about the queen, but because it's talking about her DRESS!
680 pages of awesomeness.
Almost TWO INCHES thick! (No, I haven't weighed it... yet...)
Back Cover
I. Cannot. Wait.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Confessions: The Little Sewing Things We Forget and Then Make Elizabeth Do

I did a lot of sewing today, but you're not getting pictures from it. Why?

Because the life of a seamstress isn't just glamorous designing. It's also a life that, if used responsibly, means mending things rather than throwing them away. (And not just for oneself, not after your friends learn you can sew! Yes, I do charge $)

I've been going through every item of clothing I have in preparation for the college move. Some things have been fun redesign projects (like the t-shirt I showed you yesterday). Others, however, are a great deal simpler and are hardly more than mending. Five minutes and I'm done. But if you have enough, those five minutes can add up...

Being a costumer also involves some unusual laundry practices. I blogged about them on my personal blog, you can read the post here:

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Second Life for a T-Shirt

I had this adorable Paris t-shirt that honestly couldn't be worn anymore. It was too boxy and not flattering. However I loved the design and it was good fabric and I simply just couldn't throw it away. So I decided to remake it into a tank top.

First off, I took a tank with a neckline I liked and used it as guides for the sleeve and neckhole. I marked off the curves on the inside of the t-shirt with my dressmakers wax.
Since I don't have a serger, the neck and arm holes were going to remain raw edges. I wanted the bottom to match and also wanted to get as much length as I could, so I let down the hem. Every half inch counts!
I then fitted the side seams to give the top some shape. (Remember how it was boxy before? Well, no more!)
Ta da! Isn't it looking great?
However I knew the edges were going to stretch and they looked a little unprofessional without any finishing. So I took some brown ribbon and ran it through all the raw edges.
The result? A cute, modest tank that looks like it came from a boutique! Win.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Harry Potter Robe, Part 2

Ready to see how the robe turned out? Keep scrolling down!

By the time the lining was finished I was able to get a pretty good sense of how it was all coming together. It was pretty obvious though that both the sleeves and the bottom would need to be shortened.
A closer look at the really cool fabric. The picture actually doesn't do it justice -- it looked like it was actually woven on an old fashioned loom.
Said old fashioned loom look meant that it unraveled easily and needed extra reinforcement on high use seams like the armholes.
Sewing the top to the lining was a very involved process that required first sewing along the crimson, then pulling the sleeves out through the bottom to hem, and finally sewing half of the hem on machine and the other half by hand. It was tricky but the end result was fabulous!
Speaking of which...

Like it? Want a robe of your own for Hogwarts, Middle Earth, Narnia, Renaissance Fair, random medieval RPG? Commission cost would be $60 + materials, so if you're interested, send me an e-mail at historyswardrobe [at] gmx [dot] com.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Baby Quilts for Sale!

Looking for the perfect gift for your next baby shower? I've got just the item! 100% cotton baby quilts. At $35 per quilt you're not going to find better!

(Plus you get to help a student fund her college education, hurrah!)

My friend Shaelynn has graciously agreed to host the quilts at her online Artfire store. This makes ordering simple, with paypal, checks and money orders all options! You can view all the quilts on her last page, or click the individual links below.

More pictures and details on all the quilts available on their individual pages.

Quilts not your style? Check out the gorgeous, well made yet inexpensive jewelry Shaelynn has for sale in the rest of the shop!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Harry Potter Robe, Part 1

I got lucky enough to have a friend commission this robe from me. So even though I didn't go in costume myself, I still got to sew something Hogwarts-inspired!

Since I couldn't measure my friend myself and had to work off coat size, I decided to take a pattern I had and adapt it to fit. There wasn't a single style that fit Hogwarts, but I mixed and matched.
We had five yards of fabric and the pattern called for six, but with a bit of folding I was able to make everything fit. With a robe this voluminous it wasn't a big deal.
Also, my pattern only went up to a medium and my friend was a large! So I had to compute the next size up based on the changes between the sizes marked on my pattern. It actually worked perfectly!
For a Gryffindor Robe it is of course necessary to have a bit of red lining in the front and hood. Rather than line the whole thing in the more costly red, I just cut a width for the front.
The dart also had to be moved to accommodate the larger size!

Darts used to scare me because they're kind of tricky to transfer to the fabric evenly. However for straight darts you can fold the fabric/pattern over the ruler and run chalk down the fold. It was awesome.
Front lining assembled.
Stay tuned for part two, which includes pictures of the final product and pricing information if you want to order your own fantasy/medieval robe!