ideas - inspiration - stuff

Sunday, June 30, 2013

key tassel

another fun use for the easy-to-make tassels i blogged about earlier in the year: key tassel! these are repurposed from my kids' old striped t-shirts:

Friday, June 28, 2013

summer toes

i am off for the weekend, but not before sharing a quick pic of one of my favorite things about summer: painted toenails and flip-flops!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

the upcycled denim skirt

this is certainly not an original idea, but one of my favorite summer projects for upcycling a worn-out pair of jeans. here's a quick how-to: cut off your jeans at desired length, no need to hem - i love the fraying that will naturally occur. don't discard the bottom pieces, you will need them. carefully open up the inside leg seams with a seam ripper, there could be as many as 3/4 layers of stitching that need to be opened up. open up front seam all the way to where the zipper starts, and back seam all the way to where the seam runs straight. lay skirt flat by placing one inside leg over the other. make sure the fabric falls naturally flat (iron if necessary). don't force this process as you don't want to end up with an unsightly bulge in the crotch area... open up the side seam of the bottom leg and place this rectangular piece behind the "V" shape in the front that needs to be filled in, lining up the bottom seam with the bottom edge of the skirt. when everything is in the correct place, pin it all together and make sure the edges of the inside leg pieces are folded over. stitch it all into place with 2 rows of topstitching for extra strength. turn skirt inside out and cut away any excess fabric. repeat process for the back of the skirt. if you use denim with some stretch, this will be one of the most comfortable pieces of clothing you have ever owned!

Monday, June 24, 2013

dip-dye dress

i may try more versions of this fashion project. the premise is simple: start with an existing top - in this case a classic button-down shirt - and add a piece of fabric at the bottom to make it into a dress. i used a cream-colored 54" wide piece of fabric, a little over a yard long. i folded it over - so the the skirt is a "bubble" and closed up the sides, leaving an 12" long opening, which matches up with the middle front of the shirt. i gathered the fabric in little, evenly-spaced folds and pinned it to the top. when it all looked ok, i sewed both pieces together. i soaked the whole thing in water and did a reverse dip-dye, dunking the shirt and top of the skirt in dark blue dye. i rigged up a washing line in my kitchen, so i could suspend the dress partially into the dye for about an hour, while stirring the dye carefully. i always add a few table spoons of salt which makes the color set. the tricky thing is then to wash out the dye while keeping the bottom of the dress out of the water. once you've rinsed out the dyed part as best as possible, wash the entire piece in the machine. the happy accident that happened here is that while both the shirt and skirt fabric were cotton, apparently the yarn that was used for the embroidery of the circles was not, so it did not take the dye at all. i thought it made for a cool effect...

Saturday, June 22, 2013

thank you cloth magazine!

what a nice birthday present: cloth magazine featured my peter pan button collar in the inbox section of their latest issue. louise is modeling. happy summer!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

button bracelet

another super easy 10-minute craft. gather 20 to 30 buttons - mismatched or similar colors - just make sure they're all shank buttons, not sew-through buttons. string them all on a length of fabric-covered elastic cording, preferably of a similar color. when you have enough buttons to fit comfortably around your wrist, make a double knot and snip off ends. done!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

very retro craft

love the extremely detailed crochet patterns and renderings from the book "victorian crochet by weldon & company", published in 1974 by dover publications inc. this is an unabridged republication, originally published by weldon & co circa 1895. crochet acorn anyone?

Saturday, June 15, 2013

charm safety pin

a quick 10-minute project, that will really jazz up your new coat this fall. all you need are some charms, pendants, watches, buttons.... use a pair of pliers to attach them with jump rings onto a large kilt safety pin. done!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

john singer sargent watercolors at the brooklyn museum

when i was an art student in antwerp, an exhibit of the sketches and travel diaries by delacroix and ingres made a lasting impression on me. later on when i was living in paris, i discovered the amazing watercolors by rodin. and now, this spectacular landmark exhibit of john singer sargent watercolors at the brooklyn museum, once and for all cements my opinion that i far prefer the sketches and watercolors - the preparation and research leading up to the final oil painting - to the grand finished canvas. the sargent watercolors feel shockingly current and are sublime in their use of color and depiction of both architecture (hard) and clothing (soft). a must-see for the summer!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

costume jewelry

i can't wait for the exhibit "fashion jewelry - the collection of barbara berger" which will open on june 25 at MAD (museum of art and design) in new york city. there is something so thrilling about buying costume jewelry, especially when the pieces are so extravagantly designed, they are obviously fake. take away the burden of expense and creativity soars! of course expense is a relative term. the costume jewelry of lanvin is jaw-dropping, but not exactly affordable. thus my hunting ground remains the flea market. here are a few picture of some recent finds.

Friday, June 7, 2013


my obsession with needlepoint started years ago when I was living in paris and regularly visited the puces de vanves, where i purchased unfinished needlepoint projects for a song. a good friend of mine owned the fashion it-item at the time: a vivienne westwood corset. the real thing was completely beyond my budget, so i borrowed it to copy the pattern and made my own version using a piece of vintage needlepoint. since then, my collection has steadily grown. i have made xmas stockings with them, and am now planning a patchwork needlepoint rug. i don't mind that the embroidery is unfinished, i think it adds to the charm. i have also learned a lot more about embroidery techniques by collecting and reading the books by the late and great erica wilson, the doyenne of embroidery. erica deserves a separate blogpost, so i will just leave you with these images for now.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

vintage enamelware teapot

this was the find of the day at the annual yard sale for the bvfa - the block island volunteers for animals. a vintage czech enamelware teapot from the 1930's, bought for $2. i love the crazy pattern and spray-on colors. yikes, this may the start of yet another collection...

Monday, June 3, 2013

hat pins

over memorial day weekend, we went to a yard sale at one of the oldest houses on block island. the owner's mother passed away and he was selling the house, and all its contents. i picked up an old box filled with jewelry bits and pieces, for $10. it was so much fun going through all of it later: i found victorian hair jewelry, black mourning beads, mother of pearl buttons and a great little collection of hat pins. my favorite is probably the one that looks like a scarab. since i rarely wear hats that require pins, i think i may mount these on a mat, and frame them in a shadow box. looks like i just started yet another new collection....

Saturday, June 1, 2013

before and after - part two

after the rope-covered table, i was on a roll. i brought some of the thinner twine with me to block island last weekend where i spotted a pair of unattractive white glass lamps. however, the shape of the lamp bases was good. countless hours and glue sticks later, here's the result! what do you think? i just need to find the right new shades for these, the ones i had brought along are too short...