Browse Category: Do It Yourself

Roz & Ali Redesign

rozandali This gorgeous Roz & Ali dress has been laying on top of my sewing desk for most of August and September as I knew it would be a project that required a lot of time and effort. I love boxy dresses but they do not fit my shape (hips & bum require more structure!) but this dress was so stunning and it fit over all the necessary parts quite well.

In order to make this dress fit I would need to take it from a 12 to a 6 but keeping in mind the intricacy of the print. I started at the top and worked my way down, beginning with a dart in both shoulders as mine are rather narrow.

The dress was also considerably longer and sat awkwardly below the knee, which on my height and shape – makes me look shorter and wider! Not good. The waist was elastic which didn’t sit at my waist, so that was going to be a challenge to adjust. Step one – hem over top of the elastic section with a loose stitch to ensure the look would be right. The print doesn’t line up but it didn’t with the elastic either. I simply belt it and it looks finished!

I had to take in quite a few inches above the bum due to removing the elastic that held all the extra elastic together. A few stitch-tryon-stitch-tryon’s later and it started to form a more flattering shape. Unfortunately I still felt a little uncomfortable wearing it to work, by the time I arrived at my second job I realized it was only the interior lining (which never lines up correctly when redesigning!) was short – causing me to think the dress was too short.

A few seconds later with the assistance of my mother (because she was standing there with scissors and its a pain to take on and off) cut out the lining from the waist down. It was the perfect classy outfit for work and received a ton of compliments all day long.

Vintage Redesign

vintageredesign1 My greatest regret with this dress is that it did not occur to me almost 4 years ago to take a “before” photograph. Although in my mind the original dress I can see clear as day. Big boxy style, long sleeved and bursting with colour. It was the first dress I ever attempted to redesign and to this day, I consider it to be the greatest success.

The strips down the sides of the dress are the original sleeves. As sadly I don’t know what body could have fit into the original dress the top half was massive and the bottom couldn’t fit over my thighs! A few quick snips and insertion into the side seams fixed that problem easy enough, also it adds a little more fun in the design.

vintageredesign3The neckline was really unique and I wanted to keep the original base design. Cutting out the sleeves strategically left a really unique arrangement at the neck for structure. The only issue I’ve had with this dress (aside from the fact that its such a light fabric I can only wear it in the dead heat of summer) is that it has loose hanging fabric in the front. Now maybe on some body types it is quite flattering, but on me it just felt awkward. When I first wore the dress a few years back I simply tucked it into my belt… now I finally decided to fix the issue and sew it right down where it was most flattering – but still keeping a similar drape effect.

vintageredesign2 My favourite way to accessorize this dress is with gold, a micro belt, earrings or a loud necklace perhaps – although honestly the dress speaks for itself and hardly needs enhancement! I did a #tbt Throwback Thursday on Instagram to this dress when it was first redesigned, and decided seeing as the weather was gorgeous I would bring it out of the back of the closet! This time though, it dawned on me that I had left my gold flip flops in Cuba the last time I went on a trip! Ohhhh dear.

Blue Jessica Dress

bluewhitejessicadress It’s finally dress season in Ontario, gorgeous warm May weather inspires me to style up fun dresses with belts, flats and bold jewellery. Two weeks ago there was a half price sale at Value Village so I thought I ought to pop in “just in case” to see if there was anything I had to have.

Using my technique to prevent splurge shopping, I photographed some items I liked and tried on the day before. The only item that was of interest from that list of items was this blue and white print dress by Jessica. Every now and again Jessica surprises me by having very stylish prints… I must say I’m impressed!

Now this dress I found in the 16 section of the dresses. I am by no means a 16 but there is also no way that this dress is a true 16… I am guessing it was mislabelled in the factory as Jessica is a brand that tends to be on the larger side. I knew it would be an easy alteration if it was indeed a large size. When I tried it on the next morning at home I was very surprised at how nice it fit around the thigh/hip area. Anyone bigger than an 8 would not be able to fit in this dress! The top half however had way too much room for my frame so a few adjustments were in order.

I simply removed the pointless side zipper for comfort and sliced the dress in half. I loved the bottom trim but unfortunately the dress was an unflattering below the knee length. I cut it across the waistline and hemmed it by a few inches (hidden under the belt). I think it turned out rather well!

Budgeting | Part 1 | “Start A Budget”


Often people wonder how I am able to change my wardrobe and furniture as much as I do without a huge salary. For me its quite simple: the thrift lifestyle! but a more accurate response is a little more complicated: I budget. My parents developed a way to track their budget more wisely after years of just having a loose idea in their minds of what goes where. They began watching “Til Debt Do Us Part” where they started learning even more tips and tricks.

Personally having never watched the show (hurray for no tv!) I find this basic excel sheet budget the absolute best tool one can have for their personal savings and spending. I have taken some time to write out a complete step by step tutorial on how to create and begin your budget over two very extensive blog posts. If you’re ready to start saving, click the link to begin the tutorial!

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Refinished Coffee Table

coffeetable I purchased two wood framed coffee tables when I first arrived in Medicine Hat two years ago from a couple on Kijiji. They have been a great fit for all of my apartments out west but lately I’ve been finding they just aren’t needed in my current decor. I decided to try selling them on Facebook classifieds groups as well as Kijiji. All I ended up with is a ton of no-shows and wasted time.

Today I got out the white paint to do some touch ups around the house and got the crazy idea of painting one of them to make it blend into my decor a little better. I was amazed at the result, its really quite a cool looking table now. I may switch up the furniture in the living room now to make better use of this cool table.

coffeetable1I haven’t touched the second table yet, I think I’ll just leaving it in the basement until its needed one day.

Recovered Wingback Chair

wingbackchaircomplete It has been decided that my home is a source of work to my family, not often do they come by for a nice visit with a cup of tea and relaxation. It seems to always been that there is a task I need assistance with. While most people have bigger eyes than their stomachs, I have bigger ideas than my hands can create… every now and again.

My latest source of thrifty enjoyment is reupholstering furniture. This most recent project, or series of projects was actually inspired by my sister, who had been inspired by my altering clothing… a lovely creative cycle! She recovered her desk chair with a lovely black and white damask fabric to cover up all the “art” her cat had made with her claws into the original fabric. In her own way she came up with a plan for the pattern, purchased the fabric she wanted to use and completed the recovering using a method of elastic that would hug the fabric to the seat underneath.

When I was sifting through the fabric at Value Village recently with my parents, intending to find some fabric my mother could use to make yoga bags – I found this beautiful celery green fabric – and a lot of it! It dawned on me that maybe I could use this to recover my wingback chair in my living room that I had thrifted for $20 last summer. It seemed as though the more it was used the worst it looked, including the fact that it cannot be cleaned – soap simply makes it an ungodly disaster.

There appeared to be an endless amount of this fabric for $10, first pitching the idea to my mother to see what she thought. It was an instant hit with her as well! Little did I know, this project was a massive 3 day undertaking. I am not sure exactly what I had thought (aside from the giddy childlike oggling of my favourite colour) but seemed to think it would be a one evening stapling type of job. My mother in her own way, a perfectionist and master of the hand stitch. Her plan was a little more realistic.

Chair, Before & After We planned for a full Saturday of sewing beginning at 9:30am. We decided to do the smart thing and create a pattern out of quilt batting… Followed by laying it out on our fabric a few different ways until finally all the pieces fit, save for the back panel. This is why it is usually better to buy 10 metres of fabric rather than piece together using what you’ve randomly found!

By noon my sister had arrived only to ask if we had just started…! I suppose the chair didn’t look like much after 3 hours but we had done plenty of preparatory work! By the end of the day we had about 2 thirds of the chair completed, my assistance ending roughly around the 1 third mark when my mother switched to her hand sewing art. By day 3 all that remained were a few hand stitched details (her perfectionist ways!) and putting a back on it. Fabricland was having a three day sale conveniently so we picked out a similar fabric that we would do the back panel in seeing as we ran out of fabric!

I must say the chair looks far better than I could have ever imagined. We removed the dust ruffle from the base to expose the wood structure, removed the arm rest openings and gave the whole chair a new modern look!

 

Sweater Re-Design

STREETWEARALTERATION I ventured into Urban Planet a store I generally stay far away from, but I was on the hunt for warm patterned leggings. I had no luck in the leggings department but I did find myself looking through all the discounted sweaters. I saw this sweater dress-tunic on for under $10… It was just the sort of style I had been hoping to find in my thrift adventures but have not yet discovered one. I wasn’t sure about the length but perhaps it would be good with leggings.

The day came when I decided to wear it – all I could think was: “Wow I’m so glad they didn’t have a medium!” It was a large so I figured it would be on the big side and was the only thing I didn’t bother to try on. My arms barely fit in the sleeve! I’d hate to be any bigger than my current size or this “large” would be super snug! The spacious area is actually only in the neckline, assuming I had a larger canvas to fill it out with.

STREETWEAR SWEATER In trying it on in front of my mirror I decided there was nothing flattering about the length, it almost went to my knees and was just a solid tight grey knit with nothing forgiving about it. I’ve never been afraid to chop up clothing so I pinned the length I decided would be most flattering – half way down the bum but covering the hip. And because I liked the bottom pattern so much I decided instead of a simple hem I would bring up the bottom pattern and minimize the solid grey.

I did not take step by step photographs of this process as quite honestly I was expecting it to be a bust! Apparently I should have a lot more faith in my re-constructive skills! It wasn’t an overly complicated process, folding most of the grey over to bring up the bottom trim. Doing a straight stitch on the sewing machine to attach the bottom section to the top section. Once complete I had (on the inside) a several inch long folded section of solid grey knit.

To remove the excess I simply cut the folded extra fabric and removed it from the sweater altogether. On the outside it looks like a planned hemline…. if you actually analyze it you’d know a sweater like this shouldn’t have a hem! I like to be sneaky like that.

Earring Organizing

EARRING ORGANIZERIn addition to my post Simple Ways to Organize, I decided to do a serious house cleanse in the last few days of my holidays this winter. I had always used a thrifted silver jewellery tree to hang my earrings off of, but as I collect more and more pairs, it just seems to be a mess rather than something to help me stay organized.

When you have as many earring sets as I do you need more than the cookie cutter jewellery displays you can get at the store. For this you need to be a little more innovative! I am not a big fan of the mesh or chicken wire setups that some girls have tried, but I did think the most non-intrusive way of organizing would be some sort of storage case. I had several different styles of these clear boxes at home but mostly full of sewing supplies. I didn’t have one that had just the right amount of compartments and depth I visualized.

One evening while I was killing time, I popped into the local Michael’s and had a look through their jewellery displays that were on clearance – as predicted nothing that would really do the trick. I walked further down the beading aisle and saw all their plastic storage containers, piles and piles of different styles. Although very interesting designs not all would really be that useful for me for such frequent use. I knew I wanted something relatively shallow, but deep enough to hold a larger pair of earrings.

I first found a cute circular storage container for $2.99, it would be perfect for my tiny stud earrings. It has 8 compartments each with their own snapping lids. Ideally they want you to buy the full kit which includes a stand so you can stack multiple storage units and have them spin… apparently. I just needed the one!

Further down I saw two units with very similar designs, one wouldn’t hold as much but seemed like a more stylish container – and the other cheaper ($11.99 vs $19.99) that had 24 compartments and one easy lid. I settling on the budget-wise unit and it has done wonders for me ever since!

Reviving Broken Jewellery

JEWELLERYALTERATIONSI can honestly say one of my favourite past-times is creating or reconstructing jewellery. Enough so that I have my own business doing it! In regards to thrifting mind you, if you can wield a pair of small pliers you can save a ton of money on jewellery and accessories. Most stores wouldn’t be too keen on selling broken jewellery, or they sell it at a serious discount – which is great news for those of us on a tight budget!

I have been finding more and more earrings are being made too heavy for what they are. For example I picked up a few packages of $1 earring sets that were made as posts, I wore one pair for a few hours only to be driven mad by them falling forward and pulling my earlobe down. This is not a result of me wearing heavy earrings for years (because I haven’t been!) its simply a cheap design.

Granted it takes a moment and you do run the risk of the post snapping off completely if its really cheaply made, but a simple loop of the post wire can make a huge difference in whether or not a pair of earrings is wearable!

With my finger I bend the post as far upwards as I can make it without pressing too hard so that it doesn’t completely snap. Usually the tiny piece at the end of the post snaps off because of the dent manufactures put in it to hold the backs on. Using a pair of needle nose pliers I can slowly create a loop in the post wire. Combining the strength of my fingers and stability of the plier, I wiggle the looped post as close to the top centre as possible so I can ensure the earring will dangle straight.

Depending on the style of earring hooks you find, you can add it directly to the loop you just made OR you can add a jump ring in between. This is also great if you want to have a bit of dangle rather than a solid earring hanging down. I went on a tangent that morning and essentially changed every pair of large post based earrings I had into regular fish hook style earrings. The only post-style earrings I have left are tiny studs which I like the way they are.

As per my post about my vibrant Orange and Blue outfit on December 6th, I discuss how you can find great broken jewellery at thrift stores for $1! Here is another great example of a piece that I redesigned using what Value Village called a “broken” necklace. I thought the red and black rhinestone design was quite cool especially since I feel like there is no longer red in my wardrobe at all this would be a good way to start adding it back.

BLACKREDNECKLACE Unfortunately I was too efficient in taking this apart without thinking of snapping a quick photo first! What you don’t know is that this set was originally just one necklace with 8 interconnected sections. I only ended up throwing out one section, but was able to salvage some of the rhinestones that I needed to re-embellish the few I was needing to fix. I then needed to snap off extra unwanted loops with pliers.

The earrings were slightly more tricky to complete as each piece had a different arrangement of loops on the side depending on where it was in the original necklace. I salvaged two pieces that had the same loops – but needed to add a small chain in order to add a centered earring hook. Luckily being a designer I had all the required materials on hand and was able to complete the task without too much trouble.

 

Neckline Redesign

DIY-NECKLINEI’ve had this top for years but it has always frustrated me due to it’s awful neckline. There are many tops similar to this that I see come through the Store, but they always seem to fold nicely. There is something about this top, or perhaps my build that absolutely cannot pull off this design.

Today (because I needed it for my outfit) I decided to make some adjustments. Because of the intricate nature of what I was about to undertake, I had to resort to hand stitching directly on my mannequin. I figured doing it by hand would ensure that both sides were aligned nicely and the folds would be in place.

It was by no means a huge change but enough to make a much nicer neckline for my body type.

 

 

Simple Ways to Organize

Jewellery Closet OrganizerIf you are an accessory girl much like myself, you may find yourself with a surplus of jewellery and shoes that are ending up in a messy pile. Unfortunately the cute jewellery trees available at Michaels just don’t cut it for an avid jewellery lover like myself! Considering only about 2 of my necklaces would even hang on one, I use it instead for my earrings!

Now I described my issue to my father who is far more crafty with woodworking than I am, and he came up with this. My problem was having too many large necklaces, some short and some very long. I wanted a quick way to display them so I could find them as I was getting dressed. His solution was four boards with staggered screws for hanging that would be simply screwed into my wood closet doors via the two end screws. It was simple, easy and is actually a neat visual!

Shoe OrganizerLately I have been only using the two hangers (or one door!) and the other is full of things I never wear. I finally decided this weekend to take down part of the second installation in order to have a location for my shoe organizer. I do have several shelves inside my closet but now that I have moved all the summer flats into the door organizer, I can leave the shelves for heels and loafers!

My next step is to use a second organizer and attach it to another door so I can have all of my sandals easily accessible come summertime!