Category Archives: sewing

Looking Back, Looking Forward, A Glance Askance.

Look, guys! A post! I’m writing a post!

I was going to post some highlights from 2013, and don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a “bad” year, but when I thought about the moments that really left an impression on me, it turned out that many were, well, not what you’d call highlights. And the happier moments seemed a little wan, comparatively, in the shadows. So, on to 2014. Ad astra per aspera.

Resolutions: I’m not a fan. Oh sure, let’s set lofty goals. Through fault of our own or not, we falter. And we feel bad. I’m not saying you shouldn’t do it. If the dawn of a new year is what it takes for you to stop smoking, then go for it. I know a number of people who have, through hard work and determination, lost those extra pounds (and kept it off, which is really the hardest part and makes dieting look easy). But I haven’t made any resolutions in years. Tell people that, though, and they think you’re a party pooper or a slacker. So here. Here are my reasonable-utions for 2014:

IMG_1183

  • I will re-think—and complete—one particular home décor project. See this canvas? It’s 36×48 and it’s one half of a project that I started in 2005. And by “started,” I mean I bought the pair of canvases, printed one sheet of inkjet decal paper, realized how much ink it ate up, and set the project aside. For eight years.
  • I will reclaim our basement. See all that junk* behind the canvas? The basement is overrun with stuff. In part because this condo has a lot of square footage, but almost none of it is storage space. And in part because I run a business out of the house wherein I sell stuff. And that stuff takes up what little storage space there is. So in 2014, and I’m aiming for January with this, I will try to pare down the excess stuff. I’d say “we,” but this is pretty much my stuff and my responsibility. Craigslist, thrift store donations, private sales via a new, as-yet-to-be-created Instagram account, whatever it takes. I just want it gone.
  • I will finish refinishing our TV trays. 2013 was unofficially the year of Keeping The Dining Table Clean, and we’ve been successful, but we’re still in the habit of eating weeknight dinners off of TV trays while sitting on the sofa and watching an episode of White Collar. However, our trays have been undergoing The World’s Slowest Makeover. What should have taken a few afternoons has actually been on hold for months because I ran into some trouble with the paint I was using and its utter lack of adhesion to the base coat. I’ve since determined that spray paint is really the way to go with this, but as January isn’t really ideal weather for painting outdoors, this project will have to wait a bit longer. However, it will get done.
  • I will not buy any more sewing patterns for my own collection…unless I sew at least 2 things from patterns that I already have. HAhahahahaha. That’s funny.
  • We, collectively with the aid of our almost-too-laid-back vet, will “fix” our darling Ghrey Kitteh’s rather horrifying bouts of atopic dermatitis (eczema). I am determined that she will not feel discomfort any longer than is necessary for us to make adjustments to her care. I realize that we don’t really have much control over this, but I can pretend.
  • I will say “please” and “thank you” when appropriate. I will not return a personal compliment with, “Oh, no, my hair is a mess and this shirt is a terrible color and…” blah, blah, blah.
  • I will not feel guilty about blogging five times a year instead of the old five times a week. If you’re that interested in what I’m up to, you’re probably following me on Instagram anyway.

There are probably a whole lot of other things that could/should go on this list, but I’m trying to keep expectations low. So, how about you? Resolutions or not?

*Not technically junk. But seriously, when you own eight dining chairs but only keep four of them around the table on a daily basis—because if I wanted a dining table that sat eight people all of the time, I wouldn’t have bought a table with an extension leaf—where do you store the other four chairs?!

1 Comment

Filed under life-threatening clutter, pets, sewing

Secret Collaboration

So secret that my collaborator doesn’t know about it yet. Hi, Erin! ::waves::

My friend Erin is, among other things—many other things—a painter. Her paintings have been commissioned by businesses (Oklahoma Employees Credit Union, for instance) as well as individuals, and you should probably get yourself an original before her work really takes off. If that’s not in your wall space allotment right now, she also sells her work in the form of prints, calendars, and iPhone/iPod cases. Erin recently posted a photo of a painting created for Pencil Shavings Studio, now that it’s hung in place:

Custom abstract art by Erin Cooper for Pencil Shavings Studio

Custom abstract art by Erin Cooper for Pencil Shavings Studio

Lovely, right? And also, wouldn’t that make a fabulous border print for a sheath dress? Which I mentioned to Erin. So now I’m just waiting for her to decide to make a Spoonflower order and ship me the fabric, so I can sew her up a dress of her own art. Something kinda sorta like this:

The Cooper Sheath, as imagined by me.

The Cooper Sheath, as imagined by me.

But with better shoes, because it’s Erin. She’s an excellent stylist.

Leave a comment

Filed under design, fashion, friends, sewing, shoes

VLV16: The Wardrobe

Long-time readers are wondering why I haven’t yet posted anything about my wardrobe plans for the upcoming Viva Las Vegas rockabilly weekender. Year in and year out, every near-Spring I’m found with a pile of sewing projects and just a few pounds to lose in order to fit into that year’s fantastic dress…

But not this year. This year, I’m refusing to encumber myself. There’s too much kerfuffle in my life, and I don’t want to add to it further. No diets. No sewing.* No shopping.

Which is easy for me to say. I mean come on. I’m a vintage clothing vendor. It’s not “shopping” if I’m picking from my own inventory. Especially if I replace each item that I pull from Tiddleywink inventory with a vintage item from my personal collection. Right? ::bats eyelashes::

And one morning, I feel myself beginning to panic at my utter disregard for pre-pre-preplanning, and I start going through my racks. I pull out perhaps 15 dresses. Fit and “wow” factor narrow the options down to the requisite 4 day ensembles, 4 evening ensembles. I have to say, I’m excited by the options. This will be my best-dressed Viva yet, and that’s saying something.

The Boyfriend, who continually threatens to pack nothing more than jeans and an assortment of racing-related T-shirts, is caught up in my excitement and has started to consider items from his own vintage wardrobe (my heart is aflutter with hope that he’ll actually pack and wear some of it). He looks ever so swell when he gets decked out.

My shoe selection is currently at 10 pairs; I will narrow that down to 8—at the most—before Packing Day dependent on handbag options and Boyfriend’s opinion (he does have good taste, when pressed). My handbag collection’s newest addition, the Rialto that I wrote about recently, will not even make the trip due to fragile packing concerns. My polka-dot Toro paneled handbag will stay home because it simply doesn’t match anything I’m planning to wear. Maybe Next Yearâ„¢.

And so without further ado, a sneak peek at my VLV16 evening wear:

Rhapsody in Blue

Rhapsody in Blue

Silk. Rayon. Sequins. Taffeta. Chiffon. Eat your hearts out, kiddies. I mean, um, see you there!

_____________________________

*Full Disclosure: Today, I mended a pulled hem on a VLV wardrobe item. I will likely shorten the straps of one dress. The skirt I plan to wear to the car show I repaired a month ago, with no notion at that time of wearing it to Viva. The top I’ll wear with it was sewn by me, from a vintage pattern, but last year.

Leave a comment

Filed under collections, fashion, sewing, springtime, vintage, Viva Las Vegas

SEW-ALONG CHALLENGE: RECONSTRUCTING DOT

Setting free the seams.

Setting free the seams.

I know, I know, I indicated in the last post that you’d have a new, vintage-style wrap blouse in your hands by the end of the next week.

And then I got the flu. On a positive note, I lost 4 lbs. simply because eating would have taken more energy than I had available. I drank a lot of (caffeine-free) tea and vegetable broth. I am more enamored than ever before with the heat-retention power of a glass-lined Thermos, which enabled me to shuffle into the kitchen once to make a quart or so of liquids (I was filling two Thermoses, or, as I prefer, Thermi), and then have access to hot beverages for the rest of the day without having to leave my nest on the sofa.

Since regaining my health, I’ve finished deconstructing our Dot Blouse! I took the blouse apart at the seams, undid all of the hand-sewn rolled hems, and taken out the darts. I’ve ironed everything flat. I’ve spent hours tracing the pieces, cleaning up the curves, checking measurements to make sure the new seams will once again line up. Laying pattern pieces out in various ways in order to use the smallest cut of fabric possible. And just when I was about to share a PDF of the new pattern with you…I question why a bust dart on the original was placed going into the sleeve instead of under the armsyce. So I’m going to redraft that piece. And run to the fabric shop for some muslin, which I really should have thought of earlier. And I will make sure this new, improved pattern actually works. Then, and only then, will I dare to share the Dot Blouse pattern with you. Stay tuned, kids!

Leave a comment

Filed under fashion, sew-along, sewing, vintage

Sew-Along Challenge: Deconstructing Dot

Dot, our vintage "volunteer" blouse

Dot, our vintage blouse, in her “before” state.

This sew-along challenge is just that, a sew-along. It is not a crash course in pattern making, so I’ll be glossing over the bits where I deconstruct Dot, our “volunteer” blouse, to make a new pattern from the parts. Another reason for skipping this part? I’m a self-taught hobbyist, not a seamstress. There are more efficient ways to make a pattern from an existing garment. And I don’t want to teach any bad habits! But I did want to check in and let you all know that we’re getting ready to get ready to go. With a lot of encouragement from my trusty seam ripper, Dot is coming apart. I’m at a stopping point not because I’ve hit a snag, but simply because my hands ache. I hope to complete the deconstruction tomorrow, and to get a good start on the new pattern. Check back for updates, wherein I estimate how much fabric you’ll need! It’s entirely possible—if I can stay on track with this—that you’ll have a new, vintage-styled wrap blouse by the end of next week.

Dot, deconstructed. Mostly. I *could* mathematically calculate the assorted darts, or I could use a seam ripper to take them apart and just trace the dang thing. I'm choosing option 2.

Dot, deconstructed. Mostly. I *could* mathematically calculate the assorted darts, or I could use a seam ripper to take them apart and just trace the dang thing. I’m choosing option 2.

1 Comment

Filed under collections, fashion, sew-along, sewing, vintage

Sew-Along Challenge: Your Help

(No, you didn’t miss any of the posts that I promised were forthcoming. I’m just skipping around. Consider this a bonus post.)

And we shall call this blouse, Dot.
Matches the pleated wool skirt perfectly, yes?

Once upon a time, I bought a vintage blouse that is a very flattering cut but which is damaged-beyond-wear. That is to say, the seams are all intact, but the fabric itself is starting to fall apart. However the price was right (probably just a few dollars, I don’t exactly recall) and I planned to deconstruct the blouse and make myself a pattern. Planned.

Fast-forward a couple of years and I’ve once again tipped over the overflowing box of patterns that is not yet listed in Winkorama’s live inventory. I stack the patterns back up and on top of the pile now sits Butterick 5074, dating to 1949.

Hmmm, Butterick 5074. It sure does look an awful lot like the blouse I’ve been meaning to deconstruct. I could leave the vintage blouse alone, and use this pattern instead. Easier!

Naaahhh, the old blouse is already at the end of its life. It would be nice to let it be useful one last time. I’ll sell the pattern as planned…oh, but maybe I can have a one-on-one sew-along with the buyer of the pattern!

Naaahhh, that means finding the right customer for the pattern and who wants to play along. Okay, okay, what if I deconstruct my old blouse, and post the pattern online as part of an anyone-can-play sew along! Which means that the bulk of this challenge is in getting me to finally deconstruct the blouse. So I need YOU, my dear readers, to inspire (i.e., pester) me to continue with this plan.

Butterick 5074, ©1949

Since they are so similar, here are the blouse details for Butterick 5074: “This surplice blouse fits snugly into the midriff. It sweeps across the front to the shirring at the side. Cropped kimono sleeves. A ‘Quick and Easy’ blouse for suits. With complementary skirt, a perfect background outfit.”

What’s a “background outfit”? Anyone?

What I do know is that either blouse would be nice for warmer weather and also work well for layering under cardigans or jackets. While both are excellent patterns for novices, I think the Dot Blouse (as the vintage blouse shall now be known) might be even easier to sew because A. there is less gathering to fuss with and B. the true wrap style makes for a more forgiving fit. The end result isn’t as tailored, but that’s the trade for less effort. Another nice feature of the Dot Blouse is the short “tail” along the back, which lets you tuck the back side of the blouse in to a skirt or trousers. No surprising breezes!

So, for those of you who want to sew along because you’d like to add a classic staple to your wardrobe, or who want to learn to sew with a pattern more versatile than an A-line skirt (yawn), please comment below and give me some encouragement! The hardest part of this sew-along will be on my shoulders; deconstructing the blouse and drafting a new pattern. The pattern is simple, but drafting is something I rarely do and I’m sure to goof it up a time or two before I’m ready to have you guys join in. This means that we won’t start until after the first of the new year, when time is more plentiful. If you simply must sew up a blouse for a Christmas dinner or New Year’s Eve party, you can buy Butterick 5074 here (while it lasts).

_______________

Public Service Announcement: Why don’t I simply copy and post the Butterick pattern for this sew along? Just because a pattern is old, does not mean it’s out of copyright. Copyrights can be renewed, thus protecting the copyright for 95 years from the original publication date (provided the original publication date is 1923 or later), and believe me, companies like Butterick aren’t going let their patterns go into Public Domain if they can help it. You can not (legally) sell or otherwise make available copies of their patterns. Some pattern companies have more lenient rules about the sharing of their intellectual property, but Butterick isn’t one of them.

Leave a comment

Filed under collections, fashion, sew-along, sewing, vintage

Future Past, Tense

I’ve been Way Too Hella Busy To Blog for a while. Still am, really. But I feel bad for neglecting Shoes & Pie, and you, my dear readers! Rather than catch you up with one painfully long post covering an unrelated variety of subjects, I’m going to try to break it into bite-sized chunks that I’ll post as the week progresses. In no particular order (as I’m writing this as much as a reminder/outline for myself as I’m writing a Table of Contents for you), I’ll try to cover:

  • WABAC Wednesday vintage recipe: Applesauce Meatballs and Easy Rice Ring (1949)
  • Kitchen Pr0n: Yes, it’s possible that I added more stuff to the Shoes & Pie Test Kitchen
  • Vintage Food Propaganda/Ephemera (scans)
  • How To: Shop An Estate Sale (subtitle: Myths, Truths, and Don’t Be That Person)
  • Crafts ’n’ shizz. Oh man, do I have so many crafts (sewing, painting, drawing, assembling) lined up, and not enough time!

So until next time (this afternoon? tomorrow?), see ya!

EDITED TO ADD: Oh right, I should write a post about what has now been dubbed Holy Shit Pie, as in, “Holy shit, this pie is good!” Which was the actual text I received when I packed a slice in the boyfriend’s lunch one day.

Leave a comment

Filed under advertising, collections, day job, food, Is it safe to remove the gas masks?, kitchen, life-threatening clutter, packaging, pet peeves, sewing, shopping, vintage