Showing posts with label 1940s. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1940s. Show all posts

Friday, September 21, 2012

DIY: Room to Breathe

Vintage dress found at the Goodwill Outlet for pocket change. Don't hate.
 This past week has been such a busy one that I've felt a little suffocated. Like I didn't even have time to catch my breath or come up for air. And it was all my fault. Poor time management. Piling too many things onto my crowded plate. Procrastination. You know what that's like. Thankfully, the craziness has died down a pinch and I finally have room to breathe. Inhale. Hold it. And exhale. I feel like I could exhale for days. 

All of that breathing wouldn't have ever been possible in this dear vintage dress. Uprooted from a crowded bin of thifted cast-offs, this amazing vintage dress, with it's scalloped sleeves, too-many buttons and sweet floral fabric, was meant to be mine. Despite the fact that the waist was 20". And mine is not.
Is it just me or are all of my Vintage 911 posts about me trying to eek into too-small-vintage? I mean first there was The Armpit Blowout and then the Zipper Blowout. At least I was able to shrink one vintage dress. Perhaps it's time to cut back on my thrice-weekly pizza habit. Or not.
 So after giving this dress a good hand washing, I hung it up to dry for a day. Which became a week. And that turned into a month. I just didn't know how in the world I was gonna alter that dress to get it to fit. Then, when going through my fabric stash, I found some lovely lacy fabric. And the idea hit me: create a lacy back panel. I know, sometimes, I'm a regular Einstein. I read books and stuff. Makes me smart and whatnot.
 Now for all of you oh-my-gersh-I-can't-believe-you-cut-into-vintage peeps out there, I ask you: who in the world has a 20" waist? And do I really want to know them? I think I'd rather just punch them in the face. Who are they to be skinny enough to fit into my Goodwill find? But I digress. Lemme just tell you how I made this lil number work for my not-20"-waist, erm-kay?:

I began by seam ripping the collar from the back panel and the back panel from the waist. I added a panel of lace that was approximately 8" across and 2" beyond the length of the back. Before putting it in at the neck, I gathered the top with a basting stitch and then stitched it onto the collar. From there, I sewed the lace to the turned under sides of the dress. And finally I gathered what was left of the lace and reattached that to the waist. This part wasn't nearly as pretty as the top as there wasn't as much lace to gather. So I covered it with one of my belts.
My only beef with this sweet little number? The 5000 buttons up the front. Pretty to look at. Not so much fun to deal with.
And it was really as simple as that. Plenty of room to breathe. Which, thankfully, I'll have a little bit of time to do. That is before my poor-time-management/procrastination/piled-up-plate catches up with me again. Until then, just breathe...

...sorry, I just couldn't help myself. These guys were my all time fave sappy band in the late '80's. Enjoy!

By the way, if you voted on the last Vintage 911, thank you so much. I believe I'll be leaving the sleeves on the dress. I appreciate your input!
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Monday, February 20, 2012

DIY: Shoes

This year's Back-to-School Shoes
Hi, guys! This is just an update...I recently created more DIY shoes, this time Platform Sandals (eep!), that you can read more about here.

I never really thought I had a thing for shoes. But the enormity of 'em in my closet (and under the bed, in the once-linen closet,  and stacked in the bathtub) begs to differ. So apparently I have a weak spot. Some people adopt little lost abandoned animals and give them a home...I like to think that I do the same. Just for shoes.

Now the prob with being a shoe hoarder is that it could easily become a costly venture. I found this out at the beginning of the school year when I saw the cutest pencil shoes at Modcloth...for about one hundred bucks. Being the thrift shopper that I am, I constantly experience sticker shock when shopping retail. After studying the pencil shoes, I realized that I just might be able to recreate them myself.
The kids love these shoes. Most frequently asked question: "How do you sharpen those?"
So off to the thrift store I went in search of a pair of shoes to use as my canvas. With a black pair of slip-ons, I drew out my design in white colored pencil. It was simple enough: a curved line for the lead, a scalloped line for the wooden part, a couple of straight lines for the end of the pencil. I used several coats of acrylic paint and covered the shoes in Modge Podge. 

Now, I'm not so sure acrylic paint is the best bet. I've worn these shoes a half dozen times (turns out pencil shoes don't  go with everything) and they have cracked at the crease of the shoe. I recently read that Martha Stuart makes an all-purpose paint (of course she does) that might have worked better. Any ideas? 
There's a reason I don't have many pairs of pointed shoes in my closet. Because putting my Big Foot-esque feet inside something dainty and small is like forcing my big bump-ited head into a hat: it's just not gonna happen.
After painting the pencil shoes, I was bitten by the shoe-painting bug. My next thrift store/shoe restore purchase was this pair of foot-torturing pointy black shoes. I went about painting them the same way I did the pencils: draw out design in white pencil, add coats of paint, seal in Modge Podge. Bind feet and wear.
My Crayola-inspired outfit: crayon barrette, made by me; thrifted shirt; skirt picked up off of etsy. Most frequently asked question: "Can you color with those?"

A couple of months ago, DIY glitter shoes seemed to be all over the blogs I frequent. And I just knew I had to have a pair for the countless Christmas parties I would attend (which was, like, two). Now, I have this inability to read directions. I see them, I understand their importance, my eyes glance over them and I think "oh, yeah. I got this." Well, before you follow suit, read these directions, friends: 
  1. Spray paint any areas of your shoes (er, outside) that will be unglittered. I used high gloss spray paint over these once-gray thrift store shoes.
  2. Use glitter dust (which I did not do) and Modge Podge
  3. Mix a large amount of glitter with a small amount of 'Podge. Attack shoes with said Glitter Podge.
  4. Allow to dry (duh) and wear.  
Notice the key words: glitter dust. Turns out regular ole glitter is just too big. After several wears, I've had to replace chunks of glitter that have fallen off. Being smaller, glitter dust seems to have a little more give.
My dear P.E. teacher friend had me glitterize her basketball shoes from high school!
I was attached several times while wearing these my cat. The feather boas drove her nuts. And got her permanently placed on the Naughty List.
Okay, these are seriously cheesy. But I teach the littles, so I can get away with it. Using these thrifted never-worn red t-strap shoes, acrylic paint, Modge Podge, felt and boa, I Santa-ized these shoes. Because the design is on the toe of the shoe, these shoes have not had the design-cracking problem like the pencil and crayon shoes.

My favorite thing about these shoes? Being able to say, "Are you making good choices? Because," with a glance down at my feet,"Santa is watching." Worked better than Elf on a Shelf.

My Valentine's Day can read the complete, unabridged how-to here:

My latest, and easiest, DIY involved thrifted shoes, broken clip-on earrings and a hot glue gun. I betcha can guess how I did it.

Not sure what's up next on my shoe DIY list...I contemplated leprechaun shoes for St. Patty's Day...but now I'm leaning more toward bunny shoes for spring. Oh, the thoughts that fill my head. It's like a look inside Einstein's brain, isn't it?
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Monday, January 16, 2012

DIY: Love Letters

The Inspiration: When I was taking down my collection of vintage Christmas postcards, I fell in love with the backs of the cards.
I love getting mail. Especially hand-written letters. But people don't really do that any more. Well, they've not been writing to me, anyway.
Improvising: I racked my brain trying to find a way to create the perforated stamp edge. When I was in my sewing room, I noticed the rick-rack that the cat was chewing on. It worked perfectly.
When I was taking down my collection of Christmas postcards, I noticed the back of the cards for the first time. I loved the yellowed paper, the vintage typography, the flowing script of the sender, the post office seal. I sat down and read all of the postcards. My little collection is from the early 1900's. What I found interesting was how much the content of the letters seemed like it could have been written yesterday. "How are you? I'm sorry I've not written; Send your family my love; The weather here is mild for this time of year."
The Stamps: I have a collection of  vintage used stamps and I thought this one looked fitting. I was too lazy to do the research to see if these were actually World War II-era stamps.
 I'd already had it in my head that I wanted to do a little decorating around the house for Valentine's Day. I don't usually decorate for holidays, but I had so much fun morphing the house into my idea of a vintage Christmas, I decided I wanted to do something similar for Valentine's Day.
My Version: I lightly sketched the shape of the bell and free handed the detailing. I used these great pens by Faber-Castell  that I picked up at JoAnn's for the majority of the drawing. The only painted portions are the background and the stamps.
So with that thought in mind and with my new-found love of these postcards, I decided to create a couple of love letters. My head was still stuck in World War II-era  mode after finishing the embroidery of my sailor dress. I settled on the idea of having a young serviceman and his girlfriend exchange a postcard correspondence.
Penmanship: At the elementary school I attended, we did not have art class. So the closest thing for me was learning penmanship. I was not especially good at math and I totally didn't get that short vowel stuff, but penmanship I could do. Did you know that it is no longer taught in most elementary schools? Such a bummer.
 So I searched for and found some stamp designs. I had already settled on using on of my vintage postcards as the inspiration for the layout and typography. But what would I write? I didn't want it to come across as gag-me cheesy or The Notebook-esque because I'm like the antithesis of sappy. When I get an "I love you" from dear ole hubs, my reply is usually, "Whatever, I'm going to punch you in the face when you're sleeping tonight."
What it says: Dear Michael, I miss you darling very much. You say you won't get furlough that's bad. Don't dream too much now. Hoping to hear from you real soon sweetheart. As ever, Ann Jean
Obviously I couldn't write that punching-in-the-face business on one of my postcards so I googled "love letters from WW II".  I stumbled upon this beautiful story of a family of four siblings that discovered their father's love letters written to their mother during his time overseas. I poured over the site, reading each letter and the narrative that gave the back story. If you have time, I really think you should give it a look:
Typography: When did we stop being so fancy? When we started having everything made in China and stopped caring, I suppose.
I borrowed heavily from this site for the wording on the postcard below. I also used the addresses and what I could make out of the postage seal. These paintings will never leave my home so I am not worried about it upsetting the family. Though I suppose I should contact them out of courtesy. 
What it says: Dear Ann Jean, Please excuse the long delay in writing to you. This delay is in no way an indication of lapse of memory for you have been on my mind from one night in Boston. So much has happened and it is forbidden to tell all that it makes letter writing difficult. Ann I close this short note as I am very tired for I have traveled 125 miles over these rough mountainous roads today. Love, Michael
The website only has the letters that the husband wrote to his wife. And the funny thing is, the husband's name is Mitch (my hub's name). So I decided to change it to Michael. I just thought it would be too weird otherwise. We already get enough comments about the nude painting of the two of us laying on a bear rug that hangs above our mantle.
The Stamp: I found the other stamp design on pinterst. I love the dove with the shadow of the airplane and the letter in it's beak. I think I have Put-a-Bird-on-It syndrome. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you must leave here and go to youtube pronto.
 The writing I used for Ann Jean's letter came from another website with love letters. Again, I had to shorten the writing a bit to make it fit the format of the postcard. You can read a multitude of World War II letters here:
Finished: This is how the two postcards look together in our dining room.
Hubs said no one would believe the size of the postcards unless a giant object was photographed next to them. Guess what giant object he had in mind.
Each postcard is about 24" x 18". I wrapped the edges in black satin ribbon and hung them in my dining room this afternoon. Right after the postman delivered the mail...which, for a change, included a little something for me. I'll have to share with you the sweet gift my brother's girlfriend Elsa made for me next time.
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