Wednesday, December 25, 2013


Have a safe and joyous Holiday, Everyone!

In lieu of a typical flower display I decided to use items and greenery that I already had around my house.  I used this antique wooden bowl of my grandmothers and put a wicker charger inside of it to raise up the apples and greenery inside.  That's a great tip for when you don't have a lot of materials to work with.  Then I just went out into my yard and clipped some white pine, boxwood and holly.  To finish the look I placed a luscious pile Macintosh apples in the center to tie in the red of my tablecloths.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

How to Re-Fashion Your Own Boyfriend Jeans //

I have to confess, I love boyfriend cut jeans.  Specifically, the type with the cuffs rolled up a bit.  I just think they look fantastic with a basic sweater, maybe a checkered shirt beneath and finished off with some leather oxfords or even simple black pumps.  Essentially, you can take take the boyfriend cut and style it up or down, it works either way and I love that.

A while ago, I did a Polyvore set featuring the Boyfriend Cut Jean:

The possibilities are endless:  A loose tee, black blazer and pumps; asymmetrical blouse, statement necklace and flats; button-down, sweater vest and oxfords.  I can't get enough.

Needless to say, I really wanted a pair for myself.  At the time, though, I didn't feel like making the investment on new jeans.  I had recently shifted my fashion purchase priorities from 'cavalier' to 'investment' {see my Value of Investment Purchases post here}, but I didn't have the budget at the time and {impatient me!} I didn't feel like waiting until I did.  So, I made my way over to a great consignment shop in my area and looked around for a cheap pair of jeans that I could re-fashion.  I figured, how hard could it be?  And it wasn't hard at all!

I thought I'd keep it simple.  Boyfriend cut jeans -- look in the men's jean section.  Of course, since I don't make a habit of buying men's clothes for myself, I had no idea what size I should look for, so I had to try a few on.  Eventually, through trial and error, I found the size I needed, all I had to do was find the wash I wanted.  I elected for a somewhat already 'distressed' wash and style.  No holes, of course, but some gentle fraying around the edges.  Perfect.  I found my pair within a half hour and only spent $5 on it!  Can't get much better than that.

The next purchase I had to make was the denim thread at my local craft store.  I would say this is the 'key'.  Don't skimp or cheap out {Not that demin thread is expensive.  It's comparable to any of the other types.} and use regular thread.  Trust me, you need something durable and sturdy that will actually go all the way through the denim.

I'm fortunate enough that my mother has her own sewing machine, which I use constantly.  I have to admit, if I didn't have access to a sewing machine I probably would never do this project because hand-sewing through denim isn't easy.  I would recommend a stealth 'mini sewing flash session' at your local craft store or {if you're not quite that daring} beg to borrow one from a friend, co-worker or family member.

Here's everything you need broken down:

Sewing machine
Sewing machine needle fit for denim
Denim thread
Your thrifted men's jeans
Sewing scissors
Black pen or marker
Sewing pins
Yard-long ruler or straight-edge

Through my research online I came to the conclusion that what makes the boyfriend jean the boyfriend jean is the boxy cut around the hips and thighs, rolled cuffs and {most importantly, but easy to miss} the gentle taper of the legs.  Most men's jeans have legs that go straight down and don't flair or taper at all.  If you were to buy men's jeans, roll the cuffs and call it a day, you'd find that A) they don't look at all like what you had imagined and B) the cuffs would unroll almost immediately after putting them on.  Super annoying.  All you have to do to remedy this is to trim the legs from the knee down.  I don't mean hem the bottom, I mean trim the legs {as in narrowing them}.  Sounds complicated, but, honestly, it's not.

First, turn the jeans inside-out and put them on inside-out.  What you're going to do now is decide how much you want to trim off the legs.  As you can see from the image, the material that you're going to be cutting off is the bit from the outer seam towards the inner seam.  Essentially, you'll be trimming off a very long and narrow triangle that starts at the bottom hem and ends at the knee area.  We're not going to be trimming all the way up the leg because if we do that, then the jeans will look too tight.  Boyfriend cut jeans are meant to be loose fitting and a bit baggy.

How much you want to trim is really up to you.  While I was wearing my jeans {inside-out!} I used my hand to take in a few inches at the bottom hem and pinned it into place.  Then, very carefully, I began rolling up the pant legs to how I would want the final product to look.  I took a little walk around, looked at them in the mirror and when they didn't unroll and looked how I wanted them to, I decided that that was how many inches I wanted to trim inwards.  It's best to decide how many inches inward on the bottom hem you want to go in first and then work your way upwards.  Once, you've decided how far you wish to go inwards on the hem, start going up the leg and pin into place.  At this point, you only need to go up about half-way up your shin.  I did both legs at once.  After you've pinned a bit, carefully take the jeans off and leave them rightside-out.  Most likely the pinning will be a little half-hazard because it's hard to pin while wearing your clothes, so fix them up a bit.

To make the hem even, I used a yard-long ruler as a straight edge.  I knew that I wanted the hem to end at the outter knee seam.  So, one end of the ruler started at the bottom hem of the jeans where I pinned a few inches in.  The other end of the ruler ended at the outter knee seam.  I drew a line with my pen that followed the basic pinning I had already done.  Once I had drawn the line, I mirrored the technique on the other leg.

If you want to be precise, like I did, I measured in inches exactly how far I went in on the bottom hem and how far I went up.  For example, if I knew I wanted to take 2 inches off the outer part of the bottom hem, I measured that exactly on the other leg as well.  And however many inches I went up to the knee on the first leg, I measured that exactly on the other leg.  That way, nothing looks lopsided.

Now it's just a matter of straight line of sewing.  Nothing fancy.  Load up your machine with the denim thread and sew right over the line you've made on each leg.  Make sure to go back and forth a little with the stitching on both ends of your stitch to make sure it doesn't unravel on you later.

Before you cut off the excess material make sure you try them on again!!!

Remember, once you cut, you're stuck.  So, turn your jeans right side-out and try them on.  Roll up the cuffs.  Do they look good?  Feel good?  Is the bottom hem still too wide?  Too narrow?

If you find that you've gone too far inwards with your stitch and things are too tight, I find it's easiest to turn the pants inside-out again and leave the stitch in for the moment and measure about a quarter of an inch outwards from your stitch and make the second line there.  Once you've made the line, then you stitch along it.  Only after you've made your correction stitch do you take out the original stitch.  This way, you don't have to try the jeans on again, pin by hand, yadda, yadda, yadda.  Much less hassle this way.  Do the same with the other leg and try on again.  Keep doing this until the fit feels right.

If you find that you haven't gone in far enough, do the same as above {that is, don't take out the original stitch, just measure a quarter of an inch inwards along your original stitch, make the new line, sew again, then take out the original stitch} and try on the jeans again.  Do this until the fit feels right.

This next step is optional, but I thought it made the end result much more 'finished' looking.

Alongside your first stitch you're going to make an additional straight stitch parallel to it and one quarter inch outwards from your original stitch {make sure this next straight stitch is on the outer side of your original, otherwise you'll be narrowing the leg further, messing up your final product}.  I like to do this because it makes the end result look a little more professional and the natural fraying won't unravel your hard work.

The final step is simply cutting off the excess material.  Cut as close as you can to your last outer stitch.  In the future, after you wash your jeans, the natural fraying that occurs here won't be a problem because of your second stitch.  Everything will stay in place.

That's it!

Turn your jeans right side-out and enjoy; you crafty person, you!

I'm not a professional sewer {by any means!} and some of you may want your hem job to look a little more professional than I made mine.  If you have mad sewing skills, go for it!  I'm jealous of your prowess with the sewing machine.

I wear these jeans all the time!  They're so comfortable and they go with anything!

Have fun and enjoy!

P.S.  My oxfords are from Jack Wills and my booties are Rag & Bone

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Re-Usable Party Banners //

I’ve always been of the opinion that the swiftest and surest way of instituting a festive air in any room is through the strategic use of celebratory banners.

Depending on where you shop {Especially online} you can find some very elegant and festive party decorations. The only down side is that more often than not, those decorations are too fragile to keep; they’re disposable. Party planning, arranging and purchasing is expensive and time-consuming enough, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to keep some of those decorations? Not all celebrations are one-time-only situations. That is, events that only come around once in a lifetime. Consider Holidays. Obviously, they come around every year. Birthdays too. Even events like weddings and showers; in all likelihood, any given person is going to go to more than one of each in their lifetime.

These were the thoughts running through my mind as I was contemplating my Christmas decorations. Don’t worry! Halloween hasn’t even come around yet; I’m far from putting up my Christmas decorations. But in the past, when I’ve wanted to craft something for the holidays, I've found that if I wait too long to get my materials, some other clever people have beaten me to the punch and there’s nothing but the dregs left. No Christmas crafts for me! This year I decided to get a jump on it and make something sooner rather than later.

That was when I thought of the banners. I needed to make them out of durable materials; something that would last the years. And I wanted the pattern to be something festive, but that lent itself well to other celebrations. I elected for the triangle shape. Traditional and simple. And depending on the color combinations {only limited by your imagination!} that basic style would be perfect for any event.

Here are the materials I used:

Sewing scissors
Scissors for paper
1/2 a yard of Flag material: Something durable
Flame Torch
Painters Tape
Newspaper or bags {to help keep the mess down}
Snowflake Stencil {or any stencil you like that suits your occasion}
Heavyweight Paper {to make your flag pattern}
Metallic Spray Paint {here I have silver and gold}
Some type of yarn or thread to connect the flags

For the flags I found this faux suede upholstery material in a beautiful pale, peachy pink color. I know; doesn’t sound very Christmas-y, but after I’m done it will. Also, keep in mind that this banner won’t be the only Holiday decorations in my room. And en masse, everything will definitely have a jolly feel. Plus, I wanted a color combination that would complement my room, which has nudes and taupe’s and pale pinks.  Don't get bogged down by the price tags for the fancy upholstery material!  Remember, you're only going to need a 1/2 a yard {I happened to buy 1 full yard because the material was 50% off that weekend} for this and, I don't know about you guys, but I never go into a craft store un-armed with coupons.  In the end, the price wil be very reasonable.  And it's worth it for re-usable decorations!  You'll be able to use them year after year.

First, for the flag pattern I Googled under images ‘party flag triangle pattern’. There, I happened to find the perfect triangle shape. The key is to find a triangle that is rather oblong and has two sides that are both the same length and longer than the third. I printed it out, cut out the triangle and traced it onto a more heavyweight paper {I found some old matte photo paper in my desk}. This will make it easier to trace all of the triangles onto the fabric later.

Next, lay out your flag fabric upside-down {the pretty side is facing down} and lay the triangle pattern onto it. With the pen, trace the triangle image onto the 'wrong' of the fabric. You don’t want the pen marks to show on the front, this is why the fabric is upside-down. I traced ten flags for my purposes. I wanted the banner to cover my two windows and I think ten will do, but cut out as many as you see fit.

Once they’re all cut out, you’ll use the flame torch to singe all three sides of each triangle. Be careful!  I recommend doing this outside {on a windless day!} if at all possible, where you’ll be far away from anything that can catch fire. The purpose of the singeing is to prevent the material from fraying. You don’t have to go crazy; just a few seconds for every few inches should do it. I actually like the look of the singe. It wasn’t very noticeable, but it added a nice home-made, vintage feel.

Now we get to paint!

You’ll want to do this outside too for ventilation and the purposes of keeping everything clean.
I only wanted the bottom half painted, so I covered the rest with painters tape and paper to keep it protected. Three coats will do. Just wait a few minutes in-between coats. I did this for 5 flags. For the remaining 5 I did the snowflake stencil. Of course, this is Christmas/winter themed, so that’s why I did the snowflake, but you can do whatever stencil your heart desires. Valentines day? How about hearts. Birthday? Maybe a cake stencil.  Instead of images how about letters? Spell out the person’s name or "Noel" for Christmas or "Happy Halloween!".  The sky's the limit!

At the craft store I happened to find these balsa wood snowflakes that fit perfectly inside my flags. Of course because I have snowflakes instead of snowflake stencils, my image on my flag will be a negative, but I like it.

I taped up the remaining 5 flags, but this time I covered only the top half, so the bottom half was exposed. I placed the snowflake over the uncovered part of the flag and sprayed around it. Once I took the flag away a negative image of the snowflake remained. Very pretty!

The last part is just stringing the flags together. For the cord I happened to use some old white fuzzy yarn I had sitting around my house. It’s nice when you can use items you already have, but I think it would look very nice with ribbon or raffia or even some clear fishing line. With fishing line you’d have a lovely suspended-in-mid-air look. Perfect for Halloween!

I used this grommet kit to make the holes for the yarn to go through.  It was only $7 at Home Depot!  I'll explain in another post how to use this kit in detail, but honestly, it's incredibly simple to use.  It comes with nearly everything you need {including directions}.  I say 'nearly' because it came with this 'cutter' {as seen below}, but I wasn't successful in using it to cut a hole through my fabric.

So, instead, I used the 'cutter' to make a small circular imprint in the fabric where I wanted my hole to be, then I used my small fabric shears to cut a hole within that small pattern I had just made.

From there I followed the directions to the letter.  This is what they looked like when done:

{The only tip I have for this step is when you hammer the grommet in, make sure that the pretty side of the fabric is face down!  That way the more attractive grommet side will be facing outward when you're finished.}
 Next, you just string each flag together.  Like I mentioned before, here I used my white, fuzzy yarn.  Each piece of yarn between flags was 20 inches long.  I tied off each end with bows and continued stringing.  On the very ends of my banner I cut a piece about a yard long.  I wanted these to be as long as I needed for attaching on my windows.  That's it!  Here's the final product:

I love how the glow of light behind the windows makes the snowflake stand out!

Good luck!