Tag Archives: thrifting

An impromptu wool skirt

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This is an awkward collection of photos of an otherwise cute skirt. It’s hard to get blog photos of an object that is basically made to cover my own bottom.

My husband had a work-related event last week that involved taking me to the track for the afternoon (that’s a horse track–I’m in Kentucky) to spend the afternoon gambling and drinking with strangers. Hmm. It was a chilly day and I knew I’d have to be outside part of the time, so I wanted to wear something comfortable and warm. I was thinking on the morning of the event that if I had a charcoal-colored knee-length skirt to wear with a sweater and boots it would be perfect. Then I remembered that I had an old charcoal-colored wool blanket downstairs in my fabric stash that I’d picked up at a thrift store last year. Why not see if I could whip up a simple skirt to wear that afternoon? I set Dorothy to some independent school work and fetched the blanket.

Unfortunately one of my cats seemed to have found the wool blanket on the low shelf where it was being stored and had been using it as a napping spot. No problem, the skirt wouldn’t require much fabric–I just cut some skirt-shaped pieces from a non-hairy part of the blanket. I didn’t use a pattern, just eyeballed the shape of panels from another skirt and cut an appropriately-sized waistband. The boiled wool wouldn’t fray so I didn’t even finish the top of the waist. I serged it all together with purposely exposed seams and a perky little button at the waist. I tugged it on over some tights and was pretty pleased, but decided I needed to press it out a bit because the wool had some creases. When I pressed the warm iron onto the wool I realized the problem–it smelled like stinky cat. In a very bad way. Ick.

Because this is my homemade blog, not a what-to-wear blog or a fashion blog or a how-not-to-stink-in-public blog I’m going to confess that I wore it anyway. Once the wool cooled I decided that no one would smell it if they didn’t press their nose right up against my skirt or apply heat to the wool–both quite unlikely. The skirt served its purpose perfectly that afternoon and I don’t think anyone would have guessed that it was an old blanket a few hours earlier in the day. I felt kind of crafty-powerful after my successful quick project. When I got home I gave the skirt a little rinse and soak in some lavender Eucalan and now it no longer stinks. What more could I ask?

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A winter wreath and some other projects for the home

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I never know what to hang on the front door after Christmas. Holly berries no longer seem right, but it’s definitely not time for spring flowers either. I decided to buy a cheap thrift store wreath and winterize it. The photo above is the wreath I started with, purchased for about $2.

I lightly spray-painted the whole thing white. The original colors still show through, but it looks kind of frosty. Then I added silver snowflakes (white ones from a craft store, spray-painted silver), a colorful bow, and a vintage bird I found at a yard sale last summer. I like that the blue gives a little color to my winter front porch but I still feel seasonably appropriate.This might not be the best photo of my new pillowcases but at least it shows them in action. The striped print, Robert Allen Kukula Pinata, coordinates with my new curtains (finally all finished!) in Kiki Pinata. I like that the boldness of the stripe and color anchors my sort of washed-out old sofa, but that it isn’t so matchy-matchy with the curtains that anyone is going to get seasick from all the flowers. The kids and dog obviously like them as well. It has been part of our daily homeschool routine for Dorothy to read a book or two to her brother, so that is what is going on here. I don’t actually want to talk about why my 22-month-old is sucking on a pacifier, and since this is my blog, well, I won’t.

Belle’s doggie bed was originally intended to occupy space on the second floor of our home, but it ended up being more useful in our main living space. The downside to finally finishing the curtains in this room was that the bed, covered in fabric to match my bedroom, now looked kind of clashy in the family room. I found a nice, washable fabric to make a new dog bed cover at Joann. It’s the Lisette brand but I didn’t see this print on the website. It looks like an Ikat print and is a color that should both match the room and the dog–so her hair won’t show so badly! Both the person who cut my fabric and the person who checked me out asked what I was going to do with the pretty fabric. It was kind of funny to tell them it was for my dog, but she should have pretty things too. Why not?

 

A camera bag

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I have been looking for a camera bag. Standard-issue camera bags are both ugly and very expensive. There are some fantastic ones on Etsy, but those are beautiful and very expensive. I’d been considering making a camera bag but the construction of a sturdy enough bag to protect my camera in transit had me a little worried. Then yesterday I found this red vinyl case at a thrift store. It’s got the look of something that might have been a gift with makeup purchase twenty years ago but it’s in perfect condition. It is sturdy, with hard sides and strong handles, and it is just the perfect size for my little DSLR with the flash attached. It was kind of awesome in it’s own right, in a red lipstick kind of way, but wasn’t my style. I thought I could make it better if I had different colored old vinyl bags to cut up and make into flowers, but, well, I didn’t have any of those, and thrifting more bags just to cut up to decorate this one didn’t really fit my project schedule or budget so I improvised with what I had on hand–felt.

I used more of the felted wool blanket I’d used to make my Kindle case, plus other felt from my stash and some cool buttons to make flowers. I used hot glue to attach the pieces to each other and to the case. This project took less than a half an hour and I think I paid $2.50 for the case. Now this case is the kind of awesome that fits my style and I’m looking forward to using it for my camera. I’m also pretty sure that if I get tired of the decorations or want to change them that I can just peel off the glue.

I’m also going to share a review of a recent purchase from My Pix 2 Canvas. I’d purchased a Groupon (or was it Living Social?) deal for this company and finally took just the right photo to try out their services. I snapped this picture of the kids in front of my brother and sister-in-law’s barn last week and I really like it. Both kids look like themselves, the weathered barn siding looks cool, and the colors the kids are wearing just happen to work really well in my bedroom, which is where I’d envisioned hanging my bargain canvas. Uploading and ordering the canvas was easy and it arrived fast. The print quality seems very good, although I’m less than impressed with the way the extra canvas hangs off loose in the back. There is also no hook or wire to hang it with. I’m still very pleased, though, and I’d probably order from this company again. The actual image quality and color faithfulness just seems a lot better than those I’ve seen at, ahem, large warehouse club stores, for example. Their regular prices are a bit high but it appears that discount codes are easily available with a little Googling. I like the look of traditional, framed prints but this is an inexpensive nod to this current photo-display trend, so I’m sold.

Christmas t-shirts and a dresser

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This picture is what you get when you set the camera on something, focus on your children, hit the timer, then jump in yourself. Oops! I really do have a head–it just didn’t make it into this photo. Anyway, the point of this photo is the matching Santa t-shirts I made for Dorothy and me. I cut out round scraps from fabric left over from the pillow project (below), a coffee-drinking Santa for myself and a stocking-stuffing Santa for Dorothy. I ironed them onto the shirts with Wonder-Under and zigzagged around the edge in red. Also with the red thread I did decorative machine stitching around the neck and bottom hem of the shirts. I paid $2 for my like-new, name-brand cotton shirt at a thrift store and $.50 for Dorothy’s from the same place. Not bad!

Now the sad thing about making a t-shirt for Dorothy is that it was going to end up going into her closet, which is often a Horrifying Pit of Filth and Stuff, kind of like the rest of her room only worse. Housekeeping is not a talent of my five-year-old, but unfortunately hoarding does seem to be. One of the problems has been that she really hasn’t had enough drawers for folded clothing items. She has one vintage chest-of-drawers my Mom refinished before she was born, but it has very shallow drawers that won’t begin to accommodate the piles of accessories she accumulates. We were keeping skirts and pants in labeled kitty-litter buckets similar to these but as she got larger her clothing got larger too, and suddenly not very many pants would actually fit into a bucket at all, so they were mostly getting thrown in the direction of the buckets, spilling out, then mingling with doll clothes, dirty clothes, cat hair and who-knows-what-else on the floor. I got completely fed up with the situation all at once last week, drove to the nearest Goodwill, and promptly bought an old wooden dresser for $15. The drawers didn’t fit in quite right but I figured I’d see what I could do–I wasn’t making more than one stop.

The problem with the drawers ended up being that they weren’t in the right slots–easy fix! I sanded the whole piece, used leftover wall paint to make it a cheery yellow that coordinates with Dorothy’s beloved wallpaper, and sprayed the old handles white. I did need to purchase new knobs for the top because they were missing entirely, so I bought cute glass ones that look appropriately glamorous. We spent a productive afternoon organizing Dorothy’s things with the help of the roomy new drawers. She loves it and claims to be determined to stick to our new organization plan. I suspect she won’t, but at least now I can chalk her big mess up to her creative spirit instead of a system stacked against her.

As an update to an old post, we had a good thing happen in our family this week! Rob, who had been on crutches since he ruptured his Achilles tendon in September, is finally able to hobble around on his boot but without the crutches. He missed being able to drag the dresser downstairs to my work space and then upstairs to our daughter’s second-floor bedroom, but by the next time I drag home used furniture he should be much more useful!

A felt cover for my Kindle

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I’m not very gadget-oriented but I did feel like it would be handy to check e-mail away from home, especially in a few key places where I already get reliable wireless service so when I heard about the new Kindle Fire I jumped. I’m lucky to be able to text on my poor old phone so this is a big jump into the portable technology ether for me. In anticipation of receiving my new toy I decided to make it a cute sleeve. I’d purchased a very pretty wool crocheted blanket at a thrift store last year but hadn’t done anything with it yet. The blanket was probably at the thrift store because someone had partially felted it, likely by machine washing it. I went ahead and felted it the rest of the way, making one big, colorful and unique piece of scalloped-edge wool felt. The felt is too thick to machine sew but I thought it would make an awesome protective cover so I created a binding with some thrifted sheets and a decorative machine stitch in contrasting (red) thread.

I hand-stitched the binding along the top edge and up the sides of a long piece cut from the felt, then made a really simple closure from a vintage button and some ribbon sewn to the scallops on the flap. When my new Kindle arrived I was so happy both to use it and my new cute sleeve! I love the mix of the old and the new; the scratchy boiled wool and the sleek new screen. I’m absolutely certain that this new device is going to make me better organized. There will be no more forgetting of canned goods for the Girl Scouts drive or missed volunteer appointments. For sure not. Because the whole problem was my lack of a new gadget, right?

While I’m dreaming let me tell you about pear ginger jam, because this is the stuff dreams are made of. I have made this every fall since the recipe came out in Vegetarian Times. (Disclaimer: I’m not veg but like the magazine.) I never hesitate buying huge quantities of good pears when they are available in the fall because letting them go overripe is practically a mandate for me to make this recipe. The first time or two I made it I processed the jars as directed, but after that I realized we eat the whole batch in a couple of weeks so there is no need to bother prepping it for pantry storage. I ladle it into clean jars and then keep it in the refrigerator until we eat it up. This year we finished it particularly quickly because my daughter has been volunteering to make her own sandwiches–apparently just so she can stand alone at the counter with a spoon and this jam. And I have to admit, she is basically living out my dream. Although my very favorite way to eat this jam is on homemade pumpkin bread over top of a schmear of cream cheese, and it’s also terrifically good in a sandwich with almond butter. In the photo it is prepared the way my daughter likes it best (next to the spoon), which is on freshly-baked white bread with cream cheese. Jam seems like such a big project but it isn’t really. I started peeling the pears for this at 5:30 on a day I had to be across town at 6:30 and I was on time. So worth the messy kitchen I came home to that night.