Better DIY

I have giant hands. Not necessarily of the man variety, but giant nonetheless. Yet, I insist on attempting tasks meant for dainty, little, lady hands. Such as my latest DIY interest: sewing. I decided to take up sewing because shopping for clothes is the worst. THE WORST – I never seem to find exactly what I’m looking for, if I do find something halfway decent it is either out of my price range, too small, too big, or stained with some fool’s bronzer, and, to make matters worse, my blood sugar always seems to drop just as I’m making progress and I need to go home for a snack and some quiet time. So, after watching ole girl win Project Runway with minimal sewing experience I thought surely I can make a damn skirt or two.

My mom brought me her sewing machine – a bad-ass Husqvarna Viking– when she came to visit this past Fall and taught me the basics of the machine and reading a pattern. Since Winter was upon us, I decided to make a lovely little wrap sweater thingy. I don’t know why I thought sewing something with sleeves and a hood would be a good idea for my first attempt, but my mom seemed to think it’d be ok so I went with it. As I was pinning the pattern to the fabric I stuck the bejeezus out of one of my digits. “Shit!” I yelped, squeezing my index finger. “Are you bleeding?” my mom asked. I nodded, sucking on the wound. Without hesitation she responded, “Good, you’re supposed to bleed on your first sewing project.”

A few weeks and a lot of profanity later, I finally finished the damn thing. The seams weren’t exactly straight, the corners were messy, and the sleeves were a good two inches too short. So, I gave it to a friend of mine who’s just tall enough to not be legally considered a little person. I decided to try a few up-cycle/re-fashion projects before committing to another serious garment so that I could practice measuring, sewing in a straight line, and making even hems. In nerding around on Whole Living’s website, I found this Oxford Napkin idea and decided to give it a shot with one of J’s old shirts. 

First order of business was to take the shirt apart. At first, I sat down with a glass of wine, an episode of The Daily Show, and my seam rippers only to discover that it would take me the length of Jessica Simpson’s pregnancy to do it that way. So, I grabbed my Ginghers and made quick work of it.

Then, I took the back of the shirt and cut out four, ten-inch squares. Martha says to cut out 12 inch squares, but J is a rather svelte man so the shirt didn’t provide THAT much fabric.

This is where it gets tricky – for me anyway. I can’t seem to sew a hem in a straight line so what I have to do is iron the edge over a book, pin it down, then sew. Like sew: (see what I did there?)

Since I used a 10-inch square rather than the 12-inch square a portly gentleman’s shirt would have provided, these turned out more like pocket squares and less like napkins. But that’s ok – I don’t really use napkins anyway…

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Better Patriotism

This year, I had zero plans for the Fourth of July until the afternoon of the third when we were invited to a last-minute shindig at a friend’s house. Elsewise, I would’ve started this project earlier and posted it in time for the Fourth but, alas – such is life. For the last few weeks Pinterest has been covered in adorable patriotic creations ranging from ridiculous to sane. I mean, really – who has the time to make a danged ole American flag yarn wreath, paint their nails with stars and stripes, arrange fruit kebabs and various other edibles to look like the flag, and place said edibles on the table around the red, white, and blue bean (I don’t know where they found blue beans either) centerpiece? After all, it is a holiday meant to be spent drinking cold beer, playing yard games, and blowing shit up. But, I don’t own any patriotic clothing so I had no choice but to make an American flag tank top out of one of J’s old white shirts. So, I woke up early-ish to get a head start on the strawberry ice box cake for the fiesta and to create my star-spangled ensemble.

First, I took an old white v-neck and, using one of my favorite tank tops as a template, cut out the sleeves and neck. Like so:

Then, I covered the giant clipboard my husband has for some reason in paper and secured the tank to it placing a broken down Cinnamon Life cereal box inside the shirt to avoid getting paint where it didn’t belong. You could probably use any kind of cereal box, but Cinnamon Life really is the best. Next, using a variety of tapes and cardboard cut-out stars, we secured the design to the shirt. Observe:

Then, using some acrylic paint J had lying around (I am telling you, I have been known to complain about the random shit he accumulates but it really comes in handy sometimes) to execute the bitchin’ design. Like so:

Once I got the shirt on my person, we cut the sleeves into strips and tied the back of the shirt together to create a skinny racerback. And, BOOM – festive attire for the Fourth of July:

Not to toot my own horn or anything but the shirt got a lot of good press at the party and certainly made me feel more American than everyone else. Happy Birthday America!!