Refashion Friday: Sun Cardigan

S on SnowdoniaI’m getting tan. Really tan. Here it is the end of May and I’m already as tan as I normally am at the end of the summer. I think there are a few reasons for this. One of them is that we’re further south, so the sun’s rays are more intense. And then I think it’s being outside more often, which is because of a mix of not having a job tying me to the indoors all day long and spending so much time on my bike.

So, something must be done to keep me from totally frying my skin. I’m not a huge fan of the “sunscreen every day” method, so I prefer the “wear clothes” method. Which I’ve done before with success by wearing a button-down cotton shirt if I know I will be outside a lot. It’s like carrying around portable shade! It’s the best. (Well, second only to sun hats.) But the only cotton button-down I have is yellow with flowers. While it’s cool, it doesn’t exactly go with all my outfits. I decided to refashion a sun cardigan that’s white so I can wear it with any of my dresses, and a crop length so that it doesn’t totally hide my other clothes. I  bought the perfect thing at the thrift store:

sun cardigan before

I don’t really get what’s going on with the shoulder seam being so far down, and (spoiler alert!) I didn’t do anything to fix that in this project. This shirt is too drapey and long for the sun cardigan of my dreams, and I would really prefer not to slip it over my head. The back had a little corset lacing detail:

before back

At first I thought I might open the back, removing the corset-lacing panel, and wear the shirt backward, but when I tried it on that way, it just looked really weird. So I cut straight down the front.

cut down the front

I opened it up and decided it would be good to give it a knot closure, so I cut off the bottom shaped to make ties.

bottom chopping

And then I hemmed the bottom and folded the front to hang how I liked and then stitched that down. Eh voila! A sun cardigan!

after front

I think the lace-up detailing is cuter now, and the drapeyness there can be a little wind vent on my bike.

after backThe end!

before and after

 

Our Little Family FAQ: Dating

K on treeI’m going to follow up on S’s post last week about our little family to discuss another part of our lives that people often ask about: dating.

People frequently wonder if we get enough time alone with our significant other to have a quality relationship. Then I hear people giving relationship advice saying “remember to date your spouse. Keep the romance alive.”

One of the great benefits of our living situation is the almost necessity to have dates. You want some time just the two of you–you have to plan it. This weekend was a good example. S and the Architect went off to visit his family for the weekend, so the Artist and I were left alone. That of course meant that we had to have an epic date day! Time alone is special!

There are major benefits to believing that time alone with each other is special, which means you appreciate it so much more when it happens. If you’re just alone all the time, you don’t have a reason to take advantage of the time.

So what did the Artist and I do on our epic date? We biked down to a park, had an awesome picnic, went to a hardware store and got some flowers, then rode back, went to the pool, went out for dinner, and played videogames. That’s what I call a day appreciating each other and your relationship.

bike date

Refashion Friday: Picnic Blanket Dress

S on SnowdoniaToday’s refashion came courtesy of one of my Mom’s Old Fashioned Fabulous Thrift Store Hauls. It’s a sundress that looks like a picnic blanket. I thought that made it particularly appropriate of a refashion to start the Memorial Day weekend. The Architect and I are going to go visit his parents.

This is actually not the first picnic blanket dress I have ever owned. When I was first getting into sewing as an adult back in college, I made myself a red gingham dress that I really, really loved. I wore it all the time, especially on the fourth of July. Or, you know, while rehearsing dance pieces on stage the day of a performance:

Picnic blanket dress frm scratch

However, the dress eventually had to go to the thrift store to make new friends because my ribs got bigger and I couldn’t breathe while wearing it anymore. It was a truly sad day.

But! Now I have a new picnic blanket dress. The only problem is that neckline is WAY LOW.

Picnic blanket dress beforeThere’s a refashioner on the case, though. So it’s not a problem at all. Step one: Remove the bust pieces:

bust removed

Step two: Switch their places and sew them together in the middle.

bust reconstituted

Step three: Reattach them to the top of the dress and call it a day!

Picnic blanket dress after

And thus concludes this week’s patriotic holiday-themed (why are picnic blankets supposed to be red plaid anyway?) picnic blanket dress refashion.

Picnic blanket before and after

 

 

Our little family FAQ: Privacy

S on SnowdoniaIt’s been a while since I made a post about life with my little family of four. Back in October, I wrote a post about marriage and sisterhood, and why we all choose to live together. Today, I thought I would answer a frequently asked question that I get about our lifestyle.

We are two couples who live together, and when I tell people that I live with my husband, my twin sister, and her boyfriend, there are a few stock responses I get. (That happens so much in life. I get the same joke every time I tell someone my name, too. And I often get stripper jokes when I tell people I’m a dancer. But that’s beside the point.) One of the responses is “Oh, I’ve always wished I had a twin. That must be so nice.” Which is great. It is so nice. Another one is “I would never want to live with my sister. Don’t you need to have your own identity?” People ask us when we’re going to grow up and form our own households, or how that will never work once my husband and I “start a family.” Which is funny, I think, because the four of us together already HAVE started a family with each other.

Anyway, none of those are the questions which I intend to address today. The real question I get is only asked by people I know a little bit. It’s not asked by the dentist or the business contact, but by people who may someday turn into friends. And that is the question of privacy.

We somehow have this idea in our society that if you are a single twenty-something and have a roommate, privacy isn’t a real problem. If you are a couple living together, it’s not a problem. If you’re a couple with kids, the kids probably get in the way of privacy, but of course they do. But why on Earth would a couple want to live with other adults? It’s the same question that couples with another roommate get a lot, I think.

And I’ll be honest, privacy has been a problem for us sometimes. In our last apartment, which was a big factory-conversion loft where the Architect and I lived with K throughout our engagement and first year of marriage, the walls to our bedroom did not go all the way to the ceiling. We had many whispered conversations in those days, since our bedroom was in the living room, acoustically speaking. K’s bedroom walls did go all the way to the ceiling, so at least there was some ability to have walls block sounds in the apartment. Our current apartment is so small that there is nowhere good for the Artist to put his computer, so his desktop screens face the couch and we can all see what he’s doing all the time.

We can’t walk around the house in our underwear. We can’t assume we can’t be heard. But we’re all adults. When the Artist and I are home alone all day, I often pretend I can’t see what’s on his computer screen and purposefully keep my eyes away in the interest of maintaining some privacy. We do sometimes have to build privacy. The Architect sometimes watches sports and the Artist plays videogames while K and I have girl time with our friends who come over. We snuggle in separate parts of the house at the same time, each couple in their own world. We steal kisses around the corner in the kitchen.

But maintaining that privacy isn’t the real issue of privacy when living together in a group. The real issue is realizing that in the grand scheme of things, privacy isn’t that important. Historically speaking, Americans have an insane amount of privacy these days. A hundred years ago it was normal for a family with many children to share a one-room house, and even all share a bed. And it was fine. And we’re so much happier having this big family we see every day and share meals and difficulties with that it doesn’t even matter that we have to sacrifice a small amount of privacy. We still have two bedrooms and two bathrooms. We can get away from each other if we need to. But I would much, much rather have less privacy around the Artist, the Architect, and K than to be lonely.

And then there’s the question of the larger privacy issues in the world these days. Google knows more about me than many of my friends do. And there’s nothing that can be done about that, really. So what does privacy even mean? Who knows. All I know is that having two other adults in my house with my husband doesn’t make me feel like I don’t have privacy in the grand scheme of things.

Refashion Friday: Plum Plaid dress

S on SnowdoniaMy refashion this week was another thing I bought at the thrift store that I liked, but really just didn’t fit. It was a size XL. No big deal, of course. I can take it in. It was pretty, plum colored, and casual, which is just the kind of thing I need more of in my wardrobe.

The size meant that the chest hung too low, so I had to pull in the drawstring too tightly, and then it was just kind of lumpy all over.

plum plaid before

So the first thing I needed to do was take up the straps to make the neckline a bit less low cut. Because of the way it was shaped, I couldn’t just take it up from the shoulders, so I had to bring the seam forward a bit.

take up shoulders

 

After I took that in, I realized I couldn’t just take it in the sides because then the armholes would be too small.

shoulder doesnt fit

So I removed the bias tape from the edges so I could reshape the armholes after taking in the sides. Which I then did. Then I used another dress to shape the new armholes. As I did so, I made the straps skinnier to hide the seam on the front, to try to make it look a bit less altered.

recutting arm holes

And then I reattached the bias tape.

reattaching bias tape

 

And then I was done! Great new casual summertime dress.

plum plaid after

 

And that concludes this week’s refashion!

before and after

I finished another knitting project. Hooray!

K on treeOccasionally, I still find time to knit. And since I haven’t been knitting much, I’ve been interested in knitting shawls, especially garter stitch ones that I don’t require a gauge swatch or any thinking, really at all.

Also, we’ve been on this kick lately to get rid of things because we have stuff and our apartment was small. So I decided to kill 2 birds with one stone, and do an awesome, beautiful, easy stash-buster shawl! What was great about this was that I got to stash-bust 3 different yarns, and I ended up with a gorgeous shawl! How’s that for luck?

The pattern is called Slain by Lisa Mutch, and, unlike what I usually do, I sorta closely copied her colorways and followed the pattern exactly. No creativity whatsoever. Huzzah!

The lovely S is my model

The gray yarn is Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine in Salt & Pepper. I had about a half skein leftover from when S made a pair of gloves for the Artist. (Ok, she had a half skein leftover, but let’s be honest. She wasn’t planning to use it.) We’ve probably had that yarn for about a year and a half.

The black yarn is one of the oldest yarns in my stash. Knit Picks Gloss Fingering in Black. This yarn has been in my stash since 2010, when I bought it for the incredibly stupid idea of making cabled gloves on size 1 needles with it. (Why was that stupid? The yarn is black so there’s no contrast. You can’t see what you’re doing, at all.) Thankfully this project wasn’t intricate and did not require any looking at what I was doing. (OK, maybe a tiny bit).

The third, and most beautiful yarn in this shawl, is Madeline Tosh Merino Light in Tart. This was a gift from a friend of mine during our knitting group’s secret Santa before we moved. I always thought it was so beautiful, I couldn’t find a place to use it. So I finally decided this shawl was the one. And I think it looks pretty darn good.

Colors!

What I like about this shawl is that it’s completely asymmetrical. All the short rows are on one side, and the shawl is long and thin, almost more like a scarf. The design has movement and depth and beauty.

And it’s garter stitch, so easy knitting, blocking and wearing abound!

I’ll leave you with one last photo before I go. The front (aka, the short side!)

The front.

Refashion Friday: Dip dyed skirt

S on SnowdoniaI went to the thrift store this week to do some shopping for some new clothes to refashion. I limited myself to things made of cotton because it turns out I don’t have the wardrobe for my new home. I’ve spent most of the last ten years living places where clothes that are warm enough are far more important than clothes that are cool enough. Which means that now I don’t have enough plain short sleeve tshirts or dresses that aren’t made out of synthetics. Sticky.

So, I went to buy some cotton things. While I was there, I found this cotton skirt that I really liked as it was. No fancy refashioning needed. Except that it was several sizes too big for me.

before

Not to fear! An extra six inches is nothing this refashioner can’t handle!

So I pinned some darts on the back. Which were too small, so I ended up taking it in again to make the darts even bigger.

pins

And then I had a cute new skirt that, according to the Artist, looks like “something [I] would totally wear.”

blue skirt after

So that completes this week’s too big to wearable. Doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, though, does it?

blue skirt before and after

Bike Makeover

S on SnowdoniaThe Architect’s bike Nevermore got a makeover this weekend.

It was originally a black bike with brown leather handlebar grips and seat. While he loves his bike and thinks it’s beautiful, he really didn’t care for the brown and black combo. So he was shopping for some black leather grips and a saddle to purchase, when I realized–why purchase something when you can make do by refashioning? Duh. It’s my favorite.

Here’s a picture of his bike before this weekend’s shenanigans:

Nevermore

I got the idea to just fix it instead of buying new stuff when I was cleaning out the house. We’ve started a new thing where K, The Architect, and I get rid of one thing every day (which is actually 7 every week because it’s easier to find more than one thing at a time). I was going to get rid of an old black leather wallet I had:

wallet before

Since the Architect likes recycled and upcycled stuff, I thought that instead of throwing away all that good leather, I could cover his handlebars with it. It would look cool and unique. And it would be free. So I took all the pieces apart and then figured out how to make them fit. Then I sewed a piece of the leather to the end of the handlebar:

short handlebar end

I used plain black thread and sewed back and forth a few times. After I’d sewed all the way around and cut off the excess, I wrapped the zippered portion of the wallet around the handlebar and stitched underneath. Gave me a bit of a crick in my neck, though.

short handlebar length

After that, I did the other side. On that side, I decided to use the same orange thread I used for the decorative topstitching above to embroider this symbol on it. The Architect made it in college and had a wood brand he would use to mark some of this projects. We have a cane he made with this symbol burned into the top. He also has it on his portfolio. Since it’s round, I thought it would be a nice tough for him to have it on his bike as well. I’m not the world’s best embroiderer, though, but I think it’s good enough.

long edge to tip

Then I wrapped the part of the wallet with the snap around that handlebar and sewed it down. It was very glamorous:

refashions are glamorousSo the handlebars were black. The bike was looking super slick. But there was still the problem of the brown seat. But that’s not a problem at all! We went to a local upholstery shop’s remnant bin, where we spent about $5 buying a small piece of this fabric and another, safer choice in case it turned out to be too much. Remnant bins are the best. This one was priced by the pound. Can’t get much better than that.

First thing we did was take the saddle off the bike and pin the upholstery fabric to it how we wanted it placed, taking care to make sure it was symmetrical.

pinning upholstery in place

Then we flipped it over and stapled it on, taking care to staple first the top, then the bottom, then a side, then the other side, and then working our way around stapling the gaps and making sure the fabric was pulled taut.

seat upholstering staple

Then we put it back on, and Nevermore was the hottest bike on the block.

makeover side view after

Wow. So much better than that mismatched brown and black situation. Plus, there are some fun little details. First is, of course, the Architect’s brand:

embroidered handlebar end

Secondly, we added a little piece of blue that matches the seat under the zipper:

hidden blue

It’s a little secret, since normally the zipper is closed and you can’t see it at all:

short handlebar after

The saddle looks pretty sweet, too. We actually picked out the print because the Architect liked the bright color and because we knew it would fit the saddle so well.

bike seat top finished

So it’s a pretty bike.

nevermore after

And the Architect is excited it ride it all over the place. Which of course he also was before, but what could be cooler than a customized bike?

colorful architect

 

Refashion Friday: War of the Roses

S on SnowdoniaToday’s dress was pretty odd before. Well, it’s sort of odd still. The problem was the print. It’s sort of like a Rosy war between a Victorian print and a Wild Wild West one. I don’t really get it, honestly.

Anyway, I knew I had to refashion it because it had another problem besides the odd print theme.

This dress was a big, mean, boob-eating monster.

NoBoobs

Oh where, oh where have my boobies gone? Oh where, oh where can they be?

Seriously before

I mean seriously.

Plus, that print. Do you see what I mean? Beige and black and lace and roses and other kinds of flowers and sorta kinda damask and I just don’t even know what this is supposed to be. Oh well.

First thing I thought I would do is turn that bodice into a waistband and do this the easy way. Sadly, that wasn’t even slightly flattering:

waistband

So, time to bring out the big guns. So I took off that top bodice piece and got out another dress to help me with shaping this one.

shaping

I stitched the sides. Then, I got out a spare piece of black fabric I had laying around and sewed it to the top and make it into arms. Sadly, I forgot to photo document this whole part, so you’ll just have to see what I mean in the after picture.

After I got the exterior looking nice, I took the lining piece (essential, since this odd fabric is totally sheer) and made it lady shaped.

lining

I cheated a little on that part–you’re supposed to do the shaping on both sides, but I only did it on the one. I sewed the lining into the inside of the dress, and that was it!

after

I put it on with a belt because I thought maybe a border would help with the flower-factions. I think it helped.

 

The end!

before and after