Post 38 – The Mustard Chef

Things are getting busier and busier in life and at work, so despite the fact that I wore this outfit last week, I have not had time to blog about it. Hopefully you will forgive my more sporadic posting.

Today’s refashion is a top that I found at the Goodwill bins. It is a lightweight polyester, so it cost about $1. There is a lot to love about this top and a lot to raise an eyebrow at.  What is your first impression?

Mustard Chef - befores

Clearly, my first impression was, “I can make this work!”  However, I knew I was going to have my work cut out for me. I really like the vibrant yellow, though I know it is not to everyone’s taste and there is a lot of it.  Also,  I have really been into ties at the neck lately, which are on trend, but for some reason this one was coming off as really dated and 70’s, but it took me a while to realize why. It’s the width of the end! It makes me look more like a chef than Joan Watson.

Have you seen Lucy Liu on Elementary? Her wardrobe is amazing! She wears a lot of tops/dresses with ties at the neck, see:

Lucy LiuIMG_0655

I also did not quite feel as glamorous as the tag would indicate I was meant to feel while wearing it:

Mustard Chef - pageant top

Pageant?! What are the odds that the woman who wore this received a tiara?  I’m guessing slim to none.

Anyhow, I started the refashion process on this top months ago, by removing the interesting sleeves. Apparently, fancy pageant women need to wear cuff links?

Mustard Chef - cuff link holes

I probably would have relished the opportunity to scour ebay for hours, looking at hundreds of sets of decorative cuff links, but instead I let Jack do the right thing.

Mustard Chef - removing sleeves

Au revoir sleeves! Then I pinned and sewed the remaining hem down.

Mustard Chef - sewing sleeves

My next step was to leave it hanging on a hangar for weeks and weeks as I was chickening out on finishing it the way I had planned.

Alas, I did pull it off that hangar and put it on The Body as it still needed to be taken in some, to get rid of the boxiness….spellcheck doesn’t believe that is a word. I say it is!

So here she is all pinned up:

Mustard Chef - on the body

Some quick stitches and I was well on my way again:

Mustard Chef - taking in sides

I tried it on and it did fit, but the time had come to get creative. I wanted to reduce the width of the neck ties without taking the collar apart to get at them, turn them inside out, cut them, sew them up and finally re-attach them. That would be a lot of work and potentially end up ruining the whole thing. Instead, I decided to do a quick version that could potentially end up ruining the whole thing. 🙂

First, my goal was to make the ends of the ties the same width as the top, so I put my quilt ruler on top of it and tried to figure out how to draw a  straight line all the way across with a fabric pen.  Folding wasn’t going to work quite right.

Mustard Chef - marking line

I then had the genius idea to put the ruler underneath and draw my line along the edge. Yeah, this makes no sense and you can see why I immediately regretted this decision,

Mustard Chef - marking line underneath

Beautiful. Pretty choppy and definitely not a line to follow with my sewing machine.

Instead, I decided to use the machine itself as  a guide, lining the edge of the tie up with the edge of my machine arm.

Mustard Chef - sewing tie

Though,  prior to this,  I needed to pick a nice zig-zag-like stitch that would help prevent fraying, but also something cute that I would be okay with being seen on the outside.

I did a couple of decorative test stitches on some remnants of My Purple Comeback. 

Mustard Chef - decorative stitch test

I liked the way that this double criss-cross looked, so I went for it!

Mustard Chef - decorative stitch

Only a couple little flubs, but all in all it looked nice!

The real moment of truth was in the cutting. I had to get as close to the stitches as possible, to avoid little yellow threads poking out everywhere as it frayed up to them.

Mustard Chef -  removing tie excess

Mustard Chef - removing tie excess done

I repeated the process on the other tie and voila! I was finished!

Mustard Chef - afters 3-4

A definite improvement that removed a lot of bulk without completely trashing the style. Sometimes these sewing risks I take actually do result in reward! Imagine that. 🙂

Final comparison:

Mustard Chef - final comparison

I don’t typically use my blog as a platform for my views and opinions on the world or recent events. However, in light of the many and frequent tragedies that seem to keep occurring in the U.S., I just want to remind you to take care of yourselves and each other. Let the people in your life know how much they mean to you and that you are there to support them. Sometimes standing shoulder to shoulder in solidarity is all it takes to be a true ally.


Post 37 – My purple comeback

Where in the heck have I been?!  Sorry readers, I know it has been over a month since my last post. There are a couple reasons why I haven’t been producing new refashions lately.

The first being that Bailey and I were spending a lot of time with new friends. Yeah, these guys:

All the kittens plus BaileyKittens all together

I probably should have tried to hold them all at once about 2 weeks sooner. They are looking a little smooshed. **No kittens were harmed in the taking of these photos.** No, I didn’t get a kitten myself, these 5 fur babies were being fostered by a special guy and have since been adopted out to loving homes.

Secondly, I started 3 different sewing projects about a month ago, but hit some snags with each of them and got frustrated, so I didn’t complete them. This post is about the first of those, for which I did not have the right color thread.  Yes, I did have ample opportunity to purchase appropriate thread, but just never made the effort. Thanks to my dear stepmom and her beautifully organized sewing cabinet, she gave me some nice purple thread and I was back in business! (More on those other projects soon…I swear!)

I purchased this women’s XL Jones New York button-down blouse for $2 at a local consignment shop.

Purple comeback - befores

It was a really pretty and vibrant shade of purple and I knew that with summer on its way, I could make this into a nice lightweight top.

You know what that means, sleeves no more!

Off they went with Jack the (seam) Ripper:

Purple comeback - removing sleeves

Then I pinned up the arm holes, and proceeded to leave it sitting on my sewing table for 4 weeks. Following the acquisition of proper thread, I sewed up those sleeve holes, which had managed to fray quite a bit while just sitting doing nothing.

Purple comeback - sewing armholes

Lots of dangling strings!  I tried my best to snip them away, but fraying is a bit of a losing battle.  I have not been impressed by the results of fray check as of yet, but that may have had to do with the type of fabric I used it on. This is 100% polyester, so it may respond better. I might give it a shot if I have an armpit full of purple thread at the end of day. 🙂

Next, I needed to take this in a bit. So I reacquainted myself with The Body:

Purple comeback - on The Body

…and pinned it to fit. I didn’t want to replicate my most recent fit mistakes, so I made sure not to pull too tight when pinning.

Purple comeback - pinned on The Body

The most important thing here was to nip it in at the waist, for more feminine definition. It seems that clothing manufacturers have decided that button down shirts must be as boxy as possible.  The definition that you are seeing in the before picture is only due to the fact that my hand is on my hip. Not cool Jones NY.

Anyhow, it was time to stitcheroo:

Purple comeback - taking in sides

Nope, with all that time off, I DID NOT learn how to pin properly. Meh, gets the job done.

After a quick try-on, I was happy with the fit, so I decided to add a second set of zig-zag stitches on the outside of my straight stitch, to help prevent fraying. After seeing those sleeve holes, better safe than sorry and stringy!

Purple comeback - zigzag stitches

Then, I removed the excess with my handy rotary blade:

Purple comeback - removing excess, set upPurple comeback - removing excess


That was it! An uncomplicated jump back into refashioning. I now have a nice tunic-length top, perfect for a 79 degree Portland day!

Purple comeback - afters

It works great with leggings and slip-ons. I am a happy camper.  🙂 I hope this finds you all well and I will be back with you again soon.

Final comparison:

Purple comeback - final comparison


Post 36 – The Indecent Caftan

Hi friends! How have you been?!  Things are really starting to heat up in Portland, so all these little dresses I’ve been making are starting to come in handy. No more boots and leggings for me!

Today’s refashion is another one snagged from the Goodwill bins. It is a very lightweight blend of some sort (no materials tag to know for sure), so it definitely cost under $1. I was drawn by the pretty fabric and really wasn’t sure what it would look like when worn. Oh man, it’s a good one!

Caftan - before

I believe this would be considered a caftan, but hard to say. A quick Google search resulted in many different looks. One thing is for sure, it has one serious bat wing!

Unfortunately, for you vintage purists, the bat wing is flying right off this dress. Get it? I’m so clever. 😉

The first step was to remove the 80’s-tastic shoulder pads.

Caftan - removing shoulder pads

Then,  put this on The Body and get to pinning.

Caftan - on body

This was quite tricky, actually. There was a lot of slippery fabric to deal with and the way it was hanging, it was hard to tell if I was pulling too much from one side. This was going to take multiple passes to get right.

Attempt #1

Caftan - sewing sides

There was definitely too much fabric still, so I sewed about an inch in on each side, following my original stitches.

Attempt #2

Caftan - re-sewing sides

It was silly of me to think that removing only 2 more inches was going to work. There was a lot of fabric to deal with.

So, I removed the amount I knew I was not going to need.

Caftan - removed excess

Then put it back on The Body for another pinning.

Caftan - on body again

To my dismay, I discovered that during the removal of the first bit of fabric, I cut through a part I wasn’t intending to.

Caftan - repairing hole

I had no choice, but to pin around this. It was going to be cutting it close (no pun intended).

Then I sewed, ripped, sewed, tried on, sewed, until I achieved a fit that looked like a current dress style. Attempts #3 – #5.

There was actually a button missing at the bottom of the dress, which made it a bit indecent, so I relocated the top button,

Caftan - removing button

To the bottom:

Caftan - relocating button

Yes, that will cover me up for sure! (Foreshadowing) Then, onto my favorite part, removing the sleeves. These actually weren’t attached like normal sleeves, well, they were, but there was a pleating detail at the shoulder that I did not want to lose, so I cut them, rather than seam rip.

Caftan - removing sleeve

My goal was to make the end of the sleeve look like another pleat. So I pinned it up, and sewed.

Caftan - sewing sleeve

After some serious ironing, I tried it on and voila!

Caftan - after

Cute, right?!  The sleeves turned out just how I wanted! In preparation for work, for a second I thought, “hmm, I might be a bit chilly, I can just throw on jeans and a t-shirt and just post the afters on my blog, even if I don’t wear it to the office…..nahhhh, it’ll be fine!” Then I headed out the door.

It was not fine. It was not fine at all. Though, it was not the temperature that was the problem. I neglected to sit down in this dress while altering it. Not only did it show more leg than I was comfortable with, but the space between buttons gaped open. A lot. It was especially bad at my boobs and crotch. A clear sign that it was too tight. Ugh!  Luckily, I had a sweater to help cover my top and a lap blanket for my legs,  but it was pretty disappointing, because it’s so cute otherwise.  Yet another lesson learned the hard way. :p

I hope you all are getting some good weather where you are and YOU aren’t exposing YOUR bits!

Final comparison:

Caftan - final comparison

Stay decent everyone!



Post 35 – As happy as a little girl

Today’s refashion was another $0.69 find at the Salvation Army. If it weren’t less than a dollar, it is unlikely I would’ve taken a gamble on it. “But Jess, you can make just about anything into a better looking garment, what’s so bad about this?”  Welllll….because I actually couldn’t even fit in it when I got it home, which was valid, because it is a dress for a child. 🙂

Girls' Plaid - before

Yup, that’s the before picture.  I couldn’t button it, nor get my arms through the sleeves to even take a picture, so that’s all you are going to get by way of an untouched look at the dress.

This was likely intended for a bigger child, but definitely not one with boobs, because those buttons were not going to meet, no matter how much I squished my girls down. Alas, I wasn’t going to give up on this…yet.

First step, get rid of the stained bib on the front.

Girls' Plaid - gross lapel

Ew. You must go now.

It was actually sewn to the top of the dress, rather than between layers like some of the other refashions I’ve done, so I was able to seam rip it off, rather than cut it with scissors.

Girls' Plaid - seam ripping lapel

This left a 1/4″ of fabric which I had to flip from the outside to the inside, pin, and then sew down.

Girls' Plaid - sewing collar

Next, I decided that I would remove all of the straight stitches on the inside and leave the serged seams, which added about 1/8″ on each side.

Girls' Plaid - seam ripping sides

See what I mean? Not much, but every little bit was going to help…probably. However, since this is likely ca. 1980’s the thread was ripping and fraying like crazy, making the seam ripping more annoying than usual.

Girls' Plaid - seam ripping fraying thread

Wispy little strings that shred. Ugh.

Following all that, I also removed the existing hem, which added over an inch of length.

Girls' Plaid - seam ripping hem

Surprise, surprise, it had been doubled over and there was another 1/4″ underneath, which was ready for sewing down, with no pinning!  I mean, if you can handle that sort of thing. 🙂

Girls' Plaid - sewing hem

Unfortunately, after removing all the straight stitches from the sides and waist, it revealed a number of weak spots (a.k.a. holes) which I had to then go back and reinforce, without accidentally taking it in. So I just sewed over the top of all the serged lines.

Girls' Plaid - reinforcing seams

Shoulders pictured above and the waist below:

Girls' Plaid - sewing waist

I also didn’t need the ties to do the job of cinching the waist, so I removed them.

Girls' Plaid - removing ties

And then sewed them together to make a sash.

The next step was to make the sleeves large enough for woman-sized arms. Luckily, the sleeves were gathered, then sewn down with a cuff. So, by removing the cuff…:

Girls' Plaid - cutting sleeves

I freed a bunch of fabric! Here is the cuff’s full length, next to the sleeve:

Girls' Plaid - sleeve ruffle removed

That’ll do nicely!  Finally, I pinned the sleeve:

Girls' Plaid - pinned sleeve

and hemmed:

Girls' Plaid - sleeve sewing

It was time to relish in my ingenious idea to take this from playground blah to office hoo-rah (yes, I’m a nerd, you are right to roll your eyes) and I tried it on.  Now, I feel like you may have intuited that adding 1/8″ to each of the sides would not be enough to make it fit over my boobs. Well, you would be right.  I tried a number of combinations of buttoning  with varying levels of decency. I began to say things to myself like “I could wear this on a date without a bra, and that would be okay, right?”    “Other women show lots of cleavage all the time. I could get away with red-carpet level boobage for sure, yeah?”    “If I just button the top button, it could be like a cool keyhole. ”

Ultimately, I answered all of these questions correctly, which was “NO!”  So, I put the dress back on the hangar for a day when I felt like figuring out how to make a gusset in the back, but I had neither the time nor the fabric to do so.

A few days later it hit me…tank top!  Duh!  I pulled the dress back out of the closet and put it on over a white tank top. Hey, not bad at all!

So that is how I wore it to work today, plus some tights to combat the chill of the AC:

Girls' Plaid - afters

Not too shabby for a dress meant for a kid! I probably won’t be tackling another project like this in the future, but it was a fun experiment this time around.

Final comparison:

Girls' Plaid - final comparison

Have a good one!


Post 34 – The silky linebacker

Today’s refashion was quite the looker upon purchase. I found this amazing piece at the Salvation Army and made it mine for just $0.69. I think you will agree that it is worth every penny, just for the before pictures, so I’ll give you 4.

Red silk - beforesRed silk - befores 2

Holy sh—oulder pads! Check out that high-fashion tilt in pic 2. Yeah, I can work it, even when I look like a football player.

There was much to be done to get this dress up to date. By the way, these pictures were taken AFTER 30 minutes of ironing. Yeah, this retro lady is 100% silk.

Red silk - tag

Which means it wrinkles like the dickens (the dickens is probably very wrinkled) and easily shows imperfections…both in the sewing and on the body. Though, not on this Body:

Red silk - on the body

First step, tackle (get it?) those shoulder pads.

Oh, what’s this?

Red silk - double pads

Yup, that’s a second set of mini shoulder pads under the first set of large ones. Frankly, this could have 5 sets of pads and they’d all end up in the trash.

So, off went the second set too:

Red silk - removing second pad

Remind me to file my nails before I take close-up hand pictures.

Then it was time for the sleeves. Much like previous refashions, I prefer to seam-rip the sleeves off, rather than cut them, because it leaves behind a 1/4″ hem that is already permanently folded and easy to pin.

Red silk - removing sleeve

It is incredible how time consuming this is. Seriously, I’m talking hours! Delicate material and heavy duty serging make the process even more slow-going.

Following the sleeve removal, I pinned them up:

Red silk - pinning sleeve

Then sewed them up:

Red silk - sewing sleeve

With the sleeves gone, I put it back on The Body to take it in:

Red silk - closer pinned on body

Pins, wonderful pins!

Red silk - pinned on body

I forgot to mention that I actually switched this from the buttons going down the back, to in the front. It felt about the same and once fitted, buttoning up 4-5 buttons behind my back was getting into contortionist territory.

I sewed up along my pinned lines:

Red silk - sewing side

Then, I tried it on and it was a bit too snug. Remember what I said about form fitting silk? Doesn’t matter how thin you are, if you can see skin between strained buttons, it is not cute.

I sewed a second line in the bust and side area, adding about an inch and a half:

Red silk - Re-sewing side

Then I removed the first sewed line:

Red silk - Removing stitches

The result gave me much needed literal breathing room.

While I really wanted to save the pleated bottom, it just wasn’t going to look right if I relocated it higher. Trust me, I don’t have the sewing skills to pay the sewing bills. Good thing I buy dresses for under a dollar. 🙂

Guess what takes longer than removing a sleeve with a seam ripper? Removing a skirt with a seam ripper. Oy!

I picked:

Red silk - removing pleats 2

and picked:

Red silk - removing pleats 1

I honestly took those pictures about an hour apart, because I wanted to feel like I was actually making progress.

I managed to get through it all (eventually) and pin the remaining hem up…

Red silk - hem pin

and then sew.

Red silk - hem sew

Yes, I understand that all of these pictures look alike, but I can assure you this is the correct part of the dress to which I am referring. 🙂

I then needed to carefully and slowly cut away the excess fabric inside. Delicate silk is easy to accidentally cut incorrectly. After such a long process, I’d be pretty upset if I cut a hole in my pretty new dress!

Red silk - removing excess


The last step was to iron it again, and revive the pleats at the shoulders.

Red silk - ironing pleats

Despite this refashion spanning multiple days and convincing me that maybe I need to buy a Jack Daddy (larger, sharper seam ripper), it turned out to be quite a lovely dress.

However, now I am questioning which way to wear it, as both look nice. I am leaning towards the buttons in the back as was originally intended. What do you think?

Red silk - after buttons

Buttons in the front?

Red silk - afters

Or buttons in the back?

I don’t really have anywhere to wear it yet, but my mom just invited me to go with her to the Red Dress PDX Party, May 21st. It’s a fundraiser benefiting the Cascade AIDS Project, where everyone wears a red dress, even the fellas! The theme this year is Walking Red. I don’t know if I am going to zombify myself or not….but I do like effects make-up!  I may have to update with photos afterwards.

Final comparison:

Red silk - final comparison

Have a great weekend, all!


Post 33 – REAL Photos!!

Over the weekend, a long-time family friend offered to take professional photos of me in my refashions after a cancellation left him with pre-paid studio time.

We got photos of 10 of my best outfits and I thought I would share with you some of the best shots. You will now be able to see for sure what my refashions ACTUALLY look like!

Here they are, from oldest to newest blog-wise.

Post 4: Elementary, my dear readers:

_DSC4384 _DSC4396

Post 5 – I could just dye!

_DSC4345 _DSC4355

Post 6 – Noooorrrm!:

_DSC4406 _DSC4418

Post 16 – Hawaiian /LNY Princess

_DSC4376 _DSC4368

Post 21 – Floral Monet

_DSC4317 _DSC4320

Post 22 – In the navy

_DSC4437 _DSC4436

Post 23 – Cozy in (still) winter

_DSC4495 _DSC4492

Post 26 – March Plaidness

_DSC4338 _DSC4340

Post 31 – Clubbing in your 30’s

_DSC4464 _DSC4467

Post 32 – Cover-somes

_DSC4453 _DSC4455

I hope this gives a little more insight into the look of my clothes. 🙂

I promise to have new content VERY soon!

Have a great one everybody!


Post 32 – Cover-somes

There are many treasures to be found at the Goodwill bins. You may remember me detailing my first experiences there in my post Binning, Winning and Buttoning up for Easter.

One of the items I picked up were these super-cool coveralls!:

Coveralls - befores

Okay, so maybe they aren’t super-cool, but they ARE coveralls and they cost less than $1. I had big plans for these puppies, but my first step was to get them a color that wasn’t so blue-collar….literally.

Black dye to the rescue!

Coveralls - black dye

I prepped my materials. Making sure to now have salt on hand to assist with the color saturation.

Coveralls - prepping dye

Then I added everything to the sink for a long bath.

Coveralls - dying

Looking nice and dark! I don’t recommend using your hand to stir, but this was A LOT of fabric and I wanted to make sure it got dyed evenly.

Well, it did dye evenly, just not in the way I had hoped.

Coveralls - full on mat

Uhh…yeah, that’s about 1 shade darker. I could’ve sworn it said this was made of cotton! Unfortunately, the tag did dye totally black, so I have no idea what it really said. Probably 100% polyester. What a dope!

Since I didn’t have any synthetic specific dye at the time, I decided to just move forward with the refashion. It would be easier to re-dye with less fabric anyway.

So, I used a familiar technique for this one, I laid my Canvas the area dress over the top of the coveralls, to pin around as pattern.

Coveralls - with dress overlay

Since the size of the coveralls made the waist too low, I decided to take the arms in from the top, rather than the bottom, in the hopes that it would bring the waist up enough to sit naturally on my body.

Coveralls - with dress overlay shoulder pin

Then, since the olive dress did not have legs, I used my best fitting pair of pants. Yes, I had been wearing them at the time:

Coveralls - with pants overlay

Hey-o! Check out those poorly photographed gams! Line forms to the right, fellas!

I pinned around those as well, to result in a lot of pins and a much smaller version of the coveralls, a.(now)k.a. a jumpsuit.

Coveralls - pin outline

See the pins? No? I can barely see them and I know where to look.

Regardless, it was time for sewing. I decided to use white thread, since I would be dyeing the outfit again anyway, I figured it didn’t really matter and better to start with an easily dyed color.

Coveralls - white thread

I started at the bottom of the leg and worked my way up.

Coveralls - sewing up legs

Then did the inside of the legs and through the crotch area.

Coveralls - sewing up crotch

Then finished with the shoulders.

Coveralls - sewing up shoulder

Aaaaand….it didn’t fit. At all. I took in WAY too much. I didn’t really think it was possible, but I forgot to factor in the stretch in the jeans and the lack of stretch in the coveralls’ polyester.  10lbs of sausage in a 5lb casing. Not pretty!

So I re-sewed the inner legs with about 1″ more room.

Coveralls - more room in legs

And then had to remove the first set of stitches. Thanks mini-Jack!

Coveralls - removing leg stitches

It was still too small. Like, it fit, but the crotch was really low and odd looking and I wasn’t sure I could sew it in a way that was both flattering and fit. So, I removed all of the interior legs’ stitches.

I had also gone too small on the arm holes, so I re-sewed and removed stitches there too:

Coveralls - removing arm stitches

I also cut off the collar:

Coveralls - removing collar

Because, who wants a big ass collar? Not me!

Then removed the excess:

Coveralls - removing arm excess

Then, it was back to the legs. I had to give up on my grand plans to have a cool Katniss Everdeen jumpsuit:

Stop laughing…it could be cool. Well, not these coveralls anyway. They were about to get the frustration chop:

Coveralls - removing legs

Eff off legs! You were more trouble than you were worth.

So now I had shorts:

Coveralls - shorts

Ugh. It looks like some sort of child’s play-outfit.  I only had one option left.

More seam ripping:

Coveralls - removing shorts seams

Removal of more length and pinning a hem:

Coveralls - pinning hem on skirt

Oh yeah, look at that clean cut line! I promise I used scissors, not my teeth, as that edge would imply.

I sewed that up:

Coveralls - sewing hem on skirt

And ta-da! I was done.

“Whoa, Jess, didn’t you say you were going to re-dye it?” I did say that, but I decided I didn’t really want to spend any more time or money on this outfit. Plus, the blue color isn’t so bad, now that there is so little of it!  What do you guys think?

Coveralls - afters

Spring is interesting in Portland, over 80 degrees some days and 55 degrees and raining on others. Who can guess the weather on this day?  Yeah, I had to pull the boots back out of the closet. Fun tip: purchase pool noodles at your local dollar store, cut them to boot-sized lengths and shove them into your boots before you store them for the summer. Not only will they stand upright and not acquire an ugly crease, but they will look so much nicer in your closet!

I want to take a second for a shout-out to all of you, as my blog has now reached over 5000 page views!! Not bad for only being 4 months in!  I am also on Instagram now, if you would like to follow me there @hemsandhahas.  Also, I was invited to join a group refashion blog! If you want to see what other folks (with better quality photos) are refashioning, check it out:

Thank you all so much for reading!!

Final comparison:

Coveralls - final comparison

Update: I know you love pictures, so here are some more that may, or may not, show some sewing flaws.

_DSC4453 _DSC4448


Post 31 – Clubbing in your 30’s

Over the weekend, for the first time in many months, my book club convened!  It was a very busy fall and winter and we went on an extended hiatus, which I am sure we will do our best NOT to repeat.  It can be difficult to bring 11 hard working women/moms/wives together sometimes.

Our book, (well, half a book, we don’t try to do more than 300 or so pages at a time, we know our limits) this time around is, All The Light We Cannot See.  I like it so far, but any wartime novel always has me worried about the fate of the main characters.  No spoilers!

A number of my fellow book club ladies have been so kind to express their appreciation of this blog, so I DEFINITELY had to throw a refashion together to wear to our meeting.

I went with this fuchsia linen/rayon number:

Pink tank - befores

I obtained this size-18 tank dress from the Salvation Army for $0.69! Every Saturday and Sunday anything with the tag color of the week is only 69 measly cents! Unfortunately, by the weekend there is not a lot left, but if you aren’t too discerning about size, you can still find some gems!

The first step was to throw it over The Body and see my options for taking it in.

Pink tank - on the body

This was a lot of extra fabric, so the best option would be to take it in from the sides, but there was this:

Pink tank - side zipper

Shout out to Leopard, my dog’s best friend, featured in this photo.

A side zipper! Last week in my post Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, I took the dress in at the darts to avoid cutting the zipper away.  Unfortunately, that was a much smaller dress and had a lot less to take in.  Taking the darts in 5-6 inches would end up looking really odd.

Ugh…what to do? I decided to say “screw it,” and pinned around the zipper:

Pink tank - pinned on body 2

Pink tank - pinned on body

Getting this off of The Body was tough. I definitely lost a number of pins in the process. Luckily, they left little pin holes, so it was pretty easy to replace them before sewing.

Speaking of which:

Pink tank - sewing side

I need to try SO MUCH harder to pin in the right direction. I just go by instinct instead of actually taking the time to think about it. This instinct is usually wrong.

I tried my dress on and as luck would have it, I was able to get it on without the aid of a zipper! Wooo! Installing a zipper is a challenge that will have to wait for another day. 🙂

However, I still needed to take in the darts a bit, to prevent some bagginess in the chest area.

I decided to wing it:

Pink tank - sewing dart

It went okay, I would have taken in more, if I didn’t need to still pull it over my head.

I removed the inner excess, along with the zipper. Time to make this harebrained idea permanent!

Pink tank - cutting excess

To be honest, I should’ve probably done a second set of zigzag stitches to prevent fraying, because boy did this fray fast! I wish I had a serger for such occasions, but I am not ready to invest in one.

Next up, the hem. I did a rough estimate of the amount to remove when I tried it on, so I measured and chopped a similar number of inches.

Pink tank - cutting length

Then I pinned it with an inch-ish hem…I’m so precise. 🙂 I am sure you actual seamstresses can’t even handle it!

Pink tank - pinned hem

However, you will be proud of me for actually ironing before I sewed. I even had an assistant:

Pink tank - assistant

No, I didn’t get a cat. I was cat-sitting for the weekend while his dad moved. Charlie kitty was very interested in all parts of the refashion process! He was especially interested in the ironing, which is what I was doing at the time of this photo. 

I sewed up the hem and that was it!  I was ready for book club!

Paired with my bow belt and Gucci jellies, it was a great ensemble for a warm spring day!

Pink tank - afters

It was so nice to see all the ladies again and I am looking forward to a shorter break between meetings this time around.

Final comparison:

Pink tank - final comparison

Until next time…

Update: This dress is SO pink… “HOW PINK IS IT?!” This dress is so pink, I had to get professional photos taken, just to show you its true hue.

_DSC4464 _DSC4467


Post 30 – March Plaidness pt. 2

So, I don’t know about you, but my NCAA Tournament bracket was busted in the 1st round when damn Michigan St. lost!  Despite this early loss in my work bracket competition, I still want to pay homage to the tourney with my second and final March Plaidness look. Take a look at my first run at  March Plaidness.

Queue the too long plaid skirt:

Plaidness 2 - befores

I procured this skirt from ebay for $9.99, plus $3.45 shipping. I can hear you thinking, “Whoa, Jess, that’s a lot for one old skirt.” .Well, this skirt is an authentic Pendleton Woolen Mills skirt, see:

Plaidness 2 - tag

They are local and practically THE authority in all things wool, so I just HAD to make it mine!  However, I guess it turns out I didn’t know what “virgin wool” was like. It’s a little weird. Feels a bit like a polyester/wool blend, but I can’t argue with the tag.  Actually, I CAN argue with the tag. Can you see the size on this?  It says 12.  This is not a current size 12. So I guess, yea! for vintage and yea! that it actually fits. I would say the actual size is a today’s version of an 8. Big difference.

The other notable characteristic of the tags is that it actually lists the family tartan. Now, I have long been familiar with this word, given I had to do an elementary school project on family heritage and I went with my Scottish ancestry.  For those of you who don’t know, a tartan is a specific pattern and coloring of plaid that is unique to a family name.  So, this skirt and all others with this pattern are of the Black Stewart clan.

I thought we’d have a little delve into it’s history, as the refashion itself is quite brief.

The West Highland family descends from Sir James Stewart of Pierson who was descended from the 4th High Steward of Scotland. For a time they were Lords of Lorn and were of importance in their Western territory. They were Royalists and fought valiantly for the Royal Stewarts. Duncan Stewart, 2nd of Appin, was Chamberlain of the Isles to King James IV. They fought under Montrose at the Battle of Inverlochy, and in the Jacobite army at Sheriffmuir in 1715. During the 1745 Rising the clan served in Prince Charlie’s army. The 9th chief sold the estate in 1765.

Now, I am not really sure if this means that this is the black version of the Stewart tartan (though the red version isn’t quite the same), or if we are missing a piece about a surname of Black entering the picture. I dunno. Regardless, it’s fun to have a little background on the history of the pattern.

For the record, my family tartan is also combined with another, this is the Thomson Sherwood tartan:

I like it! 

Anyhow, back to the refashion.

All I needed to do was take the length up on this skirt, so it was cutting time!

Plaidness 2 - removing length

As I’ve said before, a nice even lined pattern really makes cutting length easy! I just found the spot on my legs where I wanted it to hit and marked it. Then I went about 1/2 inch down to allow for the hem.

Here is the amount I removed, not a ton, but enough to update it:

Plaidness 2 - cutting along the line

Then it was time for hemming! I just folded and pinned along the pattern line.

Plaidness 2 - sewing hem

I once again used the clear thread for this thick multi-colored fabric.

If you recall from the first March Plaidness, I refashioned a top to go with it. You know, this one:

Plaidness 2 - white top

I figured, why not use the same top with this second iteration.

Plaidness 2 - afters

Paired with my pointy black pumps, it was a great outfit for the first 70+ degree day of 2016  in Portland!

By the way, see that pocket I am using? It is actually a faux-pocket. I’ve never seen this before, but it is really just an opening where it buttons up, so it appears to match the actual pocket on the other side. When I stick my hand in the “pocket,” I am actually touching my lower stomach.  So weird!!

Final comparison:

Plaidness 2 - final comparison

May your day be filled with sunshine and purposeful pockets!


Post 29 – Binning, Winning and Buttoning up for Easter

Over the weekend I made my second ever trip to the Goodwill Outlet, a.k.a – “the bins.”   For those of you who are unfamiliar, the bins are the last stop for unsold Goodwill items. Everything is dumped into large blue bins, to be sorted through by bargain hunters. While some items have set prices, (a large piece of luggage, in any condition, is $8, for example), clothing is sold by the pound! $1.69/lb if you have under 25lbs, and I believe it is $1.50/lb over 25lbs, I’m not totally sure, as I have yet to make a haul of that size.

My friend, Tatyana, and I have found some really great deals in our two trips so far!

Easter - bins


Somehow, I’ve yet to refashion anything from my first trip, but I did get some gems then as well and they will make a future appearance here.  If you are thinking about going, I highly recommend taking a friend. 1) So you both can guard your cart. We haven’t run into any issues yet, but I’ve heard stories of cart theft and arguing over items with strangers.  2) So when you see something gross/ridiculous you have someone to whom you can say, “Ohmygod, look at this!!” This will definitely happen. People give Goodwill all sorts of weird crap.

On Saturday’s trip I ended up spending $8.65 on 10 items, which averages to just under $0.87 per item. So today’s refashion cost me under $1.

I found this lavender men’s dress shirt (Van Heusen, I believe. Forgot to take a pic of the tag) in perfect condition.

Easter - befores

I needed an outfit for Easter dinner at my dad and stepmom’s house and knew that this shade of purple would be perfect. To be honest, Tatyana and I were doing a lot of talking while sorting and I neglected to even hold this up to myself to see if it was going to be long enough for a dress.  Thankfully, it was!

After proper laundering (machine washable..score!!). The first step was to get rid of the sleeves. This was a job for Jack the (seam) Ripper!

Easter - picking sleeve

The color varies throughout my pictures, based on lighting conditions. 

This was a long and tedious process. Especially when dealing with large men’s shirts, it means a whole lot of arm seam to rip. Seriously, it took me a couple hour-long television programs to get through it all.

Following the removal, I hemmed the hole, using the folded bit of material left over. No pins needed.

Easter - sewing sleeve

Men’s collars are much too big to look properly feminine on a dress, so that needed to be removed as well. I used nice sharp scissors to cut at the fold.

Easter - removing collar

Then, with arms and collar removed, it was time to put it on The Body inside out.

Easter - sleeveless on the body

After getting it properly straightened out, I pinned to fit the/my Body.

Easter - pinned on the body

Once pinning was complete, I stitched along my pinned lines:

Easter - sewing sides

I tried it on to assess fit, then took it in just a little more on one side. Then, I tried it on again and it fit, so I removed the excess fabric with my pinking shears:

Easter - removing excess

Easter Sunday, I added a cute belt, aubergine leggings, and my Gucci jellies. The result was not bad for a shirt that cost less than a dollar!

Easter - afters

Whoa! Who is that nerd?!   Thanks to allergies, there are many days when my eyes won’t allow contacts to stay in them. So itchy! I have horrible vision ( -7.0 glasses, -6.5 contacts), so I do not like wearing little windows to the world and allergy season is particularly challenging for me.  I am sure you will be seeing a lot more of these guys through October. Boo. Friggen plants. 

I ended up adding my black cardigan, as the afternoon had a few sprinkles.

Easter - afters w-cardi

As you may have gathered, I like a good deal. When there is an opportunity to save money, I take it! I am not a crazy couponer or anything, but I do love online deals. There are a couple of ways that I like to save.

The first is Groupon. There are a lot of home/beauty/restaurant deals at 50%+ off their normal price, which many people overlook. Also, when you sign up for their emails, they often send coupon codes for 20% off local deals. Things like manicures, carpet cleaning, and maid service can become affordable extravagances (oxymoron).

Some of my favorites have included passes to new experiences  like the Wild Animal Park, a trial of the meal service Blue Apron, and laser hair removal on my lower legs (worth. every. penny.).

If you want to check Groupon out for yourself, please use my referral link:

My other favorite money saving site, which you may also be familiar with, but are not quite sure about, is Ebates. Ebates is super-easy to use and it results in real cash back!  All you have to do is log into Ebates before going to your favorite online shopping site, (i.e. Pro Flowers, Sephora, Nordstrom, etc.) search for the store name, click the “Shop Now” link and then proceed as you normally would with your purchase. Ebates will automatically calculate the cash back percentage and deposit it into your Ebates account.  Percentages range, depending on the store, but are usually around 5%. Ebates also lists current coupon codes that can be used on top of your cash back, for further discounts at the stores.

When you sign up, you automatically are eligible for a $10 cash bonus, if you spend $25 at qualifying stores within the first 90 days. Easy peasy, you probably already do this.

Ebates then pays your rewards quarterly in the form of a check, sent straight to your house.  I believe you have to have at least a $10 balance to get a check.

If you want to sign up for Ebates, please also use my referral link:

While I do receive a bonus if you sign up for either site, I would be singing the praises of both sites either way.  Oh…and FYI, you can get 6% cash back on any Groupons you buy using Ebates!!

Happy Shopping all!

Final comparison:

Easter - final comparison

Have a great week!


Refashioning clothes and storytelling without taking myself too seriously.