Friday, May 30, 2008

No Sew Bracelet

I am much more comfortable with gluing than with sewing. I made a bracelet to match my new ensemble by covering a plastic bangle bracelet with glue inside and out (easier if you do the outside first and then the inside) and neatly pressing a piece of the fabric on the inside and outside. I then used a piece of double-sided tape to apply a piece of velvet ribbon around the outside of the bracelet. What do you think?

Thursday, May 29, 2008


Here's a photo of the now wrinkled rayon print dress and linen shirt I'm altering - at least it will kind of give you an idea of where I'm going. The original dress had another tier on it and I cut that off and hemmed it.
Then I used some of the left over fabric to make the pocket above on the front of the shirt. I am still trying my hand at making a ruffle on the bottom edge of the shirt. The shirt was originally very long and shapeless and I cut it and the sleeves off to make a swingy little short shirt/jacket.

Here's a photo of the bottom of the dress and the edge I left on of the original tier.

Here is the little round pocket I made on the back of the shirt. I made a pattern for both pockets from newspaper and then hand stitched them together and then onto the shirt. The hardest decision was where to place the pockets.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Pablo Picasso said, "I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it."

I have new been good (or even adequate) at sewing. I have never had a sewing class and I don't currently have a sewing machine. I can put in a hem or sew on a button, but I dislike any sewing that means I have to cut something. It's just too final for me and I'm afraid that I will mess it up.
Yet, I tell myself, I never would have thought I would be able to do the things with paper that I can do now. And how will I ever know if I don't try?

And I like the idea of being able to design my own clothes, even though I lack the basic skills to carry out that desire. And, little by little, I have been seduced by the good folks at Stampington into thinking that I might be able to alter things already in existence to suit my own tastes. One of my altered purses was published in Altered Couture last year and I have studied all their editions of the magazine since then and I begin to think that buying things at the Goodwill and turning them into one of a kind garments was a great idea for several reasons: (1) My Scottish background and my own current circumstances have led me to be very thrifty; (2) I love the recycling aspect of making new clothes from old clothes; and (3) I would really like to learn to sew and I need a new challenge.

I adore clothes. I particularly love the little details of expensive, well constructed clothes. I loved the idea of planning my own little details. So it was with some excitement and some trepidation that I decided yesterday to try my hand at my own version of "Altered Couture." Last week I bought a couple of big linen shirts with this altering plan in mind and yesterday I was able to find a tiered rayon print dress that drug the ground on me. The prints all had some color of lavender in them so it was a perfect duo for the lavender linen shirt I bought last week.

I began by cutting off most of the third tier of the dress and saving it to use in the alterations. I then turned the piece of the third layer up and hemmed it by hand so that a little band of the original tier was left all around the dress. Then I cut off the bottom of the shirt until I was a little shorter than waist length in front and longer and swingy in the back. I was surprised how pleased I was with the shape. I then hemmed the shirt all the way around by hand. I made a little rounded pocket from the fabric cut from the shirt and closed it with a button and sewed it on the back of the now swingy shirt (Deciding where to place that pocket was the hardest part and required a lot of pinning and checking and repinning and checking until I finally decided that I had it in the right place.) I also made another pocket for the front of the shirt with a piece of scrap muslin and part of the tier I cut off. I trimmed that pocket with an old belt buckle and a piece of blue velvet ribbon. I used another piece of the tier scrap to glue on a wide bangle bracelet and attached a piece of the same blue ribbon with double sided tape to the center of the bangle. I used another piece of lavender velvet ribbon in the same width to make a little belt for the dress.

So far I have just cut off the sleeves on the shirt and rolled them up, but I am planning to attach a piece of the extra fabric and buttons to hold the rolled up sleeves. I am also thinking of making a tiny ruffle for the bottom of the shirt with the left over material from the dress.

I am pleased that I have been able to get this far. I'll post a pic when I'm finished. I think I may try stamping the tees I bought!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


This is the new cover for my altered vintage record album: Exotic Tease. I want it to be both informative about teas and also offer the reader a little whimsey with her cuppa. I used a doll on pop dots made from the wonderful stamps of Catherine Moore. She has a silver teapot on her head and is dispensing a brown velvet rickrack stream of tea directly into her teacup. There is a little cutout phrase on her dress that reads "hoping to change my mood." Amen, sister!

I first became acquainted with tea as a ritual, instead of just a beverage, when I was about 15. A best friend owned an impressive collection of Twinnings tea tins (with tea leaves, not bags) and we would mull over and finally agree upon our selection of the day. She taught me to make tea the proper way: fresh cold water brought just to a boil and then poured over the leaves in a warmed china tea pot and covered in a tea towel or cosy for 3-5 minutes to brew. The boiling water assures "the agony of the leaves" and ensures the best taste possible. I cannot tell you how disappointed I am when I try out a new place that advertises itself a "tea room," only to be served a pot full of warmed water and a cup with a tea bag in it. There should be a law! I believe that they should be required by law to call themselves a deli or a sandwich shop, or even a restaurant, but no state attorney general should permit such deceptive trade practices as labeling such an establishment as a "tea room."
Puzzling, still, is how my friend acquired her impressive tea collection. (She also taught me how to shop at thrift stores, but that was years later) Her modest family home did not have an indoor bathroom. How could she have had access to the funds to purchase her impressive tea collection? I suspect that her older sister, who had already left home, exposed her to the teas. Perhaps I knew then, but have just forgotten. Anyway, here I am, all these years later, grateful for her early teachings.
Tea (the ritual and the drink) has continued to be an important part of my life. I have expanded my tea collection, always prefering tea leaves to teabags, but sometimes having to bend to availability. Now, with so many wonderful teas available through the internet, my favorite is Taylors of Harrogate (tea room blend). A few of my other favorites are Tazo (black), Twinnings Earl Grey and Jasmine, and Republic of Tea Ginger Peach and Blackberry Sage. If you have other suggestions, please leave me a comment because I would love to try your favorites, too.
I read somewhere recently that single people who go to dinner together reduce their stress by agreeing to share an appetizer. That the act of agreeing on one appetizer is a bonding experience that makes us know we are not alone and reduces our blood pressure. This is my experience in sharing a pot with a friend. We are not alone!
So, please, whereever you are right now, leave your screen for just a few minutes, and brew yourself a cup of the best tea you own(in your best china cup) and know that I, and many others around the world will be performing the exact same ritual (and if you have a little Walker shortbread available, I highly recommend you cosume it, too, as they are lovely together.)
Happy brewing!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


Don't y0u bet Sally Fields (a/k/a The Flying Nun, for those of you old enough to remember that 60's television show) rues the day she ever accepted her Oscar with that little speech! But its very true! That's how I feel. One of the pages from my altered record album was chosen as the front page for a week on one of my Yahoo! art groups. Each Monday any member that wants can post a pic to the weekly Artfest Album of anything they have worked on for the last calendar week (it doesn't have to be finished - it can be a work in progress) and last week's winner picks the new winner. The winner has their work on the title page for a week and has the honor the next Tuesday of picking that week's new winner! And this week my "Follow the White Rabbit" page was chosen as the winner! I am very honored.
This is the final page in a record album I am altering with a loose theme of teas. You can see more about the original project here. I have read that a lot of novelists write their last chapter first and that is just what I have done in my altered record album. That enables me to sort of thread the spirit of adventure (a/k/a following the white rabbit) through the entire work and tie it in a fun way to my "tea" theme.
The quote on the bottom of the page on the left hand side (which may be too small for you to read) is one of my favorites. "Bread and water can so easily be toast and tea." Isn't that what we are each as artists trying to bring to the world - that sense of making the ordinary, extraordinary - the mundane, special.

Monday, May 5, 2008


This past weekend I ventured out to Archiver's (a large chain scrapbooking store) with a friend for their special National Scrapbook Week promotion. I had a coupon that entitled me to a free plastic case with little compartments to hold charms, brads, etc. We each made a couple of free "make and takes" of a card and a scrapbook embellishment. After our visit there (where I bought 2 yards of new blue/green velvet ribbon and a container of diamond stickles) we walked up into the Mall for an iced tea and a pretzel. It was kind of a shock when I realized this was as far as I had been in any Mall in years. Mind you, I have never been a Mall person, but I used to travel into at least the perimeters of them - to get my hair cut, to buy perfume, new underwear -- some things. Apparently, I am doing without these things or I have found other ways to procure them because outside of my frequent visits to Archiver's (which is near a back entrance and who's current and frequent trips are as much social as necessary) I never go to a Mall. Since I made the venture a few years ago into this world of collage and altered art, I rarely buy a card or a present - I make them! I could see this coming on a few years ago when I began to turn things over in stores to try to dissect how they are made. At the time I wondered if I would someday actually be able to make most of the things I want to possess. My answer has been a resounding, "Yes!" This is not to say that I personally actually make all the things I am interested in owning. I, alas, can not, at least not with the same competency as other artists can make them, but most of the things I want are made by other artists and you cannot find them at the "MALL."
This last weekend I did go to three Goodwill stores in search of things to alter, but I was only able to find 2 children's books - a children's encyclopedia type book of "Natural History" with lots of good 1950's pics of animals and plants and a children's book with jokes and riddles with one for my current Tea project: "Would you care to join me in a cup of tea? Answer: There's not enough room in the cup for both of us."
What else was I searching for in these stores? Well, here they are, in no particular order,
1. Clothes to alter - with paint or thread
2. vintage purses - to alter
3. vintage linens that can be cut up and made into other things (old print sheets, embroidered pillow cases or dresser scarves
4. Silk scarves that can be cut up and used for shabby ribbons or as the cover for future journals
5. jewelry to take apart and use for projects (particularly vintage earrings)
6. ditto china dolls
7. old sewing supplies (already aged - no need to spend precious art time distressing them)
8. old sewing patterns - for the illustrations on the envelope or for the actual pattern pieces
9. old dictionaries, atlases, children's books
10. old wood things that can be painted and repurposed

Today I picked up a bottle cap in the parking lot to put into my stash and I am searching coffee/tea rooms for interesting "tea" packaging for the aforementioned tea project. I have many supportive friends that regularly bestow on me old jewelry, coasters, frozen juice can lids, bottle caps, and papers of all sorts they think I can use.

Please help me and my readers by leaving a comment to tell us where you get your own art supplies. What's on your own list of things for which you regularly search? Maybe there are some things on your list we need to add to our own lists.