I Refashion, And So Can You.

I trust we have all had wonderful holiday seasons and are still riding high on all our New Year’s Resolutions/Goals? We did. We had a lovely visit at Thanksgiving from The Hubs’s Mother and my best gal pal for my birthday, with an impromptu party that The Hubs threw for me. Oh, and he got me a honking sapphire necklace and matching ring. Yes, he does rock, that one.

One of my goals for the year is to really commit to this blog and it’s projects. Yes, Dear Readers, I am committing to YOU! OK, so committing to you means that I get to play with my sewing toys, decorate and organize my new house and go thrift/flea/antique shopping, which makes me thrilled to my cute, little toesies, but I swear I’m not doing this for selfish reasons. Like today. Today, we are going to attempt our first refashion project, which is great for the environment. . . And my closet. . . But, mostly for you and the environment.

If you aren’t familiar with the concept, refashioning basically means that you take an existing garment and make it over in some way. While this is my first attempt, I got into the movement by following the ReFashionista’s blog. She started out as a charity project/challenge, by refashioning a piece of clothing given to her by a local thrift shop (benefitting a woman’s shelter) EVERY DAY FOR A YEAR. I’m thrilled when I can say I have brushed my teeth every day for a year (hey, I have kids, they get distracting. don’t judge), let alone make the commitment to be creative every singe day AND then give up my work (yes, she donated all her finished products BACK to the thrift store so they could make more money). She is a little more sporadic now (can you blame her?!), but still has great posts about making over seemingly ugly clothes she got on the ÜBER cheap and looking fashionable. You can find her here: http://www.ReFashionista.net . You should visit and like her on faceplace.

So, here’s my first victim. A pink Oxford type shirt with strange cuffs.

Nice pink shirt, with goofy cuffs.

Nice pink shirt, with goofy cuffs.

Now, they don’t look SO bad, but when you put it on? Remember that period Madonna went through in the 80’s with the big ruffled cuffs, like Carnival? Every time I put this shirt on (and I tried to wear it in this state at least twice), I felt like I should bust out into ‘La Isla Bonita’. However, I picked it up at the local Goodwill for $2, it’s made from a good, light-weight, stretch poplin, and I figured it would be a great way to get my feet wet refashioning. Not gonna lie, I’ve had it for a few months.

Well, I have TWO meetings in TWO consecutive days at the Blonde One’s school this week, and need to get this going. My thought was to tailor the cuffs AND make it so I could flip them up in a jaunty manner, that says, “I am a Warrior Mother, I am here for business, and I am not to be trifled with”. Probably more like, “I’m a SAHM and I’m excited to be out with adults during the day and the occasion to wear clothes other than jeans, even if I do have to argue and fight with you.” But, let’s not quibble over semantics, shall we?

First things first, use a seam ripper (a refashionista’s tool of the trade) and pull off those cuffs.

Now that your cuffs are off, fold the cuff with the folded edge to the sewn edge, get a straight edge and mark your cutting line ADDING FOR A SEAM ALLOWANCE! My shirt already had a 1/2″ seam allowance, so that’s what I used, measure your garment’s seams to see what the original construction used.

Use any straight edge to mark the cut, I just happened to have my new quilter's triangle handy.

Use any straight edge to mark the cut, I just happened to have my new quilter’s triangle handy.

Here's the cuff, folded in half and marked.

Here’s the cuff, folded in half and marked.

Here you can see the part I cut off and the part yet to be cut off.

Here you can see the part I cut off and the part yet to be cut off.

Notice that I have only used a common, ordinary pencil to mark my line. I’m cutting it off, so it doesn’t really matter. Now, sew a new seam on the freshly trimmed edge. See, you don’t have to have a bucket of fancy tools to do this!

Pinned and ready for the machine!

Pinned and ready for the machine!

Now, I’m sure you are noticing my swanky new pins. Right? You should, because THESE pins are for QUILTING, they have flat heads. They are flat so you can lay your big ol’ quilting ruler over them and it won’t be as lumpy as if you used apparel pins. There, you learned something new. Sew your new seam with either a 1/2″ or 5/8″ seam allowance, or whatever your garment has.

Now, this part is a little tricky and I will admit to doing it wrong on the first try. Since I want to flip my cuff up, I have to make sure that the unfinished side of the cuff (the wrong side, or WS) needed to face my arm and not the world. However, I also needed to make sure that the seam attaching the cuff to the sleeve didn’t show above my elbow. I hope that you can see how I have turned the cuff right side out and tucked it into the INSIDE of the sleeve, matching the seams.

Right side of cuff (the finished side of the seam) to the wrong side of the sleeve (the unfinished side of the shirt seam).

Right side of cuff (the finished side of the seam) to the wrong side of the sleeve (the unfinished side of the shirt seam).

Here is the cuff, pinned into the sleeve, and ready for the machine!

Here is the cuff, pinned into the sleeve, and ready for the machine!

You can sort of see the previous seam, which makes it easier to figure out where to sew. This also makes it easy to sew a straight seam and not worry too much about measuring the previous seam allowance.

Sew, sew, SEW!

Sew, sew, SEW!

I was kind of worried that my cuffs wouldn’t stay up, and they would constantly be needing attention (so NOT the pulled together and polished look I’m going for), so I lined up the seams on the underside of the sleeve and stitched a little seam across the little hem in the cuff. Thus ensuring a constant state of up.

Lining up the seams, I stitched forward and backwards, ensuring it would stay in place.

Lining up the seams, I stitched forward and backwards, ensuring it would stay in place.

Now, it’s DONE! I’m sure you are thinking that you aren’t going to stumble across a shirt with the same problem when you thrift, but you might find one that you want to shorten the sleeves on, or add cuffs.

Ya-ta-dah-DAH! Finished!

Ya-ta-dah-DAH! Finished!

I’m hoping to pair this with light grey dress slacks and some black patent pumps and belt. Hopefully, it’s the Mommy Armor I need when sitting in a room full of people who try to tell you that they know your kid better than you do. I may not have a fancy degree, or make thousands, but I know my kid and I can look good doing it!

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This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things (Sort Of)

I’m not going to lie, I had sort of an odd childhood. For some reason, my father deemed it appropriate to let me watch SNL and Gallagher at a young age. Because, you know, an 8 year old gets the subtle nuances of Gallagher. I remember a few specific things about his specials, that I watched on almost constant repeat on our VHS player. One, was when he was discussing what it was like to have a child, he said you get to say things like “Who put Vicks on the Cheese-Its?” Well, here in the Frat House, I say stuff like that more times than I like to think about. Some of my favorites are, “Stop licking that pole!”, “Where are your pants?!”, “We all have to wear clothes when we are outside!”, “Take your hands off your penis, it’s not going to run away!”. Recently, we had a night that added a new saying, which I will NEVER get a kick out of having to yell: Who whizzed on the couch?!

OK, so here’s the deal, The Brunette One decided he wanted to sleep in one of the family room chairs, which is right outside out bedroom. It’s summer and that’s usually pretty harmless, so we agreed. However, on this night, I also decided to test out if I really needed to keep giving The Blonde One his melatonin at night. I put him to bed in his bed, upstairs, with his Good Night (ah, the joys of bedwetting), read him his story, and didn’t think anything about it, because he always passes out. Fast forward to 11pm, when he sneaks in on little, cat feet, right up to the side of my bed, bends down to my long asleep ear, and says, “FLASHLIGHT,” as loudly as he can, then spins on his heel, and heads off to cash on the couch. Guess the answer to the melatonin question is, yes. On the plus side, I discovered that my surprised waking bladder control is excellent.

At this point, The Hubs has begun to snore at a decibel level that rivals large aircraft. Since the couch is taken, I grab up my pillow and hit The Brunette’s bed, because The Blonde One has busted his box spring again (Frat House!). I settle in to grab the last few Zzzz’s I can before everyone wakes up for the day.

Well, at this point, I might sneak in that, at 11, The Blonde One isn’t always so keen about wearing that Good Night to bed. He’s autistic, and he doesn’t care that it saves me laundry, it feels like a diaper and he’s not crazy about it. And, because in my relief that I wasn’t being attacked by something wielding a flashlight, and that I hadn’t wet the bed, I forgot to check and make sure that my sneak still had his Good Night on. I woke up to this:

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Awesome. Couch pee. . .

As you can see, a wet spot on the couch isn’t a mere wet spot for us, we have a leather couch. *sigh* At this point, I am having a “this is why we can’t have nice things” moment, as I make my coffee and settle into googling “how to clean urine out of a leather couch”. The results were surprisingly positive, mainly because it wasn’t cat pee, apparently, if it’s cat pee, you’re pretty much screwed. And, since I was going to have to clean the couch ANYWAY, I guess it’s just an opportunity to show you all how to do it.

I should, at this point, interject that leather is just skin. And being, just skin, it needs to be taken care of like skin, it needs to be washed gently, with mild cleanser and have lotion applied. Now, because there aren’t a lot of leather furniture enthusiasts out there, but there are no more rabid protectors of their leather than car geeks, over the years, I have taken a page from them when caring for my leather furniture. By and large, they swear by Maguire’s car care products. Of course, having just moved, and not being allowed to move liquids cross country, and not having had the wild hair to wash the couch in the 2 months we have been here, I was fresh out of leather soap. I have previously used baby shampoo in a pinch, which of course I was also out of, so I used my kids’ no more tears kiddo shampoo, hoping of the same outcome.

First step, remove the leather covers from the cushions. Febreeze the crap outta them on your back porch. Several times. I always have on hand at least ONE bottle of the pet formula, because pee is pee when you are trying to get rid of the stink. Yes, I suppose I could have dragged out the shampooer, but I also had leather to clean, a therapist coming and I was still in my PJs.

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Did I mention that leather is just skin? Well, leather dyes are really just fancy self tanners, and when liquid is applied to the pores, they suck it in and release it out the back side. Hence why you should NEVER SOAK LEATHER.

So, now you have these stinky, damp leather cushion covers to deal with. Here’s what I used:

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As you can see, we have towels, a wash cloth, bowl of tepid water, kiddo shampoo, dish soap (it’s what About.com suggested, but I was worried about it being too drying), and Maguire’s leather wipes.

First things first, slide some towels inside the cushion cover. You will want them to be towels you don’t mind possibly ruining (remember the cushions?). The aim is not to soak the leather again, but you just want to be safe. Take your wash cloth, dip it in the bowl of water and ring it out to almost dryness, and apply a small, pea-sized amount of soap to the cloth. Suds up. Now, start washing the cushion in gentle, circular motions. I don’t know why it has to be circular, but everything I have ever read says this. Here’s the PITA part, you can’t JUST do the pee part, you have to wash THE WHOLE CUSHION. Otherwise, you will wind up with a water stain, and let’s just avoid further stain googling, shall we? I went over the whole thing several times, sides, too (because of course it leaked in between both cushions!). The thing I can’t stress enough is not to soak the leather again. It will shrink and do other rotten things. Also, don’t over rub, this will rough up the outer layer of the leather and it will wind up looking dry and ugly looking.

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Dry over something that allows air flow.

I slipped my freshly washed covers over my dining room chairs. I wanted to make sure that all sides got good airflow, so as to not only evenly dry my covers, but to air out any residual pee stink. PS- Someday I am going to send this rug out for professional cleaning. It was in front of the computer that The Blonde One favored while potty training, and even though it was mere steps from a toilet, it’s much more efficient to stand in front of the YouTube video you have watched a BILLION times and whizz, than take the time to put it in the toilet. THAT IS MERE. STEPS. AWAY. But, I digress. . .

Once your therapist has left and you have washed both covers, you should probably take the time to give the other cushions a good going over with the Maguire’s wipes. These happen to be the cleaning and conditioning wipes, and in my opinion, you should probably be using them at least once a month. Of course, I don’t do that myself, but it’s a goal. You should also probably take all the cushions off the couch and vacuum, which will make you feel like the filthiest, rat bastard on the planet. There will be crumbs, hair (both human and pet), change, bobby pins, and buttons. Again, I was having flashbacks to my Gallagher watching youth, when he rolled out a giant trampoline disguised as a couch and he pulled random crap out of the cushions. A flip flop, baby’s teething toy, car keys, and something rubbery that I am going to leave up to the imagination. . .

By now, you should have Febreezed your cushions at least twice, and they should be dry. Keep spraying and allowing to dry until you don’t smell pee. For me, it was 3 times. Then, it’s time to reassemble your couch! Also, don’t forget to use the conditioning wipes on the freshly cleaned cushions. I would have preferred to use a separate leather conditioner, but I didn’t have any on hand. I have heard tell of some people using baby oil to condition their couches, but alas, I was out of that as well.

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TaDAAAAHHHH! Clean couch!

Due to the angle of the sun, the couch looks MUCH lighter than the previous picture, but I assure you, it’s just the lighting. It will be a little slippery-er than before, thanks to the conditioners, so be aware.

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Pee spot BEGONE! Huzzah, indeed!

Again, it’s kind of a trick of the lighting that makes it seem bleached out, but I swear it’s not. Maybe a little on the front piping, but it’s kind of like that all the way across the front from the constant rubbing of pant legs.

So, there you have it, we all can have nice things, it just takes a little extra care and attention when they get fouled. Now, if there was such an easy fix for electronics when they get dropped onto ceramic tile floors, laid on concrete slabs. . .

Have a great day!

~AB.

The Battle Front: Fridge

I mentioned previously that The Hubs and I are a smidge Mars/Venus when it comes to home keeping. He is very clean lines, uncluttered vistas and hidden organization. I am more of a let’s display all the kids’ artwork from school, with a few 100% papers, and a report card, along with 3 birthday party invitations, the reminder about the book fair and a grocery list, because if you want it to happen, I need to look at it everyday, multiple times a day. There is no where in our home that this was more of an issue, than the front of our fridge. I need to have all these things out where I can see them and hung up with magnets that have funsy sayings on them. This sends The Hubs into facial twitches. He tried to compromise by relegating most of my clutter to the side of the fridge in our last house, but that was too out of sight, out of mind for me. Skip foreword to our move to Texas and one of The Hubs’s dreams came true: a stainless steel fridge that isn’t magnetic.

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Pay no attention to the funhouse image of he lady in her PJs.

This is the bane of my existence! Where do you display artwork?! The A+ papers?! Event invitations, appointment reminders, fast food coupons?! Finger print issues aside, where do I hang my grocery list?!

Saucily, he suggested that I hang a few of the most important things on the 3 inch strip down the sides of the fridge that are magnetized and not covered up by the built in cabinetry. Yeah, because that’s helpful! You can barely hang a business card there! What about my magnets proclaiming my love for chocolate, sassy retro lady pictures and images of Mary Englebreight whimsy?! Well, one day, while sitting at the kitchen table, grouching to HRH (aka Mom, stay with me now), I looked up and railed, “And look at this side! A whole wasted space of blank wood that I could be hanging stuff on!” And, like a frisbee, it hit me, I had seen on Pinterest a tutorial (OK, like a million different tutorials) on spray painting old cookie sheets and using them as magnet boards.  I could DO that!!! No, really, even I couldn’t screw THAT up, right?

Being new homeowners, we were planning an excursion to Lowe’s and the Dollar Store anyway, so I loaded up the herd and off we went. I grabbed 2 cookie sheets and a pizza pan (because I was feeling zazzy and as a throwback to my Chicago ‘burb roots) from the dollar store. Then, at Lowe’s, I got a can of light blue spray paint, chosen to bring out the blue accents in the fireplace in the family room we are trying to pick up. This was a can of Valspar, that promised it was a paint and primer in one, dried in 30 minutes and would work on metal without sanding. Good deal, because I was excited and didn’t want to waste time sanding.

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The cookie sheets and my paint.

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The Pizza Pan.

Here is probably a good place to remind you to spray in a well ventilated area. And, maybe wear a particulate mask. I didn’t and my nose was blowing this shade of blue snot for a few days afterwards. Made me super popular with my Ys, but probably not the healthiest. Also, if you don’t have a large drop cloth and are worried about overspray, I recommend spraying in the grass in your backyard. Any overspray will be mowed away the next time your Lawn Boy (or, Girl, or child labor) runs the grass cutter.

I sprayed my first coat very thin and let the sheets dry outside in the Texas heat and humidity for an hour before coming back and doing another one. Despite it’s comfortable spray nozzle, it didn’t live up to it’s “no drip” promise and I got a few splatters on my sheets. No big deal to me, as they would probably be covered up anyway. Another hour goes by, and while the paint was still a tad tacky, I did a third coat anyway, chalking it up to the humidity and not being too concerned, but annoyed that the process was taking longer than promised.

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Second coat on the left, still first coat on the right. I sprayed in a left to right pattern the first coat and in an up and down pattern the second, thus ensuring I hit every spot.

I waited several hours before brining them inside, only to discover, they were still sticky. : | I let them sit overnight before hanging with their Command hook and loop strips (have you discovered these?! I am totally addicted!) When I went to pick them up, some of the paint came off the backs where they had touched my counters. : \  This was not supposed to happen. Also, after a few hours of having magnets attached, they peeled paint off the FRONT. >: \ All in all, I guess I should have sanded, even if the can says you don’t have to.

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You can really see the spritzes that made splotches on the one on the right. And at the tops where the paint came off from touching my counter.

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This really got a crazy amount of scratches on the back.

Anyhooters, I think they turned out great! And as an added bonus, The Hubs even approved! The 9×13 sheets accommodate the construction paper projects well and even kind of give the pictures a framed look. I think that the circle pizza pan brings in a bit of fun and breaks up all the straight lines in that area. Most importantly, I can still see all my important junk from the kitchen table and it’s organized enough that it doesn’t turn The Hubs into Sheldon Cooper trying to solve a magic trick when looking at it. And the whole schmear cost me less then $8, which thrills me to my toes!

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Nothing says “Job Well Done” like a look of approval from the cat.

So, I heartily encourage you all to run out and try this yourselves, but sand your pans lightly first.

Now, I must be off, as I am hoping to squeeze a WalMart trip in before heading out this afternoon with HRH, the Queen Mum and the little Ys to a place called The Bargain Barn, here in San Antonio. If I don’t find anything that I can’t live without, I’m sure that Grand Marshalling the Freak Parade will at the very least provide an interesting story for the ‘morrow!

Have a great day!