A Sunny Yellow RepliKate Shirtdress

I always try to downplay the impressiveness of my sewing projects because, really, they’re just following instructions from a pattern. However, this one turned out exactly how I wanted it to, so I’ll take a bow. And not so much for how well it turned out but for how close I got to what I was trying to achieve.

Yes, of course it was another repliKate (a Kate Middleton replica for anyone that hasn’t met me).

Image via Getty

I don’t know why it took me so long with my fondness for sewing and repliKates (I’ve also knit a shawl and sewn a cape similar to hers) to attempt making a dress. Not too long ago, I even made a couple shirtdresses that only took a day so I figured I could manage it. Also, call me stuck in the past, but I think shirtdresses are just the absolute perfect summer outfit, whether it’s 1960 or 2017.

I made this dress with Butterick pattern #6333 and an inexpensive bright yellow (obviously) cotton fabric from Joann Fabrics. The entire dress probably cost less than $20. Thankfully the pattern was really close to the Jaeger dress because I was not too confident I could merge two patterns together like I thought I was going to have to do.

In total, it took just a weekend (fueled by White Claws) to make. Side note: I never know how to answer the question of how long something takes me to make. Yes, it took about a weekend from start to finish (and under a slight deadline), but if I felt like dedicating an entire day to it, I could have done it. That’s also if my poor back did not hurt and I didn’t have to take alcohol and cheese breaks. What a workout!

This also seems like a good time to point out that the dress HAS POCKETS. Heavenly, amiright, ladies?

The pleats were one intimidating factor of this pattern, mainly because I have never done those before. And I am here to spread the good news—they’re easy! I’m super excited with how it turned out, because I think it looks so much like Kate’s. Also I really like the sleeves, which I was worried about. I cannot pull off cap sleeves, but these were just long enough to be considered cap sleeves, while not totally accentuating my arm pit obesity. Hooray!

The results are in: I wore it on one of the first nice days and got lots of compliments at work (and a few renditions of “You Are My Sunshine”, for what that’s worth). Happy spring!

Stenciled Scotland Messenger Bag

Have you ever wanted to stencil the name of a country you’ve never been to onto a thrift store messenger bag? I certainly have. So I did.

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Sunday morning in nowhere-near-Scotland vibes.

Like so many of my projects, this one has a long and storied past, but I’ll try to keep it succinct. I’m half Scottish and decided I needed to make a Scotland sweatshirt (I guess I forgot that the internet exists so that we don’t live like pilgrims making all the clothes we desire). I painstakingly made a stencil and stenciled it onto a sweatshirt and, don’t you know, it looked great. Then I washed and shrunk the sweatshirt so it no longer fit me. It was fun while it lasted. But I hung onto the stencil for a long time, just waiting for the perfect item on which to try again to fall into my hands. And then I found this canvas messenger bag at a thrift store. And THEN a few years went by and here we are today.

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The blank canvas (bag), perfect for carrying around heather and haggis.

So that’s what I started with. Actually, I should back up. I started with a printout of a crest and the word “Scotland” in the font I wanted, a blank sheet of stencil material, and an Exacto knife. That’s how the stencil came to be. It took forever, by the way.

I measured where I wanted to put the stencil so it was centered on the front of the bag and pinned it there. A note about this: the first time I stenciled the sweatshirt, I used some sort of temporary spray adhesive that worked great and the stencil turned out perfectly. I couldn’t find it at the store this time and the guy recommended just using push pins. Needless to say, go with the spray if you can find it: way easier, less time-consuming, and better results. I am going to give that guy a piece of my mind if I ever see him again.

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Here are the two stencils pinned down with 8 million stick pins. The pins worked OK but were not ideal.

Once the stencils were pinned down, I used one of those cheap foam brushes to dab on the paint. I just mixed blue and black craft paints that I already had to make the navy color I was looking for. #resourceful. Unsurprisingly, the pins got in the way (and had to be tossed after), another reason the spray adhesive would have worked better.

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Painted but before the big reveal.

But it still turned out pretty well! The fact that the paint seeped under the stencil a little actually kind of gave it character and made it look not-so-perfect, in a good way (or so say I when I’m justifying why it’s not perfect). But, baby, it’s perfect to me.

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The finished product. Imagine me on the floor of the coffee shop taking these pictures to get the full visual.

The good news is that the design is actually legible, and I can reuse the stencil again and slap something on top of this if I decide that I hate it. But I think I like it. It’s growing on me! They may take my life, but they’ll never take my STENCILSSSS!

Gallery Wall

It’s been far too long since I posted—apologies to my follower. But now that summer/an active lifestyle is done, I am excited to get back to it! To get into the groove, I’d like to share something I’ve been wanting to post: my gallery wall. I’ve been a fan of this type of setup for awhile and have read (and ignored) lots of tips on how to create your own. And now I’m about to give you tips on how I made mine, so take that with a grain of salt.

My humble gallery wall.

My humble gallery wall.

Please note that I did not intend this to be a shrine to my own artwork but when you’re a. into painting and b. too poor for real art, it happens. Deal with it. I thought I’d mention where the pieces came from and point out some of the vintage or thirty ones BECAUSE IT’S WHAT I DO!

Ms. Foxy: Hardcore fans of my blog (JK, that’s not a thing) will recognize this as a painting I did in my last art class. End of story.

The Golden “B”: The newest addition to the wall! The letter was a few dollars at Target and I spray painted it gold and drilled a hole in the back to hang it. So easy and cheap!

Whale Cribbage Board: A favorite of mine from a local vintage store.

My Passport: Six pages of my passport, separated and framed with a custom-cut mat. Hint: if the coolest stamps are on back-to-back pages, a color copy looks just as good.

My Dad’s Army Photo: My favorite picture of him, because I think he looks like a movie star.

Gold Framed Oil Painting: An original painting of Paris that I got at my favorite antique store by my cabin. Super inexpensive for an original anything.

Mask: A tiny little mask I picked up while volunteering in El Salvador that cost a couple bucks.

Dog painting: My beloved dog Bailey, painted by me.

White Framed Watercolor: This is a painting of the Mirabell Gardens in Salzburg, Austria that I bought from a street artist in the same location.

Eiffel Tower Painting: Another one I did in art class. This one is a copy of another painting.

Wooden Framed Mountain Painting: A painting I did from life (is a mountain alive?) while in Seward, Alaska at a plein air painting weekend.

Silver Framed Boat Painting: Another from the same Seward plein air weekend with a frame from a thrift store.

Vintage Book: A vintage book made into a clock that I bought at a flea market in Brooklyn.

My Humble Advice and Tips:

  1. Mix and match everything. Gold and silver. Black and brown. Homemade and purchased. Photos and other media. Some people go with all photos or all black frames which can look really great, but I love the unmatched look of my wall (and I think it fits my apartment).
  2. Don’t think you have to spend a lot. The most I spent on anything on this wall was probably getting the custom mat for my passport, which was not all that much. Homemade art can look really nice!
  3. Include three-dimensional stuff along with two-dimensional art. It really adds another, well, dimension to the wall. Consider hanging things that aren’t normally meant to be hung. I had to nail a wire to the cribbage board to hang it up, but it’s one of my favorite parts of the wall (and since I don’t know how to play cribbage, no big loss).
  4. Search thrift stores for picture frames. Those can often be the most expensive part, but places like Goodwill are overflowing with them for cheap.

The Weekend Antique Haul

I swear, I didn’t even mean to go antiquing. But that’s how some of my best finds started out. There’s really nothing better than a Saturday spent brunching and browsing at one of my favorite antique stores in town. This place is really insane. Three floors of wall to ceiling STUFF. Furniture, books, barware, and, yes, crap. It’s amazing. It takes some patience to dig through but, as you’ll see, it’s always worth it!

Here’s what I welcomed into a new home:

A green leather footstool that perfectly matches an antique green leather chair I got from the same store another time. I darkened the legs to make it match better with a wood touch up stain.

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A pink tapestry-style (I made that term up, FYI) blanket. I was unsure about this one, but I already love the pop of color it adds to my all-white bedroom without the commitment of paint. I also think the pattern has something of a regal, tapestry feel to it, no?

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This would also add a pop of fun and color to a chair or couch, again without the commitment of completely redoing the colors in a room. I can see this moving into the living room once spring comes…and I get a couch.

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And lastly, another antique umbrella to add to my collection. (Since I can’t stop purchasing these, they have become a “collection” and I’m much more justified in buying multiple ones.) Here’s the cool, molded handle and decorative tassel hanging out on my new deer bottle opener (from World Market).

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And the fully opened umbrella. The great condition and plaid pattern (it feels so British countryside) were irresistible.

IMG_3733Total damage:

  • Footstool: $25
  • Blanket: $25
  • Umbrella $12

Not too shabby for a day at the antique store! As I stand and survey my apartment, I realize almost nothing in here is new from a store (not that there’s anything wrong with that). It makes me so happy to have unique furniture and decor that I’ve hand-picked piece by piece and that have spoken to me throughout the years. They all add up to an apartment that really reflects me and my taste. (I’ve been told my place makes me look like an “old soul”, whatever that means). That said, I think I am going to make this a regular “feature” on the blog. I find so many great items for my apartment at different antique, thrift, and vintage stores, I might as well share my goodies!

DIY Monogrammed Cocktail Napkins

It pays to have a family that is crafty, too, you know. I recently turned a million years old and asked for these monogrammed cocktail napkins from Mark & Graham for my birthday. Being one of my thrifty, crafty family, my sister decided to make me her own version. And they turned out so great! Ta-da!

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I actually really love the colors she used. While they’re not the bright colors of the napkins I originally had asked for, I love that the subtle colors go with the gold theme of my bar cart. (I’m so proud of it, I had to include a picture! P.S. she got me the great gold ice bucket too!) You could definitely use any color palette and add a matching border with the same paint to replicate the Mark & Graham napkins more closely.image1-5

The most impressive part of this all is that since she couldn’t find cocktail sized napkins, she bought dinner napkins, cut them down, and hemmed them! And she did a great job; I had no idea until she told me. (Plus, then I get eight napkins instead of four!)

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Then she stamped them with a coordinating, slightly shimmery and glittery paint and a personalized stamp. B for the win. And now I have my very own “B” stamp so I can monogram the hell out of everything in my life. I’m not sure what my deal is with loving monograms lately but after this DIY, I’m considering doing a lot of it! Any ideas for me?

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Hunter Boot Liners

I’d like to pretend this project went so perfectly and what I’m about to describe did. However, I had 2 failed attempts at this project a year ago that led me here. But the good news is that you can learn from my mistakes! Once I figured out what to do, these were pretty easy to make in just an afternoon. image2-2The first time, I tried to make my own pattern (just like Pinterest told me to) and failed spectacularly. What did work was using this polar sock pattern that I bought at JoAnn Fabrics, since I couldn’t find a boot liner pattern. It is a pattern for thick, fleece socks that have the option of being made knee-high, which is what I chose. I made a men’s size that was a couple of sizes bigger than my shoe size but looked like it would fit inside my boot when I placed it on top of the pattern. image3 I made the polar socks according to the pattern, except for the ribbed top. Then I put the socks on inside the boots and measured how much fabric would be needed to reach the top of the boot plus fold over times two. It is a lot easier to leave this cuff extra long and then shorten it, which is what I did. I just took the seam in gradually until it was long enough fold over the top of the boot with the right sized cuff. image1-4 All in all, I think they turned out pretty great! I love the fabric and they’ve already come in useful sloshing through the snow and salt of the Wisconsin winter, while keeping my feet much warmer than before. I’d love to make some more boot liners in different colors and patterns—and see what you guys come up with too!

A Throwaway Bulletin Board Becomes Pretty

It’s like a modern-day Cinderella story! OK so it’s actually just a super simple, no-brainer project that made my old bulletin board, that I was going to dump, look like a pretty picture frame! I feel like Nate Berkus could have designed it for his Target collection. Here’s the before picture:

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Boring, right? Nothing exciting or terrible about it but I am to the point where an old bulletin board no longer fits in with my post-college style. (Don’t worry about my Rubbermaid bedroom shelves…I’ll get to those.) But when I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo (look it up! It’s awesome! And I’m going to post about it in my other blog!), I had a need for somewhere accessible to post things up again. But how to make it look adult, elegant, and like part of the decor instead of a messy dorm room accessory? PAINT.

The best part about this project is that it was entirely free. I already had the old bulletin board and used the white and gold paint I had lying around too. I’m sure you could get all of these things for just a few bucks. So I plopped a bunch of white paint onto the board and went to town with a foam paintbrush. (P.S. there’s a sale on onions. Take note.)

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Then I painted the whole darn thing, including the frame. I decided a white frame would help the gold color pop more and also I am messy and it was hard to keep the white off of the frame.

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Then I pained the frame gold! I just love how the color turned out. I had to do maybe 3 or 4 coats but it went really fast with the foam brush.

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And ta da! The finished product. The white could use a few more coats but I think with things pinned to it, it will look just fine on the wall.

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I think after I use it for the month, I may repurpose it because I like it so much. I was thinking to add tacks and hang pretty necklaces inside the frame or neatly pin some pictures or mood board items. Any other ideas? Tell me! What would you use it for?