Back – again! This Time With Beads!

It’s been a long time. I shouldn’t have left you.

So, let’s catch up shall we? Since my last post, I’ve only done very little sewing (one skirt to be exact) and I’m still working on my French jacket, but mostly I’ve been just taking it easy, enjoying my summer and dabbling in jewelry.

As you know, I get obsessed with something and then go all in. Here’s my newest obsession: waistbeads (the sun was playing peekaboo, but I did the best I could with the pics.)


I made some from rose quartz and amethyst a few years ago, but the clasp came off so they were buried in my jewelry box. Recently I became interested in repairing them. Then I started wanting more. Then I went on Etsy and bought new beads to mix with the beads I already had and I’ve been making new sets ever since.

You can find waistbeads made from plastic or glass beads fairly easily, but I knew I wanted mine to have gemstones because of their healing properties (I’m about that “good energy” life). I also wanted certain colors.

So after I restrung my first set (and while I was waiting for my Etsy order), I made these from glass seed beads and some amber-colored beads I bought at Michaels:


These are turquoise chip and green glass beads. I might redo this one. IDK, I feel like it’s too green:


I made these from citrine beads I got from Etsy, with glass beads, and seed beads I had on hand:



These are jade, tiger’s eye, garnet and brass:


I have a hank of those yellowish glass beads so I’m going to experiment with multistrands next.

I also got a lot of work done on my black Alabama Chanin skirt. It’s still not finished, but at least I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

As for the only skirt I sewed over the summer, I have to take pictures of that tomorrow when the sun returns.

That’s all for now, but since summer’s over, I plan on visiting with you more often. So, do tell, what have you been up to?


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Cold Hands, Warm Heart

I always heard that expression when I was growing up and it made me happy because my hands – and feet – easily get cold. In my last post, you saw my cape. And if you own a cape, you know how impractical it is. Especially for someone like me who struggles to keep my hands warm. At first I was going to make arm warmers to wear with my regular gloves, but they take too long to knit. Then I thought, why don’t I just make my own gloves?

I already have a pretty large collection of vintage gloves because I used to wear them regularly. I love the way gloves look with an outfit – so elegant. And I have them in all lengths, colors and fabrics, except the length and color I needed for my cape.

(By the way, if you’re at all interested in vintage glove lengths and etiquette, do yourself a favor and head over to this post at Chronically Vintage.)

So I dug out Vogue Pattern 8608. I swear I have no memory of buying this pattern, but I’ve always had an interest in glovemaking so it kinda makes sense. Even though I purge my bookcase periodically, I have two books I kept over the years:  “You Can Make Your Own Gloves” by Edith Hummel and “Make Your Own Gloves” by Gwen Emlyn-Jones. Maybe I’m psychic and I knew that I would need them in 2016.

More likely, I just didn’t want to give up the dream of hand-making supple lambskin gloves at a villa in Italy. Or something like that.

Since this is an area completely new to me, I decided to make the first few versions from old t-shirts. The first one was much too tight and the fingers were too short. But in the process, I learned how gloves are constructed, so I consider it a win.

For the second pair, I made a couple of modifications: 1. I didn’t put in the elastic on the back of the hands; and 2. I extended them to opera length.

Please forgive the weird angle. I was holding the camera with one hand while trying to take a picture with the other and it was a lot more difficult than it sounds.

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My feed dogs decided to eat one of the fingers and the tips are wonky, but the fit is much better. I’ll make one or two more scrap gloves before I use my fabric. And yes, I actually have lambskin and I’m going to use it to make a pair, but I’ll probably sew them by hand so I’ll have more control over those tiny bits.

Anyway, I want to be more transparent about my process, so you’ll be seeing a lot more of my projects in their early state, even when they’re not pretty. Isabel Toledo, one of my favorite designers, wrote “Learn to love your ugly ducklings. Your creative mistakes contain the seeds of your future successes, so do not discard them.” I probably won’t keep the first one, but as crazy as it looks, this glove definitely has a place in my heart.

Anyway, I’m going to keep working at my glovemaking so I can start working on that kidskin pair sooner rather than later. So, are you planning to take on any new challenges this year?


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Projects from 2015

Here are a few things I’ve been working on since last June. So for a few minutes, let’s step back into 2015, shall we?

#1 – Hats

I’ve been out of the millinery game for a while, but I never lost my love for hats. I especially love felt hats so when I got the opportunity to make myself a fedora, I jumped at it.

I was a little bit nervous at first because it’s been years since I blocked a hat, but it all came rushing back (big thank you to the late Ms. Albrizio, the best millinery teacher ever) and I was really pleased with the results. It’s a wide brimmed fedora with a telescoped crown and two pinches in the front. It’s all done by hand (except for sewing the lining together) so it took a nice chunk of time, but I prefer it that way because I don’t like to see stitching on hats.

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The inside is lined with pink satin and I added a purple sweatband just because.


I had to break my “no flash” rule for these two pics so you could see the iridescent feathers.

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In the future, I’ll post pictures of the process so you can see how it went from an unformed felt like this


to an actual hat. BTW, I love this color so much and I don’t think the picture does it justice. It’s really a vibrant purple/fuchsia.


I’m thinking about using these feathers, but I’m not sure yet.

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Here’s how they look together.

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#2 The Cape

I also managed to do a bit of sewing. I made Simplicity 8017, a vintage reissue. I left the pockets off, but everything else is pretty accurate. The fabric is a light weight coat material that was in my stash. I think it’s a wool blend and I had a little under 2-1/2 yards – just enough to make the short version. The buttons were from a gigantic bag of buttons a friend game me a few years ago. I may actually have more buttons than I can use in this lifetime.

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The only lining I had on hand was white. I tried to dye it pink; it came out closer to salmon. I also added a small interior pocket to the lining for my Metrocard or a debit card.


I didn’t have any problems with the actual sewing, but the instructions were really confusing in some places so I had to wing it.  I have a sneaking suspicion that the reissues do not have the same instructions as the original patterns. The reissues are more like an odd mash-up of vintage and modern instructions which wouldn’t surprise me since through most of the mid- to late-20th century, pattern companies assumed seamstresses were already familiar with basic construction techniques.

I was going to make bound buttonholes, but I changed my mind. Then after it was 80% finished, I remembered the buttonhole attachment for my machine doesn’t work, so I had to make buttonholes by hand. Then I realized I didn’t have the right thread (buttonhole twist). At first I wanted to scream and/or cry, but then I decided to use the opportunity to learn a new skill and I improvised with embroidery floss (I’m not sure how this is going to hold up, so I don’t recommend it.) Anyway, I found a great YouTube video and practiced on scraps for a couple of hours before I tried doing them on my cape. Each one took about 30-45 minutes they turned out quite nicely. Not perfect, but I’m very happy with them.

Overall, I’m pleased with my new cape, but I won’t be making another of these. I mean, how many capes does one person need – unless you’re Olivia Pope?

#3 The Purse

I’ve been DYING to make a book clutch so I finally started one. I bought this book over a year ago

Alice in Wonderland

I was halfway through lining it with felt when I changed my mind. Felt just didn’t seem elegant enough for such a pretty cover. I’m still working out the plan, but I think some balsa wood could create a good frame and I want to line it with velvet. The closure is still up in the air.

In the meantime, I’ll be enjoying my hat and cape as often as possible. If I ever wear them together, I’m thinking about calling the look “musketeer chic.”

Sewing Straw

This is my latest “hat.” Again, it’s really tiny, but I was really just practicing the stitching.


Under normal circumstances, I would never purposely do anything as heinous as stitching an orange hat with white thread, but it helps me to see the neatness or messiness of the stitching.


As you can see from those tiny loops, I had some problems with the thread at the tip. For me, that’s the most difficult part of making a straw hat because you’re trying to sew a tiny (in this case 1/4″) piece of straw into a spiral shape without sewing over your finger.  I’ll be practicing this a LOT.


But overall, I’m pretty happy with my progress. When I get my machine back from my friend’s garage, I’ll be able to put in a lot more practice hours.


And did you notice that luxurious white leather backdrop? Well I it bought to make an envelope clutch. By the time you read this, it will be cut and perhaps finished. I’m still deciding whether to sew or glue it together. I like the idea of a sewn clutch, but I don’t have the thread I need (that would be #69 for those of you interested in sewing leather.) I’m pretty sure I have the glue I need (that would be Petronio’s). The downside is I think a glued purse looks less polished. I also need to figure out how to do the closure. I’m leaning toward something like the one on the right in this picture I found on Pinterest.

Leather Wrap

I like it because it’s clean and simple – and I don’t have any hardware on hand except magnetic snaps. I’ll be sure to take pictures for a future post.


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Throwback Handbag

This probably won’t be a theme as I don’t have much “throwback” stuff, but I wanted to share one of my favorite creations: a snakeskin box bag.  I can’t even remember how many hours I spent on it, but I don’t regret a second.

It’s actually grey, but for some reason it’s photographing brownish.  Oh well.




This is the back. Then handle is pure sterling silver. A friend of mine who’s a jeweler bent it into the shape (Thanks Motti wherever you are!)


On the inside I made two lipstick holders and a small pocket at the front for business cards.




And a mirror at the top for discreet touch-ups.





And tiny feet so that the delicate snakeskin would be protected from spills, etc.IMG_8777






Unfortunately she’s never made it out of the house. Who knew snakeskin would be so hard to wear? I love her all the same though and she still makes me smile when I see her on my purse shelf.

Maybe I’ll wear her with my FINISHED coat!  Yes, it’s finally done and I’ve already worn it out to a wedding. I’ll post pics as soon as I take them, but that’s no small feat as I’ve discovered that the best light is in my bedroom and to take pics in there, I have to move my bed – not cute. But for you, I’ll make the sacrifice.