Christmas · Pinterest Made Me Do It · Sewing

(A Very Belated) Advent Calendar

Confession: I just put away the last of my Christmas decorations. But I had a very good reason. I refused to put away my Advent ornaments until I finished the Advent calendar I’d been working on for weeks. (Years, if you count INTENDING to make said Advent calendar – I talked about it here in 2104, and here in 2012 – YIKES!)

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Several years ago (maybe when The Boy was just a year or two old – we were still living at the old house), our lovely neighbors gave us an Advent calendar.

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It was a box with little doors that you opened each day to reveal a tiny wooden ornament. They had two sets when their daughter (now in college) was small, and they wanted us to have one. We were thrilled with the gift, and over the years, both kids have LOVED getting to open the doors every day in December and place the little ornament on a miniature tree we bought just for that purpose.

Over the years (The Boy is almost 7 and the Girl just turned 4), the little doors have started falling off. There were always a couple of missing ornaments, which I’ve replaced with larger ornaments that just don’t quite fit into the windows. I decided a few years ago that I wanted to make an Advent calendar with pockets so I could move the ornaments out of the box and into a display that could hang on the wall during the season of Advent.

I had good intentions every year, but it just never happened.

Then back in early fall, my friend Molly invited people over for a Craft/Pinterest Night – a night to get together at her mom’s studio, drink wine, and make stuff. PERFECT!

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I was inspired by several felt Advent calendars I had seen online. I decided to do a combination of my two favorites – little, colorful applique images of the season along with hand-stitched numbers for the Advent date.

I still had weeks to go until December, so if I started that night, I could make one pocket a day and be finished in plenty of time for the start of Advent.

Yes, well, um, that didn’t quite happen.

applique snowflake

So when Husband’s family came for Thanksgiving, and my mother-in-law and I found ourselves working on a jigsaw puzzle during one afternoon nap, I recruited her to help me.

By the time she left, we had all the felt pieces cut out, ready to sew. Surely I could just stitch them down quickly that last week of November and be ready to go December 1st.

Um. Have you seen the holiday season? What was I thinking? I stitched a little here and there and quickly realized this was a MASSIVE undertaking, and definitely not something I could get finished even by Christmas Day!

applique nativity

Epiphany! I’ll finish by Epiphany, I thought to myself. That’s “Old Christmas” anyway.

Side story: Have you ever heard it called “Old Christmas”? I didn’t really grow up celebrating the liturgical calendar – we didn’t even do anything for Advent until Husband and I moved to California, and only then because I went to a craft party and made an Advent wreath with candles. I’m all about candles and decor. But, when I was growing up, every year on Epiphany, my Appalachian Mammaw (my dad’s mom) would call my mom to remind her that it was “Old Christmas” and not to do any laundry because the owner of the clothing you washed would die within the year. What on earth?? I remember hearing it for the first time and being terrified. I wrote it down in my journal in hopes of remembering this date every year for the rest of my life so I wouldn’t make this fatal mistake. It didn’t stick into adulthood, and I’m certain I have washed clothes on EVERY Epiphany, especially since having children and doing laundry every. single. day. (I googled “no laundry on Old Christmas” and found this post about other Appalachian “Old Christmas” folklore – some of those are familiar but a couple are new to me.)

Epiphany was a great goal. I could spend my free time during winter break working on little bits at a time. When I wasn’t busy running the kids to and from school, when they spent hours playing together, I could finally finish.

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You know what takes a really long time? Hand-stitching numbers. Wow. My mom taught me to cross-stitch when I was really young, and I loved doing it, so I figured I could finish all 25 numbers (41 digits, actually) in a day. Nope. It took 3 full nights of stitching on the couch (hygge-style) after the kids went to bed plus many other one-off stitch sessions to get it complete.

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Then it was time to attach. I sewed a little hem along the top and bottom of the black felt for hanging. I spaced out the pockets before I did the numbers because I wanted to make sure the colors worked well together.

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Doing all the maths here!

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I attached the pockets color-by-color (all blue pocket first, then all yellow) to save time. This still took a few hours longer than I anticipated. Clearly all my years of sewing have taught me nothing about time planning.

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And finally – FINALLY – it’s done! I put all the ornaments in their pockets (doing some Type A coordinating – angel in the angel pocket, nativity in the nativity pocket), added a dowel and ribbon, and displayed it in its full glory for about 8 minutes. Then I wrapped it up and put in the Christmas box. Because, for me, by the end of January, “Old Christmas” traditions or not, it’s time to clear the Christmas decorations and get on with the New Year.

 

Color · etsy shop · Jewelry · Sewing · Style · Thrifts

Back in the Swing of Things

I love this time of year. I thrive on routine, so having the structure of school is really great for me. BB started first grade last week, and BG started her first day of preschool today. After lots of “one more” hugs, I left her at school, ran a few errands, and then came home to a quiet house.

I honestly can’t remember the last time I was alone in my house. It was very strange. I wandered around, trying to decide what I should do.

Now, with driving to and from school across town and errands, it wasn’t like I had an enormous expanse of time – it was maybe 45 minutes – but it seemed long and open and glorious. And very, very strange. I started thinking of all the cleaning projects I could do – purge kids’ toys and clothes, dig into the deep recesses of the china cabinet, tackle the ever-elusive garage.

Instead, I sat down and read. It was fabulous.

And then, during nap time, I finished a couple of projects.

I posted a photo of this beautiful fabric on Instagram last week (@beautifulobjs):

Vintage Floral Fabric

It came from this dress:

Vintage Carol Anderson Dress

A fantastic vintage Carol Anderson  dress, complete with shoulder pads and an enormously wide collar (which will come into play later.)

Vintage Carol Anderson Dress

I believe this is the same Carol Anderson that is now the CAbi clothing line.

When I saw this dress at the thrift store, I immediately had a plan. The bright colors and floral pattern were begging to be a more modern full skirt. I planned to add an elastic waistband and then cut off some of the hem to make a belt, but once I tried on the skirt in its full length, I changed my mind and wanted to keep it a maxi, so I needed to create a belt from something else.

Vintage Floral Fabric

Enter the enormous collar! I cut it off and cut it in half. I stitched the edges to prevent fraying.

Vintage Floral Fabric

My plan was to simply overlap the collar pieces and sew them together to make the belt. The problem was, even though the collar was enormously wide, it wasn’t long enough for a belt.

Vintage Floral Fabric

And here’s where I kind of geeked out: I realized if I flipped on of the collars around, the overlap was shorter and provided the couple more inches of length I needed.

Vintage Floral Fabric

Brilliant (if I do say so myself)!

Vintage Floral Fabric

Small victories! I sewed one piece on top of the other, and that was it.

Maxi Skirt from Vintage Dress

Here’s the Franken-belt (see another “Franken” project here).

Maxi Skirt from Vintage Dress

I was able to keep the original pockets from the dress in tact! Win!

before and after

Maxi Skirt from Vintage Dress

I love how it turned, but I’m still undecided if it will stay this length or if it would be better as a full knee-length skirt.

Beautiful Objects Necklace

And here’s another new project – a necklace in my shop. Apparently I’m on a pink kick.

When I posted the photo of the fabric on IG, my dear friend Cathy responded that it was so pretty, and I was reminded of that phase I went through in high school where I “hated” pink, probably because it wasn’t cool to like pink or something silly like that. I also happened to have a bedroom that was top-to-bottom mauve floral (think Laura Ashley) that I LOVED in 3rd grade and which stayed that way until I left for college. And maybe is still pink floral to this day. (My brother’s room was done in Wedgwood blue around the same time. Mauve and Wedgwood – could we have been more 80s?)

So, at risk of sharing one of those “you had to be there” stories….

When I was in high school, the first time I tore my ACL, I had a date that night with a boy. So, he comes to my house and brings me flowers – pink in a pink vase tied with a pink ribbon – SO MUCH PINK. Cathy also comes over to check on me and bring me flowers. (Also, prom boy came that night with chocolate chip cookies and flowers to check on me and try to soothe things over after I told him I wouldn’t go to prom with him. This part of the story sounds full of drama, and I am the opposite of drama, so the whole thing was just so bizarre.)

So Cathy unknowingly makes a comment about how much I HATE pink and how she would NEVER bring me pink flowers.

My mother, always the gracious Southerner, trying not to embarrass the boy, says, “Oh no! JUST mauve, and ONLY in her room!”

Cathy and I LOST IT! For years to come, out of nowhere, the phrase, “Just mauve, and only in her room” would be uttered, and we would fall to pieces. Even now, I cannot hear the word “mauve” without chuckling.

I have come to embrace pink again – especially pink flowers – which is fortunate, as I have a daughter who thinks it is truly the only good color in the world.

original vintage necklace

Speaking of pink and Franken-projects, here’s the original necklace as I found it. Not bad.

pink + gold reversible pendant necklace

But I knew I wanted to make something simpler out of that pendant.

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pink + gold reversible pendant necklace

It’s even reversible to the gold-tone only side.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/246489430/pink-gold-reversible-necklace-made-from?ref=shop_home_active_2

And here’s what I did with some of the beads from the necklace. It’s like a “Franken-project”, only this time, instead of putting together different pieces, I took a mix of elements from one necklace and made new, different pieces from what I found.

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Blouse: thrifted (Old Navy)

Skirt: thrifted and remade by me

Necklaces: my Etsy shop

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OK, what do you think about the skirt? Keep it long? Hem it short? Will I ever wear it long? Will I regret cutting that beautiful fabric? I am still undecided.

DIY · Jewelry · Sewing · Style · Thrifts

It Does a Body Good

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I made jewelry this weekend! It’s been a few weeks, and it felt wonderful to create something with my hands.

I also did a little sewing this weekend. I’ve been in purging mode the last few weeks (thanks to this book – more about that here and here), so I’ve been piling clothes and sorting them for consigning, giving away, and mending.

Quick Fix for a Strapless Dress

This gray dress was in the mending pile. When I found it at the thrift store, I was short on time, so I just held it up to my body and thought, “Close enough!”

When I got home, I realized it was a little too big, and too big in a strapless dress doesn’t work, so I came up with this quick fix for a strapless dress.

Side note – while I was trying it on, figuring out how to fix it, I kept thinking of this commercial from the 80s – do you remember it?

I LOVED that dress. I was sure that this would be exactly the kind of dress I would wear to the prom.

Of course, I was 9 years old when that commercial came out, so by the time I went to my first prom, my dress was a little different:

sequin dress

Alas, this is not my dress. I searched high and low for a photo from my first prom but came up short. My dress was very similar to this, except it was turquoise. The style in 1994 (at least in East Tennessee) was head-to-toe (or head-to-knee) sequins and beads. (You know I love me some sequins – see another almost prom dress here.)

It’s currently prom dress season, and thanks to the glory of Facebook, I can see what my friends’ daughters are wearing this year (both in Tennessee and California). I love seeing how styles have changed – lots of beautiful dresses, elegant fabrics, and MUCH fewer sequins.

photo (52)-001I would like to note – my senior prom dress (photo above, from my scrapbook in which I rubber cemented sequins to the page and wrote with bubble letters) didn’t have a single sequin. I was also 2 weeks post-op from an ACL replacement, and I was supposed to still be using crutches, so that it why I was not wearing heels, much to my dismay.

Okay, my project dress.

gray lace dress

I love the color and the lace, and while it’s a relatively recent dress from H&M, it’s got a vintage feel that I love, too.

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In order to keep the front of the bodice intact, I decided to add elastic to the back of the bodice to make it fit better.

Quick Fix for a Strapless Dress

My plan was to use two pieces of elastic, one on each side of the zipper, which falls is the middle of the back.

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I measured the length of one of the back pieces from the side seam to the zipper (here, 8 inches). I subtracted 3 inches (it was just a guess, and it worked well) and cut two pieces of elastic, 5 inches each.

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I pinned the elastic along the top of the bodice in the back, one end at the side seam and one end just before the zipper.

Quick Fix for a Strapless Dress

I then sewed the elastic along the top of the bodice, pulling the elastic as I went to make sure it stretched the length of the bodice. After it was sewn in place, it pulled the top of the bodice in, making it fit better. I repeated this on the other side.

Quick Fix for a Strapless Dress

Here’s the back of the dress with the elastic sewn into the top.

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It fits so much better this way. And because this dress feels like a 50s prom dress, a pink satin ribbon seemed necessary, along with pink heels and a pink necklace.

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Here’s my new necklace! I used vintage rose-shaped beads and sterling silver chain to create a pretty yet simple necklace.

pink rose bead necklace

I love how sweet and innocent it is.

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pink rose bead necklace

Sewing and making jewelry – I don’t know about “Does a Body Good”, but it sure does wonders for the soul.

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Dress: thrifted (H&M)

Necklace: my Etsy shop

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 I’m off to go look for more prom photos! So, did you go to prom? What did you wear? I’d love to hear. And thanks for reading!