Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Five, Six, Seven, Eight

I've been hanging onto this beautiful 100% silk for a while now. I'll be honest, I don't really like sewing with silk. It's slippery, it frays (and frays, and frays some more), my sewing machine prefers to suck it into the bobbin case and tear holes in it. This color was so lovely, however, that after sitting at the top of my fabric stash for a couple of weeks, I decided that I would heed it's tiny cries to be made into something. I decided upon using New Look pattern #6286, gathered all of my patience, praised my sewing machine and got to work.

About halfway through, I tried it on for the fiance and asked "Doesn't it kinda look like a dance costume?". He chuckled, and while he didn't agree with me, he also didn't disagree.  Before I added the skirt, the wrap bodice and those flouncy sleeves looked just like the top half of a cha-cha costume. I looked at myself a little horrified in the mirror. "Oh god, please tell me I didn't waste gorgeous peacock colored silk to make something you would see skittering across the 'Dancing with the Stars' stage. Please. No."

Luckily, once I added the skirt, and made a few adjustments to the fit, I think it's actually sort of pretty. It's a bit more...ruffly? than things I normally make or wear, but it was actually quite fun to make. I also feel more comfortable with sewing silk now that I have successfully made a garment.

I've been sewing for long enough now that I have a small arsenal of tricks that come in handy. One of the big ones? Using paper when sewing with thin or "slippery" fabrics. I used good old printer paper to sew the narrow hems on the sleeves, as well as around the bottom of this blouse. If I had an automatic hemming foot for my machine, I probably would have used that. They make such amazing, tiny hems, don't they? I also used a microtex (sharp) needle and I swear they make a big difference. I tried utilize french seams as much as possible, and the neckline was finished with bias tape. Would you like to know more of my tips for sewing with silk or other light-weight fabrics? What advice do you have?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Change is Good

Hello there! This little blog has always been such a great experiment for me. As those of you who have followed PDG for a while, you know that most of the posts are about handmade clothing and goods and occasionally gardening, but sewing has always been at this blog's heart. Sewing is a large part of my heart, but when I decided to devote my time to this small business, I decided that I would have to experiment more. Dip my toes into the world of food, beauty, travel, etc and see what the heck happens. If you're all for it, let me know! If you're not into it at all, let me know! I am endlessly flattered to know that there are lovely souls out there reading these words of mine, and I love receiving comments from you. So here we go, experimentation begins today.

Change is good. Moving 2,500 miles across the country with 7 days notice? That's a quick change. My hair growing steadily curlier, and curlier as I get older? That's a gradual change. Is it normal for curly hair to do that? I think it's very odd. Sometimes I hate my curls but mostly I've come to love them because I see them as a distinguishing feature. I've accepted the curls, and I'm learning to embrace them. Change is good, change is good, change is good. 

Curly haired girls must unite. There is an endless list of hair products out there, and as I test them, I feel an obligation to share my successes to ease other girls' pain. Let's share the love, ladies!

My hair was bleached a while back, and is slowly growing out. I see the roots, you see the roots, they're there, I know. I'm trying to embrace the change from the color I wish my hair was, to the color my hair really is. Sigh, it's a slow process. Anyway, my ends are dry because of the bleach and I have found several products that boost my curls, help my damaged ends, don't weigh my hair down, and don't get crunchy (we all know that struggle!). 

In the Shower & Before Styling

I never believed in expensive shampoo and conditioner but I obviously didn't know what I was talking about. Biosilk 'Silk Therapy' conditioner has dramatically improved my hair. I don't use Biosilk shampoo because I use a purple shampoo that helps keep that dread orange tint at bay, but I recommend the conditioner to everyone. Since I have started using it (about 2 years ago), my hair is noticeably softer, smoother, and less damaged. You can find it at hair salons, but I usually purchase it at TJ Maxx or Marshalls. The conditioner is usually around $12 per bottle. 

The 'Silk Therapy' Original Treatment is a life-saver for my ends. I use a very small amount (less than a dime) and apply to the lower half of my hair right after showering, but before styling. My hair is thick, and naturally sort of oily, so I don't get it anywhere near my roots because that would be bad. Applied to the ends, this helps manage split ends, define curls and adds a bit of shine. Again, I usually find this at TJ Maxx or Marshalls, and although the price has recently gone up to around $20, a bottle lasts me about a year. 

To Style

Miss Jessie's Pillow Soft Curls is available at Target for about $15 per bottle. A new friend of mine recently gave me this and I am hooked. It's amazing. Totally worth the $15. I add about a nickel sized amount to my hair after showering and scrunch while it air dries. It helps to define each curl, and helps form ringlets with those locks that just can't seem to get it together. 

Garnier Fructis Style Curl Sculpting cream is available pretty much everywhere and is about $4 per bottle. I apply a dime sized amount to my curls after they've dried and if they need a bit of a pick-me-up mid-day. Too much of this will make your hair greasy, so don't over do it. 

Rusk Being Sexy, I'm sure is available at hair salons, but I always find it at Marshall's or TJ Maxx. It's typically about $10 per bottle and a little bit goes a long way. This works well in the humidity to keep the frizz and flyaways down. I use about a dime sized amount on either dry or wet hair, though I find it works a bit better if my hair is damp. 

Lastly, a great combination of coconut oil, gel, salt and water in a spray bottle helps keep my hair under control throughout the day. You can search for this on Pinterest and find  a lot of recommendations, but in the past I've used this one, specifically.

Other Tips

I also try my best to take a skin, hair and nails vitamin regularly. (Am I the only one who struggles to remember to take a vitamin every day. It shouldn't be that hard!) I do notice my hair feels healthier when I am diligent about it. 

I've also found that terry towels and curly hair do not get along. I often use an old t-shirt to dry my hair. This helps to eliminate some frizz, and results in less breakage. 

What hair products do you recommend? I'm always excited to find something new, so please share! 

Other notes: The views expressed in this blog are strictly my opinion. I have not been paid by any of the above mentioned manufacturers to promote their products.  

Wednesday, May 13, 2015


When Dan and I first moved to West Virginia it was February and there was about 4 feet of snow on the ground. It was cold. It was wet. It was grey and brown. So...drab. I'm from Northern California, the land of oaks and evergreens. It was weird to be in a place almost entirely with deciduous trees, and the lack of color was pretty discouraging. But, as nature does, things started changing right before our eyes, and just as the air began to warm, and the forests began to vibrate with growth, Dan and I found ourselves warming up to our home.

The weekly rain, and the humidity makes this place so beautiful now that it is green. There are thousands of shades of green on every tree. The forest is a mosaic of chartreuse, lime, sage, kelly, emerald, and olive. The moisture collects on the leaves and makes them sparkle like precious stones. There are birds, and plants and animals I have never seen before. 

My friend Chelsi and I went on a walk in a nature preserve outside of South Hills this week and I felt like I was in a foreign country. Dan and I camped in the forest near New River Gorge this weekend and it was spectacularly beautiful. I feel like a little kid when I'm in the forest here. "What is that?!" "Did you hear that?" "Whoa, look there, did you see that?" "Why are there so many turtles here?!?"

When we came home I was inspired by all the lovely greens and decided to use a cotton voile by Anna Maria Horner from her "Pretty Potent" line. I got this one from The Tin Thimble, and you can purchase it on their Etsy site.  

I took a dress pattern from he 1970's and altered it so that I could make a simple tent-blouse. The humidity here is something I am not at all used to, and I find that the less my clothing touches my torso, the happier I am. 

I finished the top with a chartreuse bias tape that doubles as straps that tie in bows. The inside is completely finished with flat fell seams to prevent any unravelling. 

Other details: pants from American Eagle. Earrings from Target. Sandals from Target. Silver bangle from Charming Charlie. Lipstick Maybelline's Color Whisper in "Cherry on Top". 

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Thursday, May 7, 2015

Dear Charlotte

When I was little I always looked forward to visits from my Auntie Charlotte and Uncle George. They were technically my great aunt & uncle, and they always brought Carnation Instant Breakfast packets with them. At the time I thought it was a gift, and an awesome one at that, (my mom didn't buy them for us. Too much sugar or some rational parent nutrition excuse like that. Pft.), but now that I look back on it, I think they just brought us the flavors they didn't like. 

They seemed so old when I was little, and because there weren't a lot of old people in my life, I was so intrigued by them. Auntie Charlotte wore these lovely boxy blouses made out of soft floral prints in pinks, green, blues and yellows and I always admired them. 

Later in life, after their passing, I would receive Auntie Charlotte's sewing machine, a large portion of her kitchen, and a handful of other beautiful, quality items. I hold these items dear to my heart and I always smile to think that everywhere I go, if I'm wearing her jewelry, or wearing something made on her machine, I take her with me. 

When I found a vintage McCall's blouse pattern, I instantly paired it with this floral corduroy (available from The Tin thimble's Etsy) in honor of Auntie Charlotte and her blouses. 

Other details: Shoes and hat from Target, both from last year. Jeans from Gap that have been altered about 20 times. I think I finally like them. The blouse is not lined, just interfaced and finished with vintage plastic buttons in yellow. 

Monday, April 13, 2015


Ok, let me start out with this: I love blazers. Love them. When The Tin Thimble received New Look #6231, I was so excited! I purchased a lovely cotton/spandex blend that has a satin finish, with just a touch of sheen. This blue blazer was a New Look pattern home-run. 

The pleated peplum has such a nice shape to it, and was pretty fun to sew. 

The colors are odd in this picture, but it's a beautiful dark blue, and those seams in the back are sooo flattering. 

Also, can we just talk about these shoes for a minute. I have been looking for leopard print pumps for years and I've never found a pair I really loved. Well, sha-bam! There they are. If you like leopard pumps, buy them. Total outfit booster, comfy, (sexy). Total success. 

There are a lot of seams on the inside of this jacket (all those seams = excellent fit), and so to add a bit of punch, I finished each one with a bright orange bias tape. 

Blazers are a staple for my wardrobe. I think they're great for the office, adorable over dresses for dates & parties, they can dress up any old t-shirt and flats. Do you have a go-to garment too?

Monday, April 6, 2015

Returning / Beginning / Progressing

Oh, hello there little blog. How have you been? It's been a while...that's my fault, I suppose. I'm not sure if other creative types feel this way, but I find that my creative energy waxes and wanes. Sometimes more than others, and the last year and a half was obviously a waning period. I feel like I should recap my life? Perhaps just as a foundation for which I can build this kind of old/kind of new/kind of the same blog. My fiancee and I recently left the sunny foothills of California and moved to Charleston, West Virginia (fiancee! What? I know, I can barely believe it myself. I could blab on and on about him for hours, but more on that and other life changes later). West Virginia? Oh, yes. It's been an education for the two of us, undoubtedly (so many words and expressions I've never heard). He was accepted into an electrical lineman apprenticeship and while I am job hunting (and adjusting to living in what sometimes feels like a foreign country), I have been blessed with the freedom to do what I want for a while.  I am spoiled, I know. So, after shipping myself several boxes of fabric, and my beloved sewing tools, I got to sewing. I haven't felt this excited to sit at my trusty lil' sewing machine in quite some time, and I must admit that it feels good to be using my hands again. Emotionally, creatively, physically, I feel better. Too hippie? Eh? Oh well, it's true. I've had this vintage pattern in my stash for a while now, but I could never find the right fabric for it. 

Vintage 1960's McCalls Pattern #7113.

Lovely, lovely, lovely 100% Rayon by Heather Bailey from her Momentum line. 

I finished the circle skirt with bias tape, and because I never seem to have more than 2 feet of any one color, I pieced together hot pink, pink, light pink, and off white so that it has this sort of ombre transition around the hem. I love that you can see a pop of color now and then when the skirt moves. 

The highlight of the dress is obviously the back, with that awesome, oversized bow. 

Lastly, a few noted details. My shoes are "Galone" t-straps by Guess. The vintage heart bracelet is vintage from my Great Auntie Charlotte (who had killer taste). Also, I'm so, so glad to be back and I'm excited to hear from all of you again! Does your creativity also lag? Have you seen other things made out of this exquisite fabric? Do you have any wedding advice for me?! Share, share, share. Let's do this continuation, fresh-start thing together.  

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Post graduation life is weird. Living on your own is even weirder. There are certain things that you take for granted when you live with your parents, and even when you live with roommates. Living in my teensy-tiny little apartment is awesome in countless ways, but it is also rather strange at times, and I now realize the things I previously took for granted. Like garlic salt. I've never  had to buy garlic salt because someone else always had it. And despite the fact that there is only me to make messes now, I find that I still do as much cleaning as I did when I lived with other people. Too bad that didn't change! Anyway, when I moved I realized I didn't have one of the most simple things, a couch. Turns out that despite the fact that I'm feelin' pretty darn independent these days, I still need the help of my family. Thanks to my mom and dad, their endless creativity and a pretty neat stack of reclaimed wood, we were able to construct a lovely couch! Here is my sad, incomplete living room before...

Solid redwood from a pergola at The Benbow Inn in Humboldt County and tounge-and-groove slats from my sister's remodeled kitchen. 

Dad doin' his thing with the saw. 

Me using the nail gun. I could use that thing all day, it's fun! 


...and after!!

I recovered my pillows and the cushion I found with fabrics from The Tin Thimble to complete the look. Thanks to my parents for all their patience and help!