Jupe du Jour

DIY Colored Skinny Jeans Tutorial

DIY, ThriftingHaley Swan2 Comments

It's no secret that I love thrifting. Probably more than 95% of my wardrobe is thrifted and I wouldn't have it any other way.

There is, however, one problem with thrifting: You have to be patient. When skinny jeans first hit the market (what was that, like 2007, 2008?), you couldn't find them in thrift stores for another year or two. It was the same story with colored skinny jeans, once those hit it big, and statement necklaces, and gladiator sandals, and so on and so on. Trends tend to trickle into thrift stores rather than invade them full force.

This post was actually conceived last fall, when I fell in love with army / olive green skinnies and, despite searching and scouring every thrift store in the greater Boston area, couldn't find a reasonably priced, high quality pair anywhere (reasonable for me being under $15). But what I could find were white skinny jeans. Especially at the end of summer / beginning of fall, when everyone's realizing they can't wear white after Labor Day. So I happened upon a pair of white "legging jeans" from Gap (my favorite brand of skinnies) on the clearance rack for FIVE DOLLARS. That's actually even better than thrift store prices! They had a few light stains on the butt (hence the absurdly low price), but I didn't care because I had a grand scheme to dye them army green anyway. I went out and bought the colors of Rit dye I needed that same week...And then it all sat in my cupboard for the next year. It even traveled all the way across the country with me to Los Angeles where it sat in a cupboard again. Until this week, when, with fall in the air (but not actually--this is SoCal), I decided it was time to finish what I started:

Step 1: Pick a Color and Buy Your Dye

There may be household dyes other than Rit, but I used Rit dyes because you can buy them at any craft / fabric store and their website is super helpful with figuring out how to mix colors, dyeing techniques, etc. And they have over 500 color variations, including each season's Pantone colors, to choose from. The one I chose was called Moss Green, and is second from the left on the bottom in the picture above. You'll see that my jeans didn't actually end up that color, but it was my starting point.

How much dye you'll need depends on the size / weight of the garment you're dyeing and how much water you're dyeing it in. Here are a couple of helpful charts that you should NOT ignore (remember  how I said my pants didn't actually end up the color I intended them to?):

Did you catch all of that? So, for kicks, let's say my pair of jeans weighed 12 ounces.

The original recipe to dye 1 ounce of fabric moss green is:

2 tsp Dark Green
1/2 tsp Golden Yellow
1/2 tsp Dark Brown
1 Quart Water

To make the same dye solution for 12 ounces of fabric, I need to multiply everything by 12:

2 tsp Dark Green x 12 = 24 tsp = 8 Tbsp
1/2 tsp Golden Yellow x 12 = 6 tsp = 2 Tbsp (or 1/2 Tbsp of powder dye*)
1/2 tsp Dark Brown x 12 = 6 tsp = 2 Tbsp
1 Quart Water x 12 = 12 quarts = 3 gallons

*When I went to buy my dye, Michael's only carried Golden Yellow in powder form. The recipes assume that you're using the liquid form. The second chart above shows that 2 Tbsp of liquid = 1/2 Tbsp powder. 
 

HERE, my friends, is where I made my first mistake (yes, there were more). I hadn't found the first chart, and just went off of the figures in the second chart. Notice how under the "3 Gallons" column it says 8 tsp, 4 tsp, etc.? Have you ever seen the abbreviation for Tablespoons in lowercase, without a "b" in it? Yeah, me neither, and without those indicators, "Tablespoon" sure looks a lot like "teaspoon," amirite?

So, guess what I did? Yep, I used teaspoons instead of Tablespoons when I mixed up my dye bath. Yep. If only I had seen Chart #1 beforehand, I could have done the math myself and realized that, in Rit's editorial judgment, "tsp" means Tablespoon. (Side note: I'm kind of happy it turned out the way it did, because I think I ended up with just the right shade of khaki green, but if you want to actually get the color you think you're getting, don't repeat my mistakes.)

Step 2: Gather Your Materials

Now that you've figured out what color you want and how much dye you need, I recommend watching Rit's video tutorial about dying jeans. It's what guided my process. A note that I used the "bucket" or sink method to dye my jeans, and that your process will vary if you decide to use the stovetop, washing machine, or any other method. Here's what you'll need:

- A white or light colored pair of jeans
- A 3-4 gallon watertight container or stainless steel sink
- 3 gallons of very hot water
- Rit dye, using the calculations from the previous step
- Measuring cups / spoons
- 1 cup of table salt + 2 cups of water
- Plastic gloves
- Dishwashing soap
- A paper towel

Step 3: Prepare the dye bath and fabric

First, get your pair of jeans soaking wet (that's them in the left side of the sink)

Add all of your dye to the 3 gallons of hot water (the hotter the better) and STIR WELL

Dissolve 1 cup of salt in 2 cups of water and add to the solution (helps color stick to fabric)

Add a bit of dish soap (helps color stick to fabric)


See that line about STIRRING WELL? Yeah, that was my second mistake, and it cost me dearly. For one thing, the recipe said that I could add the powder dye right into the solution without dissolving it separately. And while that probably works fine most of the time, a few of the powder crystals didn't totally dissolve as I stirred them into the solution, and I found a couple of small yellow spots on my jeans the first time I pulled them out to look. This wasn't a big deal since I was dying them a darker color and the spots would be dyed over, but if you were using a dark powder dye this could be pretty devastating.

Secondly, despite shaking both bottles of liquid dye before pouring them out, the bottle of brown dye was...glorpy? It was just thicker than the other, and seemed to have coagulated a bit. I measured it out, poured it in, stirred it well, and figured that the glorpy bits were all dissolving nicely. NOT SO. The water had turned so dark at this point that I couldn't tell what was happening in its depths, but apparently some of the coagulated bits of brown dye didn't dissolve, and hung around in the water waiting to attack my jeans (pictures coming). So, let this be the lesson: STIR STIR STIR. It will feel like you're just stirring water, and maybe you are, but spend a few minutes now to prevent splotches later.

Once your solution is good and stirred, test the color with the edge of a paper towel. The first couple of times I did this, the color seemed a little on the teal side, and not as dark as I would have expected. (You and I now know that this is partially due to the fact that I confused tablespoons for teaspoons). So I added several teaspoons more of both dark green and brown dye until I got a nice army color green.

 

Step 4: ADD your jeans and finish the process

You can leave your garment in the dye for anywhere from 20 - 60 minutes, depending on how saturated you'd like the color to be. I probably left mine in for a total of 35 minutes, making sure to move them around frequently so that there were no uneven spots of color.

If all goes well and the color looks good (remember that it will always look darker when wet but will lighten when dried), all you have to do is wring out your jeans and rinse them in cold water until color is no longer bleeding out. Then wash and dry them with items in dark colors or that you don't care about (like old towels), and you're set!

Step 5: If all does not go well...

So, remember that glorpy brown dye that didn't totally dissolve and left several dark brown stains on my jeans? Here's what that looked like, right on the butt of my jeans (except it was darker and worse in person):

Blerg. So, Plan B. Once I'd gotten my jeans to the shade I wanted, I wrung them out, rinsed them until the water ran clear, and then laid them out on a plastic sheet (aka a trash bag cut along the sides). Using a Q-tip, I applied bleach to the spots that had been dyed brown. If you attempt something similar, make sure to put a paper towel or old dish cloth under the spots where you're using bleach so it doesn't soak through onto the other side. Here's what the spots looked like after a little bleach:

I ended up adding another coat (layer?) of bleach to make the spots even lighter than you see above before trying to re-dye them. Then I threw them in the dryer because spot dyeing works best if the fabric is dry.

Once they were dry, I mixed up a small batch of dye using the same proportions as I did for the large batch. I tested with a paper towel again to make sure the color was close.

Then, again using a Q-tip and again making sure I had a paper towel / dish cloth underneath the areas I was dyeing, I applied dye to the bleached spots on the dry fabric. If you end up having to do something similar, note that the dye will spread out a little bit from where you apply it, so start at the center of the spot and work outward. Here are the same bleach spots pictured earlier, now with a couple of layers of dye applied and waiting to dry:

Once I was satisfied that the spots were as close in color to the rest of the pants as I could get them, and once they were dry and had set for 20 minutes, I threw them in the wash with a bunch of black / dark items and then dried as normal, crossing my fingers that they'd look okay in the end. 

The Verdict:

Obviously it would have been better if they'd never gotten the brown spots to begin with, but considering the process they went through, I'd say these turned out pretty well! If you look hard you can definitely see a bit of mottling where I had to re-dye the bleach spots, but only if you're looking for it (and who will be?). If it starts to bug me I may re-dye them a slightly darker shade, but for now I'm pretty stoked with how these turned out, and even glad that they ended up being lighter than I originally planned! All in all, a totally do-able DIY project that should only take an hour!

Buying and Updating Thrifted and Vintage Items

Thrifting, SewingMonica StebbComment

One of the best things about knowing how to sew is being able to extend the life of my garments and alter them to get the best fit for my body.

The blue skirt I have pictured here is a beautiful vintage piece that had some places where the seams or stitching was worn out and the length was too long to be flattering on my legs. 

I decided to hand sew both the zipper and the new hem in order to stay true to the general aesthetic of the skirt. 

 The zipper is a classic lapped zipper that creates a little "L" with the topstitching (visible stitches). Some of the topstitching had come undone as well as the seam below the zipper.

The Zipper:

  • I reinforced the seam below the zipper as that area tends to get a lot of wear and tear throughout the years.

  • Some of the top stitching on the zipper had come out so I pulled out enough of the original thread to anchor it with a knot so that no more could come loose.

  • To finish I topstitched the little "L" on the right side of the garment. 

  • I pulled all threads to the inside of the garment and tied them off.

The Hem:

I played chicken and folded up the bottom of this skirt to where I wanted it to hit me rather than cut the fabric. I do this out of habit so that I can give myself more options for future alterations as well as lower my risk of making a permanent mistake. 

I secured the hem with a simple Hand Blind Hem stitch because it is hardly visible from either side of the garment and by now I've had enough practice that it took me half a 30 Rock episode to do it. I finished off with a light steam around the hem and voila! 

What to look for when shopping for quality vintage items: (please note that this is not an exhaustive list and purely from a seamstress's point of view)

  • If the garment doesn't fit, can it be easily altered using existing seam lines or will you need to add darts or other fitting measures? Will these changes alter the overall aesthetic of the garment?

  • Are there stains or weird smells? Can they be washed out?

  • How is the garment holding up? Will you need to mend this before wearing it? If so how much mending would this entail?

  • What is the type of fabric? Is it comfortable to wear? Is it worn out?

    • If you find something that is made from wool or a wool blend--GRAB IT! The beautiful thing about wool is it lasts for forever (just don't wash on warm) and ages fairly well. This particular skirt is a wool blend that came from my mother's closet when she was my age and it was a thrifted item when she got it--so it's basically like wearing a piece of history. 

    • During the late 70's the world fell in love with polyester, it was supposed to be the fabric of the future; it's not. Often thrift stores are full of this material. On the bright side it doesn't wear out very easily. On the dark side it doesn't breathe, gets insanely hot to wear even during winter and tends to be a bit difficult to sew on should it need alterations. Watch out for this material in its different blends/forms. 

Camera Face affects us all in 1 way or another. Me, because I have it. You, because you get to see this picture, you lucky duck, you. 

Camera Face affects us all in 1 way or another. Me, because I have it. You, because you get to see this picture, you lucky duck, you. 

Do you have any favorite thrifting or altering tips?

We would love to hear them!

The 5 Best Thrift Stores in Portland, Oregon

Thrifting, TravelHaley SwanComment

Happy Thrifted Thursday, y'all! Today's post is one that I've been meaning to write for a few weeks, but, unsurprisingly, have been too busy thrifting to get around to it (it's really a hard life, isn't it?).

I know you're reading the title and thinking, Wait, aren't you in LA? And the answer is yes, yes I am. But long before I moved to LA, I was born and raised on Portland thrift stores. When I was back in Oregon visiting a few weeks ago I had the chance to revisit some of my favorites, and thought I'd do a quick post giving you the inside scoop on the best thrift stores in the Portland-Metro area:

1. The Goodwill Outlet Stores, aka "The Bins"

1740 SE Ochoco St
MilwaukieOR 97222

2920 SW 234th Ave
HillsboroOR 97123

The Portland area has two Goodwill outlet stores, and they've definitely earned their spot at #1 on this list out of sheer cheapness. That being said, a word to the wise: These thrift stores are not for everyone. They're not even for most people. They're really only for hardcore thrifters who don't mind getting their hands dirty. Literally.

The Goodwill outlets are giant warehouses filled with huge blue bins on wheels The bins are stacked three wide and two deep to form large rows. They're filled with everything imaginable--the leftovers and rejects from "normal" Goodwill stores. Some of the bins are sorted to contain only books or only shoes, for example, but most are a total hodgepodge of random crap. If you're a big-time treasure seeker, this place will be your mecca.

Items are priced by the pound, with different rates for textiles vs. glass/hardware items, and separate pricing for books as well. There are also large furniture sections in both stores (though I generally see more and better furniture at the Milwaukie location) and you can find amazing deals on everything from vintage sofas to electric organs. Yeah.

Bring latex or garden gloves and don't be afraid to really dig in--you WILL find something cool if you give yourself some time and ignore some of the more frightening sights (my "favorite" so far is a half-wrapped McDonald's hamburger hidden within a pile of clothes). And nothing beats the feeling of buying 5 things for like $2. Here's my haul from my last trip:

That's a super cute exercise top, a Steve Madden pillowcase, a brand new makeup bag, a vintage Nashville tee, a sailor top, an adorable black and white paisley dress, two little boys' button ups, a gray short sleeve sweater, and a FANTASTIC pair of Gap 1969 stretch skinny jeans that fit me PERFECTLY. All for $6.93. So, yeah, the Bins are a little bit gross. And smelly. But for an average of $0.70 an item, I'd say it's worth it. And hey, you may even like it!

 

2. The ReBuilding Center

3625 N. Mississippi
Portland, Oregon 97227

The ReBuilding Center isn't your typical "thrift" store in that you're not going to find cheap clothes or books there. But you are going to find amazing deals on home improvement and decor items and furniture. I'm talking flooring, tubs, ovens, shelves, countertops, desks, chandeliers, etc., etc. My parents picked up cabinets for their bathroom remodel for like $15 the last time they went.

The Center accepts donations and also travels to pick up materials from buildings that are being renovated or demolished. They bring in new items every day and offer them at up to 90% cheaper than retail. The money they make goes to support their nonprofit, Our United Villages. In other words, this should be your first stop if you're planning any home improvements in the near future. And, if you're not, it's still just a super cool place to browse through if you've got a half hour to kill in Northeast Portland.

 

Source

Source

3. William Temple House Thrift Store

2230 NW Glisan Street
Portland, OR 97210

When I think NW 23rd, I don't normally think thrift, but William Temple House Thrift Store is just around the corner from Portland's famed boutique shopping avenue. So if you're window shopping on 23rd and tired of overpriced stationery and jewelry, pop in here--you won't be disappointed!

Its proximity to the wealthy Northwest neighborhoods of Portland means that this place gets plenty of quality donations. But, despite being so close to the high end (and high priced) side of town, William Temple House Thrift's prices are totally reasonable, especially when you factor in their tag sales. Their women's clothing and shoes and furniture sections are particularly worth a good long look.

One of my favorite things about this thrift store, however, is the great work they do for the disadvantaged community in Portland. Their services include a food pantry, mental health counseling, a children's clothing closet, a dental health van, and many other programs designed to help those in need.  This is a gem of a place where you'd least expect it.

 

4. Rerun

707 NE Fremont St
PortlandOR 97212

Rerun differs from the other thrift stores on this list in that it's a consignment shop. Normally I'm distrustful of consignment stores because they have two entities trying to make a profit from every sale and the prices generally reflect that. But Rerun's prices actually manage to be pretty well in line with other thrift stores, and since their employees only accept higher quality items for consignment, you don't have to sort through as much gross junk as at, say, the Bins.

Definitely worth popping in if you're in Northeast Portland with some time and cash to kill. I will say, however, that if you typically try to avoid Portland's angsty hipster crowd, this may not be the place for you. It, in contrast to the other stores on this list, definitely has a "we're trying really hard to look like we're not trying really hard to be cool" kind of thing going on.

 

5. Value Village

12060 SW Main
Tigard, OR 97223

Alright, alright you caught me--Value Village isn't really in Portland Portland. They used to have a couple of locations closer to downtown but they've closed down and the only one in the Portland Metro area is in Tigard, near the Washington Square Mall. But it had to go on the list because it's where 90% of my teenage wardrobe (and all of my Halloween costumes from ages 10 - 20) came from.

Value Village is the same company as Savers, and is a North American thrift chain. I've probably been to 10 different Savers/Value Villages in my day, and some are better than others, but this one is fantastic for women's clothes, shoes, and accessories, toys, and children's items. And, my mom actually bought my sewing machine here for $25. Older model, but perfect working condition and I use it all the time! 

The selection is huge, prices are on the low end for thrift stores, and they have 1/2 off sales for most "bank holidays" (Memorial Day, President's Day, etc.). The aisles will be crowded and the lines loooong on 1/2 off days, so I suggest doing what I do: wear leggings, a tight tank top or tee, and flip flops so that you can try things on without waiting for a dressing room. Yes, it's shameless, but once you get over it, you'll be laughing at all the other suckers waiting in the dressing room line for 45 minutes as you walk out the door with your awesome goods.

 

Well there you have it! My picks for the best thrift stores in the Portland, Oregon area! Did I miss any? Let me know what your faves are, in Portland or elsewhere! I'm always looking for good thrifting opportunities when I travel!

 

RBF

Monica Stebb3 Comments

 

What is RBF and what does it have to do with these pained selfies in my closet?

Here I am practicing my Not RBF face trying to come across natural and not awkward. 

Here I am practicing my Not RBF face trying to come across natural and not awkward. 

Moving to Los Angeles has made me all too aware of a trait I have and had comfortably grown into and maybe forgotten about during my time in college.

The trait: RBF or, Resting B____ Face (fill in the blank).

This essentially means that when I THINK I have my face in “neutral” I’m most likely making a face that’s communicating a need to punch something (which is often not the case). For more thorough definitions see the following image and video.

*content warning: language*

Weren't those funny? Do you relate to them like I do?      

Throughout my life Resting B Face has gotten me some unwanted attention. Before I was aware of having RBF, I would often receive perplexing hugs from acquaintances or friends in the halls of my jr. high or high school. People who knew me and thought I looked sad or needed help cheering up. I think I may have unwittingly ruined a friendship or two during this same life stage. This RBF may have even influenced relationships later in life if I think too hard about some of my humorously failed dating experiences. When I think about acquaintances I’ve had or certain roommates and for sure a handful of classmates and project partners I can see that all of those relationships may have been influenced by my RBF. 

Now that I know about RBF I refuse to act cheerful unless I feel cheery; but, knowing about RBF has helped me as I form and maintain relationships to know how I may be coming across to people. 

Since moving to Los Angeles I have worked to make new friends and interviewed for jobs/internships, as one does in a new city (someone please hire me). Through all of this I have come to realize this RBF is still with me. I often get unwanted attention as I go around town.  (Hint: RBF may look a little like a "Fight Face" which is something I want to leave at home--10 brownie points and an entry in the next giveaway if you get that reference and share it in the comments)

Tell me I’m not alone in this problem!

Where are my other RBF brothers and sisters?

Do you have stories about strangers commenting on your RBF? I want to hear your stories! Any stories you share will earn you an extra entry in our next giveaway. 

I’ll start--see you in the comments.

And the Winner Is...

Thrifting, DecorHaley SwanComment

Congratulations to @aligirlslp, the winner of our Instagram giveaway! She'll receive a Jupe du Jour box of her choice for free! These boxes work similarly to Stitch Fix, Bombfell, and other clothing box services, except that they're filled with hand-picked, gently-used items, making them cheaper for you and friendlier for the environment!

Didn't win this time? No worries--use the promotion code giveaway20 at checkout to receive 20% off ANY product from Jupe du Jour (including our fabulous custom-made swimsuits)! The offer is only valid through 8/23 at midnight, so hurry and use it soon!

AND, stay tuned for another giveaway coming to the blog in the next couple of weeks!

Thrifted Thursday: It's GIVEAWAY Time!

Thrifting, DecorHaley SwanComment

Are you tempted to try a subscription clothing box service like Stitch Fix or LeTote but turned off by the high price? Us too, which is why Jupe du Jour offers personalized clothing boxes starting at $35, and baby boxes starting at $18! 

How it works: You pick a box and a size. Once you add it to your cart, you'll be prompted to fill out a style survey to give us details about your personal style preferences and clothing sizes. Our stylist hand-picks gently used items (think thrifting) that match your requests, packages them up, and ships them straight to your door!

AND, lucky you, we're sponsoring a giveaway on our Instagram account right now! One winner will receive a FREE box of their choice (valued up to $35)--go check us out on Instagram!

Adding Sleeves to a Strapless Dress, Part 2

Sewing, ThriftingHaley SwanComment

Remember a few weeks ago when I posted a teaser about how to add sleeves to a strapless dress? Well, I'm finally back from the wedding that the dress was for and firing on all cylinders again, so (drum roll please) I give you the extended (although by no means comprehensive) look into how I added sleeves to this gorgeous strapless dress. As a disclaimer, I'm a make-things-up-as-I-go type of seamstress, so I'm definitely not claiming this is the "right" way to add sleeves, but it is what worked for me, and was actually pretty simple in the end!

Here's the dress in its original form, straight from the $3 sale at Goodwill SoCal (aka my fave time of the season). It was too pretty not to buy, but I knew it needed some work to get it ready for the wedding. For one thing, it was several inches too long and, for another, it needed sleeves. Lucky for me, those two problems have a way of canceling each other out!

The first step was to cut off the excess fabric from the bottom of the dress, preserving as much of it as possible in order to reuse it in the sleeves. I cut off a strip a little over 3" wide from the bottom of both the outer chiffon layer and the lining and was VERY lucky that it was just enough fabric to make my sleeves from. 

Because I needed all the fabric I could get, I couldn't have much of an allowance for the hem. What you see above is me using the Ban-Rol method to create a tiny hem without the regular hassle of ironing and pinning like crazy. I bought a few yards of Ban-Rol here and followed this tutorial, and it worked wonderfully!

Once both layers of the dress were hemmed, the next step was to create the wide shoulder strap part of the sleeves. I used the already-hemmed edges of the fabric (still hemmed from when I cut it off of the bottom of the dress) as the interior of the strap (side closest to my neck). I just lined up the hemmed edges of each layer (the chiffon and the lining) and stitched them together, staying a bit away form the original hemline to make it look like a double needle hem. And I'll tell you what I told everyone else when they complimented the finished product: Just don't look at the seams too closely ;)

In the photo below, the interior edges are sewn together, and I've just pinned the strap into the dress to try to figure out exactly where it will need to be sewn in. The outside edges can stay unfinished (though they should be evened up) because that's where you'll sew on the sleeve.

For the sleeve portion of the strap, I used what was left of the original cut of chiffon from the bottom of the dress. I measured everything beforehand and knew that there would be barely enough left to make a sort of flutter sleeve (this part was not lined). Again, I used the portion of the strip that was already hemmed as the "outside" of my sleeve to cut down on the amount of sewing. I lined up the unfinished edges of the strap and sleeve, right sides together, and sewed a quick seam (sorry for the poor picture quality--it was late at night, as always with these types of projects).

Here's what the sleeve looked like once sewn together--it's really just two strips of fabric! The wider portion is the strap and the thinner one is the sleeve. 

The next step is to attach the sleeve to the dress. Although the sleeve above is rectangular and could have circled around my whole arm, I wanted more of a cap or flutter sleeve so that I wouldn't overheat at the outdoor summer wedding. So, I needed the front part to taper inward toward the strap. I could have achieved that by cutting the front of the sleeve into the tapered shape and re-hemming before attaching, but instead I cut corners (I told you I was a make-it-up-as-I-go kinda gal) and just folded the excess fabric inward on itself (kind of tucking some of the excess sleeve fabric under the strap) and quickly stitched it in place. And, although I used that method mainly to save time, I actually also liked that it created a bit of a ruffle on the sleeve, since the bodice is so ruffled.

To attach the sleeves to the bodice itself, I just planned on having about 1.5" of sleeve/strap fabric overlapping downward into the dress on each side. I hand stitched the sleeves onto the lining of the bodice as close to the top as I could so that they would look like a more natural part of the dress. Here's what the final product looked like:

Not bad for $3 and a few hours' worth of work, right? I obviously got really lucky finding a dress that was long enough to allow me to cut a bunch of fabric off the bottom, but if you don't have the extra fabric sitting around you can try to find matching fabric at the store or pull a 180 and pick a fabric that contrasts but still coordinates. Like black lace sleeves on a white dress or a fun patterned sleeve against a solid dress. 

Have you ever tried adding sleeves to a dress or top? How did it go??

Travel Diary

TravelMonica StebbComment

At the end of last month I went back home for the first time since moving out to LA. It was simultaneously great and weird--so much has changed yet so many things were the same, too. 

I got to see my brother who returned from living/serving in Peru for the last 2 years; he slips in and out of Spanish without noticing, it's great. 

There were wonderful parts of the trip, but one highlight that we have the most pictures from is meeting the other members of my family, or what we now call "the herd." When all of siblings and I started leaving the nest my parents started looking for hobbies that they could enjoy together; eventually they bought a few alpacas so that they can use the fibers (wool) to spin into yarn and weave and knit because they're cool like that. 

One thing that should be mentioned is that there is in fact a difference between a llama and an alpaca. Now I am not entirely sure what those differences are apart from the fact that alpacas are quite a bit smaller and I imagine their wool is smoother or finer than a llama's because petting these animals was what I had imagined playing with a warm cloud to feel like. Google also informed me that there is a difference in face shape as well. That is as far as I got on this research topic but I invite you to go down that worm hole and tell me about it once you emerge from the other side.  

Without further ado, I bring you ALPACA OVERLOAD!

This little fella was not shy at all and followed anyone who had the camera in his/her hands; he loved having his picture taken

This little fella was not shy at all and followed anyone who had the camera in his/her hands; he loved having his picture taken

So full of personalities 

So full of personalities 

I learned that most alpacas are very skittish creatures; they need to come to you rather than chasing them down. After nearly an hour of watching/following me this lovely lady came up and introduced herself; isn't she lovely? 

I learned that most alpacas are very skittish creatures; they need to come to you rather than chasing them down. After nearly an hour of watching/following me this lovely lady came up and introduced herself; isn't she lovely? 

Some of the alpaca babies and ladies were more shy than others. 

Some of the alpaca babies and ladies were more shy than others. 

Classy Elastic Skirt Tutorial

Sewing, DIYMonica Stebb6 Comments

Do you ever feel like the only place you could wear a skirt with an elastic casing is a Pioneer Day reenactment? Are you looking for a simple easy way to make a skirt without using interfacing or installing a zipper? Would you like to know how to make this waistband? Carry on, dear readers!

Supplies needed:

  • 1" wide elastic: You will need enough to fit around your  body where you want your skirt to hang on you. Typically your waist or your hips or somewhere in between. 
  • 1-2 yards of fabric: You will want a lighter weight fabric. My favorite for this pattern is a cotton/polyester blend called rayon, though a lighter weight linen will work too. When fabric shopping, drape it over your hand. If you can see through it or it doesn't hang well, then move on. The amount of fabric you'll need will depend on how long you want to make your skirt. I prefer to have skirts end at or just below my knee so I used closer to a yard of fabric. The closer it gets to the floor/taller you are the more fabric you'll need so plan accordingly. 
  • Thread: You'll either want to match or coordinate the color with your fabric.

Begin by deciding where you want your skirt to hang then take that measurement. For this project I wanted my skirt to sit just below my waist so that's where I measured. You will want to remember this measurement and it may even help to write it down somewhere. This magic number will help you as you build your skirt by first telling you how much elastic you'll need and then helping you figure out the amount of fabric you'll need for the entire circumference of your skirt. 

Elastic:

To find how long your elastic needs to be, take your magic waist/hip/somewhere in between number and subtract 1/2 an inch (or a full inch if you want it to feel snug). 

Once you have that number you can cut your elastic.

After you cut your elastic, overlap your elastic ends by about 1/2 inch and sew a square with an X in the middle. The idea here is to really anchor your stitches. You don't need to go overboard, but if you stitch something similar to the picture above you can be sure that your stitching isn't going anywhere. 

Pattern graphic.jpg

Width:

The next time you're going to use your magic number is when you figure out how much fabric you want gathered in at the top of your skirt. If your fabric is a flowy lightweight material then you can afford to have either a 1.5:1 or even 2:1 ratio of fabric to elastic. For example, if your magic number is 25" then you will want to make sure you have close to 50" of fabric for your width. (If possible you may want to add 1 1/4" for seam allowances, although if you're gathering in twice as much fabric to elastic, it's ok if you lose a little in the seam allowances.) 

Length:

Here is where you'll need to decide on the length of your skirt. Find a friend to help you with this part because sometimes the measurements can get a little wonky if you try to do them yourself. Essentially you will want to find out the length from where you want your skirt to start (waist/hips/somewhere in between) and where you want it to end (by knees/toes/somewhere in between). Take that length and add an inch and a half. This will account for the hem as well as the elastic. 

After you know how wide and long your fabric needs to be you are ready to cut out!

Side Seams:

Once you have your skirt cut out you are ready to sew your side seams which will make your fabric into a  tube-like thing. Pin right sides together. If you're lucky like me your edges will be the selvage edge of the fabric (it was very serendipitous) and you won't need to worry about a seam finish. 

Now that your side seams are sewn (mine only had 1) press your seam as it is sewn then press it open. This extra pressing step will help your fabric lay better and will help you later on with your elastic and hem. 

Now that your skirt is in a tube-like shape you are ready to put in your gathering stitches. This is a topic that deserves its own tutorial so if you get lost at this point email me! I want you to be able to understand this process. 

Gathering:

  • Lengthen your stitch length to a basting stitch, this is usually 3-4mm if you're sewing on a machine that follows the metric system.  
  • Pull your threads long like I have in the picture above. 

The next step is to sew 3 lines of basting stitches 1/4 inch apart, starting at 1/4" from the edge, then 1/2" from the edge and lastly at 3/4". This is now the top of your skirt (yay!). 

It is imperative that you DO NOT BACK STITCH  when doing these 3 rows, keep your threads long and keep track of which side is your bobbin thread. 

Your next step is to divide your elastic into 4th's and put a pin to mark each quarter mark. Do the same with your skirt waist. Line up your pins from your elastic to your skirt and pin them together. If all goes well you'll notice that your fabric is close to twice as large as your elastic. Your next step is to pull your bobbin threads so that your fabric is scrunched down to fit along the elastic. You will need to move some of the gathers around to make sure it's spaced evenly throughout your skirt. 

After your gathers are evenly distributed between all 4 of your quadrants you can stitch the top of your elastic to the top right side of your skirt using a zig-zag stitch. Here is what the finished product will look like. Don't be scared by unraveled ends, they become part of an enclosed seam in a minute. Not pictured is the amount of pins I used to keep everything in place. 

Now fold fabric and elastic up and over the top of that seam so that now your zig-zag stitches are facing the wrong side of your fabric.

Do you see where the heads of my pins are? Behind that fold is where your zig-zag stitches are. 

Your second to last step is to stitch the top and bottom of your elastic down to your skirt using a straight stitch. Do this within an 1/8th to 1/4th of either edge of the elastic. You may have some folds/gathers get in your way, gently sew over them; doing this will help achieve a more flat elastic skirt waist rather than letting it become puffy.

 Finish your skirt with a hem of your choice. I chose to use a clean finish with machine blind hem because it's quick to do and with the print on my fabric it easily hides the stitches compared to a solid. The total width of the hem should be between 3/8" and 1/2" (depending on how much fabric got folded over to do the elastic). 

Did you make a skirt following these instructions? Have you made a skirt with an elastic band using a different method? Share with us! contact [at] jupedujour [dot] com.

Budget Beauty Hacks & Makeup Substitutions

DIYHaley SwanComment

So, I'm well aware that this post is going to make me look like a total cheapskate...but, who am I kidding, I am my mother's daughter and I'll be reusing Ziploc bags til the day I die. Most of these beauty hacks were born of desperation--I ran out of something vital and thought "Hmm, what else can I scrounge up to make do for now?" But, in some cases (ahem, using mascara as eyeliner and toothpicks as applicators), I actually preferred the cheapskate way to however I'd been doing it previously, and haven't looked back! More info on each of these 5 Budget Beauty Hacks below:

1. Using Mascara as Eyeliner

I'll probably never go back to using eyeliner pencils or any other type of basic black eyeliner when I can just use the mascara that I already have on  hand. Two birds with one stone! And, the best part is, you know that point where you mascara gets kinda gunky and isn't liquid enough to use anymore? Now, you can save the old mascara to use as eyeliner!

2. Using a Toothpick as an Eyeliner Applicator

 I know, this one sounds a little crazy. I was skeptical myself. But, it's super easy, and I have yet to poke myself in the eye even once! Just dip the end of a toothpick into a gel or liquid liner, or rub it along a mascara spoolie, if you're using mascara as eyeliner, and drag it along your lid near the lashes in whatever shape you want. The fine point makes it really easy to get exactly the shape you want and get really close to the lashes and even between them. If you do full eye makeup every day, it may be cheaper in the long run to just buy a good eyeliner brush. But if, like me, you're only an occasional eye makeup-er, toothpicks are dirt cheap...and double-sided.

3. Using Vaseline as Eye Makeup Remover

A college roommate actually taught me this trick, and she learned it from her mom! I tend not to wear super heavy eye makeup and never wear waterproof mascara because I hate how hard it is to get off, but it's that much easier with Vaseline (or even plain chapstick / lip balm). Just rub it over the stubborn makeup and wipe off! And, a jar will last you a lifetime.

4. Using Corn Starch or Baby Powder as Dry Shampoo

Hallelujah for dry shampoo, am I right? My hair gets really dry and breaks easily if I wash it every day, but can also get very oily between washes. So, I love dry shampoo, but I hate the expense and, often, the scent. One day after I ran out of dry shampoo I glanced at my e.l.f. high definition silica powder and thought "hmm, I wonder..." It worked perfectly but, at $6 a pop wasn't exactly a super cheap option. Enter corn starch and baby powder. I've also seen that some people with darker hair mix their powder or starch with unsweetened cocoa powder so that it blends into their hair better. Who knew?!

5. Using Contact Solution to Make Liquid Liner

I love makeup, but I would probably be a lot more into it if it weren't so expensive. Experimenting is so fun, but I just can't bring myself to shell out $10 every time I want to try a new product. What if I hate the color and never use it again? This trick is an awesome way to experiment with different eyeliners without having to buy any new ones! Just dip the end of your eyeliner brush in saline solution and then into an eyeshadow, and you've got a one-time-use liquid / gel liner. If you hate the color, no money wasted, and if you love it, you've got a two-in-one eyeshadow / eyeliner. It's a win-win!

Mending the Binding on a Quilt

Sewing, ThriftingMonica StebbComment

The hallmark of a good seamstress and a good thrifter is the ability to mend items when broken; this increases the lifetime of the items you own, reduces waste (our landfills will thank you!), and, if you're like me, the best part is that it is nice on your wallet. 

Today I would like to share with you an example of how you can put your mending skills to good use. 

About the quilt: My mother found this quilt for me while she was thrifting. This is an eBay special, meaning that she found it on eBay and it was special enough to bid on. The flowers are actually printed on to the fabric and the top of the quilt is the same as the bottom so it doesn't matter which side is showing because it's the same. There is batting in between both layers with quilting holding the two layers tight together. After about 6 months of use the binding around the edge of the quilt started to come undone. 

The binding looks like it has a bunch of tiny pleats. This was most likely done with some sort of pleating or smocking machine where you feed the fabric through two cogs that turn and the fabric comes out looking folded. Think of a mixture between a hair crimper and an old timey hand-crank dryer. 

Trying to achieve the same look by hand turned out not to be the easiest or best idea if you want to keep your sanity; especially for this slightly threadbare and sensitive fabric. What I ended up doing instead was steaming the loose fabric flat, then folding the edges inside about 3/8" of an inch (which is what it looked like it was at before the binding started unraveling). From there I inserted a basting stitch along the fold I just steamed, going as close to the quilt to as I could without pulling more of the binding off. Then I pulled the bobbin threads of my basting stitch and gathered the fabric to fit over the bald area of my quilt and sewed it down onto my quilt. The binding did end up a little more wavy than the rest of the quilt, but with this fixed I will be able to continue using this quilt for years to come!

Has anyone one else mended a quilt? What did you do? Bonus if you share pictures with us too!