Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Why I'm Refashioning My Wardrobe!

In December, a new-to-me foot doctor diagnosed me with drop foot. When I herniated a disc in my lower back several years ago, I was also  diagnosed with arthritis and chronic vertigo at the same time (read story here), I was told just after that I could develop drop foot, that it would be progressive and permanent from damaged nerves near my spine, however, the doctor I had then, did not tell me what to look for, so I had no idea I was developing it. So between the last of  December 2015 until March of this year, I was getting fitted for a leg brace, new insoles and a shoe with a lift.

Isn't it pretty? I was told by a friend  at church who had to wear a brace for a while after foot surgery that I would  need to wear my pants tucked into the brace to keep the top of the brace from rubbing my leg raw as I walked, so the day of my last fitting, I wore a pair of leggings. However, only having two pairs of leggings, and many other jersey and jean britches in my wardrobe, I discovered what worked and didn't. A couple of descriptions come to mind when describing what happens when wearing regular slacks -- "getting ready for high water on one side with a muffin top at the knee" or "poofy short golf pants." The brace cuff moves up and down with each step and the pant leg creeps up. My husband couldn't help but laugh the first time it happened as he walked over to help his damsel in distress yank them down. grin!
So I decided I needed more leggings, however, since our budget is on the lean side after brace, I spent some time shopping at 1/2 of 1/2, looking for leggings in my size (one navy pair haul), and  at Pinterest and Youtube looking for ideas of what I could wear with them on top.  I'm a BBW, want to be modestly dressed and I discovered that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the lagenlook fashion, but it's one thing to wear all those layers in the winter to stay warm, but we're coming into our summer season here where it is hot and humid and I have never handled the heat well, so I'm having to put on my thinking cap to have the layered look without the added clothing.
So I'm gonna share some tutorials I'll be using to refashion my wardrobe  and maybe it will help you too. I've got one outfit made so far and will be adding in more ideas and tips to this post so come back to see all the additional photos, tips, and tutorials.

1st video: How to Wear Skinny Jeans and Leggings at 40, 50 and Beyond
2nd video: How to Alter Pants | Wide to Skinny Legs

Blog Tutorial: Refashion baggy yoga pants into svelte leggings tutorial
3rd video: DiY How To Make a Top from 2 Men's Shirts

 4th video: No-sew Infinity Scarf out of an old T-shirt  

So here's the aqua t-shirt infinity scarf I made out of the bottom of the shirt.  The top half of the t-shirt was made into a peplum shirt with the fabric that's underneath the scarf. I found 4 yards of the cotton material at the thrift store for about $4.00. I bought it because the flowers almost matched my t-shirt. Also the peachy colored leaves? reminded me of those molded, scented sawdust roses we used to get at touristy gift shops for one's dresser drawers. Remember those? As I stitched the fabric up, I noticed how transparent it was, not the modest look I was going for, so I cut the bottom off of a white stained t-shirt and made a sandwich of all three materials when I sewed the gathered peplum to the aqua shirt. It nicely hides my tummy skin and the stains don't show under the patterned fabric.  And I'll be using the white top part for another shirt.

Update: I wore this outfit Saturday because we were celebrating our wedding anniversary. After being married to my guy for some 30 years I can usually tell when he likes something and when he doesn't and he doesn't like this one.  I don't know whether it's the added peplum material or the design of the outfit, but he was fussing with it the whole time we were out. The newer material tends to bunch around my middle even though I've been using a  softener sheet in the dryer and he was yanking it down in back every time I got out of the car. The pants and shirt were given to me so the only money I've put into this outfit was the material and thread, say about $5.00. Being as how this outfit was my experiment (how many times did Edison have to try different filaments in order to get his light bulb to work?), I'm going to chalk this one up to experience and take it to the thrift store, giving me more room for clothes that will work for me. grin!

Blog Tutorial: Asymmetrical T-shirt sides
I measured the width of my cut-off T-shirt from side seam to side seam, then doubled that measurement for the amount of material I needed for the gathered "skirt" front of my shirt and did that again for the back part. I didn't make a pattern for the handkerchief hem side, but just folded my material in half that I wanted use for the sides, added 5 inches to the center of the piece and cut to that point. Then I sewed all the pieces together to make the continuous peplum "skirt", gathered at the top, and sewed it to the shirt. 
One thing I especially like about the lagenlook style is that it focuses on long lines because it's slimming, so it's perfect for us dumpy people. That's why I chose to piece together the skirt in long stripes and added the sides in a dark color, but you'll notice I have a piece of my favorite black and white check; I couldn't leave it out! I'll be wearing this shirt with black leggings.

Update: I've worn this shirt once or twice and the handkerchief hem at the two side corners are beginning to curl up, so thought a weight might keep them from doing that. I went to Wal-Mart and I found various fishing sinker weights in different designs in the sporting department, but liked these as there was a "loop" I could use to stitch it to the underside of the hem and they were only a dollar in cost for a package of six. So far, so good! 

Update: Sigh! One of the weights has already been torn off. Seems like I just can't win some days!


When I began looking into the lagenlook style, I knew I had some dresses that might work. I inherited some clothing when my aunt passed away, but I haven't worn the dresses for awhile because hose in my size was so dear, so I dug them out and started pairing them with a pair of black leggings that I do have.  I found the infinity jersey scarf and the two necklaces at a thrift store.  I didn't pay more than $3.00 apiece for the scarf or any of the necklaces and I looked for the longest ones they had. Which necklace do you like the best on the orange floral dress on the right? I tried several different necklaces, but thought the ones matching the leggings' color looked best.
5th video: How to sew a Mini Tissue Pocket Holder (I'm gonna make one for my purse and several for gifts out of my fabric scraps.)

I've been looking at my shirts and some of  them are getting rather shabby looking, so when I ran across this video, I thought aha! I know what I can do with the odds and ends I cut off  my refashioned tops and other t-shirts that's more fit for the rag bag than on me -- make something! So I'm going to roll up balls of t-shirt yarn as I go, then I'll share with you what I make with them, so come back!

6th video: How to make t-shirt yarn by Alma Stoller  (I like how she stretches the fabric so that it curls before rolling it into a ball).
7th video: Joining Fabric Strips without Sewing (Oops! I thought sure I had cut the beginning strip off correctly, but alas, the strips came off in circles. Here's a video to fix that by joining the strips together using this method, but first snip the circles that fall off in one place to make long strips).
I have this certain friend named Elizabeth who says she likes to use bed sheets for making clothing, because not only the yardage is so large, but also because they are soft and cool, so I decided to do that too. I scouted around  several thrift stores, found the perfect sheet with a floral pattern, plus a curtain valance with a similar pattern, cut a peplum out and was getting ready to sew it to a red shirt when I noticed a hole in the back of the shirt. I had cut the shirt at an angle to skip a hole in the front, so when I saw the hole in back, I was a little surprised. I tugged it upright, away from the peplum I had begun to pin to it and the material ripped clear to the armpit. So no red shirt -- I shall be adding it to the rag balls. Sigh!

So anyway, since I won't be getting a new red shirt, I decided to continue mending my aunt's dresses (buttons, seams, necklines, etc.) and matching them to my existing legging wardrobe, since I needed clothing to pack in a suitcase (we left town for Decoration Day). Here's some of the matches I came up with:

 You should be able to recognize this dress. Hubby and I decided the black and orange was decidedly too Halloween-ish. I found another jersey infinity scarf in tan and white stripe and it matched my newly sewn leggings perfectly.
 One of the bad things about rayon is that it sometimes frays too easily and escapes sewn seams, so I had to repair the neckline on this dress with a bit of black bias tape that matched the black center of the flowers. Matching black leggings and I'm all set!  
 I had to repair a broken button at the top of this dress and I found out that purple, dark royal blue, and aqua leggings will match this dress. Another thing I don't like about rayon is that it has to be ironed every time it gets washed and hung dry. But it's cool like those sheets Elizabeth likes!
 And last but not least . . . one that although it is cotton that needs ironing, it's gonna be a favorite! Guess why? grin!
Since I had that extra peplum that was supposed to go with the red shirt, I decided to use it and since I haven't cut up all my T-shirts, having a few skirts on hand, I decided to use a pair of jeans that's always been a little tight on me in the thighs.  I cut the legs off, straightened the curved part in front by sewing a straight seam down the front middle, cut off the extra material, and then sewed the peplum onto the bottom of the cut-off jeans. It was a little long, so I trimmed part of it off, then cut the remaining part into half and made me an infinity scarf out of it to go with a white t-shirt. I think Pinterest calls this style Rockabilly. grin! There are two layers -- the red & white part is a kitchen window valance and you almost can't see the sheet, but it's there. It's about 1 1/2" longer than the window valance with a rolled hem.
Video 8: DIY how to sew an infinity scarf  
Update: Oops! Wasn't it nice of me to make this skirt for somebody else?!!! grin!  I forgot that my leggings would be underneath and the skirt was too tight for me to wear both and be able to sit comfortably. sigh! So back to the drawing board. . . I could do one of three things with the skirt -- 1.) take it to Goodwill as is or 2.) cut the back off except for the waist band and zig-zag the cut edges to make it into an apron, then sew just the back jean part cut into a small square on top of the waistband for the bib part or 3.) cut up the sides to the waist band and hem side edges with bias tape so I can sit down in it. 
Have you ever felt like you've fallen down a rabbit-hole? My mother asked a woman at her church who wears the same kind of brace I do what she found most comfortable to wear under her brace during the summer months and she said silky trousers. So I've been spending several days at Pinterest and Youtube looking for thin silky leggings and found some of the most beautiful Anarkali dresses (video ones were plainer) that look very similar in cut to the rayon dresses I have above. I also looked at Punjabi tunics with leggings and I liked the tunics that were cut above the knee with a small side slit for ease of movement, however, I'm not sure whether those blousey trousers would hide or make the thunder thighs look bigger. 

Monday, May 2, 2016

A Babe is Born

My mother has been digging in her archives at home and found a couple of poems that I wrote when I was a teenager.
I began writing simple 4 line poems after studying poetry in Mrs. Harryman's 6th grade English class. She was one of my favorite elementary schoolteachers. I don't know what she saw in me, but she encouraged me to continue writing, so I grabbed a blank book and began to fill it with quotes, poetry I liked, and my scribbles.
Just so you know, the poem below does not come from experience. As a married adult, we lost a much wanted child through miscarriage and I experienced an entirely different emotion from the one I had imagined in this poem. As a young person, I liked to read and often experimented with thoughts I gathered along the way in poetry form whether as free verse, such as the one below, or in rhyme.
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A Babe is Born
By Dolores J. O'Neal-Rush.
A babe is born
In a cabin of the wilderness.
A midwife is bustling about
The fire under the mantle is crackling
The babe is in the mother's arms.
Babe's pang of hunger cries,
Mother whispers hush!
Babe's against thy mother's breast,
Pain is lessened next.
Babe's ill,
Coughing and choking,
They do all they can.
He took his last breath,
His suffering is over.
Thy mother is weeping softly
The tears of joy,
She is glad for him
Babe is in a better place
Far above.
Babe was dressed in the finest calico they had,
They laid him under the willow tree by
a softly, spoken stream.
They erected a simple, wooden cross,
For they could not afford a stone.
There he sleeps.