Tag Archive | black

Sparkly: expanded

I promised to tell you more about the sparkly fabric in Saturday’s photo, so let’s get to it.

I’ll begin with a little story. On Friday night, I went to a Christmas party — probably a lot of you are attending such functions this month. It’s all fun and games until you realize that your fairy godmother didn’t stop by to transform your shabby duds into a shimmering gown. That’s where I was Friday night, as I stood in my closet and looked at the faded, stained, wrong-sized, wrong season, entirely-too-casual clothes hanging there. What possessed me to eventually don a pilly brown sweater, I don’t know. At least my jeans were clean, which I can’t always say with four kids swirling around me throughout the day. But the moment I arrived at the party, my heart sunk as I saw all the ladies in their finery. Silky, golden blouses, high heels, fancy tights, sparkly fascinators in neatly-styled hair, even glitter mascara. And there I was, all brown sweater and jeans.

It’s not entirely my fault — I do know how to dress up and I actually really like it. Sadly, my life is sorely lacking in glamorous occasions at which to dress up. So that, combined with the leanness of what I dub “the cabin years” resulted in me having a less-than-glamorous wardrobe. Even though we’ve been out of the cabin for a year with Mr. Gren at his new job, we still feel like we’re recovering from that time in our lives. It’s kind of like when a tornado rips through a town — life doesn’t just resume as normal once the storm is gone; there’s a rebuilding phase, and that’s where we’re at right now. I mean, heck, we’re excited when we can replace holey socks these days, so there had been zero thought in any of our minds about fancy occasion clothes.

henry clarke 1959

How I imagine my life

Back to the Christmas party and me looking the wallflower. I thought to myself that, as lousy as I felt sitting there under-dressed for the event, I could fix this. Saturday morning, I went to the fabric store to see what I could find. And what I found was… sparkly. Sparkles and holidays go together! Even better about the sparkly was that it was pre-elasticated and it was on the half-off rack. A little mental calculating and I realized that if I got about a yard and a half of the fabric, I would have enough to make a skirt for myself out of each color and one girl-sized skirt per color.

The fabric has a wide, black elastic waistband attached to an over-layer of tulle spattered with silver stars and a satiny lining. I sewed the tulle layer separately from the lining layer so that they would hang nicely when worn. I think it took me about ten minutes for each skirt. Four skirts in under an hour? I call that a successful sewing day!

The girls were happy to model theirs. You’ll have to wait to see mine until I can sew myself a suitable top to go with them! Old t-shirts just don’t cut it.

Rana chose aqua

Rana chose aqua

Granota in black

Granota in black

And don’t call me Shirrley

A few weeks ago, I bought a skirt at the mall. Shirred waist, nice and swishy, and a print to rival my Jungle blouse. It’s so comfortable, but the print limits what I can wear with it. I needed a skirt just like it, but in a solid color. While I was doing my fabric shopping on Mother’s Day, I made a note to myself to check out their pre-shirred fabrics to make myself a skirt. But Holy Sticker Shock, Batman! $25/yard?! Madness. I decided then and there to do it myself.

Just a little bit of research online to confirm what I needed to know about shirring. No need to reinvent the wheel — check out this site for a good, detailed tutorial if you are interested in trying it yourself!

I got my solid fabric — a black linen-cotton blend that felt nice and had a decent drape. And I got my elastic thread, one in white and one in black. Before embarking on the real thing,  I made a test scrap to see how much shrinkage I could count on once I started sewing. I cut a 12″ length of scrap fabric, hand-wound the elastic thread into the bobbin, set my stitch length at 3 and left my tension at 3. With the first line of stitching, you can see that it didn’t shrink up all that much. Not to worry; that’s what all the tutorials said would happen. It’s the subsequent lines that will really gather up the fabric. Seven lines of stitching shrunk my 12″ piece of fabric almost by half. That’s what I needed to know. I could count on approximately 50% shrinkage.


On to the real stuff! First, I cut two panels of fabric 34″ wide on the crosswise grain. Why? Because I am lazy. I wanted to use the finished selvage  edge at the top of the skirt. And there was no one to tell me not to, so that’s what I did. The fabric was 50″ wide selvage to selvage and, astonishing as it may be, my legs are not 50″ long, so the selvage on the bottom edge didn’t help me any. I ended up putting in 15 rows of shirring, 1/4″ apart at the top of each panel and those 34″ shrunk down to 15″. Mission accomplished!


My mall-bought skirt is swishy because it has extra fabric sewn in at the sides below the shirring. I didn’t buy that much fabric for my black skirt. It was going to hang pretty much straight down which didn’t seem like a lot of fun. But you know what was fun? Shirring. So I shirred some vertical lines at four points around the skirt and then scrunched up the fabric and tied it with ribbons. Is it weird or is it cool? I don’t know. It’s unique at any rate.


I wore it on Sunday and discovered a few things:

  • I could probably stand to tighten up the sides right at my waist (basically over the shirred part); the skirt had a tendency to slip just a little bit. I’d prefer not to have any wardrobe malfunctions.
  • This skirt is not good to wear around little jumpy dogs whose paws get caught in the folds.
  • Nor is it good for crawling on the floor to change diapers.
  • Neither does it fare well when trying to rise from micro-fiber upholstered chairs.
  • If I wear a clingy shirt, the top “ruffle” shows through, creating weird lumps; I ended up folding down the top about halfway so that I wouldn’t have a ripply ring around my mid-section.



All those things taken into account, I think I’ll fare a bit better next time. And it really was comfortable, too.

Somebody’s gonna look good

In just a few days, my little brother (little in years, not in stature) is going to get married! He and my soon-to-be sis-in-law asked if Rana & Granota would be flower girls and if Konik would be the ring bearer. Well, of course the girls were thrilled out of their little minds! Princess fantasies abound! I did not have to make flower girl dresses because my four nieces are also going to share the flower girl duties and naturally, they all have to match. A whole little flowery entourage. Unless they’re going relay style in honor of the recently completed Olympics… (S & L, I’ve got an idea for you!) Originally, I wasn’t going to have to sew anything for Konik, either, but the lovely Miss L couldn’t find a tiny suit in his size. So I volunteered to save her some time hunting and set to work sewing.

Cute stuff!

This super cute little vest was made with help from the tutorial by Ashley at Make It-Love It. For my template, instead of a t-shirt, I used the button-up shirt that Konik would be wearing underneath the vest. And lucky me, I didn’t have to sew that either! We found a tiny white linen Children’s Place shirt for a couple bucks at the thrift store. Woo hoo! The pants I made using the same pattern as I used for his Easter suit. I added a little extra length to the biggest size and it’s a good thing I did! Looks like that will be the last time I can use that pattern.

The fabric is polyester shantung. I hate polyester and try to avoid it whenever possible. But, in this instance, the only alternative is real silk shantung and — in case you’ve missed it — we’re not exactly in the tax bracket that can afford making silk suits for 2 year olds. Sorry, kid. I love ya, but I know what you’d do to it and that, in turn, would make me weep. Not like anyone can fault me. For less than $15, my little man is going to be stylin’.

Real pockets, fake fly.

I can’t let him wear it just yet, though. I would be beside myself is something happened to these clothes before the wedding! Now, if we can just get him convinced to wear his new black dress shoes that go with it…