Train Train Train

March 19, 2012

So one of my main purposes in life is to find vintage things that are cute. I’ve been looking for hat boxes and train cases FOREVER every week at the thrift stores and I’ve NEVER seen one…until this weekend. I found a cute red train case. It was perfect, at a half-off price of $1.50. I mean seriously.

Of course for that price it was a DISASTER inside. Gross. Like seriously gross. First step was to rip out the peeling and faded plastic linings.

As you can see, the trim was falling out everywhere, barely held in with safety pins and paper clips. Not good. Fortunately most of it ripped out intact. The exception being the bottom. What I found was that the elastic bands on the top were actually sewn in to a piece of canvas-covered  cardboard. there were other cardboard sections to help support, but those didn’t make it past the surgery.

Once everything was ripped out, I could see what we were working with.

Yeah so back to the innards.

The inside actually cleaned up pretty well. The top especially. The bottom I spent a while ripping batting and cardboard out. The bottom “fabric” also didn’t come out cleanly so there were shreds of that everywhere.

The next step was to use my fabric pieces as templates. I picked a modern riff for my inside fabrics. I wanted something punchy.

I got a yard and a half of the flower pattern, a fat quarter of the orange, and enough of the ribbon trim to go around the top.

Next step was to get the canvas cardboard separated from the fabric, and then glue that to the top.

I then sewed the elastic to the board.

Once those were sewn in, I made a flap and pocket to go under the top. I glued that and then top in place. The corners took a little working, and it wasn’t quite perfect. The ribbon trim went around the raw edge and hid my flaws.

The process was largely the same for the bottom. It was definitely harder, and I cut a band to hide my yucky corners. However, once put all together, it looked pretty darned cute.

Total investment was about $10, and approximately 3 hours of time. Lovely!

Vintage? And Recycled!

June 14, 2011

So this week, I attempted my first complete from the thrift store sewing project. One of us missed out by not being  born in the 70’s, and so the love of vintage flourished. Conveniently, many of the sewing and craft projects that you see at thrift stores are from approximately that era. So, this project was a match made in heaven. I started with this pattern:

The best thing about thrift store patterns-the price. They range from about .29 cents to about .59 cents at most of the thrift stores around here. The worst thing about thrift store patterns-there is no organization, so they are kind of the epitome of thrift store shopping. You have to be willing to sit there and look at every one of them, to see if any of them are worth your time. And many, many of them will be from the 80s, and remind you of fashions you hoped never to see again.

This particular pattern straddles the line between awesome and horrible (check out the cool smock in the upper right corner). However, sometimes all it takes to break into awesome is a little conviction. So we paired this pattern with a fabric we also found at the thrift store:

Pretty much the epitome of vintage. The nice thing about fabric from the thrift store-again the price. This was about two yards of fabric, and it cost $1.99. However, you have to have a good eye for estimating how much yardage you have. Thrift stores frequently roll their fabric yardage, so it’s not always possible to see exactly how much there is. Also, it’s like mis-tinted paint-if you don’t have enough there’s no going back for more. So have a contingency plan in mind.

The apron I had in mind from this fabric is the center-top version. It’s a fairly simple bib apron, and in the fabric they used bias tape to encase almost all of the edges, for decorative appeal and to save you from the boredom of hemming.

I decided right away to toss the bias tape out the window, because I usually think it’s ugly and find it even more irritating than hemming. I also wanted to bring in a little more flair, just because I could. I started with the pockets, and a little bit of ruffly trim, that I just had hanging around. You’ll notice I used a solid color for the ruffles and for the ribbons because the pattern on the fabric is so exciting.

Then I cut and hemmed the skirt part of the apron, and placed the pockets where I wanted them. Then I put a two rows of basting along the top, so I could gather the skirt. 

After that I turned my attention to the bib. This is also just hemming straight lines around all of your edges. I then attached the ribbons that I had chosen for the strings. It’s possible to sew your own strings, but I find turning them a bit tedious. The pattern in the case actually called for ribbon or something similar, so I took them up on their suggestion. After the bib was done, then I did the waist band. This was probably the trickiest part of the whole thing, although nothing too complicated. You sewed the ribbons for the waist to the waistband, and then folded it in half so you end up with a shape like an extremely long narrow man’s wallet.

Then you attach the waistband, open side down, to the bib.

This leaves you with a nice open space to hide the raw, gathered edge of your skirt. I gathered the skirt, working the material until the gathers were even, and it was the right width for the waist band, pinned it in place, and sewed the whole thing together.

I think the finished project came out well, and it ended up being vintage, but not terrible with the modern touches I added. I think the teal ribbons really help it look more modern, and they help play up some of the blue/teal color in the fabric, rather than the oranges and yellows that were so popular in the 70s.