A dress to match the cuffs.

“Don’t buy a suit to match your tie,” is a proverb that has served me very well… except when it should be ignored, such as with this project.  It started with a picture of knit+crochet cuffs I saw online, which led me to grab knitting needles and some cotton yarn from my stash, and experiment with the design.  Soon I had a set of cuffs I loved, with nothing to put them on.

Cuffs RSR

So, with cuffs in hand and no plan except that I might like them on a dress, I went fabric shopping, and came home with this lightweight rayon plaid:

Fabric RSR

For a pattern, I decided on the “Coco dress” from Tilly and the Buttons.  The dress has simple, basic lines; is fast to construct; and worked well for me on a prior dress.

Coco-cover_grande

I sewed the dress and attached the cuffs before deciding what to do with the neckline.  At that point, the answer was obvious–make a collar to match the cuffs.

Collar RSR

The finished dress:  Tada!

Dress on form2 RSR

I’ve now worn the dress once, and am quite happy with it.  Here are a few thoughts on the dress and fabric:

  • The A-line skirt makes the dress bicycle-friendly.
  • The cotton cuffs and collar, and lightweight rayon make a very comfortable dress.
  • The lightweight fabric makes the dress fit easily under a blazer when called for at work, or under a jacket for chilly Fall mornings and evenings.
  • The weight of the dress feels quirky on the hanger because the fabric is lightweight and flowy, while the cuffs and collar are weightier cotton.  The weight disparity isn’t evident when the dress is being worn.
  • The rayon fabric is not very durable.  It will be susceptible to snags.  The edges of the fabric fray profusely, so I had to finish all of the edges first thing.
  • About that plaid.  I should have had my head examined for buying flimsy fabric with a plaid that had to be matched.  Eventually, I figured out a method that mostly worked, but not before several frustrated do-overs.  Marking a straight hem was a bear, too, because of the shifty fabric and the plaid.

A few more views:

The back neck closure was finished with two self-fabric covered buttons and crochet button hole loops.

IMG_20181021_105538520a

The horizontal plaid matching.

Match stripes 2

Hall mirror selfie.

IMG_20181021_175030488a RSR

Project Details:

 

A free afternoon in Fort Worth–a treat for my inner cowgirl.

The day after the ELO concert in Dallas last month, my train wasn’t scheduled to depart from Ft. Worth until 5pm.  I opted to spend the afternoon in Ft. Worth, so on checking out of my hostel, I caught the TRE commuter train from Irving back to Fort Worth.

Irving train stopTRE regional commuter train

In Fort Worth, I decided to visit the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame.  Feeling an acute need for exercise, I opted to get from the train station to the museum and back via Fort Worth’s bike share.  There was a bike share hub at the train station and one at the museum complex.  Good job, Fort Worth!  All went smoothly with the bike checkout process.

Bike share RSR

Google mapped the bike route for me.

Fort Worth Bike Ride

The bike was a joy to ride.  It was easily adjustable, and had no mechanical issues.

Bike RSR

It was a mostly-flat, pleasant 3.1 mile ride each way.

 

 

National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame

The cowgirl museum was wonderful.  Part of it is under renovation and closed to visitors until February 2019.  This means I will want to go back and see the rest.  But the exhibits I did see gave me a badly-needed cowgirl ‘fix’ for now.  I could have stayed there all day.

Leather culottes and gauntlets a

I love the way they posed this mannequin and draped her red jacket.  It’s as if she just got up after being thrown and is walking back to her horse.

Red jacket and leather culottesGloves a

Leather sleeve cuffsBracelet a

Annie Oakley’s wedding ring!

Annie Oakley wedding ring a

 

“Ride the range all the day till the first fading light,
be with my western girl round the fire, oh, so bright.
I’d be the Indians friend, let them live to be free,
ridin’ into the sunset, I wish I could be.”

 

Can you handle more from the cowgirl museum?  They have an amazing collection of historic western-themed Hermes scarves.

Hermes1Hermes2Hermes3

This scarf, wow.  Here is the center motif of an awards themed scarf that seemed to spoof the Oscars.  It was quite an entertaining thing to study.

Hermes4

Hermes4a

After finishing up at the Cowgirl museum, I still had more time for sightseeing, so I went next door to the Fort Worth Science and History Museum.

In their huge lobby, they have a beam from one of the World Trade Center towers.

9-11 beam 1 a9-11 beam 2 a

The beam towered over the lobby.9-11 beam 3 a

They had a great section on Energy, which I enjoyed so much I forgot to take pictures.

They had a large Cattle Raisers exhibit, which was an excellent complement to the Cowgirl Museum.

Longhorns a

IMG_20180814_142904522~2

Lastly, they had a Grossology exhibit, on human body functions.  The irony about this is that I took a head cold home with me from the trip.  Ugh.  I was pretty much like this guy for the next week.

Snot spigot a

When I’d finished at the museums, bike share got me back to the Ft. Worth Intermodal Transportation Center, where I would await my Amtrak train.  They had some neat things to see at the station:  An old Fort Worth commuter train car.

Ft Worth trolley a

A series of history-telling tile murals.

Ft Worth ITC murals

Back in the lovely old train station, I reclaimed my bag from the luggage storage service, drank a delicious milk from Subway, and waited the last few minutes before boarding my Amtrak train.

Some Fort Worth tips I picked up:

  • The Fort Worth Intramodal Transportation Center is the Ft. Worth hub for all transit–Amtrak, the TRE, trolleys, buses, and bike share.  Darn handy.
  • I originally booked Amtrak all the way from OKC to Dallas Union Station and back.  Turns out I only needed Amtrak between OKC and Ft. Worth.  Between Ft. Worth and Dallas, the TRE was the way to go.
  • By cancelling the Ft. Worth – Dallas – Ft Worth portions of my Amtrak ticket before those departure times, I was credited that portion of my Amtrak fare, to apply to future Amtrak travel.
  • The museums I visited are all at the Ft. Worth Stock Show complex.  The complex was easy to get to by bike, and offered lots to do in one spot.  The Botanical Gardens and Trinity Park are also adjacent to the complex.

Daisies, linen and box pleats for bicycling

I was so excited when I brought this 1960s daisy dress home from the vintage clothing store in August 2015, that I mentioned it in my blog right away.

vintage-dress-green-daisies RSR

For two summers I wore the dress as-is and loved its style.  But bicycling in it was a no-go, because the dress is narrow and straight with no stretch and no pleat for getting on and off the bike and for pedaling.  I loved the dress too much to change it.

Eventually my desire to wear it on my bike commute won out.  I formed a bold plan to add box pleats, and worked up the courage to make the first cut.  I measured and sliced the skirt where four pleats would go.  I was lucky to find some fabric for the pleats that was a near exact match of the creamy white color in the dress.

The result:  Ta-da!

vintage-dress-green-daisies pleats added RSR

The next morning as I was preparing to wear the modified dress for the first time, I took a mirror selfie, BHM (before hair and makeup).

Mirror selfie BHM RSR

On its first outing with the box pleats, I bicycled a total of 14 commute + errand miles.  The skirt was perfect, in roominess, length and drape.

After that first wearing, I decided the top of the pleats should be reinforced to prevent inevitable strain and fraying in the corners.  So I added little tabs.

pleat tabs RSR

This project was an unqualified success.  The person most surprised is me.  I feared I was going to ruin the lovely dress for good.  But no, I’ll be using the box pleat ‘hack’ again sometime when I need to convert another dress for bike-ability.  I want to post a set of instructions, but I feel like I need to try it again a time or two before telling others how to do it.  Stay tuned.

 

And their love that was more than the clothes that they wore,
Could be seen in the gleam of an eye…

 

It worked! I stretched a shrunk rayon dress back to size.

Absentmindedly I tossed this dress into the wash with a load of colors, on the cold gentle cycle.  Out came a tiny dress for a shorter stick version of myself.  Turns out it is one of those awful super-shrinky rayon dresses from a prior decade.Care label w comment

I didn’t take a picture of the shrunken dress, so you’ll have to imagine the dress in this picture not draping freely from the dress form, but instead fitting snugly with open gaps between the buttons down the front.  The sleeves were skin-tight on my arms.  It was bad.Rayon dress 1 -- rsr

My only options I thought, were to put it in the donation box, or repurpose it into another garment.  Then I found this unshrinking method that uses hair conditioner.  This blog gave super easy instructions:  Almostherealthing.com  I checked a couple of other sites to compare, and they were mostly consistent on the method:

In a tub or pan, combine warm water and hair conditioner, in a ratio of 1 quart of water to 1 tsp. conditioner.  Soak the garment in the solution for about 10 minutes.  Remove the garment and blot with a towel to remove dripping water, then stretch and reshape and dry.  Repeat if necessary for more stretching.

I didn’t have hair conditioner on hand for the unshrinking project.  Dollar Store to the rescue!Conditioner

I was dubious.  But…wow, it really worked!  The unshrinking was easy and inexpensive.  It’s truly regrettable that I didn’t take a ‘before’ picture of the dress in its shrunken state, for dramatic comparison purposes.

Here is the dress after unshrinking and drying.  I’ve had the dress for years.  For ‘vintage’ events, such as WWII or 1940s themed occasions, it is my go-to garment.  It’s super comfortable and bike-able.  It goes well with a straw sun hat.  I’m glad to have it back.  Rayon dress 2 -- rsr

I’m wearing the dress in this shadow picture, taken at the end of a vintage homes bicycle tour.  Bicycle dress shadow -- RSR

About that $1 bottle of conditioner…

Now that I have a nearly-full 32oz bottle of hair conditioner on hand. I need to figure out what to do with it.  Here are some ideas.  20 Genius Uses for Hair Conditioner  This article makes hair conditioner seem like WD-40 for the body.  I’ll certainly be giving some of the suggestions a try.

Adding a side pleat for bike-ability

Over the 4th of July holiday, I worked up the courage to to hack into one of my fave summer shifts to make it more bike-able.  The dress is straight, and the fabric a sturdy woven cotton with no spandex.  Getting on and off the bike and pedaling were all problematic.

IMG_20180705_184701379_LL a

I opened the side seam 9 inches from the hemline, and added a 9″ zipper and a stretch panel in coordinating fabric.IMG_20180705_184810535_LL aIMG_20180705_184737782 a

Success!  I can unzip the pleat and have room for pedaling a bike, and then close the pleat up the rest of the day.IMG_20180705_184714214_LL a

The steps I took in order:

  • Open side seam to 9 inches from the hemline.
  • Sew in 9″ zipper.
  • With zipper open, pin triangle insert in place behind zipper, lining up fabric edges.
  • Topstitch insert in place through all layers.

From the inside, the pleat looks like this closed.  IMG_20180705_203759195

And open.IMG_20180705_203730248

(The pleat insert fabric is intentionally shorter than the rest of the hemline to keep the insert from peeking out from under the hem when the pleat is zipped shut. )

Ready for pedalingIMG_20180705_191148063_LL bw

Ready for the office. IMG_20180705_191406365_LL aw

I’ve biked in the dress a couple of times since installing the pleat, and it works just as I’d hoped.  There are a few other dresses and skirts in my closet that probably should get the zipper-pleat treatment.

___________________________

A breeze crosses the porch
Bicycle spokes spin ’round
Jacket’s on, I’m out the door
Tonight I’m gonna burn this town down

And the girls in their summer clothes
In the cool of the evening light
The girls in their summer clothes
Pass me by

Summer bicycling dress II: 40 shades of green (and grey)

Another bicycling dress is finished as of last weekend, complete with reflective bits.  With this one, I cut out shapes of sew-on reflective tape that I could embed in the print.

Green dress no flash 2 a-w

Front reflector flash a-w

Back reflector flash a-w

Appliqueing the reflective motifs to the dress was a repeating cycle of trial, error and perseverance.  My first attempts were awful.  The grey thread I had on hand ended up being several shades too light, and stood out as white on the reflective fabric.  [Insert ’50 Shades of Grey’ reference here.]  The light thread highlighted every deviant stitch.  Unfortunately, there were a lot of deviant stitches.  Despite how bad it was looking, I kept on going, thinking that I’d improve my stitching with practice, and then I could go back and re-stitch the first bad ones.  But not this time.  This was truly bad.  So, I cut out some new reflective motifs in a wider shape, and bought a darker shade of grey thread.  [Whew, it’s getting hot in here!] Then, success!

Bad vs good leaf stitches a-w text

The thread color was a tremendous improvement, but the points of the reflective motifs were still coming out looking ragged and misshaped.  I couldn’t make the point stay in place to be stitched neatly.  So through more trial and error, I came up with this technique that worked:

  • Start at the wide end of the motif and baste straight down the middle to the tip.
  • Switch to a regular stitch length, and continue past the end of the tip for 3 more stitches.
  • Turn the entire piece around and from the tip, stitch around the edges of the motif.
  • Snip the basting stitch at the point, and pull the thread tail to remove only the basting.

Stitching on leafs a-w with text

Voila!  A better leaf shape, and the appearance of neat stitches.Close up of proper result a-w

At first I intended to replace only the ‘worst’ of the original reflective leaves.  But in the end, my seam ripper and I spent a lot of time together, and the entire first batch of motifs were removed and replaced.  It took quite a bit of time for this do-over, but I think it was necessary.

reflector rejects a-w

My sew-on reflective tape was purchased from Amazon:  (Product Link)  The 2-inch wide 30-foot roll was my choice, because that width allows for lots of creative uses.  Smaller widths and lengths are available.

Other construction details:

For bike-ability, I inserted a pleat in the back.

Kick pleat a-w

The dress is constructed from the hem up:

The main fabric with the wild print came from my stash, but there was only a yard of it.  So, I hemmed it first thing, and built the dress upward from there.  Up near the shoulder, the fabric ran out.  There I added the polka dot coordinating fabric, to complete the shoulder.  The main fabric pieces that were cut away for the armholes, were almost but not quite long enough to make the collar.  So again I supplemented coordinating fabric to complete the collar.

Dress collar & shoulder a-w

The inside facings for the armhole, neck and hem are all made from the coordinating fabric.  The cool thing is, I used almost every inch of the stash fabric.  There are no usable scraps left.

The fabric is 100% cotton and comfortable, while sturdy enough to stay in place on a breezy day.

Green dress mirror selfie b

 

Summer bicycling dress

Happy Birthday, Sir Paul McCartney!  ❤  And what does Sir Paul’s birthday have to do with this dress?  Answer:  I wore it to his concert last July.  I finished the dress around this time last summer; just a couple of weeks before he was coming to town.  That made it super easy to decide what to wear to the concert.

Pink dress front

This dress met several objectives–

  • It is ‘bike-able’, meaning the skirt is loose enough to enable mounting the bike and pedaling.  A little bit of spandex in the fabric helps with that too.  The skirt is just long enough that I don’t flash passing drivers.  The fabric is a twill which makes the skirt a bit sturdier in a wind.
  • The dress has built-in reflector motifs for visibility.
  • And last but not least, the fabric came from my stash.  Every bit of stash reduction helps.

Pink dress reflector bodice

Why did I choose this dress for the McCartney concert?  Obviously, because it has a Swinging 60s look.  But there’s more.  I thought maybe when the stage lights panned the crowd, the reflective elements of my dress would light up.  I don’t know if it was visible from the stage, but it was fun wondering if I stood out in the crowd a teeny bit. 🙂

More views of the reflective details:

For biking, I added a kick pleat in the back, and gave it a strip of reflective fabric, too.Pink dress reflector kick pleat

The reflective buttons were made with reflective tape and a covered button kit.  IMG_20180618_132658800

Pink dress mirror selfie b

Another month; another challenge

Purging, refreshing, renewing.  I think they call this ‘Spring Cleaning’.  My inspiration was this blog challenge:   40 Bags in 40 Days.

Confession:  I have not moved out a bag a day, exactly, but I have done this:

  • Made several donation trips.
  • Filled my trash bin each week.
  • Explored the nearby recycle center…and am building a routine for it.

Result:  My house is looking visibly better, with two weeks left to go in the challenge.

These past two months of non-blogging have been full of personal highs and lows.  I have a family member staying with me while he gets back on his feet.  If you ever get the chance to really get to know a sibling again, don’t pass it up.  ❤

JBE bicycling-RSR

About the recycle center.  It is leading to a permanent change in this household.  Stay tuned for more details…

Recycling Center sign-RSR

And now the new challenge is:  April Challenge: 30 days of biking

‘Day 1’ of the bike challenge is in the books, with a bicycle trip to the recycle center.  See what I did there?  I checked off two boxes in one day. *grin*

DIY Touchscreen Gloves–indulging my inner geek

My one coveted pair of touchscreen gloves, that came as swag in last year’s Run in the New Year 5k, were ‘accidentally’ carried off by my nephew at the end of that very cold but exciting night of college football back in November.  I’ve put him on notice that I will be coming to retrieve them.  But in the meantime, because I need to use my phone when bicycling and running in the cold, I experimented this week with diy options.

In searching online for diy touchscreen gloves, I learned about conductive thread, that can be purchased and knitted (or crocheted) onto the fingertips of an existing pair of gloves.  The reviews are mixed.  I have a hunch this is because people don’t make sure the thread goes all the way through to make good contact with both the fingertip and phone screen.  I considered buying a spool of the conductive thread, which would have made a lot of touchscreen gloves.  But then, I was at a Radio Shack store this past weekend, and happened to see this Graphite Conductive Glue.  radio-shack-conductive-glue

I forked over $6 for the tiny tube, and came home to try it out.  The result is, it was super easy and the gloves work great!

Here’s what I did:

First, I protected my fingers with ordinary invisible tape, because the label says the glue can be a skin irritant.

tape-fingers-rsr

Then I put the gloves on and carefully applied the glue in a circle on the forefinger and thumb contact points.  I used a circular motion to embed the glue into the fibers and make sure it would go through to the other side of the knitted fabric.  Conductivity from fingers to screen is the key, so a topical application of glue only on the outside of the glove won’t work.  glue-on-glove-rsr

To further insure that the glue would penetrate to the other side of the fabric, I pressed my fingers together.  I did this carefully, so as not to smudge the neat circles.  (I did smudge them a bit on the first pair.) embedding-glue-rsr

Once I was confident in my technique, I applied the glue to my most favorite old pair of mittens.  I’m happy with the result.  mittens-done-rsrThe glue took about an hour to dry to the touch.  Then I tested them on my tablet.  They work very well!  It’s now a few days later, and they are still working very well.

Here is a quick demo of my ‘new’ diy touchscreen gloves in action.

As you can see, I glued all of the fingers on the glove in the video.  I think this was a waste of glue.  I haven’t needed any fingers other than the thumb and forefinger for operating my phone and tablet.

About that skin irritation warning on the label…I suspect the warning applies only to the glue when wet.  I’ve sensed no irritation from the dried glue whatsoever.  But be careful; heed the warning and watch for signs of possible irritation on your own skin.  And follow the label instructions.  Here is the product MSDS sheet.

Additional notes:

  • The dried glue circles are hard, and not flexible.  I was able to restore enough of the fabric’s flexibility by gently bending and curling the dried glue tips.
  • After doing a total of five gloves so far, I think there is still a lot of glue in the tube.  So one $6 tube is enough to do quite a few gloves.
  • How the glue will hold up in rain, snow or the washing machine is still an open question.  I’ll report back when my gloves have been tested in wet conditions and laundering.