MHL Project Preview: Pink Rose Fascinator

FASCINATOR sounds like a name for an evil siren-like villain, a temptress that could paralyze men with her fatal beauty.

But, really, according to… errr… Wikipedia, a fascinator was originally a “fine, lacy head covering akin to a shawl and made from wool or lace”.  By the 70’s, it had acquired a new meaning: “a delicate, slightly-to-very frivolous head decoration worn almost exclusively by women”.

I like fascinators.  I like women who wear them.  Only the brave and the bold ones (and a few, let’s face it, slightly delusional ones) can wear them with conviction.  Sometimes, I see women who wear flowered or frilled headbands but I feel they lack confidence to go for the real attention-getter version.  For the shy and reserved me, a fascinator is an ATTITUDE BAROMETER.  If I wake up one day and itch to wear one, I know that I’m feeling very good about myself.

I made this pretty Pink Rose Fascinator using tulle and felt.  I sewed everything together.  I understand why some people prefer using the glue gun for their projects, but I’ve always had an aversion to gluing things I wear.  I’ve had a couple of those in the past and they never last because, after a while, the glue gives up.  It also ruins the fabric, and makes it useless for recycling.

When I wore this out, I was feeling pretty good about myself.  I noticed some curious stares but, thankfully, I never got ones that said: “what-was-she-thinking?”  A couple women stared at my head then gave me an approving nod.  A guy passed me and said, “Hey, nice hair thingie”.  So I’m pretty pleased with it.

I know, I know.  The Pink Rose Fascinator is quite understated, almost conservative.  One day, I’m going to make a big one — a real show stopper!  One that would say: “Hey, Everybody!  I feel snazzy today!  Look at me!!!”  And if I’m brave, I’d wear it in public.  It would be the perfect thing to wear to a performance. Imagine that!  Me rocking Mildred with a huge freaking fascinator topping my head!!!

Possibly after downing a glass of wine.

MHL Upcycle: Make Accessories from an Old Belt, Part 2

Hello, lovelies!  This is part two of my latest MHL Upcycle.  If you haven’t read part one, I featured a leather bag tag I made from a old red leather belt I got at Union Thrift.   Today I’ll be sharing the other accessory I made: the silver studded leather cuff.

I’m really excited about this one. 🙂  Here it is!

For this project, I used the hole-y end of the belt (haha!).

It took me some time to figure out how to keep the cuff in place.  In the end, I decided to use large snaps.  I measured the cuff and marked where the snaps should be.  I used a push pin to make holes into the tough leather (again, with lots of elbow grease), and threaded in some wire to keep the snap in place.

Then I attached the partner snap on the other end.  Now, since this is the visible end of the cuff, I added a silver rectangular bead on the opposite side to hide the wires.  This bead also gives me something to hold on to when I’m snapping the cuff closed.

To cover the belt holes, I chose more silver beads.  The first picture shows that I used more of the silver butterflies that I used for my leather bag tag, but I actually ended up alternating them with rose-engraved round beads.  I just threaded the beads this time using brown nylon thread.  Wires would have been less comfy against the skin.

Now, here’s a very good tip.  Wonder why both projects don’t show signs of having been cut?  It’s because I coated the exposed leather with dark red nail polish.  Good, eh?  It also helps protect the leather from wear and tear.

So, there it is!  My very own one-of-a-kind silver studded leather cuff!  I’ve been wearing it for the past couple of days and it’s a delight to look at.  I’m also happy to report that, so far, the snaps have kept it on my wrist even as I’m doing my chores.

I still have some parts of the belt: 7 silver animals, bits of red leather, and a silver buckle.  I have yet to think of a project for them but I know I’ll cook something up eventually.

I hope you enjoyed this project!  Have a lovely day! (Blows a kiss.)

MHL Upcycle: Make Accessories from an Old Belt, Part 1

A couple of weeks ago, B. and I went to the newly opened Union Thrift store.  I went wild at their crafts aisle and bought a whole bunch of stuff mostly for 50 cents each.  I was also able to get a dark blue suede jacket and a couple of belts.  One of the belts that I got was made of sturdy red leather.  It wasn’t really my style and it was worn out in many parts, but it had these adorable silver animal embellishments that I knew I could use for a project or two.  I bought it even though, apart from cutting it up to ‘save’ the silver animals, I didn’t really know what else to do with it.

A couple of days ago, getting tired from sewing my baby pink flowers, I took a rest and started tinkering with the red belt.  While I was removing the animals, I realized I could actually make a couple of accessories: a leather bag tag and a silver studded leather cuff.

First, the leather bag tag!

I decided to use the buckle end of the belt for the bag tag.  Fortunately, the buckle could easily be removed because it was kept in place with snap buttons.  So, snap-snap.  I’m keeping this buckle for a future project.  I went through my craft things and found a silver butterfly bead, a plastic key tag, and a ring binder.  I made holes in the leather using a push pin and elbow grease (it was really tough leather!), and kept the elements in place with pliers and some wire.

Tadaaa!

It’s simple, sturdy, functional, and very pretty.  I enjoy how the red pops against this black leather bag (which is vintage Coach, by the way, which I thrifted for a dollar!)

Watch out for Part 2: my silver studded leather cuff!

Neck-Deep in Flowers

This is what have been keeping my hands busy.

Before Goodwill stashed their winter wear away for the summer, I was able to score a few wool sweaters for felting.  I found this large baby pink one that I almost didn’t get because it had a huge hideous butterfly design in front.  But I figured I could still end up with a lot of baby pink material despite of it.  The color became even lovelier after felting, so every time I see them now, I high-five myself for not leaving it behind.  By the way, this is the same sweater I used for two past projects: my pink hat and orchid cuff.

I’m not quite ready to reveal them, but I made prototypes for a flower garland and fascinator.  Whenever I have a prototype ready, I work on one task at a time.  Meaning I don’t make one flower at a time.  Instead, I finish a task then move on to the next.  Yes, for the past two weeks I’ve been a floral factory worker.

I have to work this way to be more efficient and productive.  Remember Adam Smith’s definition of division of labor and his pin factory example where each worker does one task repeatedly?  When I heard that in class I realized I could be one of those pin factory workers because that’s how I labor (haha).  The repetitiveness helps me produce more efficiently.  The downside is, and he speaks of this also, that the workers are in danger of tiring themselves mentally and losing enthusiasm for their work.  He calls it mental mutilation.  After many afternoons of doing nothing but cutting up hundreds of baby pink petals, I fully agree.  Dang, I feel mentally mutilated.

There’s another more embarrassing reason why I’m forcing myself to work this way.  If I had been left to my own devices without a deadline, I probably would have moved on after I had finished the prototype and tinkered with something else.  I tinker, therefore I am.  Other designers and artists have the luxury of staff, assistants, and apprentices to duplicate their prototypes so they can tackle the next idea.  But me?  I’m all alone.  Seriously.  Didn’t I just mention high-fiving myself?  Waah.

Not that I’m complaining.

I’m doing this because I love it.  And when I get into that mental duh state, I allow myself a quickie tinker or music break then go back to work.  I think of this part of the creative process as the scales and other exercises a pianist needs to do to be able to flawlessly play the masterpiece later.  It’s like delayed gratification, really.  I know there’s a reward at the end of this flower assembly line.

So, I’ve finished cutting up petals and hand-sewing them into flowers.  I’ve cut felt circles and am currently sewing them unto the back of the flowers.

I also made bead chains from scratch using baby pink faux pearls, purple stones and crystals, and lots and lots of wires.  Later, I will add embellish the flowers then sew on the bead chains.  Still so much to do!

Frankly, my hands hurt from all the cutting, sewing, and wiring that everyday I wake up with fingers frozen stiff.  It’s been so bad that it’s become B.’s ritual to help me unfold them in the morning.  First, a snuggly kiss, then the unfolding.

Oh boy! That sounds positively randy.  I should end this post with a wink.

Three Projects, a Steal, and an Outfit for a Sunny Day

Smile, lovelies!

*Click!*

It’s sunny today and B. and I are going for a walk around the campus to stare at the flowering trees and bushes.  I decided to blend in the flora’s purple and pink splendor with this outfit.  I finally get to show some skin and feel the sun.

There’s a downside to all of this warmth, though, and it is this: I can no longer hide my body under layers of clothes.  This means I have to face what I’ve piled on to my body during the winter (darn you, Persian and Indian buffets!).  All the flab and the lumps — arghhh!  I hate them!  I keep telling myself, tomorrow I will start working out again.  Do some running now that it’s warmer.  Maybe do some kickboxing.  Go to the neighborhood gym especially since it’s free.  But it’s sooooo difficult to take that first step.  Please, SOMEBODY SLAP ME so I can move my butt to the treadmill!

Anyways, I’ve been busy with three little projects.  I made two hats.  Well, I thrifted the hats then altered/embellished them to make them more ME.

First, the ombre berry hat.  It was ugly when I thrfited it back home.  Hideous, even!  It had all these leatherette cords and yucky brown flowers around it.  Plus it was wide-brimmed and really silly.  But I loved the color and it was good quality felt.

What I did:  I shortened the brim and used the cut material as a band.  Then I cut some leaf shapes and sewed them onto the band. Voila!

Second, the baby pink angora cloche.  I thrifted this hat from Goodwill for $2.59.  I bought it because I had an angora scarf with the same color.  When I got home, I realized that the wool sweater I bought for felting was the same exact color, too!  Talk about serendipity!  I had finished felting it and I knew I could use it to embellish the hat. 🙂

What I did:  I felted the wool sweater then cut out leaf and flower shapes.  Sewed them onto the cloche.  Tadaaa!!!

Now, the third is what I call the orchid cuff and it’s also made from the wool sweater that I felted.  Look:

Staring at it now, it looks more like an angel than an orchid.  It’s still a work in progress, though.  I’m trying to see what else I can add to it.

Then, a steal.  But first, a confession: I have a lot of sunglasses.  Aviators, angled and round ones, huge ones, tiny ones… A lot.  But when I saw these purple sunnies…

… and for $1.29 (brand new at the clearance rack at Burlington Coat Factory), I just couldn’t resist it!

As for my outfit, I’m wearing a blue-violet shift dress that I think I will shorten just a little.   Don’t you think taking two inches off it would make it flare out less awkwardly?

On top, I have on a very thin color-blocked cardigan which is quite fun, actually, because you can button it up in different ways.  I left it open today because it was very hot.

My necklace was given to me by a fellow musician, Bayang Barrios, who is also one of the most talented performers in my country.  She and I got to know each other during my theater days and renewed that friendship during my musical stint in Korea.  She surprised me with this handmade necklace when we got home.  Thanks again, Bayang! 🙂

And for my footwear: Dansko sandals, the comfiest pair you can wear on your feet.  I mean it!  They’re a bit expensive, though, ranging from $110 to $125.

But I got mine for $3 back home.  Thrifted and almost brand new!  I’m so lucky!  Woohooo!!!

Err… Don’t hate me.

Teehee!

Spicy!

The sun finally chose to kick the dark clouds away and rule the skies for the whole day.  So I celebrated the warmth by wearing

  • my short frilly maroon dress that I thrifted back home,
  • semi-sheer maroon tights,
  • tall fitted black boots,
  • black straw hat,
  • and brown sunnies.

Shhh… you know, the maroon dress wasn’t really that short when I bought it.  It was above my knees and very loose.  It also had these holes in the front that I planned to fix.  But I when I got here, not having any idea what heat can do to wool when in the dryer, it shrunk!  The great thing about the shrinkage is that the holes shrunk as well.  In fact, they disappeared. (Magic!)

It’s the shortest dress I ever wore in my whole life but I felt secure because of the tights.  (Plus I wore B.’s black boxers on top of my tights — heehee!)  When I wore it last Saturday, B. liked it and I even got a compliment when we went shopping.

Short as it was, this dress was perfect for our plan to pig out at Shish Kebab, the Persian buffet near our place.  If you like delicious Persian or spicy food, you’d love Shish Kebab.  I know I do.  And just to show you how sweet my man is: he can’t stand spicy food but will eat there with me because he knows I love it.  Poor guy, he sweats and turns red in the face while eating but smiles bravely when I ask him if he’s having fun.

A lot of people get digestive problems after eating hot or spicy food, but not me!  I’m fine.  No problems alimentary or digestive problems AT ALL.  I think my tongue, stomach, and other digestive parts were really made for hot and spicy food.

My love for spicy and hot food is also very evident at home.  If you open our fridge, this is the first thing you’ll see:

When we bought this huge bottle of Jalapenos at Sam’s, B. asked: are you sure you’ll be able to finish that before it expires?

I finished it in less than a month.

MHL Tutorial: Make 3 New Accessories from an Old Sweater

Hello, lovelies!  How do you feel about recycling?

I think I’ve mentioned that I am all for it . If it’s not ratty, smelly, soiled, or tattered beyond repair, I usually keep old clothes in the hopes of turning them into something new.

If you look around Etsy, you’d notice some sellers using the tag “upcycled“, instead of recycled.  Upcycling was a term coined by one Reiner Pilz in the mid-90’s to describe reusing things by giving them more value, not less.  The opposite of upcycling is downcycling (duh) where materials are converted into something of lesser quality.

For example, an old T-shirt could be downcycled by turning it into a rag.  You’re recycling it but it has been downgraded.  Now, if you turn that T-shirt into a dress, then you’re upcycling it.

For this tutorial, I used a child’s old sweater and upcycled it into 3 new accessories: a knitted hat, arm warmers, and a headband.  I got this sweater from a Freecycler who had kids.  (If you haven’t heard of Freecycle yet, visit their website.  I’ll make a post about it one of these days, don’t you worry.)  It’s quite easy and you don’t even need a sewing machine for this project.

What You Need: scissors, a seam ripper, needle and thread, and a child’s old sweater (the label says 4/5).

How to Make your Arm Warmers:  Let’s go through this clockwise, shall we?

Just make sure to reinforce the stitching around your thumb hole so it won’t fray.  Here’s the finished product:

How to Make your Knitted Hat:  Clockwise, please.

The result:

Joyful fell in love with the hat.   He thought he and it shared the same nose.  Teehee!

How to Make your Headband:

Just carefully cut out.  This will only work if your sweater has a band like mine does.

I wasn’t able to take a photo of me wearing the headband.  My hair got flattened from being hidden under a knitted hat since morning.

That’s it, lovelies!  I hope this inspires you to recycle or upcycle.  Let’s keep still usable things from landfills, everyone!  Have a lovely Sunday.  See you Monday! 🙂