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A Blazer For Every Occasion

A Blazer For Every Occasion

Have you ever wondered about the origin of that closet staple, the blazer? Likely closets everywhere have at least one of these in residence. It would be tough indeed to find another garment with such broad style range, and one that serves us in so many ways throughout our lives. So varied is the blazer that it can top off your power interview outfit or lend you ultra coolness for your next rockshow.

From around 1825 to the Mod revival of the late 70s through today, the blazer has done it all! The Wiki history of this iconic wardrobe staple makes for entertaining reading:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blazer

100_1754 (2) 100_1764 (2)

 

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How To Machine Wash Embellished And Painted Denim

 

So you’ve got this great, one-of-a-kind denim jacket, jeans or vest-but how do you wash it? You can, of course, carefully do it by hand in a large sink or tub, but that can be really tough on your back and even tougher to wring the water out without damaging the piece. Machine washing is the easier way, and achieves a far better result.

1. Empty all pockets, button and/or zip all closures.

2. Fold like a shirt. If you have jeans, fold in half with front of legs touching, then into thirds.Fold like shirt front 1Fold like shirt rear 2

3. Use a lingerie bag, inexpensive and readily available in most markets and department stores.

This one is 16.5″ X 20.5″.Use large lingerie bag 3

4. Carefully fit the “package” into the lingerie bag; it should be mostly flat.

Fit into bag carefully
Fit into bag carefully

5. Set your machine to cold/delicate/cold rinse/medium size load (if your machine does not have a sensor), and wash with one other denim item of similar weight. Use just a tablespoon of your usual detergent.Cold wash 5

6. Flat dry on drying rack. Denim can also be hung to dry. DO NOT put such items in the dryer, and use care with an iron. DO NOT iron trims or paint.Dry flat 6

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Craft Fair Betty 4

100_1618My booth at the local downtown festival was a success last weekend! I was grateful to have had a loaned tent, and some assistance early the first morning setting it up. Having never dealt with an event tent, I was unaware that putting it up solo would have been nearly impossible for me. And by the time the temperature climbed to 102 that day, I was just grateful for the tent, period!

But before the heat really cranked up, I set up my space. I covered Uncle Bob’s old sway-backed folding table with gorgeous red fabric that had  once served as floor length dining room curtains. On top of that went two guitar stands holding small handbags. A couple of jackets hung from my mic stand, configured into a T. The clothing rack picked up through Craigslist held most of the jackets and vests, a thrift store black metal cd tower held a couple more. At the back of the tent I hung an old black mosquito net on its round frame. Lastly, I had Marvin the Martian holding down my band’s tiny merch table near the front. My trusty old amp cart made hauling all this stuff from car to space easy.

The two days were long and very hot. Planning ahead with an ice chest full of water, some cold salads and a washcloth for bringing my body temperature down helped tremendously. The ice chest kept me about as comfortable as I could be and allowed me to schmooze with a smile. When the afternoon breeze came along, the black mosquito net flowed luxuriously. The feedback was great! Even dubious looks from passersby counted as feedback in my book! But many were jazzed with some of the items, and some even took home things-ten items sold over the two days!

I may do another such event over the summer. I’ve not decided yet whether the purchase of an event tent is worth it, or if it’s even the direction I want to go in. However, this experience made me realize how much I miss doing vis-`a-vis retail. We’ll see!

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Craft Fair Betty 3

So I’m two weeks away from the craft fair, and still working on the booth props and decor. I’ve found a simple garment rack on wheels for $10 through Craigslist, and a tall, metal CD storage tower for $5 at a local thrift shop. These should serve for a hanging display for jackets and vests.
Spied a really beautiful piece (well, two pieces in fact) of green fabric for .25 that became a banner after sewing together and finishing the edges. I then used some leftover fabric paint for lettering, and twine for stringing up.
Banner
I am thinking about some of the elaborate booths I’ve seen online and off, and hope that I can somehow duplicate a bit of an element of invite into mine; I’m actually toying with the idea of bringing some of my musical gear to use purely as props.
What invites you into a craft fair  booth?

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Craft Fair Betty 2

After thinking it over, I’ve decided to rent a booth at an upcoming outdoor event here in Downtown Carson City. My desire to witness reactions to these first pieces of Betty Rockwear outweighs my desire to keep the cash in the bank…
And it’s not only the booth space fee! Those of you savvy in the world of craftfairdom know that that is simply the beginning-ha! Table, tent, fabric for draping, garment rack and/or grid for clothing display, and surely many things not yet thought of will have to be assembled in the very near future. I am excited by the idea of creating a vibrant display space, and on such short notice!

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Craft Fair Betty 1

I’m thinking about renting a booth space for an upcoming outdoor event here in Downtown Carson City. Doing so would, hopefully, allow me to gauge reactions of so many pairs of eyes, and if I’m lucky, make a few sales. If there’s a tentative feel to this post, it’s because this would be almost a first for me. Many years ago, I accompanied an artist acquaintance to one of those huge festivals in Half Moon Bay, California. He made gorgeous glass and foil earrings, and for this particular event needed to fill a bit of booth space. At the time I was making simple beaded jewelry for gifts to friends and family, and he invited me to bring my stockpiled items along. I was pleasantly surprised when almost all of it sold.  Since then, the most unusual thing I’ve sold are whole wheat peanut butter-chocolate chip muffins at our tiny merch table in a bar for a Betty Rocker show.  At the time, I felt fairly silly making all those muffins, thinking I’d be bringing home way too many of those high-calorie things;  again I was pleasantly surprised when the muffins-turned-cash got to go into the gas tank of the pickup truck to lug all the gear home, over an hour away.
So now I’m thinking about gambling a bit of money for booth space and participating in this event.  I’m curious to see if I’m way off base with my denim mods. If you have a story about debuting something and how it went over, I’d love to hear it.

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How Short Is Too Short?

I have a terrific fashion guide book from the early 80s, Short Chic by Allison Kyle Leopold and Anne Marie Cloutier.  I’ve been turning to this wonderful book, directed at women under 5′ 4″, for all these years; it’s one of those timeless reference books that applies at any age or stylistic inclination, and indeed there’s much good fashion sense in there regardless of height. Continue reading How Short Is Too Short?

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Embellish A Denim Vest With Lace For Less!

I think I must have seen a thousand denim jackets and vests today-truly! Some weeks back I glimpsed a very slighted modded denim jacket in a mall shop in Reno for around $50. So today I went on the hunt for an inspiration jacket or vest that would be simple to recreate at home with basic sewing skills, for much less. My field trip took me in and out of Bebe, J. Crew, Gap, Dillard’s, Chico’s, Tilly’s, Old Navy, Banana Republic, Maurice’s, and finally, Rue 21, where I found my inspiration piece. Randomly checking price tags showed a range of $26.99 up to $128, with most of the pieces priced in the middle. That’s a good chunk of money for something that functions mostly as an accessory in the wardrobes of many.

Here is the inspiration vest spotted at the mall for $26.99:

The lace on this vest is sewn in the inside of the cutout, allowing the edge fray to be highly visible. The trashy chic of this piece is a bit over the top for me, and appears overly contrived and downright cheesy. $26.99…really?
Inspiration vest

Later, at the Salvation Army thrift store, I found this printed denim jacket:

Project vest
The price for this one was $4.99, but I was in luck-today all green tags were 50% off, so the jacket was just $2.49! My plan is to remove the sleeves, add a lace inset to outside of the yoke cutout, and run some color matched eyelet around the bottom edge. Maybe some studs or buttons if the mood strikes… maybe not… I believe it will look super over a summer dress or tee!

My next stop was Mill End Fabrics http://www.millendfabricsreno.com/contact-us, a fantastic local shop where one can purchase trim as needed, rather than as packaged:
Lace trim at Mill End Fabrics
From all of this and more, I chose some eyelet lace (currently enjoying quite the comeback!) and lace panel for the project vest:
Trim & receipt project vest
All that I need for the project, plus a bit extra, cost just .97!

First, some simple prep work and gathering of supplies and then, off to the work table…
I washed the jacket and trims in cold water. Best to put the trims in a lingerie bag and let hang dry, which takes almost no time at all.
For this project you’ll need: sewing machine, thread, pins, sharp fabric scissors, any button or studs you may wish to put on at finish, and less than an hour. You may want to press the jacket, but just out of the dryer ought to be fine for this project. Something I recently learned and would like to pass on is to never use waxed thread. This is intended for ease in hand sewing, and could damage your machine.

First, cut off both sleeves:
Blog 2 remove sleeve
Then, carefully trim edge that is behind the outer finished edge.

A good pair of sharp fabric scissors make this easy, with a neat finish.
Blog 2 trim sleeve

Next, cut out both front yokes, leaving between 1/4 ” and 1/2″ from existing seaming.
Blog 2 cut out yoke

Pin lace over cutout, using plenty of pins to avoid shifting. Take advantage of any nicely finished edges in your lace, as here on the bottom edge. Place to avoid trimming finished edge later.
A tip: Those thin, flexible plastic chopping boards? Placed under fabric, make for really easy pinning.
Pin lace on outside

Sew lace over both openings using zigzag stitch. Then trim excess lace as desired.
Blog 2 sew lace inset

On this vest I chose to add eyelet trim along the bottom. You may choose to sew this over outside edge, or along inside for a more subtle effect. Use plenty of pins.
Blog 2 sew eyelet around bottom edge

I also decided, as I often do, to give the vest a bit of a rocker edge with some low profile stainless steel studs from Studs & Spikes http://www.studsandspikes.com/blue buttons would have also been a fun choice.

Finished close up

And here we are, all finished and ready for Spring and Summer or Fall-enjoy!
Finished and ready for Spring and Summer!

Shop for upcycled and embellished jackets and vests here!

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Thee Reverend of Fashion

Rory Dowd
Thee Reverend Rory Dowd

On a rare, rainy Friday evening in downtown Carson City, Nevada, recently I was lucky enough to sit down for coffee with Thee Reverend Rory Dowd, familiar to many as a longtime player in Reno’s lively, unique and ever evolving arts and music scene http://www.worstlittlepodcast.com/.  Sitting alongside us, and offering up a little of her own savvy, was Carolyn Gates, drummer of many years in the great indie band Blunderbusst,  these days singer and bassist in Betty Rocker https://www.facebook.com/betterbettyrocker and, on top of all that, quite the fashionista herself. Continue reading Thee Reverend of Fashion