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Fashion Challenge: Vintage Ralph Lauren Sweaters

Fashion Challenge: Vintage Ralph Lauren Sweaters

We love a great sweater, especially when we find it at the thrift store! Finding a quality sweater second hand often means finding a piece from a great brand. If the item is high quality to begin with, chances are it will hold up to, and maybe even be improved by, some gentle wear. Lindee and I found that some of our favorite thrifted sweaters are from the same brand- Ralph Lauren. We have worn R.L. sweaters in past posts and many times in daily life. If you haven’t already, check out Ralph Lauren’s Fall ’18 fashion show here at Vogue.com to see lots of sweatery, layer, texture-y greatness! We enjoyed the show so much that we decided to put together our own mini Ralph Lauren Tribute using favorite thrift store treasures. You may even spot some celebrities…

I was lucky enough to find this sweater at a second-hand boutique. The style is so classic that I don’t think it will ever go out of style! Those preppy stripes inspired me to wear the sweater in our  Fashion Challenge: Wannabe French post. The sweater’s best feature is a super comfy fit- not too blousy, not too tight, not too warm, not too drafty, and 100% cotton!

I styled the sweater with my vintage Levis from our Fashion Challenge: 1990’s Pants, cowboy boots, bandana, and a fav thrifted newsboy hat.

Lindee scored a Ralph Lauren sweater this fall! She couldn’t resist that preppy, patriotic flag! She paired the sweater with vintage high-waisted jeans.

Although the flag motif is classic, the cropped length of the sweater suggests that it’s from the 1990’s. Since cropped sweaters are popular again, Lindee’s find was particularly timely!

This next sweater is another thrift store score! I was super excited to find a wardrobe staple in such great shape! For this picture, I paired the sweater with a vintage wool skirt, but I regularly wear it with jeans and flats!

I looove that cowl neckline- it’s flattering while still not exposing one to too much cold or too much sweater warmth! Classics are classic for a reason.

Lindee first wore this vintage bear sweater for our Sweater-vember: Thrift Store Sweater Challenge! Although she wasn’t too sure at first, I convinced her to try this hand-knit, iconic piece. I love how she turned the preppy vibe a little more woodsy with the addition of a beanie, denim, and lace-up boots. 

Turns out, Lindee wasn’t the only one styling this sweater! WOAH! Kanye West was apparently trying to copy her style!!! Lindee discovered his picture here at Spott while researching this trade mark Ralph Lauren piece!

I may be biased, but I know who I would pick in a “who-wore-it-better” competition! 😉 Of course, new bear sweaters made appearances in the recent Ralph Lauren show! So Cute!

The next time you are thrifting, keep your eyes open for Ralph Lauren gems! They are sure to make appearances in your cold weather wardrobe for years to come. Just make sure the Kanye doesn’t spot that bear sweater before you do… 

1920’s Dress from Polo Shirt

1920’s Dress from Polo Shirt

I *love* re-fashioning thrift store staples into unique, historically-inspired outfits! Oversized polo shirts are ideal for such projects, since they are easy to find and are practically dresses already! With the addition of some coordinating fabric and elbow grease, my polo shirt will become a drop-waist dress inspired by the 1920’s. Calling all flappers: it’s time to get sewing!

Step 1: Find a big men’s polo shirt at your local thrift store. The longer the shirt, the better! Look for a shirt that is a color/pattern that can easily coordinate with other fabric. Also watch out for stains and signs of noticeable wear. Step 1.5: Goofily pose in your shirt after washing it!

 Gather a skirt-sized piece of coordinating fabric, and make sure it is washed and somewhat wrinkle-free. This fabric will become the “skirt” part of the drop-waist dress.  Lay your shirt out flat and smooth out the wrinkles (iron if necessary).


Now it’s time to re-fashion that polo! I folded the shirt in half, being careful to smooth out all wrinkles. I pinned the side and shoulder seams to keep the fabric from moving around.

Next, I got out a loosely-fitting Tshirt  to use as a pattern. A word of warning: DO NOT use a snug or even perfectly-fitting shirt as a pattern, or you will cut your polo shirt too small! This dress is meant to hang loosely on the body, so cut bigger than you think you will need. (Learn from the voice of experience, People!) You can see in the picture that I measured about 2 inches of EXTRA fabric around the body of the T shirt before cutting the polo. I did cut off most of the polo’s sleeves.

Next, I needed do some prep work before hemming the side seams of the polo. First, I used the Tshirt to help me guess how high the side seams should be sewn under the arm. I marked this with fabric chalk. I also measured several inches up from the bottom hem of the shirt and marked this spot on both side seams. This marking will remind me to not stitch all the way to the bottom of the shirt.

I sewed the side seams using a large, loose stitch and standard seam allowances. (Be sure to use the right kind of needle for your fabric, which in my case was knit!) I stopped stitching several inches from the bottom of the shirt, as I had marked off earlier. I tried on the shirt, and found that it was too big and the seams needed to go higher under the arms. I used rulers and chalk to measure where I thought the seams needed to be. As before, I sewed the seems and tried on the shirt. Better this time!

During all this trying on, I found that the sleeves were way too long. I left about an inch of sleeve beyond the shoulder seam, then cut the rest off.

After another just-to-double-check-try-on, I determined where the finalized side seams should be. I then stitched the seams using a stitch designed to both bind and serge the seams in knit fabric. In the picture, you can see how many tries it took me before I liked the placement of the seam! You can trim some of the extra fabric off after you sew the final seam.

Once the shirt portion of the dress fit, I turned my attention to the skirt. I laid the two pieces of skirt fabric out flat, then folded the double layer in half. I lined up this skirt fabric with the folded shirt. I cut the skirt so that it began the same width as the bottom of the shirt, and then increased to a slight a-line towards the hem.

Here are the skirt pieces once cut. (The pieces appear to be slightly different sizes in the picture, but they are actually the same.)

Next, I pinned the skirt pieces to the bottom hems of the shirt. One skirt piece got pinned to the shirt front, the other to the shirt back. (Remember: the side seams of the shirt were not yet stitched all the way to the bottom of the shirt. This allowed me to work with the front and back of the shirt individually, since they were not fully attached to each other.) I liked the look of the shirt’s hem, so I kept that as a flap with the skirt pinned behind it.

I pinned and stitched the skirt pieces to the shirt pieces. 

With the skirt pieces sewn to the shirt, it was finally time to extend the side seams all the way to the hem of the skirt. I pinned and sewed!

After trying on the dress, I decided to shorten the skirt a couple inches so that it reached right below my knee. I saved the trimmed fabric for later use!

Now to finish those sleeves. I simply folder under the extra fabric extending beyond the shoulder seam and pinned it in place. Stitched that in place and the “sleeve” was done.

I had just enough fabric trimmings left to make a couple accessories! (Nothing like some custom detailing to make a re-made dress look vintage!) The strip of gray fabric became a sailor-like necktie. The blue circles would morph into a flower that could be clipped to my hat.

I cut out petals from the circles and cut small pieces of black felt for the backing. I stacked the flowers from largest to smallest, attaching each new flower layer with hot glue.

A cute lil’ button became the center of the flower, while a piece from the shirt’s hem acted as leaves.


The circle of felt became the base of the flower, while the rectangle secured the hair clip to the base.  I used my E6000 glue to attach the hair clip to the felt.

I couldn’t wait to style my newly-made dress! The addition of my favorite cloche hat and vintage-y shoes completed the look!

Find similar styles (here)!
And here!

Of course, I also added my homemade accessories and a LOT of eyeliner! Check out this historically-inspired 1920’s makeup tutorial (here) for more ideas! Much fun!

This 1920’s outfit makes me want to dance!

Hey, Flappers! Who’s ready for a polo shirt dance party?!

Fashion Challenge: A Week of 70’s and 80’s Dresses

Fashion Challenge: A Week of 70’s and 80’s Dresses

I am always on the hunt for vintage dresses during my thrift store adventures! Only recently, however, did I notice a collection of dresses from the 1970’s and 80’s beginning to take over my closet. When I was gifted a box of additional dresses from those decades, I concluded that the only solution was… to give myself a fashion challenge! Could I possibly wear 70’s and 80’s dresses for a week? The following rules applied: Rule #1: No period-specific vintage looks allowed. Bring the dress to the present. Rule #2: Only minor alterations/repairs (such as removal of shoulder pads) can be made on any dress. Rule #3: The outfit must actually be worn in public. Rule #4 Related experiences and conclusions must be documented for educational purposes. Obviously.

Day 1: Striped Polyester Dress

I began the week with this vibrant shirt dress from the 1970’s. I was feeling admittedly self-conscious, so I kept my makeup classic and jewelry modern. A belt was totally necessary to rein in some of that polyester, while a navy cami warded off wardrobe malfunctions. The addition of navy lace-up boots was a little weird, but I rolled with it. I was somewhat surprised to get some compliments on the dress and its colors. I guess we need more blue, navy, black, mauve, and magenta dresses in the world? My only real issue with the dress was the limited breathability of the polyester. It was a LOT of polyester.

Day 2: Black Knit Dress

As soon as I put this dress on, I was struck by how comfortable it was! With the addition of a black cami underneath, the bat wing sleeves and draped front were super flattering and allowed for excellent mobility. I stuck with minimalist shoes, but threw in some cheeky jewelry for necessary irreverence. (Check out my irreverent necklace-making tutorial here.) While wearing the dress, I felt that it didn’t appear blatantly vintage but could pass for a contemporary piece. One downside, however, was that the bat-wing sleeves don’t fit well in my everyday denim jacket. Since I love this dress, I will simply have to buy one of those chic wrap/shawls this season. No problem there.

Day 3: Cotton Gold, Green, and Black Dress.

This was probably one of the easiest dresses to wear, as there was no cami required. I was thrilled to find that my antiqued gold jewelry and olive boots were my definition of a perfect match. Although I could have added a belt to my accessories, simplicity seemed to be the more modern choice. My one issue with the dress was the smallness of the cuffs, even when unbuttoned. Thankfully, the day was not warm enough to require rolled sleeves.

Day 4: Green Draped-front Dress

Warm weather returned to the forecast, making me grateful for short sleeves, although a white cami was necessary. The synthetic fabric was slightly scratchy, but I liked the drape of bodice and skirt. I was excited to find an excuse to wear a great 1950’s statement necklace! (I concluded that this was NOT a violation of rule #1, as the necklace and dress were from different decades.) I wore the ensemble to work, despite the fact that it was casual friday. My colleagues were noticeably puzzled, but I had a fashion challenge to uphold! Conclusion:  great outfit, best for a non-Friday day.

Day 5: 1970’s Sundress 

I saved this great, Gunny Sax-esque dress for the weekend. Although it required some mending, the dress was surprisingly comfortable with cotton fabric and smocked bodice. The weather was downright hot, so I accessorized with a large hat and somewhat ugly sandals. As I went for an afternoon walk, I felt that I was in keeping with the hippy vibe.

Day 6: Pink, Purple, and Black Floral Dress

I originally bought this vibrant dress for a vintage photoshoot, but the rules for the week’s challenge excluded such outfits. There was nothing left to do but to embrace the brightness and boldness of the dress… And add layers, lots of layers! Our Sunday drive to the coast made a coat, beret, big sunglasses, and surprisingly matching scarf allowable. To add to the experience, I adopted the clashing-shoes-worn-with-dresses trend and wore lace-up boots. I concluded that I looked like a spy villian in an 1980’s movie. My disguise was apparently effective, as some acquaintances passed right by me without recognition!  Perhaps there is something to be said for the spy business. Otherwise, the outfit was very comfortable- I needed the layers for warmth but enjoyed the swishiness of the dress. Perhaps I could be a spy on holiday.

Day 7: Red Knit Dress

I was REALLY looking forward to wearing this dress, which was surprisingly classic and comfortable. The undergarments, or more specifically the dress’s need for specific undergarments, let me down! The knit fabric turned out to be quite thin and sheer. I tried every basic-colored slip I had and even made Amazon purchases to no avail. My last-ditch option will be a red, full-length slip from Amazon that might possibly be the right color. Stayed tuned for the future conclusion of this post. Darn the 1980’s…


The Sarong- An Almost Instant Dress

The Sarong- An Almost Instant Dress

Ever really want a new dress for the weekend but have NO interest in sewing or searching stores? Enter the Sarong, a giant piece of fabric that, with a little help, can become clothing! When the dress-urge hit me, I was grateful to discover just such a piece of fabric in my stash. The piece was about 3 yards long and about a foot and a half shorter than myself. The fabric was somewhat drapey and featured a hippy-ish print as a bonus. Although I could have hemmed the raw edges, I skipped this step in the name of hippy-ness. (It helped that the fabric didn’t ravel very much.)

There are many ways to tie a sarong, but this is the easiest way I have found to get the most coverage from the final result. When wearing the sarong as a dress, I wear a tank or tube top and a half slip underneath. We don’t want any “wardrobe malfunctions” now do we? To begin, hold the fabric long ways behind you.

Depending on the length of your fabric, hold either the corners of the fabric or places a short distance from the corners. Start to twist the fabric at the two places where you are holding it. Cross the fabric in front of your body.

Almost done! Now take the twisted fabric pieces you are holding and tie them together at the back of your neck.

Ta-da!

I added a belt to create a waistline and to help insure that the wrapped fabric didn’t come unwrapped! Boho jewelry was also a must!

I took my new “dress” out to dinner! 

Upon discovering more fabric, I made matching sarongs for Lindee and I! We wore them as swim cover-ups and discovered that they were very breezy and comfortable. The hippies know a thing or two!

Time to find more fabric!

“Refashioned” Button-Up Shirt

“Refashioned” Button-Up Shirt

 

I love the idea of button-up shirts, but I have a hard time finding ones that fit… Enter the button-up refashion- a project that utilizes a large shirt and transforms it to your specifications! Although this project is pretty straight forward, it does take time. Be sure that you actually like some feature of the large shirt! My shirt came from a fabulous family member who, like me, has a thing for red! I love the color and nautical stripes!

 

 

 

I started out by laying the shirt flat on my work surface and then folding the shirt in half. (In hind sight, I should have put a few pins in strategic places on the shirt when it was laying flat. The pins would have kept the fabric from moving around as much when the shirt was folded.) Next, I used a button up blouse as a “pattern.” Note: Do NOT use a form fitting or stretchy shirt for the pattern! (The button up’s fabric won’t stretch like a T shirt’s fabric would.) You want to cut the button down bigger than you need, then sew it smaller! Notice my ruler in the picture? I used that and a disappearing fabric pen to mark roughly 2 inches extra around my pattern shirt. The added inches will hopefully give me enough fabric for seam allowance AND for adjusting the fit. Better to cut too big than too small!!

 

 

 

 

Turning our attention to the sleeves! I made the decision to go sleeveless after noticing that the shoulder seam of the shirt was long enough to create a cap sleeve length on me. I used my handy dandy ruler and pen to mark about an inch and a half from the shoulder seams. I did this all around the arm and then trimmed the fabric at those marks. Note: In hind sight, I would probably have left 2 inches of fabric past the shoulder seam. Would have made life easier in the next step.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s what the shirt looks like opened up. The side seams have been cut, and the sleeves have been removed. At this point, it’s a great idea to pin the side seams of the shirt closed so you can (carefully) try it on. You want to make sure that the cut shirt is big enough to fit you before you put more work into it. (Have I cut a shirt too small before and had to abandon the project? Yes!)

 

 

 

Now to finish those arm holes! The 1 and a half inches of extra fabric will become a rolled hem around the arm holes. First, I folded the extra fabric until it met the shoulder seam. Then, I folded the folded part over on itself and pinned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is the arm hole in its pinned stage and its finished, stitched-up result!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And now for the body of the shirt! I pinned the side seams closed and quickly stitched with big, loose stitches. At this point, I just wanted to know how the shirt fit. There would be plenty of time for finalized seams later.

 

 

 

The next step took a couple tries. After trying on the shirt, I took the side seams in a bit, stitched them quickly, then tried on the shirt again. I repeated this process until I got a fit that I liked. Eventually, I ended up curving the seams inward slightly near waist level, creating a gradual hourglass shape. I also decided to open the seams several inches from the bottom of the shirt to allow a little extra leaway over my hips and bum. I used the seam allowance to roll mini hems for the openings.

 

 

 

Once I was happy with fit, I made my final hems of the side seams. YIPEE!!!

 

 

 

I could have stopped there, but decided to create a belt for the shirt for a little extra shaping and style! Yes, it was more work (sigh…), but I thought it would increase the ways I could wear the shirt. (Check out next week’s post to see if I was right!) To make the belt, I cut open the sleeves, and attempted to cut 2 strips from each sleeve. I marked off strips that were (I think) 4 inches wide and as long as the sleeve fabric would allow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After cutting the strips to the same length, I pinned the ends right sides together and stitched.  All that work to create a piece of fabric long enough to become a belt!

 

 

 

I folded the long piece of fabric in half with the right sides together. I pinned and then stitched the fabric into a long tube. It took a while, but I eventually turned the tube right side out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To finish the ends, I rolled the raw edges into the tubes. I pinned the openings closed and stitched them. Viola belt!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wore my cute (and comfy!) new top with some favorite homemade cut offs! (To learn how to stamp the strawberries on the hem, check out this post here!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love this new top so much, that I have worn it repeatedly since making it! Stay tuned for some vintage-inspired red n’ white looks next week!

 

Pom Pom Pumpkins!

Pom Pom Pumpkins!

Although I was the last to admit to the end of summer, I am starting to get excited about pumpkin season. After years of living in the area, my husband and I FINALLY visited Hale’s Apple Farm to pick out a pumpkin! AAAH!

There was a rainbow of pumpkins, gourds, and strange squash! We were so inspired, that we picked out some for ourselves and even forced others on family members! IT’S PUMPKIN SEASON, PEOPLE!!

This fortuitous season has provided many excuses for fall projects! (Just visit Pinterest for a huge waft of pumpkin-spiced crafting inspiration! No complaints from me!) These pom pom pumpkins were a fun and super satisfying afternoon project. (I will take any excuse to bust out the fuzzy yarn and pom pom makers!)  There is a possibility that many people I know will soon be receiving some pom-pom-pumpkin-goodness in their lives…

Pumpkin creation was pretty simple: gather supplies, make pom poms following the instructions, fire up the glue gun, insert stems, and then squeal in glee while taking too many pom pom pumpkin pictures! You can find similar pom pom makers on Amazon (here).

Supplies gathered- check! I used one thin yarn and one fluffier one to create different pom pom textures. I also experimented with pipe cleaners, using the thicker, fluffy ones for the large pumpkin stems and thinner pipe cleaners for the small to medium pumpkins. Next, wrap those pom pom makers with as much yarn as you can! (I am just following the instructions included with the pom pom makers for these next few steps.)

Next, trim it the yarn and tie the pieces at the middle using a short piece of yarn and half of a double knot.

  

Check your pom pom maker’s instructions to see how it disassembles to free that pom pom. Pull that half knotted yarn tight before completing the knot around the pom pom.

Next, cut off the long pieces of yarn (unless you want to tie the pom pom to something later. If so, keep those!) I also trimmed some of the yarn from the bottom and top of the pumpkin to give it a less round shape.

Now it’s pipe cleaner time! I cut off a small piece of pipe cleaner, a little longer than twice the length I wanted for the stem. I folded it in half, twisted it around itself, and left the ends poking outward slightly.

Once I had appropriately sized stems, I put a small dab of hot glue as close to the middle of the pom pom as i could. I inserted the stem into the glue and pushed the yarn up around the stem to cover the glue.

Yay! Now it’s time to add these cute little guys to your fall decor! Yay for pumpkin season!!