Friday ReBlog: No Sew DIY Ugly Christmas Sweater Arm Warmers

Yes this is a day early.  If you get inspired by these awesome arm warmers, I want you to be able to go get supplies TODAY and make them TOMORROW in time for any last-minute Christmas shenanigans.  Or, you know, they’d make a nice DIY Saturday AM to cozy up your arms for Christmas Eve.  Your call.

My friend Tracy is an avid thrifter (surprised?) but also much more of a DIY badass than I am.  We went to a holiday party at the house of a mutual friend last weekend and instead of merely thrifting an ugly Christmas sweater to wear (or completely missing that part of the invitation and showing up in regular clothes…whoops, that was me), she thrifted two ugly Christmas sweaters and MADE ARM WARMERS OUT OF THEM.  WITH SAFETY PINS.

It’s like an ugly Christmas sweater had little arm-warming babies with a punk rocker.  Check this out:  v__d4d6

She basically measured the width of her forearm, doubled it, and cut a piece that size from the parts of each sweater she liked.  Then she cut thumb holes (the best) and instead of sewing, she thought “Why not use this pile of safety pins I have lying around?”  Why not, indeed.

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If you were looking to make them last awhile, you could sew instead of pinning and reinforce the thumb holes with hand stitching.  BAM.

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If you and yours are looking for an easy, thriftable, warm, no-sew, and (most importantly) rad Christmas project, get amongst it.  Thanks, Tracy, for sharing!

What are your favorite holiday-related things to thrift?  Scroll down to comment!

 

DIY: In Which I Paint More Shoes

Blog readers who’ve been around since last summer may recall the teak Trotters flats, courtesy of my mother-in-law, which I stripped and repainted champagne.  Well that lovely woman’s feet are the gift that keeps on giving, because as they spread out a bit, she can no longer fit in narrow shoes and she passes them on to moi!

Thus I was the lucky recipient of these Sebago boat shoes, again in a dark tan color:

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They were practically brand new, and if I had a lot of brown (any brown?) in my wardrobe I would have left ’em as is.  But since my neutral colors tend towards grey and navy, I decided to redo these in a nice soft grey.

I followed the same steps as in my first shoe repainting foray, taking my own advice to use a higher quality brush this time around:

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First I took the raw hide laces out of the first few holes so I’d have easy access to the tongue and some of the side parts.  I accidentally went one hole too far – I’m going to have to use a needle and string to rethread that puppy because it was originally enclosed between two layers of the shoe in an inaccessible area.  Pro tip if you’re working with shoes like this: check how far you can delace BEFORE yanking out the laces.

Then I got out my bottle of Angelus leather preparer and deglazer, left over from last time:

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I’d say one bottle covers two pairs of shoes (flats, that is – size 10).

I used an old toothbrush to scrub off the original color.  Similarly to nail polish remover, once your chosen implement (paper towels, rag, toothbrush) has saturated with color, it won’t remove any more pigment.  This means I did a lot of little dips into the deglazer followed by good scrubbing in a small area, and then wiped the removed color on an old rag:

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It was pretty hard to tell the difference between areas where color remained vs. areas that had been saturated by the leather deglazer.  Eventually I figured out that if I wasn’t sure, I could just brush the area and wipe it on the rag; if color came off onto the rag, there was still original pigment there and I needed to keep working.  It was pretty much impossible to keep the original color from staining the white contrast stitching, and I knew it would be impossible to keep from painting it later, so I decided early on that the contrast would just go grey like the rest of the shoe.

Color starting to come off – the waterproof coating took some elbow grease to remove.  You can also see how the contrast stitching is starting to dye:

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Color removed on the right, not on the left: img_4483

 

After I was satisfied that I had gotten most of the color off, I let them dry in the sun for about 20 minutes:

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Next, the new color!

As with last time, with each new dip in the paint I began with the stitching, raw edges, or seams that would need a lot of paint to saturate, then spread the excess out over smoother surfaces.  Direction of the brushstrokes didn’t seem to matter as much this time; after one coat I couldn’t tell which way I had painted.  This led me to let my toddler help me paint the second coat on one of the shoes, a move my spouse called “brave”; but honestly, look for yourself at the end – can YOU tell the difference?  (I will have to use a little deglazer to get some overenthusiastic brush marks off the sole…)

I also decided to paint the grommets because it was too dang hard to paint super carefully around them without getting paint on them as well.  If I had more patience and had used a fine angle brush, I probably could have made it work.

I chose Angelus leather paint in Cement/Grey White, hoping for a muted grey that would jive with my wardrobe palette.  Here’s how it looks on the first coat:

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A little more blue than I would like, but I was hoping that wouldn’t be obvious after a second coat.

Between coats I let dry in the sun for an hour or so.  Did I mention how lovely it was to do this outside in the warm October sun?  (But watch out for falling leaves as your paint dries.)

And here’s the final product after the second/last coat of paint: what do you think?  I’m excited to wear them after a full 24 hours of drying (just to be sure) and a rethreading of that one lace.

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This project, by the way, cost me about $3 (paint) and would cost you about $10 if you had to buy the deglazer and brush as well.  Not bad for a weekend afternoon!

 

Shaving My Blazers and Other Fall Wardrobe Maintenance

Apologies for the incomplete post last night. I discovered that blogging while supervising a painting toddler results in posts with pictures missing and black paint (thankfully washable) splattered all over the dining room wall.

It’s actually a bit cool in the mornings now in Atlanta!  I still couldn’t talk myself into truly needing a blazer, but that weather will be here soon.  In preparation, I took care of some pilling on a couple of cool weather blazers.  And my winter weather pants came back from the tailor!  (I realize in looking back on my preview post that it may not have been clear that I was having the legs tapered on the pants on hangers – I was on my way out the door for some much needed vacation. Also, take a look at the updated version to see the items that did not make it into last week’s wardrobe preview due to technical difficulties.)

And now, shaving my blazers. Continue reading “Shaving My Blazers and Other Fall Wardrobe Maintenance”

What I Wore: Office Sick Day

Yesterday I had a head cold from Hades. (I still have it, but now it’s from, say, Hoboken.)

I spent a good 15 minutes in bed trying decide whether to go to work or stay home.

But yesterday was my boss’ first day back after 4 weeks out of town. And a new program year is breathing down our necks. And I had 3 meetings scheduled. And someone had to drive the kiddo to daycare regardless.

So I went to work, but in the most comfortable work-appropriate clothing possible, which I had most fortuitously thrifted over the weekend due to my inability to say no to comfortable dresses and stripes (and this shade of blue!):

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Continue reading “What I Wore: Office Sick Day”

The Lazy Person’s Guide to Wrangling Pant Hems

What do you do when your pant hems fail you?  Maybe they’re too long, or the thread comes undone leaving you with a sloppy one-sided pant mess.

If you are a whiz with a sewing machine, just ignore this.

But if, like me, you can barely remember how to thread one (Ms. Drust, my Home Ec teacher, is pulling out her hair somewhere), this crib sheet is for you.

Obviously, if you have time you should take ’em to your tailor.  If your tailor is kind of out of your way, like mine is, or you keep forgetting to put your pants in the car so you can actually bring them to tailor (ahem), I’ve got a few options for ya. Continue reading “The Lazy Person’s Guide to Wrangling Pant Hems”

A DIY / Thrifted Statement Pendant Necklace

Pendants are one of my favorite kinds of necklaces because that dangling pop of jewelry is dramatic and fun; the length also handily draws your eyes down the entirety of the outfit and won’t crowd your face/neckline.

Luckily for us, pendants are also the easiest kind of necklace to DIY, because you can pop a few beads and baubles together, slip it on a chain you already own, and BAM!  You’re ready to go.  That same chain can be used to showcase different pendants depending on your outfit and your mood.

You can thrift the chain, of course, but you can also thrift the components of the pendant. I did one here that I’ve been wearing a lot this spring, and today I’m going to show you another one I recently created for the winter wardrobe I’ve been revamping this summer – but surprise, it works great for summer, too!

Click through to see what I made and general guidelines for making your own thrifted/DIY pendant. Continue reading “A DIY / Thrifted Statement Pendant Necklace”

Tailoring a Thrifted Shirt

Tailoring is a tool everyone should have in their pockets because there’s no way mass-manufactured clothing will always fit your body perfectly.  Thrifters need it even moreso to mold priceless-but-not-perfect secondhand finds into an effortlessly chic wardrobe that will leave you looking like (but not spending) a million bucks.

(Story time: I once heard someone recount the experience of a Ghanaian woman who came to the U.S. for college and whose healthy self-image began to deteriorate after long term exposure to mass retail shops where her body always seemed “wrong” for the clothes. In her home culture it was the norm for clothes to be tailored or bespoke, so instead of feeling inferior because they didn’t meet some arbitrary standard, everyone felt fab in clothes made to fit their bods exactly.)

 

I bought this beauty back in the days of chilly weather and knew that its popover style, rollable sleeves, and cotton fabric would be a hit for spring and summer ’round these parts.

The only problem?  It apparently was a shirt dress in another life—one that had an altercation with a pair of scissors: IMG_3182

Wanh-wannnnh: Continue reading “Tailoring a Thrifted Shirt”

Thrift Hacks: Running Shorts Rehab

Even though I rely on running for my primary exercise, I haven’t been running very much the last, oh, month or so?  (Maybe 6 weeks.)  I blame it on being dark when I get home and sometimes cold.

Lucky me, days are longer and temps are warming up a bit—time to pull out the sports bras and the running shorts!

Only the tie on my lovely thrifted baby blue Adidas shorts was broooooken, which made them a little hard to keep up.  I posted briefly about their rehab previously but thought I’d go into a little more detail now in honor of it being running season again.

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Yes those are POCKETS!

 

These beauties, also thrifted, came with 2 pairs of ridiculously long shoelaces that, when in use, make the poor shoes look like a little girl with one of those GIANT bows in her hair (if you grew up in the South you feel me):

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I don’t usually keep extras like this sitting around when I know I’m not going to use them (they get donated to keep my house from getting cluttered up), but for some reason I kept these tucked away.

So when my spouse suggested I use the extra laces to fix my broken shorts instead of tossing them in the donate pile, I went for it.

 

The side seams go all the way to the top of the waistband, so the first thing I did (after removing the broken tie) was cut a small slit on either side of the seam so that I could thread the pink laces all the way around.  You can see the slits where the two small sections of pink laces pop through on either side:IMG_1216

Then I tied the two pink laces together (yes I could’ve used the white pair but what fun is that?), attached one end to a safety pin, and scrunched it through the hollow part of the waistband, jumping over the side seams at the slits on either side.

Et voilà!  Shorts back in action.

Now I just have to get *me* back in action, ’cause I got a 5k to run over these serious Atlanta hills in April and it ain’t gonna be pretty if I don’t train.  Wish me luck!

 

Have you ever used one part of a thrift to fix another?  Do you tend to get rid of bits you’re not using right away or store them up for just such an occasion as this?  Do you thrift workout wear? What’s your favorite secret for jump-starting your workout routine?

Scroll down to share!

And click here for tips on thrifting your workout clothes and to check out my (mostly thrifted) workout capsule wardrobe.