Category Archives: Experiment

Quick fixes on a huge pile of alterations

Just taking liberties with my sewing machine this week to do some minor alterations. I do not claim to be an expert in any sense but I can show you a couple of ways to fix things based on my good and bad experiences.

1. Unraveling sweater at cuff

What I’ve done wrong before: Uhhh wear it despite the fact that it’s falling apart – news flash … it just keeps unraveling.

How I fixed it: This is not a perfect fix – it’s a quick 15-minute fix and I think 99% of people would not notice you fixed it yourself. To fix an unraveling sweater at the cuff simply turn the sleeve inside out and pin to match the rest of the sleeve. Make sure the two pieces at the end of the sleeve match up – otherwise it will look janky (sorry I don’t know the technical term).

Get a stretch or other ball point needle – otherwise you risk cutting through the fibers rather than separating them. Match thread (a trick is to use light grey with most light fabrics), placement (most likely near the edge) and stitch length (typically shorter than default setting) with the existing stitches on the sweater. Notice my needle is moved all the way to the right – this allows me to use the right side of the presser foot as an edge guide. Also my presser foot is clear so you can easily see where your stitches are going.

Start at point of unraveling, back-stitch up the sleeve a couple of stitches, regular stitch to the end of the cuff, knot or back-stitch to finish. I have a Janome that does a knot at the end and I love it. [Insert rant on why “vintage sewing machines” are not necessarily all that]. Voila. No more angry cuff.

2.Tips on hemming up a skirt

What I’ve done wrong before: Cut the bottom of the skirt before sewing. My first instinct to hem a skirt is to cut off all that excess that I don’t want. Well I learned that if you do this it is very hard and time consuming to get the bottom of the skirt to be even all the way around – particularly if you are anal retentive like me.

How I fixed it: My mom sent me one of her cute vintage dresses and it fit perfectly it was just too long. I wanted to take off 5-6 inches. The absolute easiest thing to do is to use the existing hem as a guide.

Turn dress/skirt inside out. Do not cut anything. Pin edge of skirt up to the desired length – use the same length all the way around – in my case 5 inches. Iron the bottom of the skirt so there is a new bottom edge to work with. Remeasure and adjust as needed to make sure it is 5 inches pinned up all the way around. The ironing flattens the fabric and may change some of the measurements.

Baste – in other words – do a long fake stitch about an inch from the bottom so you can see what the new length will look like. If it looks good proceed to cutting and hemming – a rolled hem is nice. Now at least you have a good straight line to work with. Voila. Happy hem.


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Silver and Gold

I was commissioned to make some prop shoes for a children’s Christmas play.  The play is “A Shoemaker’s Christmas” which is an adaptation of a story by Leo Tolstoy (here is it called Papa Panov’s Special Christmas). So here is my tutorial on making silver and gold boots for costumes or props.

1. Go Thrifting – Find boots that match the shape that you want (color and material don’t really matter). I started off a basic pair of brown boots and a pair of lace-up boots. I wanted to find lace-ups for a Victorian look but I could only find one pair.

2. Spray Paint and Let Dry – Get really good spray paint plus some newspaper and disposable gloves. I cannot say enough good things about this Montana Gold spray paint. One coat pretty much covered everything. I let them dry for a couple of hours and then touched up a few missed spots. I filled the shoes with newspaper so that they would stand better and it also makes the surface of the boots stand out so they are easier to spray.

3. Glue on Accessories – These were decorated using a hot glue gun and old vintage earrings. At first I glued purple Mardi Gras beads on the side of the silver boots but it looked so 80’s tacky metallic glam I couldn’t stop laughing when I looked at them. I decided to go pretty simple with the accessories on both – letting the bright silver and gold speak for itself.

Happy holiday crafting to all “and to all a good night” …

– From the Desk of Wade and Associates


Filed under Experiment, Handmade, Jewelry, Shoes, Vintage

File under future experiments

Two pieces of black pleather +

a white thrifted scarf.

I’m just sayin…

Black Leather Dress – Celine Spring 2010 Ready-to-Wear

Photo: Monica Feudi / via

– From the Desk of Wade and Associates

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