DIY: a thrifty alternative to the screen door.

I love screen doors, but I hate having to open and close them all day long, every time a cat or a dog wants in. Or out. Or in again. Years ago I devised a solution…curtains instead of screens!

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I love the way they waft in the breeze.

Dogs, cats & people go in and out as they please, all day long. Okay, a few bugs, too, but not too many. Not even enough to wrinkle your nose at.

014We needed a new one for the front door, so yesterday I went to the thrift store, spent $2.00 and came home with three lace curtain panels.

016The one I decided on for the front door wasn’t quite long enough, so this afternoon I sewed a sleeve from a fun pink and yellow print from my stash. The colour of happiness is pink (with yellow.) Did you know that?

013And because it’s so friggen hot today, I couldn’t be bothered to pull out my Janome and fuss with setting it up. All those cords, and a foot petal and all. Jeeze, Louise.   I used my pretty Singer hand crank instead.

009I like the way the pattern sort of mimics the lace. And I love the bright colour of the quilting cotton.

006Do you want to make one, too? Here’s how I did it: I used a tension rod on the inside of the door frame. An 8″ strip folded in half makes a generous sleeve. Be sure to leave at least an inch of space between the bottom of the curtain and the floor; otherwise, people and pets will step on it and pull it down. Don’t worry, it’ll still keep 99% of the bugs out.

021Voila! Beautiful and under $2.00. My little hippy heart is so happy! Take that, retirement budget!

Ta da! The Vintage New Look 6510 Shift Dress Part 2

This is a follow-up post on my second vintage New Look 6510 shift dress.

You can read all about part 1 HERE . And the original shift dress which I sewed out of a sheet and which turned out very nice is posted HERE.

Remember this problem?

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After much un-sewing and re-sewing and internet researching and head scratching…
may I have a Drum Roll Please! ……

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Ta Da!

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Yay! I made another shift dress!

It still didn’t turn out as nice as the first one I made, though. Why? I think that has to do with the fabric I used. This particular fabric is very flimsy and on the verge of unraveling at every step – in fact,  I might have to go back in and re-do the seams after a couple of washings. I think this pattern is better suited to fabric with more body, like the bed sheet I used for the last one. But that’s okay. I only paid $3.00 for this piece of fabric from the thrift store, so it made good practice material.

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Remember this problem from the last post? 010

To fix it, I unpicked & removed the bias tape, raised the shoulders about 2 inches and then re-attached the tape. Then I unpicked the side seams and the bust darts and moved them down.

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Thank goodness the print is so busy because I did not get the bust darts even. One is much lower than the other. More unpicking may ensue…depends on whether or not it affects my comfort wearing it. Because I don’t think it’s noticeable unless you’re really hunting for it. And if anyone is going to be staring that hard at my chest, than they deserve the reward of finding the bad job!

I also unpicked and removed the bias tape on the neckline, and added a facing. The fabric is so flimsy that I feared it would go all wonky after a few wearings. I then sewed the bias tape pack on again (for decoration.) I also added a funky retro button from my button jar.

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Remember this problem from the last post?
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To fix it,  I sewed darts over the shoulder blades to help take in some of the gaping in the neck. It still gapes, but I’m okay with that.

Well…no, I’m not, actually. But I don’t know what else I can do about it at this point. And besides, when my hair is down you won’t be able to see it. Right?

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Remember the bunching at the back? Well, I fixed that by sewing fish-eye darts down either side of the back seam. YES! FISH EYE DARTS!!! I consulted the Google-gods about what to do about the excess fabric pooling at my lower back and fish-eye darts was the answer I was given. (Fish eye darts are vertical tear-drop shaped darts. So why don’t they call them tear-drop darts?) Amazing!

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Lalala! I am feeling so clever!

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So there you go. It isn’t perfect. But it’s light and airy and I think I am presentable enough to run into town or to the grocery store in it.

And it is a very thrifty dress, costing me a total of $3.25 to make.

What did I learn?

  • Sitting with the seam ripper and unpicking seam after seam can actually be a kind of peaceful zen experience.
  • Darts are marvelous things if you put them in right.
  • I need to learn how to adjust the tissue pattern before I cut out my fabric.
  • I really like shift dresses, but I need to find a better designed pattern.
  • I am ready to move on to something a little more complicated than just sewing a front piece and a back piece together (though you wouldn’t know it judging by the trouble I’ve had!)
  • I can learn to do anything!

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I think I’m finished with the New Look 6510, though. Too much fiddling and in two attempts it still has major problems. Time to move on to something else!

Or….maybe I will be stubborn and MAKE THIS PATTERN WORK on one more, last attempt!

What would you do?

Thrifty Retirement Living: how we saved $1,800!

One of the challenges of early retirement is learning to live within a (smaller than we were used to) fixed income.  There isn’t a lot of wiggle room, and making a big purchase means the money has to come out of our investment savings. That’s okay… we’ve built in a buffer to cover the occasional larger expenditure. After all, houses do need occasional maintenance and repair. Appliances will eventually fail and need to be replaced. And, lets admit it, once in a while we’ll want to take a bigger vacation than simply traveling around the province in our camper. But when the possibility of a large expense comes up, we need to do a lot of research on it first. We can’t just order it and be done.

033What “came up” was the hot summer weather versus the smoked glass ceiling on our covered deck!  27º in the yard sends temperatures on the deck soaring towards 40° (that’s pushing 100° for you Fahrenheit friends.) Unlivable. And it was heating the rest of the house up something terrible, as well!

035Enter the need for a sunshade. Mr C went on-line and found a variety of sunshades. The cheapest he could come up with that would cover the entire deck was going to cost us $1,700. With tax & gas, that comes to $1,870+.

But wait! I had been at the thrift shop just the day before and purchased a couple of large, light grey sheets that I thought I could use for quilt backings or to work out the kinks on a dress pattern with. 034Sunshade cost breakdown (drum roll, please!)

Two thrift store sheets: $2.00
one roll of clothesline: $4.00
assorted hardware: $2.00
TOTAL SUNSHADE: $8.00

Money saved: $1,862. One thousand, eight hundred and sixty two dollars, folks!

We were back out on the deck eating supper and enjoying a nice glass of chilled white wine that very evening.

036Boo-ya!