6 posts categorized "Projects"


Sorry I've been a bit scarce around here.  Trying to get ready for The Top Shelf Flea & dealing with a flooded basement due to the enormous amount of rainfall we've been "enjoying" here.  As you may recall, my workshop/studio has it's home in said basement, so it's a bit difficult to work right now.  We know it will happen every Spring, and I have everything organized so it is far above sea level, with just the area carpet to roll up, which I wait to do until the last possible minute.  I need atmosphere to work in!

So, since I can't do very much on the that floor of the house, I've decided to start at the top and get some Spring Cleaning underway.

A vintage gals closet

Starting with this disaster of a closet . . .

So I like boots! 
Like the black velvet Donna Karan granny boots?  $5.99 Thrift Store Score!

A gal can never have too many shoes or purses! 

 I know.  I know!

Boudoir drawer filled with vintage jewelry 

 This is the one drawer that is organized . . . all my vintage costume jewelry. . . some of which will be available at The Top Shelf Flea.

 Spring Cleaning 
(Photo courtesy of House & Garden Magazine) 

As the project progresses and I find myself completely losing interest, I will remind myself that:

"A clean house is the sign of a boring person. "
~Author Unknown

 I will then pour myself a glass of wine and call it a day . . .


xx ~ Michelle


My sister has a few things in her closet that she knows I would just die for.  A 1930's peach satin bias-cut nightgown is one.  I can admit that I truly covet it.  I know that is wrong considering how much vintage stuff I already possess but it's so beautiful it gives me goosebumps.  She also has a lovely green velvet vintage suit, c. 1960's.  The problem with the vintage suit, as with many vintage items, is that the waist band on the skirt is teeny, tiny.  The jacket fits her beautifully, but the skirt is a "never going to happen" deal.

So, being the closet "I~wish~I~were~a~clothing~designer" that I am, I volunteered to fix the waist band for her, to make it a larger size. 

Read on to learn how.  


Vintage Skirt Waistband Alteration Tutorial The Red Velvet Shoe (My dream atelier)


by Michelle Horlbogen 

  • small seam ripper
  • 7/8" double fold bias tape Quilt Binding (in coordinating color)
  • Stitch Witchery Fusible Bonding Tape
  • common pins
  • iron & board
  • sewing machine
  • scissors

(TIP: Click on the photos in the tutorial to zoom in.)

1)  First, you need to remove the existing waist band.  I use a sharp, small seam ripper.  The only issue with this can be that the clothing label is on the waist band.  If it is, just carefully remove it and save it to hand sew back on later.  Trim any frayed or long threads you find.  If there are darts at the waistband, you can determine if you need to let any out by slipping the skirt on to see how it fits.  If you still need more room, take out either the two front or two back darts.  (Depending on the fabric, removing darts may leave some marks, so think it through before you do.)


Vintage Skirt Waistband Alteration Tutorial The Red Velvet Shoe


2)  Take the bias tape and pin it to one end of the waist band with @ 3/4" extra (so you can have something to work with to finish it later.  Measure it all the way around to see how much tape you need (don't forget to add the extra at the other end as well).


Vintage Skirt Waistband Alteration Tutorial The Red Velvet Shoe 


3)  Pin the bias tape to the skirt, starting at one end and working around to the other.  The tape just folds over the top of the skirt. As you pin, you may have to stretch the fabric and tape to get a smooth, flat finish.


Vintage Skirt Waistband Alteration Tutorial The Red Velvet Shoe 


4)  Now you have to do something with the ends of the tape.  As you can see in the photo above, I just folded in & pressed the tips of the corners, and then place a small piece of the heat n bond tape on the bias tape, just about a 1/2" from the end, so you can fold it over and iron it down.  The goal is to have a nice edge to the tape where the zipper is.


Vintage Skirt Waistband Alteration Tutorial The Red Velvet Shoe 


5)  As you can see in this photo, the edge has been folded in and "glued" down, then pinned.  You'll have to determine where to end the new waistband.  I like to just barely cover the top of the zipper, so the two new ends of the waistband touch.


Vintage Skirt Waistband Alteration Tutorial The Red Velvet Shoe


6)  Now that your pinned and the ends are "glued" down and pinned, it's time to sew.  I usually gage where I want the seam depending on what's inside.  Sometimes a skirt will have a very flimsy liner, so I tend to sew pretty close to the bottom of the bias tape to make sure I catch the lining all the way around.  I've also done it with a double seam, one along the top and one along the lower part of the bias tape.  I don't think it really matters, as long as all four layers are sewn together well.


Vintage Skirt Waistband Alteration Tutorial The Red Velvet Shoe 


7)  Trim your excess thread and VOILA!  Your vintage skirt is ready to wear!  If you removed a label, don't forget to sew it back in.


Vintage Skirt Waistband Alteration Tutorial The Red Velvet Shoe 


Now, with that said, there are a few concerns.  Firstly, there is the BIG question of whether vintage clothing should be tampered with. I definitely believe that high end, Haute Couture / Couture vintage clothing falls in the category of Fine Art and should never be altered (unless it's in utter disarray with no chance of restoration to it's original state).  That, in my opinion, is indisputable.  However, when you are fortunate enough to have, as I do, some of your grandmother's sweet cotton day dresses or pretty suits from the 1950s/60s, and with a slight bit of alteration you could have some fantastic, unique vintage clothing in your wardrobe to actually WEAR, then I say go for it!

Secondly, if you remove a vintage skirt waist band and replace it with quilting bias tape, it is not going to look quite as nice.  So think about how you will wear the skirt - will you want to tuck your blouse or top in?  If so, then aesthetically speaking, this could be an issue.  A great way to "skirt the issue" is by wearing a wide belt, even if you tuck something in, this will give you a more modern look and is a great way to hide the waistband. 

Thirdly, I must humbly admit I am by no means even remotely close to being a tailor or seamstress, so you may want to try this out on a skirt you don't really care about (maybe one your daughter has outgrown or even pick one up at the thrift store on dollar day to play around with).  This will allow you a chance to try out the idea and maybe even improve on it.  By the way, does anyone have a different way of solving this vintage waistband size issue?  If so, I'd love to hear from you, so leave a comment!

My sister was very happy, the skirt fit her perfectly.  Look how she thanked me, how great is she?


Vintage paris couture




xx ~ Michelle


In light of the fact that the entire globe is in an unprecedented, staggering economic crisis, I thought I would devote this post to a very simple, old fashioned, somewhat outdated past~time:

Mending   DARNING : (noun) 1. Mending holes in clothes, the work of repairing holes in clothing or fabric with long interwoven stitches.

Seamstress by Renoir  MENDING : (noun) 1. articles, especially clothes, to be mended.


SYNONYMS :  Restoration, patch~up, healing, renovation

It used to be that every domestic diva had a basket full of things that needed mending.  A bit of attention with needle and thread could extend the life of a garment by years and that used to matter to people.  As the years passed, this simple past~time gave way to the notion that "it's a lot easier to throw it away and buy a new one".  Businesses were booming, advertising took on a major role in society, and mass production of just about everything left lots of grandmother's shaking their heads and wondering if the day would come when not one bride~to~be would know how to thread a needle, much less know how to mend something.

But now, it seems, consumers are not so quick to throw things away.  Many are actually choosing to "make do" with what they already have and if it needs a little TLC, well that is better than having to purchase a new one.  While this poses a challenge for those of us in the "Retail" sector or some version of it, I still find this trend heart~warming in a way.  After all, if my adored vintage frocks were not cared for the way they were, I wouldn't have the pleasure of working with such beautifully crafted garments.  And so. . .

From socks to cars~~people are choosing to be:

THRIFTY :  (adjective) 1.careful with money and resources, managing money and resources in a cautious and sensible way so as to waste as little as possible.  2. Prosperous

Isn't that interesting: PROSPEROUS was the archaic meaning of the word THRIFTY!

In our day, being thrifty has generally been equated with being cheap, tight~fisted, even poor.  And yet now being "Thrifty" is suddenly in style.  Everywhere.  Good Morning America ran a prime time segment on "Secrets of a Thrift Store Shopper" . . .their retail business is booming!!   Not to mention that thrift/resale/consignment store shopping is a wonderful way to "Recycle".  Check out this interview with clothing designer Elizabeth Kramer and take a peek at her creative flat/studio infused with vintage finds.  A far cry from this story of CEO extravagance by Mark Patinkin in the same section of my Providence Sunday Journal. 

Seamstress in red

Perhaps the antiquated meaning of "Thrifty" will come to be in fashion once again. . .while we usually equate prosperity with wealth, this beautiful word means far more. . .

PROSPEROUS : (adjective) 1. thriving  2. flourishing  3. abounding  4. successful

Doesn't that put a lovely new angle on "Prosperity"? 

It's who we have, not what we have, that makes us prosper in the most genuine sense of the word. . .and in lean times, remembering that can make a big difference in our outlook every day.


Ladyinbluesewing1  I'm going to try to think about that while I'm sewing today. . .but of course I will be tuned in at half time to watch you know who!








xx ~ Michelle

Yes, you may use the bathroom!

Question du jour:

Can we ever be truly finished decorating?

I, for one, can never say I am completely "finished" with "dressing a room".   The same goes for "getting ready" for some special occasion. . .I will continue to tweak my look until my husband stands with my coat open with that stare that is screaming LET'S GO!  (Thankfully he only verbalizes  it under extreme circumstances, "the look" is usually enough for me!)

So while the major work involved in the makeover for my upstairs bath is complete~~I can't say the same for the decorating . . .I'm still tweaking that part (which is also the fun part!)   But one thing is for sure~~I don't have to brush my teeth with my eyes closed anymore!!!  Or beg my house ~guests to use the downstairs bathroom!!  Here are some photos of it:

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I made the velvet curtain topper~~still deciding on the curtain rod~~I think it needs bolder finials. I love the contrast of the light, delicate lace with the dark, rich velvet. . .

Remember the piano stool I found at the auction last summer?  Well here it is, all spiffed up and a perfect place for my old Victoria magazines (each month I update the stack with all the old issues for that "month"~~they are wonderful for inspiration!)100_2037_2

This sweet little picture was a card my Aunt sent me a few years ago.  I framed it with this beautiful antique frame I've had for years.

100_2035 I love, love, love this print~~I found it at Homegoods for $29.99 and snatched it up!   Although I have to confess that I worked at a Fine Art Gallery for years and know how to do Custom Framing so when I buy ready~ made it sort of feels like a champagne lover filling their flute with Budweiser (nothing against Bud~~I actually like it in the summertime!)   I had to lug it around the store since there were no more carts available but now I am so very glad that I did!!  This is actually very different from most of the art in our home but I just loved it and the black frame really makes a statement against my "Creme Brulee" walls.  (Which actually finished with more of an olive tone than I imagined but I am very happy with it!)

I thought this print was fun~~and it gives me my claw foot tub, doesn't it?  I love to use a small image with an extra wide mat.

100_2041 100_2045

My husband brought this beautiful Antique picture home from an old farmhouse in Iowa years ago~~it is marked 1875!  (Thank goodness he didn't throw this out!)


This paisley shower curtain was my color scheme inspiration~~I found it one day and knew instantly. . .and that is my Vintage bias cut nightgown that I found years ago and have had hanging in our bedroom~~I thought it looked pretty on the back of the door.


The only thing about a room makeover is that the rest of your home tends to look like a bomb went off~~has anyone else noticed that?  Why does every other room get ransacked because of one teeny, tiny bathroom??

Maybe that should be the question du jour?

One last thing~~we are having our first snow fall here today~~here are some photos from this afternoon & this evening. . .if you don't have any snow here is a little from me to you!!   



xx ~ Michelle

The Powder Room Calls

You know that project in your home that you keep putting off, and the weeks go by until it gets to the point you close your eyes at anything that even hints at your everlasting procrastination?????

Among my many such projects, at the very tippity top of my list,  has been my upstairs bathroom.  It had a Greco/Roman theme wallpaper that was just beautiful.  But once my little toddler discovered bath water can go on the wall, too, and that it will make paper peel quite easily,  I knew a decorating job was on the horizon.  But the weeks have turned to months and after another morning  trying to brush my teeth with my eyes closed I finally faced my fear in the mirror and said to my husband:  "I'm going to Home Depot".   

I actually love to decorate but I have a very hard time deciding to choose the look I want.  Does that sound familiar?  I did some searches for "Vintage Bath Decorating" and along the way these are some of the beautiful photos I came across:


You know I love this one in  Blue & White~~with the painted ceiling and Sunflowers~~another favorite of mine! 


And look at this!  That sink is just stunning and the vanity makes it so unique.  I love the pale yellow & lavender combo~~so soothing.  (And I think my blogger~friend Sophie would love this one so I hope she sees this post)!


I also love the simplicity of this bath~~someday I will own a claw foot tub!!  Although I'm not so sure about all those windows unless it's waaaaaaaay out in the mountains somewhere!  That chair has a very retro feel to it, too, and the blue colors are, again, in my favorite category!


This is just so elegant~~I have two chairs like this but unfortunately my bath is too small to have such a chair.  This is elegant simplicity at it's finest. . .very well done.


I thought this last one had a very rich, masculine look to it~~although it is a bit too dark for my bath I do like the deep russet walls with the pearl trim~~and again the dresser style vanity with the marble sink makes such a statement.

With so much inspiration it didn't take me long to pull together a new look for my "Powder Room".  Here are a few before pictures:


I have already taken down the old paper and sanded the walls~~not a job for anyone who cares about their manicure!

We'll be busy painting away over the next few days (my Vintage Treasures are getting so lonely but as they are more of a "Hobby" I have to put them on the back burner until I can place some check marks on my very long "To~Do List") 

I hope everyone has a great weekend!


100_2027 100_2024(My poor guest room is taking the brunt of it!!) 100_2026

xx ~ Michelle