Posts Tagged ‘reclaimed’

In the last big haul of “Steampunk” supplies, there were all sorts of clock and watch parts. It was from a repair shop so while there was a really random mix, there were also a few big groups of things. One was a large number of the tiny ladies watch cases. Another was a box of the matching ladies metal expanding watch bands. The bands were new so were in great condition and had the old, high quality gold plating.

I liked the look of them as well as the fact that they can give a bit of a flex to how they fit. They are also narrow enough to work in necklaces, unlike the men’s.crystalwatch4

I ended up doing a series of asymmetrical pieces combining both. I set faux stones and gems into the watch cases. (I have no idea how people read the time on them since the faces were super tiny!) The bands make up part of the chains.

For this set I was able to find a trio of cases that, while not the same, feel very close to each other. A set of faux rainbow crystal druzy stones were set into each case. Some old stock vintage aurora borealis crystal drops were hung below each of the earring cases. The necklace has three of the drops hanging from a small brass gear. Salvaged glass beads, that have a bit of the aurora borealis sheen, give the set additional flash.

It’s the only one I did with the matching earrings and I love the Steampunk glitz it has!

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I’m only doing a few shows each year now, but figuring out displays is always something I’m working on. The jewellery I make is really difficult to show because it has such a range of sizes and styles and every piece is unique. I’ve also got lots of other types of things to sell so space is limited.display1

After trying a few different options, I’m mostly happy with this frame design. The base is a 24”x36” vintage frame painted a bright white. A sheet of foamcore has been cut to fit and wrapped in vintage linen then pointed into the frame. I’ve cut a bunch of small rectangles from white matboard and they were made to fit each necklace. The rectangles are notched int he top corners and a pair of holes are drilled into the top center. The corner notches hold the chains in position so each necklace shows it’s design and the holes fit 2-prong pins so I can just pin each one to the frame board.

I can lay out the frame so at least one of most style groups are showing. Every necklace can be prepped on a board and then stored in bags so it’s easy to see what I have as well as show things that are similar, even if they can’t fit on the frame. It’s easy to take them down for trying on, putting them back and replacing any that sell. It can sit on an easel or hang and it’s also generally secure enough that in a rush, I can just move it as is to really speed up the packing-up process!

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While I’ve frequently got some sort of plan for many projects, there are other things that come from putting random parts of the stash near each other and then seeing what my mind comes up with. Considering that I’m working with mostly salvaged and found materials, it generally means that there will only be one or two of any concept that they spark, but sometimes there can slightly larger groups.


A few years ago, I found some eggs. They were quite small, around 1 1/2” and painted with a wonderful marbled range of colours. At first, I thought they might have been plastic but a closer look showed that not only were they wood, but that their marbling was hand-done. They were a bit reminiscent of old Fordite and depth of the colours as well the smooth texture of the surface make me think they might have used automotive paint. Someone had gone to a great deal of trouble to make them but then either never got around to their intended use or did, and these were the leftovers. This is one of the cases where I would love to know the history of a supply bit, but it’s unlikely I’ll ever find out how they came into my path.


Their size and shape was close to a few vintage doll arms I had and one got used to make a small wearable doll. I loved the look of the doll, but had used all the spare arms so put them aside again. By the time I went into my next round of jewellery making, I’d added a group of leaf-shaped mother-of-pearl beads to the stash. Looking at those beads, I saw they could also read as wings and the scale was very close to the eggs! I had to put together pairs of the shell “wings” and match them each egg since the colours were so individual, due to the marbling. Then it was figuring out how to get them all hang together so the “doll” illusion held and then matching each group to assorted bits for the heads. A few got watch cases and ended up as the funky ones, while the ones with the glass bead heads turned out to look almost like little angels. I was happy enough with them that I used up all of the eggs, even if it did pain me to not keep one “just in case”!


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When I starting doing weapon mods, I really didn’t think much about how to display them. I’d thought most people would want them for add-ons to costumes but as soon as I started taking them to shows it became very clear that many people wanted a way to have them out on display the rest of the time.

That gave me another challenge since it’s hard to predict what sort of display space they will have so it was necessary that whatever I come up with not be too complicated or expensive. It was also helpful to me if it happened to be something I could use as show display too. I do custom framing, and was able to work out a series of display frames and mounts for a chunk of the guns, (which I’ll discuss in some later posts) but the Sonic Screwdrivers called for something a bit different.


In the process of buying stock for the vintage shop, we have a wide range of other things that tend to turn up as parts of box lots and the like but aren’t good/old/interesting enough to make to the shelves. That was where I ran across a photo display. It was not very old and had wires, set into a small stone base. There were wire circle springs at the top where you could slide in a photo and the wires could be bent or spread depending on how you want to show them. This was an easy starting point since the base had a simple clean look and good weight to it, making it very stable. I snipped off the circles and then bent the tips of the wires over. They were then wrapped in a bit of padding and then covered in little black leather pads. (salvaged leather from the stash, but you could use any solid, soft fabric) I wanted to make sure there was no chance of whatever was displayed being scratched, and the leather gives great protection.

That was it! The Sonic Screwdriver is then just slipped in between the pads, alternating directions so it sits evenly. It’s easy to pop in and out for use but looks good the rest of the time and takes up very little table space.


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After having had success with using a salvaged skirt and men’s shirt to make a plus-sized dress, I started making more. They were very comfortable and I liked how it was possible to keep them more casual or dress them up, depending on the base parts used. This was one of the more casual ones I’ve done so far. The base shirt was a brown plaid and was Abercrombie and Fitch. (I used it because I really liked the plaid fabric but it gives me a special joy to be a fat woman in one of their pieces since it bothers their fat-phobic CEO) A light cotton embroidered skirt was a perfect colour match so I used it, even though it was almost too small to work.(there were a couple of cheats I used to squeak by with it)


A and F runs small on their sizing (shocking, I know) so even with it being a large, the men’s shirt was too small in the arms but at least it was long-sleeved. The arms were cut to elbow length and then the side seams cut out, including down what was left of the arms. The leftover sleeve pieces were attached to the bottom of the arms to widen them and the cuffs attached at the bottom, along with a bit a rolled hem to finish.


The skirt was so small that I wasn’t able to take any length for the side inserts. It was however lined with a light cotton in the same colour. Since the dress would be worn over leggings, keeping the lining wasn’t necessary so it was removed and I used it for the side widening panels.


The skirt had most of it’s embroidery detailing along the bottom and I only wanted to add about 8” of length so was able to use the most interesting part of the skirt. There was a minor problem in that the run of the shirt bottom came in a bit shorter than the enlarged bottom of the shirt. I didn’t want to shorten the bottom to get more fabric, and even if I had been willing, it wasn’t gathered enough that I’d be able to make the shortfall anyway. Luckily, the leftover top section was also just over 8” long and there was one section that had the embroidered flowers over it so I was able to get the needed 16” or so from it. The original bottom hem was a simple rolled one so duplicating it on the added section was easy too!

The shirt already had great contrasting white buttons, so in this case I left them.

The light-weight fabrics make this dress very comfortable in warm weather. It has a casual vibe but is dressy enough that it’s fine for wearing when I’m helping people in the gallery. (I also used some of the scraps to make a cute, co-ordinate bow hair clip)


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While quite a number of my things have a bit of a macabre edge to them, I don’t do a huge amount of stuff that is true “goth”. However, now and then there are some things that completely qualify. This necklace is one of them.



Quite a number of years ago, I found a pair of the Visible Man and Visible Woman anatomical models. Both were from the 60’s or early 70’s and both were damaged and missing a few parts. Over the years, they’ve slowly been consumed in a really broad range of projects but I’ve still got a few parts hanging around, waiting for their perfect use. It wasn’t until I got a group of old-stock crystal drops that this necklace came together. The right woman’s arm and the man’s left are bound together with wire and a red crystal drops falls from them. Chain and red glass beads finish the rest of the necklace. It’s simple, creepy and easy to wear. The elbows have some bend and they rest over the collar bone so it doesn’t look stiff. (heh, “stiff”, I’m prone to “pun”ishment) The wire that makes up the existing joints was in pretty good condition, and I liked the shape they have so it was left intact. I also didn’t age the bones since that would have pushed it to a full-on costume look and I wanted to keep it in a style where it can be worn in regular life. Now I just have to figure out what to do with some feet “bones”…

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After making a prototype plus-sized 20’s flapper style dress for myself from some scarves and a refashioned skirt, I felt confident about trying another and using the “better” scarf. What I liked about it was that it had a very period appropriate, Art Deco pattern and sparkly details. I’d also found a black satin, tiered skirt to use for the bottom.

Having had a trial run at the design, I knew exactly the length I needed for the front and back panels of the dress. This scarf was a bit shorter than the “practice” one, but was the same width. I still cut from the middle, but this meant there was a bit less left-over for the sleeves.


To finish the top, the cut seams were sewn together to close the shoulders. I then cut out the neckline, working around what looked good with the pattern and my comfort. The scarf looks like silk but is polyester, so I was able to finish the edges of the neck-line by careful burning. This is a great trick when it works but you MUST do fabric tests before risking a bigger piece. It’s also important to keep safety in mind at all times when setting fabric on fire!


The sides were done with pieces of a fine black crepe from the stash. I used the same fabric for most of the sleeves but was able to edge the top of the sleeve slits with what came out of the middle of the scarf. A vintage black button with a white rhinestone, closed each sleeve slit.

A pretty black silk burnout scarf was used to make up the dropped waistline. It had beaded details on each end as well as long beaded fringe and a pair of small black fur balls on each end. All of these were perfect for the period and I wanted to show them off as much as possible. To do so, I figured out how much I’d need of the ends to get the look of a knot and some swing. Those pieces were cut from each end. The centre piece was then roughly hand-sewn down to a strip of black satin along the top and bottom edges. The satin was slightly narrower than the scarf so it has some bag and movement, to further sell the look of the waistband being a scarf. The centre wasn’t long enough to cover the whole waistband but I had another black silk scarf and I was able to cheat and use it on the back. The removed ends of the scarf were shaped into a knot and then hand- stitched back on to the waistband.


The light satin skirt that was chosen for the bottom started with 3 tiers of fabric. The top tier was too small to use so it was taken off. The gathering along the top of the second tier was really helpful because it made it very easy to exactly match the width to the bottom of the waistband. I just had to let the gathering out enough to line them up! Losing the top layer also kept the length from being too long. It came to below the knee on me, but would be almost floor length for a shorter person.


We had some beaded trim in our supply stash that not only matched the beading on the waist scarf, but also tied into the bead and sequin details on the skirt! A line of the trim was added between the top and waist and again between the waist and the bottom skirt. There was also a fine fringe on the main body scarf that was left and it falls over to further accent the beading.

This design came together very quickly with the waistband details being the most complicated sewing involved. The finished dress has great swing and flow and is light and comfortable to wear. There is still the issue of the burnout in the velvet being see-through but I just wore a camisole under it and that worked perfectly. I realized after you could tie in any other colours you wanted by wearing a close-fitting tank or even long-sleeved shirt underneath and it would show through.

I made a headpiece to go with it, but that will get it’s own post.

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I wanted to keep trying some new shirt refashioning design concepts and this was one of the more experimental shirts. It started with a very plain grey shirt, in a polo style. I mixed it with a pair of small men’s shirts that both had some teal and black in their patterns. A small length of fabric in black and white was added in as well.

The central grey shirt was cut right up the side seams and the sleeves fully removed. The collar was also taken off and a v-shaped yoke cut in.

Large, roughly diamond shaped pieces were added to the sides. The tops were not pointed but flat, to enlarge the arm holes. I put in one of each of the donor patterns and let the bottom points extend below the hem of the central shirt.

Big, blousey sleeves were made using the donor plaid shirts. Each one had a large strip of the black and white fabric as the top with the plaid along the bottom. They were gathered slightly into salvaged cuffs with a rolled hem space between the edges. The contrasting cuff was used for each sleeve and the sleeves contrast with the side inserts. (so the sides and cuffs match)

The drama level of what was done to this point meant that the neckline needed to stand up so a large ruffle was made from the black and white fabric which was soft and flowy. There was enough of the darker plaid left to edge the inside of the neck and tie it all together.

This turned out to be a little too busy, even for me, but it was a possible way to use smaller amounts of fabrics. The other flaw was that the lighter plaid fabric wasn’t wash-and-wear, but needed ironing after every wash. That was too much trouble and this one didn’t end up getting worn very much.


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Having succeeded with my first refashion of a men’s shirt to a skirt graft, I was looking to make another plus-sized dress in the same style. The second attempt started with a men’s 3X plaid shirt. While it was in mint condition, the dullness of the colours had kept me from using it as one of the basic tunic tops. A pretty little black linen skirt looked to be a good match so I put them together. The skirt was quite small, a 6 or 8, but had a very wide flare to the bottom so I was able to keep around 8” and still have the top edge line up with my shirt hem. I really liked that the skirt looks like it has a couple of layers due to the edging of black eyelet lace on it’s bottom.

There was enough room in the shirt that I was able to do some shaping around the waist. I put in a pair of darts below the breast-line as well as taking in the side seams slightly at the waist. This was done before altering the rest of the shirt.

Once the waist shaping was done, I cut out the side seams to just below where I’d come in at the waist. Then, a pair of triangle inserts were cut from the skirt fabric and sewn in. They give both some accent to the sides and a bit more swing to the hemline.


The bottom of the shirt was cut to a straight line, folded over and sewn down to the skirt cut-off.

The shirt was more than wide enough on the arms so they were simply cut off at 3/4 length.

It was starting to look pretty dressy at this point so I decided to run with it. I had a black silk velvet scarf in the stash and used it to both trim the sleeves and make a new top for the collar. As before, the original collar was removed and used as a pattern for the replacement. In this case, I wanted a bit more drama to it, so I kept the same shape at the bottom of the collar but expanded it at the top. To do it, I traced the original on some craft paper and then sketched out some possibles. Once I had something I liked, I folded it over and cut the second side to make sure they matched. Since the new pattern had stayed the same at the bottom, it fitted perfectly. Black interfacing was needed, due to the transparency of the silk velvet.


Finally, a set of fancy buttons finish the look. While they look great, they are a bit too big to fit through the buttonholes so the front was sewn down and the buttons sewn into place over their buttonholes. Making them completely decorative was optional but the sew-down should prevent future ironing problems.


(I want to mention that while the pictures make it look like the skirt is significantly lighter than the collar and trim, it really isn’t. I had to fade the pictures out a bit so you could see any detail on the skirt due to the intensity of it’s blackness!)


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This was another of the more experimental pieces. I’ve seen a number of reclaimed designs that used panels from different shirts, typically with a straight fall from below the bust-line, and I wanted to see how I liked that style.

I started with a trio of blue men’s shirts. All were on the smaller side and pretty boring so a co-coordinating scarf was added into the mix to give some contrast. The one I chose to use as the central point was still a bit small so the sleeves were cut out and it was fully opened up the sides. It’s front was cut off, just down from my bust-line and the backs of the other 2 shirts were cut out and then slightly gathered to make a new bottom to the front. They were both cut a bit more than half-way across, just as the hemlines started to curve back up. This meant that I ended up with a generous amount of each fabric and was able to use the existing bottom hems. A stripe of the dark scarf was added down the sides and it’s bottom hem curved so it bridged the gap between the shorter back hem and the lower start of the front curve.


Roomy, half-length sleeves were made from the old fronts of the shirts that provided the front. I went with one of each, but you could make a matching pair. They were edged with more of the accent scarf fabric. (I found it much easier to put the trim on the sleeves when they were still flat)


To finish things off, the top of the collar was also replaced with the accent fabric. Again, the easiest way to do this is to remove the old collar and use it as the pattern for the new one. Unfortunately, ironing is necessary but it does pay off in the how much more finished the final product looks!


I found this to be a good way to use some the duller shirts that were, luckily, in a similar colour group. The finished piece was very comfortable and it’s a style that makes it easy to control and personalize the new fit, even if I don’t think the drop style of the front flatters me personally. Unfortunately, the scarf fabric turned out to be extremely unstable and it didn’t hold up to repeated washing so it didn’t survive many wearings. I should have clued into the potential problem when I saw how loose the weave was but I was seduced by how perfectly it tied all the colours together. Lesson learned!

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