Category: make it yourself!

bead simple: a new jewelry-making book by susan beal

bead simple by susan beal

my online pal, writer and crafter/designer susan beal (of west coast crafty fame) just came out with a gorgeous new jewelry-making tome called bead simple, which is jam-packed with information, instructions, and a huge selection of projects that promise to make the making of jewelry with beads and baubles super-easy, and the results of such making stunning.

the thing that really sets bead simple apart from the pack, i think, is the clean, modern feel of the art direction of the book as a whole. well-lit, thoughtfully-arranged photos and simple illustrations abound, and are coupled with easy-to-understand instructions. as a complete work, the book is a superb, approachable launch pad for any reader/crafter’s creativity and idiosyncratic personal style.

another facet of the book that i feel takes it to another level is the inclusion of reams of projects created by a cabal of crafters whose names are well-known to those in the know: jennifer perkins, leah kramer, and many, MANY more. this gathering of creative folks gives the book a diverse feel…ensuring that there’s something for everyone as far as projects and inspiration are concerned.


some of my favorite projects from the book include…

this riotously colorful bracelet formed from deliciously disparate beads (by jennifer perkins):

bead simple by susan beal

i’m a vintage button fangirl, so why this one caught my eye is obvious:

bead simple by susan beal


and…full disclosure: i have a project in the book as well! it’s these low and swingy ‘pop organic’ earrings, that can be found on page 55 (should you possibly be interested).

bead simple by susan beal


thanks, susan, for allowing me to participate and create a project for your book! i’m so proud of you.

threadbanger: patterns, burda syle and compai’s book release party

i personally don’t find patterns or the art of dressmaking hard to decipher (having 20+ years of experience in sewing under my belt at this juncture), but i know MANY folks out there do find it all to be quite the challenge, and i know people are craving instruction or just any help with this craft, period. i hear it all the time.

so, to boot and bolster those begging for help and inspiration, see this: in a recent episode, the ever awesome threadbanger checks in with some creative folks who promise to make that pattern-following process easier: burdastyle, who offers fabulous free patterns (with lots of great instruction to boot), and compai, who just released a new book of explicit ideas on how to rock and reuse a scarf.

(apropos of nothing besides the contents of that video, i’m totally grooving on nora of burdastyle’s plaid blouse! check out the opposing plaids in it’s yoke! anyone with me? ha.)

right on, rob and corrine! good stuff as always.

haute picks from

i’ve raved about burdastyle before, but i’ll blab on about it again, in the event you’re just joining me…as i’ve been taking a look at their site again recently. i’m totally grooving on it…again! is a website created by the german-based sewing pattern company, burda, and it’s essentially a great open-source resource of super stylish sewing patterns, available for free via the web. said patterns are accompanied by how-tos, a bustling little community of fashionable makers who discuss making and altering clothing and such in the burdastyle forums, and a cool little blog that keeps the interested updated on associated contests, tips, and the latest pattern offerings on the site. you can use the patterns for your own use, and unbelievably, can also use some the patterns to make clothing to sell in small collections (hence the open-source description).

armed with some semblance of sewing skill and flair for fabrics, i believe that a savvy fashionista could, in theory (and in practice!) cobble together a mighty fine wardrobe of completely au courant, on-trend clothing, without shelling out any cash for patterns. the only necessary items to attain said patterns? adhesive tape, a printer, and printer paper. genius!


to prove my above point, i’ve made a point of picking what i see as some of the basic pieces of a fun little wardrobe, put together with a few choice selections from burdastyle’s current catalog of patterns. also, because i’m like that, i’ve also included some suggestions of what to wear them with/styling ideas. enjoy!


first up, a super simple long sleeve tee they’ve named the lydia, which is meant for knit fabrics.


while this would look great on it’s own, it’s really a quintessential layering piece: put it under short-sleeved sweaters, under or over other tees and tanks, with a high-waisted skirt, you name it! also, being so basic a pattern, it also seems to me it’s literally calling out for creative customization: why not make the tee out of other old tees or salvaged knits from your personal stash or from finds from your local thrift? you could also break up the pattern by adding seams, or a yoke, for some further interest. sounds sort of cliche, but this pattern is so wide open as far as options that the sky is really the limit as far as what you could do with it.


i am in lurve(!) with this lovely vest, called the franzi.


very menswear-ish, natch. immediately, pairing it with oxfords and some sharp skinnies or nice wide legs seems obvious. but it would look mighty fine over a little dress, paired with a beat up old vintage tee, over a tank top, with a sharp straight skirt, anything. another key piece just begging to be layered up in an innovative way. and fabric choices are wide-open, too: you could go all traditional and use wool menswear fabrics in plaids and tweeds…or go in a completely different direction and use patchwork, slick silk satin or taffeta in a jewel tone, or even dark denim. what you chose as far as fabrication would certainly signify your personal style…and that’s what i think is the loveliest thing about this one. mix the pattern up and leave off the pockets, or cut them from a different cloth! and as for the buttons? well, i can see a motley collection of varied buttons living on the front of this thing (with buttonholes in various sizes and contrasting colors with the buttonhole thread to match, perhaps?), or you could even make your own covered buttons to match coordinate with the colors and fabric of the vest itself. you could also do some beautiful embroidery on said covered buttons to take them to the next level and have the vest feel just a little couture.

even tho i’m currently pregs, i’m seriously pondering making this vest up myself, maybe in a couple of colors, to layer and leave open, letting zee growing belly poke out. one maybe in dark denim? yeah, fun! will certainly let you know (and post the results!)…if i get around to it!


this easy-peasy dress, called the anda, is so simple, it could be attempted even by the most beginning sewer.


the fit is loose and has lots of ease, what with the drawnstring waist and empire line! any fabric seems like a possibility with this one: a soft rayon in bright florals, a crisp but lightweight cotton or cotton gauze, even a lightweight denim or wool would work. would be perfect over jeans (maybe burdastyle’s anita skinny jeans, below?), with some cute tights or leggings paired with boots, over a simple tee like the lydia, above. why not add a small peter-pan collar, change the drawstring to become two pieces you can tie at the sides rather than the front? or, you could perhaps add drawstring at the bottom as well to make it bubble. i love that last idea, myself.

i’d switch out the neck and armhole binding for actual facings, though (which differs from the pattern instructions), if i were making it…seems sturdier to me and looks more finished. (but i am totally a gal who likes *everything* i make or wear to be very finished and perfect…alas, i digress, as that’s a subject more suited for a whole other, unrelated to the subject-at-hand post! ha.)


this here is the linda skirt, a very full number that could be an easy afternoon sewing project and perhaps, a workhorse of any closet.


i have a few skirts like this, myself. and i find them so fun to wear. the sheer amount of fabric ensures a swishy walk, which is really feminine and fun. it’s equally cute in any length, from mini to the floor. i like wearing mine with high boots or demure little ballet-type flats, and i find that the ones i like the best are made of sturdy types of cloth like denim or lightweight canvas…something on the stiffer side, for body. but really, a softer, floatier version might suit someone else’s fancy just fine, especially if they like things super fem. i find i like to pair mine with fitted tops, sweaters and jackets, because the proportion seems better that way, counterbalancing the fullness of the skirt itself. easy ways you might alter or add to such a sweet skirt might include: adding a thicker/wider waistband, or maybe attaching straps (or even a bib!) to the waistband as is, for a little jumper-style skirt.


want skinnies? make your own with the anita jeans.


get some denim with some stretch, and you’re good to go! important if you want to be able to bend and live without binding! the details are what really make this one: the back pockets are asymmetrical, making them pretty unique. do ’em up in colored or white denim, or make them super basic in black or blue. a zipper on the ankles, a la so many skinnies these days, might not be a bad addition. or, you could even take the zipper thing to the next level by using one half of a metal zipper to stand in as piping on the edge of a pocket, or even down the side seams!


(all images above from


more extremely cute burdastyle patterns:

-the malissa: a knit tent dress

-the laurelle: a straight skirt meant to be done up in denim

-the talea: a wooly winter coat with vintage appeal, meant for the more advanced seamstress


what are your favorites from burdastyle’s collection?
have you made anything from the burdastyle site?

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me: bloggin

guess what?!

i am now blogging for the ever so awesome threadbanger, on the threadbanger blog!

my first post, beret brained! was posted today.

keep your eyes peeled…i’ll be waxing poetic on DIY clothesmaking and musing about fashion in general over there (in addition to here, of course!) on a regular basis.

see you there!

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(oldie but goodies): posts of yore!

i am digging deep into the vaults to resurrect some old posts on bits and bobbins you might enjoy/find interesting:

does street (fashion) influence fashion, or vice versa? some notes and thoughts from a panel discussion i attended in september 2006, here in san francisco.

an inspiring, colorful quote from interior design maverick, david hicks!

some facts about me. a bio of sorts!

fashion versus style. a discussion!

-a zig-zag, crazy-ass scarf pattern! for you! by me!

bashing the trendbashing. as in, following trends slavishly and dogging things for being “tired” or “overrated” is just that.

-on risk taking, and dressing one’s age. what do you think?

why i believe that a head to toe photograph is important, when it comes to wardrobe_remix photographs. (FYI: one of the most fundamental rules of w_r is that submissions must be in a HEAD TO TOE format…from the tip of your head to the shoes on your feet!)


i may resurrect more as time goes on. it’s pretty fun to look back sometimes, even for moi!

(seems i have found more time this week to post than previously thought…and i was able to line up a couple posts ahead of time/when i had a few extra minutes of downtime! which is good, because next week-ish, things get crazier with the move! not sure what will happen! eee!)

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burda style: free sewing patterns on the web

burda, the german-based sewing pattern company is behind what i think is an extremely clever idea: FREE sewing patterns one can download off the web! open-source sewing!

burda style patterns.png
(photo via burda style)

no need to constantly strategically plan trips to one’s local fabric store, or shell out piles of cash for patterns if you don’t wanna…burda makes these select and stylishly modern patterns (and more) available via their burda style website. you simply download the pdf’s of the pattern, print them and the provided instructions, assemble the pattern as needed, and sew!

want to make it green, too? you could always use recycled fabric or linens from the local thrift store/charity shop or your closet as the source for the fabric for these fashionable frocks!

perfect for those of you out there who like to take fashion into your own hands…and not always leave it in the hands of major corporations.


i’m loving the marie skirt, myself (that’s the one second row down, second photo from left in the grid of photos shown above). it kind of reminds me of the peg skirt portion of the dress i made as one of my final garments while studying at parsons! i think it would be quite sassy (and more than a little sexy!) in a metallic (perhaps brightly colored?) lamè, perfect for hitting the town and probably pretty with one of my favored cocktail hats! i may have to swing by the discount fabrics later today and see what i can see. hmmm!!


(via nikkishell, of wardrobe refashion fame!)

shoes(and)shoelaces=style it up!

gutter feet

new shooz

found the yellow pair today while shopping on haight street. as i walked up to the register to purchase them, i saw a big rack of brightly colored sneaker shoelaces on a rack on the wall, and had an fashion-y epiphany: why not buy some shoelaces to fancy up some of my shoes, particularly those of the peeptoe variety? i bought some orange fluorescent laces and gold metallic laces to play around with.


shoelaces come in a million colors, widths, and lengths. be creative! shoelaces can be used in so many ways. here are some quick styling ideas:

form a bow on the top of your shoe…simply tie it on like i’ve done here (wrapping around until the shoelaces are shorter to make a nicer, smaller bow), or use a leather punch to form holes in the top of your shoe, and thread through.

utilize them as an ankle straps…some shoes come with a little loop on the back near the heel. simply slip the shoelace through and tie on your ankle as you wish! criss, cross, and tie high, or let them slouch low and relaxed around your ankle.

use them decorate the edge of a plain vintage pump, flat or sneaker in your closet or that you’ve thrifted: punch holes @ regular intervals along the edge of a shoe with a leather punch, then thread the laces in and out of the holes. you could even do a single crochet stitch around the edge (if you know how to crochet!), a blanket stitch, or whipstitch. instead of shoelaces, you could use great yarn or strips of fabric in the same way…how cool would that be?

the possibilities seem endless, really!
make suggestions for more uses! i’d love to hear them.


i leave you with a thought:

maybe original, trendsetting style comes partly from looking at things in a new manner/from a new perspective…in other words, “how can i interpret this (new or old) item/thing in a *new* way?”

that is what is really quite beautiful about the fact that the world is populated with unique human beings, who are, in theory, all DIFFERENT. we all have different dna, different cells, different bodies, different minds, different life experiences. we’re all arguably bound to look at the world around us in different ways. with those differing viewpoints come different thoughts, different ideas…sometimes even completely new and original ones! it’s such a beautiful thing!

as one of my missions in life, i want to celebrate, and elevate that difference. difference is what makes us all interesting and special!