December 10, 2010

A Dying Experiment

Kludging goal: Make black/white dress more interesting, cover up some previously existing dye bleeds
Kludging skill level: Apprentice
Permanence: Permanent
Starting materials: Dress, RIT dye
Required tools: Drywall bucket, rubber gloves, paint stirrer, lots of water

I found a really great BB Dakota dress at a thrift shop and snatched it up for a few bucks. I really liked the style and fit of the dress, but its black and white color scheme was a little boring and waitressy for me.

On today's menu: Yawns.

Another issue was that when the previous owner had washed the dress, some of the black dye from the skirt had bled onto the white top. It was not very noticeable, but I figured I could try to cover it up.

I decided to buy a package of magenta fabric dye and try to spruce this baby up. I followed the directions on the dye package closely, dissolving the dye in a small amount of water before adding it to the larger bucket.

The world's first look at our hideous basement shower. Ta-da!

I dipped just the top half of the dress into the dye, swishing it around with the paint stirrer. I also threw a beige corduroy jacket in the dye bath on a whim.

Just out of the dye bath.
The color turned out very nicely. It hid the majority of the bled areas, too. For just a few dollars spent on dye, now this dress is one of my favorites!

Hot to Trot

Kludging goal: Keep slingback straps from slipping, cushion peep toe squish
Kludging skill level: Beginner
Permanence: Semi-permanent
Starting materials: Slingback shoes, Shoe Goo/Household Goop/Similar silicone all-purpose glue, Gel shoe inserts
Required tools: Scissors

I found a fantastic pair of peep-toe slingbacks on an emergency day-before-a-fancy-wedding-and-I-have-nothing-to-wear run to DSW. They are by Paris Hilton...but let's pretend they're not, okay? Not only were they 90% off the original price, but, well just look at them:

The hotness.

The problem is, they're peep toe slingbacks. Neither peep toes nor slingbacks work on my feet. Of course I bought them anyway.

I gave the shoes a test-run around the house and was confronted with my usual problems with shoes of the peep and sling persuasion-- the strap slipped off my heel and my toes jammed through the opening in the front. In short, I couldn't take two steps in them. I was determined to make them work, so I got out a pair of scissors, my Household Amazing Goop, and a gel shoe insert and got to kludging.

Make it work time.

I first cut two long strips from the gel insert and glued them from the side buckle to the side seam on the slingback straps.


Then I cut two half-circles from the gel insole and glued them to the inside of the big-toe area of the peep toe.

It worked perfectly! The grabbyness of the gel kept the straps from slipping, and the cushionyness of the gel kept my toes from being squished through the peep toe opening. I danced the night away at my friend's (gorgeous) wedding and my feet were comfortable the whole time. I even perfected a little high-step trot in order to show off the shoes' pink soles. Subtlety first!

September 2, 2010

From frumpy to flirty

Kludging goal: Make a cute skirt out of an ugly one
Kludging skill level: Some basic sewing skills required
Permanence: No going back
Starting materials:  A long elastic-waist skirt, much too big
Required tools: Seam ripper, sharp scissors, straight pins, sewing machine or needle & thread

I've seen cute short, full skirts with elastic waists everywhere this summer. It seemed like an easy thing to find at a thrift store, but I struck out. I did find this big ugly skirt, though, which got the kludging juices flowing.

Mother of the Bride meets Big Love

The overall size was much too big, but it seemed well-constructed out of a pale blue silk. It had an existing elastic waist, so I knew it would be a cinch to cinch.

I started by ripping a hole in the inside of the waistband and then cut the elastic.

These are my Don't Run With Scissors scissors.
Then I tried the skirt on and yanked the free end of the elastic through until it fit my waist.

When I was satisfied with the waist, I pinned the elastic in place and cut off the excess. I then stitched the elastic to the waistband to keep it in place.

Next came the shortening; I measured a skirt I already had that was an appropriate length, and cut the new skirt to the same length, plus 3" extra for the hem.

Next came a quick hem: I measured and marked where I wanted the hem to end up, folded the bottom edge under twice, pinned*, and sewed the whole way around. Quick and easy.

*I never do this unless I absolutely can't get away with it. The slipperiness of the silk made it impossible to just fold and sew without pinning. I huffed about it the whole 3 minutes it took me.  

Pin marks the hem length. Folding once...

...and twice.

Pinned the whole way around. Something this kludger almost never does.

A quick stitch.
Spoiler alert: I was too lazy to iron the hem flat. 

I'm very happy with the way it turned out. I've worn this skirt several times since I made it (it's a bit too short for work, so it's not as versatile as it could have been). Most times I've tucked a tank into the skirt and covered the waistband with a wide elastic belt.

So what is it you do here?

Welcome to The Style Kludge! 
Outfit results not typical.
This blog stems from my love of fashion and my unwillingness to do anything about it. Since a very young age, I have safety-pinned, packaging-taped, stapled, knotted, glued, and rubber-banded my way to a customized wardrobe. I've never had much patience for "real" sewing (I made a dress from a pattern one time, at age 12. The fabric was black with red and white dice all over it; I wore it once. My track record is not good), but I've always been creative and experimental with clothing. Even my Barbie clothes were covered in puffy paint and held together with Elmer's. It wasn't until recently that I discovered that this isn't the norm for everyone else. You mean you buy stuff off the rack? At a store? And just...wear it? When I happened across the wonderful word kludge, I knew that's the perfect way to describe what I do, and why I do it. With this blog, I hope to share some kludging techniques and learn some from my readers. Enjoy!