Archive for October, 2009


Pattern Crush: Busybodies

601 Comments »   Posted by gretchen |  Category:Family, Inspiration, Sewing


Back in the day, it was actually cheaper to make clothes than to buy them.  My mother made most of the clothes my sister and I wore, and we loved it.  Going to the fabric store to choose a pattern, picking out the fabric for the new outfit, listening to Mom sew and sew until it was all done!  Around the early 90s, the fine people at Butterick came up with a new line of patterns for girls: Busybodies.  The clothes were fashionable, yet could stand up to some time on the playground.  This didn’t mean a thing to me and my sister; for us, it was all about the Busybodies Girls.

The same four (illustrated) girls were depicted on every pattern cover.  A cross between The Babysitters Club and Sweet Valley Twins, they were the girls my sister and I wanted to be: fashionable, carefree, and confident, with beautiful hair and killer accessories.

As anyone who sews can tell you, it is totally awesome to take something that is just an idea, or a picture, and turn it into a unique piece of custom clothing.  Busybodies opened up that door for me.  I fell in love with those illustrated girls, and my mom was able to give me my own little part of the Busybodies world.  It wasn’t too long before I began sewing my own clothing, and eventually, it was no longer about Becoming a Busybodies Girl- it was about making my OWN clothes and developing my own style.

I still have a soft spot for those girls.  I called my sister up to tell her about a Busybodies pattern I’d seen at a thrift store recently.  We still agree that they are the coolest girls we’ve ever seen.


I had my mom make an exact replica of this illustration!  Proudly wearing my new outfit on the first day of fifth grade.

PS: Thanks, Mom for the hundreds of outfits you sewed for all of us!


Grocery Bag Art

1,353 Comments »   Posted by gretchen |  Category:Crafts, Home Decor, Travel


When we lived in Santiago a few years ago, trips to the Jumbo grocery store were an event I’d look forward to.  First of all, it’s more than just a grocery- they carry things like coat hangers and DVDs.  They also carry American foods like peanut butter and toaster strudel that were impossible to find anywhere else.

Brian saved a bunch of the Jumbo grocery bags, and they were just sitting in a drawer, when inspiration struck.  I decided that the adorable Jumbo elephant would look great next to the deer featured on my Adelaide Fringe poster.  I cut the logo off a bag and put it in a record frame.  When we moved into our current place, Brian reminded me that there were a few more bags, so I picked out a few more to frame.  We’re now greeted by a collection of happy elephants every time we enter our place.

Bonus photo:

The mayonnaise aisle at a Jumbo.  A security guard came up to me after I took this photo.



Lace Garland-Yea or Nea?

1,591 Comments »   Posted by gretchen |  Category:Crafts, Home Decor, Sewing

Livy at A Field Journal posted about this beautiful paper lace garland a while ago.  I finally got around to making it (sewing machine/ motivation issues) and put it up above the bed.  I’m not totally satisfied.  Should I make some more?  Should I put the garland somewhere else, and then put some sort of wall hanging above the bed?  I really like the garland itself, I just don’t know if it should go above the bed.




Bookshelf to Hutch Transformation


I think you’d be hard pressed to find a 20something who doesn’t have a particle board bookshelf in her apartment.  I think they’re so ubiquitous because real wood bookshelves are: a) expensive and b) tend to look like they were made by the Amish.  In our last place, we used our bookshelf to hold books.  We bought an Expedit bookcase from Ikea to hold our books and hobby supplies, so ye old particle board bookshelf was just sitting there.  I then came up with the brilliant idea of transforming it into a hutch.  I thought it would make our dining area seem a bit more obvious, as if the hutch is saying, “Yes, see, people eat here… my plates and various crockery are proof!”

To spruce up the old girl, I first took out the top two shelves and attached craft paper with double sided tape to the back.  I did kind of a crummy job cutting the top of the paper, so I’m on the hunt for some cute tape to cover up the jagged edge.  It is amazing how just some brown paper really gave the bookshelf some more depth.

I have these great dessert plates from Anthropologie that were a birthday gift from my sister a few years ago.  Sadly, they’ve just sat in my kitchen cupboards all this time!  I attached them to the back of the shelf with that putty you can use to put up posters.  I also made a little snake of putty that I put on the bottom of each plate to help them stay put.  They’ve been up for a few days now, and they’re holding quite well.

I found some clearance Amy Butler fabric (like $5 a yard!) to make the skirt.  I just did a quick sew job, as if I were making a little curtain.  A tension rod holds it up.

Now, the funny thing about all this is that with the exception of the desert plates, I don’t actually own any dishware worth showing off.  The antique radio (it still works!) passed down through Brian’s family seems to compensate just a bit.




All and all, the transformation cost about $10.   Anyone else have a cheap and quick furniture transformation?


With the Candlestick in the Conservatory


So, one of our local TV stations has started airing these little commercials that feature photos from different cities in the area.  One night, we’re watching TV and Brian shouts out “Wait!” and pauses the DVR.  He has my attention at this point, so we watch this commercial that features photos of Tacoma, where he grew up.  One of the photos is of this beautiful, gigantic greenhouse.

“Do you know where that is?” I ask.

“Yeah, that’s in Wright Park.  It’s across the street from Stadium” * (Stadium is the beautiful and historic high school featured in the film 10 Things I Hate About You.  Brian went to school there.  He was also an extra in the film.  He can name all of the time codes where he pops up… but I digress.)

“Why haven’t you taken me there on a date?  What’s it like?  Let’s go!”

“Hmm, I don’t think I’ve actually been there before…”  We then get into a discussion of how the place was always closed, and the park was kind of sketchy, and what teenage boy wants to hang out in an indoor garden after school.  Meanwhile, I’ve slipped off into an alternate world where I’M the one who got to go to a high school shaped like a castle with an English garden across the street (MY high school was originally built with no interior walls, so the learning wasn’t, like, confined to the classrooms, man.  From what I hear it was like trying to go to school in a Costco.)

Anyhoo, I looked up the info and found out that it is called the W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory.  We visited today and while it was much, much smaller than I imagined, it was a great date.  Before we went, I thought I’d enjoy the architecture more, but I actually found the plants themselves to be the main attraction (go figure).  We picked up a few plants from the gift shop: Chenille Plant and Coleus.  Holy crap, the Chenille Plant may actually take some skill to keep alive.  Wish me luck.





*In the name of accurate blog-keeping, the park is not literally across the street from the high school (A fact that I pointed out to Brian.  His reply: “Well, yes, but if you said that it was, anyone who’d gone to Stadium would agree.”)

Bonus Material: Brian re-creating a Senior Picture pose:


The Beautiful Castle School: