Jewelry For Travel

The topic of this post is simple jewelry designs to help pull your looks together while travelling.   Of course, these can be worn at any time and necklaces add a little interest while coordinating with basic clothing pieces.   These are me-made, and more inspiration can be found on Pinterest.    The post I wrote about my London trip better shows my overall cohesive plan.

The necklace on the left is a wire wrap technique, which means that wire is wrapped with a loop on each end. The bead is in the middle.  A series of loops link together forming a long necklace.

The necklace on the right is a simple stringing project where beads and spacers are strung in a pattern with a closure in the back.

Variation = Versatility
Both necklaces complimented my wardrobe pieces by combining neutral colors. To offer the most versatility, I constructed them by varying the lengths and varying the bead size.   Although I love scarves as an alternative to spice up a neutral outfit, I prefer to wear necklaces if the temps are warm.

Questions To Ask 

What kind of trip will it be? ¬†A beach vacation, a work conference, or a family reunion all require specific wardrobes, so the jewelry included (if any) will be different. ¬† I want simple and easy ‘go-to’ items that add detail that makes the outfit looked finished and that I put a little extra time into the overall look. ¬† I don’t pack items of great value, but I do ask myself if I would be really disappointed if the item(s) broke or were stolen. ¬†Although I would miss these pieces if something happened, I also ask, ‘Can I remake or replace this jewelry?’ ¬†If yes, then in the bag it goes.

Assorted beads from my bead stash

Assorted beads from my bead stash

40 inch assorted bead necklace

40 inch assorted bead necklace

Discover Your Preferred Necklace Lengths
Trends in jewelry come and go. Classics like pearls and gold chains seem to remain strong, but it is the length that is important and very individualized.   I like more substantial pieces and have a shorter and longer length I keep coming back to that seem right for me.

If I want a longer necklace that has the potential to be doubled up, I have discovered that 40″ is a good length for me, especially if I include a closure in the back. ¬†That way I can unfasten it and place the closure in the front, avoiding pulling it over my head. ¬† Another length I prefer is at the collar bone. ¬†I have written about it here¬†and here. ¬†Toggle closures are bigger and can be fasten easily.

Navy, gold, silver, light pink, shell, pearl beads

Navy, gold, silver, light pink, shell, pearl beads

A closer look. Most beads from Joann's

Many of these beads are from Joann’s and from my stash

Design and Composition

Sometimes it helps to take a closer look at the beads, their arrangement and the tiny beads or spacers in between. I have written about going into stores and making a beeline to the accessories to check out the jewelry designs. Keep an eye out for jewelry that can be re-purposed or re-designed to your taste. ¬†If you like to bead, you may recognize in the picture above some of these beads from the Joann’s. ¬† Often the collections are a blend of beautifully colored beads. ¬†All that is needed is to string them up!

Small lobster claw closure

Small lobster claw closure used with a split ring

Metals Used Instead of Color
Using colored beads is not the only way to add interest in a bead design. Sometimes adding metals does the trick.   Adding the wonderful warmth of copper or the cool tones of silver and pewter translate as color and can add so much to the overall color scheme our eye sees.   Gold can be used instead of yellow and blackened silver can add the black to ground a design and add some shine.

Since mixing metals is a current fashion trend, I used gold square spacers on the sides of the navy blue stone beads and pewter/dark gray spacers (above photo) to incorporate a dark gray into the design.

Gold pewter toggle closure

Gold pewter toggle closure

I didn’t get many outfit posts recorded, however, here is one taken while walking late across the Westminster Bridge toward Big Ben.

Dressed for Big Ben

Dressed for Big Ben

Other simple choices for travel were the earrings I packed.  All of them were purchased and could be worn interchangeably with the necklaces.

Do you have some versatile jewelry pieces you like to pack? ¬†Do you even bother to pack jewelry? ¬†Would you consider making your own jewelry? ¬†Please share your comments below, cuz’ I want to hear!:)

Happy sewing , creating, travelling, packing, etc.!:)



Simply Pink New Look 6340

There is nothing like triple digit temperatures to make you grab some fabric and a pattern and run to your sewing machine! ¬†If you are looking for a quick, simple sundress to make for your summer wardrobe, look no further than New Look 6340. ¬† Let me back up and say that I haven’t posted in a while because I have been packing (sewing) for an upcoming trip. Before that, I was cleaning up my sewing room (a HUGE task and you don’t want to see that). ¬†I even donated some fabric! ¬†However, due to the scorching heat outside, I have torn myself away from those tasks to make up this quick dress (and necklace).

I don’t care for the hot summers in Tucson, Arizona but I love¬†the winters. So here I am in June and in need of the coolest possible dress to wear…EVER. Meet New Look 6340.¬† This pattern is perfect made out of a light weight cotton. ¬†I made a size 14. ¬†I purchased my fabric from Joann’s a while ago, so it qualifies as a stash buster. ¬†This pattern offers 4 dress styles with notched, slightly scooped and V neck options. ¬†Pockets and sleeves are optional. Two hemline variations offered and side seam ties can be added to tie in back and offer some additional shaping. I chose to leave off the ties.

Quick glance at New Look 6340

Quick glance at New Look 6340

Center front seems are not my favorite because they break up a print. ¬†To get around this, I try to find an all over print that ‘reads’ as a solid and then the center seam doesn’t bother me as much.

Pocket shaped detail

Pocket with shaped detail

This pocket shape is not offered in the pattern, however a pleated version is offered. I decide to add a little bit of interest to the top of the pocket by shaping it with an inverted point at the center and facing it with a 1″ strip. I copied the shape on the strip and sewed the two pieces together, right sides together. ¬†Next step wass to stitch and trim, clip the curves, turn and press. Because cotton ravels during washing, I serge-finished the pocket edges. ¬†Press under the remaining three sides and top stitch. ¬† I used the pattern marking for the pocket and used fusible tape to secure the pockets before stitching.

A-Line dress with center back seam

A-Line dress with center back seam

The hem is a simple 5/8″ seam turned under and top stitched.

Now you know I have to make a necklace to wear with my outfits, right? ¬†I was fortunate to find some pink and orange ceramic beads and a¬†metal leaf focal pendant at Joann’s. ¬†I added some amber colored faceted crystal beads and some size 6 glass pink seed beads. ¬†It’s a pretty simple design and easy execution with a gold toggle clasp.

Self made necklace with beads and pendant from Joanns

Self made necklace with beads and pendant from Joanns

Ceramic, glass and metal necklace

Ceramic, glass and metal necklace

So there you have it. ¬†I came out of hiding to photograph two simple makes and now I’m on my way to be better prepared for the heat! ¬†Now I have to get back to finishing another¬†¬†TNT shirt for my husband for Father’s Day. What have you been working on for the summer?

Gray and Beige Equals Greige

Greige Outfit and Necklace

Greige Outfit and Necklace

Is there a neutral color that gets your attention every time? ¬†It may be certain shades of gray, tan or camel or a interesting combination of shades you can’t even describe. ¬†Well this is mine. ¬†I love this boring and funky color of brown/gray/beige. ¬†I bet many of you would call it something entirely different. ¬†It is another alternative to black, and a bit more complimentary to my coloring.
I scored the necklace at a local art fair and loved the combination of colored stones set in sterling silver.  Earrings are self made by adding a bead to a post finding from my stash.
Back to the outfit. ¬†I found the fabric at Jo Ann’s in the Famous Maker are which means it retails for $9.99 but eligible for coupons. ¬†I bought what was left on the bolt.

The skirt is a column skirt Рnothing special.  Just measure the length, add seam allowances for elastic waist and hem.  Measure around hips when sitting down and add 1-2 inches for ease.  I added a tricot stretchy lining since the fabric is see-through.  I copied the measurements of the skirt and made the lining just a bit smaller.

Tricot Lining

Tricot Lining

The pattern is from Sewing Workshop / Ann’s Cardigan and Tank. ¬†I noticed this pattern on Linda Lee on the Craftsy Sewing Fashion Knits online course in my personal Craftsy library. ¬†I think I have gushed over Linda before about her eye for color (and fabric) and the course if a great advertisement for some of her fabric and pattern choices as she describes some great techniques for working for knits.

Pattern Front 618WIMG_2729

Pattern Front and Line Drawing

Pattern Back618WIMG_2730

Quick back view to help you prepare

A quick look at the pattern shown here gives you and idea of what fabric type and yardage you’ll need.


Pumps from Kohl’s (old)

Godet Featured618WIMG_2707

Back comes forward forming a godet (a triangle shape)

The magic of the drape of the cardigan happens at the hip line.

Hipline 618WIMG_2718

Side slit of tank top

Above photo shows the side slit of the tank.  Notice I left the hem edges raw.
Changes in the future I would make:The tank has a modern silhouette with the points but the length is a little short on me. I like the length with this ensemble because there is so much of this color and the proportions work out, but in the future, I will lengthen the tank by cutting the tank pattern at the waist and adding length there instead of the hem. That way, it won’t add more bulk at the hips. ¬†DON’T NEED THAT.

Here is an up close view of the tank neckline and necklace. ¬†The neckline is turned under and sewn with two rows of top stitching. ¬†I love using two fusible tapes for the neckline: ¬†Design Plus Bias Fusible from LJ Designs This is used to stabilize and serge. Then I apply Dritz Wash Away Wonder Tape¬†in the 1/4 inch width to help fuse the edge to the underside. ¬†Then, carefully top stitch. Don’t do this late at night or too hopped up on caffeine!

PS NecklaceIMG_2720[1]

Doorway2 618WIMG_2705

Happy with the results

The pattern is a bit pricey, but if you are a cardigan girl like me, the plan is to make many of these pieces to get my money’s worth. The fit is flattering no matter your size or shape. Just remember to purchase a drapey knit that highlights the cascading front. Do you have a favorite cardigan (or tank) pattern?

Winter 2014 Pattern Peek

I wish my local Joann’s store was a little quicker on putting the latest pattern catalogs and pattern magazines out on display. ¬†I get all excited only to find the store hasn’t gotten around to putting any of the patterns in the drawers. ¬†What to do? ¬† Visit Hancock’s instead!! ¬† Pour over these pages and get your list ready!

The reality is that I have so many projects in the Que, that there really is no rush.  I will be plenty busy with life, work, chores in the coming days that I need to just breathe and wait a bit longer.

I won’t be reviewing patterns in this post but rather assisting in the planning for your winter sewing.
Check out the latest VOGUE WINTER 2014 Patterns from some of the major companies.  I think I live in the wrong part of the country sometimes because I look forward to the wonderful coats and layering pieces for the colder months.  We have had such a long, hot summer in Tucson that I am ready for a change!!  No need to get in the car and drive to the fabric store just yet.  Due to the wonders of technology, feel free to flip through the pages of the mini catalogs and select your favorites.

Here is a quick peek at the McCALLS WINTER 2014 patterns for the chilly winter. There are holiday fashions, some for little people, and great outer wear and separates for my favorite topic–core wardrobe capsules.

How about KWIK SEW  I have a few winners from Kwik Sew over the years that I sew over and over. Since being purchased, they now offer tissue pattern paper instead of the old butcher paper. Also, the envelopes allow the instructions to be read before purchasing. Before, the old envelopes were sealed. They are priced somewhere between the Big 4 (on sale) and independent patterns.

There are some great Fall/Winter options in Butterick so here is a link to the BUTTERICK FALL 2014 patterns. I already possess the newest of these and can’t wait to get started. I think I will run out of cool temperatures before I finish my projects.

Let’s not forget our independent patterns. ¬† Here are a few lovelies for the colder months. ¬†LOES HINSE has designed a new jacket/cardigan called the Barcelona Jacket and can be found on the Casual Elegance website (shich is on my blogroll). It features a deep V neck and longer length and can be made up in a variety of fabrics.

There is also SERENDIPITY STUDIO Dakota Jacket that offers a great outer layer with a slightly vintage feel. I have ordered this and am making it up in teal velveteen. Can’t wait to see if it will work out. If you haven’t seen the array of Kay Whitt’s clothes, you are in for a surprise. She has a great eye for color and fabric combinations. She has a specific style that she pulls off beautifully.

Another great resource for a more ‘artsy’ or angular styled clothes is THE SEWING WORKSHOP. Linda Lee has a unique design style and these outer wear jackets can be made up in a number of ways. ¬†I am particularly curious about the new Chicago Jacket because it has a big shirt look and could be made out of light weight or heavier fabrics.

How about some Style Arc Jackets and Vests?  Talk about a great selection.  I have not used these patterns yet, but have read about some success stories on other sewing blogs.

If you are interested in a comprehensive list of independent pattern companies, click here.

Happy browsing and sewing!


ReStyled Oval Faceted Iridescent Necklace and Earrings

I bought three strands of the large oval iridescent faceted beads so that I would have enough to do two rows to mimic a bib-style necklace. I could have just strung these horizontally on beading wire as I normally do but I thought I would design this hanging the beads vertically to resemble the current bib styles.  On the blue background, I see the aurora borealis (iridescent) finish bringing out the purples and the golds, but to your eyes, you may see other colors.

Some of my most rewarding jewelry restyles are taking odds-and-end jewelry pieces from stores and various beads and then take them apart and make something new. Here is a clearance bracelet from Chico’s, beads from JoAnn’s that measure about 3/4″ long, E6000 adhesive and findings from JoAnn’s, and chain from Hobby Lobby. ¬†Some of my inspiration comes from fabric, colors in nature, internet photos, window shopping and people watching.

The following is a brief description of how to make something like this.  If you are not sure of some of the supplies or terminology, there are some great YouTube videos on how to do basic beading techniques.  You can also contact me with questions for more information or ideas for future posts.


To make the necklace and earrings, here are some of the items I used:
1.) Gold Chain approximately 30″ for the bib style from Hobby Lobby like this.
2.) Closure like a toggle, lobster claw or magnetic.
4.) Jewelry tools: wire cutters, round nose pliers, flat surface pliers to open links when needed.
5.) Bracelet from a store to be reworked. (I removed two round hammered gold decorative discs with pre-drilled holes off the bracelet for the earring posts to glue to. They aren’t even missed on the bracelet!) How about using two pretty buttons?
6.) Earring Posts like these or sterling silver options like these
7.) Dremel tool or sand paper
8.) Head pins in gold or silver to attach bead to earring back
10.) E-6000 adhesive
11.) Toothpick
12.) Napkin or paper towel
I want to make a comment on the E6000 adhesive. I normally buy the large tube, use it a couple of times and then store it away. My jewelry making can be sporadic, and by the time I get back to using the big 2 oz. tube, it has dried up and I throw it away. I was thrilled to pay the same price for 4 small tubes because I think I will actually get more value out of less product!

Before gluing the posts to the back of your earring piece, I recommend sanding the back with the Dremel or sandpaper so that the surface is given some ‘tooth’. ¬† The roughed up surface will help the glue to better adhere to the metal posts. Put a little dab of the glue on the napkin, scoop a little glue with the toothpick onto the earring backs. Allow to get tacky and then stick to earring decorative disc piece. You can wipe off excess now or later. That is why I love E6000 for this application: strong hold and easy clean up.


Here are some things to keep in mind if you want to design something like this necklace or earring for yourself.


  • Determine how long you want the necklace. ¬†My longest chain measures 18.5, which allows for the beads to hang down right where I want them to.
  • Aim for an odd number of beads. ¬†It seems to be the universal rule for ‘pleasing the eye’ ¬†or you can do whatever you like.
  • Evenly space the beads by counting the links between each bead.
  • Be willing to play around with placement. ¬†It takes some time to get the beads and layout just right.




  • The earrings were made just like the necklace beads. ¬†Although these are meant to be a set, the earrings will be¬†usable¬†by themselves with other gold jewelry. I know it’s matchy-matchy, but I don’t care.
  • Feel free to do a wire wrap instead of a loop to attach the bead to the earring post portion.
  • Allow the glue to dry at least overnight.
  • The earring loops were made the same way as the necklace. ¬† Insert the headpin up through the bead and form a loop. ¬† Cut wire allowing enough remaining to form an attractive loop but don’t close completely because you still have to insert into hole of the disc. (Or whatever you are using for the decorative earring post). ¬†Close hole.

The necklace/beads move around, so if you want something that lays perfectly every time, this design may not be for you. I don’t mind the shifting because I love the way the light catches the facets of the beads.
Here, you can see the green coming out in the beads but that is not the only color.

The necklace looks more pink-ish against the black. ¬† Because I am easily amused, what’s even¬†more¬†fun is seeing how different fabrics bring out the colors of the beads. ¬† This makes the necklace/earrings so much more versatile in my wardrobe.


I hope you have fun coming up with your own restyled/refashioned/remade design. I would love to know how your’s turns out.

6 Ways to Sew Affordably

Hancock's receipt showing pattern sale savings

Hancock’s receipts showing pattern sale savings

A question I get often is “Why bother sewing when fabric/patterns is/are so expensive?” or “Clothing is so cheap now so why would I bother taking the time to make something if I can just go buy it?” The pressure to answer this question convincingly is strong; I’m about to attempt to sell the positives of sewing over the ease of going to the mall. Or the simple click of the mouse gets items shipped right to the door. There is a valid argument here, but I try to share the affordable strategy first before getting into all of the other reasons I sew. (More on that in other posts).

I should have a standard answer by now, but I don’t. I consider myself to be very thrifty with my sewing hobby so keeping the cost down is just natural for me. That got me thinking about sharing some of the ways I keep the cost down. There are so many reasons I sew that I’m not always sure which answer to give first. So here are my ideas:

1.) Either borrow or purchase and inexpensive sewing machine for starters if you are unsure about the longevity of this hobby. Be aware, though, that you often get what you pay for in machines (not always) and frustration with a machine is the fastest way to kill enthusiasm. Have a mentor or some support nearby to help troubleshoot mechanical problems. Upgrade and invest in a better machine after you’re hooked.

2.) Sign up for weekly mailers or online alerts for sales. I know what you may be thinking…more email alerts?! Uuhgg! But social media is the way of the future and it is the most affordable way they can keep in touch with me. Some stores offer phone aps that can be downloaded and can be scanned at checkout for the current discount. Facebook is also a tool used by stores to keep you notified.

Of course the stores hope I will buy more than the sale items, and sometimes I do, but the plan is to be very focused on just what I need for the upcoming projects. For example, zippers, thread, etc. Rarely is there only one item on sale I need, so I stay on track by bringing a list.

3.) Utilize store coupons and competitors coupons when possible Check to see if major big box craft and fabric stores in your area will acknowledge each others’ coupons for discounts. There will be exceptions, but for like items, these stores are ready to make you happy for shopping in their stores. I have found Michael’s, Jo Ann’s and Hancock’s very good about this policy.

4.) For online shopping use the discount coupon code at check out. I use the coupon code printed below the paper coupon in my mailer. Sometimes there are in-store and online incentives, so be sure to read the fine print. The online discounts can often help offset the cost of shipping.

5.) Avoid paying full price for patterns. I use the flyers and sale alerts to purchase when patterns are at their lowest prices. The people who ask me about the outrageous cost of patterns today are not aware of the monthly specials on what is referred to as the “Big 4” patterns companies. Keep and eye out for the new styles online and then plan a trip to the fabric store to pick up your favorites on sale day. If I can get a few items sewn up from one pattern, even better.

*Independent patterns are the exception. I am a strong supporter of these hard working designers! The cost of production is higher for them so they must charge more. These pattern designers work harder for your money by giving more thought into the instructions, techniques, drafting and fit. Just a little perusing on some sewing blogs will show you that ‘independents’ are often more pleasing than the “Big Four” pattern companies, so support them if you can. The savings on the other patterns makes it easier to justify giving these patterns a try.

6.) Support mill end, thrift, remnant tables and other discount stores selling fabric, if possible.. In mill end stores, if you can look past the messiness and dig for treasures, this is a sure fire way to keep your fabric costs low. When manufacturers are done with their fabric for mass production, the leftovers are purchased by a mill end store at a discount and then resold at a low price. And it’s a win-win. The store makes a profit off of what might have ended up in a landfill and great deals can be had. Be aware that the fabric content can be a mystery and there may be a minimum fabric requirement left on a large piece, (for example, 2 yards must be remaining) so be prepared to buy more than planned or simply put the piece back. This can often work well to allow for shrinkage since there won’t be content descriptions or washing instruction for the fabric.

Some thrift stores offer plenty of donated fabric for sale or in the way of donated clothes that can be refashioned into something better suited to your taste.

Remnants are often drastically discounted to get it out of the store in order to make room for new shipments.

So there you have it. My main strategies to feel better about spending less money and creating quality clothing that fits my body in the colors, fabrics and styles that suit me.

What is your low-cost strategy to keep your clothing budget in check?