31 Days of Pintrest: Day 12 DIY Lace Up Boots

J. CREW FRONT LACED RIDING BOOTS Italy

Boots with corset-laced backs.    (vendor site NSFW)

I love boots. The are still so popular this season. Obivously everyone else agrees, because there are tons of them on Pintrest. I don’t know about you, but I have found that boots look great on everyone else, but not so much on me. I am stricken with a common ailment that affects millions of American women each year, it is called:

“FATTY CALF SYNDROME”.


If you or someone you love is affected by Fatty Calf Syndrome you may have the following symptoms:
Boots are too tight for your legs.

You can get into the boots, but you need someone’s help to get out of them.

You feel self concious in public, sure that all of America knows you can’t bend your legs because your boots are too tight.

You suffer great embarassment when trying to try boots on in the store because you huff and puff, and sweat trying to get them off.

You are sure that somewhere in a sweat shop in China, they are laughing at Americans who are afflicted with this condition and purposely make the boots even smaller than they are supposed to be.

You notice people watching only your feet and legs when you walk past them on the street, they never look at your face. You are sure they are thinking “How did she get those boots on?”
Fortunately, there is now a treatment for Fatty Calf Syndrome (FCS).
First find a pair of great boots in your size at a thrift store. Pay only $7.00 for them.
 Then find an ugly 1990’s era long suede skirt in the same color at the thrift store. Pay less than $4.00 for it.

Gather all your supplies, in addition to the boots and the ugly suede skirt, including sharp scissors, a hammer, a nail or leather punch, leather cement and suede cording. Pay less than $6.00 for these supplies.
Step one is to split the back of the boots down to the ankle. Cut right through the layers with your scissors, you will be amazed how easy it is to cut. Don’t get squimish,  you can do this.
Your calves are gonna thank you.
Then measure your calf and try not to cry.
Calculate how much fabric you need to add to your boots. I decided on 4″ which is probably way too much but that’s okay. I will never again have Fatty Calf issues.
Remove a panel of suede from the skirt, mine was 9″ long.
Cut two identical gussets, mine were 4″ at the top and narrowed to 1″ at the bottom. The gussets are 9″ long.
You will also need four 1″ strips of suede in the same length.
Using the nail and hammer, mark the lacing holes 1″ apart on all four strips. Punch the holes through the suede.
Put a small amount of Eco Flo leather cement on all the edges of the gusset. Place inside the boot, and press down until dry. I used books to hold it in place.
After it dries, it looks like it’s been there forever.

Glue the lacing strips on the outside of the boot, covering the edges of the gusset. Press with a heavy objects until dry. Repeat on the other side.

Make sure your lacing holes line up on both sides. Remove any excess glue, let dry under a heavy object.

Lace up the back of the boot with the suede laces. I found it the aid of a large upholstery needle helpful.

Fatty Calf Syndrome (FCS) is cured!

They fit great!

Designer Mom

DIY Jewelry Organizer

I am terrible at organizing. People like me are the reason that books on organizing stay at the top of the New York Times best seller list for weeks at a time. I can look at a pile of stuff for weeks on end and still have no idea what to do with it. Occasionally though, I do have moments of inspiration. “Pockets” of organization as one of my friends calls them. Recently I was inspired to put together this little project for organizing my jewelry.

It’s an easy fix for all those big chunky items that don’t fit in your jewelry box.

I started with these salvaged frames that a friend gave me. They are a pale veneer finish which was in good shape, so I didn’t bother refinishing them. I also happened to have some leftover vintage Toile fabric scraps from the curtians I made for our bedroom. I love Toile. It’s very chic, Pottery Barn is showing lots of it this season.

These frames came with foam core that was already cut to fit. SCORE! Foam core is great stuff.

I cut the fabric to size using the foam core, leaving a generous 2″ border.

I drizzled a bit of glue along the edge of the foam core…..

And pressed the fabric into it.

The corners required a bit extra glue to hold the fabric in place.

Edge touch ups may be required if the glue cools and dries too fast. This could be because my glue gun is from the Middle Ages, like before I had children. Someday, maybe I will get a new one.

I put the foam back into the frame after all the glue had dried.

Then I added a second piece of foam core to the frame, the same size as the first, to create stability and give the back a clean finish. My frames came with the picture hanging wire. I hung them side by side with little picture hanging hooks and nails.

That’s it! I use T-pins to hang my necklaces, bracelets and watches. I keep the really heavy necklaces on the Venus statue that my Mother brought me from Italy. The little red mirror belonged to my Grandmother, along with the dresser. You could double the T-pins or use push pins for heavier jewelry items if needed. They would also work for dangling earrings, but I don’t have many of those so I keep them in the jewelry box with my rings.

Fun project for a rainy day!

Designer Mom

How to Iron a Shirt

This is the age of the wrinkle resistant, no iron shirt. They are popping up everywhere and people seem to love the fact that they no longer have to iron. I am one of those that frequents the thrift stores, and while some of you are dumping your old blouses at the Goodwill, I am scooping them up at unbelievable prices.

 I don’t have a problem with ironing. I don’t do it all the time, just when I forget to turn off the extra spin cycle on the washer. I think that perhaps more people would be in favor of ironing if they knew how to properly iron a shirt. It only takes me 5 minutes to do this, and when done correctly no part of the shirt gets wrinkled. With a light starch the shirt will last a couple of wearings with out wrinkling.

Here’s a quick tutorial:

All you need is a wrinkled shirt and some light starch. You can buy starch at any grocery store for just a couple of dollars.

Set up your ironing board station, make sure you have lots of distilled water in your iron. You’re gonna need it!

Start with the back side of the collar. Be sure any collar stays are removed, they will melt! Iron both parts of the collar, on the back side, right down to the shoulders.

Using the end of the ironing board, move the shirt so one shoulder slips over the end of the ironing board.

Iron and release steam while you work your way around to the yoke, and over to the other shoulder.

Don’t forget to spray it lightly with the starch as you go along.

Begin again with the front of the shirt, I always start with the button placket. Iron carefully between the buttons from the collar down to the hem. Lots of steam will be helpful here.

Then move the shirt and iron the back portion beginning with the side seam area under the arm, and working your way to center back, then to the opposite side.

Again place the shirt so the button hole part of the placket is facing you and iron from the collar down to the hem.

Next up is the sleeve. Carefully smooth the sleeve completely flat, making sure the back side doesn’t have any wrinkles, from shoulder all the way to the cuff. I like to iron the cuffs closed with the button fastened because it saves a step. You can iron them open if you wish.

And there you have it, the finished product!

Happy Ironing!

Designer Mom

Dress for Success

Dress for Success is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping under privileged women by providing appropriate career suiting attire for them to get a job and become successful. It is a fascinating organization, one I have never heard of until this week.
There are many ways to help this cause, one of which is to become an affiliate in your area to receive donations and distribute them to needy women. Another is to hold a suit drive. Suits can be collected and sent in bulk to the nearest affiliate. You can also contribute to One Suit Weekend, which is going on now, March 1-4th.  Drop off your gently used suits to any Dress Barn Store and they will be donated to dress for success. Last year, they collected more than 51,000 suits. Amazing.
This is a great thing. Suits are incredibly expensive, if you can find them at all. I work with many women helping them choose outfits for interviews. It is always very stressful for them. Not only is the fit important, but usually there is little notice before the interview, so time and money to find a suit can be an issue. On top of that, many underprivileged women grew up poor and have no idea what to wear to an interview, or what career apparel involves.
Thrift stores sometimes have appropriate suits, however many times they are gaudy colors, or in styles not interview appropriate. Items like shoes, hosiery, and cosmetics are needed as well. You can read more about Dress for Success on their website below:
Time to clean out the closet!
Designer Mom

So What Size Am I, Exactly?

Are you one of those frustrated people who spend hours shopping and trying clothes on, only to discover that nothing fits? Could it be you used to wear a 12, but also own clothes in sizes 8, 10, 14, 14 Petite, 16 Petite, 12 Women’s, 12 Women’s Petite? Do the fit terms like Curvy, Modern, Heritage, Hepburn or Signature confuse you? Then there are the skinny jeans, straight leg, bootleg, ankle, crop, trim fit, slim fit and everything in between. What is going on in this world we call retail anyway? If you are confused, join the crowd! Manufactures seem to want to make everyone happy these days by supplying us with an overwhelming variety of choices. Customers usually know the look they want, they just have a hard time finding it.

 I see women all the time wearing the wrong size clothes, many buy things that are too big, some are in total denial of the size they should be wearing. Most women have a couple of sizes they keep in their closet just in case, and many actually buy clothes in several sizes and keep them all because they just can’t decide.

Our body types all vary. Ladies with wide shoulders tend to look top heavy in clothes. Ladies with wide hips tend to appear bottom heavy. Your clothes should even out your figure and give you a more balanced proportion.

If you are below 5’4″you will need a Petite size. However, if you just have short legs you may be long waisted and can wear regular Missy size tops. The opposite is true for those who are taller than 5’4″. If you have longer legs, Petite tops may fit you better. It’s okay to play around and find out. It could be you have never tried Petites before and you don’t know what you are missing. Petites are cut shorter in the arms and armholes, shorter waisted, and of course the length of the tops. Petite bottoms are cut shorter in the rise as well as the length of the inseam. Petites can wear the skinny pant legs, but also look good in the full legged pants. Petites can sometimes cross into the Missy department, but will have to go down one size. For example of you are an 8 Petite, you will need a size 6 in the Missy department.

If you have a larger waist circumference, or an apple or pear shape figure, Women’s sizes will probably fit you best if you are bigger than a size 12. Most Women’s sizes run 12W to 24W, there are a few companies that carry larger ones but they are harder to find. For Women who are larger than a D Bra Cup, you will need a Women’s size top. However, keep in mind a minimizer bra works wonders under those hard to fit garments and can take 2″ off your bustline. Keep one on hand for when you need it. Women’s tops are cut larger in the shoulders and bust. Women’s pants many times have comfort elastic in the waist and are cut fuller in the hip and thigh areas. If you are a larger Woman, a medium to wide leg is the most flattering for you.

Curvy fit pants are pretty easy to figure out, Curvy implies that you are larger in the hips and smaller in the waist. The new pants with these labels will solve some of your baggy waist problems. You may even not have to wear a belt. The Modern fit pants are cut closer to the hip and thigh, many times they are a narrower leg as well. Talbots carries the Signature pants, which are the lower cut waistline, below the navel, but not too low. They also carry the Heritage fit pants, which are longer in the rise, closer to the navel. Then they recently added the Hepburn fit pants which are higher yet in the rise, almost above the navel and usually have full wide legs. These look great on those gals who have short legs, it makes them look taller. JC Penny has similar terms on their pant fits, as do other retailers. All the pants this season are running very long, they are designed to cover those 3″ heels retailers think we are wearing. This is a great thing for those who have long inseams, but frustrating for the Petite crowd.

Jean legs seem to come in all widths today, you can pretty much choose what you prefer, however I see far too many large ladies in the skinny jeans, they are so unflattering! Save them for your daughters, okay?

Then to make things even more confusing, there are some retailers who make up their own sizing. It is true that many women get hung up on the numbers and won’t buy things if they are larger than her usual size, but It think they are definitely the minority. We ladies love to buy when things fit right, accent our positive features and hide our bad ones. You only need about an inch of ease across the body, no more, no less, to have the most flattering fit.

So, go shopping! Leave the family at home to watch the Packer game and hit the stores. Try on a variety of styles until you find your perfect size, then stick to it.

Designer Mom