Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Roxy Dress

The ball drops, a thousand specks of glittering silver confetti spread out over the crowd, and your sweetheart leans in to give you a New Year's kiss... for moments like this, I've conjured up the Roxy Dress, one of my favorite party dresses yet! I let the sounds of
Roxy Music and their incredible costumer/stylist Antony Price be my inspiration for this festive frock. 

Roxy Dress has a three-tier ruffled skirt that I made from complementary fabrics in flowery velvet, sparkling gold, and solid purple. The bodice is sleeveless and features flattering front and back darts as well as a black rick-rack detail around the collar. The gathered purple sash around the waist ties it all together nicely for a totally special look that will make you the belle of the ball for sure!

The bust measures about 34" and the waist about 28"-30".

Roxy Dress is available for $105 at Pageboy Boutique in Pittsburgh.

Prairie Dress

For the lady who loves walking through the tall grass of the boundless meadow: the Prairie Dress. This lovely dress is a mid-calf-length dress with a wide ruffled hemline, gathered elastic waistband and beautiful, flowing split sleeves that tie at the elbow. Simple romance. Pair it with some cowgirl boots, some turquoise and silver jewelry, and a single white rose in your hair for a truly special ensemble that is both timeless and feminine.

This dress will fit a bust size of up to 36" and the elastic waist fits 28-34".

Prairie Dress is available for $85 at Pageboy Boutique in Pittsburgh.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Crafty Exchange

I recently did a swap with one of my talented crafty friends, Lynne from Charmed By Nature, and this is what she made for me in exchange for upcycling a skirt for her!

I love my new necklace; it's truly a seamstress's dream! 
Thank you, Lynne!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Goldberry Dress

Goldberry sang many songs for them, songs that began merrily in the hills and fell softly down into silence; and in the silences they saw in their minds pools and waters wider than any they had known, and looking into them they saw the sky below them and the stars like jewels in the depths.     
-J.R.R. Tolkien

Goldberry Dress is made from vintage upholstery fabric; it's a gold-and-green shimmery fabric that is really quite stunning to see up close. This is the last of it; I've used it for three projects now! The embroidered waistband is made out of a pair of suspenders that are probably from the 1960s. The tulle overskirt is a deep navy color and is absolutely my favorite part about this piece. I may go through a tulle phase this winter!

Goldberry Dress is available for $95 at Pageboy Boutique in Pittsburgh. ~SOLD~

P.S. Greetings from my studio assistant, Toody.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Square Wave Dress

Rivaling the creative brilliance and aural beauty of My Bloody Valentine without having achieved any of the commercial success (sadly!), The Ecstasy of Saint Theresa was a Czech shoegaze band that was around in the '90s... and I happen to love them. I love them so much, I named this dress after one of their songs that I totally and completely adore. This dress is a piece upon which I performed major sewing surgery; it was once just a sad, old discarded dress from the '50s that was kindly handed over to me. I loved the geometric squares and the amazing colors of the fabric, so I decided to clean it up and turn the whole thing into a pinafore-style dress with ruffles and big buttons and ribbon trim to compliment the sweet fabric. Here it is after the overhaul.

This wee dress fits a 30-32" chest and a 24-26" waist (so about an XS). This dress zips up the back. Want this in a bigger size? Get in touch!

Square Wave Dress is available for $65 in my Etsy shop.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Woodland Sprite Hooded Dress

As autumn sets in and the leaves of the forest show their myriad colors before they fall to the ground, a woodland sprite from a dreamscape is conjured up in my mind. She gathers for the harvest and celebrates the changing seasons. To keep warm, she draws up her hood and continues her walk through the shady woodlands and golden fields, stopping to collect nature's bounty in the form of wild herbs and winter squash and red apples...

This is the kind of story that I like to weave around pieces like this that I've created... in reality, though, I made this dress to wear during a very special musical gathering that I took part in recently: the first-ever electric performance by Great Blue Heron & Friends that happened on Tuesday, October 26th at Garfield Artworks in Pittsburgh!

Fall is bringing great things to my life, and I hope that you, dear reader, can say the same!

Woodland Sprite Hooded Dress is not for sale; please contact me for a custom order of this design!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Rainbow Prism Dress

"She comes in colors everywhere / She combs her hair / She's like a rainbow"

This black beauty with colorfully fractal ribbon trim was once a discarded maxi dress with a broken zipper and no one to love it. I rescued it from the refuse and brought it to my studio for some well-deserved attention. I shortened the skirt length to give it a more casual feel, and I gave it a brand new zipper. Easy. Look how she shines now!

Rainbow Prism Dress is available at Pageboy Boutique in Pittsburgh.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Embroidery Class at Calliope School of Folk Music

Hey dreamers, just wanted to spread the word that I'll be teaching a class on embroidering your own designs by hand at the Calliope School of Folk Music in Pittsburgh this October!

Embroidery is an ancient folk art form that is still being used today all over the world as a means of expressing ideas and embellishing fabrics in both traditional and untraditional ways. In this class, I'll be teaching students the basics of embroidery, including six different kinds of stitches, how to use the tools of the trade, and how to transfer your own original designs onto fabric for embroidering!

Click here to sign up!

Much love on this autumnal equinox,


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Jean Genie Dress

This bright little number was inspired by my love for two great human beings: my mother and David Bowie. With its simple cut, big buttons, rick-rack trim, and paisley fabric, this dress looks a lot like something that my mother would have loved years ago when she was riding around on the back of my dad's motorcycle during their days of courtship. My mom's nickname is Jean. I'm not sure that she loves Bowie as much as I do -- she's more of an Elton John person -- but I am certain about my habit of singing "Jean Genie" to myself sometimes when I think about my mom. The song is actually about a man, but so what? This one's for you, David and Jean, though you may never know it...

With love,


Jean Genie Dress is available for purchase at Pageboy Boutique in Pittsburgh!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

BurdaStyle Book Design: The Amanita Bag

Oh hello, little mushrooms! This is my finished piece for the upcoming BurdaStyle sewing book. They asked me to design and sew a purse/bag, so here it is... I'd never really made a purse before, so this was a new challenge, and I'm actually pretty happy with the way that it came out. I was provided a basic pattern from Burda, but then I changed it to make it more "me" -- I added a front pocket, embroidered on it, and moved the tassels from the front of the bag to the sides. Amanita Bag is on its way to New York City right now... very exciting! I'll keep everyone posted on the BurdaStyle book; it's scheduled for release Fall 2011!

Golden Dawn Dress

As a tribute to the sun, here's a sunny summertime creation from my studio... the Golden Dawn Dress! This one features an empire waist with sweet yellow piping, and lots of handmade ruffles (of course -- they are still my favorite thing to add to dresses right now!). The dress zips up the back and features a silky lining to keep you comfortable and cool during the dog days of summer.

This one will be available soon at my Etsy shop!

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Dottie Dress

The last time I visited my little hometown in Illinois a few months ago, my mom and husband and I went thrifting at a consignment shop run by a small group of elderly ladies who like to do things old-school. Like smoke inside the shop and write every receipt by hand and get feisty with people who ask questions. I like this place and its quirks. To my delight, in the very back of the store was a sheltered little room full of beautiful old linens. It was in that room that I found a pristine set of Dotted Swiss sheer curtains with ruffled edges. I fell in love, swooped them up into my arms, and imagined what a lovely dress those curtains might become.

And here it is: The Dottie Dress! She's available for $65 in my Etsy shop.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Modern Lover Dress

I never got to see Modern Lovers play live, but if I had been a little bit older back in the day, I would have maybe wanted to wear this dress to the show. The Modern Lover Dress is a new piece that I made from a beautiful, old silk blouse that has a lovely paisley pattern to it. I modernized the cut of the blouse, added black vintage lace at the neckline, and then made the gathered black skirting and classy sash from lightweight cotton fabric. The waistline is a nice, comfy elastic and the back of the neckline features a cute black button keyhole closure.

Available at for $58 at my Etsy shop

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Zodiac Dress

Once upon a time, a frumpy old housecoat was found in a very old house in Pittsburgh. Printed on the housecoat was an amazing collection of images from the zodiac and other celestial wonders. The housecoat needed a makeover in a big way, so it spent some time in my studio. Now the housecoat has a happy new life as a very special summer dress.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Summer Dresses Now at Pageboy!

Super exciting news over here at the Iron City Upcyclery studio in Lawrenceville: we're at Pageboy now!

Pageboy Salon & Boutique, located at 3616 Butler St., is an awesome vintage clothing and independent designer clothing store run by talented friends Rachel Vallozzi and Dana Bannon. This store is seriously rad! In fact, it's my favorite place to shop for clothes in Pittsburgh, and I'll tell you why...

During my first year here in Pittsburgh, I admit to having felt displaced among the drastically different styles on the East Coast compared to those of my former home, Oregon. Yeah, it's true: I've been known to wistfully conjure up images of the free-spirited, colorful clothing found in thrift stores, vintage shops, and indie boutiques on the West Coast, and I never dreamed that I'd find that kind of vibe right here in Pittsburgh. Then I went to Pageboy. It's all there, like a rainbow oasis! Lovely dresses, bright colors, whimsical prints, bold designs... I'm so happy to see them right here in Lawrenceville now!

Read more about Rachel and Dana's entrepreneurial journey in this article by Pop City Media in Pittsburgh!

And yes, much to my delight, you can also find Iron City Upcyclery clothing at Pageboy. I think we make a great pair. Here's a picture of a current window display at Pageboy featuring one of my pieces, the Somebody to Love Dress!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Free Ride Sundress

Biking weather is here! I've already taken my Black Beast on a ride up the Allegheny River this week. It was a great little trip, but I've realized that I'm definitely in the market for a new bicycle soon. Four years biking on the Beast is quite enough for this lady. Ah, but I do love biking. You make me feel so free. I fondly remember the free bicycle system in parts of Europe; in Amsterdam, I think I remember the free bikes being yellow. Apparently they're red in Rome.

This dress is inspired by such things. It's also inspired by Pittsburgh's very own bike recycling workshop, Free Ride.

This piece has SOLD, but please contact me for a custom version!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Painter's Sundress


"Jackson Pollock is not your friend"

by Rupert M. Loydell

I know I shouldn't be thinking like this.
I mean it's all in the past and we've been
and moved on, but I find myself below glass
watching over and over the blur of a man
as black paint is flicked, poured and thrown.

Jackson Pollock is not your friend,
he works far too large for comfort,
makes too much mess in the lounge
and leaves drips everywhere in the toilet.
(Light olive with spots of dull umber.)

I know I shouldn't be thinking like this.
New ideas are great but up on the wall
they can suddenly seem old. And I can't
help but think of the drunk, brutish painter,
his one-sided fights with poets and friends.

Jackson Pollock is not your friend.
He wouldn't want to be one anyway,
would rather turn the jukebox up and down
pints at the bar before bragging about
his ongoing battle with colour and form.

"The stars are brilliant tonight."


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

New Rack of Iron City Upcyclery Clothing at Wildcard in Pittsburgh

Exciting news! I delivered a fresh batch of springy/summery handmade clothes to Wildcard in Pittsburgh this morning, and they get a garment rack all to themselves! Go check it out in my beloved neighborhood, Lawrenceville! Wildcard's store hours are here. While you're there, check out all the other local artisan wares... it's a feast for the eyes.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Flower Power Wrap Blouse

Bohemian style and comfort join forces in this one...

I love this blouse! I made it from vintage flower-printed cotton and some beautiful lace that I found at a curiosity shop in northwestern Pennsylvania. The blouse features my current favorite sleeve detail, ruffles, which I've been adding to lots of pieces lately. The blouse also has front and back gathers both around the yoke and at the waistline, and its only closure is the cloth belt tie made from the same print as the blouse. I can't wait to see someone wear this.

Available for $45 at my Etsy shop.

Dovetail Blouse in Black Eyelet

Back in Black: Here's the Dovetail Blouse making a comeback in sweet black eyelet cotton fabric. I added one of my handmade belts to make it a lovely little top for a night out on the town!

The Dovetail Blouse has SOLD, but I can make a custom version for you. Just ask!

Hey, finally! Spring Trunk Show video footage is here!

Footage of my show on 3.25.10!

See my older post for more photos/info...

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Sweet Weekend, Gettin' Ready...

Just got back from a rad weekend visiting my family in Illinois... I also scored some sweet vintage fabrics while there! Check 'em out! Now I'm busy sewing lots of new stuff for Crafty Supermarket in Cincinnati on the 17th. My studio is heating up (literally) now that springtime is here and the sun is back in action in Pittsburgh, but if I crank some jams and make myself a glass of iced coffee, I barely notice!

Looking forward to checking out Cincinnati and seeing what the crafty peeps there are up to!