Monday, December 19, 2011

Holiday Craft Fair this Wednesday at People's Co-op!

Come on out to People's Co-op this Wednesday, December 21st for the annual Holiday Craft Fair where you will find exquisite, one-of-a-kind handmade items made thoughtfully by neighborhood artisans! You'll find something special for everyone on your holiday gift list, plus you can pick up some farm-direct produce while you're there.

Iron City Upcyclery will be present alongside Fruits of the Forest; stop by our booth and check out our newest wares! We sew, crochet, print, and papercraft things, all inspired by nature's beauty.

See you there!
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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Crafty Make-and-Take this Sunday!

Join me at my neighborhood community center, Café au Play, this Sunday, December 18th, from 10:30-12:30 while I host a crafty make-and-take during the annual Café au Play Holiday Tree Sale fundraising event! Kids of all ages will enjoy making simple, festive miniature stocking-shaped tree ornaments from recycled fabrics. See you there!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Dream a Little Dream Dress

Do you believe in magic? You will when this fantastical frock takes you to worlds formerly unseen, places where magical beasts await you! Dream a Little Dream Dress is a handmade original sewn from vintage woven cotton from the mid-'80s. It features a sleeveless bodice with an angular neckline and a high-waisted gathered skirt with an optional sweet cream sash made from vintage eyelet lace and silk. The bodice of the dress is lined in pale blue satin for ultimate comfort. This dress measures 36" in the chest and 32" around the waist, and it zips up the back with a 22" zipper.

Available now for $98 at Pageboy Boutique.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Confetti & Carnations Belted Dress

A little bit sweet, a little bit sassy: just leave it to a moon-ruled Cancerian to whip up a dress that can handle multiple moods! :] I began this dress with a raw cut of some extremely rad vintage woven cotton fabric, printed with black and white "square waves" and peppered with rainbow-colored confetti bits. Since the fabric represented so much awesomeness, I wanted to design a nice and simple cut for the dress itself, hence the classic pullover shift-dress style. I accented the waistline with a matching belt made of the same fabric, cut on the bias. The navy blue seam binding on the neckline and cropped sleeves are the little details that pull the piece together, and since I had some left over, I also added a pair of miniature handmade fabric flowers, just for fun!

Confetti & Carnations Belted Dress will accomodate up to 40" in the chest and 40" at the waist. It is available for $98 at Mag-Big in Portland.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Iron City Upcyclery at Mag-Big in Portland!

"Portland artists and crafters have a new brick and mortar space to show (and sell) their wares ... a retail shop to highlight the truly awesome nature of the Portland art and craft community." - Handmade Portland
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Great news, friends: I made my first delivery to Mag-Big boutique in Portland today! This means that now you can find Iron City Upcyclery handmade garments at this delightful local shop, which is chock full of wonderful handmade wares from over 300 Portland artisans. Check it out!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Lots of News from the Sewing Front!

Warm autumn greetings, friends and fellow sewing enthusiasts! There is quite a bit to report from my own personal sewing front, so here's a post that's just dedicated to the goings-on of Iron City Upcyclery lately.

First of all, today marks the official U.S. release of The BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook, featuring a fun little project by yours truly! This awesome how-to book promises to be a really great hands-on resource for people who want to teach themselves how to sew, especially those who are interested in learning to creatively alter commercial patterns into one-of-a-kind designs. The projects range from "easy" to "difficult," so there really is something for every sewist in there. I'm very excited to receive my copy, which is on its way to me as I type this. If you're curious about what my book project looks like, you can check out my old blog post about it! The book is available now at many independent bookstores in the craft/DIY section, or online through Indie Bound, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. Check it out and get sewing!

The other big piece of news is that my family and I relocated over the summer from the Iron City (Pittsburgh) to the breathtakingly green forests of Cascadia (Portland, Oregon, to be exact!). This means that my home-based Iron City Upcyclery sewing studio is now operating on the West Coast, yes, but I'm remaining true to my roots (and my namesake) by continuing to offer new pieces at Pageboy Boutique in Pittsburgh each season, so if you're in the area, stop in there to see what the city's best locally-owned, environmentally-friendly, and incredibly fashion-savvy clothing boutique has to offer you!

So here we are, back in Oregon. As I reconfigure my home sewing space in our cheery little Portland apartment, I have been finding out about all kinds of great local sewing communities and resources for people like me. My favorite so far has been the open studio at PDX Seamsters, where I can sew without distractions while taking advantage of huge table spaces, multiple steam irons that are always ready to use, and a top-notch Pfaff sewing machine that runs on all cylinders. There are even bins of free vintage fabric scraps and used commercial patterns to dig through. A sewing nerd's dream!

As I continue to sew new pieces for my beloved venues in Pittsburgh (Pageboy) and Cincinnati (Fabricate), I am also keeping an eye out for an opportunity to offer my designs at a local shop in Portland. I'll keep everyone posted if this happens! Fingers crossed...

Enjoy the gorgeous autumn leaf colors wherever you might be, and thanks for visiting! Check back soon for photos of the first batch of dresses made here in my new home!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Gingham Cornflower Dress

Gingham is a checkered woven cotton whose name comes from the Malay adjective ging-gang, which actually means striped. Cornflower is a stunning blue wildflower whose extract can be made into a refreshing all-natural face splash. Both gingham and cornflower are beautiful things, and now they've come together in my Gingham Cornflower Dress! The cheery yellow and blue print of this little dress will go nicely with your favorite earth-tone cardigan as you enjoy a crisp autumn walk among the changing leaves.

Gingham Cornflower Dress is a sweetly simple pull-over design that features a comfy elasticized waistband, complementary cornflower-blue seam binding around the neckline and arms, and fabric-covered buttons at the shoulders. The bodice will fit up to 34" across the bust and the waistband stretches comfortably to at least 36".

Gingham Cornflower Dress is available now at Pageboy Boutique in Pittsburgh!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Bandana-Rama Dress

Fact is, I love bandanas. When I was little, I used to tie them to the end of a long stick and pretend that I was a traveling vagabond setting out upon a grand journey. I'd fill the bandana-knapsack with wildflowers and other treasures and imagine what kinds of epic adventures lie ahead. In reality I never quite achieved vagabond status, although I have certainly exercised my nomadic tendencies in my adulthood and also undertaken some pretty grand adventures. One thing, however, remains true: my affinity for the paisley print of a classic bandana, no matter the color, remains steadfast. When I recently spotted a vintage denim apron with red bandana seam binding on the bodice, it was nostalgia-stirring love at first sight! The tired apron needed an overhaul, though, so I sought out some sweet red cotton from which to make a skirt and then proceeded to cut and sew the apron into a simple dress bodice. And that, friends, is how Bandana-Rama Dress came into being!

Bandana-Rama Dress is a full-figure dress with a tie-back waist and a gathered full skirt. The sleeveless bodice features decorative red vintage buttons down the front and bandana-print seam binding and bow. The back of the dress has a 22" red zipper for comfort and ease. The dress fits up to a 40" bustline and waistline. Pair it with your favorite sandals for late-summer style, or with some tights, boots, and a cardigan this fall!

Bandana-Rama Dress is available for $64 at Fabricate Boutique in Cincinnati.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

June Fashion Show Highlights

Hello, dear readers! Please enjoy a few beautiful photos from the Iron City Upcyclery Spring/Summer 2011 Fashion Show held at the Friends of the Riverfront charity gala in Pittsburgh! Special thanks to my eight beautiful and powerful models who exhibited the utmost grace and poise during the show; they truly made my garments come to life!

All photos by the lovely and generous Ingrid Iversen (©2011).

For the complete collection of photos from the fashion show, please visit my Flickr set here.

Thanks for visiting!

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

July 17 ::: Iron City Upcyclery + Give and Take at the Polish Hill Arts Festival

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Join Iron City Upcyclery and Give and Take at the upcoming Polish Hill Arts Festival on Sunday, July 17 for Give and Take's kickoff celebration!

Give and Take is a new organization in Pittburgh whose goal is to "adopt your pre-loved clothes and create opportunities to get them into new, hopeful hands."
Check out their latest news at!

Do you have pre-loved clothing that you no longer want or need?

Read on...

From noon to 9 p.m. at the festival, Give and Take will have a donation/information space set up. Give and Take invites anyone to "(p)lease be a part of the project by bringing an item or bag of clothing to donate to the collection we're assembling for public use. We'll be using your donations at public workshops and clothing swaps; to showcase ideas around the city for reusing and repurposing clothes; and to serve as a free resource for people in need. In thanks, we'll have a special gift waiting for you."

Iron City Upcyclery will also be joining the Give and Take team from 1:00-4:00 p.m. at the festival! We'll be providing information about the art and craft of upcycling as well as demonstrating hands-on how you can re-fashion your old clothing using simple sewing techniques, therefore creating something totally new! Visitors to our space will also have the opportunity to try simple upcycling techniques for themselves (we'll provide all the materials you'll need). There will also be a sign-up sheet for an in-depth upcycling workshop with Iron City Upcyclery + Give and Take this coming September!

It's all happening on Sunday, July 17 at the Polish Hill Arts Festival! See you there!


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Razz-Ma-Tazz Dress

For those who love all things bright and bold: Razz-Ma-Tazz Dress is here! This dress is an upcycled '80s dress that was described recently (to my delight) as "Working Girl-chic," a reference to one of the oft-watched films of my adolescence, a classic Melanie Griffith movie in which her character sports a snazzy wardrobe that takes her smoothly from the office to dinner dates in style! Razz-Ma-Tazz Dress is made from a pristine vintage silk fabric in a lovely raspberry color with dynamic black lines dancing across it. The bloused bodice features a unique asymmetrical button closure complemented by fluttery sleeves. The above-the-knee pencil skirt has five fully-functional buttons down the front, and the fitted waist has two small belt loops for you to accent the dress with your favorite belt if you like. This dress is really fun and truly one-of-a-kind!

Razz-Ma-Tazz Dress fits up to 40" in the chest and measures 31" at the waist. It is available for $68 at Pageboy Boutique.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Veggie Lover's Dress

Vegetables rule, and I'm shouting it from the rooftops... figuratively, anyway, with this new dress from my summer collection! Whether you're an avid gardener, an aspiring vegetarian, or just someone who would love to rock a veggie-printed dress, this one could be for you! Veggie Lover's Dress is a cool cotton number that buttons all the way down the front. The fabric is vintage and very lightweight and features colorful vegetables in a rainbow of colors: yellow corn, red tomatoes, purple eggplant, orange carrots, and more! The dress is sleeveless and has waistline darts to make it a nicely-fitted piece.

Veggie Lover's Dress will fit up to 34" in the chest and 28" around the waist. It is available now for $55 at Pageboy Boutique.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Totally Tubular Dress

While making this dress, I showed it to a friend and she exclaimed, "Tubular!" -- and I knew that it had its name. The dress's canary yellow polyester blend vintage fabric has a super fun print of black dots and little tube-shaped things all over it, for lack of far better wording. Simply put, this is some awesome fabric! And it is also very lightweight, unlike some polyesters, making Totally Tubular Dress a perfect choice for summer. The dress features a smocked waistline that can be shown off or covered up with a wide belt, depending on your style. The sleeves are oversized and fluttery with small gathers at the shoulders. Three cute black buttons accent the yoke neckline. The gathered skirt falls right above the knee on most ladies. This dress has a really cheerful feel to it, and I just know that the right person will be very happy to wear it to a fun summertime get-together!

The Totally Tubular Dress measures up to 41" around the chest, and the waistband stretches comfortably from 29"-40" in circumference. It is currently available for $68 at Pageboy Boutique.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Wisteria Dress

Wisteria Dress is one of eight new dresses that I just finished for a summer collection showcase last weekend, and it's one of my favorites of the bunch. The dress features an oversized v-neck collar and buttons down the front, and the free waist ties with a coordinating fabric belt. The dress has short sleeves with elastic casing, gathered shoulder details on the front bodice, and a skirt hemline that hits just above the knee on most. It is made from lightweight vintage silk in a pale lavender hue that looks stunning on pretty much anyone! Take a look at the small white triangles and pink accents, too...

Wisteria Dress will be available to purchase for $72 next week at Pageboy Boutique.

Woodland Sprite Dress in Oak Brown and Tangerine

My friends are continually doing great things! This dress is the third one that I've had the pleasure of making lately for people in my life who are going through ceremonial rites of passage, one might say. Gillian's Dress and Rachel's Dress were both made for a very special wedding this past May, and this dress, a new version of my Woodland Sprite Dress, was made especially for my friend Myste who will be going through a commencement ceremony this weekend.

This version of the dress is similar in design to the original Woodland Sprite Dress, but with a different color palette (I love this new combination!), and this time I lined the entire piece with reclaimed fabrics: woven satin (for the bodice) and a sheer, silky dotted swiss (for the skirt), which should make it more comfortable and reduce the need for a slip. I also did something for this piece that I've been wanting to do for a long time: I taught myself how to make fabric-covered buttons! It is much easier than I thought! I'll be making lots more of those in the future, I think. The buttons on this dress are around the collar and serve the purpose of attaching the hood to the bodice, making it removable if desired. My husband describes this dress as "the Incredible String Band dress" -- which makes me smile from ear to ear! I could definitely see it...

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I can't describe the great feeling of happiness and pride that fills my heart when I think of my friends wearing garments that I sewed with great love and good intention... specially-made for such wonderful milestone events!

Congratulations, dear friend Myste!
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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Rachel's Dress

Oh, happy day! Two of my dear friends just celebrated their love for each other by holding a small and beautiful ceremony in a grove of tall trees in the Laurel Highlands. It was truly a breathtaking event, and I am proud to say that Iron City Upcyclery contributed by creating this dress for the lovely bride!

Rachel's dress was actually designed by Rachel herself, meaning that she came to me with a clear idea of what she wanted as far as the cut of the dress and the color and kind of fabric, making my job quite easy! After we talked about the design, we had a fitting session in which I got her measurements, and then I made a mock-up dress out of natural muslin. When that version of the dress got a thumbs-up from the bride-to-be, I went to work on the real dress. Here it is, the finished piece! I sewed Rachel's dress from natural woven cotton in light aqua, and I lined it in an ivory satin. My favorite detail is the tiny peek of white eyelet lace on each sleeve! I also made a little clutch-style purse for the bride since I had some leftover fabric. It was a very fulfilling project to see through from start to finish, and it made the beautiful wedding even more meaningful for me to behold and participate in.

::: Congratulations, Ian & Rachel! :::
You soar like two Great Blue Herons in love!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Fashion Show/Benefit for Friends of the Riverfront

Join Iron City Upcyclery and friends on Saturday, June 4, 2011 as we present a new collection of dresses to the public at the 20th anniversary celebration for Pittsburgh-based non-profit Friends of the Riverfront at Steel City Rowing Club in Verona! The fashion show segment of the evening will begin right as DJ Mary Mack hits the decks at 9 p.m. and will showcase nine brand-new dress designs constructed from reclaimed fabrics. Roomy tote bags sewn from reclaimed fabrics and hand-screenprinted with waterfowl illustrations will also be available to purchase. Support sustainability in fashion and have fun while raising money for the continued stewardship of our beautiful rivers!

Friends of the Riverfront will kick off the summer by hosting this year’s Trail Mix(er) on Saturday, June 4 from 5 -11 p.m., at Steel City Rowing Club in Verona.

Join over 300 supporters of the environment in and around Pittsburgh’s three rivers for a night of riverfront fun to celebrate FOR’s 20th anniversary. Enjoy a picnic dinner, live music by Boca Chica, Caleb Lovely and The Turbosonics. DJ Mary Mack will host a Late Night dance party from 9 -11 p.m., and an outdoor-themed silent auction and environmentally-focused art exhibits will take place throughout the night. Pre-event kayak and pontoon boat trips to Allegheny Land Trust’s Sycamore Island — a rare and unique floodplain hardwood forest on the Allegheny River, are available from 3 - 6:30 p.m., and are included with ticket purchase.

Admission is $50 per ticket, $35 with a valid student ID, or $15 Late Night from 9 – 11 p.m. Tickets can be purchased through the secure website All proceeds will support Friends of the Riverfront trail development, advocacy and stewardship efforts.

Friends of the Riverfront increases awareness and engagement with the Pittsburgh region’s rivers and riverfronts through activities, stewardship and expansion of water and land trails. For more information, go to or call 412.488.0212.