DIY: Flaunt those Cuff Links with any Dress Shirt

When we went to our friends’ wedding earlier this month, I wasn’t the only one there with some DIY touches to their outfit! My husband was the best man, so he didn’t have much to decide about his outfit, but he asked the groom if he could wear cuff links, because he’d just gotten a beautiful pair (and matching tie clip) from our friend Davis Hatcher who had a tent at the Boulder Creek Festival this year. Hubs got an easy “yes” from his bestie, but the shirt the groomsmen all got had buttoned cuffs, and we weren’t allowed to change which shirt he was wearing, so we (I) had to get crafty!

Get rid of those buttons!

First, rip off those pesky buttons! Carefully, of course. I used a seam ripper.

Mark where the new buttonhole will go

Next, fold the cuff in half, and mark where the buttonhole should go based on where the existing buttonhole is. I did this with a pencil, because it had a nice fine tip, makes a light mark, would wash off, plus all the marking I did was on the inside of the sleeve and would be covered/cut by the buttonhole processes, and therefore wouldn’t be visible anyway. You’ll notice my mark has a small horizontal mark below (perpendicular to) the mark I made through the existing buttonhole. This is based on how my sewing machine’s buttonhole foot instructions detailed the process.

Then you make your buttonhole! My machine has a special buttonhole foot that you insert a button into to get the size right, so I used one of the buttons I ripped off earlier. I attached the buttonhole foot to my sewing machine, lined up my marks with the red and green marks on the foot, picked the proper stitch and started sewing. Other than gently holding the fabric in place, I didn’t do much - the machine does all the hard work. Depending on your machine, you may have to do things a bit more manually, so double check your instruction manual. I’d imagine most new-ish machines will have this ability, though.

The scariest part comes next - you have to actually cut the hole for the button (or, in this case, cuff link) to go through. I’ve seen that some people use scissors, but I prefer using the seam ripper again.

And there you have it! Another fun touch for this project is that, rather than using white thread to match the white shirt, I used the same color thread that I used on the culottes I made for this wedding, so we were subtly (ok, let’s be honest, completely unnoticeably) matching. 😉

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A Flirty Experiment with the Tania Culottes

The two other Tania Culottes I've sewn

I love twirly skirts. Stating the obvious, I know. But I also hate chafing, and I will probably never have a thigh gap (#strongnotskinny). When I found the Tania Culottes pattern from Megan Nielsen, I was instantly smitten, and whipped up a couple pairs - one for the Renaissance Festival and one for Disney World - both very fun, but hot, places.

We’ve got some good friends who had a fancy wedding last weekend, and, because I’m crazy, I decided to make something to wear. It’s funny, though - when you’re trying to figure out what to make for an event, especially something semi-formal, it can be daunting. It’s like when you go shopping and you’re not sure what you want, but you only need ONE THING, and you just can’t find that thing. Until it just kind of smacks you in the face.

Billiabong inspiration

At my last haircut another hairdresser at the salon had these awesome Billabong pants (called the Adventure Spirit Pants - looks like they’re out of stock now, though) that were long and flowy with giant slits up each side, and for some reason that just seemed like the right kind of piece to wear to this wedding. Given the right fabric, dressing them up would be no problem.

I brainstormed for a bit about what kind of fabric to get - do I do a stretchy jersey or something fancier? And what about the pattern? While I think I could have mostly winged it and made up my own pattern, if it's a fancy wedding, I wanted to make sure I looked as good as possible, too (especially since hubby was best man, so he looked amazing). I started by Googling around for wide-legged pants patterns, and then something popped up that reminded me of the culotte pattern I already bought, and then I had it! I would modify the Tania Culottes to make the leg pieces wider so they would overlap, leaving me with something that twirls beautifully, but still has the flirty slits up the leg.

You might have noticed that the longest this pattern is is a midi length, but I’m actually pretty happy with that. Since it was a summer wedding, it was warm. And I’m clumsy, so I didn’t want tripping to be an issue.

The fabric selection just kind of fell into place, too. I’ve been really intrigued by Rifle Paper Co.’s fabrics, but didn’t have a specific purpose for the fabric yet, so I didn’t want to splurge prematurely. But then a blog by Fancy Tiger Crafts popped up on my Facebook feed that had a shirt made out of some beautiful burgundy floral rayon (they still have a coral color) that I knew would be perfect. After checking with the bride to see what color her bridesmaids were wearing (to make sure burgundy was a safe choice - not that she would have really cared, though), and noticing that there were only 5 yards left in stock, I decided to get all 5 yards (it’s only 45” fabric, and I modified the pattern to be bigger and use more than the required 3.75 yards PLUS I made a matching headband). Plus the shop is just in Denver, so I opted to go pick it up myself, rather than pay for shipping. And then hubs and I had a date at the nearby Pinche Tacos to make the trip to Denver even more worthwhile.

Now for the fun part 😉

One of the best things about this pattern is how simple and straightforward it is. It’s really not that much more difficult than a circle skirt.

I only deviated from the pattern a few times:

  1. I extended the leg pieces by about 3 inches and rounded the bottom corners quite a bit.
  2. I didn’t sew up the sides so I could have the overlap and the leg slits. I did have to finish/hem a few inches of the top of each leg piece where it meets the waistband at the side BEFORE attaching it to the waistband, so I wouldn’t have any weird, non-hemmed places where the fabric pieces meet.
  3. I made the back waistband into two pieces, adding a 5/8 inch seam allowance.
  4. I moved the zipper from the side to the back of the garment since I left the legs open. This was a little tricky since there’s a box pleat in both front and back. I ended up sewing up the two pieces as if I weren’t putting a zipper there, pressing, and then taking out the seam. I then attached the zipper where I pressed the pleat on each side.

Sidenote: when I got this printed at the copy shop, I came home and started measuring, and I noticed that the two waistband pieces were different heights, by about ⅛ inch! I contacted the shop, but decided to go ahead with the project, lengthening a couple pieces just a hair. I just wanted to let you guys know! I had never used the copy shop or long version before, so I had never noticed! The support at Megan Nielsen’s was great, though, and they just released an updated version of the pattern (which has pockets!), so perhaps it’s less of an issue now.

When attaching the waistband, it says to enclose the raw edges, but didn’t say to make sure the raw edges were facing up toward the waistband when I put in the zipper, so I had to clip and I have the slightest bit of exposed raw edge (so little it’ll only be me who notices it). Also, I ended up breaking two invisible zippers trying to follow these instructions. The first time it was because the pattern didn’t say where to put the top of the zipper, and I ended up cutting off the small pieces that stop the zipper at the top. I had a small panic attack because I was temporarily stuck in these pants and didn’t want to destroy them. The second invisible zipper broke because getting it past where the waistband and leg pieces meet was INCREDIBLY difficult (I probably put the zipper just a tad too close for ease), and the zipper ended up splitting, and hubby had to pry me out of them (again). This second zipper fiasco was due to me doing *too* good of a job making the zipper invisible, not due to the pattern/instructions themselves, but I would recommend using a different zipper insertion method (and even waistband attachment, like this video shows). I find it to be a cleaner looking, simpler insertion.

The third zipper I used was just an all purpose zipper by Coats & Clark in Barberry Red, which perfectly matches the fabric, so it doesn’t actually look bad at all. It’s probably a blessing in disguise because the second zipper I could not zip or unzip by myself, which would have made going to the bathroom really annoying. I guess third time’s the charm, because this zipper works great 😉

Top is the My Way Bodysuit from Free People. Shoes are old Steve Maddens. Necklace and earrings are meteorite from Nature's Own

After putting a piece like this together, it’s a good idea to let it hang before you hem it. Because it’s so full, the fabric will settle since some of it hangs on the bias and some hangs with the grain. I also ended up shortening the culottes by about 5 inches, and taking in the front leg pieces on the side to make the slit just a little more flirty. They now hit just below the knee, and when I twirl you get a slight flash of leg. Getting the hem even was tougher than I anticipated, though. Because I’m self-taught, I don’t know many tricks to the trade that are probably no-brainers for those trained properly. I ended up laying the culottes on the floor (on my cutting mat) and lining up the pieces as best as I could, and, using my rotary cutter, chopping off those 5 inches I didn’t want. I tried them on again, found some small inconsistencies, and repeated the process. I also made the front panels slightly less wide at the bottom using this method. When laying out the culottes on the ground, I did so as carefully as possible. The box pleats make it so you can’t do it 100% perfectly (since the whole panels don’t lay flat), so I wanted to make any cut extremely deliberate.

Once I was happy with the length and the amount of leg I was flashing, it was time to hem! I did a rolled hem for the first time ever, and I am very happy with the results. However, be warned that it takes a while, especially for something as full as these culottes, which were almost like a circle skirt around each leg! That’s a lot to hem! There are such things as rolled hem feet for sewing machines, but I don’t have one, and couldn’t decide which one to buy, so I did it the long way. It’s not hard, though! Just LONG. Megan Nielsen has a good tutorial, which I will abbreviate, just to give you a sense of how time consuming it will be.

This is step 4 of the rolled hem

  1. Make a seam ¼” from the edge of the fabric. 
  2. Press along that seam. 
  3. Make a seam ⅛” from the press you just made.
  4. Cut off as much excess fabric next to that seam as you can.
  5. Press so the raw edge is enclosed.
  6. Sew through the center of the rolled hem. 

The result is lovely, though. I am honestly amazed at how much a finished hem changes a garment. It’s magical. This rolled hem was totally worth the time it took.

I’m so pleased with how these turned out, in spite of all the zipper trouble, and they worked perfectly for the fancy wedding we went to. 

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New York Weekend

One of our friends from high school got married in Brooklyn last weekend, which meant we got to go to NYC for the first time ever! We were there for 3.5 days, which were jam-packed with touristy fun and partying with great people. 11 of us stayed in an Airbnb together, so we had no shortage of good company.

The wedding itself was at the Brooklyn Historical Society, and the ceremony took place in a gorgeous library with intricate woodwork. There are no buildings like this anywhere near Boulder - it felt like a fairytale. 

Outside the Ed Sullivan Theater - taken with our GoPro - which I love for these fun wide-angle shots, and not knowing what you've gotten until you upload it to your computer!

Another highlight for me and Nathaniel was going to see the Late Show with Stephen Colbert! It started with a stand up comic who taught us to be LOUD because all the sound from the audience you hear on TV is 100% real on his show. Stephen Colbert came out, and did a little Q&A with the audience, and the band practically gave us a concert! Not to mention that the Ed Sullivan Theater is absolutely gorgeous! At the end, make sure to go up front to see the dome if you can’t see it from your seat. I would definitely do this again (but make sure to reserve your tickets way in advance, and get to the theater early - they over-book to make sure they’ve got a full audience, but it is free!).

Because this was our first time to New York, we naturally had to do some touristy things. We went to the American Museum of Natural History, which you could seriously spend a week at and not see everything. We mostly saw dinosaurs (and their special exhibit, “Dinosaurs Among Us” about the connection between birds and dinosaurs), gems, minerals and meteorites. I wish we’d gone into Hayden Planetarium, but we were on a limited time frame. I guess we’ll just have to go back! 😉

We walked around Prospect Park in Brooklyn and Central Park in Manhattan. It was rainy when we went to Central Park, so it almost felt like an enchanted forest! We found Belvedere Castle, and just explored a bit. Because it was rainy, it wasn’t very busy, which was a plus!

We walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, which was CROWDED but lovely. You can see the Statue of Liberty wayyyy off in the distance, and you get to see the skyline, and as someone who has spent most of her life in Colorado, was almost unreal!

We went to the top of Rockefeller Center to see the city from above. This was a bit expensive, but it was beautiful. It’s good to get your tickets in advance, or you might have to wait a couple hours. A lot of people climb the Empire State Building, but from Rockefeller, you can see the Empire State Building, which was nice.

While we were there, we ate at Katz Deli and Les Halles, along with a bunch of other small places for (rainbow!) bagels, pizza and coffee. We rode the subway EVERYWHERE which was convenient most of the time, but significant delays made getting to the airport kind of scary.

We definitely want to go back, though. We only scratched the surface of what the city has to offer, and I wished we had more time to explore

Budget Wedding Planning: Part 7 - Celebration Logistics

It's been a little over a month since everyone came to celebrate with us. We had a very belated "reception", which allowed everyone to come party in a low-key sort of way. We didn't have much structure to the day, no seating charts, minimal decorations... just a giant party. And while this day was definitely much more expensive than our intimate celebration, it still doesn't even compare to the national average cost of a wedding, which is over $25,000!

Now, while I've been detailing small projects as ways to save money, I thought I'd share a bit about the ACTUAL party, and show you where we cut costs, and what we splurged on.

Sanitas Brewing Company in Boulder, CO

So, here are the details of our July Wedding Celebration:

Our venue was Sanitas Brewing Company, here in Boulder. A lot of my family from across the country was able to come, along with Nathaniel's family, and countless friends who made this party even better than I ever could have imagined. We had close to 200 guests.

AH-MAZING beer

We had tacos for dinner provided by McDevitt Taco Supply, and for dessert we hired a cupcake truck called The Dessert Stand. I would highly recommend both for any events you may be planning! We had an open bar, which exclusively served the beer the brewery had on tap. Adding other types of alcohol would have made it so we needed to modify their liquor license for an extra $1,000, pre-buy all the beer, and purchase all the other alcohol. We decided for financial reasons and ease that we would just have unlimited beer.

Our wonderful DJ :)

Our wonderful friend Jason was our DJ. He set up playlists, spun some sweet sets for fun dancing, snuck in some Disney, reminded me when it was time for me to sing, and coordinated a very sweet first dance. We also had Dazzling Photo Booth come, and it seemed to be a hit! They even provided a scrapbook! Check out the pictures here.

Most of our photos were taken by our good friend Jesse. My uncle John, Nathaniel's dad Marc, my cousin Alexa, and my sister Maddie also took some that are peppered throughout this gallery.

Here is the cost break-down for our vendors:

  • Securing Sanitas for the whole day: $5,000
  • Beer: $1,000
  • Tacos: $2,400
  • Cupcakes: $700
  • Photo Booth & Guestbook: $800
  • Tips: $400

Other expenses included:

  • A white mailbox, painted like the mailbox in Up, and some balloons tied to the flag ($40)
  • Mason jars and baby's breath ($40)
  • Personalized sunglasses from LogoLenses, and a crate from Joann's to put them in ($300)
  • Soda, water and ice ($100)
  • Picture frames turned into Instagram hashtag signs ($20)

So in total, we spent under $11,000. We never ran out of anything, and everything went smoothly. The only times I got stressed out were when I was getting ready to sing, and for a bride, I think that's pretty good. Yes, this was very expensive, but we got through it alive, and for less than half the average cost. By having a friend DJ and a friend photograph, we saved a ton, as well. We tried to pay them, but they wouldn't let us! I'd still say this puts us in the category of "budget" wedding. I decided to not include the expenses from March that we re-used in July (for example, my dress), because I'm focusing on the party itself. If we had had one day where we did everything, (and if we had a bridal party who needed to carry flowers, among other traditional things we discluded), it would have been more expensive. I just wanted to give you all a breakdown, and show that it's possible to throw a kick-ass wedding celebration without touching that $25,000 price tag.

The most expensive part for us was securing the venue. We had thought about doing it at a local park, which would have been a fraction of the price, but had we done it that way, we would have needed to rent tables and chairs and a generator for the sound system, get approved for a liquor license, figure out lighting once it got dark (and worry about park hours), buy and transport multiple kegs, worry about cops busting us for being loud, and then clean it all up afterwards. This probably wouldn't have quite reached $5,000, but I do think it would have been a pretty decent chunk of change, and it would have stressed me out. I have zero regrets about how we did things, and it seems like everyone had a great time. Can't beat that :)