Saturday, March 26, 2011

Ooh-Baby-Baby! How to Make Salt-N-Pepa's Push-It Jackets- EZ!

Can you believe it's been 25 years since Salt-N-Pepa released their debut album Hot, Cool & Vicious?!! It only seems like yesterday when I was at my elementary school skating parties, skatin' my little heart out to Push It!  Like making a pass around the skating rink:  what goes around, comes around! And Salt-N-Pepa have mos-def been making a comeback in the past few years, with a 2011 reunion tour, and a reality TV show on VH1.

With their recent surge in popularity, what also stands out about the Salt-N-Pepa of the 1980s was their fly, brightly colored, urban-collegiate-clubwear fashion.  Ya'll know what I'm talkin' 'bout here.....the famous varsity-style jackets they wore in their Push It video and also pictured above.  Those varsity jackets were custom-made for S n P- right down to the letter patches.  And now that Salt-N-Pepa are popular again, it seems like everyone wants to replicate this look.

From my fashion design background- I have developed a keen sense of trend forecasting, coupled with an appreciation of reviving old trends into new fads.  Back in 2006, my "trend-dar" inside of me told me to "push it".  "Push it, real good!"  It was around Halloween and my boyfriend at the time, Jay, and I were trying to decide what kind of costumes to be.  You have to understand- Halloween is a big deal for me.  I love making awesome costumes!  It's been a love of mine that dates back to watching my seamstress mom & industrial designer dad collaborate on making the coolest halloween costumes for me as a little kid.  I was super lucky.  

As I grew into an adult, my love of making Halloween costumes never ceased.  And now, I had a partner in crime with Jay.  He & I scratched our heads and thought a bit....what could we be?  Maybe it was our shared love of music that led us to want to be Salt-N-Pepa for Halloween.  Why Salt-N-Pepa?  'Cuz I knew he & I could pull this off really well.  We both shared a love for retro, funky, hip-hop, too!  Jay would be Pepa- he was taller than me and had long red curly hair at the time.  And I would be Salt- I was shorter, with dark curly hair.  It was perfect!  And we'd start the Salt-N-Pepa trend in 2006 with our Halloween costume.  

Making the Salt-N-Pepa varsity jackets worn in the Push It video was a fun project for both of us to work on together.  There was a lot of brainstorming and problem-solving that challenged us in creating a fairly cheap costume that replicated the original inspiration as best as we could.  And we pulled it off, thankfully.  We were a hit at the Halloween parties....and we kept the jackets for years afterwards.  I even entered us into the etsy Halloween costume contest back in 2007.  We didn't win, but we made the blog.  Oh...and just to show you how much I really love making Halloween costumes- I also entered my Mothra costume into this contest, but only won 3rd place in the Sci-Fi grouping.

Last year, I finally posted a pic of Jay & I as Salt-N-Pepa on my flickr page.  Wowee!  I was not really prepared for the response I received.  In the month before Halloween of 2010, I had so many inquiries about the jackets.  By this time, Jay and I had transitioned into being good friends, and when we parted from our old apartment- he gave me the Salt-N-Pepa jackets.  I eventually made a deal with someone & sold the jackets to them on etsy. 

Not only did I receive a lot of inquiries about the jackets, but I got a lot of people who wanted to know how to make these jackets.'s my quick 'n dirty tutorial of making the PUSH IT Jackets.  Bare with me here- I had to re-enact the making of the jackets by using hand-drawn sketches.  I will try to be as thorough as possible, tho!
Salt-N-Pepa aka Steph-N-Jay (Halloween 2006)

First off- Supplies!
*  White Puffer Jacket- Cheap!  (check thrift stores, close-out stores, etc)
*  If you can't find a cheap white puffer jacket- buy an oversized white fleece sweatshirt
*  If you end up going the sweatshirt route, you'll need a molded separating zipper for the front.
*  Fabric paint for colorblocking the jacket.  I like Folk Art Fabric "Brush-On" Paint by Plaid Enterprises:
Colors needed: Red, Yellow, Black, Green 
***NOTE!  Buy several bottles for certain colors that cover more colorblocked areas:  at least 4-5 bottles for the yellow; 2-3 bottles for the black & red, and 1 bottle for the green.
*  Brushes for fabric paint:  You'll need some large ones to cover the surface area in painting the colorblock
*  Slick Dimensional Paint by "Tulip" in Black (used for outlining certain shapes)
*  Felt- several sheets of white, black, red, and green.  Make sure you get sheets sized larger than 8.5" by 11", as some of the pieces you will be cutting from the felt are a little larger than those dimensions
* Scissors to cut
*  Computer paper to print stencils
*  Drop Cloth for painting and laying jackets to dry (several garbage bags will work as an alternative)
***Note, most craft supplies can be found at your local craft/ art store-Jo-Anns, Michaels, Ben Franklins, etc - even possibly Wal-Mart.
*  Paper Towels, Rags for painting (cleaning & drying brushes)
*  Cups of Water for each paint color (cleaning brushes)

Painting the Colorblocking on the Jacket Bodies:
*  If you use a sweatshirt for your jacket base, here's a tutorial that shows you how to sew a zipper down the front of the sweatshirt.
*  Once you've installed your zipper into the sweatshirt, or you have your puffer jacket, let's start off color-blocking the front of the jacket by painting it.  
*  Clear off an area on your floor or large work table and put the drop cloths down. 
*  Get the paints out- with your paper towels/ rags and cups of water for each color.  We will be painting with yellow, red, and black on the front of the jacket.
*  If you are using a sweatshirt, you should stuff it with plastic bags just in case the paint bleeds through.   The paint shouldn't bleed through on a puffer jacket, since there's a lot of thickness/ lining
*  Place jacket on dropcloths- front side, face up.
*  Paint the colorblocking according to my sketch here:
*  The "elbow patches" should be painted as a 9-10" long x 5-6" wide oval in RED.  Outline each oval using the slick black dimensional Tulip paint
*  The black colorblocking at the sleeves will start at mid-armhole and curve down to about 3" up from the cuff.  
*  Let the front dry for at least 24 hrs.

*  Once the front is dry, flip the jacket over to the back and paint it according to my colorblocking diagram.  You will use all colors as you had used in the front, with the addition of the green paint:
*  Follow my guidelines above when painting.  The green box should be placed about 2 inches down from where the yellow and white colorblocking touch.
*  Make sure you cover the jacket in paint at the side seams and underneath the sleeves.  You don't want to have white outlines in the colorblocking on your jacket.
*  Let the back dry for 24 hrs

Cutting & Gluing the Stencils:
*  The Varsity-Style letter patches will be made from the Felt, as well as the Comedy/ Tragedy masks on the front of the jacket, and the Salt-N-Pepa logo on the back
*  Use the Varsity font found as a free download or on MS Word programs, to create your stencils. Here's what is spelled out on the jackets in the text:
IDOL MAKER:  placed vertically down the front on the wearer's right.  White Outline= Red Felt; Black Inner= Green Felt.  Size letters to be about 2"- 3" tall
LET THERE BE MUSIC:  placed on the front on the wearer's left; circling the drama mask appliques.  Colors are exactly as shown above.  Size letters to be about 1.5"- 2" tall
'S' and 'P' Letter Patches:  S to be centered inside red oval elbow patch on wearer's right; P to be centered inside red oval on wearer's left.  Colors are exactly as shown above.  Size Letters to be about 5"-6" tall.
Here's a step-by-step pictorial instruction of making the felt letters:
Print Letters from Computer, Cut from Paper to make stencil.
Trace Outline of Letter Stencil with Fabric Marker onto Felt.  **Note, do not follow this example for color!
Cut out from Felt
Go back to your paper stencil and cut out the inner letter stencil.
Place stencil on contrast 'inner letter' color felt; trace; cut out.
Glue Inner Felt Letter to Outer Felt Outline Letter.  Let dry for 24 hrs.
Let the Cutting Begin!  Park yourself in front of the TV or put on your favorite tunes.  Hopefully your partner in crime will be cutting their portion for their jacket.  Just don't blame me for carpal tunnel syndrome. 

Below are the stencils for the Comedy & Tragedy Masks; as well as the Salt-N-Pepa logo on the back of the jacket  These will be cut from the felt, as well.
Size the Mask to be about 5"-6" tall.  Cut Mask from Green Felt.  Cut Eyes & Mouth from Black Felt & glue them to the Green.  Outline the Green Mask with Slick Dimensional Tulip Black Paint.  Let dry for 24 hrs.
Same directions as above, but the body of the mask will be cut from RED felt.
Size this logo so that it fits a 9"-10" square format.  Cut S/P logo from RED felt.  Cut the "alt", "N", and "epa" from white felt.  These will be glued inside the green box that you painted on the back of the jacket.  Make sure that you size this logo to fit inside the box with at least 1/2"- 1" of the green showing around it.

After you have cut and glued all of the text and logos, place them on to the jacket and glue them down.  PUSH IT REAL GOOD!!!  ;)  Please excuse my crappy photos of the jackets, but they give you a nice view of how the text and logos should be placed.
Front of Jacket:

Back of Jacket:

Keep in mind, I've tried to give general measurements on the dimensions of the text and placement of the colorblocking on the jacket.  This is sized for a small- medium woman's jacket.  If you are larger or smaller- please size up & down proportionately.  

Completing the Look:
* Check out ballet/dancewear stores for full length lycra leotards.  American Apparel has them too.
*African Kofia Hat found here.
*  Red knock-off pleather boots can be found at most teen/ cheap shoe/ discount stores (Wet Seal, Alloy, etc) or even thriftstores!
*  Giant Gold Rope Chain can be found at costume stores/ gag shops
*  Door Knocker earrings.....A MUST!
*  Bright Red Lipstick + Black Eyeliner ( go for the Wet 'n Wild at your local drugstore)

So....after all of that painting, gluing, cutting....LET THERE BE MUSIC, YA'LL!!!!

****Please note-  If you are interested in purchasing a jacket, there is a 4 week processing time.  Payment is expected up front.  No exceptions.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hip 2 be Square/ Chic to be Geek: EZ Patchwork Pixel Numbers

Back in 1985- it was Hip to Be Square....
Now in 2011, it's Chic to be Geek!

Gettin' your geek on is accepted these days and lately I've noticed the geek cross over into the crafting community.  A natural union of 2 passions- it's been exciting to watch people pay tribute to their favorite video game characters in quilt, cross-stitch, beadwork, and knit forms!  
A quick search on flickr for "Mario Quilts" lead me to this selection:
Pixel Perfect!
The pixel infiltrates the world!!  This short film couldn't have put it better:

This transition of pixel designs hopping from computer screen to fabric/ yarn/ or beads could be one of the easiest ways for a newbie crafter to approach a craft.  Whether you're a computer programmer/ video game designer using pixels to build the landscapes & characters used in the games you're creating....or you're a crafter using fabric blocks, x- stitches, beads, etc to build your are essentially working with squares and grids to create the patterns & designs.

Years ago, after garnering some inspiration from knit scarves with cheeky sayings & simple designs (hearts, stars, skulls, apples, etc)- I tried applying the same principle to my beading:
Groove is in the ???:  I gave up getting into the groove with all these rows of beads
Back in high school, my friend Mere nicknamed me "Bead Weaver" - a play on Gary Wright's song "Dreamweaver".  We were bead geeks and would get together to trade our beads and make necklaces/bracelets/ etc.  I was super bead-geeky with my bead loom, a gift from my crafty aunt, for my 14th birthday.  I kept my bead loom for a number of years and attempted to make my homage to Deee-Lite's "Groove is in the Heart" on the bead loom.  As you can see, it never made it to the "heart". ;)

From beading, I have started to dabble in quilting.  Plotting quilt patterns is almost similar to plotting bead loom patterns- working on a grid format with "squares" or pixels.
Here's my simple technique for crafting pixelated numbers.

First, I like to use graph paper and markers to plot out my designs.  Below are my number patterns.  I tried to keep these simple, yet not completely basic.  Keep in mind- the more squares you use in your patterns, the more cutting and sewing you will be doing to create your design.
Smokey Robinson once said:  "1-2-3, now that's how's gonna be!"
After I've plotted my designs on graph paper, I do a little math to determine how many squares I need to cut for the dark and light squares used in the number patchwork designs.  After I've calculated how much fabric I'll need, I go to cut the squares.  I used 3" squares in this example:
I go to pieces!!!
After I've cut my squares, I determine the full size of the number piece.  I'm going to create a number '8' design with 3" squares.  I determine that the size will be 7 squares (21") across by 9 squares (27") down.  Now this is what makes life ez:  fusible quilters grid interfacing!  It's fusible on 1 side, with 1" square grid lines to act as a guide for you to piece your pattern.  I cut a piece of the interfacing based on the size of my full pattern:  21" x 27":
thank gridness
Now I start to lay down my squares according to my graphed design.  Make sure you lay the wrong side of the fabric squares on top of the fusible (bumpy side) of the interfacing.  Use the grids as your guideline:
pass the piece
After I have my fabric squares laid out, I press them down.  Make sure you follow the manufacturer's instructions on how to fuse the fabric to the interfacing.  Do not use the steam setting on the iron or the fabric won't fuse:
After the squares are pressed on to the interfacing, you want to fold one row of squares over, right side of fabric touching each other.  Sew on the interfacing side with 1/4" seam allowance:
Continue this process, sewing row after row.  Just make sure you aren't sewing each row together....I can tell you by experience, I did this once.  Just so you know....the reason you're sewing these rows together is because you want to make the raw edges disappear.  Your design will shrink as you sew.  So, make sure that when you do your math in the beginning, you will want to calculate what the finished size will be according to the 1/4" seam allowances that you use.
After you've sewn all the vertical rows together, press the seam allowances down to one side and rotate your piece, repeating this process on the horizontal rows that need to be sewn together:
Note the sewn seams from the vertical rows.  You want to make sure the seam allowances are facing down towards you as you sew the horizontal seams.
Upon stitching all of the horizontal rows together, the back side of your piece should look like this:
Press the allowances down.  Flip over to the right side and press again.  Your pieced pixelated number is now finished!
crazy 8

I played a little bit with some other fabrics/ color combos and square sizes, making a 4 & 5....a few of my lucky numbers:

What's your lucky number?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Silver Dollar Forger- I so Heart this bag!

Howdy, my crafters!
I'm back from a rendezvous with the flu.  My sewing chi is flowing again and I can't wait for winter to be over!!  As the seasons start to transition, the little cogs & wheels in my head start "spinning out" about what clothes & accessories I'll begin to inject into my wardrobe this Spring.  Lately, I've been thinking about bags.  As the weather gradually warms up here in the Pacific Northwest, I can't wait to ditch the heavy winter coat for my cute denim jacket.  Along with ditching the winter coat, I'll be updating my bag & opting for a smaller, less bulky purse to haul only the essentials.  I could easily go out & purchase a cute handbag, but being the craft 'o nista that I am, I want to show off my skillz!!

Remember my last post about the "Dolla Clutch"?  It was my first prototype and there were some things I loved and didn't love about it.  Loved the Dollar Sign applique, but didn't love the rest of the bag.
The Dolla Clutch: Needs a little tweaking

Sometimes when I begin the design process, I take my concept a little too literally.  Although I loved the concept of taking a rapper's gold bling necklace and turning it into a cute little clutch to hold my cellphone, keys, and $, my first prototype turned out with an odd, slightly oval shape.

For my next version of the dollar clutch, I decided to ditch the hip-hop bling and go for a Japanese lolita-kawaii kind of feeling.  I flipped through some of the Japanese fashion mags that I have laying around and found this cute little heart-shaped purse as inspiration for the body of my bag:
I heart this!!!!
Then I did a little bit of inventory of my fabric stash.  I still wanted to use a fun, blingy vinyl for the dollar sign applique and remembered I had a silver "faux sequin" textured vinyl I bought from Pacific Fabrics rad selection of colored & textured vinyls. Silver.....Dollar Sign.....Silver Dollar!  Oooh!  And I have a remnant of stretch denim with a deep indigo/bleach acid-washed pattern that would pair well with the silver!!
Sew off I go......
I used the back side of the bleached out indigo acid-washed denim for a more faded look, allowing the dollar sign applique to pop!
Forging the Silver Dollar.....err sewing the vinyl applique.  Note the "Faux" Sequin texture on the vinyl
I'm heartin' this version already!
Pin me with your best shot:  Sewing Voodoo Magic!
That's the front side of the fabric that I'm using for the inside of the bag.
And Voila!  The Silver Dollar Acid-washed Heart Bag!  Love-love-love!!!!

I added a zipper closure to the top of the bag.  The strap is indigo blue cotton webbing.  It's long enough for me to wear it cross-body style.  Perfect little bag to wear when I hop on my bike for a ride around my 'hood this spring.