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Me with our first set of pillows and my parent's dog, Dakota.
Wow, do I feel accomplished. It's the bride here and I just got home from a day of make-it-up-as-we-go sewing with my mom. Why did we want to re-cover recovered pillows for what would be a temporary use? You must first understand that my clever fiancé has expressed few demands about our wedding and reception along the planning process. However, those that he has, such as having some semblance of color/pattern-matching throughout the décor, have been strong and unyielding. His stubbornness not withstanding, he had made a somewhat valid point in that our reception would look more like a family reunion picnic than a wedding celebration if we didn’t clearly present a theme.

As a result, we picked out a handful of fall and autumn colors and agreed to reasonable shade and tone deviations thereof. We then scoured thrift stores for 100% cotton bed sheets in those colors, often relying on my mom’s steal-of-a-deal mojo to help us score on dirt-cheap, second-hand materials and supplies.

So, there we were, my mom and me setting up both sewing machines on her large dining table. She kindly provided a clean, clutter-free working space with little interruptions and her own experienced hands to help me get started on covering some of the thirty-something throw pillows that we’d gathered from generous Freecyclers.

Although we now each had our own sewing machine, I'd spent little time using my new toy since I got it (see our post in December). Years ago I followed my mom's lead and took a beginning sewing class at one of the local junior colleges. At the time, my biggest undertakings included a heart-shaped pillow with a buttoning pocket and a t-shirt that actually fit me. However, I had borrowed my mom’s sewing machine for the class and didn’t have much reason to get my own after the semester ended.

Luckily, a few of the lessons sunk in and it only took a few flips through the manual before I was ready to give my new machine a whirl. My first tests were in making fancy dust rags out of an old pair of soft PJs that I’d torn up. I played with the various straight and decorative stitches for a while before I got the itch to create something more substantial. With some scrap cloth and wrap-around measuring, I pieced together a passable button-closure pillow sham.

Five months later, my mom and I had splayed out our materials, which consisted of a small pile of square throw pillows; a flat, brown-and-white flowered bed sheet; eight large, goldenrod cloth napkins with matching lace trim; and a bag full of quilter’s batting that I’d picked up from a Freecycler nearly a year prior not the ideal batting for this type of project, but we made it work). We eased our way into this visually overwhelming project by starting with the napkins since we only had to top-stitch them right-sides out, leaving one side open so we could stuff them with batting before stitching them closed. Those went pretty quick.

Next, we moved onto the cover-less pillow interiors. To get the most out of our used bed sheets, we determined that it was best to have a pre-finished edge along the top and a fold at the bottom of each pillow. That meant strategically folding the bed sheet back onto itself.  We took measurements of each pillow, adding one-inch to the right and left sides and one-and-a-half inches to the top. The extra half-inch would provide us a little extra fabric to work with when topstitching the top edge closed and having the pre-finished edge provided a great cover-up to the topstitching.

We ironed out the wrinkles in the fabric, cut it to size, turned it wrong side out, folded it up sot that he finished edges met and stitched a half-inch seam along the sides. After pressing those down and clipping the corners at a 45-degree angle, we would turn the cover right side out and press it again. Then, we’d insert the pillow through the opening and carefully pin the final edge, trying not to catch the pillow with the pins. Finally, we’d delicately topstitch the final edge with a half-inch seam, which mean squishing the pillow down and away from the needle as much as possible.

When finished, the lines were far from perfect, but that should be hardly noticeable to our lounging guests. I had held reservations about using the busy flower pattern, especially because of its large faded spots. Amazingly, they came out fantastic, with faded areas completely unnoticeable. In just a few hours, we had repurposed and renewed our materials to make eight fantastic fall pillows. Hazah! Check out the slideshow below for images from this project.
 
At our last wedding fundraiser yard sale (see our blog on 5/9/10), one of our patrons, a kitschy-preppy woman in her 30's with a little girl, came to the sale bearing gifts. She'd taken the time to look through our website, pouring over our wish list and scouring her home for items that we could use while de-cluttering her space (I didn't ask if she downloaded our handy printable version of the list).

That Sunday, after Tarah spent the day hunting through thrift stores with her mom for Mother's Day, Tarah started delving into the bag this sweet woman had dropped off. Wow! This thoughtful stranger crammed in a menagerie of 16 pillow cases, 2 bed sheets, 46 postcards and a few handfuls of hotel-sized bathroom items! The best part of digging into this treasure trove was examining the postcards, which appear to be a collection of travel post cards dating as far back as the 1970's. This donation is another perfect example of the kindness, quirkiness and awesome generosity that we love about Sacramentans.It's these moments of connection with gracious individuals are the ones that make this whole process enchanting. And, with only 4.5 months until the wedding, it's the kind of community assistance that we're going to try to maximize over the next couple months. 
 
It ran an hour over due to a handful of late comers, but the yard sale was, we think, a small success. Josh works weekends, so Tarah managed the sale with extensive set-up and breakdown help from her dad and Tammy, her parent's neighbor and a good friend of the family. Our site gained exposure, we got to meet some nice people, we were given donations from our wish list (woohoo!) and we walked away with over $80 for Lawrence (our new "wedding piggy bank"; a.k.a. "the pig")! Her favorite part was talking to people who not only found out about the sale from one of our online ads (Craigslist.org, Gsalr.com and Good Day Sacramento's online garage sale listings), but also followed the link to our website. Each person was enthusiastic about our special game plan and gave us kudos for the wish list idea.

Because we gave short notice to family and friends, hardly mentioned the sale at work and have more than half of the items remaining, my parents suggested that we keep everything in their storage shed and try another sale in one month. It was also suggested by a few friends that we try having the sale on Sunday only, or throughout the weekend. Although we haven't decided what day, or days, we're going to hold the next sale, we already have some ideas on how to make it bigger, better and more noticeable. No-brainers such as posting online ads starting 2 weeks out, putting up street signs 5-7 days prior and notifying friends/family/co-workers 2 weeks out. However, we've also considered adding a small bake sale (with coffee/hot chocolate in the morning) and including some kind of grabbing image on the posters (our photo, hearts, wedding bells or the like).

So, maybe $80 isn't much of a reason to celebrate for some people, but for us, this was definitely a success. The pig is growing fat.
 
The bride's parents have generously offered the use of their front yard in Carmichael Saturday, May 8th, so we could have a garage sale to raise funds for our wedding. Please stop by and take a look at what we have. Anything not sold will go to Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services, WEAVE, or Good Will. If you or someone you know are in the Sacramento area and have anything you/they would like to just get rid of, we'll gladly take any and all items (except for cars). Anyone with items to sell should contact us via the form on our wish list page. Please pass this news along to your Sacramento area friends and family.
 
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Yesterday, while searching for bridal wear, I started musing over the may colorful shoe options that I have. No longer do women expect to wear fancy or plain white pumps. These days, anything goes. I want color and a heal for sure. Because of the grass, I'm tempted to go with sandals or even barefoot, but we might have room to dance on the cement stage and I think I'll dance better and my legs would look better if I have a heal. I'll have to go with a thick heal to avoid aerating the lawn. If I can't find a shoe I like, I might go with decorating a shoeThese are a cute pair (minus the creepy bear and kitten)- too bad they're leather. This is also a simple, cute idea (love the vintage look of the shoe). However, as the feel of our wedding is somewhat casual and offbeat, and the guys will all be wearing cons (I'm pushing Josh to consider solid brown), I've waffled on having all the ladies wear green cons (to go with their green dresses) and wearing special ones myself. I really like this design and the couple in the tree looks similar to me and Josh.
 
This bride's mom has crazy mojo when it comes to finding fantastic new things and great deals. Whenever I goes shopping with her, or even if we're just casually browsing, I always score on some fantastic find. Today was no different.

We'd planned a day of thrift store hopping, hoping to find at least a few dresses that peaked my interest for our special day. Just a week before, I spent and entire lovely day weeding through nearly all of the vintage stores around midtown (there's quite a few fantastic little shops). Although I came home with an awesome gift for my big bro's 30th birthday (Alf viewfinder set- stil sealed) and a delicious pin for my future husband (vintage 70's "Worlds Greatest Lover"), I ended up sadly dress-less. I called my mom and set up the first of what I expected to be many all-day shopping excursions looking for that perfect, offbeat, all-about-my-personality dress.

Our plan was to go to a W.E.A.V.E. thrift store, where it was 50% off all items all day. I knew that they kept all their wedding dresses at one store and that the majority of dresses were priced at $150 or less. I pulled out $100 from our account and readied myself to spend more than the $50 I was hoping for- or not to find anything at all. Yes, I was ready for a day of disappointment, though I knew her mojo would at least score me other things I could use.

On a whim, we stopped by one of the many Good Will thrift stores on our way to the WEAVE store. Now, unlike many stores that price their items individually, this store priced the majority of their clothing items by category (ie. women's shoes- $5, men's pants - $6). This meant that, aside from special items that were individually tagged or in a glass case, all items of that category were the same price, regardless of retail value or condition. We headed over to the women's dresses and found a short, white, halter-style dress not five minutes into our search. I was a formal dress and, yet, not tagged for individual pricing. I wasn't positive that it was the look I wanted, but nonetheless immediately tried it on- I didn't even check the size. It fit- slightly snug, but it fit.

How much was this beautiful base? $6. Yes, that's right, six dollars. The outside was nearly flawless except for a small yellow mark and a bit of dirt around the bottom edge. The inside chest area was very sweat stained, but I figured that wouldn't matter since it wouldn't show on the outside. Although I wasn't planning for an all-white dress, I figured it was a fantastic base and more than affordable to add my own personality to. When I got home, I drenched the dress in a bucket full of warm water and two scoops of Oxo Brite, an earth-friendly whitener that was passed on to me by the queen of good mojo herself. I was just hoping to lighten up the stains a bit, but it completely removed them!

I'm not posting the photo of the dress here since Josh doesn't want to see it before the big day. However, like I said, it's all white- something I'm not keen to. Going for a nature theme, I started searching for DIY modification ideas. I really like the look of this painted dressThis dress is beautiful, but complicated. My dress is 100% polyester. It's extremely hard and dangerous to die polyester, so I'm going to experiment with the wedding-dresses-scraps that were given to me by a fellow Offbeat Bride Tribe member in Davis. I'm going to start with fabric crayons, then, if that doesn't satisfy me, the stamps. More on polyester fabric color options here.

Another option is to add 3D accents. I'm not sure if I could dye the sheer straps on my dress since I think they're also polyester, but I could add some butterflies. Here's a dress decorated with butterflies, though I'd prefer only a handful at the most (wow- dream butterfly dress). I could also inject some color and swagger by adding a showing crinoline. Here's a photo of a bride who dressed up her white dress with multi-colored crinoline. If I did this, I'd want to stick to browns and greens. Of course, plain green or brown would look great, too.

I'd also want to cover up or do something with the rhinestones that line the bottom of the bust, which are well sewed in. They look great on the dress, but that glitzy look isn't what I'm going for. I wrapped a fuzzy green scarf under my chest (flat fabric didn't cover the middle stones) and it looked surprisingly fitting when combined with the plastic butterfly hair clips I had.

My mom is an incredible artist, though she mostly works through crafts and digital photography. I think that the two of us will easily come up with a unique dress that fits my personality, our wedding theme and the importance of the occasion, and I look forward to working with her on it.
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    What's our story?

    Tarah works for Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services and has been living in Sacramento for nearly all of her earthly years. She lead a mostly uneventful life, though she always had a love of written, visual and performance art, holds an interest in politics and still can't resist animals.  Josh is a former punk rock musician who is back in college, volunteers with the Sacramento SPCA and blogs about the video gaming industry at 1Up.Com(Electronic Gaming Monthly). He was born in California and traveled around, mostly growing up in  Reno, NV and Southern Oregon.  With his band, he toured the U.S., Canada, and Europe. After the disolvement of his band and a couple years of contemplation, the groom moved from Portland, OR, down to sunny Sacramento.  A month later, the bride found his platonic ad on Craigslist. He was looking for locals who could show him around town, and Tarah knew just the right places to go. The two started a wonderful friendship that blossomed into the unbreakable relationship they enjoy today.  They share strong values for equality amongst people, humane treatment for animals, using diplomacy before voilence, and respectful care of the environment through personal responsibilty and accountability.

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