Saturday, October 25, 2014

David Distressing. Burning Man Capes. Half Plaid Flannels.

Here is our latest technique for distressing shorts.  David has gotten very good at it.  He has a wire brush on his drill, and has a vacuum attached to suck up the dust. DON'T BREAK THE WHITE THREADS.  That's the most important thing you have to remember.

Break the blue threads by stretching a pulling.  Then wash the shorts for 2-4 hours to remove the broken threads.

I wanted to add these capes that Irene and her roommate Annie made to wear to Burning Man.  The girls bought white silk velvet and dyed it these amazing colors for capes.  I helped with the finishing touches.  It turned out they were a little fancy for Burning Man, but pretty cool none the less.

Finally, here are some vintage flannel shirts, sliced in half, and spliced back together.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Rug dying

We actually dyed these rugs several months ago, and now they are at Twig in our new location, looking great. The thing about overdyed rugs is that the colors are so vivid and fun.  They add a lot of flair to a room.

First we found some rugs at various flea markets.  This was one of the more challenging steps, because there are lots of expensive vintage carpets out there.  But not that many reasonable ones that also have a good shape and pattern.   This one is really pretty.  The flowers are great.

These two are pretty good, but none of them are super high quality, hand woven rugs.  But they're not bad.

The first two carpets we dyed, we actually bleached first.  But we have come to the conclusion that this isn't necessary, or desirable.  One of the carpets we bleached turned out too light, so you couldn't see the pattern through the dye that well.  So, with these we went straight to the dying.

This tool makes it really easy.  It's a garden sprayer.  Just fill with water, some powdered dye, and some vinegar, put the carpet on a tarp outside, and off you go.  I've tried many types of dyes, and they all work fine.  I don't really have a favorite.

I like spraying different colors around the border and the inside, although the pink one is just pink.  In fact, this first pink wasn't dark enough, so I switched to more of a fuschia color.  I also like it if there are some different colors applied very closely with the sprayer to make the pattern of the old carpet more obvious.  For instance I tried to hit the leave on the pink and blue carpet with some green.

After all the colors are applied, and left to dry for a couple of days, we hang the carpets over a pole between two ladders and really rinse them thoroughly with a hose, and then leave to dry hanging in the sun.

This carpet was a higher quality and we paid more for it, but it really turned out well.  It may be silk.  I sprayed it with a lot of different colors, including some pink on the flowers.  

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Learning about Leather

I have been on a quest to find the perfect leather to use with all the boho charms I have been collecting.  I want a nice medium weight leather that is both soft and sturdy.  The color should be rich, and the feel should be buttery.  I recently decided that my only hope was to buy a hide and cut it myself.

So I have been scouring Southern California and found some scraps, as well as full hides.

At first I made the mistake of buying leather that was nice and soft, but too thin.  But the heavier leather can look too much like a shoelace when it's cut.

I have been cutting it with a regular circular cutter and a self healing mat, which works surprisingly well.

I decided to make lemonade out of lemons, and use the soft thin leather to make tassels.  I LOVE tassels.  I have been scouring the internet nightly for cool tassels made out of anything: chain, pearls, leather, silver. So here is my attempt at making some out of the nice soft leather hide I bought at Save More Leather in Los Angeles.

The first one has a very nice sterling toggle clasp.  The second one has piece of turquoise and an old African trade bead.  I am going to attach them to necklaces made of hishi beads, wood beads, and leather.

Finally, here is a small sample of the vintage charms I have collected and turned into necklaces.  The first one uses some of the leather I cut.  The last picture is some pre-cut leather I just found that's actually pretty nice.  Sigh.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Aged or distressed t-shirts and sweatshirts

It turns out that those decades old t-shirts that your husband should have thrown out a long time ago are in.   The more threadbare and worn the better.  It took me a while to come to grips with this, but now I like it.  In fact, I just got this t-shirt for myself:

I believe this was washed for many hours in a Los Angeles wash house, and then silk screened.  But it started out as someone's undershirt.

David and I have been learning about distressing jeans and have discovered that there are places that will wash things for hours and hours and will also dye them, which is a way of fast-forwarding the aging process on t-shirts and denim.  Something about it is very appealing.  I love the old tags in the neck, especially if they are from some old manufacturer from the 50s or 60s.

I also picked up this old sweatshirt at a flea market,  that is now one of my favorites.

You can take new t-shirts and use sand paper and the sanitize setting on your washing machine, or you can search for a long time and find the perfectly aged and naturally-distressed item at a flea market or at a thrift store.  I like them both.

The old style sweatshirts often had the raglan sleeves set in.  I especially love hoodies, but pullovers are good, too.

I also love dyed garments.  The colors come out so vividly.  There's just something about a home-dyed garment that says it's special.  The black one above was dyed in a wash house.  I have some more things I will post that I have been dying , too.

Lastly, I have been collecting vintage t-shirts and have been experimenting with how to cut them to make them into tank tops.  I am still working on the details, like how low to cut the arm holes, and  whether or not to put darts in.  So far each one has been different.  I have some lace t-backs that I bought in downtown LA that I will try to add to the backs as well.  This is a big project I will try to finish before summer.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Denim is a big part of Twig.  We sold many many denim cutoff shorts last summer, and this summer the trend will probably continue.

The best denim (vintage) is soft and warn.  I am a big fan of distressing.  If the jeans are really old they have naturally distressed patches, such as knees, hips and elbows.  It took me a while to appreciate them, but I am now a fan of holes, and aged stains that just can't be bleached out.  A t-shirt worn by a mechanic or painter with the oil stains and paint still apparent is just fun.  Add a name tag, an old tag in the collar, especially if it's hand made by Peggy or sold be Sears or Penney's, and I am sold.

David and I have been working on techniques for distressing shorts that look like the jeans have been worn and washed for years.  David tried a drill with sandpaper, and a drummel, but these are my favorite tools:

This is a piece of pvc pipe, some sandpaper wrapped around a paint stick, and a bottle of wine.  That's all you need.

So, you stick the pvc pipe in the leg of the jeans, and start sanding.  The most important thing to remember is DON'T BREAK THE WHITE THREADS.  You want to sand across the leg of the jeans to break the blue threads, and keep the white threads intact.  I use my fingers to pull the threads apart to further break the blue threads.  After a bit of sanding I throw the jeans in the washer for 2-4 hours.  This washes out the broken blue threads, and softens the jeans up even more.

Here are some of the jeans we sell.  First, the cutoff shorts.  These are hugely popular, and we carry tons of them.  It's hard to keep them in stock because certain sizes are really popular and they're hard to find.

We also sell vintage Levi jeans, jackets, and denim shirts.

We also sell redline Levis, which are somewhat rare.  They are from the 70's and are called redline because the inside seam is cut on the selvedge (the edge of the fabric) and they have a distinctive inner seam that has a red stitch in the white border.  

Redline jeans are costlier than other jeans that have an overlock seam, because they use more fabric, and are no longer made in large production.  New selvedge jeans are really pricey, but look great.

Here are some of the shorts I distressed recently, but I need to do a ton more for summer.

The top pair are really soft and nice.  They also have a button fly (501s) versus a zipper fly (505s).  Some people like one better than the other, depending on their preference for buttoning versus zipping.  Buttons seem more old school.

Here is a lovely model wearing a pair of Twig's jeans, as well as some examples of people on the street, including Kanye West, wearing vintage Levis.

I have some very cool old holey sweatshirts that I will post about next time.