Overall Story: The Passing of My Eccentric Aunt
Betsy Johnson Meets Dior
Am I Similar to Auntie Galina?
Lessons From Auntie Galina
The Final Pictures
Links to Similar Projects
Betsy Johnson Meets Dior
I had an eccentric aunt, and she passed away from an aggressive brain tumor which after diagnosis took her life in about 3 months in early 2020. Most likely she had the tumor for longer than that, but she never went to the doctor.
She was a free spirit and gave of the vibe of invincibility. Probably, within her character, she would have been grateful to have only suffered three months as she loved to dress-up in some fashion that would not be expected for someone her age, but definitely within elegance, and maybe best described as artistic, whimsy.
I think Betsy Johnson meets Dior--you see? It's hard to describe her style. Campy meets classic.
In her last years in her 70's, she reminded me of a Norma Kamali, who was famous for inventing the silk parachute skirt which adjusted on the pull of draw strings on the side. In fact Auntie Galina had these skirts and wore her hair in one of the many Coco Chanel bobbed ways--and always with bangs.
Auntie Galina was doused in Chanel perfume and her scent would linger on you for days--until you washed the clothes she smothered when hugging you so tightly.
Auntie Galina lent me her jewelry for my Halloween costume when I was 4 years old! The dress upcycled by my mother from old curtains. Circa 1975
Aunt Galina was an immigrant from Poland, like my parents. And technically, she was not blood related, but she was in my life from day one. You see, my childhood was a library of borrowed aunts and uncles and cousins, who in similar situations, left Communist Poland for a better life here in the United States, and in our case, we landed up in San Francisco.
Aunt Galina in the cutest outfit I'd wear now!
All my blood relatives, were still in Poland. And although we visited them, sparsely because we did not have the financial means when I was younger, I was not close to any of them until way later when I moved to Poland for 2 years of University to study in Cracow, Poland.
Auntie Gaga (a endearing, nickname my brother and I gave her) came into my life with Uncle Richard, her husband at the time. My parents best friends.
Auntie Galina and My Mum
AG and UR were florists, and very much artists--AG with her flare for fashion and floral styling and UR with his Surrealism oil paintings. They never had children because losing one of their firsts was just too painful to revisit. As a result, they were able to pour their time into amazing Worldly travels with a particular penchant for Italy.
My Uncle RIchard--the Surrealism Oil Painter
Auntie Galina (yep! that's her on both paintings) was his muse
We don't know why but as Auntie Galina aged, she became quirkier, and quirkier. She was a personality meteor shower of ADHD (I have it too!), frenzied speech, a little Manic--but always cheerful! and the avatar image of dictionaries for narcissism and ostentation.
To us, she was a Braggadocio in a completely innocent way, if that makes any sense.
A complete extrovert, her over-zealouness, showy personality was very off-putting to many. As a result, it was hard for her to make new, long term friends because she was exhausting to be around.
Auntie Gaga in her older years! I loved her theatrical use of clothes!
You might be wondering, how the heck did we put up with her for all those years? Well, in one simple answer, she was GREAT!
Yes, she was GREAT! We loved her! Albeit in measured doses. We could appreciate her zaniness. She was so interesting as well, having traveled the world and met so many characters.
I miss her. My family misses her. My mother misses her best friend.
My Mom and Her Best Friend--the 1980's Disco Era
Am I Similar To Auntie Galina?
Yes, I am similar to her. But in a very diluted way. And for the purpose of THIS blog post, I am similar to her in my vein of theatrics and art expression through my Upcycles.
Oh Auntie Galina was the epitome of fashion and style! Some of my stand-out memories of her include a sequined tube top with a pair of satin goucho pants and a beret she wore going out to the Disco with my parents. Or this ridiculously gorgeous white fluffy fur coat she wore to the beach one day as we casually walked down to Ocean Beach in San Francisco.
Auntie Gaga was fashion theatrics! And it left a huge, indelible water-mark on my approach to my personal style. I don't wear craziness all the time, but Auntie Galina wore craziness all the time! A t-shirt and jeans for her? NEVER! But a staple for me. So my inner Galina pops out once in a while, and most notably through my more Avant-Garde Upcycles or my Retro Styling like in my last blog. Although, the Vintage Inspiration comes from someone else entirely! But that's another story.
My last blog post--Retro Me! Loving the theatrics, but also like contemporary styling
Lessons from Auntie Galina
The most important thing I learned from Auntie Galina, is to be me. I used to fear people and what they thought, but I want to memorialize Auntie Gaga and her joie de vivre, with my theatrical Upcycles and costuming.
You can see why I was inspired by her...
while I wore black when I was 19 years old, she wore Orange at 45 yrs. old
Note worthy, she passed right when Covid hit. My passion for Upcycling and Refashioning clothes for me did not start until Covid hit, when my local costume rental business came to a grinding halt. www.CostumeTakeOut.com So Auntie Gaga did not get to see my development as a clothing designer. I think she would have loved it and finally felt like she had a daughter in me.
We love and miss you Auntie Galina! We miss everything about YOU! You gave us so much!
In Memoriam 1946-2020
I am dedicating this Upcycle & Refashion to
My Beloved Aunt Galina.
I think she would say that it's time to
There's no shock if you read my posts, that Pinterest is how I get my sense of what I am going to Upcycle and How.
The way it works--I think ; ) --is that I start seeing a certain idea that I am attracted to and then the idea sits on my internal artistic dock.
Well, that's how it worked with the Granny-Square Ruffled Top I made for this post!
I saw just one Granny-Square crochet top on Pinterest an I knew, I needed to appease my yearning with my very own!
Click on the crochet image to take you to my Pinterest Board and see my inspirations! (Although, my design is completely unique!!!)
Let's Get Started!
Making A Ruffle Sleeved Crochet Top
A thrifted Granny-Square blanket. Made popular in the 1970's--I was born 1971--do the math.
But the decade of this blanket doesn't mean I'm a Granny! No, not yet! I am taking my 18 yr. old to college next month. Hopefully babies are on her back-burner before I become a Granny myself! Just give me at least 5 years to just be me before I am a grandmother!.
I so appreciate the works-woman-ship put into these blankets! I don't crochet or knit, only because it requires a certain level of patience I don't have--relaxing a craft to some, but work to others.
What is the story behind this beautiful artistry? I wish I knew! I feel bad to chop into it, but I am giving it new life as something that is another piece of artwork! Thank you original crafter!
I am making a ruffled shoulder top....seems impossible? Just watch how I do this : )
not too much to work with though!
1st Step--Determine New Dimensions
Mark lines for new top: the chest line and hip line.
I chose the width of 3 squares.
2nd Step--Apply Fushion Tape
2.1. Cut strips of heat fusion/bond tape.
2.2. Lay out strips along cream colored yarn grid line.
2.3. Place parchment paper under the tape and on top where iron applies heat.
2.4. Apply heat to bind the tape to the cream colored yarn.
This step helps to keep the yarn from unraveling when cutting along the line. Repeat process for the same line on the other side of the cream colored yarn line.
3rd Step--Cut Along Fused Line
2.1. Cut down the cooled down, line where fusion bond tape melted into the yarn.
4th Step--First Check
Place tube on dress form.
Determine where to place the squares on the front.
Determine how much of the blanket to remove in the back.
5th Step--Attach Bias Tape.
5.1. Line up back edges of tube top.
5.2 Press the Bias Trim. I had some woven bias tape from a present that was given to me! It was the bow!
5.3. Press bias tape in half and attach to the edge with clips, and hot press the tape onto the edges. Remember, there's fusion tape residue still on the cut lines! So how convenient to re-melt to attach the binding tape.
5.4 Continue binding all raw cut edges. Not necessary to bind edges unless you want to.
6th Step--Remove Yarn for Stitching
6.1. Take removed strip from tube fitting.
6.2. Reverse crochet out the yarn.
6.3. Collect enough yarn to double up and long enough to bind the back of tube.
6.4. Bind the back edges together with a simple loop going all the way up the back.
7th Step--Chose A Finishing Ribbon
Pick ribbon that will look nice woven along the edges. Robin Egg blue was an option, but it took away from the crochet top and I wanted more styling flexbility in the future so I chose the cream, 2 inch wide ribbon.
8th Step--Re-group, Noodle on It, Figure it Out
And I was not happy with this project at this point. Yes, it fit. But the overall look fell flat on its face. So I had to noodle some more.
How about ruffled sleeves?
I was seriously doubtful I could pull it off. But I knew I was not happy with the way I styled the tube-top.
So it was full throttle ahead. If it did not work out, this idea would be tossed. Put into the garbage coffin.
In the meantime, proceed to Step 9.
9th Step-- Lace Ribbon
Sit in front of TV with a good show, and start lacing the ribbon at measured intervals around the top's borders.
Tie off ends of ribbon.
10th Step--Admire Your Work
Feel good about making something pretty even though this whole idea might not even work out ; )
11th Step-- Cross Fingers and Make Ruffle Sleeve
The first steps are just a repeat of how I made the tube top.
11.1. Apply heat fusion tapes to edges that you will cut.
11.2. Prepare bias tape.
11.3. Iron on bias tape.
11.4. Weave in yarn through measured intervals to create a ruffle.
11.5. Sew sleeves onto bodice.
12th Step-- Progress Check
Ok, so I see a light at the end of the tunnel! And I am pleased with the result!
What you won't see me do here is lace the ribbon on the edges of the ruffles. So please note that step for the finished look.
I repeated step 11 for the other side.
You must be curious how this all turned out???