Monday, December 31, 2012

Green Parfait Delight

Okay folks, here it is!  My second intermediate (as opposed to beginner) dress pattern finished!  Meet the Parfait.  Cute, right? 

I must say, this pattern is a lot more fun to use than the Chantilly, although the results of my newest Chantilly are really pretty spectacular (future post!).  While the Chantilly pattern takes me weeks and weeks to get through  (I have now made two and don't plan on making more), with a ton of mistakes and frustration along the way, the Parfait is fairly simple to sew for an intermediate pattern.  Yes, it did take a bit longer than some of my beginner patterns, but I could feel it coming together nicely and I felt pretty comfortable while making it.  This is what sewing is all about: having fun while getting to be creative! 

The fit was also wonderful, if I do say so myself!  The only thing I have left to do is to sew some decorative buttons onto the straps, but it is wearable now without them.  I used snaps instead of working buttons for this dress, simply because I don't have the skill set to make button holes yet. 

I am already working on my next (modified this time) Parfait using pink cotton. I foresee a lot of Parfaits in my future.  I highly recommend this pattern as a first time jaunt into the world of intermediate patterns.  I just love how it turned out!

The dogs had to get in on the fun!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Outfit Post- Christmas Party Outfit

I have two brand new hand made dresses to show off soon (my best two yet!!!), but I think I will wait until I can get some shots of me wearing them over the Holidays rather than posting them on the dress form now.
In the mean time, I thought I might do an outfit post and show off what I wore to my husbands Christmas party the other night.

I have blogged about this dress before, but I haven't worn it for a long time so it still feels new. :)  It was from a Modcloth sale.  The one problem with this dress is that it is very fragile.  The lining ripped to shreds the first time I wore it and I am always afraid the dress shell will tear while I am wearing it. The gloves are Modcloth from last year. The boots are Steve Madden.  The turban style headband is from forever 21.  I love it, but I only like how it looks when my hair is short.  Like now!   :)

Getting ready!  Black headband- Target

AND look at this cute coat!!!  My sis gave it to me this week just because.  It is very warm, and will look great over dresses, or worn more casually.  LOVE IT.

Happy Holidays !!  

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wild Peony Top

I finished my newest Peony, this time paring it with a full free flowing short skirt.  Yay!  I blogged about this dress as I was making it here.  While I was making this dress, I envisioned wearing it with leggings for the winter since it is pretty short.  I also decided to make the skirt uneven at the bottom for a little added personality.  

I loved how it turned out!  It is such a cool fun piece, and I made it!!!  I really can’t wait to show this top off and wear it out.  I experimented a lot with the details of this dress, and I really feel that the risks panned out and really added to the over all look of this crazy little dress.  
I have such a love affair with this pattern.  To me, it is such a perfect canvas to try new things, like using a free flowing skirt, short or long sleeves, details and different fabrics to make such different pieces you would never know they all shared elements of the same pattern.  If you can only buy one pattern, I must recommend the Peony.  The possibilities really are endless. 

Dress front

Dress back

Pink exposed zipper; red and blue thread

Small detail down the front-also used this bias tape on the sleeves 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

New Chantilly Mock Up

This is a great example of why I always have so many unfinished projects!  I am currently working on a slightly altered Chantilly that so far, looks like this (I drafted the modified neck piece on my own!  :) ):

Eventually, this dress will be lined, and have a free flowing skirt.  BUT, I pined up a piece of the future dress skirt to my dress form and it instantly gave me a dozen new ideas!  Wouldn't this dress be lovely with a fitted skirt or a short fitted skirt with a ruffle maybe?  What about adding puffed sleeves for a vintage 1940's look??? 

Project scribbles for future dresses
So many ideas and so little time and money to create them all!  Someday, I would love to learn how to draft my own patterns from scratch, but for now, altering existing patterns and mixing and matching patterns to create new looks is pretty dang fun. 

As it is, I can't wait until this collection of parts is an actual dress.  The Chantilly is by far the most detailed pattern that I own, but it is also a very rewarding one to complete.  I'll keep you posted on my progress! 

Meanwhile, I have several other dresses in the works that I can't wait to get back to! Sigh.  I don't even have time to enjoy my newly created dresses most of the time because I am already excited about the next one in the works.  Silly lady.  Oh well, I guess that that means that the passion to keep going and progressing is there at least! 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Emily and Fin- The Extreme Makeover Edition!

I got this beautiful Emily And Fin (my favorite designer ever!) off the shoulder dress on sale from Modcloth some months ago for $35 (on sale from over $100!).  I love the color and the cute print, and like almost all Emily and Fin dresses, it has pockets! 

I was in love...then tragedy struck.  After only one wear, the off the shoulder sleeves ripped in not one, but two places! 
This rip could have been pretty easily repaired...

But this one was a lost cause.

Sooooo,  I used my seam ripper and carefully took off the ruffled sleeves (sad, but lets move past the pain), added some spaghetti straps made out of sewn together bias tape (I even ripped the seam so that the straps could be hidden inside the lining of the dress), and came up with this lovely little dress!  Please excuse the terrible photos- this was just an impromptu in-the-middle-of-projects sort of thing.  Someday I will get a real photo shoot done for this dress with my alterations! 

So there you go!  I actually like how it looks with my alterations even more than I liked it when I first got it!  Yay for happy accidents.  :)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Sewing From Scraps!

A lot of times, I end up with extra fabric at the end of a project.  Often, I use this scrap fabric as lining for other projects.  I love using scrap fabric this way because it means that my dresses and tops are lined with really pretty quality fabric that I didn't have to buy specifically for them. Even though no one sees the lining, it is a special touch that makes a garment seem just a little more special.  I am working on a dress right now that has a full lining made out of pretty scrap fabric that I had saved from high school.  More on that in a future post.  :) 

Other times however, there is enough scrap fabric left over to make a whole new project, and luckily I have two examples of that for you right now lucky reader!  

In August, I reviewed a pattern from Chic & Simple Sewing: by Christine Haynes HERE.  I really liked how the shirt turned out, and saw a lot of potential to use this pattern again.  And wallah!  Here is my second baby doll top out of the awesome comic book print:
Front view

Back view.  I used a hook and eye closure.  

I used a snap clasp for this one, and some left over pink cotton for the lining.  This top would be great as a pregnancy top, but seeing as how I'm not pregnant, it looks a heck of a lot better belted!

Secondly, we have this little baby doll nightgown that I made completely out of scraps.  I love how it turned out and plan on using this idea to get rid of small scraps again many times!  This would also be a lovely project to make as a gift since the sizing doesn't have to be as exact as a lot of other patterns.  I really love how all of these mismatched pieces came together in such a lovely way.  

Side view

Back view

Even the bias tape was just a scrap piece!  :)
I wasn't terribly impressed with this book when I first got it because of some issues I took with the limited sizing, and because I felt that the sewing directions were not super clear for a beginner.  Now that I am not such a novice however, I am excited to try to make several projects from this book.  Although they are very simple designs, I love how quickly the projects can be completed  and how little hassle they are to make (no zippers or buttons in sight!).

I can't wait to finish up my next project and post it, but that one is going to take a bit longer unfortunately (boo!), but hopefully it will be worth it (yay!).

Have a beautiful day!

Monday, December 3, 2012

December Sewing Madness

I am so in the mood to sew, but I am working on so many projects at once right now, and I have so many ideas in my head, that I don’t know where to start! 
I suppose I should start with this dress since I already have all of the pieces cut out. 
Isn’t this fabric cool?  It is a bit ruff, and when I first found it in my scrap pile from high school (someone must have given it to me at some point), I’ll admit that I didn’t immediately see its potential. 
But I kept looking and finally I saw it- what if I used this loud crazy fabric to make a delicate simple dress with long sleeves?  It felt unexpected and awesome to me, and judging by how the pieces look draped on the dress form, I think that I made the right choice. 
This dress is made up of the Truffle pattern top, Peony pattern sleeves (both from Collette Patterns), and it will have a short free flowing gathered skirt.  In my imagination, this dress will look really good with dark leggings, and be a great option for chilly weather. 
BUT I am also itching to use my three new intermediate Collette patterns, which I am excited to use but also a bit nervous about because they are going to take a bit more patience.  Which, as you might have guessed, I just wasn’t blessed with. 
The first is the Chantilly, which I have made only once here.  It is a great, not too difficult, pattern, but it takes so dang long to make, especially because it is fully lined.  Man, this one is rewarding but hard to get through.  I already have plans for a slight modification to the pattern and I also have the fabric ready.  I don’t really want to have to start this one, but I can’t wait until it is finished.  :P
The second and third new intermediate patterns are yet to be attempted.  They are the Parfait and the Lily.  I have fabric ready for both, but I think that I am a bit less afraid of the Parfait, so I will start there.  Yay for me going beyond the beginner patterns! 
Lastly (as far as personal sewing is concerned), I still need to get back to my attempts at making pants.  So far, I have been quite unsuccessful, despite the fact that both the Clover and the Juniper are marked as beginner patterns.  To be fair, I haven’t tried theJuniper yet, which I expect to be a bit easier.  We shall see if I am ever able to get through them, but when I do, I shall then crown myself a true sewing master. 
I still have a few Christmas present projects that I am excited about too, but sewing for others is always a bit nerve racking, and so I am putting it off. 
So, it goes like this: I am so anxious to get started on each project on my to-sew list that I am not starting any!  Hopefully I can at least get one of the new patterns cut out tonight and that will give me the confidence to keep going. 
Welcome to December everybody!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Twilight Zone Dress

Imagine my surprise when I woke up this morning to find that a dress I had just made last week had appeared on Modcloth!  Okay, so it wasn't really the one I made, but it was so dang near its twin that I nearly fainted!

This is the dress that I made:
I found a little red belt to go with it.  Also, the dress is a  bit wrinkled because I wore it once already.  

Back view.  

And this is the Modcloth version:

It is the exact same fabric that I got from Amazon!  How very odd.

The strange thing about this Modcloth version to me is that the comic book print on the fabric is all jokes about home sewing and its virtues.  It seems a little odd to manufacture a dress which has fabric that is all about sewing things yourself, but maybe that's just me.

The funny thing is that I almost made my dress with a full skirt like this too, but decided it didn't make any sense with the pattern since the ladies on the dress all had slim dresses. Again, maybe I was just being too literal with the fabric.

In any case, I am very proud of my little dress, even  though it has a Twilight Zone version. I guess it at least proves that home sewing can save you some money, since the Modcloth version originally about $100 and was on sale for $75, and my dress cost less than $30 to make. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Pursuit of Thinness: Why we STILL Let it Outrank the Pursuit of Happiness

As a teen and into my early 20’s, I wanted to change my body; I wanted to control it.  As a woman I finally understand my body, which means more than just accepting it. 
When I was young, I thought that being thin was important and necessary if I ever hoped to be happy.  Writing that makes me feel so sorry for my younger self, but there it is.  I wanted to be Audrey Hepburn.  I wanted to be the girls I saw in magazines.  I couldn’t yet see anything special about being me, but hoped that I was as pliable as a lump of clay just waiting to be beaten into the shape that I desired.  I could still recognize that other women with curves, or who weren’t rail thin, were lovely and desirable, but I couldn’t imagine being like them.  After all, I couldn’t make myself have an hourglass figure, but I could make myself thinner if I really put my mind to it. 
The truth is that being thin is something that we are taught to aspire to, not because being thin is ideal, but because it is accomplishable.  Unlike being tall, being born with perfect skin, hair or teeth, or being naturally talented at something, being thin is something you can have if you work hard enough.  No matter what natural weight you are supposed to be, if you starve yourself, exercise excessively and think of nothing else, you too can be thin.  It is something you can control, sometimes to the detriment of everything else in your life, but you can do it. 
This, of course, is a horrible waste of time and worse, unhealthy for many of us who just aren’t meant to be tiny people.  The sad thing is, in our pursuit of the perfect weight (which we have randomly decided on in our own minds) we have to give up things along the way that if we were in a rational, thinking space, we would never have traded for the world.    
There are two main areas of a woman’s life that are compromised in the never ending pursuit of thinness.  One is physical, and the other (the more important one) is mental.
First, in order to contort our bodies into the thin frames that the world and our own minds are telling us we must want to have in order to be attractive women, we give up our own natural shapes and with them our breasts, bums and yes, even our round thighs (not always a bad thing ladies!).  Why?  Why does having a flat stomach that we have to work for trump having the lovely curves that we could have had naturally and without suffering if we didn’t give into this disordered thinking?  Why are we willing to give up the softness that we were born to use to fill out slinky dresses in order to make sure that no lumps can be seen beneath the fabric?  My theory is that it goes back to the element of control that many of us feel is missing from other aspects of our lives.  We want to change our bodies to fit into some mold that we choose, rather than the form that was chosen by nature for us to prove that we have some control in our lives, or at least of over our own shapes.
The second repercussion is far more dangerous, and that is how this pursuit of thinness affects us mentally.  Of course we all know what the roller coaster of gaining weight and hating ourselves and losing weight and fearing its inevitable return does to our self-esteem.  This is especially true when we find that we have failed again at dropping those three pounds we vowed to lose before the Holliday’s (weak!) or when we have lost the weight (success!) only to see nature trying to pile it back on us as soon as we let our guards down for a moment (failure!).  That is truly dangerous indeed, but the problem goes deeper.  The sad truth is that while we are hungrily pursuing thinness, we are often letting ourselves live for that goal and not pursuing other achievements that might actually have a glimmer of a hope of being worth something to us or even to the world.  We become so focused on our weight loss goals that we ignore all of the good we could be doing, we let our true talents go to waste, and we do not have the fun we should be having.  We imagine that we will have time to focus on all of that after we are finally perfect.  After we are finally thin enough. 
After years of struggling to be someone I just wasn't, I finally realized all of the things I was missing out on waiting to be some thinner version of myself, and I started to see what I really had to offer.  I may have a bit of roundness in my tummy, but so what?  I also have round breasts and a round bum and strong thick calves that look great in heals.  Beyond all of that, I am a woman who has a lot to offer the world that has nothing to do with my appearance.  I am a good friend, a decent cook and (in my own mind at least) a pretty darn great writer.  Why should I trade my great boobs for a flat tummy when the great boobs come free and the flat tummy will take everything I have and more?  If I am not feeling that I am at my best physically, that doesn’t have to ruin my day or make me feel like I have nothing to offer the world.  That is rubbish!  I may not be perfect, but I am better at being me than anyone else in the whole world could ever be, and that is enough. 
Once I woke up and saw what I was giving up to try to fit into one narrow definition of beauty, I also started seeing this sort of compromise everywhere and I was disgusted by it.  Why is this kind of self-hating self-sabotage still encouraged in today’s modern society?  Why do women still see their greatest asset as their appearance, while at the same time not being able to accept the unique person that they are body and soul?  We are not our bodies; we are what lives inside of them.  We are more than a number on a scale.  Why is that so easy to say and still so hard for us to see? 
Today, I am a woman who loves fashion and loves to play dress up every day of my life.  At almost 30, I don’t try to fit into any current fashion that just doesn’t work for me, and I have learned to love finding clothes that play up, not hide, my unique shape.  Then again, if I like something, I have also learned to say, screw all of the rules!  I reserve the right to wear whatever I want no matter what anyone else thinks because fashion should be a personal discovery.  Feeling good is more important than looking good, and for me, playing with clothes is how I have fun.  I know my body well, what its limitations are and what its assets are, but I don't have to ask anyone else’s permission before I head out the door.  My looks aren't important enough to stress out about what others think about them anyway!
I have learned to love myself by choosing not to compare myself to others, but instead to just be me and not worry about what anyone else thinks of that.  Come on ladies, love yourself for all you are, don't waste time hating yourself for all you are not!  That goes for the naturally thin girl too, who morns the facts that her boobs aren’t bigger rather than being happy for her own natural lithe shape, and all of the gamine girl possibilities it holds.  We are all trying so hard to be everything that we ignore our own unique beauty until it is wasted.  Fighting ourselves is a waste of time and energy.  Trying to be some strange Frankenstein’s monster of perfect beauty, taking a piece from that girl and from the next and trying to make ourselves some version of perfection, is insane!  It cripples us and leaves us hollow. 
Of course, what I am talking about is thinness for thinness sake, which is vastly different than trying to lose weight for your health.  By all means, learn to eat healthy, and exercise to feel good and be able to be stronger and live longer.  These are worthwhile goals that have nothing to do with being thin enough to not hate yourself when you put on a sleeveless shirt.  If you know you are not making healthy lifestyle choices and you want to make a change, by all means do it!  Just don’t let yourself believe even for one moment that you are worthless until you achieve your weight loss goals, or that you will be worth more when you do.  And for heaven’s sake, if you eat healthy, get enough exercise and STILL aren't thin?  Recognize that maybe you just aren't meant to be and move on before you waste your life covering up with baggy sweaters and being unhappy with who you are. 
Accept yourself as you are, and accept others without jealousy.  Learn to appreciate other forms of beauty without having to try to emulate others or put them down to make yourself feel better.  If you try to be someone else you will always be a pale copy, and if you are mean and petty it will eventually make you ugly to those who have to listen to the pathetic venom you choose to spew.  There are a million ways to be beautiful, and in the end, no one says, “I really love how that girl’s 120 pounds really sparkle in the moonlight” or “gosh those three pounds you lost really changed who you were for the better.”  No one knows your number unless you tell them and most likely NO ONE ELSE REALLY CARES. 
Most of all, always remember: have fun with your looks, but realize they don’t define you.  We are more than our shells.  We are more than our bodies. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Dark Hair For Fall- Makeover Success!

Here I am with very dark hair for the fall, and I am finally happy with the results.  Don't I look a little Audrey Hepburn in these photos?  I had fun as a blonde, but I love how my skin looks extra milky and my green eyes pop when my hair is dark.  Red lips add just a hint of drama that really works with the dark pixie that I am rocking.  I am wearing an Anthropologie headband in these photos, and my J-Crew coat.  

***Makeover!  Squeal!!!!***

A good old fashioned makeover is my favorite thing in the world.  The dark short hair is also encouraging me to dress a little more stylishly, which also works well with my fall wardrobe.  I love adding a touch of whimsy to whatever I wear, but it is fun to be a little bit chic from time to time as well. I'm going to have fun updating my wardrobe this season, be it with store bought pieces, or more hand made.  I find that I have been unusually drawn to form fitting dresses and tops lately, which is a departure from my usual full skirts and blousey tops that I am usually drawn to.  I have also been liking darker colors with my darker hair.  It's always fun to change things up, and I am looking forward to new fashion finds and changes in the coming months!  

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Cloche

The 1920’s have a special place in my heart, even though I can’t really pull off the shapeless dresses designed for the coveted boyish body of the period (trust me I have tried and will try again!). 
No, for me, the 20’s were all about two things: hats and hair. 
The posh fashion forward gals of the 1920’s bobbed their hair, not only as a fashion statement, but a statement about who they were and what they stood for.  Bobbed hair was a huge departure from the fussy styles that preceded it, most needing at least one second pair of hands to accomplish. Shorn hair was all about being modern and free.  After all, a man could still divorce his wife because she cut her hair during that time!  To have short hair was a statement about ownership over one’s self.  It was about showing that you were changing with the times.  It was about movement when dancing, and the freedom to go out for a night on the town without spending hours and hours setting and styling your hair before you did.  My love affair with short hair doesn’t end in the 1920’s bob, but it is sure a lovely place to start. 
The cloche hat was specifically designed to look great on top of a bobbed haircut.  It was worn close to the head, with just the fringes of the hair peeking out.  In fact, I find that if my hair is any longer than my chin, the hat simply does not look right.  You can put your hair in a tight low bun (which was also done), but it is pretty uncomfortable (in my opinion-not that I have had hair that was long enough to try this with for a while). 
I currently own two modern versions of the cloche hat, and I absolutely adore them.  The first is my favorite hat I own, and I have blogged about it before here.  It is made of felt and a large ribbon, and it is from Urban Outfitters.  I have had this hat for many years, but it is a stand by that I will never get sick of.
The second is from Anthropologie, and I am wearing it today.  Honestly, I wear this hat most often when I simply don’t have time to deal with my hair in the morning, which was the case today.  It looks lovely dressed up, but I also think it looks pretty great dressed down with this Forever 21 jacket that I have had for years. 
Sadly, most women no longer consider a hat a necessary part of their daily ensemble.   While I concede that Hats are not for everyone, and I know most people tell me that they are simply not “hat people”, I feel that it is more out of fear than anything else.  A hat is a pretty bold fashion statement, but it doesn’t have to be scary to try wearing a hat out!  As with all fashion, if you look confident and sure of your style choices then you will look great! 
Maybe the cloche isn’t for you, but I encourage the bold fashion lover to try finding a hat that does suit you.  It can be a wonderful accessory, statement piece, or just a lifesaver when you are running late.
As always, have fun with fashion!  It isn’t important enough to stress out about.  Who knows?  You might be holding yourself back by telling yourself that it is too risky to try something new.    

PS- I am still loving my new cut!  The color…not so much.  However, I knew what I was getting into with the blonde, and I am sure that it will be several months before I can get any color to stick nicely to what is left of the bleached hair.  Oh well!  One last pixie before I grow my hair out again.  I have been craving one anyway, every time I catch a glimpse of Mary Margret’s boyish pixie on Once Upon A Time.  Sigh.  I love seeing short haired ladies on TV!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Fall makeover!!!

Okay, yes I finally got sick of the blonde, but who ever thought I would last five whole months with the same hair color???  Here is the last picture ever with me with blonde hair.

Honesty, I loved the blonde, but it was destroying my hair so it was time to let it go.  Still, I will never forget my summer of platinum!

Not only did I need a new color, but I was also ready for a new cut.  Hey, I wouldn't be me unless I was changing it up, right?  So at around 10 PM last night, I took the scissors and started cutting and went to bed feeling a little weary of what I had done.  How do I feel about the cut tonight?  Great!  I think I did a pretty rockin' job for a at home cut and color, and it feels good to have my hair in a pixie again.

The one thing I am not too sure about yet is the color.  I started out trying to go a bit lighter and got this:

But it was kind of murky and weird, so I ended up going deeper red and then cutting it.  This is what it looked like last night...

And here I am today!  

Ultimately I want to go dark brown, but getting rid of the blonde is almost as hard as getting it light enough in the first place.  It needs a base color so that the blonde doesn't show through and make it look dull once I go dark.  Still- I regret nothing!  Haha!

I also wanted to show off this dress I got from Etsy.  Sorry for the terrible bathroom photos, but isn't it cute?  I got it from 


along with another dress that I haven't blogged about yet.  When I got the dress, it had longer sleeves 
that belled outat the bottom but they weren't my favorite so I turned them into three quarter sleeves.  Isn't this a 
great dress for the Fall?   

PS- I want this coat from the same Etsy shop (as well as a million other things).  Isn't this so me?  LOVE!