Friday, May 31, 2013

Gold Barbie Dress

So, I made my first Laurel pattern from Collette Patterns for my trip to NY.   It has been the brands most popular pattern to date for good reason.  This pattern is just itching to be re-imagined, and there are so many ways you could change it up and re-imagine it!  This “dress” (my version really is too short to be called a dress) is made of sparkly gold and black brocade and is fully lined.  I used the wrong side of the fabric because I liked it better (it was shinier).  I wore it to a Broadway play (squeal!) and to get drinks while I was in New York. 

It really is indecently short when I sit down, but I think with leggings it works.  However, I wore it with tights, so I was very careful not to bend down all night.  This dress reminds me of an 80's Barbie dress, and that makes me so happy.  The best part of being a grown up is getting to be my own Barbie!

I will make this quick and easy pattern again and again in as many different ways as I can think of.  I absolutely adore it.

 Lastly, here is a picture of Willow and I both wearing dresses I made.  Whoo hoo!  My trip to NY was a total blast and I wish I had gotten more pictures!  Oh well, I'll make sure not to go another 30 years without seeing the city again, that's for sure.  :)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Outfit Post: Green Shorts In New York

It is so sad that most of the photos from this day in New York were lost when my phone bit the dust, because this outfit was so cute!!!  The top is from Modcloth, the leggings are gap, the wedges are Born's and the shorts are by me.  Usually when I wear an outfit I think of the pieces as separates, but I bought this top specifically to wear with these shorts with the leggings underneath, and I just adore how this outfit turned out!  I can't wait to wear it again, exactly the same way (although maybe with black heals in place of the wedges). 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Growing out the pixie- month # 6

I can't beleive I have been doing this for six months and my hair is still so short!!!
The saddest part of growing out your hair is having to trim it every once in a while so that you don’t end up with a mullet or weird spots.  I just had to trim off the last back layer so that my hair should grow out more evenly from now on (yay!), but now everyone keeps telling me how short my hair looks (boo!).  Basically, I had no choice but to trim it because while this side had grown out evenly…
This side had not, and it looked like there were holes in my hair. 
That is the risk you take when you cut a short pixie, because basically what you do is just cut random chunks out of your hair all over your head (or at least that is what I do).  It looks cute when it is short, but it is none too surprising that it doesn’t grow out super evenly.  These were all taken after I trimmed my hair in mid-May, oldest to newest. 

 These were from yesterday:

Growing out your hair is such a long process, with one step forward and two steps back each time I have to even it out, no wonder I can never get through it!  On the bright side, I shouldn’t have to trim it drastically again since it is finally even and by the end of summer it should be long enough to at least put it in little pig tails, and maybe even a tiny pony tail.  By December it should be longer than I have had it in about five years!  Wow!  I’m getting excited about that, but it is going to feel like a long wait. 
The hardest thing I had to deal with this month hair wise was watching The Great Gatsby and seeing all of those great bobs and cute short bangs!  It nearly killed me not being able to go home and cut my hair, but I resisted.  I LOVE 1920’s STYLE BOBBED HAIR, but luckily right now my hair is basically a modern bob (not quite the same as the shorter flapper bob, but close enough), so I can sort of pretend.  The best part of growing out a pixie (there are good things too!) is that you get to try a few other hair styles along the way, and if you are creative, you can have some fun before it is really long again.  I must say, I am really liking the long bangs, either when I can wear them as bangs, or when I can get them off of my face.  In another month I’ll have to decide if I am keeping them or growing them out, but for now I can play a bit. Cute right?  ;)
Here is a photo from the longest my hair has ever been in the last five years (it was down my back before that) just to show how little will power I have.  I cut it pretty soon after this photo was taken.  I have a bit more faith this time, but honestly, for me, this is so so long!  Haha. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Butterick B5813: Body Image and Sewing

Here it is, Butterick pattern B5813 number two.  For this version, I added the collar (yay! It turned out great!), and gave it long sleeves.  I also left this dress unlined, which meant that I had to figure out how to make those adjustments to the pattern, and was successful in doing so.  I like my first lined version, but I also felt like an unlined version might be a little breezier for summer.  It really turned out great, and as always, I was excited to learn new skills while making this dress. 
I really loved making this pattern but I loved wearing it even more!   There was a time when I would have thought a form fitted dress such as this was off limits to a curvy girl (side note: curvy is not code for fat!) like me, but sewing for myself has opened my eyes to all of the possibilities out there for me, and new ways to express myself through fashion.  Sewing has helped me in so many ways to express myself creatively, while also helping to broaden my horizons as to what I feel comfortable wearing and how I can present myself.   
This isn’t the first time I have broken out of my shell with fashion to wear something a little more form fitted than I might have dared before I started this blog, but this pink fitted dress really exemplifies how my style has changed and evolved, and also how I have reached a whole new level of self-acceptance through sewing.   
This blog was first created simply as a style and fashion blog that was meant to represent what I see as an underrepresented community of bloggers: average sized women.  While I follow both strait sized as well as plus sized fashion blogs, I was frustrated that there didn’t seem to be many fashion blogs that featured the in-between women like me. 
Although I was already pretty happy with and accepting of my body when I started this blog (years of practice folks), I still had some hang ups about my so called “problem areas” that we as women all believe that we have, and I focused a lot on keeping those areas covered and being careful not to emphasize them.  This can be an important part of learning to style yourself- figuring out what works for you and playing to your strengths.
On the other hand, this idea that we all have parts of our body that are shameful and therefore must be disguised is pretty disgusting to me.  Especially considering the fact that body types can go in and out of style, despite the fact that while you can lose or gain weight, you can’t change (without surgery) the overall composition of your body just because having hips or boobs, or not having hips or boobs, is currently what is or isn’t in fashion.  The whole idea that we need to mold ourselves into the shape of the moment is ridiculous, not to mention impossible. 
Still, saying every body type is beautiful is easier than living that principle when we have conditioned ourselves to believe that certain parts of our body are good, while others are bad and must be hatted and kept from the world at all costs. 
I have loved the billowy, fitted shapes of the 1950’s since my love of fashion began.  It wasn't until I was in my mid-20’s that I got to really play with the shape since it was the first time I had enough money to really dress the way I had always dreamed.  Finally, I could be my own Barbie!  I loved how the hips are free and the waist is cinched just above where my little belly might show, and I feel safe in the layers of fabric that that era can provide. 
But I also loved the loose swingy shifts of the 1920’s, or fitted curve hugging dresses (like this Butterick pattern) that I thought were reserved for thin girls, or at very least girls who are willing to squeeze into ten ponds of foundation garments so that they can mold their bodies into the proper shape (don’t get me wrong-foundation garments that don’t cause pain, have their place in my mind, but that is a post for another day).  Until I started sewing, I thought that this type of body conscious fashion wasn't for me, and I accepted that I just wasn't allowed to wear anything that might show that my curves extend to more than just my boobs and booty.  As it turns out, I also have strong, thick thighs, and yes, even a little round belly under all of that fabric, and that can actually be something to celebrate rather than hide.  I had let myself believe that being afraid to show them was normal, acceptable, and even preferable, and to do so was a shame and a crime against not only myself, but also woman kind.  

The truth is that being ashamed of our bodies, even in small measure, is a slippery slope.  It helps create a culture that believes that a body part can be in or out of fashion, and I want no part of that.  Worst of all, it creates a culture that believes that our bodies are something worth being ashamed of, because as women they are the most important part of us.  But of course, this is crazy and untrue.  We are not bodies with souls, we are souls with bodies.  

Most importantly, we need to be proud of our bodies not just for our own edification, but because the world is watching.  Our friends, sisters, and daughters are watching.  We are creating culture every moment, and we are all responsible for the messages we are sending.  To every pop singer, actress, model, teacher, mom, man, or human being of any kind that says, “I never asked to be a role model,” I say, duh.  No one asks to be a role model and there is no sign up sheet.  You just are one and so is everyone else.  Deal with it and act accordingly.   
Although it is just one step on my personal journey, sewing has been an important part of creating a healthy mindset for myself, and it is helping me to become the person that I want to be, as well as the type of person I want to represent myself as.  It has done so by opening my mind to what I feel comfortable wearing, for the simple reason that I am now able to create clothes that fit me, rather than trying to find clothes that I fit into.  Every curve can be represented (or not) depending on what makes me happy at the time.  The rules of what I can wear and what I cannot wear have been shattered, and I feel free to dress to my mood, not simply stick to what some magazine says flatters my body type.  Although I have worked hard to cultivate a love and appreciation for my body as is over the years, it wasn’t until I started sewing that I finally truly embraced it for all of its curvy, lumpy, strong, fragile, beautiful and useful glory.  If you truly believe that you are a beautiful whole person, moles, cellulite, chipped nails and all, then your world and how you are able to present yourself opens up to you. 
I’ll admit, than when I started looking through the photos of me in this dress I was tempted to not include any photo that I thought made me look too big or too curvy, but then I noticed that those were also the photos where I looked especially happy.  And I was happy that day in my little form fitted dress, and to not celebrate that part of that happiness came from a place of love for myself as I am is a missed opportunity.  

For me fashion is pure joy.  It is a way of expressing myself creatively, and as an art form I think that it has some merit in this world.  But fashion is only the opening act to the real show.  Our bodies are the truest art forms, and the most uniquely beautiful.  And we must never forget that nothing is more beautiful than confidence and a true sense of who we are underneath it all. 

Butterick B5813: My NY Wardrobe Reveled!

My husband Jeremy and I recently visited his sister Willow in Manhattan for five days and we had an awesome trip!  Highlights included: eating wonderful food, walking around Central Park in the rain, walking the High Line and of course buying new fabric in the garment district.   

Before the trip, I decided to make myself a whole New NY wardrobe so that I could be fancy while I was on vacation.  Had this been a more authentic NY wardrobe, I really should have made everything in black and grey, but I digress.  Alas, many of the photos I took of the trip were deleted when my phone unexpectedly self-destructed, so I didn't get photos of every outfit.  But I will share the photos that did survive, starting with:  
Butterick pattern B5813.  I LOVE this pattern!  I made two dresses (the pink one will be featured in my next post) and one top (which will sadly have to be posted the next time I wear it since all photos of it were destroyed). 
This green version is fully lined, and I left the collar off.  It turned out so beautifully, and I am especially proud of it because of how many alterations had to be made in order to make this pattern work.  Again I say, patterns are sized so oddly with way too much ease!  I had to size this dress down so so much, and take off a lot of the length to make it fit right.  I am also proud to say that I am now a pro at the full bust adjustment, which makes a huge difference in the fit of my dresses. 
Isn't this dress just so delightful?  I am really really proud of myself on this one.  As a side note, I would have worn different shoes, but by this point in my trip, my feet were a total mess and needed a break!   
Stay tuned for version two- in which I was able to use my altered pattern to make a really pretty and different version of this dress.  Yay!!!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Creative Sewing: how your personality can shine through

Even when you are sewing with a pattern, your personality and taste can really shine through when you learn to sew.  You have a lot of opportunity to make choices so that your finished product will represent you, be artistic, or simply be useful depending on what you want or need.  I often try to mix it up and use fabric choices that aren't recommended for a different fit or drape, or add my own little flair in some way so that making my own clothes can serve the purpose that I was after when I started this journey- it can let me express myself while allowing me to have the dream closet I could never afford. 

I also like to use patterns in unexpected ways.  For example, I bought this 1940's/50's style robe pattern with the intention of making it into a cute, shortened wrap dress (although it would make a darling robe, or longer silky wrap dress as well). 

I ordered this muted green and cream fabric, not really thinking much of it, as an add on to two other cotton fabric choices.  Even when I was cutting out the pieces to make this dress, the potential of the fabric didn't really click for me until I got the whole thing pinned onto my dress form with the left over scraps from another dress I am making pined on as the trim.  Seeing it on my dress form, I finally realized how beautiful this fabric really was, and how much better it would be without the loud pink print overpowering it. 

In theory, these prints look great together.  They are technically the same print just in different colors.  I was also making another dress using the green as lining for the pink and I think it would have worked great for that purpose (I also ended up going another way for that dress, but for different reasons).  However, once I really started to see what this dress could be, I really really started to see it as a beautiful, softly muted, more delicate than loud dress, and I agonized over what to do. 

So, I cut up some scraps of blue left over fabric and pinned them on, but it still wasn't right.  Eventually, I just bit the bullet and realized that I needed something completely different to make my vision a reality.  Off to the fabric store I went, and picked up a single yard of muted yellow/green that I thought would be prefect...

And it is! This pattern, the planing process, changes made, and the total re-imagining of what this pattern could be really made me think about what an art form sewing really is.  I'm so glad I have found a way to express myself through a medium I already really loved (clothes!!!). 

SO, hopefully I can get this done in time for my New York Trip because I am excited about it and I want to bring it with me.  I set my sewing goals a little height in April since I wanted a lot of things done before my trip, but I am trying to slow down and remember that sewing is supposed to be fun and my dining room is not a self imposed sweat shop.   

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Me-Made-May: My first Sewing Challenge!

Me-made-May is a challenge for home sewests (or people who make their own clothes) to challenge themselves to wear one hand made (by them) piece of clothing per day every day in May.  Last May I had only been sewing for one month so this challenge wouldn't have been very practical, but this year, I have more than a month’s worth of handmade dresses, skirts, shirts and even pants to choose from. 
Yes, I already wear a lot of my hand made pieces, but I also have a bad habit of making something and then simply hanging it up and starting on my next project.  I am just too fickle/ have too many projects going at once/ get too excited about the next thing to really take the time to admire my creations.  Sometimes I don’t even try the things I make on right away because I want to bask in the idea that I finished something and don’t really want to know if it doesn't look great on me. 
So, my challenge will be to see what I actually like to wear out of my handmade creations, and find new, more loving homes for anything that I just can’t get excited about actually wearing, no matter how well made it is, how expensive the fabric was, or how hard it was to make.
This challenge comes at the perfect time because I have been sewing like crazy lately to get ready for my first trip ever to New York next week.  I wanted to make myself a whole new wardrobe for the trip, and if I sew my butt off for the next week and bang out two more dresses, I’ll be able to.  Not only will I be wearing a handmade piece every day in May, I will also be wearing all new pieces that I have never worn before for the week that I am in New York (with the exception of one top that I have worn once, but it just looks too cute with my new jeans not to include it-see last post). 
Besides making sure to wear my hand made pieces in an effort to sort out which ones I will just never, never wear, I am also declaring May my selfless sewing month.  That means, I will finally get to some projects that I have promised others I would make for them rather than continually sewing more and more clothes for myself.  This will be extremely difficult as I just got a ton of new patterns that I am itching to try FOR ME! and I will have to put them aside temporarily.  Boo to that, yay for sewing for friends!  So there you have it!  I've joined my first sewing challenge!  Yay for me!