Thursday, February 27, 2014

Hospital Style

As you may or may not know, I have Crohns disease.  I’m pretty open about my health issues, although I try not to let them be the only thing I can talk about.  My Crohns disease used to define me a lot more than it does now, mostly because I let it.  These days, if I go through a rough spell like I am going through now, I don’t really let it get me down the way I used to.  It is just a part of my life, not the only part of my life. 

It can be very difficult to live with chronic illness for a lot of different reasons.  However, I have been pretty lucky in that I have good people in my life who except me as I am, and really do understand what being chronically ill is all about even though they haven’t necessarily experienced it for themselves.  That is actually a pretty rare quality, and I am super grateful for the people in my life that understand when I break plans because I am just to tired, or are willing to just come sit with me at my house when I am hurting. 

I haven’t been feeling great lately, and it really does interfere with what I want to do and what I want to accomplish, which is frustrating.  But if I have learned anything in my almost 31 years, it is that everyone has some personal demon to battle.  Some cross to bear.  It’s okay for life to not be perfect.  It’s okay to have hard times.  The only thing that we can control in this life is how we react to our situation, and how we learn to live through it. There is still a lot in my life to be grateful for, even on my worst days. 

Sometimes it feels really pointless to get dressed up, or even shower, on a day when I know that I won't be doing anything special and I don't really feel good anyway.  So why bother?  But I try to remember that I dress for myself, and even if I am the only one who sees me all day, it makes me feel better and a little bit more human to go ahead and take care of myself, even when no one is looking.  Besides, I like to look nice for my husband too, even though he really doesn't mind seeing me in my PJ's day after day.  It makes him feel good to know that I want to look nice for him, even if it just means putting on clean clothes and washing my hair. 
I used to say, "I hate this sick body," but my husband changed my mind. 

He told me, "It's not your bodies fault that it is sick.  Your body is beautiful, it is going through this too.  You need to be kind to it."  So now, I think of my body differently than I used to.  It's not my body that is betraying me; it is this disease.  It helps me to remember to be kind to myself and helps me separate my illness from my self. 

Whatever you are going through, remember that you are the one who gets to decide how you feel about it. It isn’t always easy to stay positive, but I promise you one thing. Being positive might not help your situation improve, but I guarantee being negative will only serve to make things worse. I don't always feel like dressing up, but I know that it makes me feel better when I do. I also care for myself by taking long baths, which allows me to nurture my body and think of it in another way instead of just focusing on what is wrong with it. Walking or swimming are also ways that I nurture myself. Eating healthy, delicious foods, also helps me to have a positive relationship with my body. It's my coping process, as silly as it might sound. It helps me. 
Here I am getting my treatment a few months back. I was pretty fancy for a trip to the hospital, but I had dinner plans after. You know me, I’m never afraid to be the fanciest girl in the room, no matter what room I’m in!  I will admit that I have been known to wear PJ's to the hospital, and that is okay too.  It's not really about looking a certain way, so much as taking care of myself and feeling like myself even when my life is less than glamorous. 

P.S. In case you want to know more about this Chantilly dress I made last year, the original post can be found here.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tea with Stevie- Learning to make "plus sized" dresses

So much tea in my life lately!  My friend Stevie took me to tea recently, and we had a lovely, lovely time.  Stevie wore this cotton tea dress that I made for her, which made me so extremely happy because it was such a wonderful success!

Front view.
It helps that Stevie is such a gorgeous  model.  What a natural beauty, right?  Stevie has a very hourglass figure, and looks lovely in anything, but I do think that this dress looks especially nice on her.  I am making her a second dress now that hopefully she will be willing to model when it is finished.

Side View.  
Back view.  Pink zipper with key hole feature.  
I used a Peony pattern from Colette patterns (a tried and true gem), modified to Stevie's specifications, including a re-drafted neck line and an added waist band.  Technically, Stevie is "plus sized" even though I hate the term.  Does that mean that very skinny people are "minus sized?" I'm not sure why we need the distinction, except for the fact that modern clothing company's don't like to have to make the same styles in every size so they section them out into two groups-strait and plus.  Boo to them.

However, as a seamstress, it is really helpful for me to get used to sewing for different body types, and sometimes there are lessons to be learned about what works for one body type and not another.  For example, I adjusted the width of the sleeve opening, and made the sleeves longer than I usually would at Stevie's request.  Also, I had to adjust the bust quite a lot, which really isn't a plus sized issue as much as a well endowed issue that I have run into before when sewing for ample bosomed friends of all sizes.

What I learned from sewing for a plus sized person?  Really, it is pretty much the same as sewing for anyone else, except that there aren't as many patterns available.  Shame on pattern company's for their laziness.  Thank goodness for Colette, who at least goes up to a pattern size 46-38-48.

I will say that it is slightly easier to sew for people without measuring them myself if they are a smaller size.  That is simply because people carry their weight so differently.  I would be nervous making a standard dress above about a modern size 12, only because it would be hard to know exactly where each person carried their weight beyond the bust, waist, hip measurements.  Hopefully, as I continue to improve as a seamstress, I will learn ways around this for my future Etsy site, where I will not be able to take people's measurements myself.  Of course, getting more comfortable with stretch fabrics will help with this.

And here I am wearing a gold dress and a green pill box hat, because, you know, I hate to stand out.

Thanks Stevie for tea, and for being such a delightful model!  Looking forward to hanging out soon!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Another Etsy Preview!

Here is another one that I will have up for sale soon.  This one has a  more fitted skirt, and does not have a waistband. Lovely right?  :)  I am getting excited about opening my site!!!!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Brocade, lace, and ribbons on my shoes

Keeping with the pants theme, this is what I wore on a date with my hubby a few weeks ago.

I love love love these brocade pants I got on sale from Anthropologie. My husband works in Santa Fe some weekends, and I go with him and have a shopping day while he works, and then we meet up for a dinner date. I felt so adorable walking around Santa Fe in this little outfit. It kind of reminded me of a modern twist on a Victorian look. The shoes and pants were both Antropologie, the lace top was modcloth. The cute necklace and earing set was a gift from my sister Rachel. Does she know me or what??? So cute. What I love most about this outfit is how well it represents me, even though it is not a dress. I like finding a way to show off my personal style in a new and interesting way.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Etsy preview!

Well, I know I've said this before, but my Etsy site will be opening soon!  Among the items I am selling will be this dress.  I will be taking custom orders.  I will also be making this dress in other fabric choices, all 100% cotton, partially lined, and it has pockets!  Oh yeah, and bra strap holders 'cause I am extra awesome.  I think I will be charging around $107 for this type of dress. These photos aren't great, but what do you think?  Isn't this a lovely little tea dress I designed?  :)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Gold and Black- Remix!

Lately I haven't been feeling great, and haven't felt much like taking photos.  Luckily, I have a pretty big stash of posts pretty much ready to go since I was in a photo crazy mood before my health started to get bad.

Today I have a simple outfit post for you- a remix of an outfit I wore last April. As you can see, it is a little less gold these days thanks to the dry cleaners, but it is also a little softer than it was so I'm okay with it.  Isn't this a great look for the office?

Lately, I have been going through a little bit of a style shift, favoring a bit more structure in my clothes, and a little more figure conscious pieces. I also have been getting into pants again, although not necessarily jeans. I used to be an all-jeans-all-of-the-time kind of girl, until I discovered how versatile dresses were and made them my wardrobe staple. However, I am starting to get a little bit excited about pants again, mainly because there are so many fun jeans alternatives these days!

I know a lot of people think pants are easier to wear than dresses, but I find the opposite to be true. When you are wearing a dress, you are pretty much ready to go once you find shoes to go with it. With pants and a top, styling becomes more important because it takes a little more effort to stand out.  There are also issues of matching, and creating balance that you just don't have to worry about as much with dresses.  If you don't like the shape of a dress but you still want to wear it, add a belt!  Simple, and done.

But pants are tricky.  The most important element when creating an outfit while wearing pants (as opposed to a dress) is proportion. Since I don’t tend to be attracted to fitted tops, I need to be careful to wear well-fitting pants so that I don’t end up looking shapeless. The top I wore in these photos was from Modcloth (you can see a similar style here) wasn't especially wide, but it was certainly not fitted. I wore it with skinny Gap pants that I have had FOREVER to complete the silhouette.

 I love love love dresses, but sometimes I feel like they are a great place to hide- I have sewn a couple of pairs of pants, but I decided it isn't where my heart is. There are so many affordable ready to wear pants that fit me nicely, that it isn't really worth the effort. I am trying to work on my blouse making skills however. I should have some new ones to show you soon!

P.S. Look how long my hair is getting!  Crazy days.  :)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Cotton skirt for Etsy

Today’s outfit post features a skirt I drafted myself! This unlined cotton skirt is the proto-type for a skirt I’d like to sell on my still upcoming Etsy site. I want to make it in cotton and brocade, and make a longer version in wool. What do you think? Don’t you want one already? ;) I wore my skirt with a teal top from Anthropologie. I think the key to pulling of hand sewn clothes is to wear them with nice ready-made pieces. I love the embellished details on this top, which matches the teal zipper (not shown) on the skirt. The print on the skirt features little bridges. I got this fabric in Portland.