Finished Project: White and Blue Striped Pattern Runway Sundress

Hey friends!

Happy post holiday weekend! Even though it's technically a shorter week, the days feel soooo looooong. I hope everyone had a lovely and relaxing long weekend, but I hear ya. Post-celebratory days are hard. 

Which is why I'm here, with another fun-filled finished project! I hope the beauty and style, grace and poise, exuded in this picture will help you sail through the rest of the week:

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Finished Project: Green Heart Brown Batik Print Tote Bag

Hey friends!

Got another finished project for you today. It's a tote bag made from some treasure, vintage wax print batik fabric that's been sitting in my stash for years. 

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Finished project: Black and Orange Lace Watson Bra

Dun dun duhhh!!! Y'all, it's happened. This is one of those projects that seemed like a dream, far-off and unattainable, beyond the reach of my nervous little fingers. But behold!

Black Orange Lace Watson Bra

I have actually made a bra!! And by the time this post goes live, there will likely be more in the works!! So excited!! More exclamation points!!!

Black Orange Lace Watson Bra

Seriously, it feels like the most of the internet sewing community have not only tackled the task of bra and lingerie making in the last few years, but perfected it. And as is my custom with being perfectly on trend, current, and hip (insert laughter here) I have finally summoned up the courage decided to give bra-making a go.

I chose the Watson Bra to start off with for several reasons: First, there are soooo many pretty and inspiring versions around the internet. A quick Google search will pull up hundreds of images. Second, it's designed for beginner bra makers who want to be up to the task but need somewhere simple to start. Cloth Habit, the blog/designer behind the pattern, has an amazingly helpful step-by-step tutorial here. Third, there are no underwires so it's relatively quick and painless to sew.

Black Orange Lace Watson Bra

Black Orange Lace Watson Bra

The test version I made was definitely too big. I followed the sizing chart included in the pattern, but that's why we make a test version, amirite? The band was too loose and the cups were too big, so that the bra basically rode up to my chin throughout the course of the day. So for the second (and fingers-crossed wearable) version, I went down two sizes and was extremely careful in sewing my seam allowances. And it turned out beautifully! The fit is comfortable yet secure, and I absolutely adore the fabric. There are a number of Etsy shops that sell "bra kits" - all the findings and fabric you need to make a bra. I bought this kit from TailorMadeShoppe, since I absolutely was not about to go finding all these.....ahem......findings myself. Not for the first real bra, people. No way.

Black Orange Lace Watson Bra

Black Orange Lace Watson Bra

Bonus points because I know that this bra was ethically made (I promise I gave myself lots of breaks whilst making it, and plenty of encouragement in the form of tea and dark chocolate) and fits me perfectly. It's difficult to find ethically sourced fabric, especially bra and lingerie materials, but I figure at least making it myself is better than buying one that was questionably made.

Overall, I'm so happy with how this turned out and cannot wait to start on the next one. Hope you all have a great week, friends!

 

It's a Joy-ful Halloween: My Recycled Halloween Costume

  Sustainable fashion in costume form!

Hi friends!

Happy day-after-Halloween! I hope you all had a safe and fun day, and partied late into the night. I love so many things about Halloween - the candy, the parties with friends, the candy, Halloween movies, the candy (ahem).....However I especially love the fact that it's socially acceptable to wear full out, ridiculous costumes in public for one night. I think I saw a giraffe, Poison Ivy, and Marty McFly walking down the street together last night while a vampire flew past on a skateboard. Pure magic.

Halloween is also one of the worst days for sustainable fashion. The dropping prices of clothing, and specifically, Halloween costumes, means that more people are spending money on cheaply made costumes that will be worn for one night and then thrown away. And that process will be repeated year in and year out. This year, the UK is expected to spend £157 million on costumes, while the US is projected to spend close to $2.6 billion. And most of that revenue will eventually end up somewhere like this:

Clothing landfill

So in light of all that, I wanted a costume that I could make from thrift store items and still expressed my creativity. I decided on Joy from Inside Out because (a) that movie made me sob unashamedly in a movie theater and (b) Amy Poehler is my spirit animal. Plus, Joy is so cute and fun!

Joy from Inside Out Costume

I found an amazing tutorial from coolirpa on Youtube for making Joy's dress from T-shirts she found at the thrift store. Check it out here! It was a pretty easy make. First, you cut off the arms and neckline of a T-shirt, fit it to your sides and cut it at the waist. Then, cut the arms and neckline off the other shirts, sew them together to create a long piece of fabric, and cut out a 3/4 circle skirt based on your body measurements. Sew those pieces together and attach it to the bodice. The video explains it all really well. At that point you have something like this:

Ta-da!

At which point you are ready to start adding the starbursts on Joy's dress. I used puffy paint and glitter, which means that my floor is now covered in glitter and will be for all eternity. Because glitter is like a bad guest - it just won't leave.

The Addams Family and costuming = bliss.

I used a bobbin as a reference point for the starbursts and drew them freehand. Below is the front side waiting to dry:

Le front!

After you let the front dry and do the same process on the back, you have a finished costume!

My Joy pose

With several other party goers.

There was a Leslie Knope too!

So there you have it - a costume for Halloween that is sustainable and fun. Have an amazing Sunday friends!

Finished: Self-Drafted White Cotton Voile Blouse

Oh, heyyy! Hey friends!

Sorry for my absence in the past few weeks. Right after the last post - BOOM! Work exploded. Not literally. That would be crazy. But there was just, like SO MUCH TO DO. It was insane.

Thankfully, the amount of work has slightly decreased, and I can see cleeaarrly now the RAIN is gone (please feel free to sing that song with me, out loud or in your head). So I finally have time for another blog post!

Which brings me to today's short and sweet, easy number:

White Cotton Voile Blouse

White Cotton Voile Blouse

This is a suuuuuper simple top that I made from a gorgeous cotton voile from Mood linked here (seriously, I can't say no to their stuff). It's somewhat see-through, so I lined it with a silver lining fabric I've had in my stash for ages.

I wanted a simple, Kimono sleeve top that was loose, breezy, and QUICK. There's nothing quite like drafting, cutting, constructing, and finishing a top in one evening. To acquire this self-drafted pattern (which I've reused several times now - if it ain't broke, don't fix it amirite?) I laid two shirts that I wanted to combine on the floor over some wax paper and traced, because why not?

My "Why not?" face

This top is so simple I won't even take any inside construction photos. Partly because it really doesn't need them (seriously, it's like two straight lines and that's it) and partly because the neckline and sleeves are cut with pinking shears, turned under and stitched. Not my prettiest construction, but it gets the job done and I don't mind it.

White Cotton Voile Blouse

White Cotton Voile Blouse

So there you have it! One of my easiest projects to date and I've loved wearing it this summer. Now to begin fall project planning! Do you have anything you're just itching to make for fall/winter?

 

Finished: Red Refashioned Tablecloth Dress and BONUS: Tips for Taking Better Pictures

Hey friends! Red Upcycled Pattern Runway Dress

I'm generally not a fan of getting my picture taken. It seems like there's always something off about any picture that I'm a part of. It's a great photo, full of smiles, coy laughter, then BOOM - I jump in and it's all half-shut eyes, weird crinkles of skin, and crazy hand motions. I exaggerate (only a smidge) but I've always been self-conscious in front of the camera. It's just not my scene. I'm all, "What do I do with my hands?" and "Why do my eyes have to be open?" You may think the photos I take for this blog are ok, but you haven't seen what doesn't make it on here.

Which leads me into today's post. As I was editing photos of today's dress, I realized something - I actually like a lot of these pictures. I mean, I actually feel pretty positive feelings towards these pictures. Which got me thinking about why I liked these pictures and I realized it came down to two things:

My Quick Tips for Better Photos:

  1. Get a good photographer - My roommate generously takes most of my pictures and she's one of the funniest people I know. She makes me feel comfortable, relaxed, and gets a genuine smile out of me. So find someone you don't mind looking like a fool around.
  2. Take more pictures - When we take one photo of our selves every hundred millenia, it's easy to judge your picture-taking ability by that one picture. But when you take lots and lots of pictures, you realize that some just turn out better than others, and it has nothing to do with you. So even if it's uncomfortable and awkward and makes you want to scream, just try it.

Ok, now that that's out of the way, let's get on to the dress! Disclaimer: There will be lots of pictures in today's post. Bonus to the disclaimer: I'm going to throw in some terrible pictures of me at the end.

Red Upcycled Pattern Runway Dress

I made this dress from an old tablecloth I found in the recycle bin at a former job. We hosted lots of events and one of the vendors had left a lot of stuff behind. Score! My boss thought I was totally weird to take it for clothes making. Which may be true, but also YOLO.

Red Upcycled Pattern Runway Dress

Red Upcycled Pattern Runway Dress

The bodice is from the Gathered Sundress pattern by Pattern Runway. It's one of the first patterns I ever bought, and also one of the first to fit me relatively well. If I use this pattern again, I think I'll shorten the back pieces by half an inch to take out some of the excess fabric in the back. But beginner sewist me didn't know about things like fit. I generally really like the fit and style. The skirt is a self-drafted full circle skirt. Which gives it a lovely twirl.

Red Upcycled Pattern Runway Dress

Red Upcycled Pattern Runway Dress

Still twirling!

Annnnd stop.

All in all, I'm pretty happy with this dress. Most of it is handpicked, including the zipper and the hem. It's the best way I've found thus far to get a beautiful, clean zipper. But very time consuming. Anyway, it seemed to work well on this heavier weight polyester fabric.

Le front.

Le back

Le inside

And as promised, if you're still reading, here are some bad pictures from this photo shoot. Proof that it happens to everyone! Until next time, have a fabulous weekend!

Pulling weirdly at the dress

Oof, that face!

 

Resources for Sustainable, Organic Fabric

Hi friends! Today is all about sustainable and organic fabric options for the consciously minded sewist. In my quest for a handmade, ethically sourced wardrobe, it's been difficult to find fabric manufacturers that are well known and also conscious of how their fabric is made. Part of the issue with the clothing industry is not just who makes the clothes and how they are treated, but what fabrics are used and how those fabrics are processed. For example, did you know that cotton is one of the dirtiest crops on the planet? And not in a Christina-Aguilera-music-video kinda way. I've had to do some searching to find sustainable, organic fabric, and even then my options are limited.

Sustainable, Organic fabric

Obviously, one of the best ways to acquire sustainable clothing is hand-me-downs, clothing swaps, or the thrift store. I'm all for that, and I'll do plenty of re-fashioning on this blog, don't you worry. But sometimes a girl just wants some brand new, shiny fabric to make something and indulge her creative process, amirite? So cultivating a list of places that will indulge my creative urgings while also satisfying my need sustainability sounds like a win-win to me.

This is a list I hope to keep updating and expanding as I learn of more companies who are purposeful in their ethical business practices, so feel free to share any that I don't have listed here. The more, the better, in my opinion!

Sustainable, Organic Fabric Resources:

  • Organic Cotton Plus - They have a beautiful selection of organic cotton fabrics from muslins to voiles to sateens. I used one of their navy cotton sateens to make this version of the Anna dress from By Hand London.
  • Fabric Worm - They have tons of organic cotton fabric for quilting and other craft products. I think they are geared towards quilting more than garment sewing, but nevertheless a good resource to have.
  • Honey Be Good - This online fabric store sells fabric from a variety of merchants, and even sells organic cotton batting and thread!
  • Cedar House Fabrics - Another online store that sells fabric from a variety of organic cotton merchants. Ships internationally!
  • Stork and Me - This Etsy shop has tons of organic fabrics for baby blankets, quilts, knits and more. Great selection and great seller ratings.
  • Birch Fabrics - This vendor has a great selection of knit and woven fabrics in fun colors and prints.
  • Mood Fabrics - I add this with a caveat - many of the fabrics from Mood, although I totally love their selection, are not organic. However, they do sell some organic cotton, hemp, and raw silk. If you are looking for their eco-conscious items, search "organic" in the search bar, and that should narrow down the selection a bit.
  • Spoonflower - Spoonflower prints fabrics on demand using eco friendly dyes. They print the exact amount of fabric needed, so there is little wasted fabric or dye.
  • Pick Natural - This site sells organic cotton, linen, and hemp fabrics. There is a minimum order of 10 yards, so it's best for larger projects.
  • Donna Flower - An online store specializing in antique, vintage or retro fabrics. A great way to add a blast from the past to any project.
  • Revival Fabrics - Another online retailer that sells mint condition vintage fabric from the 1920's through the 1970's.
  • Retro Age Vintage Fabrics - An Australian shop which offers a range of beautiful and eclectic vintage fabric. They sell all types of varieties from sheeting to sateen.

I'm looking forward to sifting through these retailers to see what goodies I can come up with. What organic or sustainable fabric retailers do you know that aren't on this list?

 

Finished: Floral Ponte Print McCall's 5845

Hey friends! I hope you are having a lovely Saturday thus far. It's a rainy, blah-ish day here in Chicago. You know, one of those days that's a perfect excuse to stay inside all day and work on sewing projects? Yeah, well unfortunately, that's not in my future. Some good friends are moving today, and I promised to help out. Helping friends friends move in the rain - that's true love, folks.

Anyway, before I force myself to function for the day, I wanted to share a finished project with you all. And guess what?? It's another McCall's 5845 hack! The first one was the silk taffeta bridesmaid's dress I blogged about here. This one was the eh-I-have-time-so-why-not version.

Flipped hair don't care

Remember how I said there have been weddings on weddings on weddings this summer? I wore this to one or two of them, plus a few fancy events.

Heyy!

I think this is one of my favorite garments I've ever made. The fabric is a ponte knit that I've had in my stash for a while, so there is enough give to make it comfortable while still maintaining it's structure. Bonus: The teal heels I'm wearing have been in my closet for years, and matched the colors in the fabric perfectly!! It was meant to be, ya'll. Extra bonus: The earrings I'm wearing are my go-to pair from Mata Traders. They're a sustainable fashion company based here in Chicago. They employ women in India and Bangladesh and provide the ladies with a fair, living wage so they can support their families. Mata has some beautiful items, check them out!

Floral print McCalls 5845

Love me some low backed dresses.

Floral McCall's 5845

The bodice of the dress is another hacked version of McCall's 5845. I lowered the neckline 1 1/2 inches and scooped the back. The skirt is a self-drafted half circle skirt. There are tons of great tutorials out there, just give it a Google and you're sure to find one.

 

Le front

Construction was pretty standard, I bagged the bodice using the same tutorial from Neeno (that tutorial is linked in this post) and attached the skirt. I'm very proud of how straight that waist seam line is! It's the victory in the little things.

Le back

Seriously love this print.

All in all, very happy with this one and looking forward to years of use out of it. May you enjoy your clothes and find something silly to laugh about today.

My roommate, who takes my pictures, can always make me laugh.

So....

Hey there! It has been a MINUTE since I last posted something. And I'm sorry for that. Life became pretty overwhelming with lots of changes - school, work, relationships, moving....It's felt like I was just barely holding it together.

But one of the benefits of taking a hiatus is that I've been able to evaluate the kind of work I'm doing and how I want to share that in this space. I now have a sharper, clearer vision for how I want to proceed going forward. And I think you're going to like it. So that's it - stay tuned to see what else pops up along the way!

Finished Project: DIY Baby Blankets

Hey there! I wanted to share a quick project that I did this week. My step sister-in-law is having a baby, and she's due in April. Yes, that is my stepmother's son's wife. Families can get so complicated. Anyways, since I've been on a slight sewing withdrawal due to excessive amounts of work and snow, I decided to share this project that took me all of an hour from start to finish.

DIY Baby Blankets

I found tutorials on Pinterest for two different kinds of baby blankets. One is for 3 minute receiving blankets, and while it wasn't quite 3 minutes on each blanket, it wasn't much more. I don't have a serger, so I just used the fake serge stitch on my sewing machine, which I think worked just as well. I will definitely be making more of these in the future. What's that, you say? You're having a baby?? I have just the thing to make for you.....

DIY Baby Receiving Blanket

The second tutorial was a little more labor intensive, but still took about 30 minutes. And it was so soft I kinda wanted to keep it. But since April in the Midwest is hardly ever warm, I think the new little one will need it more than me ;-). The tutorial was easy to follow and the blanket turned out great.

Easy DIY Baby Blanket

I can't wait to mail these out! I hope that you're staying warm and enjoying what little is left of the winter. Can't wait for spring!

Finished Project: Navy Blue Anna Dress

The Anna Dress by By Hand London. An internet classic. The pattern came out just around the time I started sewing. It felt like I couldn't turn around without seeing another version, a hacked version, etc. I've been wanting to try it for myself for a while now, and finally had a reason to give it a go.

Navy Blue Anna Dress

A recent school project asked for us to address an issue of social justice with a creative project. I chose to make a dress out of organic, fair-trade fabric, and decided that the long-awaited Anna dress was the perfect pattern to use. Let me just say, it is extremely difficult to find certified fair-trade fabric, even on the internet. I finally settled on a navy blue cotton from Organic Cotton Plus. They are a family owned business that sources their chemical-free cotton from a farm in Texas. I will definitely be using them again, as the service was great and the fabric has held up beautifully.

navy blue floor length Anna dress

Back to the dress! Really, what else can be said about the Anna? She's beautiful, easy and quick to sew, and just looks so feminine. I chose to do the floor length version because I don't have too many long dresses and they make me feel super elegant. And that slit soooo says I'm-Angelina-Jolie-at-the-oscars-sexy.

Navy blue anna dress 2

I added pockets to mine, since I absolutely love having pockets in everything I own. I can finally say I understand what all the fuss is about and am totally on board with By Hand London's designs. I can't wait to try the knee length version in the future.

We got a little artsy with the pictures

Navy blue floor length Anna dress Navy blue Anna dress

 

Bonus: My friend who took the pictures has a cat named Lucy. Isn't she adorable??

Lucy cutie cat

Sunday Thoughts - Keep Getting Inspired

As I go along this journey towards embracing my inner creative, I've been thinking about how I used to interact with inspiration. Inspiration to me was like a robber - it came up from behind, hit me over the head, then ran away to possibly return at some random, unknown time. Not a very positive relationship. Lately, thanks to posts and videos from other creative people I admire (this post from The Fresh Exchange, this video from Kayley Melissa, and this TED talk from Elizabeth Gilbert have really helped illuminate this concept for me) my relationship with inspiration has been changing. I'm learning it's something I can cultivate. Instead of thinking, "Whelp, that one thing that inspired me for a while but now it doesn't, so I guess I'm not creative anymore," (seriously self??), I'm learning to keep looking for inspiration. I'm learning to cultivate sources of inspiration (blogs, Instagram, photos, Pinterest, etc) so that they keep giving me inspiration.

This creative life is not a stale one. It's full of nuances, ebbs, and flows. I can do something about being inspired. I don't have to wait for it to decide it likes me again. Like any relationship, I can put in the time and effort and get great rewards out of it.

My challenge is to keep being inspired. To not give up because the ideas are dry or the things that inspire me are changing. Move with the changes and find new, delightful ways of being inspired. Then instead of being a robber, inspiration will be more like a good friend.

Throwback Thursday - Aqua Bridesmaid's Dress

Happy Thursday!! I personally can't wait for this week to be over, can you? The first full work week after the holidays is so rough. I mean, how can they expect you to work 5 days in a row?? And here in the Midwest, it's been extremely cold. Like, hurt-your-face-when-you-walk-outside, dear-god-why-did-I-walk-outside, kind of cold. Which leads me to think about warmer days and sunnier times, like this wedding I was in this summer: Aqua bridesmaid's dress

A dear friend of mine got married in August, and the only guidelines she gave her bridesmaid's for their dresses were the color and length. Otherwise, we were free to choose whatever we wanted. I, of course, got really excited about the ability to make my own dress and started dreaming. For the bodice, I used Simplicity 1497, I used chiffon for the first time (which was a project unto itself), added pockets using this tutorial from Burdastyle, and drafted my own pattern for the skirt and sleeves.

The bodice starting to come together

Aqua bridesmaid's dress 2

Finished aqua bridesmaid's dress

 

This was the biggest project I have attempted so far, and I'm really happy with how it turned out. So while it is snowing sideways outside, I will sit inside, sip my tea under a blanket, and remember happy, sunny times.

Monday Thoughts - Say No

When I was a kid, my first word was no. "Do you want some peas?" "No!' "Do you like the color brown?" "No!" But over the years I've gotten to be much more of a yes-sayer than no-sayer. I love people and I love saying yes to responsibilities, events and activities galore. I mean, there are so many things I'm interested in and want to do. Why shouldn't I try to do them all? All the things are good things.

But the truth is, I need to say no more in my life. When I was in Mexico over Christmas (there's just no way to say that without sounding douche-y, is there?), I had so many opportunities to do absolutely nothing. Which I took full advantage of. And now I'm seeing that my life has become unbearably stretched thin. I'm snarky, I'm tired, and I'm super insecure about my future. I'm feeling like I'm not doing anything well. Well, if you stop and think about it, of course I'm not doing any one thing well. I've got too many things to do to give any of them the full attention they deserve.

I think it goes back to that old maxim, "Less if more." If you have less stress, you have more quality. If you have less to do, you can invest more fully into the few things you are doing.

I think 2015 will be a year of minimalism for me. Getting back to the basics and focusing on doing a few things really well. Learning to value quality over quantity, both in my creative life and academic life. What things will you be doing to make this year an amazing year?

Finished Project: Kimono Sleeve Shirts

So remember that fabric I bought a few weeks ago? It has now officially become a shirt - actually, more like three shirts. The pattern is a sketch I made after laying several shirts on the floor on top of each other and haphazardly tracing. I'm trying to incorporate more color into my wardrobe, as I looked in my closet the other day only to realize that I could really only wear some variation on the color gray. Although all three shirts were made from the same pattern, the different colors and textures lends a unique feel to each shirt, in my opinion. I love their loose, slightly unstructured feel. Until next time, be well! DSC_0073

DSC_0064

 

DSC_0075 DSC_0095 DSC_0106 DSC_0114

The Point

I've been thinking lately. Those of us in the creative community often use our talents for personal gain and creative expression. These are both good things. But we don't think always think about the implications of our creations. Are we perpetuating harmful systems of manufacturing through our creations? Do we seek to further the common good?

As I've come to embrace and hone my creative spirit, I've been thinking a lot about how I can use this creativity in light of the changes I want to see in the world. I love social change and healing. It brings life where there was none, like water to a parched plant. But there are different gifts and ways to do this.

My goal in starting this blog is to explore this intersection of creativity and social justice. I want to know my artistic heart better and use my gifts to make the world a better place, and be accountable to my impact on this world. I'd love it if you joined me on that journey.