Fun in the Florida Sunshine + End of Year Thoughts

Hi friends!

So, I’m just gonna say this up front: I’m sorry I’ve been MIA for the past few months. Life with all it’s ups and downs took over for a while, and I didn’t have much time to sleep, let alone sew and update the blog. But I did want to get one last post in before the end of 2015 – a few photos of a family vacation in Florida over Christmas. It was the first time in years that I’ve seen both sides of my family in the same holiday, which made for an incredibly special and rare holiday season. Looking back over the past year, I’m so thankful for the new relationships and incredible opportunities that have come my way, including the unexpected support for this blog. Thank you so much to everyone who has took the time to read a post or leave a comment. It encourages me more than I can express.

I’m really excited to see how both this blog and my creative journey unfold in the 2016. Growing up in the Midwest, it struck me as important from a young age that our calendar year began and ended in the winter – a slow, thoughtful season. It encourages me to enter each year with purpose, and reflect on the past year with gratefulness. To relearn the art of meditating on one thing for a while, instead of trying to do *literally* all the things I can squeeze into a day.

I hope that whatever this past year held, and whatever the next one holds for you friend, that you experience some joy, some peace, some goodness that brings light into your life. Thank you for being a part of my journey, as I am honored to share some small part in yours.

Annnnndd, enough with the sentimental already! See you in 2016!

Christmas in Florida

We all got socks for Christmas!
We all got socks for Christmas!
A family safari to the beach!
A family safari to the beach!
I absolutely love sunsets
I absolutely love sunsets

Florida sunshine

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Lights will guide you home
Lights will guide you home
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It’s a Joy-ful Halloween: My Recycled Halloween Costume

 

Sustainable fashion in costume form!
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
Photo from Fashion with a Mission.

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
So cute!

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!
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.
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!
Le front!

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

My Joy pose
My Joy pose
With several other party goers.
With several other party goers.
There was a Leslie Knope too!
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!
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
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: Floral Maxi Dress McCall’s M7121

Floral Maxi Dress McCall's M7121

Hey friends!

It’s a beautiful Saturday here in Chicago. I hope you are enjoying the bright sun and crisp fall air wherever you are. I, on the other hand, have been laid out sick this weekend. I don’t know if it’s the flu or what, but my roommate and I have been laid out on the couches, groaning and praying for the end to come swiftly. We make quite the pair. Don’t you wish you were here?? Huh??

Anyways, I’ll spare you the details of my weekend stuck indoors (seriously, is there anything worse than that when it’s beautiful outside?) and instead share some details on a dress I made recently.

Maxi Floral Navy Blue Dress

The pattern is McCall’s M7121, and the intense obsession to make this dress was inspired by MimiG’s review here. The obsession was so encompassing that I probably should’ve picked a different jersey that had a bit more structure to it. But I threw my cares to the wind and jumped in.

McCall's Maxi Dress M7121

I had been wanting to make a long maxi dress for the summer and was pretty swept away by this fabric. It’s a lightweight, mid-stretch jersey that has a beautiful drape to it. I bought three yards but almost didn’t have enough for the pattern to be cut against the grain line like the pattern directed. Hence the awkward placement of the flowers on the bodice.

McCall's M7121 Blue Floral Maxi Dress

McCall's M7121 Blue Floral Maxi Dress

I love the cut of the pattern. It’s got a nice v neck in the front and back, and the skirt is cut in such a way as to hang off the body in a flattering way. Plus it’s super quick and easy to sew, (only 4 pattern pieces) and sometimes you just need some quick satisfaction, right??

McCall's M7121 Navy Blue Maxi Dress

In a few of these pictures, the back bodice has an unsightly bulge, but that’s just the way I’m standing. I also did a photo shoot a few weeks back in this dress with a friend of mine who is an amazing photographer. Check out his website here, and below are some pictures from that shoot. I’m off to drench myself in more tea and soup. Have an amazing day friends, and be well!

Thanks Josh!
Thanks Josh!

McCalls M7121 Blue Maxi Dress

McCall's M7121 Blue Maxi Dress

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!
Still twirling!
Annnnd stop.
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 front.
Le back
Le back- look at that handpicked goodness!
Le inside
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
Pulling weirdly at the dress
Oof, that face!
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
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!
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.
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
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
Le back
Seriously love this print.
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.
My roommate, who takes my pictures, can always make me laugh.