Monday, April 20, 2015

I Made This!

Less than a week after I said I was going to start sewing again, I have sewn something! Behold my first creation:

Also, check out how fast my hair is growing! 

This sweet little half apron took me approximately three hours to make, and it is really not that great. The skirt of the apron is a little lopsided, the tie is thicker on one end than on the other, the pockets are slightly different sizes, and my stitches are straight some of the time, but  not so very straight most of the time. Do I care about all the glaring imperfections of my apron? Not at all! It's fully functional and totally good enough, especially for my first sewing project in well over a decade. I'm just proud of myself for finishing something! 

I learned some very important things during this project. For one, I need to get a full-sized ironing board. I have a tiny board that I use on my dining table, and it has been perfect for the three times I've used it in my lifetime, but it isn't going to cut it for regular sewing projects. For two, I have terrible posture! My back is killing me from hunching over my tiny ironing board and my table and my sewing machine. I also learned that I am terribly impatient, and will have to slow down a lot if I want to make quality things. This apron is fine, really, but I know I can do better. I might give it another go before I move on to a different project, but hey, at least I got this one done! Huzzah!

For the curious: This entire project cost me a measly $3! I used a remnant I bought for half off at JoAnn's fabric, and it worked perfectly. I learned how to make the apron from a sewing course I bought from A Beautiful Mess. This course has been the perfect refresher, and I will be working through each project there before moving on to the really hard stuff. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Fashion Detour!

Take a look at my closet. Here's the shoe half of things:

And here's the clothing half of things:

I also have a dresser full of t-shirts, sweaters, cardigans, tops that won't wrinkle, and a few pairs of pants:

And of course, I also have a drawer reserved for clothes I secretly hate but can't seem to get rid of, including workout clothes that I never, ever, ever wear. There's also an AC adapter in there, but I can't explain that:

I don't think I have a lot clothes, at least not comparatively. I wouldn't say my closet or my dresser are jam-packed beyond what is considered healthy or normal. I do, however, see a huge problem with my clothing collection. 

I am in the middle of a fashion crisis. I look in my closet and my dresser, and I feel ambivalent about 90% of what I own. Most of it stays where it is 90% of the time; I do not live my life in those clothes. I have things that I have worn once or twice, and other things I have never worn at all. Truthfully, I could toss most of this stuff and I would never even miss it. Isn't that sad? 

Maybe the reason I don't wear a lot of my clothes is the questionable quality of most of it. For a long time, I bought all of my clothes from budget fashion emporiums, like Target, Old Navy, Forever 21, and H&M. A couple of years ago, I went to England for a month and went a little crazy at Topshop, Primark, and Dorothy Perkins. After many years of living in a fashion desert in Montana, I couldn't handle the sudden onslaught of cute clothes that I could actually afford. I bought a ton of polyester and rayon and viscose, shaped into trendy dresses and tops that cost me practically nothing. It was great at first, but not even three years later, I have one pair of shorts and two dresses left; all the rest of that stuff fell apart after a couple of washes. I also became aware of the real cost of the fast fashion I used to love so much. I learned about sweatshops and the living and working conditions of the people who make those clothes. I learned about the environmental toll of all those plastic-derived fabrics. I noticed that it's nearly impossible to dress in a way that is truly unique when all clothing stores have pretty much become homogeneous, offering all the same clothes in the slightest variations. The real reason I stopped shopping at Target and Old Navy? I got tired of bumping into people wearing all my clothes. 

I feel like I've become disillusioned. All my favorite fashion blogs (save a unique few) are touting all the latest trends, all the MUST HAVE items and hottest looks, and I don't care about any of that. For me, fashion is about self-expression more than anything. I don't care about trends. I don't care about flattering my figure or dressing appropriately for my age or keeping up with the hottest anything. I do love clothes and I love fashion, but I feel like the way I express that love has got to change. I've already sworn off fast fashion...I will continue to wear what I already have until it inevitably falls apart, but that is it. I've also been buying higher quality clothes from second hand stores and consignment shops, but it still doesn't feel like it's enough. So, I went out and bought myself something extra special:

Yep, those are scissors! These are not just scissors, though; these are gold-handled Gingher fabric shears, and they are the most exciting thing I have bought in a long time. I have decided to start sewing again! I feel like this a good way to solve my fashion dilemmas: I can control the quality of my clothes as well as some of the costs, I can have a one-of-a-kind wardrobe, and I can develop a skill on top of everything. I'm not quite a beginner; I have a basic knowledge of sewing and I do use my sewing machine to alter clothes for myself and for my daughter. Even so, I have decided to give myself a refresher course in sewing, and will be starting with some real basic projects before diving into making clothes. Once I dive into making clothes, though, I plan to totally suck at it at first, and make lots and lots of mistakes before gradually getting better at it. It's going to be great! In the meantime, I will continue to write posts and share photos of outfits and general shenanigans as well as tales of my failures and successes as a round two beginner sewer. It's a slight change from what I've been doing, but I feel it's a good change, and I am so excited to get started!

For the curious: If you're wondering where this new direction is coming from, check out the book Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth L. Cline. Be forewarned, though: It might make you hate your clothes, just a little. I have also discovered an amazing world of sewing blogs that have inspired the crap out of me and have made me believe I can actually make my own dresses. My favorites so far are LladybirdOonaballoona from Kalkatroona, and Tilly and the Buttons. I've added about five hundred sewing blogs to my Bloglovin' feed, but if you know of an awesome sewing blog I might be missing, please tell me all about it! I feel like I should also mention that my gorgeous Gingher fabric shears come from JoAnn's Fabric, bought with a nifty 50% off coupon; I would not have been able to afford them otherwise. I also bought a pair of pinking shears with another 50% off coupon, and a self-healing mat and rotary cutter that were both on sale for 50% off. If you're going to take up sewing, half off is the way to do it!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Field Work with Amma!

You all remember Amma, right? She's my best friend and partner in Chinese food and all things awesome. She's also a bit of a local celebrity these days, with appearances in the newspaper and on television in connection with her advocacy for the LGBTQ community. She is making a big difference in our little Montana town, serving as co-president of Lambda-GFC, the LGBTQ+ alliance group at Great Falls College MSU, helping with the new LGBTQ Resource Center,  and hosting events held by Open Definition. I'm really proud of my bestie; she's a bit of a big deal! There are times, however, when even the biggest deals among us need to stand around in a field and pose, just because. 

About twenty minutes into our field excursion, we noticed signs of civilization: A shed and a decorative well! It was amazing!

Check out that bow!

On top of going to school full-time, working, advocating, and being the coolest person ever, Amma has great personal style! I love this white and orange shirt; it reminds me of a creamsicle, and it looks incredible with her blue and purple hair and her mermaid tattoo. I also love that she is wearing a skirt with sneakers, which is one of my new favorite pairings. Her outfit is simple and comfortable, but also a lot of fun, and most importantly, it is all Amma! Her personality shines through, and that is always the most important thing about fashion.

For the curious: Amma's striped tee is Mossimo from Target, and her skirt is b.true, purchased from a local boutique, The Walk In Closet. Her sneakers are Converse, of course. Converse is a must for cool people. I think it might actually be a law. Her belt is a mystery; it just showed up in her closet one day. I imagine it was hung on the horn of a unicorn that happened to be running on a rainbow. Her shopping trips are so much more interesting than mine. ;)

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Unexpected Fashion!

Fashion inspiration is everywhere, if you know where to look for it! I'm constantly finding inspiration in the oddest places, even in my own bathroom, while brushing my teeth. 

When I was a kid, I used to pretend my bath towel was a fancy, soft, super absorbent gown that was as versatile as it was pretty. Do you know how many ways you can wrap a towel around yourself? There are at least two! I thought about those towel-gown days this morning. My towel has such an great pattern and such amazing, vibrant colors, and it is pretty flattering... I decided to wear it like a dress!

This might be my new favorite outfit of all time! It's fun and easy and with the belt, it doesn't look like a towel at all! The biggest bonus of all: My wardrobe just doubled because I have an entire closet full of these babies, just waiting to be worn! Maybe I'll try to wear my shower curtain next. It's pretty snazzy, too, and totally waterproof. I wonder what other household items I can work into my wardrobe...

For the curious: April Fool's! My towel is pretty cool, but I only wear it for the most informal occasions, like exiting the shower. I wasn't kidding about wearing the shower curtain, though; I do love all those colors! My belt is from Sheinside, and my shoes are Nine West, found at Goodwill.