Wednesday, August 19, 2015

finished: fourth of july shorts



I didn't actually wear these on the Fourth of July. I did, however, cut them out that day. Also, high waisted shorts instantly feel vintage and a little forties-style patriotic to me--I decided on the styling for these photos while cutting out the fabric!


I may have then suddenly realized that the forties/vintage/patriotic poses that worked so well in my mind didn't really feel like they worked in photos. At least, not this time, with my camera self-timer ticking precariously away atop a kitchen chair.

The deets
Pattern: Simplicity 5499, copyright 1982
Fabric: 7/8 yd denim, maybe 1/2 yd of random lining fabric my little sister let me use
Size: 12 (26-1/2" waist, which explains a lot about that waist)
New techniques: "round derrière" alteration, waist alteration, fly zipper, making trousers in general?

Inspiration {sources: 1 (the pattern), 2 (Nina Leen), 3}
I found these beautiful shorts on Modcloth towards the end of the semester, and fell in love--the sweet, subtly vintage styling possibilities were just too much. Unfortunately, I'm a broke student, and I don't have $40 plus shipping to spend on one pair of shorts, especially because I can't wear them this fall for student teaching--broke chispitas gotta prioritize. Obvious answer? Make them for less--yes, sewing can still save you money! But I'd never made trousers before, and I'd never really tried to do serious alterations. And with a round, full bum and a distinct pear shape, alterations are not an option for me when it comes to trousers. Here, I did a "round derrière" alteration (maybe a little too much of one) and took in the waist (not enough--I probably really need to do a sway back adjustment).

The guts--also look at the Fourth of July pockets!
The pattern itself was great just because it walked me through every possible trouser alteration. I totally could have looked up trouser alterations in one of the multitude of sewing books somewhere around the house, but I really appreciated having the alterations right there in the pattern, specially tailored towards pants with a back yoke, like jeans, as opposed to darts. While I still ran into some problems (probably stemming from lack of belief that I would need to take that much out), the instructions themselves were excellent. (Fun fact: My mom made these pants waaaay back in the day, when the pattern was much, much newer. She even had the little card she made of her measurements and planned alterations inside the pattern envelope. It was so much fun to see! And also made me understand where my pear shape comes from.)


Do these fit perfectly? No. You can see the little roll of fabric above that is either too much of a FRA (Full Rear Adjustment--I'm not saying round derrière again) or proof of my sway back. Next time-- and there will be a next time--I'm going to do a sway back alteration and make that waist fit tighter. But with a belt, they fit pretty well, especially around my bum. And my mom told me that they were really slimming and flattering on me (take that, all you advice for pear shapes that say I should never wear high-waisted trousers!).

I love these shorts so much, even with the little extra fabric round my waist. I feel so unobtrusively vintage-y in the best possible way. And for the first time since maybe sixth or seventh grade, I feel good about how I look in a pair of trouser-y shorts, particularly from the rear. While doing the FRA, I kept thinking about how sad wearing pants has made me feel, ever since I started developing hips and a round bum. The spandex-y jeans just make me feel like I'm too big, too curvy to really wear jeans. But these make me feel okay about myself. They make me feel like I can be beautiful in a pair of shorts, instead of feeling like I should go back to hiding.

Classic Lisa blog photo--had to have one!
In other news, if all goes as planned, I'm teaching a math lesson for observation (eek!) as this post goes up. Student teaching has so far been an amazing process, and I can't wait to keep learning so much from my cooperating teacher and students. Happy Wednesday!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

building a wardrobe

all from my pinboard here

This fall, I start student teaching, which is beyond-possible-words exciting. Except I need to be able to look like an adult five days a week. And for the past three years, I have grown to rely on the fact that A. people who see me on Tuesday don't see me on Friday (repeat outfits), B. I'm an adult and can keep myself fairly clean (unlike children who can and will spill who knows what on everything), and C. leggings with a long sweatshirt can form acceptable attire. Essentially, I can wear whatever I want, within reason of course. But in the classroom, I have to look like a professional teacher while wearing machine washable clothes, because I'm working with first graders. On top of that, most of my store-bought clothes are cheap/secondhand finds from before my freshman year of college, and they're falling apart at the seams.

My goal is to plan and make a wardrobe that is comfortable and clean and cleanable and professional. I looked at it from the perspective of trying to make capsule wardrobes: one for warm months, one for cold. 20 items each for some variety. Then I somewhat randomly assigned quotas for tops, bottoms, and dresses (which I love and will just pair with shorts to make them appropriate for the classroom). And then I realized just how big the holes are in my wardrobe. Example: I do not have a lightweight cardigan. I just don't. Which is frankly ridiculous, considering how much I love cardigans.

In true Internet fashion, I've started a pinboard to collect all my inspiration and ideas. More importantly, I've started a couple of projects this summer--including one that's already to show off to the internet!--but my main goal right now is still to nail down exactly what I'm looking for, style-wise and to fill the holes. Right now, I think I'm going to try some of the exercises in Colette's Wardrobe Architect to kinda solidify what I figured out from my first capsule wardrobe drafts. I want to be extremely intentional about how things work together, so that I have a wardrobe, not a closet full of individual pieces. I'm really excited about this challenge (and let's be honest--about the opportunity to make a lot of stuff)! I'm hoping to really get a lot out of looking at my closet and trying to figure out how to make it work better for me.

Monday, May 4, 2015

finished: basic-but-not-boring tee


Confession: I really like hand-sewing. I love it, in fact. This doesn't really ever seem to help my mending pile, unfortunately, but sometimes it leads to me making clothes or storage to hold all my medicine.

I finally finished my Plantain recently, despite the fact that it's not winter. Spring is here, and I'm yearning for short-sleeves and bare legs and running around in the sunshine like a tiny little toddler. Yet here I am, willingly wearing a long-sleeved, winter colored shirt. Then again, I don't really wear spring pastels. So there's that.

Pattern: Deer and Doe's Plantain
Fabric: mystery Amazon jersey, used earlier in my magic switch-y dress
Size: 36 (no alterations)

The pattern itself was a bit of a challenge. Not because the actual construction was difficult--I didn't even need the instruction. But wow, PDF patterns can be tricky. The taping together, the trying to match sides up correctly, it made the cutting-out-part of the pattern much tougher. Add to that a slippery jersey that folded and scrunched and stretched under the paper and my carpet floor turned into a cutting surface, that was very much not my favorite part of the pattern.


But the pattern is also beautifully designed. The scoop neck is graceful, the sizing is accurate, and the A-line, hip-skimming cut is really elegant. I even liked the fabric, which for a dirt-cheap Amazon buy holds up pretty well and is super soft. Sure, it's probably 130% polyester, but it's still cozy and comfy, while still looking pretty nice. The look in general suffers a bit on close inspection from the typical pulling I always find with my hand stretch stitching, but I think that's because my stitches are a little too big still.


I did piece the neckband, because I didn't have enough fabric in the right direction to cut it in one long piece. But I don't think it's too noticeable. And the biggest secret of all the secrets: despite taking the time to hand-finish every single inside seam, I have not hemmed it. Sleeves or the bottom.


All in all, I know the product is an extremely wearable tee (proof: these pictures were taken on three days when I actually, in fact, did wear it). Also, several of these pictures are super out of focus, but three. times. taking. pictures. I got bored of putting on a shirt that was too warm for the day just to take pictures.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

february things



Fun fact: almost all of January I had a post sitting here, just waiting to be posted, but then I went through a little moment of questioning the narcissism of posting things about my life online and then a moment of I'm-really-busy and now I'm just tired and bored of reading fifty page documents about classroom management, while waiting or class to start. I know February's only been for like two days, but here we are, and the month is short, so, yeah... Sleepy brain doesn't write too well.

Recently I've:

...cast on for a pair of mittens to replace the ones that let in more wind than they keep out.

...cut out a Plantain from the leftovers from this dress. First PDF pattern, folks. I'm branching out into the 21st century.

...cut myself some DIY bangs. That's very recent, 'cos I did that this morning with my new fabric shears in front of my bathroom mirror. I've done it before (several times in fact), but I found this tutorial super helpful for stepping up my bang-cutting game this time.

...rediscovered makeup blogs and vlogs and tutorials. Feels very vain to say that. Oh my gosh so much narcissism in one little post!

...read The Financial Diet cover to cover (end to end? first post to last post? I'm gonna stick with the bookworm description) like a dork, because the advice A. feels fairly relevant to my status as a broke college student living on a very fixed income, B. makes me feel like a grown up. Even if I still can't purchase wine.

...made some delicious muffins loosely based off this recipe, but very, very changed. I might actually put the recipe here because they were so good and I want to make sure I get the recipe down.

...made a social studies journal, invented several math games, and played with water-based markers as alternative watercolors and with actual watercolors as watercolors. Oh, education classes I love you so.

...consumed a lot of tea and a lot of coffee and a lot of chocolate. None of this is probably that great for my health, because it's being done to counteract being on campus for weird hours and sleeping like a baby (not like the proverbial baby who sleeps peacefully for a perfect, refreshing eight hours, but like a real baby who wakes up every two hours starving and then can't fall back to sleep and therefore looks at recipes on Pinterest.)

...found out just how much fun a pair of "teacher shoes" (the kind with heels that make the click-clack sounds as you walk down the hallway) can be. Guys. It's like an instant power/confidence boost, as long as you stay within the limits of what you can walk in.

(Forgive me for the really bad collage at the top. I was trying to illustrate this! This is the source for the makeup photo.)

Monday, December 29, 2014

why homemade?


(I wrote this essay of sorts a while ago, and I've realized it's kind of a great mission statement for the kind of handmade life I want to lead. Just thought I'd share it here, as I set goals for the new year.)

I can admit that I'm proud. Proud as a peacock with all his new feathers. I'm very proud of being able to say, yeah, I made that. From a piece of fabric or raw ingredients or a pile of cardboard and string. I'm even more proud if the end result looks or tastes good.

But I don't just make things myself for the rush.

I can admit that I'm a bit of a purist. I like starting from as close to scratch as I reasonably can. Starting with quality, adding my highest quality labor, ending with higher quality than I would get in a store. Fewer preservatives, less polyester, better flavor, better drape.

But I don't just make things myself for the higher quality.

I can admit that I'm a very small bit of an activist. I cry for the mistreatment of overseas textile workers, for the closed doors and sometimes maltreatment of the meat industry, for steamrolling of small farms and industries by big business. I get mad about mystery synthetic chemicals that lace our food and for the complete disconnect that our society has for the sweatshop worker in Taiwan when we pick up a $5 sweater in Forever 21.

But I don't just make things myself to avoid a culture that ignores the dangers to ourselves and the world around us caused by our desire to consume.

It's all that and then some. I believe there is intrinsic good done when you take raw materials and do the processing themselves, whether that's growing their own food, knitting their own scarves, or crafting their own decor. I believe there's nothing more empowering than learning a skill that can be used in your day-to-day life, like cooking or sewing ('cos you wear the garments or see the pillows on a day-to-day basis). I love the act of creation that pushes my mind to think critically and creatively to discover new solutions to the problems I pose in my head. I love that it's so different from the culture of academia, where I feel like the goal is sometimes just to consume as many articles and texts as possible and then to spew them out upon command. It connects me to my ancestors and helps to keep what could be dying crafts alive. It also doesn't hurt that making my own stuff saves a pretty penny over buying the same quality products, which makes my college student budget much, much happier.

That, all smashed together and mixed up and super-glued at the edges, is why homemade.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

november things

Getting ready to see this out my window again!

It feels crazy to me that it's already November. But here we are, facing our first snow, talking about Thanksgiving, getting ready for the fall recital, counting the weeks down to finals and home. November is shaping up to be a busy month for me, but it's all good busy. The retreat I've been prepping for all semester, rehearsals, it's all coming together now!

  • I am a firm believer in the importance of tea. Perhaps twice a day. Or more. As I told a friend recently, I basically live on the stuff. So tea lattes naturally happen, and that Emileigh's new recipe looks super yummy. 
  • I've been pinning late 20th century stuff like crazy for my costume design class. And I have to take back what I've said about the 80s. There's some stuff that's not abysmal.
  • But really, Charles James is where it's at. Forever. Oh my gosh, every dress is so beautifully designed!
  • My newest favorite food blog: Half-Baked Harvest. Can I afford nice cheese and maple syrup? No. Do I want them anyway now? Yes. 
  • Dirty Dancing. I want to be Baby, but only in the dancing scenes. Mambo!
  • I'm starting to plan something of a Thanksgiving menu for myself, because I'm staying at school. Chipotle pumpkin soup sounds good, or maybe spaghetti squash with garbanzo beans and kale? Maybe I'll make some more pumpkin muffins or finally buy a loaf pan and bake some bread. Regardless, it'll be delicious. 
  • So many papers. And now, 'cos I'm getting into the truly preparatory part of my teacher ed program, lesson plans. I can see the end coming and then I'm going to be a real person full time and do this all the time. Kinda crazy and more than a little bit scary!
  • I really want to sew and knit everything. I'm optimistically hoping to whip out a Plantain during Thanksgiving. We'll have to see though. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

october things



  • Right now, basically everything I eat is made out of pumpkin. Not really joking either. One of my favorites was this homemade pumpkin spice chai latte (with Trader Joe's pumpkin pie spice, because it was super cheap and is also delicious.
  • I recently watched Roman Holiday and was reminded just how amazing Audrey Hepburn is again. I may or may not kinda want a handsome, kind stranger to swoop in on a moped and sweep me off my feet too.
  • Right now I really badly want to sew a full skirted three quarter sleeved red dress, reminiscent of this one and this one. Basically, I want a better fall/winter dress with sleeves. 
  • I also really need a light cardigan to carry my summer dresses into fall. Especially 'cos I feel like I can't just wear my flannel or a floppy sweatshirt everyday because I'm observing in a school/kind of being a real person, which requires looking quasi professional. I hate having holes in my closet.
  • New blog discoveries/loves: Top with Cinnamon (it's so beautiful and this loaf cake is now on my "to bake" list), these muffin/cupcakes from Sally, MP by Maude, and Poires au Chocolat.
  • I learned how to watercolor for a costume design project last week, and it was surprisingly fun. I may have made some art that I'd actually be okay with hanging on my wall! And by art, I clearly meant costume renderings. No Dégas over here. Just a rough, but acceptable watercolor.
  • Speaking of art, I don't have a kiddo and won't have one for a while, but I do get kid's art from working with them. I loved this idea for making them into super artsy prints. (Sidenote: I have a friend in art school who impressed a professor by using kid's art in his art project. 'Cos nothing is artsier than kid's art.)
So that's where I am, halfway through October (halfway through the semester too -- eek!). Here's to a good continuation of fall and to fall breaks everywhere!
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