vintage

Outfit post: The Batter-Up! daydress


So this has taken forever! I finished this dress over the summer and have worn it a whole bunch of times. I was pretty damn pleased with the results. I did a post on the making back in August (August!?!?!) and here we are, live in the in the flesh. Or fabric.


I admit that a big part of what keeps me from blogging about my finished garments is really that I have a hard time snagging a good spot to take photos. With a 5 year old in the house and my full-time job plus teaching nights I get caught up with myself and have a hard time wanting to tear myself away from sewing versus taking pictures of the dresses and outfits I so love wearing. 

I am This reminds me of my most-hated habit people have in online dating personal ads: I'm so busy I can't meet people the usual way. Ugh. You're too busy to meet people? Great. Sounds like we have a great chance at making a go of things. *sigh* 

Dear readers, whoever you might be, I promise not to make sucky excuses in future about not being able to snap a few photos. Poor snaps are better than no snaps. Done. Moving on. 


This was my first try at making a dress with a pleated skirt. Like I said at the start, super pleased with the results! I did it free-hand using inverted box pleats. The only thing that really went wrong was the alignment of the front pleats with the waist darts. Fortunately the busy print keeps anyone by me from noticing. Woo?

Outfit details:
Dress- me-made, fabric from SR Harris
Cardigan- Gap outlet, shortened by me, similar here: Kinny and Howie
Shoes- Earth Shoes Solstice
Bracelets- various spots
Necklace- Christmas gift from my stepdad a few years ago





Choosing Patterns, some how's and why's

My closet is a dense forest of me-made wardrobe items. Crammed and straining. And yet, i cannot stop myself from sewing more things to wear. I used to get sad and wistful looking into my closet, wishing I had something I was excited to wear. After I started making my own gear my closet visits transformed! Now I stand before my closet flooded with excitement about which awesome, exciting, well-fitting outfit to wear today

On the right you can my sweater bag. Cardigans in many colors and shapes, organized into warm, cool and neutral stacks. In truth, my sweater bag lives in my dude's closet. Mine, although the larger of the two bedroom closets, isn't big enough. It's love. 

So with so many fun choices how do I decide what to make next? How do I balance pattern selections? What makes a good scale, color, texture choice? Below I'll walk you through some snaps of a recent trip our to my favorite fabric warehouse! Most of my fabric choices are a variety of quilting cottons, which simplifies things a bit. I like working with quilting cottons, easy to sew, easy to care for and SO MANY CHOICES!!!


Here's a stack I had gathered up, trying to work out what I should get and what wouldn't make the cut! If you ever see that weird lady in the fabric store draping fabric over herself... think of me. I'm that lady. It's really one of the best ways to understand how a pattern will be affected by the curves of your body, whether the scale will work for you, if the color is flattering. 


This pretty light yellow-green fabric was a definite thumbs-down. Looking at my skin next to this fabric I felt super washed out. I love the scale and that the pattern offers fun possibilities for using on-grain or on-bias. Sadly, it didn't make the cut.


I struggle with feedsack patterns. I really liked this color but this particular fabric was a plaid crepe with varying levels of sheerness/opacity. I don't like to line my skirts so this one didn't make the cut either. 


Oh man, I went back and forth on this fabric for a long time. I think I worked through the stack and came back to it 2 or three times. I so love the energy of this print, it's a little wild and fireworks-y and the shade of pink is nice and versatile. I loved the idea of the fabric in a skirt and kept imagining twirling in a circle skirt of pink fireworks... but I could not get a good image in my head with the fabric for a bodice. Who knows, perhaps next time I will see the boom boom pow pattern again. Didn't make it this time. 


At this point I am guessing you might be wondering well... what did you get? I loved this crosshatch. I like the smallness of the different elements in the pattern and how it is balanced out by the all-over, irregular cross-hatch. From a few feet away the pattern did not break into distinct boxes or stripes, also a major plus. The dots here are green, blue, white and brown. The background is pink with a darker pink crosshatch. Very flexible for cardigans. We had a winner!


You can kind of see it in my secret-excited little smirk here; I loved this fabric. It said, Barbie Throws a Party or Donna Reed's Summer Shindig or Please Wear Me With Little White Gloves!!! I brought this one home. Classic polka dots with bold pink roses breaking things up. I like irregular polka dots as I find that straight polka dot matrices make my eyes water, they look like they are vibrating. So this was a perfect solution.


Sadly, one more that did not make the cut. These are the kinds of fabrics and patterns that I really love and really wish worked for me. You can see how wan and washed out I look next to it. The pattern has a fun Deco look but I just couldn't get something that would look so blah in color next to my skin. 

I regularly make another round through the store after cutting my initial choices. First off, they ask you to reshelve your fabrics yourself. Second, I almost always feel like I will find one more thing now that I am in the zone. Here is a shot of all the lucky home-comers from the last go-around. You can see a whole bunch of things that didn't make the pictures. Some of these I felt so strongly about I didn't both with pictures for. I have finished 4 dresses from these fabrics so far. The Lemon Surprise fabric was a 2nd round find as was the chambray with discharge print roses in the upper right hand corner.  


I finally got a tripod for my camera so more outfit posts on the way! Hurray! Hopefully this helped expand your horizons of print and pattern possibilities! 

xo, 
Sarah



Cleaning vintage jewelry and other tidbits

On a beautiful day this Autumn I stumbled across this gorgeous enamel pin tucked into the chaos of an antique mall shelf in Hopkins. It was one of those moments where you say, "Yes, I shall buy that. I know it." I could just tell by looking at it in that one glance I wanted to touch it and hold it and wear it. And it was a good price ($12) to boot!


I noticed right away that it smelled strongly of antique mall. I didn't think much of it. It had a goo weight in my hand. I loved the color and the size. I loved how different the shape was from most enamel flower pins I come across. And it's red! I love a pop of red. 

I've worn it several times now and each time my nose starts tingly after an hour or so. The smell has not abated. I have tried rinsing in plain hot water. Also with soapy water. After a suggestion from my mama I also tried a solution of mouth wash. The mouth wash helped a little and so I give that another go before eliminating it from my solutions list. So far, Google searches and forum scrolling havne't yielded anything helpful...

Knowing that issues like these just come with the territory, dear reader, here is another short list of problem remover solutions to help you out with your vintage jewelry woes...


For removing light scuffing from Bakelite, Lucite and other plastic jewelry... Brasso!

Brasso contains ammonia so be sure to use outdoors or in another, well-ventilated area. If you do a little research on restoring Bakelite you'll see that folks use all sorts of methods and products. Brasso is commonly available in your local hardware store (maybe even the grocery store!) and inexpensive. While you aren't likely to remove much patina from Bakelite with Brasso alone it is great for cleaning up the surface and improving the appearance of scuffs and smudge marks. 


For tweaking, opening, closing, fixing and monkeying... a good pair of needle nose pliers!

This happens all the time, right? You find that awesome necklace/brooch/zippered dress and you have the darnedest time getting it open and closed. One of the great things about vintage and antique goods is that it was loved before. Sometimes really loved. Clasps get yanked, zippers get caught, catches get squished. I have more than a few items that needed just a tweak from my trusty pliers to regain their life and easy of use. Having the right tools can help protect and prolong the life of your most-loved vintage and antique pieces. Just remember to treat them gently. 


For so many cleaning, primping and polishing needs... q-tips and cotton balls!

Instead of tearing off bits of toilet paper or paper towel, do yourself a favor and grab a cotton ball or a q-tip. Perhaps you are reading this and thinking, well, duh... But you know you've done it. Trying to clean something up and cutting corners because you just want to get it done and fast. One of the biggest benefits of cotton balls and q-tips is that the materials conforms to the shape of what you are cleaning. Trying to wedge a bit of towel into a crevice doesn't give you much control and it exhausts really quickly. If you are using a cleaning agent the cotton will hold and apply it evenly. Cotton is also very gentle and if you get buts stuck you can usually pull them out as the fibers stay intact, unlike paper towel or tissue that breaks apart. 

I love this storage idea! If you click on the image it will bring you to a whole slew of fun mason jar storage ideas from Hip2Save. 

I'll update you on cleaning my enamel flower. If you have any tips I would be most grateful!




Rock Vintage and Retro Shoes Even With Bum Feet

Let me start out with a big 'ol **DISCLAIMER** that I am no doctor. I have no medical training. 
I am NOT recommending any courses of treatment. 
I am only sharing my own experiences and hoping that you might benefit. 

So, about a year ago I was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis and a heel spur. Woo! Party time! Not at all. The pain in the beginning was crazy. I talk about it very briefly here and here.

IN THE BEGINNING...
I was wooed into buying things just because they were comfortable. 

The pain in the beginning was seriously so bad I cried. Please, friends, if you find you have pain in your body, don't just ignore it. So. Birkenstock clogs. I was looking for something stylish, work-appropriate and comfortable. The salesman at a local Birkenstock rep told me that everyone who tried these on loved them but they (the shoes) were just a little too small...

I wear a size 37 in Euro sizing. 7 in USA sizing. And he was right. They felt sooooo good. I felt like I needed to change my look to wear them, though. And these days they only get worn around the house or doing errands on days that I don't want to put any effort into my appearance. In short, almost never.

THEN I GOT SUCKED IN BY GLOWING USER REVIEWS...
People exclaiming that some shoe was the best thing since sliced bread. 

 

I missed ballet flats. I have never accepted that having Plantar Fasciitis means an end to my love of ballet flats. One of my co-workers extoled the virtues of FitFlops. So I looked into them. Major controversy on whether they really work. I ordered these for a steal on Zappos but you can also find them here. For me, ultimately, these shoes don't work. My foot works too hard trying to keep them on and I find the toe clenching causes more pain. I keep them around for dressy occasions that don't involve a lot of walking or dancing. They are still patent leather...

AND THEN... I HAD A BETTER IDEA OF WHAT TO LOOK FOR!
Now I have some reliable brands that look good, feel good and fit my vintage and retro style. 
  
One of the first shoes that I found that hit the trifecta of comfortable, supportive and vintage-appropriate was from the Worishofer brand. This particular style is the Krista. I was able to find it on Zappos but one of the best selections I've seen of the brand is from this fun bite of little, old, Floridian lady culture: Buddy Shoes of Boca Raton

Check them out! They are full of adorable, vintage-appropriate shoes that also joyously scream, "I'm going to be a fashionable old lady!


These were some of the cutest retro wedges I have found with arch support. I got them at Schuler Shoes when they went on sale. I love them so much and I am super bummed to have set them aside for the winter... *sad face* They are from Earth Shoes! You can still find them here.



I found this style of Birkenstock going down the retro shoe rabbit hole some drippy evening. Once I found out they exist I became obsessed with trying them on. Unfortunately, most retailers don't stock Birkenstock shoes. I ended up having them shipped from a store in Virginia and man! So glad I did. They are called the Perugia. I would link a store but they were a serious investigation to track down. So a Google search for you!



These Earth Shoe Solars are my go-to, closed-toe shoe. They have simple design details and feel very secure whenever I wear them. The negative heel design provides lots of comfort and the instep strap is super easy to pull on and off. These were my first success in getting close to my basic ballet flat. 



Lastly, the shoes so nice I had to buy them twice! My Birkenstock Messina's always get compliments. Most folks have never seen a Birkenstock in a Mary Jane style. I found them in black at first and then spotted the brown ones on sale at... you guessed it! Schulers! They pretty much work with everything. Although they are a bit on the clunky/chunky side they are super comfortable and quite cute!

In conclusion:
-Plantar Fasciitis is not a shoe death sentence
-trial and error is essential to finding real footwear solutions to chronic foot pain
-brands covered here: Earth Shoes, FitFlop, Birkenstock, Worishofer
-additional brands worth a look! Taryn Rose, Chaco, Dromedaris

Good luck my vintage pals! It gets better!
xo, 
Sarah

hair today, gone tomorrow

I have a roller coaster love affair with my hair. I want it pixie short, I want it Marilyn long. I want spikes, spit curls, bouffants, flips and poodle cuts. I want the Italian Cut. I want a mohawk. it is one of the most fabulous things about having short hair; I can do just about anything with a little patience between cuts.

As a little kid I have pretty straight hair. Blond. Bangs. I did not retain any of these things as I grew up, thank goodness! While blond, straight hair is certainly a lovely thing it wouldn't be great with the shape of my noggin or my coloring.

So, back to present-ish day. I had been growing my hair out into a retro bob to suit my clothing styles. But was starting to drive me mad. Here are a few shots from right before the chop!

The de-rigeur pre-cut bathroom selfie.
After a long day of travel from MN to MA... A little poofy but feeling good.
Since the majority driving reason for my curly poof was to have my hair match my clothes I decided I'd had enough. I wanted hair that was a little cuter, edgier. Less drying time. Cause really, I live in Minnesota and there is nothing like leaving the house to scrape the car in the dead of winter and realizing that whatever effort I had put into my hair was ruined by freeing instantly on stepping into -19 degree temps.

Annnnnnnd here's the new/old me! Short, pixie, spit curls and all. 



Here's my short list of how to take care of fine, curly hair:
1.) Keep it shoulder length or above.
      Longer than shoulder length starts weighing the hair down and making curl hard to control
2.) Condition with a light weight conditioner each time you wash it
3.) Use a minimal amount of product and try to mix up which product you use each day.
      I tend to cycle through 2-3 products at any given time. While my hair is very short I like
      pomade waxes, Lush's Dirty creme product, light leave-in conditioner or Aveda's curl creme.
4.) Let hair air dry whenever possible

Here are a couple more shots of pixie and other length styles I've rocked in the past couple of years. I really loved having pink hair but grew tired of the maintenance and, if you can believe it, getting touched by little old ladies and other folks in public. I dread to think of what will happen if I ever get pregnant...


To wrap things up I thought I would also share a few snaps of various hairstyles I've rocked in the years since I have moved to Minneapolis (just 3 years and so many styles of hair!) You'll also see that I am quite fond of making silly faces. I hope your enjoy them, too. 

The beginning of my mohawk and rockin' some dino earrings. Miss J likes to tell me that they are Apatasauri.
In full mohawk-y glory, getting ready for a holiday work party. I made the props for the photobooth that night.  

Sitting in the salon right before I asked my hairdresser to cut off the mop of curls I'd asked he to help me grow for six months... I love that my hairdresser gets pumped even when I ask her to change my style as soon as I've hit my last goal!


Travel packing and livin' la vida me-made.




 Vacation in progress! Here we are in Cape Cod, MA ready to get our Yaaaay! on right before Barry and Monica began their epic walk down the aisle. Mike looked amazing in his seersucker suit and Venetian boater hat. Sometimes he tries to rebel against his hipster-inclined ways but I am usually able to cajole him into owning it. He's a beautiful man and can pull of strong colors and statement pieces. Once he takes the plunge he rocks it pretty hard. I knew he would for this trip, too.

I wore a modified version of Butterick 5748. It's the regular bodice with the notch in front. I had previously made the neck-gape adjustment to my pattern pieces and the tiny amount of leftover gape was handled beautifully by the ease created by the notch. I added an extra-full gathered skirt and in-seam pockets for this version and am pretty pleased with the results over all! This is the first time I applied a rick rack trim over the surface instead of as an edge treatment. It was also the first time I used the basted-shut zipper technique I saw here. I have done once or twice since then and will definitely be incorporating it into future garments!



Certainly I must be getting ahead of myself, though! In my last post I talked about sharing some of my me-made wardrobe travel tips and observations.

Here are a couple of shot showing my packing in-progress. I hung out all of the dresses I planned to take on this trip so that I could coordinate jewelry and shoes. I tend to gather everything up on the bed before starting to fit it into my bags. I have been traveling with a 1-bag rule for a few years now. The addition of my train case is definitely a break of tradition and I wanted to make sure I wasn't just taking along additional things for the hey of it.

When packing I come to a point that I just know that I have reached the tipping point. I prefer to leave a little extra room in my bags to allow me to bring home treats for myself and my stepdaughter.
 Mommy Dearest's line may be "No wire hangers!" but my own is, "No checked baggage!"

1- sorely dislike waiting for the carousel
2- becomes difficult to carry it all solo
3- risk of loss is too high
4- mid-trip changes increase risk of loss
5- traveling with vintage or me-made means not   being able to replace things = heartache

I've encountered a lot of drama in my travel. I have learned to cut it out wherever possible.


Because I'm a nutball I, of course, had a last dress in-progress the night before we left. I promised myself (and my boyfriend who kept eyeing my pile of dresses with trepidation and a hairy eyeball) that if I finished the new dress one of the trip dresses would come out of the pile and the new dress would get work on the plane.

I've been working on tweaking a self-drafted bodice to include a v-neck.  In the purple striped dress below it worked out quite well! After making the pink dress I think the bias is the reason is worked so well.

In any case, here's a hotel mirror shot of me at 8pm after getting up and dressed and out the door around 4am, trekking through the airport, Boston and 3 hours of driving. I think it looks damn fine. Whatever reservations I still had about the dress are gone! Especially since I shortened one of my black cardigans to pair with it (and a million other dresses!)


The last dress for this post is the purple striped number i mentioned above. If you follow me on Instagram then you've seen it already. This was my first try at pattern matching! I'm super pleased with the results. I even found that I could get in and out of this dress without inserting a zipper. I'm still on the fence about whether to go back and put one in. I mostly think it would make getting dressed easier... What do you think?

Tomorrow we are off to the City of Brotherly love for some fabric shopping, fried chicken and donuts, farm-to-table food and some general lovin' and kickin' around. I hope to get some more action-shots of my clothes. Soon! Happy Monday Blogland!

A day to play

It's been a quiet week at work. The sort that finds me reaching out to coworkers to see what I can help with and compiling mental checklists of all the things I would like to get done at home. So I am super excited to be taking a personal day tomorrow!

On my to-do list:

-SEW! 
   -Work on the Butterick 5748 for a friend's wedding
   -cut out fabric for two other dresses
   -draft pockets/trim plans for the two dresses

-antique mall?
   -in Hopkins, Antiques on Main
   -look for: bakelite, cloth napkins, satin organizers! Like these:
   I have seen a bunch of folks storing bangles this way and I truly love it!

Happy almost Friday!