Saturday, July 8, 2017

best day ever

Thank you for the beautiful comments on my last post! Two weeks ago today we had the best day ever, in every possible way, with our very favorite people. We had such a good time that nobody really took many photos, so all I have are some screenshots from snapchats. (Bonus sneak peek of the dress!) We are so thankful that our families and friends celebrated with us and put in a lot of work before and after to make it the party of our lives. Nothing went awry (except that I knocked over a couple cakes and we forgot to play slow dance songs) and the memories we have from the day have got me still smiling non-stop. 

More soon, just wanted to pop in with a brief update. :)

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Handmade Wedding Dress

Can we talk about wedding planning real quick here? That nonsense is a LOT of work. Especially if you happen to be the kind of person who likes to make things. Or the kind of person who procrastinates. Or, you know, both of those things.

This has been a long time coming: I'm making my wedding dress. Scratch that. I MADE my wedding dress. I never was the little girl who dreamt about her wedding and planned it all out in advance, but I had always kind of figured I would make my dress. That was cemented when Mike and I got engaged and I actually started looking at dresses. How much? For polyester?! Criminy! 

So it was decided: I would make my dress. I knew I loved lace, didn't want anything princess-y (more of a boho girl at heart), and that I wanted to be comfortable and able to dance. (And dance and dance and dance.) I even toyed with knitting it before abandoning that half-baked idea: our wedding is in June, and I hate knitting anything that's not wool. Early on, I decided that I would make separates, because it's much easier to convince yourself to make a skirt and a top than it is to make a *gown*. I've made outfits in a weekend, what's the big deal with one more skirt and top?

It's a Big. Deal.

When it's gonna be probably the most photographed outfit of your life, it's hard not to feel the pressure. When you buy the most perfect fabric for an unjustifiable amount (justification: IT WAS 20% OFF), the idea of cutting into it kind of makes ya sweat a little. When you have to make something absolutely perfectly fitted and you can't even pretzel your arms around to your back to button the darn thing up by yourself -- (Do you ask for help from a neighbor you've only seen in the hall? Do you bring it to work to fit in a bathroom stall with a friend? These are the questions.) -- well, in these cases, one might find themselves in just a mild sort of panic.

Obviously, those are the kind of moments that call for a superhero. 


The kind of superhero, or should I say superHUMAN, who has been teaching you how to deal for all of your life. MOM!

I'm not sure I can even quantify everything we got done the weekend she visited. We finished fitting so I could finalize the pattern. We built an arch for the ceremony. We bought trees. We planned decorations. We picked up supplies for the guestbook. We practiced embroidery techniques for the dress. She made me silk crepe bias tape (she's a saint, I tell ya). And probably biggest of all? We moved the furniture, washed the wood flooring, laid out the fabric, and cut everything out. And then I sewed 4.87 miles of french seams and told my mom she could never ever ever leave.

So that was beginning of April. Over the following month and a half, I stitched away, sewing the bodice almost entirely by hand, because it's lace, and that's what you do with lace. 

I learned that this isn't actually how you sew loops in for a button placket. I learned this after I sewed the loops in for a button placket. My loops are not all the same size and I did not for half a second even consider redoing this nonsense.

One evening I sat down to sew the buttons onto my dress. I counted and realized that I had inexplicably made 33 loops down the back - what a strange, uneven number. I had planned to use the buttons from my mom's dress, which had also been worn by her sister, and was originally her mother's gown from the 1950's. 33 is a lot of button loops, and I was struck with the thought that I probably should have counted the buttons on my mom's dress before making such an odd number of loops.

So I pulled out the dress and began to count the buttons. 25 down the back. 4 on each sleeve. No more, no less. I hadn't gotten emotional about the dress until this very moment, but I texted my mom as I started to tear up, and then went about the business of sewing 33 buttons onto my bodice, thinking of the happy days they had been buttoned up in years past.

And I also hemmed the thing by hand.

Because wedding planning, and sewing your own dress, my friends?

It is not for the faint of heart.

Realistically, I won't post again til sometime in July when we are back from our honeymoon. Stay tuned for the big reveal - our wedding is in just a few weeks!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Matching (AKA Lake Superior Ate My Hat)

Well. I started to write this post almost two months ago because I had made matching hats for me and my brother Paul last year for Christmas. I had some nice anecdotes about doing a Handmade Christmas (I think this is the year for our family ! ) and how it reminds me of Laura Ingalls Wilder and how they would make their Christmas gifts from bits and bobs of yarn, and I was all prepared to tell you the adventures my brother and I have taken these hats on.

And then I lost my hat (and mourned). But we're not at that part of the story yet!

Let's start with the process: terribly scientific, I just kind of made them up as I went. I might have ripped out and started over once or twice, but it was a year ago, so the disappointment of starting over has faded (or been blocked out). It's out of extra yarn from my senior collection, Knitpicks Wool of the Andes worsted weight, 2 ends for a heavier gauge, size... 11? needles. Forever obsessed with this deep teal. I made my pom poms with cardboard circles because no pom pom maker in existence will ever be big enough for me. (The pom pom was maybe too big, because my hat sometimes fell off my head from the weight of it. Little did I know this would be the end of the hat!)

The only photos of our matchingness! This was shortly after Christmas, 2015.

Not long after I made it, I took it for a blizzard trial run in Baltimore in January. A girlfriend and I went out to visit another dear friend from college, and got caught in that big ol' east coast blizzard. Our flight was cancelled and we got stranded for an extra couple days... not the worst to be stuck on vacation! I was super toasty warm in my cowl, hat, and big wool men's overcoat when we ventured out to a bar to play boardgames and enjoy some Natty Bo (National Bohemian) which I understood to be to Maryland what PBR is to Milwaukee.

Here's one more shot from Baltimore, after the sun came out.
So I think I probably took it to Alaska when I visited family in April, and maybe Paul brought his but we don't have photographic evidence.

Then we went to Seattle as a family and took a ferry, and my hat definitely didn't fall into THIS body of water.

Paul wore his hat while enjoying some news on a street corner in Seattle.

He also went on a side adventure to Idaho and climbed something (if you know Paul at all, you know he climbs things, sorry Mom) and his hat did NOT fall off while climbing to outrageous heights. Also, how gorgeous is this photo?!

The hat, plus me and my future husband, cutting down a Christmas tree while visiting my parents. (Ooo meet Mike! I don't know if you've seen him on the blog yet!) 

Okay so, we know this story has an ending (though amidst this rambling post, you might have been wondering if that was still the case!). On Christmas day, we decided to travel due to a major snow/ice storm in the forecast. There were some huge swells on Lake Superior, and I had my camera at the ready, so we stopped so I could get some shots. I climbed down to a stone covered beach, and started snapping away.

The photos were turning out great. I could hardly tear myself away, thinking that each wave was going to be bigger than the last! But finally, I started walking back along the beach, and paused to get one last photo.

As the wave rolled in, I realized the water was coming much higher up on shore than before. I stepped backward, trying to keep my feet dry. As I stepped, my hat flopped forward and fell off my head, right into the big water. 

And it was quickly swept further in by the waves. I tried to fish it out with a stick while ankle deep in the frigid water, but it was slippery and I didn't want to sacrifice my hat AND my dignity (also my camera) so I sadly watched it slip away.

Boots soaking wet and head slightly cold, I climbed back up the bank and trudged away. And that's the overly dramatic, terribly drawn-out tale of how I lost my hat in Lake Superior. (Paul still has his.) I guess I should make another?

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Just-About-the-Best-Day-Ever Dress

This dress is really special. I always have felt like there is a certain kind of magic when you wear a newly-made outfit for the first time, and this dress was no different. (Really, handmade clothes are a super power regardless of how new or old they are!) 

First, the fabric. The fabric! This is a beautiful ikat weave that I picked up at a stumbled-upon fabric sample sale from a really incredible Chicago company called Piece & Co. All of their fabrics are handcrafted by artisan women all over the world - in clean work environments with fair compensation. It was totally by happenstance that I ended up in this cool Chicago loft office filled with piles of some of the best textiles I've ever seen, and I have so much respect for the people who woven the gorgeous fabrics I got to purchase!

So this was one of the pieces of fabric I picked up -- it was already fated to be pretty great. I decided to make a dress in a silhouette I'm totally not used to wearing, but deemed it necessary because of the heat of summer. It's got a slight shirttail hem, a notched neckline with ties, and self bias binding along the hem, armholes, and neckline. And that's it! No darts, no zippers, no lining, no fuss. It took a day to finish. I made it entirely on my beloved Singer Featherweight (my main machine now - a gift from my dear aunt) - with french seams so it's all properly finished.

Oh but wait! Let me tell you about the magic of this dress! I wore it for the first time on the day I was offered my new position as a designer for kid's clothing. I had interviewed a couple weeks prior, and this was the day I found out. These photos were taken over lunch by a friend, before the meeting where I got the job -  but can you tell I was oozing happiness even so? Sometimes, a good, new, self-made outfit will do that (and more) for ya.

I legitimately feel this way pretty much every day ^. It's been the best job ever, and it started with this dress. It was for sure good luck. 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Little updates :)

Hi, it's been a while! I've been a little busy, and thought about posting quite often. But boy, it's been a year. In the ways that years often go, it's been a mix of really great and really not great. There have been moments where my heart has felt so full it could burst, times where I couldn't seem to stop smiling if I tried, and also moments that make my throat catch to think about. But mostly I've been really happy, and working really hard, and trying to make every day better than the last. 

(There have been some really hard-to-top days...)

Mike and I are getting married in 2017! We are so excited and happy - I can't wait to build a life with him. :) 

And if you were wondering... yes, I'm making my dress! 

More soon - just wanted to loop you guys in before posting my backlog of projects!