Tuesday, July 25, 2017

diy little black dress

Man, I don't know what gets into me sometimes, but there are days where I decide I need to make a new outfit, right now, for an event that might be a mere few hours away. Ask my college roommate about the times I would stay up late sewing something to wear the next day - it happened quite often. It has been a while since I've been struck with this pressure - I mean, I was busy sewing a certain other dress for a few months there - but Saturday, with plans to go out dancing, I decided I had nothing to wear, and only a new dress would do. So I dug through my fabric stash.

By the way, I am now totally down for having a modest fabric stash if it is filled with things I've bought in recent years. Last time I moved, I went through my big bins of fabric and sold a bunch of it in a facebook group. I had been holding onto fabrics from high school. There was also a ridiculous amount of scraps amassed from old projects. It felt so good to pare things down to only the fabrics I really loved, even if I didn't have specific projects intended for them. 

In my stash I found an interesting cotton baby french terry, which I honestly don't remember purchasing. Apparently I got it from Mood. Maybe during their Black Friday sale? I wouldn't normally be drawn to a french terry for a summer dress, but it is actually a really nice weight for this swing style. It holds its own in the breeze, and basically feels like I'm wearing pajamas. It's super sleek on the face side so it doesn't collect cat hair very much at all, which makes it a pretty magical fabric for a girl with a tortoiseshell colored cat that loves to sit on everything.

So Saturday at 2pm, I decided to make this dress, knowing I had to leave for an engagement at 3. Good thing this baby's got FOUR SEAMS! Easy as pie. Once I nailed the fit, I just serged the whole darn thing, including the edges. Who has time for binding these days?! Mostly joking, but this fabric doesn't necessitate it at all. The overlock edge finish works just fine!

If you were wondering, it's pretty great for dancing in, as long as I don't spin too much. It's also great for wearing to work on those days you don't want to get out of your jammies. (Every day for me.)

My sunglasses and necklace are both gifts from Mike, and my shoes are from Etsy - I wore them for my wedding and now they are getting a lot of use because they are comfy as can be!

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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Workout Tank Tutorial + Pure Barre Love

I don't think I've talked about it on here much or at all, but over the last few years (post-college) I have been working hard to cultivate a lot of healthy habits. This ranges from sleep quality + quantity to nutrition to water intake, but my favorite is absolutely my newfound love of fitness. 

Let me take a few steps back: a few years ago, I knew nothing about working out. I would dabble in jogging and yoga or pilates videos, but nothing stuck because I never enjoyed any of it, and I could never get myself to work through that initial soreness that comes from working out the first time. And then I graduated, and got an office job, and realized I had to find a way to move intentionally, because the majority of my day was spent sitting on a computer. So a few months into my job, I joined a gym through work and went with a friend to a Zumba class. I loved it. We went back, often, and went to all sorts of other classes: the kind where you do burpees, jump up and down from steps, and try not to throw up. And - man, I didn't love the burpees, but I had realized that group fitness was 100% my thing.

This led me to sign up for a Pure Barre class with another friend, in March of last year. At that point, I had lost weight, gained muscle, and felt pretty good about my fitness capabilities. I figured I'd be able to handle a barre class, no sweat. 

I was so wrong. There was a LOT of sweat. It was really, really hard. My muscles were shaking like Jell-o Jigglers, and I was so confused about what to do for many parts of class, and it was really painful in a really great way. I immediately signed up for a month package, mostly because I just wanted to get better at this crazy class. Additionally, everyone at the studio was kind, friendly, and it was the best workout atmosphere I had ever experienced. I couldn't get enough!

4 months of Pure Barre, comparison photos.

And now, almost a year and a half later, I am more obsessed than ever. I go every day. At 6 A.M. I never thought I would be that kind of person. But I am so much healthier, happier, and energetic for it. It makes me a nicer person. I've made amazing friends there, and I look forward all day long to the class the next morning. And to be perfectly straight forward, the results help keep me going. The changes in my muscles are so fun to watch, and I love knowing I'm strong enough to do most anything I need to. Almost 300 classes in and no signs of stopping!

January 2017 > June 2017, Pure Barre nearly every day. 

December 2014 > May 2017
 So now that I have gushed about barre long enough to totally lose y'all, let's get to the meat and potatoes of this post. I do a lot of workout laundry, and I have even been wearing things out. I want to endeavor to make more of my workout wardrobe, because that stuff is expensive. I also want to share more tutorials with you all, so this seemed like a perfect opportunity to dive in.

I made this out of an old t-shirt that was a little too stretched out and pilled for daily wear, but would be completely acceptable for working out in. This took me, even with filming, less than an hour to put together. It has been years since I have done a t-shirt reconstruction, but I think I might have to get back into it. The results are so gratifying, and it is so quick to do! Plus - it's FREE.

So check out the video, and let me know if you make one! Also feel free to let me know if there is anything you'd like to see me make a tutorial for. Now that I'm not planning a wedding, I have a lot more time to rediscover all my other hobbies!

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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?