Monthly Archives: April 2014


In my last post I said I couldn’t do as much cool braiding stuff with my hair now that I have an undercut. Then I thought, “Boo. You can still do lots of cool stuff with your hair, Claire.”  I tried this tutorial from Twist Me Pretty (minus the extensions) and it worked out really well.

I wore my hair down almost this entire winter, mainly to keep my next warm. But now it is warming up and I can wear braids again!


So the braid is the only DIY thing in this post. But it is still awesome! Also all the layers (sweatshirt over dress) have done their job keeping me warm but not too warm while the weather is indecisive about temperature. It is SO nice to finally be through this long, harsh winter.



jewelry // handmade :: dress / belt / sweatshirt // thrifted :: shoes // Shoemint

“Springtime is the land awakening.  The March winds are the morning yawn.”  –Kathy Sue Loudermilk, I Love You


visit to Madalynne studios

Yesterday I drove over to a studio space to meet up with two other Philadelphia-based bloggers- Maddie and Bekuh. After I commented on Maddie’s post about her new studio space last week, she invited me to stop by while they were taking photos. If I haven’t said it enough, let me say it again- what a wonderful community I have joined! Bloggers are so friendly and welcoming. It was very cool and a little surreal to meet the two of them in person. Maddie let me pick her brain about the business of blogging and Bekuh told me all about how she ended up in Philly. I hope I’ll be seeing them again sometime.







Let’s talk about undercuts.

Mainly, how I acquired mine. In August of 2013 (so about 7 months ago), I went to a women’s retreat. We camped in the woods, sang songs, talked about feminism, and I ran a screen printing tent. It was a little hippy-dippy, but I liked it. A few of the women there had some awesome alternative haircuts. One had shaved off parts of her hair and left the rest long.  I immediately fell in love with this juxtaposition of the feminine and the edgy. About a day (and not much more consideration) later I found someone to shave off the hair on the left side of my head. The love affair has been ongoing since then.

As far as upkeep, I buzz it about once a month. Currently it has a bit of a fade, but usually I just buzz it all off at a level 2. When I cut it, I pull the long parts to the right side of my head in a tight bun to avoid accidentally cutting my long hair and expanding my undercut.

The downside is that I can’t do as much cool braiding stuff with my hair like I used to. But I would happily make the trade again.


And holy wow those ABM photoshop actions are amazing. I bought the mini collection for Photoshop- I used Petal and Jean to edit these photographs. I fiddled around with the settings a little after running the actions, and think it did just enough to boost the light and vibrancy of these pictures.



I did a little summer clothing swap with one of my friends. I gave her some sweat pants and she gave me this black wrap dress- win! Only problem was that there was barely any overlap in the skirt when I wrapped it around my waist… the downfall of cheap wrap dresses. It was a windy day disaster just waiting to happen.

Before (BTW I’m wearing capris under the dress so I can demonstrate its lack of coverage without flashing you all):


To add more fabric to the skirt, I cut out a panel and sewed it to the part of the skirt that wraps “under”. I basically just laid the dress out flat over some black fabric, and used chalk to draft the shape of the panel. Then I added seam allowances and cut it out.


Here is the panel sewn into the dress:


Mmm. Comfy.


jewelry // handmade :: dress // clothing swap :: shirt // thrifted

shoes // Shoemint :: sunglasses // street vendor in France



There is this gorgeous nature reserve outside of the city. Paths meander through fields, forests, and farms. Each time you reach the top of a steep hill there is another breathtaking view to see. It is one of my favorite hiking spots. I always feel accomplished and recharged after a couple hours there. Our hike there was almost too warm for layers, but it got windy once we hiked up high and I was glad to have this cardigan with me.

I found this soft, deep blue sweater that used to be my dad’s (read: too big, but nice and long!). It was perfect to make into a long cardigan.



I cut the sweater open straight down the front and around the neck.


I used some leftover flannel from making pajama pants to make bias tape to cover the raw edges of the sweater. E-74_collage

Then I slimmed the sweater down. I turned it inside out and used chalk to draw a new seam line before I pinned, sewed, and trimmed the seam.


inside out view

Here it is all done and keeping me warm.

:E-31 E-60

Also, that tank top is a dress that I cut off at the waistline. The dress was way too short but still fit up top.

Here’s to a successful hike!


tank top / cardigan // DIY :: shorts / northface :: shoes / socks // old :: earrings // art fair





If no one did silly things, nothing intelligent would ever get done. – Ludwig Wittgenstein

That’s why playing around with the tripod and the mirror counts as a legitimate study break, and not procrastination.

Last big test of nursing school (until my boards) is coming up. Wish me luck!



skirt // made by yours truly :: sweater / shirt // Gap (old)

E-photo 5

I found a collared shirt at the thrift store, made of this lovely, silky, pink seersucker. Unfortunately it didn’t fit well, so I decided to make it into a peasant blouse. I’ve found it’s a good type of shirt for spring and fall. I actually made this shirt last spring. Since then it has been one of my favorite things to wear- the fit is airy but not matronly. Last fall, I wore it with this denim shirt I altered.

It was a pretty easy modification. I cut off the sleeves of the shirt and around the neck. I also shortened the bottom of the shirt.

peasant shirt tutorial


I serged the raw edges of the shirt sleeves and hem. Then I turned them under 1/2 inch and sewed a hem.

peasant shirt tutorial 2


Next I made a gathered collar. I serged the raw edge of the neck and turned it under 1 inch. I sewed around the edge, leaving room to insert elastic. I made a gathered collar by pulling the elastic until I liked the shape of the shirt. Then I sewed the ends of the elastic in place at the front of the shirt.


We were taking pictures under the tree and Em said, “hang from one of the branches!” So of course I did. I think this shot also shows the bottom of the shirt well. I left the hem longer in the back than in the front.


The cat came over to take part in the photoshoot, so of course I had to include him. He is the friendliest cat I have ever met. Also, my sister is studying abroad in Spain and will be happy to see him! Hi Ro!

You can see the gathers around the neck and the texture of the fabric in this shot.


That’s it!

E-photo 1

E-photo 2

 jewelry / pants / belt // thrifted :: shoes // Shoemint :: shirt // DIY


Made these

went hiking a last weekend, wearing 2 DIY projects (tank top and cardigan)

Currently- I feel like I’m still finding my blogging niche. Last summer I posted a lot more about food, but that has tapered off. What I originally wanted to blog about was DIY, sewing and style, and I think I’ve gotten the hang of the first two. Now I’m contemplating refining my posts to focus more on style. But I’m conflicted.

Let’s start with my qualms:

1. I think it is easy to confuse fashion with style. Fashion, to me, seems superficial, a manifestation of American consumerism- ick. Style is more about creativity, and I want this blog to be a place for me to express myself creatively. I have to be careful about crossing that line.
2. Also… vanity. I love looking at other people’s style pictures, but I would feel vain to post so many pictures of myself… on the other hand, I want to contribute to this awesome community of bloggers. Leaves me in a pickle.

made necklace, altered shirt

made necklace, altered shirt

But then there are all these really good reasons for me to include personal style on my blog!

1. The intersection of style and DIY make me, Claire, unique from all the other bloggers (and people in general!) out there. My DIYing and style are closely connected. I have had a hand in “touching up” or making almost everything I wear. Over the years, I’ve gotten really good at making pre-made clothes fit me how I want them to. And then incorporating them heavily into what I wear. I think that is pretty cool.
2. I want to write what I would want to read. One of the reasons I started this blog in the first place was that I was so super inspired by style and DIY bloggers like Delightfully Tacky and A Pair and a Spare . I think it would be more interesting to show little projects, like simple circle scarves or pocket alterations in a post more focused on style. Style is something I would be more interested in reading than a post on, “hey look at this teeny alteration I did!”

After too much deliberation and hand wringing, I think I’m going to start posting more style-focused things… maybe. We will see how I feel tomorrow.

I’d love to know what your opinion on this topic is.

puppies and short hair

puppies and short hair, back in 2011


Hey peeps,

I’ve noticed on my Google analytics stats that my Uniquely You posts have been getting a lot of hits lately. Yay! This is a shoutout to whomever is currently working on their Uniquely You dress form. Would you send me a picture when you’re done? I’d love to see how yours turned out. My email is hoopesparkstudios [at] gmail [dot] com.

In other news, I made a button for the Uniquely You sew along! The code is in the blog’s side bar. If you’re following the sew along and have a blog, then I made this button for YOU. You can add the button to your side bar by copying and pasting the code into a widget (in WordPress) or a gadget (in Blogger) in your side bar. Spread the word and help more people figure out how to tailor Uniquely You.




photo 1_A

My housemate Rachel is quite the amateur mixologist. A couple weeks ago, some friends held a song-themed cocktail contest. Basically, this is a group of people who like to get together to sing old songs and drink. So try not to be too weirded out when I say that this drink is inspired by an old English hymn called Barby. Rachel created this delicious rhubarb cocktail. It is pink (like Barbie), a little sour, and oh so refreshingly delicious. We’ve made this drink a couple times since the contest and agree that it is a perfect spring drink. It looks girly but is much less saccharine than most mixes.

48 Barby

This recipe calls for rhubarb spirit and rhubarb juice- two unusual ingredients. Fear not, they are easier come by than you would think! The rhubarb spirit comes from a  local craft distillery called Art In The Age Of Mechanical Reproduction. If you are a Philly local, you can pick it up there. If not, vanilla infused vodka or another neutral spirit will work fine (just add more rhubarb juice). To make the rhubarb juice, you can either run rhubarb stalks through a juicer or make juice by boiling the rhubarb. I found a great recipe from Serious Eats that involves cutting the rhubarb stalks into cubes and then boiling and straining the cubes. We made a lot of juice ahead of time and have kept it in the fridge. It lasts a couple weeks in the fridge, or you can freeze it in ice cube trays for later use.

photo 3_A

Rhuby Barby Cocktail


  • rhubarb spirit
  • rhubarb juice
  • honey or simple syrup
  • chopped mint plus more for garnish
  • ice

Mix together equal parts rhubarb spirit and rhubarb juice- one shot-glass-full of each works nicely. Stir in the honey till it dissolves. Add the chopped mint and ice and shake (in a cocktail shaker if you have it- we used a glass jar). Fill your cup with more ice. Pour the cocktail into your cup through a strainer. Garnish with more mint. Enjoy!

photo 2_A

Rachel says, “If it’s not pink, it’s not Barbie!”

rachel with cocktails_A

Rachel with sample sizes of the cocktail during aforementioned party