Last weekend I went on a girls’ weekend with several female family members to Gettysburg, PA. After a slow day spent in the car, listening to an audio tour, and driving around the battlefields of Gettysburg, we stopped for dinner at a restaurant across the street from a sign that said: Sewing Factory. Despite my hunger, I perked right up and had to investigate (nothing says adventure like sewing, amirite!? *sarcasm*). The building is now inhabited by the offices of some lawyers and a dentist, but this plaque pays homage to its beginnings as a sewing factory. I dub this the best historical discovery of the trip. Three cheers for sewing history!
Note: I felt like this was a good follow up to my last post with all those pictures of me in a bikini. I’m such a big advocate of body positivity, and I was ecstatic to find this magazine. Read on for more of my thoughts:
I am totally in love with SLiNK magazine from the UK.
You all know I’m not big on “fashion.” For SLiNK, I make an exception. SLiNK is a fashion magazine that just happens to be about plus size women- it normalizes plus size fashion. These women are gorgeous and fabulous, no qualifiers. To me, SLiNK is all about promoting body positivity. Here, fashion is agent of change. I’m 100% down with that.
When first saw these fashion shoots, I was blown away. These women are fabulous. There are 4 recent issues you can read for free online. I ate them up like candy and I want more.
If/when I have children (daughters?), I want to have many copies of this magazine lying around the house. I want them to see images of beauty that will combat the images of thinness they will be bombarded with every time they leave the house. It would be great if everyone was happy and healthy and no body shaming went on and people of all sizes were accepted everywhere, but that is not the world we live in.
We all need a healthy dose of body positivity. SLiNK is a good place to start.
All images via slinkmagazine.com
I want to make sure I wear the clothes I spend time creating.
To this end, I worked my way through Colletterie’s Wardrobe Architect (this is the folder I keep my notes in). It is a series of blog posts and activities to help one think critically about what you actually wear. It was like therapy for my disorganized creative process. It helped me to get a better picture of my style and intentionally choose my next projects.
For example, I often find myself looking through my drawers and hating all my shirts. I wear only a few of my tops that I have. So I should make some more tops. The Wardrobe architect helped point me in the direction of which tops I actually wear- v-necks, wraps, and collared shirts in earthy tones.
Apparently I needed something to tell me this, since I hadn’t been able to figure it out till now.
I didn’t participate in Me-Made-May this year, but I followed along with the many sewists who did. I’d like to participate next year, so I’ve got some work to do. This post from Paunnet just about said it- If I wear something as soon as it comes out of the wash, then I should make another one. So that’s what I’m going to do.
Some things I’m going to focus on this summer:
- V neck teeshirts
- Shorts to wear under short dresses
- Adding pockets to dresses
I’m going to expand my exploration after this. I’d like to be more mindful and minimalistic about all the crafty non-sewing DIY things I make too. But more on that later. Don’t worry, I’m still going to finish my summer dress series, like I planned. But what comes next, and in between- that needs intention and planning.
I linked this post to the Weekly Wishes Linkup on Nectar Collective.
I first read an article about Elle Muliarchyk in the New York Times in 2006. I had just started my junior year of high school and was still in that gawky, awkward phase of my earlier youth. In those years I would trip over my feet, bury my nose in science fiction, and dream about my creative vision (which I was too self-conscious to share with the world). It was in the midst of this stage that I came across this photograph (above) by Elle Muliarchyk.
The New York Times called her work “Pretty Larceny”. The article states, ” Elle Muliarchyk is an artist, and what she steals are fashion moments.” She explores “that highly ambivalent space, the dressing room… a space that’s not public but not exactly private, either. Here, we strip both physically and emotionally, trying on clothes as well as personae. And while we hope for a metamorphosis — into someone thinner, sexier, richer, different — harsh lighting and awkward angles too often force us to confront the nauseous schism between fantasy and reality.”
I found these images at once seductive and rebellious. Awkward teenage Claire wanted to grow up to be just like this woman who had the courage to snap pictures of herself in dressing rooms. I wanted to try on a new self, once that included a heck of a lot more confidence and creativity.
When the article recounted her guerilla adventures, being discovered by sales clerks, even being kicked out of boutiques for taking pictures, I swooned over her bravery and beauty. I ripped the article out and saved it. I still have it.
It has taken many years (seven, to be specific) for me to work up the confidence to photograph myself for artistic and stylistic purposes. I still often feel the urge to blend in. Muliarchyk was one of the first people to inspire me. Her work encouraged me to take the creative path I find myself on now.
I went searching for her online when I decided to write this post- I found her blog here. She is still taking amazing photographs.
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.
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.
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.
I have two quick projects for you this week.
The first one is this simple, knit pencil skirt.
One of my favorite things to wear are pencil skirts. I only had one, so I decided to make another.
I decided to make this skirt a little shorter than the other skirt so I didn’t have to make a slit in the back.
I bought about a yard of black cotton knit fabric, about the same weight and stretch as the fabric in the original skirt.
Then I traced the skirt, plus seam allowance.
I traced the back and front parts of the skirt separately, so I could make the waistband higher in the back. The picture above shows the back panel. You can see how I curved the top edge up. I did the opposite for the front panel of the skirt (I curved the waistband down).
Then I serged the sides of the skirt together, made a simple waistband with elastic, and attached it to the top of the skirt.
I think it turned out really well. I pressed all the seams as I went along- I think that (plus careful topstitching) added to this skirt looking more professionally made.
For the hem, I turned the fabric under and then ran two straight stitches along the edge. I stretched the fabric a little as I sewed to give the lines of stitching room to stretch with the fabric (because it’s a stretchy knit).
It is hard to tell in these pictures, but I also curved the hem up a little near the side seams.
What do you think?
Yea, I know it’s a little weird that I’m sitting on a bed- I just really liked the color of the blue comforter with my black and white outfit. Also it was a space with good light (and it was too cold out to shoot outside).
Also I made it to the Barnes museum! The anticipation of the trip gave me enough of a push (through my creative block) to finish the skirt so I could wear it there. With the same tights, of course.
What an amazing museum. Barnes was a doctor and art collector who wanted to educate people about the principles of art- form, line, shape, and light. He created these “ensembles” to show relationships between the principles. He also included metalwork and furniture to show the universality of the human potential for creativity.
(if you care about art at all you can keep reading, if not, hope you enjoyed the post! and have a nice day)
Thoughts on the art: In this ensemble, for example, you can see the flesh tones run horizontally through the larger paintings. Also (this is funny!) the chairs below the fleshy women on either end have wide seats so they can sit down. You can also see the back of the chairs mirrored in the painting on the front of the chest.
I would definitely recommend you visit if you are ever in Philadelphia.
Have a wonderful week and happy Monday!
I have moments where I feel completely uninspired. They come at the most unexpected times. It’s the worst when I have free time and don’t feel creative. I was looking forward all week to having some time to sew, and as soon as I sat down at the machine, all my creative energy left me. My creativity ebbs and flows. Sometimes I feel so full of it that I could burst! Those moments where my head feels cluttered, I can channel that energy into drawing or sewing or just writing down ideas to save for dull moments like this.
The cat is sleeping and snoring next to me, laying on a duvet I made for my sister her freshman year of college. The fabric is from the fabric district in LA. I love fabric districts. Yesterday I biked over to the fabric district in Philly. Visiting the stores there, running my hands through the fabric and imagining what I could make almost always gets my creative juices flowing.
But then I got home and sat down at the sewing machine, and all that energy left me.
At times like this, just getting started on a list of goals is often enough to break the creative block.
Other things that help:
reading my Bloglovin feed
going for a walk
music and dancing
looking through old lists of ideas
art museums/browsing art and sewing projects online
selfie photo shoots
also playing around with photo editing apps
So now I will press onward, toward completion of today’s list (finish a skirt I started, make another yoga mat bag). Headed to the Barnes Foundation later today with my mama. For me, looking at art is like creative caffeine. Hopefully I’ll come home feeling inspired. Wish me luck.
In high school I had a good friend who also liked to sew, and when I went to college, we decided to make a pair of friendship quilts. She blogs on tumblr here.
The concept is just that each person starts out with a center square or rectangle, and the pieces are sent back and forth between the two people. Each person adds an another band of fabric to the outside and then sends it back. We mostly got together to work on them over school breaks instead of sending them through the mail. It was a fun way to reconnect with someone with whom I had shared so many good times, and sewing was an excuse to hang out. When she went to college a couple years later, we spent one weekend finishing hers and making it into a duvet cover (for a down comforter) for her dorm room. That was back in 2010. Mine is almost big enough, but we haven’t gotten together to sew since then. Here are some pictures of my quilt.