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Me Made May 2016; Now That It’s Over. . .

me made may roundup the artyologist

So, the month of May is over and with that comes the end of the Me Made May challenge! It was a neat experience participating in this online event for the first time, and it was fun to see how many people were taking part over on Instagram. (The majority of the photos are gathered under #mmmay16, if you want to go and see)

Now that the month is over (and I am a week late in writing this) (and really where did May go so fast!!??) it is time to think about what I learned from the challenge. I wrote about my reason for joining in in this post here, and over at Zoe’s blog you can read about the whole thing. The main idea is to evaluate your wardrobe, and show the garments you’ve made a bit of love and appreciation. My challenge to wear each of my homemade garments was a good challenge for me, because I have some homemade garments I literally never reach for, so it was good to wear them and evaluate, “Why don’t I wear this? Why is this not the first thing I reach for when getting dressed?”. Here are my thoughts, and lessons learned, as well as what I need to focus on now in my sewing projects. . .

me made may roundup 2 the artyologist

  • I grabbed a dress first almost every day. For me, dresses are my go to: they are so easy. I don’t have to worry about coordinating my separates, or the fact that my blouse is coming untucked, or try too hard to get an ensemble that looks “put together”. I just throw on a dress, grab some shoes, maybe a hat and a purse and I’m done! I wore my handmade dresses, such as the seersucker dress, and black rayon dirndl dress, over and over throughout the month (I just didn’t take a picture each time haha!) So, I definitely need to add more dresses into the list of projects. And as far as what kind: full skirted dresses are my first love!
  • I work from home, so I don’t get dressed to the nines each morning, with fancy dresses, petticoats, hats, gloves, and high heels. When I am at my desk, comfort is key. BUT, I still want to look classy and put together! I found that my pleated skirts are two of the other garments I reached for over and over again. I often paired them with a solid t-shirt, or peasant blouse. Are t-shirts vintage? Nope, not really, but on a casual stay-at-home day, or a really hot day where I think I might just melt into a puddle, t-shirts are great. If I pair them with a vintage style skirt though, rather than jeans for example, I still get the “look”, but I stay comfortable. Those two skirts I made were sooooo easy to make. I really need to whip up a couple more.
  • I have a wardrobe that is full of patterns. I love patterns, but unfortunately, most of the patterns are different florals that don’t coordinate with each other. I need to focus on bringing some more solids into my wardrobe, so the patterns can shine and not compete with each other. On that note, the two hats I made, only coordinate with a select few garments I have in my closet. So, either I need to focus on making hats that will go well with lots of my garments, or make more garments that will coordinate with my hats. I hate it when you don’t have a hat that “goes” with an outfit, and yet you know that the outfit would look so much better if it did have a coordinating hat!

me made may roundup 3 the artyologist

And lastly, what did I not reach for?

  • Like I said, fancy party dresses are not something I wear on a consistent basis. (Maybe I just need to go to more parties. . . .) I definitely wear them on occasion, and I do like to dress up a bit fancier for church, but even then, I would be more likely to wear a rayon or brushed cotton, than a taffeta or silk. I never once wore my beautiful floral “garden party” dress during the month of May, but I do have an event coming up in June that I am planning on wearing it to. I still definitely want to keep these few fancier options in my closet, for those few times a year when I need a cocktail dress, however, perhaps my sewing hours would be better suited to sewing some more “everyday” garments, before I start focusing on the fancy dresses.
  • I never once reached for my pants. I only wore them on the last day, so that I could say that I had done it! 😉 I just find dresses and skirts so much more comfortable. (which is funny considering that most people consider pants to be more comfortable. . . ) Obviously I need pants for occasions like: digging up the garden, walking through tall grass and weeds where you don’t want your legs to get all scratched up to shreds, or going tobogganing (for example), but for daily use, I just don’t wear them. However, when I did wear them, I liked them well enough, so maybe I just need to take note to remember to wear them more often. I recently purchased Wearing History’s Smooth Sailing Trousers, as I have heard good things about that pattern, so perhaps I should sew those up sooner rather than later.

Overall it was great to participate in the challenge, and I certainly did pay more attention to what I have, what I wore, and what I should make to fill in those “holes”, so I would consider the challenge a success! Have you ever taken part in the Me Made May challenge? Or have you ever stopped to do a thorough evaluation of your wardrobe?

me made may roundup 4 the artyologist

Portraiture and Me Made May 2016

the artyologist self portrait with straw hat

You know when you have a bunch of photos to post and you don’t really have anything to say about them? Yep, that would be the case with these.

I was trying to take a picture of what I wore, earlier this week, because I am taking part in Me Made May this year, and then I just decided, why not do a self portrait photo shoot? I used to take self portraits when I lived on my own, but now my sister usually takes outfit photos for me, since we live together. She wasn’t around so I decided to play around with the self portrait style again. That’s why these images have a bit more serious of a style- usually when she is taking photos the majority of the photos end up being outtakes where I am either laughing or making funny faces. Usually making funny faces 😉

the artyologist image of tulips and portrait for me made may

But anyways, yes I am participating in Me Made May, which I was going to blog about on here, and 7 days into the month I still haven’t done so! Oops: time flies by! I, of course, decided to join at the last moment- literally on the 1st of the month when I saw a bunch of people posting photos of their outfits on the morning of 🙂 The idea behind Me Made May is to wear the clothes you have made yourself. I never participated before because I just don’t have enough homemade items to last an entire month (without recycling outfits I mean, which would be super boring for a documented challenge) But I still wanted to participate, so I came up with a twist on the challenge. I do have a fair share of garments, and odds and ends like purses and hats that I have made for myself, yet never seem to reach for on a daily basis. So, my challenge is to wear EACH of my homemade garments and accessories at least once this month. (While I will actually wear some of them many times, I won’t bore you with taking pictures of them over and over!) This challenge of course excludes seasonally inappropriate garments as well. (Unless it snows this month- not unheard of- although I sincerely hope not!) I’ll be posting my pictures, when I take them, on instagram, and I’ll probably do a round up here as well.

the artyologist image of tulips

Anyways, if you want to find out about Me Made May 2016 you can just click on that little button on the side that says “#MMM16I’m taking part”, (go figure!) and it will take you to the page of the lady who is hosting it.

the artyologist self portrait for me made may

And, well there you go. I said I didn’t have anything to say, and here I have managed to ramble on for a few paragraphs 🙂

the artyologist self portrait

the artyologist image of tulips

Oh and aren’t these tulips sweet? My lovely sister got them for me as a wonderful Spring surprise!

Social Saturday | October 23 (Some Exciting News…)

I have some very exciting to share with you this social saturday….I have started to display my artwork at a local gallery!

This is a dream of mine that I have been wanting to happen for a long time, and I made it one of my goals for this year. And now, just a few months away from the end of the year, I have actually taken the plunge and got my photography and watercolours hanging on the walls of the Upper Level Pottery and Art Gallery! I will be there for the next four months (maybe more). I’ve brought just a small amount of work to begin with, but have a few more pieces almost ready to bring and add to the wall. Anyways, that’s all I have to share for today…I hope your weekend is going well!

Five Garment Care Tips For Your Spring Wardrobe Transition

woman looking into her closet

Now that Spring has officially arrived, it is time for the seasonal wardrobe transition! I always enjoy the changing of the seasons, and all of the things that go along with that… packing away my cold weather garments and then pulling out my warm weather ones always makes for a rather fun afternoon task- it’s kind of like opening presents! Switching your wardrobe around for a new season does take a bit of time, but it is also the perfect opportunity for a bit of garment care and maintenance as well. Here is how I go about switching around my closet, as well as some of the tasks that I like to do each season to keep my clothes and shoes in good condition.

Depending on where you live, transitioning your wardrobe might not be very drastic, and if you don’t live in a climate with four distinct seasons, it might not even be necessary. (Or if you live in the Southern hemisphere, you’ll be pulling out your fall and winter clothes) Here in Alberta we definitely do have four seasons but, while it is now officially spring, we certainly will have some cold days left, so I am not doing a complete wardrobe switch.

There are some etiquette “rules” that I like to follow for my closet, just because they make sense for me and the climate where I live. According to Miss Manners, here are some seasonal wardrobe rules:

Straw should not be worn before Easter nor after Labour Day. 

-Velvet should be worn between October 1 and March 1.

-Furs should not be worn between the months of March to September

-White should not be worn after Labour Day, nor before Memorial Day. (This one is rather archaic, and a better rule to abide by, rather than colour, is judging the weight of the fabric you are wearing. Gauzy white linen is not appropriate for fall and winter, depending on the climate of where you live, of course, but a white wool coat or stockings is a completely different matter!)

clothes laying out ready to be packed away

I moved my strictly winter garments, such as my fur collars, winter coats, berets and lined boots into storage and then rotated my lighter spring and summer items into my closet. While I might not wear some of them right away, because we do still have cool days ahead, I brought them out so I have something to look forward too! I most likely won’t wear my straw hats until Easter, but it’s still nice to take them out and hang them up too. I also don’t have that much space, so I have to trade the items in and out, to fit them all back into my closet. I keep my in-season clothes hanging in my bedroom closet, and put the out-of-season clothes in a suitcase.

I did leave some of the more “seasonally ambiguous” items in my closet, such as my brown Oxford pumps. Rather than moving them out with the winter wear, I decided to keep them in since I might be able to wear them while the days are still cool.

straw hats hanging on a peg rack

Before I put each item into storage, I made sure to look it over and see if it needed any cleaning or other repair. There’s nothing worse than pulling your shoes or clothes out in six months for the next season, and then having to wait to wear it until you can repair it, or even worse than that, it has become irreparably damaged from sitting. So, here are five of my garment care tips to do before packing your winter clothes away for the season.

Doing Laundry

handwashing clothes in a basin

Depending on the soil level, I don’t wash my clothes after every single wear. Some garments can be worn a few times before they need laundering, and if your clothes are delicates then they will actually benefit from less washing. Before you pack the clothes away, though, make sure to clean them so they don’t sit with dirt or odours for months. Dirty clothes in storage can attract moths or other pests, and any light stains on the fabric might set over the months and become a much bigger issue for you later on.

If you have “dry clean” items, you may be able to spot clean them yourself. I don’t like dry cleaning my clothes, because it’s not actually really cleaning and the chemicals are so pollutant and unhealthy. Thus, I prefer to do most of my own washing, though sometimes dry cleaning is a necessary evil. You can often spot clean your wool or hand wash delicate items. If you do decide to wash a woolen item, and it ends up wrinkled or out of shape, you can take it to the dry cleaners for a “press only”. I have done this before with pleated skirts and they come back looking so much better than I could ever get them to look with my iron at home. Once you’ve cleaned your items, make sure they are completely dry before storing. If you are storing your out of season clothes in bins or boxes, you can also add in cedar sachets to keep pests out.

Brushing & Shaving Your Woollens

brushing a wool coat with a lint remover brush

Brushing wool is a new habit for me, and I learned this from the book How to Be a Victorian by Ruth Goodman. She talked about brushing wool clothes rather than washing them in order to clean them, and I had never heard of that! So, I have ordered myself a clothes brush with natural bristles (that is what she recommends in order to not damage the fabric over time) and once it arrives, I plan on brushing all of my winter coats before putting them away.

In the mean time, I will go over my coats with a velvet lint brush, as well as a pill remover/shaver. It’s amazing what a difference a brushing and shaving can do! A clothes brush works so much better than those sticky lint rollers, to take out the dust and dirt that collects. This is a good practice to get into a regular habit of doing, to keep your clothes in good condition, but it is especially important to do before you store your clothes.

Cleaning & Polishing Your Leather Shoes

cleaning your leather shoes

This is such a simple thing to do to keep your leather in good repair, but it’s the one task that I always neglect. I am trying to get better at doing this more frequently, but I always seem to procrastinate and put it off for far longer than I should. (This is probably because shoe polish smells like death…and probably brings you closer to death as well…?) Every time I do get around to polishing my shoes, though, I am amazed at the transformation and vow to do it more often! I haven’t tried any of the more natural leather conditioners yet, but I’ve ordered one to try on my purse. I think it’s a natural wax that doesn’t smell as bad as regular shoe polish, so maybe I’ll use it more often!

shoes ready to be polished

Cleaning and polishing or conditioning your leather is a good thing to do regularly, but is also very important to do before your put your winter shoes away. Salt stains from ice-melt burn leather and if left untreated can ruin a good pair of shoes (I’ve had that happen before!) and other stains will only get worse over time.

First clean your shoes with a leather cleaner and a soft rag. (I clean mine with a suede cleaner solution since that is what I have on hand, and it works well.) Once your shoes are dry, you can polish them with either a cream or wax polish in a matching colour. I’ve heard different cobblers recommend both options, so I’m not sure which is better!

polishing and shining shoes

I’ve also just started using a shoe brush that we got from my Grampa, and I have no idea why I was using just a rag before- the brush gives such a nice polish! I like to finish the shoes off with a little sponge for a nice shine, and then they are done.

polished black high heeled shoes

In the image on the left, the shoe on the left is unpolished, and the shoe on the right shows the difference that polishing makes! The final result is in the photo on the right.

For any shoes that need more serious repairs, you can take them to a cobbler for fixing. I am so hard on my shoes, and have really done a number on some of my favourite pairs (such as ripping the finish off the toe of the aforementioned Oxford heels!) but it’s amazing how cobblers are able to restore them back to – almost- as good as new!

Storing Your Shoes 

shoeboxes with shoes wrapped in tissue paper for storage

Once all of my shoes are polished and clean, I put them into shoe boxes with tissue paper in between to keep them from leaning on each other, and then put them back in my closet. I stack all of my shoeboxes on the top shelf in that inconvenient corner of the closet that you can’t quite reach, since it isn’t useful for storing things you actually need to access on a regular basis!

shoes in fabric shoebags

I don’t have quite enough boxes for all of my boots and shoes, since I only keep the shoeboxes with aesthetics. There were a couple of pairs of boots and shoes that I didn’t have boxes for, so I made some fabric bags to store them in, to keep the dust and dirt off, and they work just as nicely as boxes do.

Using Garment Bags

garment bag over coat hanging on a peg rack

Coats can get so dusty while hanging in the closet over the summer, so I put a garment bag over the top of them- especially after having gone to the trouble to brush them clean! It is important to use cloth garment bags, not the plastic bags that come over dry-cleaning, because plastic can trap in moisture and cause your fabric to get musty. Instead of purchasing garment bags, I made some for myself out of vintage pillowcases. I’ve been using pillowcases as garment bags for a few years now, but had never gotten around to actually sewing them into the proper shape, so I decided it was finally time to do that.

tracing a hanger to make a garment bag

To make your own, all you have to do is take a pillowcase and sew it into the shape you need. Pillowcases are easily found at thrift stores, or maybe you even have a few extra in your linen cupboard (or you can, of course, sew a rectangle of fabric to the width you need). Trace the hanger you will be using onto the wrong side of your pillowcase, and make sure to double check your tracing with a ruler, so you don’t end up with a lopsided angle. Curve the seam where it meets at the sides.

sewing a garment bag out of a pillowcase

Sew along the line, then open a little hole in the seam at the top, for the hanger to go through. I hand stitched the top edge around that hole to keep it from unraveling, and then trimmed off the excess fabric with pinking shears. Flip it inside out and pop it over your coats, and that will keep them nice and clean until next fall!

Once I finished these garment care tasks, my seasonal wardrobe transition was done. Doing these tasks adds some time and is not as much fun, but it is worth it! Keeping your clothes and shoes in good repair will reduce your wardrobe costs over time, since you won’t have to replace your items due to damage. And, not only will it save you money in the long run, but your clothes will look better too; wearing a pair of freshly polished shoes is always going to elevate your outfit!

Do you switch out your wardrobe seasonally? What sorts of garment care or maintenance do you do for your clothes each season?

Thoughts on Quitting Social Media…But Not Blogging

phone with social media pictures on it

This has been a long time coming…I deleted my social media accounts.

I only ever had Instagram, so it’s not as though I had that much to delete, but over the past couple of years I’ve really started wondering whether I still wanted to be on social media…I kept taking longer and longer “breaks” and after a while I realized just how much of a burden it had become. I wasn’t excited to post like I was a few years ago, and I wasn’t even going on the app to see what others were up to. It took me a long time to finally decide that I wasn’t going to go back, and that it was time for me to delete the accounts. It seems silly to say this, but since I deleted them, a burden really has been lifted!

I know I’m not alone in this (several other bloggers have also recently talked about their relationship with social media) so I thought I would share my reasons, in case they could be of use to you.

  • There is such a thing as too much inspiration. I was getting so inundated with “inspiration” that I wasn’t actually doing much myself. Instead of being inspired by the creativity of others, I just looked at what they had to share and didn’t go and create anything myself. I had burnt out. As you all know, I wasn’t blogging here anymore. I had a hard time coming up with my own creative ideas to share… which is why I originally created this blog!
  • I started comparing my posts to others. This led into a trap of feeling like what I was posting wasn’t good enough to share. Especially for my art shop account, there was so much pressure to be constantly trying to “sell” my artwork. After much thought, I’ve come to realize that social media is like a stage. It’s not your “own space” because it’s on someone else’s platform, and every person on that platform/stage is doing their act all at the same time, competing against the algorithm to try and get some attention and be at the top of the popularity contest. Whereas a blog, to me at least, feels like an invitation into your own space. There may be some drawbacks to that, as not as many people may be able to find you as easily, but people come in to your blog to stay for a while instead of just scrolling down the app. I want to build this little blog back up again, without the constant pressure to outperform everyone else.
  • I was tired of having a “brand”, yet also feeling the pressure to be “authentic”. I realized that the more privacy you erode through sharing snippets of your life, you can end up oversharing. While people might feel that they know you, because of what you have shared and invited them into, in reality they don’t know the real you. We all curate what we show online (creating our own “brand”), but social media is especially good at blurring that line in order to create “authenticity” and I found that on Instagram it’s really easy to overshare; more-so than on my blog. The truth is that you’ll never really get to know someone fully via social media and while I do want to be open, I don’t have the personality for the “social” aspect of social media. I am an introvert and I don’t even socialize that much in real life! After a while I found that for me, it was actually quite draining to be so engaged all of the time- which is what is required of those who succeed on those platforms.
  • Sadly there was a lot negativity and general nastiness this year… and I wasn’t even on Twitter! For some reason, things started to get so negative, perhaps as a result of tensions in peoples’ real lives coming through to their online spaces? It’s definitely been a hard and stressful past year, but I saw so much negativity which really took away the fun, and I found myself avoiding using Instagram because of it.
  • I didn’t want to be a content creator anymore. I was creating so much content, and all for the benefit of Instagram! They were the ones getting paid for all of my work! All of the art I shared on my studio account for the past few years, only resulted in a couple of sales. And I never received a penny from Instagram as a result of directing people to their app, keeping them there, and racking up their ad revenue. I had never thought about it this way before until I watched this video in August (I don’t know anything about this lady; I just came across her video). She talks about how she became a better artist once she quit social media, because the pressure was off and she could pour her time into her work, rather than trying to curate an aesthetic feed or trying to sell her work to people who could watch her content for free, without ever having to actually buy any of it. She really hit the nail on the head with that one! Granted, some people have been able to create very successful businesses with the help of social media, and I have even discovered some talented artists through the app, but I don’t have the personality for it. While it may work for some, I realized that I was never going to be that person.
  • It was so addicting: the more you are on social media, the more you want to spend time there. After reading several articles about the tech industry, you begin to realize that it’s not all “in your head” and these apps are actively working against you and your brain! Once I broke that addiction, I didn’t crave to be back on it. I had essentially been gone from Instagram since July, but it took me a few months after that to officially write a “goodbye” post. At the time I thought that I might one day return, but the longer I was gone the less I wanted to. Even though I still was signed into my Instagram account on my computer, I never checked in to see other people’s posts. So instead I followed all of those people on their blogs or Youtube channels, if they had them, bookmarked their shops to keep in mind for potential future purchases, said goodbye, and then deleted my account.
  • Finally, Instagram (owned by Facebook) released their new data policies on December 20 and they are quite invasive. I was just really tired of having to sign away all of my privacy in order to use their app, especially since I wasn’t even using it any more! It’s not what I had signed up for originally, so their new policy was what gave me the kick in the pants to actually do what I had been thinking of for months.

Ultimately the real reason I quit was because it wasn’t fun anymore. While I enjoyed it when I signed up back in 2016 (originally so I could participate in Fashion Revolution), it’s changed a lot since then, and so have I. And ultimately, if something isn’t fun and you have no responsibilities to it…then why are you doing it? So, I made that final push and it seems to have been the right decision.

That’s not to say that there aren’t any drawbacks of quitting social media. I’ve discovered that a lot of my favourite bloggers are no longer blogging, and are focusing exclusively on Instagram, so I won’t be able to see any of their future posts. I’ve also put a lot of thought into how this might affect plans for an online shop. Social media can be a good tool for networking. While it is the right decision to make for now, because my art account was actually stopping me from creating, and wasn’t adding any benefits, this might be something I need to revisit in the future.

Despite these drawbacks, I have already seen several benefits. Because I am not filling my time with scrolling, I have found the time to craft and sew again! I’m also happy to return to this blog and am excited to write posts for the first time in a long time! I’ve spent the past few weeks thinking up ideas for some new posts, and even what I would like the future of the blog to look like.

One thing I did keep from my Instagram account, was my bio. I had spent quite a bit of time brainstorming a focus for my IG account, and have decided that I would like to incorporate it here too. Not much is really going to change, but I’ve settled on:

“sustainable fashion and lifestyle with a vintage sensibility”. 

I think that encompasses rather well the things I am interested in sharing and it’s kind of nice having a “mission statement” to keep me going in the right direction. Some of the topics I’ve been thinking about lately are creating a clear style vision, using minimalism as a tool for your wardrobe, zero waste lifestyle, sustainable fashion, crafts and sewing projects, more of my artwork and photography, vintage fashion, more “life lately” sorts of posts and, as always, outfits (at least when I have something to dress up for!)

So, if you have made it this far, thank-you for reading my ramblings! I hope that these topics sound interesting to you, and that you’ll stick around. Here’s to 2021 being a better blogging year than the last!

And a very Happy New Year everyone! I hope that your year is off to a great start!