outfits

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. . .

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  • 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!

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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?

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Peony Hued

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As sad as I am to see the end of lilac season, we are now entering peony season, and that is a reason to celebrate! If I had to choose a favourite flower (and really who could do that?), I would choose a peony. Peonies come in so many hues, ranging from dark fuchsias, to soft blush pinks, to creamy whites. They come in single and double petal varieties, and can have spiky or rounded petals. My favourites are the double flowering blush pink varieties, with their massive, deeply layered petals and heavenly scent.

This ensemble I wore last Sunday reminded me of peonies; because the hat is accented with one, and because the colours were in the same shades as the flowers.

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I was so glad that we had a sunny day in the middle of the rain we’ve had lately, because as I mentioned in my last post, I wanted to wear my new hat- but the hat stiffener is water soluble! The day dawned beautifully though- and I was glad to be able to wear it out for the first time.

When I was planning what to pair with my hat, I looked in my closet only to discover that I had nothing to go with it. 🙁 Then, I remembered this dress. This is the first time I have worn this dress, and it is a special one, because it was my Great-Grandmother’s dress. She wore it in the 1950’s to her son’s wedding. This past January my Aunt and Uncle were clearing out their basement, and they found it hanging in one of the closets. They asked whether I wanted it, thinking that it was probably my Grandma’s dress, but when I talked with her she said it was actually her mother’s dress. There are not many vintage garments in our family that have survived through the years, so it is special to have one of the few pieces that is still in wearable condition. (We also have my Grandma’s wedding dress, but it is in very tattered shape. Maybe one day I’ll put pictures of it on here?)

The dress has suffered a little bit of damage, and was quite musty after being stored in a basement for so many years, but the good thing is that it is polyester taffeta, rather than a more fragile material like silk, and so the stains came out, and the smell is (mostly) gone after a good airing out. (You can still slightly smell the mustiness if you stick your nose right into the cloth, but usually people don’t do that to a dress someone is wearing. Although you never know. . . )

I am so glad that I got this dress though, and can give it a second life after so many years. It was lovely to wear a vintage garment that I know the history of, rather than wondering, “Who wore this?”. Sometimes I wonder at the stories vintage garments could tell. . .

Do you ever wonder at the history behind your vintage pieces? Do you have any vintage pieces handed down from your family?

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Why Everyone Needs A Flower Covered Hat

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Quite simply put, flower covered hats are the best.

Sometimes elegant and graceful, sometimes verging on the point of ridiculous, they inject a bright touch of colour and fun to any outfit they are paired with. Flower covered hats have been around since, well forever, considering that women (and men!) used to wear wreaths of flowers in their hair in ancient Greek culture even before traditional hats were “invented”.

Adorning the heads of women the world around, throughout history and still today, it’s no surprise that flowers are so popular for headwear, considering they are so naturally beautiful. Flowers add a lovely touch to any ensemble, whether there is one flower or many, whether they form a crown, an accent or a full fledged hat, whether they are real or fake or whether they are brightly coloured or muted pastels. There is just something about wearing flowers in one’s hair that adds that sweet touch of whimsy to any ensemble.

image of grass and simplicity 1777 and flower covered hat the artyologist

Now take this outfit for example, I wore last Sunday. Without the floral hat, this navy dress would be prim, proper and conservative. Adding a peach and coral flower covered hat however, takes it from a quiet and traditional vintage look, to one resembling the vibrant and eccentric early 1960’s. It kind of reminds me of the bridal hats of that era, except for the fact it’s not white. 🙂

It was the perfect thing to wear, on Sunday for two reasons. One, since we’ve had a rainy stretch lately, and are in need of a touch of spring, a floral hat reminded me of the fact that the rain will not last forever! 🙂 (I actually like the rain, but still, a Spring hat was needed)

And reason number two, we are 2/3 of the way through the month of May, and I pledged to wear each of my handmade garments this month. (Read about Me Made May here) This hat and dress are two of the items I made that I still needed to wear, so Sunday was the day!

I actually made this hat a couple of years ago, but it wasn’t very good, and every time I attempted to wear the hat, it just looked stupid. Really it did. So this last week I examined it to see why exactly it was stupid and I came to the conclusion that I had made the cap too small, so it didn’t look like a hat, and it was too large to be an accent or fascinator. With that realization, I was able to fix the hat by adding two bunches of flowers to the ends, so it now comes down to the ears like a crown (or bridal hat!) instead of just floating on my head without any purpose. Note to self- do not make hats too small, or they look ridiculous!

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Anyways, I’m not sure what era this outfit is supposed to resemble, since the hat looks late 50’s/ early 60’s to me, but the dress is Simplicity 1777, a 1940’s repro pattern, and the shoes also resemble the platforms of the 1940’s. Whatever, that’s the nice thing about living in this day and age- we can choose what we want to wear. And hopefully for you that includes a flower covered hat 🙂

So, what do you think of wearing flowers on your head? Do ever wear hats with flower accents?

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image of simplicity 1777 and flower covered hatThis unique and dramatic pose is called “the Goose” 😉 Don’t you think?

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Sundresses in the Rain

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It is lilac season again! I’ve never lived in a place with so many lilacs before, so it is very nice to experience this year two hedges just bursting with lilac blooms. Are the lilacs blooming where you live? Or are they already done and gone? (Alberta’s spring comes slowly!) This is a photo heavy post I warn you, simply because the lilacs are so beautiful, I couldn’t narrow the photos down. . .

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It is so strange how quickly the weather can change, as earlier this week the temperatures were +30 (celcius) and now for the next few days we have hit a rainy spot. So, what do you wear when it is Spring, but you look out your window and it’s raining? Why your sundresses, of course! Dressing as though it is the sunniest, warmest day does wonders to improving a cloudy day. (This is my scientific hypothesis of course!) Do you ever dress contrary to what the weather demands?

image of trenchcoat lilacs and umbrella the artyologistOk I concede, I did wear a coat when I went out! But the rain did stop long enough for these pictures.

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So, this seersucker dress is one that I got a nice little kick in the pants to finish, because of my Me Made May challenge. I was looking at my closet at the beginning of the month thinking, “wow, I don’t actually have that many me made garments at the moment”, and then I saw this one sitting in my mending pile, (yes… pile) as it had been sitting there for months just begging to be fixed.

I sewed this dress last summer and spent an extreme amount of time on it, even hand picking the zipper in place, and meticulously sewing the lace waistband in place, because the seersucker was a bit of a pain to work with. The lace piece that I used for the accent detail was the perfect shade of grey/brown and it matched the stripe in the seersucker perfectly. It was wonderful, but I only got to appreciate it once, as when I washed the dress the colour washed out of the lace and faded to a disgusting shade of yellow 🙁

image of lace waistband before after the artyologistJust gross.

Now, that feeling of accomplishment you get when you finish a dress and it is hanging proudly in your closet is one of the nicest feelings, but that was very abruptly replaced with the horrible feeling of having to redo something. And if there is one thing I hate, it is redoing something I have already finished- especially when it was perfect the way it was. So, alas, what to do? I didn’t have any other coordinating lace in that width, and the waistband looked so bland without any accent. I wasn’t sure what would be the best option with the least amount of deconstructive work (I really didn’t want to take the dress completely apart), and then my mom suggested that I edge the waistband in narrow lace, and tada! It worked!

image of seersucker dress waistband the artyologist

Whew, a dress saved, and just in time to wear it out into a rainshower! Ah well, the rain won’t last, although I actually do love a good stretch of rain, and goodness we need it, but for now, when I wear my sundress in the rain, I’ll be singing in the rain 🙂

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Today Brought to You by the 1920’s

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Some days you get up and you just have to do 1920’s finger waves.

Well, actually back up a bit to a week ago to when I was getting my hair trimmed, and my stylist asked me whether I had ever tried finger waves before, since I like vintage styles, and she thought that my hair would be long enough now to do them. I have tried them, a few times before when my hair was bobbed, (see photographic evidence below), and the news that my hair is now long enough to DO something with, was a great revelation!

image of 1920's finger waves, the artyologist

So, I decided to try finger waves again, and I was very surprised when they actually turned out nicely, considering that I haven’t had practice with them for over two years! Finger waves are tricky, but so worth it when they turn out. My hairdresser told me that to graduate from hairdressing school you actually have to be able to style finger waves, but she was so bad at it she faked it with a curling iron! 🙂 That’s OK though, as that would be more like a Marcel wave, which was also of the era, and no one would probably know the difference anyway, except all of us vintage lovers.

image of 1920's finger waves in progress clips, the artyologist

I could only get two waves, and they turned out rather like an Eton crop, since my hair is still rather short, but they lasted fairly well, as I got two days out of them. (That may have also had something to do with the amount of hairspray I used. . . )

Of course a hairstyle like this just demands a dark, smoky eye and a small red rosebud lip too. Well, it was rather fun to style my hair again in a period appropriate style, and I have clips in my hair right now too, since the last go was so fun, I thought I’d try it again!

Oh and if you are keen to try them yourself, here is the finger wave tutorial I used, except I did not pin curl my hair first and did it straight from wet.

image of finger waves 1920's vintage, the artyologist