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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!

Last Minute Christmas Gifts: Homemade Body Butter

body butter gift under the tree, the artyologist

Is it really only one more week until Christmas?

I read a while ago that this year has kind of been like Rip Van Winkle and, for me, I would agree. While my daily routine has definitely slowed down, time seems to be rushing by, and it all feels a bit surreal. While we’ve already passed the halfway point for December, it still feels like this year has gone by so slowly. In some ways it does seem like I’m sleeping while the world continues spinning by…

Well, in case time has gotten away from you too, and you need some last minute gifts, today I am sharing a zero-waste inspired Christmas gift you can easily make in a few hours. The great thing is that it mostly uses items you might already have around the house! This is a bit different than the topics I usually discuss here, but I kind of like branching out into new topics, and this definitely fits into the “lifestyle’ category.

I don’t know where I found this recipe- I think from a zero waste blogger or Instagrammer, but you can easily find these sorts of recipes with a quick google search of “diy natural body butter”. This is just the one I make because I bought a huge pail of shea butter several years ago, and I am trying to work my way through it (slowly!).

Easy Homemade Natural Body Butter

1 part coconut oil

1 part sweet almond oil (or light olive oil)

2 parts shea butter

Optional: essential oil of your choice

I usually make this recipe with sweet almond oil, but since I used up all of my almond oil while making soap, I couldn’t find any more! Usually I would get it at the health food store, but they didn’t have any. After a bit of research it appears that light olive oil works as a substitute, and it seems to be working just as well. I would definitely recommend light, not regular oil, so there isn’t a strong olive smell.

Also, I used lavender essential oil, but you can definitely make it unscented.

I also saw several other recipes used cocoa butter instead of shea, so you could probably try that too. Basically the most important part is that you need to have equal parts oil to butter.

Heat your oils and butter in a double boiler until it is completely melted, then place in the refrigerator to cool. I forgot to take any photos of this process, but it is pretty straightforward. Once it has solidified (several hours depending on how much you have made), then take it out and immediately whip with a blender until it is white and fluffy. It’s like magic how quickly it beats up! Then add some essential oils, 4-5 drops, if desired and mix in completely.

I am sure there is a shelf life on homemade body butters (probably a few months?) but to be honest I haven’t had any problems with it going rancid. I keep mine in my nightstand drawer, and I have had this last batch for probably 9 months, and I’ve never had any bacteria growth or funky smells or anything. This is a very moisturizing (albeit greasy) body butter, perfect for winter dryness; I use it on my feet, or as a lip balm.

Once you’ve whipped up the butter, then you are ready to decant it into jars.

I have been collecting these face lotion jars for the past few years, because I hate throwing things out, and I was sure I could find a use for them, even if for just organizing/storage. However a few months ago, I thought of an even better use- to repurpose as gifts (a zero waste win!). I used nail polish remover to take the labels off, and then sterilized the jars by running them through the dishwasher and heating the lids with boiling water.

They worked perfectly to hold about 3 tbsp of body butter- the perfect amount to try it out, without having to commit to using for the next few years! Any small jar would work great, maybe a small spice jar? Or a tiny canning jar?

I also decided to include the recipe in with the gift. I purchased this recipe card printable in the spring from local-ish artist Jenni Haikonen, as it’s so nice to give people recipes written on a pretty card, rather than any old paper, isn’t it?

I wrapped the gift up in some brown paper bags I have had for years, tied them with some recycled ribbons and twine (I always save ribbons and string whenever I get a package etc. in order to reuse them) and added some homemade Victorian Christmas tags. And there you have a lovely little gift for friends, coworkers or anyone else you want to give a gift to this season!

Well, I hope you enjoy making this recipe, if you decide to, and also hope that you have a very Merry Christmas season!

Made One

My sewing plan for 2019 is to double the amount of sewing projects that I completed in 2018. Since I only made one of the projects in my #makenine list, this should be a relatively feasible goal. 😉

Sadly, yes, I ended up completing only one of the projects on my 2018 sewing list, so my #makenine unfortunately ended up becoming “#madeone”. Well, it isn’t completely true that I finished only one project in 2018, because I did also sew a tote bag, my Tanith Rowan Designs beret, and a few other quick mending/restyling projects that weren’t on the list. 

But, of the nine projects, only one actually managed to make it’s way out of the sewing pile, and into my closet. However, considering that the project I completed was one that has taken me 10 years to finish, that’s actually a fairly decent accomplishment!

The project that I sewed in 2018, which might also be my greatest sewing achievement to date, was Simplicity 4403, my plum wool coat. I have talked about this project in the past, (see my 2018 sewing list here), and I will have a blog post in the future, featuring the coat, so I won’t bother talking about that specific project much right now.

But, today talking about my sewing goals for 2019. . .  I plan to keep on with the same list I created last year. I have all of the supplies for each of these projects, so the only thing they require is actually sewing them! I am also planning to, before I start sewing, create a custom bodice sloper. I started making a bodice sloper a couple of years ago, but never completed it- but I think that if I actually do finish it, then my sewing projects will go a lot easier!

This year I have also decided to dedicate one day a week to be a “sewing day”, which I will spend with my mom. She has all the sewing stuff at her place, so it just makes it easier to go there to sew. (She also has all the fitting and sewing knowledge, so I like to sew with her!) We might not be able to do one full day, but even a few hours each week should give time to get some of these projects completed!

So, I guess the sloper is project #1 and here is the rest of the list, including what progress I have made so far:

  1. McCall’s 6696 shirtwaist

I still love this shirtwaist and had planned to make it out of some blue eyelet I have in my stash. So I’m keeping this one on the list!

2. Wool coat refashion

After looking at this coat, my mom realized that I can probably get away with shaving the pills off of the fabric, and won’t have to “turn” it! She has kindly started on it for me, so I need to just to fit it better! (it kind of looked like I was a child wearing my mom’s coat when I wore it. . . )

3. Simplicity 2154 blouse

This would still be a good addition to the wardrobe, as I am seriously lacking in blouses in any colour other than black.

4. Turban

Still in love with all the turbans, so yes.

5. Circle or half circle skirt

Instead of making a circle or half skirt, I may instead refashion a couple of wool skirts that I got from the thrift store recently. I know that I am not supposed to buy “projects”, but 100% wool plaid kilts, for $2.50 are the exception. 🙂 I am not sure if I can just tweak the waistbands (they are all a bit too big in the waist or too small in the hip) or whether I will unpick them and then use the fabric to make new pleated skirts. Either way will result in some sorely needed mix and match separates for my winter wardrobe!

6. Simplicity 3673 dress and jacket combination

I still do want to make this, but I think it is going to be the last project I attempt this year, simply because it is the one I need the least. I would still like to add it eventually, but after all the other projects are finished.

7. Background dress

Yes, a “background” dress is still sorely needed. I have very few dresses in my wardrobe currently, and I miss having them ready to throw on. Dresses are so easy, as you don’t have to try and find matching tops and bottoms!

8. Butterick 5748 sundress

I love the fabric (a calico) that I plan to make this out of- and sundresses are so versatile, so this one is still definitely on the list.

I think that if I manage to finish 8 projects, it will be a herculean accomplishment!

What are your sewing plans for 2019? Did you do a #makenine and how did it go for you if you did?