hat

Feeling Blue

navy blue knee length dress with a blue ribboned straw hat, navy blue shoes and a matching blue purse

No, I’m not “feeling blue”, but I thought it made a good title for this monochromatic blue outfit I wore on Easter! Which was three weeks ago…it’s just taken me this long to finally post these photos.

I had a fleeting thought of sewing a new dress for Easter, but then realized I didn’t want to try and hurry that, so back to my tried and true navy blue dress it was. Paired with my navy leather purse, some new-old shoes and a straw hat (which I sewed a matching ribbon for), it was the perfect classic look for the day. And that’s pretty much all I have to say about this outfit, aside from the fact that I look a bit red in these pictures because it was so cold when we took them- I was definitely wishing for a warm jacket.

We’re in that weird between-seasons time of year, where I’m no longer in the mood to wear wool and tweed, but it’s not quite warm enough yet for the wrap skirts. I’ve been wearing things from both my winter and summer wardrobe, but I’ll be happy when I can actually pack away my winter things for the season!

straw hat with a fabric bow detail on the back

easter bonnet straw hat with a fabric ribbon detail paired with a navy blue dress with cross patterns on it

hexagon resin earrings close up

Vintage inspired navy blue dress paired with a straw hat, blue high heels and a large blue leather purse

white hexagon earrings and cross necklace closeup

dainty gold cross necklace

Easy DIY Recovered Hatbox with Fabric or Wallpaper

stack of hatboxes with a straw hat sitting on top of them

When you collect hats, you soon discover you also need a way to store them. Back in the day, this used to be easy since most hats came in a hatbox. However, most of my hats, either vintage or new, have not come in a conveniently sized box. I used to display them by hanging them on the wall or placing them on hat stands, (I rotate my wardrobe for fall/winter and spring/summer, and only put out the current season) but they always got so dusty. I now only keep out a couple of my really wide brimmed hats that are too large to fit in boxes and keep all the rest in labelled boxes. (I use hanging chalkboard tags so I know at a glance what is inside)

About 10 years ago, round boxes were a very popular trend for storage boxes, and you could find them readily at stores such as Michaels and Home Sense, but at some point people realized that round boxes don’t make the best storage boxes for things other than hats! It’s too bad that I didn’t stock up at the time, because it’s almost impossible to find round boxes now.

black and white printed hatbox before re covering

Anyways, to get to the point of this post, every once in a while I do still come across a hatbox at the thrift store. They are usually in very ugly colours, or have seen better days. However, it is very easy to re-cover a box with either wallpaper or fabric, so that’s what I did to transform this one!

Supplies You Will Need

a hatbox with a lid

fabric or wallpaper of your choice

Mod Podge or other decoupage medium

tacky glue to secure edges, optional

masking tape

knife and scissors

ruler and measuring tape

foam brush to spread the glue/decoupage medium

lace or ribbon for the lid, optional

supplies needed for recovering the hatbox sitting on top of the desk

I used an unbleached canvas for the outside of my hatbox, and some Art Nouveau wallpaper I had leftover from this antique dresser refinishing project. I chose the canvas because it is neutral and doesn’t clash with the other boxes I’ve done with vintage map printed wallpaper. The thickness of this fabric did lead to a few challenges, but I still like how it turned out.

First, the key to covering a box, is that you need to take into account the thickness of the fabric or wallpaper, which will add bulk. Depending on how tightly the lid fits onto the box already, 2 layers of fabric may add too much width for the lid to fit on afterwards. If you need to make your box a little bit smaller to fit the lid, then remove the wall of the box from the bottom by sliding a blade between them. Cut a vertical line along the seam.

cutting the box open to make it smaller

Next, cut a piece out of the side/ring of the box, to make the box circumference smaller. I took out 3/8″ for this box. My canvas fabric was pretty thick, so if you have a thinner fabric or paper, you will probably not need to remove quite that much. Take out a small sliver, and then figure out how much you need to remove by wrapping the top edge with the fabric and testing it. Once you’ve made the side wall smaller, tape it back together with masking tape.

making the box smaller

Then, trace the new circle onto the bottom piece and trim away the excess so the bottom will fit back inside the smaller box walls.

cutting off the excess cardboard and placing the bottom back into the hatbox

Before you tape the box back together, take a moment to trace the circle onto your fabric and lining pieces. It’s much easier to use the deconstructed ring to trace your lining pieces first, rather than after you’ve reassembled it into a box. (I know this because I didn’t remember to do it this time!)

Trace one inside circle for the bottom lining of your box.

Trace one inside circle for the bottom fabric of your box.

Trace one outside circle onto the lining for the lid.

sanding the outside of the hatbox and then reassembling it

Tape the bottom of the box back to the ring by wrapping tape around the outside, notching it and folding down the tabs. Don’t worry about taping the inside of the box, because the fabric/wallpaper will reinforce that seam.

One more step, if your box is plastic coated, is to sand it lightly so the glue will adhere better. Also, if your box has a bold pattern, like this one did, you may want to check to see if it will show through your fabric. If it does, then cover the box with a coat of white paint before you move on to the next step.

covering the outside of the box

Cut a piece of fabric the length of the circumference of the box plus 1″ and the height of the box plus 1″Using Mod Podge, glue the fabric to the outside of the box, folding under the raw fabric edge where it meets. If the Mod Podge won’t hold it in place, you can use glue to secure the edge.

notching and glueing edges

Cut triangle shaped notches into the fabric all the way around and fold the tabs down gluing them to the bottom of the hatbox.

covering bottom of box with wallpaper

Take your bottom fabric piece, or you can do as I did and use a piece of neutral coloured wallpaper, and glue to the bottom of the box to cover the tabs/raw edges. Smooth the bottom, and weight it to hold in place so it won’t curl as it dries.

covering top edge of the box

Turn the box back upright, and simply fold the fabric to the inside and glue in place. Use clothespins if you need to hold it in place until it dries.

lining the inside of the hatbox

Measure a piece of your lining the exact length of the circumference and height of the box wall. Now take your piece and mark a line 1/2″ from the edge. Cut notches up the line. Fold the notches along that line. Coat the inside of the box with Mod Podge and then place the lining on the inside of the box walls. Once you’ve pressed and smoothed the lining and notches into place, you can place your bottom lining circle over top to finish the box.

Now the lid can be done it two ways. I used a thick canvas fabric, so I had to cover the top of my lid with this method, below. If you’re using wallpaper or thin fabric, cover the lid using the same method as for the box- covering the sides first and then using the lining and top circle to cover the notches and raw edges.

If you’re using a thicker fabric like me, then continue with this method.

covering top of the lid

Trace your lid onto the fabric, and then add 1/2″ all the way around. Attach your fabric piece to the top of the lid and then notch and fold down the 1/2″ along the rim of the lid.

Cut a piece of the fabric the length of the circumference of the lid + 1″ and the height of your lid plus 1″. Glue this piece around the outside of the lid to cover the notches. I cut my top edge very precisely since it was going to be exposed and not folded under. If you have a piece of ribbon the width of your lid, this would be a nice alternative, but I didn’t have a coordinating ribbon.

outside edge and lining of lid

Now trace your lid onto your lining and add 1/2″ all the way around. Notch the edge of the circle in the same way you did the fabric for the top. Glue in place on the inside of the lid and then fold your fabric to the inside covering the notches with the fabric.

inside of lid

Mine ended up a bit messy where the two meet since I left it with the raw edge, because I didn’t want to add any more bulk. If you have a thinner fabric you will be able to cover those raw edges much more neatly, or you could even cover them with a ribbon.

adding lace to outside of the hatbox lid

My fabric also ended a bit lumpy on the outside, since the notches showed through, I glued a piece of lace over the top to disguise it. I really like how it looks so I might even add lace or ribbon around the lid as a detail in the future, even if I don’t need it for disguising purposes!

hatbox finished with the lace around the lid

And then with that, your hatbox is done. Once you let it dry for 24 hours or so, you can start using it.

How do you store your hats? Do you like to have them out on display or tucked into a hatbox? 

finished fabric covered hatbox sitting on an antique dresser

finished fabric covered hatbox sitting on an antique dresser. The lid is off and you can see a hat inside.

Going to the Chapel

wedding guest outfit of a straw hat and purse paired with a navy cross printed dress with a pearl necklace and tan sandals. Nicole is on a grassy lawn with trees in the background

…Not to get married, but to witness one! Summers for most people means weddings, especially with the backlog of weddings from the past two years, but I actually haven’t attended very many weddings in my life, and I only had one to go to this year. Of course, where there is a wedding, there is wedding attire, and this one was no exception. When planning what to wear to this wedding, I needed it to check three boxes: a colour that wouldn’t clash with the bridal party (green) because I was going to get some photos taken with the bride (my friend Chantelle), something comfortable and in a natural fibre because it was going to be an outdoor wedding in August and, finally, something that coordinated with my giant straw hat- because it was going to be in the sun and I needed to bring my own shade!

Nicole is wearing a navy blue fit and flare dress with a large straw hat with a navy ribbon and a straw tote bag. She is standing outside in front of some trees

Despite the fact that I knew about this wedding since March, I didn’t actually figure out all of these important details until July, and then I didn’t actually sew the dress until a week before the wedding. In my defence, I was hoping to be able to find something to buy in the shops, but that shopping trip immediately reminded of why I even started to sew clothing in the first place. If it wasn’t synthetic fibres, it was cheaply sewn, and if it was good quality, it didn’t fit…which meant that it was time for a sewing project! (And one with a deadline too, but I got it done….and my mom’s outfit too!) 

I knew that this wasn’t going to be a quick and easy sewing project, since I’ve changed sizes and needed to draft an entirely new bodice block. After a failed attempt at draping a bodice, I found a tutorial for creating a bodice block, and another for fitting it, and with the help of my mom we were able to make a fairly well fitting bodice block/sloper. Then from that base, I was able to customize it and turn it into a pattern for this dress.

detail of a simple classic pearl necklace with a v-neck dress made out of sevenberry fabric by Japan

I originally planned on buying some new fabric, but when the fabric search also proved unfruitful, I turned to what was already in my stash and decided that this cross printed navy cotton would be elegant, yet still good for an outdoor event. I had originally intended the fabric for a button front skirt, but am actually glad I made it into a dress instead, because the tan and navy colour combination probably wouldn’t have coordinated with very many of my tops, and as a dress, it is a perfect one-step outfit. 

The fabric also proved to be a great choice because it’s 100% cotton, with a linen textured weave, so it was lightweight and breathable, but it didn’t crease! I wore it from about 10:00 am to 10:00 pm and it looked almost as fresh in the evening when I took it off as when I’d put it on, which was incredible because we were outside melting in the summer sun. I bought this fabric from the clearance rack at Fabricland, and it’s by the Japanese brand Sevenberry. (That’s all I know about it, as that info was printed on the selvedge).

nicole is wearing a navy patterned cotton dress and a straw hat and pearl necklace. She is walking away from the camera in a grassy lawn with trees around it

When thinking about the dress, I first designed it as button front, but then the thought of making 20+ buttonholes in a short period of time just seemed like asking for trouble, so I opted for a simple back zipper, v-neck, short sleeved bodice and knee length pleated skirt. In the end I’m actually glad that I went for the zipper closure, because that meant that I didn’t have to fiddle with the buttons and make sure they weren’t gaping or pulling.

nicole is wearing a navy knee length dress, tan leather sandals, a pearl necklace, a straw hat with a navy hatband and a straw purse outside in a treed area

When you are sewing, you need to keep in mind not only your ideas for the design, but what the fabric itself calls for. When designing, I planned for a turned up sleeve cuff with a button detail and maybe a bit of navy contrast fabric. I’d found some pretty cream and antique brass buttons in the stash and designed the entire dress around using these button accents on both sleeves and at the back neck. As it turns out, the fabric had a mind of it’s own and it did not want to have a cuff or button detail on the sleeve, and instead asked for the simplest of sleeve styles. I kept trying to add some sort of feature- a pleat, a contrast binding, a keyhole…but the nature of the fabric called for something simple and structured.

neck button and keyhole detail of the dress made of navy cross patterned fabric

Likewise, after I had sewn the keyhole at the top of the back zipper, I discovered that the cream and brass buttons I’d planned for actually didn’t actually look good! Then I had to go through the entire stash (of course it was at night) looking for a new button. This one (an extra from my green cardigan) was a bit more subtle in colour and sheen and worked perfectly. When sewing, things don’t always turn out the way you planned…but sometimes they turn out even better. This simple style of dress is actually a better addition to my wardrobe than any kind of statement piece. It’s almost like a “background” dress in the fact that the fabric pattern is interesting and detailed, but can easily be matched with many of my accessories for a different look. Those simple sleeves will also layer very nicely with cardigans for Fall and with the heavier texture of the fabric, it isn’t going to just be a summer dress, but will carry over for cooler weather too.

wearing a navy v-neck knee length dress with a straw hat and bag outside in a treed area

For the day of the wedding, because it was outdoors in the sun, I wore my giant straw hat. I love this hat, and was so thankful for it because we were sitting in the sun with no breeze. (At least a rainstorm came up after to cool us off.) I made a hat band out of a coordinating navy grosgrain ribbon, and while it wasn’t perfect, it worked well for one day. However, that is not the hatband you are seeing here because…I lost it somewhere. I guess I put it somewhere “safe”, so I had to quickly hot glue a new ribbon for these pictures. Oops!

large straw hat with a navy ribbon hatband

I chose to wear my pearl necklace and earrings, since they make any outfit instantly more dressy and for shoes wore my low heeled sandals since they are comfortable and don’t have heels that would sink into the grass.

tan cognac leather sandals with an ankle strap

And I didn’t actually bring this purse to the wedding, even though I wanted to, because I didn’t get the handles in time. I bought this straw bag from the thrift store, removed the (ugly!) fake leather handles, put a new lining in the bag and added leather handles I bought from this Etsy shop. (She did a custom size for me, 26″ x 5/8″ in cognac leather.) I wish that they had arrived in time so I could have carried this bag, since I had to use a tote bag instead, which was way too floppy, and not nearly as stylish.

straw purse with leather cognac handles

So, that’s what I wore, and I’ve already worn this dress again because it’s so versatile. I’m am so glad that I went to the effort to make a new bodice block because that means that the hard part of fitting (the most hated part) is already done, and it’s pretty easy to whip up a dress once that’s out the way. I was planning on making another summer dress, but decided that since we are almost at the end of the season, I will instead start some sewing for fall and winter! That’s the thing with sewing…you always need to be thinking ahead to what season it will be when your projects will be finished. I’ve got some plans for more cool weather sewing projects, hopefully my next projects will be as quick as this one was, and I will have a few more things to wear this winter!

Have you attended many weddings in the past couple of years? When you go to a wedding, do you repeat the outfits you wear, or try to find something new? 

walking away wearing a navy knee length cotton dress and a large tan straw hat with a navy hat band

Straw Hats and Sunny Days

We’ve had our fair share of sun and heat this summer, which is too bad for me, since I’m not a fan of hot days! However, I’ve actually been spending a decent amount of time outside this summer despite the drought…which is kind of strange since I usually spend my summers indoors hiding from the sun.

I bought this giant straw hat back in May, though, and it is perfect for hot summer days. Since it has such a wide brim and a tall crown, it creates a nice bit of shade from the sun. If there isn’t any shade, bring your own! There is also a hat band inside, and I added a tie for slightly breezy days. There’s nothing worse than wearing a large brimmed hat and having it fly off your head with a gust of wind…not that that has ever happened before. Originally the hat also had a cream grosgrain ribbon hatband, but not a very nice one, so I replaced it with a silk scarf which is much prettier in my opinion.

woman wearing a straw hat with a scarf bow

I originally planned to get photos of this hat and outfit back in June, but then we had a huge heat wave…then smoke from the wildfires in BC…then more heat again…and here we are now already in August. (With another heat wave, but just tiny one this time…maybe a heat splash).

woman wearing a cream tshirt, polka dot skirt and straw hat

I’ve been wearing an iteration of this outfit, switching out with different tops or accessories quite a lot this summer too. It’s a very easy formula: wrap skirt + t-shirt + accessories. When you’ve got a variety of tops and skirts (or pants) in coordinating colours that can be mixed and matched, then it makes choosing what to wear very easy.

woman wearing a polka dot skirt, cream shirt, straw hat and mother of pearl necklace

woman wearing a straw hat with a silk bow on it

I’ve also realized over the past couple of years that I really like wearing t-shirts for everyday wear. They might not be as fancy and “vintage” but I find them to be the most comfortable for working etc. on an everyday basis. I do still like to wear dresses and blouses, but I now tend to save them for occasions.

tshirt cuff with lace detail

And it’s not as though t-shirts need to be sporty- this one with lace cuffs is a nice example of a dressier version and I also recently got a navy blue one with a v-neck. The neckline can make a huge difference in how a top looks, and how dressy it is, don’t you think?

woman wearing a large straw hat

Well, there is my summer “uniform” in a nutshell. I used to hate the idea of a capsule wardrobe, but I’ve kind of accidentally fallen into creating one for myself. And strangely enough, rather than feeling limited, I actually feel like I have more variety in what I wear through the different combinations.

Do you find yourself gravitating towards a certain “uniform”, whether with colours or styles, or do you have a seasonal capsule wardrobe? What have you been enjoying wearing this summer?

Oufit details: 

Hat from Love and Lore Indigo

Necklace pendant from Grandmother’s Buttons

T-shirt and sandals, secondhand

Skirt, homesewn

woman wearing a wrap skirt large straw hat

Thoughts on “Investing” in Clothing, Featuring the Purse of My Dreams

a lady wearing a black vintage style trench coat, satchel and beret

Dare I suggest that the Long Winter is nearing it’s end? With the warming of temperatures in the past week, it feels like it! Of course, we’ve still got a ways to go before Spring, and while that cold snap wasn’t really that long, it sure felt like it! We’ve gone from -38C to + 8C within a couple of weeks, and it has been so incredibly lovely to be able to go for a walk and open the windows for some fresh air and be able to leave the house to take some outfit photos without having to bundle up like a marshmallow. Even though I know that the temperatures will drop again before Spring, it is still worth it to have this small respite!

So, in other news, I’ve been searching for a new “everyday” purse for quite a while. I have been looking for a new one since my other purse started wearing out. (The leather strap was beginning to crack, the metal buckle had broken, and there was a hole forming in the top fold…) I bought that purse five years ago in England and carried it almost every day, though, so that wasn’t too bad, considering that it wasn’t full grain leather.

holding a vintage style satchel purse in copper coloured leather

In looking for a new purse, I didn’t have a definite idea of what I wanted, but I did have a list of requirements.

I’ve realized over the years that, while I do love a good statement bag to coordinate with an outfit, most days I walk or ride my bicycle and a large handbag is just not practical to carry for long distances. I also like having my hands free for when I am running errands or going shopping, so I wanted a crossbody bag.

I also didn’t want the purse to be too big, because while I do want to be able to put everything in my purse, I didn’t want it to become to heavy to carry, or too big to fit in my bike basket. However, I didn’t want it too small, otherwise I would end up carrying a purse and a tote bag.

It also had to be brown or cognac leather and I wanted something in a vintage satchel style, but not too bookish. I wanted something timeless and classic, but not too vintage either, considering what I talked about in my recent personal style post.

I searched for quite a long time, and while I came across a lot of purses, none of them quite ticked all of the boxes until I found this one on Etsy, made by Sunray Family Workshop from Ukraine. It was a bit more than I had originally planned on spending, but I used the money I earned on Poshmark so, as my mom said, it was like I traded a bunch of clothes and accessories that I didn’t want for something that I did! I was also able to get it on sale, so that was nice too.

a lady wearing a vintage plaid skirt and green sweater with a vintage styled purse and beret in the snow

I was nervous about purchasing online, because I’ve been disappointed in the past with online purchases, but my fears were unfounded, as the bag was even better than I hoped it would be. I asked the seller to make it in a darker colour of leather for me, and I love the shape and style of it. It’s so nice to be able to purchase a piece directly from the person who makes it, and it really is a piece of craftsmanship.  I think that this purse was a good investment, and is definitely going to be a good addition to my wardrobe since it fits in with my style description, “unconventional classic with a dash of history” pretty well.

I recently read somewhere (and I can’t for the life of me remember where) that we should stop saying that we are “investing” in clothing purchases, because the value of clothing depreciates immediately after purchasing. You only have to scroll through Facebook Marketplace, or Poshmark or Thred Up to see how much clothing has devalued once it has been worn. Even designer pieces aren’t worth as much as when they are new. Until an item has survived long enough to become “vintage”, it really can’t be called an investment.

lady wearing a vintage styled outfit on a snowy lane

However, I do think that even if we aren’t “investing” in clothing in a monetary way, there is another definition for “invest” that can apply to our wardrobes:

“Devote (one’s time, effort, or energy) to a particular undertaking with the expectation of a worthwhile result.”
We should carefully choose which items we buy and add to our closets, even though that may add a bit of extra bit of time, thought and effort. I think that many of the clothing pieces that find their way to secondhand selling sites or thrift shops were not thoughtful purchases, which is why they are for sale again. (I often even see items with the tags still on!) Perhaps we should coin the phrase “purposeful” or “thoughtful” shopping. I think that it is a principle that most of us could use a bit more of- at least I know that I do!

While purchasing a higher quality item might not be an investment we will have a monetary return on, it may still be one that still has a worthwhile result. Having one higher quality item is always going to be more sustainable than ten cheaply made items because it will last longer, thus reducing the need for so much production. Fast fashion in and of itself is not sustainable because of the model of consumption that it is built upon. For example, vintage clothing is a testament to the longevity of a well made item- garments from the 1960’s will outlast a newly purchased item from Forever21 because of the craftsmanship of the items.

closeup of a vintage styled leather satchel purse with a buckle

Another worthwhile result of investing in clothing purchases, may be in having less items in your closet because the one item you truly love is better than having multiple items that you don’t love as much. I am not advocating for coveting fashion pieces, but if there is one particular piece that you want, then it’s not worth buying something else and being unsatisfied with it. Saving up to buy this one specific purse that ticked off all of the boxes was a better choice for me, than settling for a purse that I would end up decluttering down the road in favour of another because I wasn’t truly happy with it. As I’ve been going through my own wardrobe, I have tried to be careful to not turn around and immediately replace everything I’ve gotten rid of. Instead, I have been taking my time to see which are the items I should be concentrating on, and “investing” in, rather than continuing to have a closet full of clothing (or purses) that I don’t wear.

I have a few more posts coming up related to the topic of personal style and creating a purposeful wardrobe, so I think I will end this post here for today, but what do you think about “investing” in clothing? Have you ever saved up for a long time to be able to finally buy something your really wanted for your wardrobe?

a lady wearing a vintage styled outfit with a plaid skirt, cardigan and beret on a winter day

wearing a vintage styled brown leather purse

a lady wearing a black vintage styled trenchcoat and beret on a sunny winter day

a lady wearing a black trenchcoat and beret walking down a snowy lane