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

Turn a Shrunken Sweater Into a Retro Wool Beret

turn a shrunken sweater into a felted beret

While we’ve been pleasantly surprised with a very warm winter this year, the weather has turned cold lately, and it is definitely feeling like winter in Alberta again. Since it is only February (which means we’ve still got a ways to go before Spring) this is the perfect time to share one of my latest projects- a felted wool beret. Berets are not necessarily the warmest of headwear, but they do add a great vintage element to your winter ensemble, so I definitely consider them to be a fall and winter outfit staple.

While berets have risen in popularity the past few years, I have yet to come across one in brown. So, if you can’t find one at the store and you can’t knit or crochet one for yourself, what can you do? You can easily turn a shrunken sweater castoff into a felted beret!

I would not recommend that you take a perfectly good wool sweater and felt it, because wool sweaters can be expensive and it always seems like a waste to cut up something in good shape that someone could actually wear the way it is. However, there are so many wool sweaters in thrift shops that are no longer in good condition. Whether it’s due to the previous owner accidentally shrinking them, or that they are full of moth holes or runs, or even that they have stretched out of shape due to improper care, the thrift shops are full of them. This project is a perfect way to recycle and refashion those sweaters that are completely ruined and useless into something new!

shrunken wool sweater perfect for felting

I found this chocolate brown sweater years ago, but hadn’t yet figured out what to make. Since brown berets have proven difficult to find, I thought that this would be the perfect way to get the colour I wanted.

To Make Your Own, You Will Need:

  • A 100% old wool sweater. Make sure it is real wool content, so it will felt for you. I know you can also use blends that have a high wool content, but I’ve never done that myself, so am not sure whether they felt differently or not.
  • Needle & thread/ sewing machine
  • Beret pattern- I used Tanith Rowan’s Grevillea Beret. (Tanith gifted me that pattern several years ago. You can see the first one I made here). Edited to add: Another free beret option is this style from Brittani of Untitled Thoughts. She has a free pattern download, as well a sewing tutorial. 
  • Button to cover, or a decorative button of your choice 
  • Elastic to make the hat fit tighter, optional

To Make the Hat:

My wool was already partially felted, so I cut the pieces out of the sweater and went from there, felting the final hat a little more at the end. After making this one, I was wondering whether you could also make it by cutting your pattern pieces out a bit larger and then felting the wool after you already have the hat sewn up. This might make the seam lines disappear a bit, and make the hat easier to form, but I haven’t tried it yet to know for sure.

But, in order to make the hat exactly as I have here, you are first going to need to felt your sweater, if it isn’t already shrunken. You can do this by putting the sweater into the washing machine with a little bit of laundry soap and washing it in hot water. It works better if you have a few sweaters in at the same time, so they can bump into each other and cause friction. You can also add a foam ball or flip-flop to help it felt even faster. Once you have washed your wool, take a look at it and see whether it has felted enough. If you want it to shrink a bit more, you can put it through the dryer, removing it before it is completely dry. Once the wool is good, let it dry.

wool sweater and sewing supplies

Once your sweater is dry, it is time to figure out your pattern. There are several different ways to make a sewn beret; I chose to use Tanith Rowan’s Grevillea Beret, since I already had the pattern. This hat is made up of segments, giving it an octagonal shape. Her pattern has a more vertical shape to it and doesn’t lie flat, but since I wanted the hat to have a similar flat shape and fit to a traditional round wool beret, I made a couple of changes.

adjusting the pattern to make a flat style beret

To adjust the pattern, I made a sharper angle on the bottom segments so they would be narrower at the bottom edge. This way the hat would lay flat back on itself.  I measured the inner circumference of a beret that I already had and made the opening of my pattern add up to 20″ circumference. I actually should have made the opening a little bit smaller, since the hat ended up stretching quite a bit, so I would recommend that you go at least an inch or two smaller than you want it to be, to account for stretch. The other change I made to the pattern was using a facing, rather than a hat band. (More on that in a minute)

Once you’ve chosen your pattern, it’s time to cut it out. Watch out for where the seams are in the sweater, you don’t want to accidentally cut across them, or you’ll end up with a bulky piece. Also, look for any areas that may have holes or other flaws, since they won’t have closed up during felting. I cut my pieces out of the sleeve and around the neckline to maximize the amount of fabric I would have left over to use for future projects. I also saved the bottom of the sleeve pieces including the cuffs, since I might make a pair of matching mittens in the future using this method here.

Once you’ve got your pieces cut out, it is time to sew them. Since the wool is felted, you won’t need to worry about it fraying, so you don’t need to finish the edges in any way. Sew together your pieces of the hat, excluding the hat band, following the instructions of your pattern.

sewing the felted pieces of the hat

Make sure to use a zig-zag rather than a straight stitch when sewing, since this is a stretch fabric.

Instead of making a flat hat band, I decided to made a round facing. The advantage of a facing, rather than a hat band is that it flips to the inside, so it is completely hidden. This is just a style preference, you could also use a flat hat band if you prefer. To make my facing, I measured the diameter across of the opening of my hat, then measured out 2″ and cut out the circle pattern piece. My sweater had a large enough section left to cut the facing in one piece, but you might need to cut it in 2 pieces and sew them together. If so, remember to leave seam allowances!

making the hat facing

With right sides together, sew the facing to the hat.

Once you’ve got the hat sewn, it is time to form the shape of the hat. To make a form, cut a piece of cardboard into a circle the size you want your finished hat to be. I measured the beret I already had, to figure out what size I wanted. Since your hat will be wet, you need to waterproof the form, so place the cardboard piece inside a bag. I was originally going to use a dinner plate as a form (it was the exact size needed!) but then I wasn’t sure I would be able to get it out after the hat had dried without having to stretch the hat completely out of shape…or smash the plate! The cardboard turned out to be flexible enough to remove easily and it worked well.

hat all sewn up and ready to form

Now, fill a basin or sink with hot water. Submerge the hat so it is completely wet, and then slightly agitate the wool. Once it is fully soaked, take the hat out and gently press the water out. Don’t wring it, or it will stretch too much- the wool will be quite floppy! Roll the wool in a towel to pull out most of the water.

soaking the wool hat to felt

Take your cardboard form and place it inside the hat. Smooth the seams flat and shape the hat around the form. The hat will shrink as it dries, so in order to keep the opening of the hat from pulling back too wide, sew a stitch around the inner edge and slightly gather it in. Once you’ve finished, it’s time to let it dry. I placed my hat directly onto my drying rack, which ended up leaving some marks from the rods on the wool that I had to steam out, so I would recommend either letting the hat dry on a fabric mesh sweater drying rack, or placing a towel across the bars of a drying rack for the beret to sit on top of.

putting the wool beret onto the cardboard form

Once the hat is dry, you can snip the gathering stitch from the edge and then take the hat off of the form!

Not all of my seams dried completely flat, so to help shape it a little bit more, I used a tailor’s ham (actually a towel wadded inside an old t-shirt) to steam press the hat into a smoother shape. Then I pressed it flat. Make sure to use a wet press cloth, dampen the wool and lightly go over with your iron while it’s on full steam, so you don’t scorch your wool and make it go shiny.

steaming and shaping the beret once dry

Once you’ve pressed the hat into shape, it is time to tack the facing edge down, sewing through the seams to hide the stitches. After I finished the hat and tried it on, I discovered that the wool was a lot stretchier than my other berets and was quite loose. One of my other berets has a soft elastic around the edge which works well to keep the hat in place, so I added a piece of elastic along the edge of this hat. Place the elastic between the facing and the top of the hat and stitch in place by tacking it through the seams in order to hide the stitches.

sewing elastic along the edge and the facing into place

The final step is to add a button. You can either cover a button with wool, or use a decorative button. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to use a covered button because the wool was so stiff, but I actually managed to push the back/shank onto the button form. If your wool is too thick to use the shank to cover your button, you can cut a circle of felt, run a gathering stitch around the edge and gather it in around the button form. (Like making a fabric yo-yo) Since it’s not a functional button, it doesn’t need to have a shank on the back and you can just sew it on like that, with the raw edges hidden underneath.

covering the button and adding it to the top of the hat

Once the button is sewn on, your hat is done. There you have it- a vintage styled felted beret, without even having to know how to knit or crochet!

the finished upcycled wool beret

Have you ever made anything with felted wool before? It’s a lot of fun, since the wool is so easy to manipulate. We’ve got some more wool sweaters in our stash, and I am now wondering whether I should steal some of them to make some more hats….

Do you think you will try this and turn a shrunken sweater into something new?

wearing an upcycled wool Tanith Rowan Grevillea beret made out of a shrunken sweater

the finished beret

A Different Kind of Easter

feeding the chickens in my easter outfit

Happy Belated Easter everyone….I’m only posting these 2 1/2 weeks late, but better late than never!

It’s been a very strange year so far, I’m sure we can all agree, but the hardest part for me so far was Easter Sunday. We woke up bright and early… and then weren’t able to leave the house to go to church. To be honest, I debated whether to dress up in my traditional Easter dress and bonnet or not. I’m so glad that I decided to after all: even if only my family (and now you) saw me dressed up, it really did make the day more special.

It’s been a busy April. I ended up having to move-again- right before Easter weekend, so even though I wanted something fresh and new to wear, I wasn’t sure whether I was going to have the time to make something. In the end, I was able to grab a bit time to refashion an old dress into a new wrap skirt just in time for Easter!

pressed wishes pendant necklace

I made the dress about… 7 years ago? You can see it here. It was Butterick 4790 and it was never a very good dress, since it’s not a very good pattern. It’s made to wrap from back to front, but the overskirt of the dress is heavy compared to the underskirt, so it had an awful tendency to pull from the shoulders and for the fabric to catch on the underskirt making it crawl up. I did love the look of the dress and the fabric it was made of but, even though I did wear it quite a lot, it really wasn’t the most fun while wearing.

While looking through my closet a few weeks ago, I saw the dress and started thinking about how I could reinvent it. After a few hours of unpicking, cutting and reassembling- I had a new circle skirt! Paired with a cream lace blouse, navy peep toes, my new botanical necklace by Pressed Wishes and a vintage straw boater, it was the perfect festive Spring outfit.

new hummingbird patterned wrap skirt

I’ve already worn this skirt several times since then, that I am thinking about adding another in this style to my wardrobe- the only difficulty is that the fabric stores are closed. Maybe I can find something in my stash that would work….? I’ve got so many plans for sewing projects, now that I’ve got some more free time, but we’ll see how many of those plans end up coming to fruition. I don’t always have the best track record- remember the “made one” of my #makenine challenge? And in case you’re wondering, I haven’t sewed any more of the things on that list…. 🙁

easter 2020 outfit

I’ve been wanting to take some pictures with our chickens (my mom’s chickens, rather) for quite a while, but the weather has only just started warming up in the past couple of weeks. You can tell that the chickens really don’t care about me: while we were taking these pictures, they kept wandering away since I had no treats for them. At least we got a few photos with them in the frame! And what better friends to include in an Easter post than your flock of chickens with their pretty speckled eggs?

speckled eggs and black copper marans chickens

How was your Easter this year? And how have you been doing these past couple of months? Have you been dressing up for special occasions or everyday events even though things are all topsy-turvy right now? And have you been finding any time for extra sewing/crafting/other assorted hobbies?

vintage straw and navy ribbon boater

black copper marans chickens and a new easter outfit

easter straw boater hat

new circle wrap skirt and flock of chickens

Changing of Seasons

It’s taken me a little while to get used to the changing of the seasons this year. We have had such a cold and rainy summer this year, that these past few warm and sunny weeks have seemed rather like summer has finally come. But the calendar tells me that we are already here at the first official day of Fall, and the golden leaves and chill in the morning air reminds me that it must be the season after all.

Falltime is my favourite season so today on the first day of Fall, upon reflecting, here are some of my favourite things about this season. Even if I haven’t done all of these things, or they haven’t taken place yet, I am looking forward to them in their turn!

  • golden fields ready for harvest.
  • the cool crisp air in the mornings that makes my bike ride to work chilly.
  • the soft autumn sunshine in the afternoons that makes my ride home much warmer!

  • harvesting produce from the garden (my mom’s garden that is!)
  • cooking a meal completely with homegrown vegetables and herbs.

  • riding my bicycle through scattered leaves and hearing them crunch under the tires
  • baking
  • cozy cups of tea- especially chai lately!

  • supplementing my decor with branches and other collected finds from nature.
  • pressing differently shaped and coloured leaves

  • picking apples and eating them fresh from the tree, and then making juice and crisps with the rest
  • pumpkins
  • pulling out the wool skirts and cardigans and scarves

These a just a few favourite things of this season- what are your favourite things about Fall?

outfit details:

skirt- homesewn from vintage fabric

shirt- thrifted

hat- Lack of Color

necklace- Grandmother’s Buttons

Seasons

vintage styled vogue 1044 summer dress and straw hat

I’ve been been stuck in a creative block lately. I look back to last year when I was blogging weekly and posting frequently (if not daily) on Instagram. And here it’s been almost a month since my last blog post. I feel like I just haven’t gotten back into the swing of things. And I wonder why something that gave me so much enjoyment last year, is such a struggle now. I think perhaps I’m just going through a season right now; there’s been stuff going on in my personal life, and it’s not that I don’t have time, I’ve just given myself the permission to take a step back, and take a break. I don’t want something that is fun to start being a chore.

But even though I haven’t been feeling particularly inspired to write and blog and share lately, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been having fun with my wardrobe. I’ve still been experimenting with my clothes, and enjoying my summer wardrobe, and working on sewing one of the pieces from my #makenine list, even though I haven’t been documenting it all.

straw-boater and vogue 1044 summer dress

I’ve been going through a different season in my style lately too, and have been drawn to a more subtle and subdued palette lately. I’ve put some of the clothes that I used to wear in regular rotation to the side, as they just aren’t feeling very “me” lately. As much as I like bold vintage prints and styles, I feel more like “vintage mixing” right now. Most people would probably still look at my clothes and think that they are quite vintage looking, but to me they don’t feel authentically vintage, but more modern with a touch of vintage, and I’m enjoying styling my clothes this way for summer.

andrea shelley earrings-and-straw boater

You all know that I’m an avid thrift shopper, and that I don’t buy very many new pieces, but I recently purchased this new straw hat, and these black pearl earrings. I’ve been drawn to classic, feminine styles lately, and both of these pieces felt very fresh. I love how they go with my existing pieces and add a bit of variety to my current wardrobe, such as this dress, purse and shoe combination which I’ve worn before. This is one of my favourite summer dresses, so I’m happy it’s the season to wear it again!

This boater is one that I saw in the window of a local shop, and popped in to check out…and then ended up buying the next day! (Placing items in shop windows really does work!)

andrea-shelley- black pearl earrings

And these lovely gold and pearl earrings are ones that I bought at a handmade art show. The artist is Andrea Shelley Designs. I saw the earrings, walked around the show thinking about them, and then came back to her booth to get them. Well, to be honest, I wasn’t sure if I was really going to get them, but there were some other ladies looking at her jewelry- and when they picked them up, I felt that anxious “No, don’t buy those!” feeling, so that sealed the deal. (And those ladies bought some other items, so Andrea didn’t lose out on a sale!) She describes her jewelry as “minimal and feminine”, which is just what I am liking lately. I also just bought some of her tiny pink pearl earrings, and I’m excited to wear those soon too.

Well, look at that. I just said I was feeling a creative block, and here I have written an entire post. I’m not going to promise that I’m going to be posting regularly again….but I do have some other outfits, so we can always hope.

straw boater

summer-floral dress vogue 1044-and-straw-boater hat

vintage button ring

apple blossoms

vintage summer floral style vogue 1044 dress and straw boater