lifestyle

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?

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!

Think Pink…Hair!

I’m not much of a pink person.

Aside from a short lived pink and purple bedroom with Barbie wallpaper when I was a child, I’ve never had much pink in my life.

I don’t decorate with pink (though it would be so much easier to find a vintage sofa, if I wanted a pink one- they are simply everywhere!)

And I can probably count on one hand the number of pink clothes and accessories that I have. A pair of shoes, two floral skirts, a hat with a pink flower, a pair of cameo earrings…

But, despite the fact that I’ve never been much drawn to pink…I love pink hair! Just before I started this blog, four years ago, I dyed my hair pink, but it wasn’t quite the colour I wanted. And ever since then, I’ve been dreaming of the day when my hair would be pink again.

And then I said to myself, “Why is my hair not pink yet?” so I scheduled an appointment. I walked in last Friday a natural blonde, and when I left three hours later I was a platinum and pink!

It was a bit brighter than I was planning originally to go, I was thinking more of a light ash and pink mix, but then I just decided to go all in, and go platinum blonde! I was platinum four years ago, and I’ve kind of missed it. It’s taken some getting used to, and I’m still not used to it, actually. I do a double take when I see myself in a mirror! It faded a bit when I washed it, which is kind of sad that it’s only a demi-permanent, but I will enjoy it while I have it…so, I guess I am a pink person, after all!

Have you ever dyed your hair an “unnatural” colour?

Give Me Plants and Books and Tea…

house plants, the artyologist

It seems a little strange to be sharing a house tour today, since I’m not living in this apartment anymore! I took these photos a week before we moved out, fully intending to blog them, but when our whole housing situation became a housing fiasco, I didn’t really feel like sharing them. It’s been a few months now though, so I can look at the pictures without nostalgia: I do miss the way we’d decorated it, but a few months later, I don’t miss living there! There were things I really liked about living here, such as the neighbourhood, the view from our living room window and the amazing amount of closet space (seven closets in 800 sq.ft!). But there were definitely things I didn’t like: the noise between the apartments, the terrible bathroom, and the extreme heat in the summer. So, all in all, I’m not sad to be out of this place, but I’m glad I took some photos before we moved to remember it by.

bookshelf

First the living room. This is my trusty old IKEA shelf, that perfectly fit on the only wall that didn’t have a baseboard heater. Someday I’d love to make or get a wooden shelf, but until that day this one does well. (Although every time I move, my brother and Dad would say they’d like if that day came sooner: this one is awful to move, since it has to go in one piece!)

plants-and-books, the artyologist

You can quickly tell after entering our house that my sister and I have two great loves: books and plants! (hence the title of this post) We’ve completely filled this shelf between the two of us, and have even more books hiding behind the first layer, and on other shelves! The portrait in the top right shelf is my “Georgian novel hero”. I bought it as a gift for my brother, and then ended up keeping it for myself, as the portrait just seemed to belong amongst the Classics section.

This is my favourite chair that I found in a thrift store, back before “vintage” furniture got expensive. It’s surprisingly comfortable, and still in quite good condition. And, this little hot air balloon just hangs out in the fig tree. I got this tree for free when my church moved buildings. For some reason they decided that they didn’t want it in the new place, which didn’t make any sense to me, but I was more than happy to adopt it and bring it home! Until I find a more permanent place though, I’m going to leave it at my family’s house, as it’s not happy to be moved a lot.

You might recognize that I have several iconic IKEA pieces, including my borrowed sofa, and my striped rug. As much as I love my rug, it is horrible to keep clean, so I would probably not purchase it if I’d known that back then. I love a lot of the pieces that IKEA comes out with each year, but I am always hesitant to buy them, as they are so recognizable that I don’t want my house to end up looking like a catalogue!

The decor in our living room is quite bright and punchy, and it is not anywhere near what I’d like to have someday. Red is my least favourite colour, but since I am borrowing the sofa from my parents until I find one of my own, it will have to do. I’d eventually like to get a cream and mustard floral or brocade settee, but haven’t found just the right one yet.

gallery-wall

One of the problems I have with decorating is that I have too much artwork and too few walls. We did a gallery wall in the living room to help with this problem. This also worked well, as there were a lot of nail holes in this wall from previous tenants, so I didn’t feel bad adding a few more. It also worked to cover up all the holes, so we weren’t stuck looking at them. We did a black, gold and cream theme, which I liked since it looked cohesive, yet still had variety. (I also noticed, after I took these pictures, that I never centred the photo in that large white frame-oops!)

books-and-tea

Here is the aforementioned “tea” alongside the plants and books in the title. I couldn’t happily live in a house with no plants! At last count I have twenty-two plants (not counting my sister’s)!

dining-room-2

This is the view from the kitchen, to the dining room/office/art room. The living room is to the right of the picture (where the wall jogs in on the edge of the photo). I didn’t take a photo of the kitchen, since there really wasn’t anything interesting about it. It had cabinets from the 70’s and no place to hang artwork, so it was quite boring and un-photogenic.

dining-room-1

This is my sister’s china cabinet in the corner, which holds our collection of blue and white china. We inherited many of these pieces from my Gramma, and some are pieces I’ve purchased along the way.

desk-1

Here’s the art desk in the dining room (that I actually didn’t do too much art at, unfortunately.) Quite a few of the furniture pieces in our place were borrowed from my parents. It’s always nice when your parents love antique furniture and you get to put it in your place 🙂

bedroom-1

And lastly my bedroom, which was a very small room, and had just enough room for a walkway around my bed. It had two closets though, which was absolutely lovely for all my hats!

bedroom-2

Hang vintage fashion artwork in your closet and dresses on your closet doors- it makes it so much prettier!

bedroom-3

Well, that’s it!

I do love decorating, and the thing that I love about decorating my own home is creating my own personal style. I don’t like to follow trends or styles too closely, and while I might incorporate a few here and there, our place doesn’t fit into any one “niche”, but is mostly made up of collected pieces we love. I think it has a rather eclectic vintage feel- what do you think?

How do you like to decorate your home? And does your decorating fit into one specific style, or a mix of many?

Christmas Around the Corner

When I was a child, there was a house around the corner from us, that always decorated their house and yard with enough Christmas lights that they could have charged admission and given tours. One year my family was talking about how Christmas was “just around the corner” as we were passing by that house, and so we instantly dubbed it the “Christmas Around the Corner” house. Now, whenever we see a brightly decorated property we say to each other, “there’s Christmas around the corner!” 

I do love decorating for the season, (or basically every season!) so I admire and enjoy how much effort some people go to with their decorations- I certainly don’t go to those lengths myself! This year, however, is my first year working at a decorating store during the Christmas season, and so I get to go all out and “decorate for Christmas” pretty much every shift. Needless to say, it’s been a lot of fun!

I never decorate until December (on whichever weekend is the first of the month) and this year I got my decorations up on December 3rd. It just seems too early to me, to start decorating in November. To be honest, I’m always switching things around, and so I would get bored with the Christmas stuff if I had it up for two whole months. Also, considering that we always have a real tree, and this year I have real evergreen boughs, it would be pretty dried up if we put it up too soon! 

I was planning on investing in some nice faux evergreens this year, but didn’t see any that I liked, and so I actually ended up getting real boughs from my parents place. I love them so much that (until they one day move away and no longer have wooded areas for me to pillage) I will continue to do that every year! I don’t do a tree at my place, since I spend Christmas at my parent’s house, so in lieu of a tree, I did an evergreen and branch bouquet and hung some of my vintage ornaments on it. 

The main crux of my decorating involves my vintage ornament collection- this year my sister and I found six boxes of vintage ornaments at the thrift store- we couldn’t grab them fast enough! We also hung some of the vintage ornaments in the fig tree, which looks very pretty in real life, but didn’t really show up well in the pictures, so you’ll just have to believe me 🙂 I also got these new reproduction mercury glass ornaments this year at the store I work at- I absolutely LOVE mercury glass and I love how they paired with the pink vintage ornaments. This tray looks very “millennial” doesn’t it? (Millennial pink anyone?)

This wood burned garland by Kluane National Workshop is also new this year. I picked it up at a craft fair, but if you’d like to check them out, they have a shop right here.

Well, this is a fairly heavy picture post, but I guess I’m making up for all the posts I haven’t written this past month 🙂 

When do you put up your Christmas decor and what are some of your Christmas decorating traditions? 

As an extra bonus- here is the mantle I did at my parent’s place. It turned out very pretty with the fairy lights, greenery and nativity, so I couldn’t leave it out!