What is Beauty?

What is beauty? It is unique. It is individual. It’s your attractiveness to those around you, and most importantly, to the one you spend the rest of your life with.  That attraction may begin with just the physical glimpses, but as we all well know, that won’t sustain a relationship or a lasting feeling of self-worth. Do you feel beautiful? We all want to be beautiful and feel beautiful. That can be proven by the sheer amount of money spent on beauty and hair products each year. But can beauty come in a jar? Can beauty be tested and measured? I really don’t think it can- at least not without knowing who a person is inside. Personality is what makes beauty come alive- it energizes and animates beauty!

As a twenty-something in the world of photo-shopped models and Victoria’s Secret runway shows, it’s easy to forget about the true meaning of beauty. It’s easy to become superficial. And if I’ve become superficial, it’s impossible to be content with my appearance. I could sit here and name 20 or 30 things about my body, face, hair, and nails that I hate. It would be a stretch to name as many I love. But you know when I do feel beautiful? When I stop comparing myself to movie stars and models, and stop worrying if my husband really thinks my tummy’s too big and is just lying to me to be sweet. When I suck it up and remember that God made me-and the most beautiful part of me is my heart. When we’re comparing ourselves with others, we are using a ranking system in our minds. We all do it…I bet you can tell me who you think is prettier if I named two celebrities. And if I told you to think of 5 friends of yours, you’d be able to tell me where you think are on the rank of pretty. With a culture so geared toward pushing female sexuality and outward beauty, it becomes kind of automatic. We have tv shows, magazines, and web pages that all rank women’s beauty. (Just think about the “who wore it better” columns!)

When we subconciously rank ourselves alongside other women, we’re doing ourselves, the other women, and our Creator a real injustice. It’s not up to us to say who’s more beautiful. We don’t have the right to think we are more attractive or less attractive than anyone else. To think your more attractive is being conceited, obviously, but to think we’re less attractive is equally bad. And this is the side we tend to err on, I think. I’ve heard it said that supermodels have the worst self esteem. And I’m not sure if that’s true, but I bet there’s at least a grain of truth there. Why? Because they live in a world where they compete by their looks. Their beauty is ranked by others all the time. Sadly, the common populace is much the same way. Remember high school? It’s hard to shed old ways of thought, but I want to encourage you to let your beauty shine throughout the Holidays and beyond. Enjoy being who you are! That’s the part that won’t ever go away.

Finally, I realize not all of my readers share my faith, but this post reminds me of a very apt verse of the Bible that I try to remember when I find myself feeling ugly.

“Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fear the Lord is to be praised.”  Proverbs 31:30

It all comes down to who you’re trying to please? The perfectionistic side of yourself that wants to be perfectly put together at all times, (she can be pretty selfish and vain) or the part of you that wants to give to the world and take care of the ones you love and be a real light? Because those things make a woman truly beautiful. I always tell my daughters they are beautiful, but it’s more important to be beautiful on the inside than the outside and they have very beautiful hearts.  And yeah, some people may rank your beauty, but who cares? You’re your strongest critic. At the end of the day, I’d rather people say that I’m a beautiful person that that I’m just beautiful. And when that’s your focus, you’re more beautiful than you can imagine!

 

***What is beauty to you? Leave it in the comments section.***

Ugly Christmas Sweater Haul

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I have avoided it for so long, but this year I find myself not only going to my friend’s Ugly Sweater party, but also roped into making ugly sweaters for my whole family since my church is having an ugly sweater party next Sunday. I really didn’t think my daughters would want to participate, so by the time they told me they wanted one, Goodwill was all sold out of Christmas sweaters, and I couldn’t find two regular kids sweaters to use, either. So they’ll be wearing ugly Christmas dresses, which I think may be better, anyway.

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The base for a nice crazy-lady hat. I have some jingle bells…I’m gonna explore my options there.

 

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 This is everything from my first trip. Enough for hodge-podge sweaters for myself and my husband.

IMG_1782-0.JPGThis was hands-down my most spectacular find. And yes, those are jingle bells in each wreath!

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I so wanted to find something absolutely hideous since I pre-bragged to my friend about how I would have the ugliest sweater, but I saw this little guy and he made me crack up everytime I looked at him, so he’s what I’m going with. I’ll throw an Santa hat on him and some ridulous trimmings and hope no one pets me!IMG_1783-0

This should work to sew onto something. It’s not quite ugly enough to stand alone, but the store was pretty picked over and i can always just sew on a whole bunch of additional tacky stuff.

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Future ugly dress #1. And the dress both my girls are fighting to wear. Such is the life of twins, I guess.

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Future ugly dress #2. The buttons are on the front of this jumper. I think this should win the ugly contest as is.

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This was the only decent Christmas shirt left once I went back for my daughter’s stuff. He’s not ugly, he’s just as jolly as can be, so I’ll have to get creative and see what I can do with him.

Well, guys, wish me luck! 

P.S. I’d really like to get to know you guys more, and that’s what the comment section is for. So tell me, how do you feel about the ugly sweater craze? Is it too much? Ridiculous? Love it? Hate it because you keep winning the ugliest sweater prize unintentionally? Let me know!

Sunday’s Best


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I had been planning on skipping Sundays for blogging, but it’s my favorite day for outfit spotting, and I don’t think I can wait until Mondays to share them with you guys. So from here on out, I’ll try my darnedest to post my favorite street wear-or church wear- outfit from the week. In addition to spotlighting great style in general, I want to show the fashionable side of the Hoosier state. (Indiana, U.S. for you way-out-of-towners.)
If only my photography skills could live up to this outfit! For one thing, the shoes look a little orange in the picture, but they’re actually a bright tomato red. If it’s not absolutely clear from the picture, I assure you it’s completely perfect in every way. I love the Sundays my friend Megan comes home from college, because it’s always a glimpse into a brilliant style mind. And into a closet I totally want to play dress-up in! I officially nominate her the vintage queen of our area- she always KILLS IT! Every piece of this look is thrifted-as is her entire wardrobe. Blows my mind! I do love me some vintage, but I have to admit, I often can’t resist a lot of the trendy, cheapy fashion of the chain stores. (I won’t exactly name names, but I seem to have quite a weakness for a store named after a certain damp aquatic mammal.)
I always tell people you can better achieve a high fashion look by buying vintage. Megan proves that- every day. (That’s pronounced urrr day if you’re a tried and true Midwesterner.) You can expect to see her as a repeat Sunday’s Best winner, and I can’t wait to keep posting pictures of great looks…as soon as it stops being weird to ask people out of nowhere if i can photograph them.

So tell me, guys, are you loving this look, too?

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Craftsy Pants Class Blog# 4

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Lesson 6: Crotch and Calf Alterations. (This will look lovely on my facebook page, as it only shows the first couple lines of each blog I post! Oh well.)

In light of my post 2 days ago about finishing what you start, just let me say that I really hate finishing what I start! I’m so bored with this project/class. And it’s not the class-it’s me. (What, am I breaking up with this class?) The class is great. And insightful. And informative. Yet, I’ve already moved on. You’ll remember from my “Who Loves Pants? This Girl!” post that I’ve begun making the flat pattern for custom fitting trousers. On one hand, I really hate cheating on my craftsy class. On the other hand, I really love pants! [Did you see my blog post? :)] So now that I have disregarded my own advice and have two pants irons in the project fire, I have to stick to my guns and ride them both out. (Man, that’s a lot of trite sayings!) The cool part will be comparing the fit on the two finished products. Ok, I guess that’s only cool if you’re a supernerd.

First things first. I love this lady! Sandra Betzina is a total pattern making geek! I feel like she could be my yoda. (I’m not sure, though, cause I’ve never actually watched those movies. I’m a pattern nerd, not a nerd nerd!) Also, her nails are painted black for this lesson. She’s so cute!IMG_1932

Secondly, the alterations I need to do make no sense to me! In order to make the thigh fit in the last class, I took in the crotch seam and now that we’re fixing the crotch to fit our measurements, I need to just add it right back…and more! It makes me really wonder how they’re gonna turn out. I just have to keep going, because listening to the teacher is, like, awe-inspiring. She can just look at a person and rattle off what alterations she would need to do to any given pattern. I WANT TO BE LIKE THAT ONE DAY! So for this, I’m just gonna add the length back to the crotch, because I’d rather have a pattern that fits my butt and may be too loose in the legs than some that are too small to fit at the top. We’re going to make a muslin, too, as part of this class, so I’ll have the chance to fix it somewhere along the line.IMG_1930-0

The moral of the story?

Use as many cliches, parentheses, and . . . s (dot, dot, dots for those of you who didn’t get that) in your writing as possible. And always be tongue-in cheek. 🙂

Also, always remember to give it up for pants!

Photo Oh No

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Okay, so part of this whole blogging and fashion thing is figuring out how to do stuff you’re terrible at. When you’re starting anything, you have to wear all of the hats. Luckily, I have friends including one very talented designer to help with some aspects, but I still have to continually educate myself on all kinds of things I’ve never done before. I love having this blog to document that learning process for you guys and hopefully as I grow in knowledge, I can shed some light on how to overcome the obstacles of being a one man-or woman-operation.

As much as I hope to impart wisdom and enlighten you on how to do things, I fear that during my learning processes you’ll actually see more on how not to do things. But hey, it’s trial and error- heavy on the error, right?

That being said, I suck at photography. I’ve never had a passion for it, and don’t know how to work a fancy camera, much less own one. But I need to keep getting better at taking pictures for this blog. And since I have no one to model, I also have to get good tolerable at that. It’s hard work, people! These girls really know what they’re doing. Man, they must have tough skin and great personalities, because my inclination is to laugh and cover my face in front of the camera.

I’m getting better at trying poses out and learning what to do with my stupid face, which is really, really hard! (It’s just not as hard as learning what to do with my stupid hands.) Some shots are actually decent- considering I’m working with absolutely zero equipment- unless you count the flat sheet I have thumb-tacked to my wall. I’m not showing you those today, though, because when I look back at my photos, the first thing I do is find the horrible ones, crack up, then send them to my best friend, who also cracks up. (It’s ok. I’d be insecure if she didn’t laugh at me.) So without further ado, I’m elevating you guys to bestie status and inviting you to laugh at me.

Here they are, in all their terrible glory. (To get the full effect, you have to read the captions in your mind as a very serious French or British Photographer. It doesn’t matter which, but it needs to be one of those two. Maybe ya switch back and forth!)

IMG_1929Pout, Monique, Pout. No seriously. Act like you absolutely hate life and everybody in it.

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Now, pretend to be a confused Tyrannosaurus Rex.

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You have something in your eye, darling. Go ahead and dig it out!

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 For this shot, you are very suspicious. There’s something happening by the wall and you do not like it.

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You are wrestling for attention with the cat. Make sure you win, puppet!IMG_1857

Dead Face.IMG_1715-0

Alright, you’re dancing with your friends and a man you very much dislike tries to dance with you. Show him you’re not having it!

IMG_1706-0Make absolute certain no one sees your eyeballs, dear.

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Prison Pose.

(My friend said this one is makes her think of senior pictures. That makes me sad for seniors.)

Ok, guys, so what do you think?  You wanna see the  good slightly less horrific ones? 

P.S. I’m dying to see your failed shots…I know you have some! Post em in the comments, my dears!

To Task or Multi-Task? Now That’s The Question!

 

 Are you good at doing more than one thing at a time? Would you consider yourself a multitasker?  These are questions so common in job interviews today, but are they missing the mark? Sure, it’s important to be able to juggle, but that’s all it is. Juggling. No one can actually do two things at once. Research has shown that multitasking is really just making your brain switch back and forth frequently between two or more functions. And it’s not able to do it as efficiently as we once thought.

Each time we switch tasks, there’s a micro-lag in the brain (or in my case just a lag) between stopping what you were doing before and starting the new thing. Now, a micro-lag doesn’t sound so bad, and it’s not…as a singular pause. But the reality of how we work, play, and create today is that we make our poor brains switch tasks several times per hour. That translates into a constant feeling similar to when we go to a room and then think to ourselves, “What in the world did I come in here to do?” (I have those moments at least once a week!)So I think the better question for job interviews-and life in general- is “How good are you at finishing tasks?”

Our brains and bodies function together through automatic processes. Those are things we’ve learned to do so well that we don’t have to manually think about it. We can drive while having a conversation, because our brain can tell our bodies what to do in that situation without any conscious effort on our part. But when we get too many irons in the fire, our brain gets bogged down and we can’t even do those automatic things very well. That’s when you get into situations where you put the coffee pot into the fridge instead of back on the burner. (Why yes, I have done that before!) Or we lose our keys because instead of putting them in the normal spot, we carry them to the next place we went and sat them down there.

So what’s this got to do with sewing and creative work? Don’t artists work this way naturally? A resounding YES! Which is why we need to be extra careful not to fall into the trap of thinking we’re being effective when we’re really just busy. This subject comes up so often for me that I’m sure I’ll post more about it, but for right now I want you guys to think about how it affects your life. Do you ever leave tasks unfinished because you were trying to multitask and got wrapped up in the next thing? Do you have problems finishing projects, but no problem at all starting new ones?  If you struggle with this stuff, what can you do about it?

1) Recognize what pushes your buttons.

What things tend to stress you out so you can’t focus as well? Lack of sleep? Loud noise? Not enough noise?

2) Recognize the things that distract you.

Um, let’s tell it like it is, people. If you’re irrevocably bonded with your phone and your heart would die if you turned it off, you’re gonna get distracted by it. Some people get distracted by new projects and ideas. (Such a common obstacle for the creative mind!)

3) Organize your space.

It’s so easy to get distracted when your work space is a mess and you have 4 or 5 projects lying around. There’s a time for everything. When you’re trying to come up with ideas is when you get everything out and surround yourself with fabrics and colors and pictures for inspiration. But if you’re creative, you can’t turn it off, so put that crap up when you’re working or your mind will be racing with new ideas every time you look at something that inspires you.

4) Pick a project and stick with it.

Not necessarily to the end. I’m not a sadist. I won’t make you do that. But it is wise to block out a certain amount of time for a project. Or set a goal of how far you want to go on it. (And I know you won’t be realistic about this, so maybe back that goal off a few steps so you won’t be disappointed.)

5) Know you won’t get everything done in one day.

   This is the most impacting realization that I’ve made lately. I used to plan my day and try to cram a little of everything in. Logistically, it makes the most sense. Do one thing for 20 minutes, another for an hour, exercise for 30 minutes in between. But artistic people don’t work like that. What do we do once we get started on a project? Say it with me, “WE DON’T STOP!” Once you’ve made your peace with the fact that it’s hard to turn it off once you get wrapped up in a project, you can plan your life in a way that works for you. I have each day of the week labeled for a particular focus. (EX. Patternmaking on Tuesdays) And it has helped tremendously.

6) Remember your work. 

We can get stuck in the trap of thinking we’ll never finish all the projects we’re juggling or getting down on ourselves when we’re in a tricky phase of a particular project. When this happens, CODE RED! Stop being a Negative Nelly and go look at some of your previous work. Remind yourself you’re perfectly capable of finishing and making beautiful stuff. You’ve gone through rough patches before and you can make it through this one if you just keep going. Don’t fool yourself into thinking it would be better to start a new project. Sure, that’s more appealing to our lightning fast visionary minds, but that project’s gonna have its hard parts, too.

The Real Moral of The Story Is:

FINISH WHAT YOU START…EVEN IF YOU KIND OF WANT TO THROW IT OUT THE WINDOW.(LIKE THE STUPID LINGERIE SET I’M WORKING ON.) It’ll get better…You can do it.

 

Who Loves Pants? This Girl!

 

IMG_1805It’s become a running joke in my house that the only things I wear are jeans and sneakers, but the only things I buy are dresses and stilettos. That rings especially true in winter. I have a ton of cute fall outfits pinned on Pinterest, and almost all of them make me freeze to look at. Seriously. I’m ALWAYS cold. So while I would love to make a winter outfit with a cute burgundy skater skirt and funky tights, (I’m really digging the ones in the pic below right now:)  I’m leaning on my old stand-by. PANTS!

And who doesn’t love a good trouser, slack, or jean? Nobody, that’s who! I haven’t made a trouser pattern since fashion design school, and back then, I fit the measurements of the dress form we used. I found my figure has changed since then, so I had to do a pattern block from scratch. (It’s not as easy measuring yourself as it is a dress form or someone else, I’ll tell ya that much!) This picture is of me measuring my hips and finding out that I finally have some! Say it with me…YAY! I’m a 38 instead of a 36 inch hip now, which is proof that I do have a butt now. Sort of. Of course, the down side to that is the inevitable tummy issue. (Can I call it inevitable if it could be prevented by exercise, but I just don’t do it?)

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Now, unless you’re a total pattern nerd like me, the pictures above and below won’t excite you. If, however, you geek out a little over the pastime, you’ll share my butterfly-y glee. I had planned to be a patternmaker after school and work up from there. I strongly believe designers need a real sense of how clothing fits together. But long story short, life had other plans and now I’m making pants out of my living room. That may not sound very thrilling, but it is to me.

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I got so far as to cut out the muslin for the test fit. Nothing in the patternmaking world comes off without a hitch straightaway, so I know I’ll have to do some changes to this pattern block in order to use it for real patterns. But palazzo pants, 70s style trousers, and slim line tuxedo pants here I come! It won’t take long to sew the muslin together, so I should be posting my progress soon.  In the meantime, let’s all tip our slouchy hats to Miss Marlene Dietrich, my absolute fashion fave for making men’s slacks Oh So Cool for women!

See, I’m pretty casual. It’s no makeup Monday for me pretty much week-round. I sometimes wear makeup. I occasionally do my hair. I wear dresses on every full blue moon that falls on the 13th of May. If you see me wearing makeup…with my hair done…in a dress, I think an angel is actually getting his wings. Or something like that.

IMG_1798The moral of the story?

Pants are pretty spectacular! Although, I think that’s pretty much the moral of every story. I may be biased. The End

 

San Diego designers find loophole market for custom clothing

Custom Design. I’m a fan and it’s one of my passions. Just imagine…perfectly fitting clothing! These girls are doing it and, apparently, making a decent living off of it. Great article to spotlight the Slow Fashion movement!

JMS Reports

Victoria Roberts of WishNow shows off a pink, custom-made party dress in her studio. Fashion designer Victoria Roberts shows off a custom-made party dress in her studio. Photo by Liane Velasco

Two fashion designers have found a way to create special garments for their clients by using psychological methods and environment-friendly materials.

In a world where instant gratification has become the norm, mass production has inched its way to the front of the fashion race and understandably so. Unless you make a decent amount of money, customized clothing services are hard to buy.

JoAnn Jack, an instructor for merchandise marketing and product development at the prestigious Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, noted that unless a designer is producing evening gowns or wedding dresses, custom work is not worth the time or investment. People want a certain piece of clothing immediately, making custom clothing an extremely difficult business for fashion designers to dive into and survive financially.

“It doesn’t work because people won’t…

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The Power of Play

 

 Shenanigans. Antics. Capers. Escapades. Frolicsomeness? (Yes, it’s a word, according to thesaurus.com. I think they have terrible judgement.)

The-very verbose- point is that creatives LOVE TO PLAY! That’s how creations get, well, created. The point of this post is to inspire you to go and freely be yourself. Express your playfulness in what you are making and wearing. Come on, you’re reading this blog, so I know you’re quirky!

   These are a few candid pictures of my creative process. It’s a very trial and error thing. (Heavy on the error, usually, which I actually like. My favorite designs are ones I stumble onto by mistake. Admitedly, however, it takes some time to see the mistake as beautiful. I traditionally have to put the piece away for a few days-after running out of expletives- and when I come back to it with fresh, no longer frustrated eyes, I can then see if it was one of those happy accidents or if I just have to grab the ol’ seam ripper.)

 

My”Brainstormies” while waiting at the doctor’s office with my husband.

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Brainstormy Close-up. DARE TO DREAMIMG_1564.JPG

 

I have barely even gotten the first two stitches in crochet down. But that’s all I need to know to begin to break the rules and play around with it in non-traditional ways.

(I think this regular yarn crocheted with the jumbo hook would be so cute as a little flutter sleeve.)IMG_1551.JPG

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And it took me no time at all to begin to play with this scarf and wonder what clothing would be like out of this chunky yarn.

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Now, I really want to hear some creative tips from you guys! What fun, quirky things do you do for inspiration?

2014 Holiday Dress Options

Holiday Dress Options

This style board is one I made on Polyvore.com and highlights a few of the trends I like this year. When dressing on a budget, I like to look for silhouettes to emulate on my own using what I have on hand as much as possible. My favorite pieces from this collage are the black dress with gold straps and the navy long sleeve dress. I think both are very interesting, but the navy is probably the one I’d wear to stand out this season. Notice the common shapes on the other dresses. This blouson style would be sure to draw the eye- and, yes, why not wear navy to your Christmas function? Happy shopping, styling, or sewing!!!