Posts tagged: diy
August 19, 2010

Quick Take: DIY Tie Belt


Did I feel like a blogger gone mad asking to take this picture of an account manager at the end of a meeting? Yeah, sort of. But is jauntily wrapping dad’s old tie around your waist a genius stand-in for a lost belt? You betcha. I love the J. Crew cool of this striped vintage number on a simple navy sheath and think it would make a particularly fetching masculine-feminine mash-up on a girly dress. Here’s to DIY in action! (Let this also serve as proof that I don’t dwell exclusively in the land of fresh flowers and daydreaming. I sit in windowless conference rooms, too!)

June 23, 2010

Easy, Breezy Wrap Skirt and The Meaning of It All


I used to have a very clear sense of personal style, and it involved a cadre of $20 vintage sundresses. But as my early twenties turned into my late twenties, sometimes these bare dresses seemed a tad too costumey and young. My style needed to grow up, if only by an inch or two.

I have been slow to convert to separates, in part because I do not have that magical skill of grabbing this, grabbing that, and putting something together that is chic and surprising and utterly right. I like the grab-and-go appeal of dresses. But after a long visionary planning session with a friend, I now see the virtue of a-line wrap skirts and crisp cotton blouses and low-v t-shirts. Especially because I am in love with the wrap skirt in Diana Rupp’s Sew Everything Workshop.

This one turned out a little less perfectly than my first try, made last year in a light summery linen. Perhaps I was less confident without my mom at my side to troubleshoot. I did learn some important sewing lessons, though, ones I will swear by on all future projects.

  1. Tackle a project bit by bit, an hour here, and hour there (that 5-hour window of free time never seems to materialize anyway).
  2. When you start to get frustrated, do not soldier on. Take a break and come back to it with fresh eyes.
  3. A sloppily cut pattern will result in sloppily pinned fabric, which will in turn, end up as a sloppily sewn seam. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but slapdash work along the way will turn into a slapdash looking skirt.

Wonkiness aside, I’m proud of this skirt. I am consistently amazed by the miracle of sewing. What sort of genius invented that machine, which makes no sense to me in its separate parts, yet somehow works? I do not, apparently, excel at spatial reasoning, my brain working overtime to envision the flatness of the fabric being transformed into a new form with shape and movement. It is so cool. And then there is that sense of involvement that just never gets old to me: having a hand in creation, actively crafting instead of mindlessly purchasing. I love that feeling of hunkering down into a process, sinking my teeth into the making of a skirt, and in some small way, the making of a life.

A big leap there, I know, and I hope I didn’t lose you. But it’s the same thing we’re always talking about here in roundabout ways but which maybe hasn’t been explicitly mentioned lately. These “lifestyle blogs” aren’t just trying to make you feel like your life should be art directed and perfect, that you should be taking the time to squeeze a gallon of lime juice for your next fiesta and if you’re not you’ve got your priorities all screwed up. At least this one isn’t. This blog is about bringing attention the thing things we care about, creating a life that means something because we’re actively creating its delights.

When we’re making dinner and making things, we’re engaged in a process––slipping in via small, unassuming access points to bring a meaningful attention to our lives. We can certainly bring that same attention to waiting in line at Taco Bell for our nachos bell grande, but somehow––maybe it’s the hairnets and the muzak––it’s easier to tune out there. But when we have the cheese grater and the knife right in our own hands, when we hold the scissors and sharp pins, there’s no choice but to pay attention, to bring awareness to our days and how we’re living them. Which, at their ordinary best, can involve chowing down on homemade Mexican food in really cute, imperfectly-sewn skirts.

June 9, 2010

The Fun of Free Online Collaging


Yesterday, when I was convalescing, I fell down the rabbit hole known as Polyvore while watching The Bachelorette (seriously, Justin–for real, or not?). I’ve known about Polyvore for years from the cool collages of stylish girls that show up on fashion blogs. As much as I love making a collage, I never used the site since I wasn’t nuts about the branding on the application.

And then! I realized that, duh, you can take a screenshot of your collage, rather than posting the embed code. The pics won’t be handily clickable, but oh well. The point is, I now have a way to collage my heart out, without wondering what to do with the giant finished product.

Last night I designed my evolving look, dubbed “Nerdy Lady,” worked on an outfit for Sebastian’s movie premiere, and then moved on to plotting a California-cool, semi-professional look for my friend. And now, I can’t be stopped!

What I love most about collaging is how through selecting images you love––a beautiful tart, an antique locket, a mod, streamlined couch––you begin to see patterns. It’s like being a magazine editor of your own life, with your most authentic self revealing herself through images. And that’s my current goal: to listen to my authentic self. It’s the voice beyond the chatter that says you’re not good enough or smart enough or beautiful enough or that a pint of ice cream really will make you feel better. That voice is a menace. But your authentic voice? She is a soothsayer and truth-teller.

April 19, 2010

Guest Post: Birthday Wishes and the Prettiest Potholders from Sara Rose


Regulars around here will know how I feel about Sara Rose. She is funny and wise and tells stories that break our hearts sometimes. But the thing that kills me over and over, what keeps me in constant state of how-does-she-do-it?, is watching her careen through life with two kids, unflappable optimism, a hot pink manicure and a parade of baked goods in her wake. When I asked her to write a guest post, I had no idea what it would be. So it is a bit sheepishly that I accept this complimentary write-up, but with complete pride and certainty that I say thank you, Sara Rose. I’m not the only one around here whose life you’ve changed for the better.

Wow, I feel so weird to be here writing as a guest!  I never in my wildest dreams thought that I would be brave enough to make friends with utterly cool girl, Sarah, nor be writing about her birthday!  I would say I started “creeping” or “lurking” on her blog until one day I got bold enough to leave a comment.  What we have here is a community so warm and welcoming, I never looked back.  I feel, even though I don’t know y’all, each and every one of you is someone I would WANT to know, given the chance.

Anyways, a year ago, Sarah was planning her wedding and feeling dismal abut all the pressure.  So, I got my nerves up and wrote her an email about how weddings should NOT conform to “everyone else’s expectations” but SHOULD be the start of a marriage and how you and your lovely betrothed want that marriage to look.  We became fast penpals from there, which is the irony of the internet.  One day, you’re this loner hippie mom from South Dakota and the next, you’ve got this way cool friend in New York.


I feel the same way about birthdays as I do about weddings.  I want to celebrate them and I want to help the person celebrate being ALIVE, in every sense of that word.  As we head towards the big 3-0, it’s just so easy to get bogged down by the insecurities and the negatives.  A few months ago, I was feeling that too, so I took on some projects to get some of that “meaning” I wanted my life to have before the third decade hit.

In truth, my life looks nothing like what my 18-year-old brain had pictured a decade ago, but I am glad of that.  I am a firm believer in what comes around, goes around and for some reason, I am more than okay with that except for one tiny little detail.  My life had become an insane zoo and my mind spent hours whirling around like a devilish dervish, flirting with catastrophe, all while wearing big earrings.

Enter PoP Sarah.  When I began reading her, it was this gentle reminder for me to stop. Just STOP. Then go forth a bit more calmy, collectedly, and also a bit more fabulously.  Funny thing is that I started reading her blog on my 25th birthday and now I am heading towards 28 this year!  So in honor of our tentative new friendship last year, I sent her a birthday card with a bacon bra on it.  (That’s just how I roll, yo.)

This year I decided to make her something. So, in honor of her new marriage and our co-bliss in all things domestic, I decided to knit her pot holders in aqua and red.  Little did I know I was going to suffer a HUGE setback this week and accidentally knit half of one potholder in the WRONG pattern.  I was knitting these cool Aries potholders but apparently I had flipped a page too many and suddenly my pattern started looking insane.  In a dead panic I texted her because I was going to send them to her Wednesday.  She said, with her usual graceful aplomb, “Whenever!  I’m just so honored to be getting something!”


So I reknitted the one and have the other half finished and, umm, Happy Belated Birthday, hun!  I am a quirky little she-devil at best bumbling through life, so it should be no surprise that I messed up insanely. I should mention why I started to knit.  When I was coming to 27, I was hugely prego with my son and looking for ways to fill my days with a bit more “me” time and “meaningful silence.” Little did I know that knitting would become more meditative to me, than, well, meditating.  Considering I author several blogs, write freelance for a zillion teeny things, am a stay-at-home-mother, and home school like the hippity dippity that I am, you can probably see where knitting fell into place.

PoP Sarah has become one of my closest penpals and a treasured voice in my heart.  While I cannot get her gift to her on time, I can say with certainty that all the gifts she has given me have been everything I needed and more.  Happy Birthday, my dear penpal.  You are a soul sister.


Sara Rose