Monday, December 24, 2012

Holiday Break

via Pinterest
Hello, readers! I'm writing to you from Virginia, where Jeff and I are visiting his family. I'm engaging in very important activities like eating cookies and taking naps. I've decided to declare a blogging break until the New Year to more effectively engage in these activities.

(When I'm back, I think I need to make a big red circle skirt and polka dot top, like in the adorable vintage card above. Isn't it the best Christmas outfit ever?)

Happy Holidays to you and yours!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Going Rogue

Gwen Stefani, late 90s
In my last post, I wrote about the maintenance and care of pink hair, but I realized I really want to talk more about the cultural implications of "alternative" beauty. (Another week, another crackpot feminist theory!)

I've been thinking lately about all the upkeep that is sold to us to be considered conventionally beautiful as a woman. Bikini waxes, gloss treatments, manicures, anti-aging treatments, etc. It's kind of exhausting just thinking about it, right? It's gotten me thinking that maybe the appeal of having an "unnatural" hair color is that you mentally put yourself outside of the rules of regular beauty. Maybe the message pink hair (or tattoos or piercings) sends is that you're not playing by the rules--so you can take your laser hair removal and shove it, okay? It's a liberating mindset.

You know those women's magazine articles that tell you the "top beauty don'ts" and stuff like that? As a younger woman, I remember reading on several occasions that it's an absolute crime to have a chipped manicure. I took it as gospel for a while, I suppose. But the day I realized that chipped nails aren't the end of the world, and can even look kind of cool (if you're into the whole grunge thing), it was kind of like a weight had been lifted.

The problem with this whole theory is that it's prone to backfire really, really quickly. Once you're considered an "alternative girl," you're sexualized in a whole new way. If you've ever had a dude on the street ask if you're a Suicide Girl, you know what I'm talking about. So while going rogue, beauty-wise, can be freeing--it definitely comes with its own set of issues. And it certainly doesn't make you oblivious or immune to regular beauty standards.

And even if you don't have pink hair or piercings, I think anyone reading this can relate in a way. Sewing your own clothes is the ultimate form of going rogue on the fashion and diet industries, I think. Making clothes to fit yourself (rather than making yourself fit clothes), is another way of going rogue. We can also stop being slaves to the trend-driven retail market and wear what we love--there are really no limits when you make it yourself.

Do you agree with all this? Do you see your sewing (or hair or whatever) as a form of rebellion against the status quo? Or is it naive to think that's even possible?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Three Weeks of Pink Hair

Day 20
Wow, time flies! I guess the old saying is true--pinkheads really do have more fun.

I promised I would keep you updated on the maintenance of my new hair color, so I've been (somewhat) dutifully documenting it via Instagram/cell phone shots.

Here's night 1, when I am freaking out. ("What have I done????!")

 Day 1.

 Day 2.
 Day 4.
 Day 5.
 Day 6.

 Day 8.
 Day 10.
 Day 17.
 Day 18, post washing.
 Day 21.
 Day 22.
 Day 22, root view!

The color has been holding up beautifully. I took some advice from an Instagram peep and added  pink dye right into my conditioner. I only wash my hair 2-3 times a week, and then apply a healthy dose of conditioner, and use a clip to keep my hair off my back. (I scrub my hands really well at this point too, otherwise they stay pink for days.) I leave the conditioner/dye mix in for at least 5 minutes. I've also been using Moroccan Oil treatment on my hair when it's damp, which has helped significantly to counteract the dryness from bleaching.

My only complaint about the color is how differently it photographs in different kinds of light. Here it is in natural light, taken on my good camera. I must need to mess around with the white balance, because this is not how the color really looks at all.

In terms of social interactions, I've never gotten more compliments on my hair. The attention takes a little getting used to. (Hint: men love it.) My favorite compliment was from a very elderly man, after I held the door for him at a bookstore. He looked up and gasped, "Pretty hair!"

It's time to touch up the roots and overall color, and I've decided to go to a professional for this. My one regret about doing the initial bleaching myself is that I have some patchy brunette spots in the back, that a stylist could have gotten for me. I also worry that I didn't go quite blond enough, which is giving my hair an orange cast in some light. So on Thursday I'll be getting a touch-up on the bleach, plus more pink! The salon uses a color called Pravana Magenta, which is supposed to be very good.

All in all, I'm just really glad I did it. I feel it suits me--maybe I should have been born a pinkhead!

Friday, December 14, 2012

New Hats and Finished UFO Dress

Hi readers! Remember when I showed you my mood board for my latest millinery class at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology)--the bridal and eveningwear class? Well, my final collection is done and presented, phew.

Here's the mood board again, to refresh your memories.

I'm glad I kept my mood board free of any actual hats. It let me be less literal and have a bit more fun with the assignment.

The goal for the class was to create a collection of hats for a wedding party. Our first assignment was a Juliet cap, also called a cocktail hat. It's made of a buckram base, covered in taffeta an adorned a little polka dot net, faux flowers, and strawberries.

The next assignment was a turban. I love turbans! I'm not sure who this would belong to in the wedding party, maybe the eccentric aunt?

From there, we did a buckram-based headband for a flower girl. This is when I decided to really go for the dessert theme.

 The hand beading is done in rainbow bugle beads--sprinkles!!!

Then the bride! This is a frame made completely of wire, then covered with tulle (to cushion the wire) and then fabric.

Lastly, the "mother of the bride" hat. The assignment was to make a fabric-covered hat with a traditional crown and shaped brim (definitely the most complex of the semester). I added a swirl of polka-dot tulle over my taffeta hat and then added strawberries on top. Yes, it's a hat that looks like a strawberry cake.

I'm very happy with how the collection turned out. The only problem is that it makes me constantly hungry for CAKE. And lots of it!

I also finished my UFO dress, aka Vogue 4011. Aren't I productive this week? I think this calls for a nap.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

UFOs to the Rescue!

I'm talking about Unfinished Objects, readers. You may not know this, but I'm just as guilty of having UFOs as any other lady who likes to sew. I organize all my "in progress" projects into these cool huge Ziploc bags, and keep all their notions and the pattern together.

When my mother-in-law saw my (admittedly large) collection of these bags, she asked: "Are you going to live long enough to finish all these projects?"

Fair question! Probably not.

But! Sometimes the UFO comes in handy. Like now! Right around this time of year, I always have the urge to sew a holiday season frock--forgetting that I don't have the time and there's a million other things I should be focusing on (millinery class finals, anyone?).

But HA! I've outsmarted myself. I have the party frock I started last year, almost complete! It's this vintage pattern, done up in this cool peacock blue cotton brocade. It's like Gretchen Of Christmas Past knew that Gretchen of Christmas Future would have pink hair and that peacock blue would be the color for her this year!

I put the gussets in and everything.

And past Gretchen was so clever that she put the whole thing in a handy bag, complete with matching thread and a zipper for future Gretchen to find this year.

So, just saying, don't knock the UFO. Who knows what you could be starting for your future self!

Anyone else with me in attacking some UFOs?

Friday, December 7, 2012

A Blog Makeover?

illustration by Sun Young Park
Dude, where did the week go? Aside from organizing my sewing room, I've also been working on my final collection for my millinery class, which has been incredibly gratifying, creativity-wise. More to come on that front, of course.

While we're in a bit of a sewing lull here, I wanted to ask you, dear readers, your opinion on a matter of blogginess (blogitude?). I'm planning an overhaul of this site, one that I think is long overdue. The goal will be to make the whole thing more navigatable (yup, coining new words is my thang today) and visually pleasing. There are 1,083 articles on this site, and no great way to find one's way around them. I'm most excited to be able to catalog my tutorials and sew-alongs in an user-friendly way. There could be other exciting components, like forums and a page specifically for my book.

Frankly, what I'm talking about is a transition to a website with a blog as its main content. I sometimes hate change, so this is a little terrifying to me. I'll always consider myself a blogger first, so I would never want the focus to stray from that.

The fun part will be the design! I like the look of my blog as it is, but we can all use a little makeover now and then (pink hair, anyone?). The design and illustrations of my book are a guiding force for me here: quirkily, elegantly vintage.

illustration by Sun Young Park
As readers, how would you like to see the site improve? I would absolutely love to hear your thoughts. Thanks for your feedback!

P.S. In small changes, I've added social media/email icons at the top left of the homepage so you can find me elsewhere in the ether. Also, directly below the icons is a "search this blog" widget that will help you find old posts if you wish. Fun fact: the search terms "tailoring" and "cat" both get 8 pages of hits. Hmm.

Monday, December 3, 2012

No Sewing, Just Organizing

Wondering why things are a little quiet here on the sewing front? Well, I've embarked on the mother of all organizing projects. Or should I say mother-in-law of all organizing projects? You see, Jeff's mom, Joan, was here for Thanksgiving, and she's an organizing guru. She offered her help to re-do my sewing room, which was a disaster area. I'm really lucky, because I don't know how I would have done it without her!

We spent Thanksgiving day going through stuff and sorting, and then the next day we made an Ikea pilgrimage.

First, Joan suggested using a currently empty wall as a storage space. So what you see above is my new Expedit unit, filled with Drona boxes and Kassett boxes.

The Dronas are primarily fabric storage. Readers, I went through each piece of fabric I own, and measured its width and length. Then I labeled a swatch that is kept pinned to the outside of the box so I know what's inside.

This basically took me forever. But I'm pretty sure it's going to change my life.

Oh! I also spruced up an old lampshade with pompom trim!
I also organized my sewing magazines.
Even though it's looking good at this point, I still have a lot of work to do. I hope I can get through it quickly, because I'd really like to start sewing again. Wish me luck!
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