Category Archives: style journey

Slow Style: 2nd Year Reflections

September marked the end of my second year committed to slow fashion, so over the weekend I took some time to look back at my sewing projects, shopping log, original commitment and one year review.  With it being time to consider my wardrobe for the upcoming fall/winter season and Slow Fashion October, it’s the perfect time to gain fresh perspective, set new style and sewing goals and make a new commitment as I head into year 3.

Where I started

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My closet one year ago

I ended my first year in September of 2016 feeling accomplished. I was happy with my clothes, I’d cut my shopping way down and sewn 6 new garments for myself. I’d created a beautiful cohesive mood board to help guide future projects and I was feeling inspired to focus more time and energy on slow stitch and natural dyes, bringing elements of my artwork into my closet. My goal was to use materials I had on hand and work on one project each month. Rules were abandoned because where to shop had become second nature.

“This year is simply about making. Experimenting. Creating mindfully.”    – I said

That’s not exactly how I’d summarize the last 12 months and I’m hopeful that writing this all out will lead to a more focused year three.

What I Bought

I’ve been logging all my clothing purchases since September of 2015, along with where I bought them and how much I spent.  At the end of year one, I was surprised to see that I’d bought 27 things in 12 months, 6 new and 21 used. This year I was floored when I tallied up a total of 68! I’m about to attempt justifying this number by breaking it down in more detail. Spoiler alert: It can’t be justified. Mistakes were made.

Brand New // 11 pieces // $380 total

I can at least say that great thought went into the new purchases and I don’t consider any of them to be mistakes. The corduroy pants, moccasins and athletic wear were purchased from companies I felt good about supporting and they’re durable items that suit my lifestyle, get lots of use and replaced pieces that were so worn out I couldn’t even donate them. The harem style pants were especially versatile, frequently taking me from a typical day of SAHM life to a family friday night out seamlessly, particularly in the combination below.

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Company Missions:   Manitobah  //  Patagonia  //  Prana

A swimsuit from Target and 5 bra’s from Macy’s make up the rest of the new purchases. I allowed these guilt free since I don’t know how to make them yet and the ethical brands I looked at just didn’t have what I wanted at a price point I could justify as a stay at home mom with a limited amount of savings. I wore the last ones until they were trash and will do the same with these. Sometimes that just has to be enough, and I’m okay with that.

Second Hand // 57 pieces // $180 total

The used items, not pictured here because of the ridiculous number, is where I should have done a better job editing. I had so many sewing fails this year that I just wasn’t adding new things to my rotation and my impatience led to a few trips where I picked up way too many pieces at once. Generally, I dig through thrift shops and take away one new treasure or just pick up clothes for the kiddo who’s constantly outgrowing things. I need to get back to that place. In reviewing the list, I determined I spent $67 on 18 second hand items which I either never wear or have already donated back to the thrift store…not cool. There were plenty of great finds that I wore a lot and continue to wear, so I’m trying to stop thinking of how I could have spent the wasted money and just let it be another lesson.

What I Made

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I was feeling disappointed in myself when I first started to outline this post because I didn’t think I’d gotten much sewing done, but looking back I did work on 13 projects. Unfortunately, only 4 are in my closet and wearable, one of which was not even technically handmade but rather thrifted and mended. Two were thrifted and completely restyled and the dress was made from scratch. I can at least say I met my goal of working on 1 project per month and these are some of my favorite things.

Part of the issue was just the learning curve involved with making clothing. Combine that with patterns I bought on impulse just because there was a sale and fabric in my stash I thought I could use and it was a recipe for disaster. Even if they’d all turned out wearable, I’m fairly certain that the lack of planning behind each one would have led to total wardrobe duds. It’s no coincidence that after taking a closer look at the failures, my #2017makenine line up and subsequent projects were much more successful.

At the rate I’ve been going, and with just 3 months left, I’m not sure I’ll complete all the projects on that list, but I have one in process at the moment and so far it seems to be going well.

What I Learned

Shopping

Year 1 didn’t actually undo my bad habits like I thought it had. Clearly, based on the number of items I bought, I still need a more strict set of guidelines for shopping, even if it is second-hand. In addition to the thrifting, I quickly realized without mindfulness, it’s easy to transfer bad shopping habits from clothes to sewing patterns or fabric. I’ll definitely be adding these purchases to the shopping log from now on…not sure why I didn’t from the get go.

Sewing

I need to move beyond high school home economics skills to master garment construction and fitting before I can make my Allessandro Michele for Gucci dreams come true. In order to accomplish this, I’ve forced myself to set aside the guilt that comes from creating waste so I can just sew through bolts of muslin to learn my craft and gain the confidence required to cut into an expensive piece of fine fabric and know I won’t be throwing my money down the drain. I’ve already picked up my first bolt.

Owning a Fabric Stash

My fabric stash was mostly useless. Adorable vintage fabrics I’d thrifted never felt like ‘me’ when I’d dig through the bin to find something for a project. Some of my favorite’s are small pieces that need to be one element in a specific design while the remaining fabric will need to be purchased. Even pieces I bought brand new and excitedly prewashed in preparation for a project didn’t get used because they were either the wrong size, color or material for what I eventually wanted to make.

Based on this article I found while google searching ‘KonMari for artists’ I won’t be stashing fabric without a plan anymore. It seems pretty obvious, but I was 20 years deep in the “just in case” mentality with enough “imaginary work” to last a lifetime if I had no other obligations. The article is a good read for creatives on the path to simplicity. My overstuffed creative space is getting closer and closer to a simple little sewing corner with no extra stuff hanging around. I plan on using this method moving forward:

Project Idea -> Commitment -> Deadline -> Materials Hunt

Personal Style  & Wardrobe Planning

The biggest mistake I made was confusing creative inspiration with my personal style. I created this mood board thinking it would guide my sewing and shopping until I had my ideal wardrobe, but as my closet began to align with this vision, I started to crave more color, variety and vintage flair. This mood board inspired me to create, but doesn’t represent my forever closet.

SS Year 2 Mood Board

Removing all of my art related content from this blog and compartmentalizing my separate interests helped me come to this conclusion, and reaffirmed my decision to separate the two. It’s obvious to me now why so many designers have uniforms. Not every idea belongs in my own everyday working wardrobe. They can simply be channelled into individual bodies of work while my personal style remains separate. Of course, there will be some overlap at times, but in hindsight, I see where I went wrong. The fact that when I created this mood board the dominant color of blue was mostly non-existent in my current closet should have raised a red flag. I love some of the blue pieces I added, but this whole wabi sabi theme I was so drawn to when creating this collage just isn’t what I’m actually wanting to wear every day.

Maybe I should just buy a black turtleneck and call it a day…I kid…sorta?

What’s next?

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Well, a few weeks ago I turned 37, and in addition to realizing I’ve been working towards an aesthtetic that wasn’t totally me, I suddenly felt like half my closet should belong to a teenager. I treated myself to a new book, The Curated Closet, created a pin board called 37 to gather new wardrobe inspiration and  promptly took that inspiration thrifting and scooped up 9 new pieces to add to my wardrobe…yeah, the exact thing I was just saying was a big mistake I made earlier this year!

So, next on the agenda is no shopping for a while. No clothes. No patterns. No fabric. I’m starting to work through some of the exercises in the book in order to recalibrate and be sure I’m heading in the right direction with any new additions.

Once I’ve worked out a list of any gaps, I’ll select my next sewing project and allow the occasional thrift shop visit. I realize I’m completely contradicting what I said in this post in terms of loosening the reigns on shopping, but I wrote that before assessing my year of shopping and I guess either I wasn’t being honest with myself or perhaps had just completely forgotten how much I’d really acquired. Can I still blame mommy brain at almost 3 1/2?

A New Commitment / Note to self:

    1. Forget perfectly cohesive visual representations of your style and keep a small file of whatever you truly love (and really wear!). Figure out how it works together.
    2. Keep a well thought out and prioritized list of items to sew and/or purchase over time. Take it slow!
    3. Practice sewing. Practice pattern drafting. Do the work. Master your craft.
    4. Buy second-hand. No poor quality items. No temporary filler items. No items to upcycle unless you’re shopping for a specific planned project.
    5. Support socially / environmentally ethical companies when you must buy new.

 

I think dedicating this space to slow fashion, personal style and sewing will keep me more focused on my goals so I don’t find myself so far off track again. At the same time I have to laugh at how I’m beating myself up over such little mistakes when just 5 years ago I was buying brand new clothes every week without a second thought. In the big scheme of things it’s just second hand clothes, but I am determined to get this whole wardrobe thing figured out so change is more of a slow evolution than periodic overhaul. Let’s see what year 3 brings…

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Closet Goals

I read a variety of style blogs that run the gamut from extreme minimalism to careless over consumption and now that I’ve declared this space a personal style blog, I thought I’d share where I stand on this spectrum…or at least just talk to myself about my current thoughts on the subject. Over the years, I’ve been influenced by it all and gone from too much shopping, not enough planning, closet full of nothing to wear to restricting shopping, excessive planning and a tiny closet that started to wear out and bore me way too quickly. At this point, every time I flip to this image in my inspiration notebook, all I can think is closet goals!

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There are a lot of pieces in there. When the heck do you use ALL of those bags?! But you know what? To me, it looks like a closet filled with special items collected over time that are truly cherished, well cared for and loved. I imagine it belongs to a woman with a strong sense of her own style, who sees dressing as an art and has fun choosing an outfit each day.

As I sew, dig through charity stores and shop for vintage, these are my goals.

I’m dedicated to an ethical wardrobe and learning more about sustainability every day. I’m on board with slowly and thoughtfully adding new things. But minimal? I don’t really think so. I just love clothes, fashion design and the thrill of the hunt! Digging through the large donation thrift shops and finding that vintage treasure someone cleared out of an attic, 100% silk, wool, or cashmere on the cheap, testing out a trend I’m not sure about for $3 …yes, please! Continuing to queue up sewing projects because I enjoy learning new skills and creating things? Of course.

The idea of capsule wardrobes is helping me work out the colors and pieces that make up my personal list of essentials, giving me a more solid foundation to build upon but I’m approaching the sweet spot where I can just add things I love while keeping it functional. In my climate, most of my clothes can be used year round so, with a few exceptions, packing away seasonal clothes isn’t necessary. I love an eclectic mix of things I find beautiful to combine in all different ways accessible in my closet at all times. Based on how quickly I got tired of my very minimal closet, I think it will be perfect to have enough items that it takes 3 or 4 weeks to cycle through all my favorites so they last longer and I don’t burn out on wearing them.

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A while back, I would have talked myself out of this clutch because it’s not something I’ll use every day. Now I’m okay with owning something special for date nights, even if I only get to use it twice a month. I’d had the idea of what I wanted in my mind for a while, so when I spotted it in a vintage shop (although, is 90’s vintage? I was in high school in the 90’s…doesn’t add up!) on vacation for $12 I felt good about taking it home. Okay, I actually walked away and had a beer down the street because it was navy and not black, but then I decided I still loved it and went back for it. Thoughtful and spontaneous!

All my chatter has me curious to hear from you. How often do you feel you should wear something for it to earn it’s space in your wardrobe? Every month? Every week? What are your thoughts on owning more than necessary if everything is mostly second hand or handmade and the rest ethical? My perspective has been all over the map the last few years but for the moment it’s a relief to loosen up the reigns. I’m hoping I’ve learned enough that I can just enjoy wardrobe building for the fun creative process it can be without falling back into old patterns and making lots of mistakes. And I suppose I can go easy on myself if I thrift something that isn’t for life…back to the thrift shop it can go right?

A Personal Style Blog

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Back in 2012, I started this blog to document my journey as a textile artist. I wrote about anything and everything, textile collage, online classes I took, learning embroidery, carving stamps, printing  and painting fabric, experimenting with wallpaper paste collage and art journaling, organizing my studio, random craft and sewing projects, handmade holidays and daily life . It was with me through my first group art show, Art Walk booth, gallery exhibition and local retail shop experience.

After having  a baby a few years ago I followed my interests back to dollmaking and slow fashion and wrote about that. At first I liked seeing the progression of things over time, but after a while, blending it all together just didn’t feel right. After a lot of thought, and with more clarity than when I first started, I decided to launch an Instagram account and shop under a new name to share my dolls with the world and wipe everything from this site unrelated to slow fashion, personal style and wardrobe sewing.

I have endless inspiration and ideas for posts and projects surrounding these themes and look forward to having a personal space reserved for indulging my slow style journey and participating in the growing online discussion. I don’t know that it was necessary to address the change, but it felt strange deleting the bulk of 5 years worth of content and not mentioning it, so there it is.

If you’re reading, I hope this is a welcome change. It did seem the most interest was generated on these posts anyway. So, until next time….and if you happened to be here for my other creations, Little Stream Studio will be coming soon!

Slow Style: Reflecting on the 1st year

My birthday, September 16th, marked one year since making my slow style commitment and I wanted to take a moment to reflect back on how it went, what I learned and consider where to go from here.

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My current closet

Where I Started

I’ve had a draft sitting untouched forever about my starting point last year, so I’ll just go ahead and summarize here and delete that! Out of curiosity, I counted the total number of garments I owned at the time and how my wardrobe measured up in the categories Handmade, Thrifted, Ethical and Fast Fashion. I was happy to find that of about 120 total, over half was thrifted, one third was fast fashion and the rest was split between handmade and ethical. Of course, I donated literally hundreds of garments after becoming a mom and quitting my job 2 years ago, but these numbers showed that once I started over with focus and a conscience that I was really walking my talk. It’s also worth noting that, with few exceptions, all of the fast fashion has been in my closet for 3+ years.

What I Bought

 

Now this was actually quite startling to me…I STILL bought 27 pieces of clothing throughout the year! That’s equivalent to one every two weeks and I felt like I’d completely quit shopping. Goes to show how bad I was before :/ I can at least say that 21 were second hand from thrift stores and the other 6 were from companies I felt good about. Not pictured is a sequin skirt I bought off ETSY for a Vegas trip and future occasions, the top was handmade in Guatemala and purchased from a vendor in Santa Fe, the pants are from Patagonia and the cami’s are from PACT.

What I Made

 

Although I started this back in September of 2015, I didn’t actually start sewing until April of this year. So in 6 months I made 6 garments, a pace I’m totally satisfied with. It’s given me the chance to see what I reach for every day and plan projects accordingly. I’d love to sew all day every day but then my closet would probably be the same mess it was before!

What I Learned

I learned that I LOVE the clothes I make for myself, even when they’re imperfect, and that one handmade item can easily replace a handful of ready to wear items because I’m happy to wear the same things over and OVER again. Unfortunately, I learned this the second half of the year once I started sewing and had already thrifted a bunch of clothes that I’ll never wear now…but at least they weren’t brand new. Some of the items I thrifted are my favorites as well, so not all was lost. The unworn stuff has been piled on my sewing table to make quick notes about what I don’t like. I think that, along with a good look at the favorites will keep my sewing focused on true wardrobe builders.

 

What’s Next?

SS Year 2 Mood Board

What started as a goal to change my shopping habits and improve my technical skills ended up being a true shift in my mindset and lifestyle. In the second year of my Slow Style series, I hope to continue with about one garment per month using mostly materials I already have in my stash. I’ve been interested in slow stitch and natural dyes for quite some time and I think that’s where I’m finally heading now. Blurring the lines between my art and my wardrobe more and more. This moodboard is hanging in my sewing area to gently guide upcoming projects. I no longer need rules about where to shop, it’s second nature. This year is simply about making. Experimenting. Creating mindfully.

 

Slow Style: Sewing Roadmap

My beginning down this rabbit hole goes back to this post from December 2014. I found myself with a new baby, a new lifestyle and a wardrobe in major need of reinvention. I needed a plan. I chose to invest in two great pairs of new pants and thrift all my day to day tanks, tops and sweaters, most of which are still in heavy rotation. The capsule / color planning resulted in an easy mix and match closet, however some pieces turned out to be a projection of who I thought I’d like to be and the pieces that would project my creative side and suit my day to day activities were missing. I was getting a little bored and needed a new plan. Since the gorgeous high fashion and couture clothing on my Pinterest board was out of reach and I swore off fast fashion, it was time to put that Fashion Design degree to use. I made my Slow Style commitment and ordered myself a custom dress form. Time to sew!

Inspiration Board for Custom Designs

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Now, in the same way I don’t want to run out and buy a bunch of fast fashion, I don’t want to waste time and materials sewing things I won’t wear. So, I went back to my Pinterest board with a fine tooth comb to determine which pieces would fill the voids. I looked for practical ways to bring elements I loved from my ‘Costume and Couture‘ board to easy to throw on shapes and styles that I knew I could reach for everyday. These pieces became my ‘Sewing Plans’ board, and I think it’s a perfect representation of my ideal style which I’d describe as modern bohemian urbanite meets 90’s romantic grunge. I have 7 pieces in the pipeline. They’re all about easy to wear separates with interesting draping, textures and embellishment. The perfect blend of luxe and lax, ultra feminine and edge. The more contradictions I can squeeze into an outfit, the more pulled together I feel.

Getting clear on my style concept, as I learned from Into Mind, really is the perfect roadmap for bringing my ideal slow style wardrobe vision to fruition. For now, I’ll probably still purchase basic tanks and tee’s second hand as mine wear out, but the more unique pieces that truly express my personal style will come from the studio…and I seriously cannot wait to mix, match and layer them with my existing wardrobe. I’ve been super utilitarian for a while and need more pretty in my life!

The Refashion Rack

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There’s not as much careful planning going on here, but this is my refashion rack. To give you an idea of how bad my shopping addiction once was, pre-baby my child’s entire bedroom was my walk in closet so I built the garment rack to double the size of my adorable little 1950’s closet. I’m happy to say that everything I own, including seasonal and special occasion garments now fit inside my closet. Anyway, the rack is comprised of things I had boxed up in my studio forever plus some things I purged from my closet more recently that I couldn’t part with. These are things I always thought I’d dye, embroider, mend, or deconstruct to repurpose the fabric. I’m sure I’ll spontaneously pull projects from here along the way as the mood strikes me. Should be fun to finally make some of the things I dreamed up long ago and never brought to life. One of which is almost ready to share so I’ll be back with that soon!

Are you on a similar journey? Tapping into the online slow fashion community of makers is bringing me so much joy and inspiration. I’d love to connect!

 

Slow Style: Following my Muse

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As I take this blog in a new direction, I thought I’d share a little history about how I got here.

All through high school I was interested in exploring different looks to find my own personal style. I especially loved thrift shopping since I was lacking funds and it kept me wearing unique pieces I truly loved without being overly influenced by trends. I was quite the chameleon and if you see photos it looks like one long identity crisis! Through my childhood, I’d also taken an interest in art and spent a lot of time drawing, making collages and sewing. In 1999, attending fashion school seemed like an obvious next step, so off I went with dreams of becoming a fashion designer. I idolized Vivienne Westwood and Betsey Johnson and imagined myself with crazy hair sewing unique clothing for a living in a cool little loft studio. I was a bit naive and upon graduating, my 21 year old self didn’t really have what it took to “make it” in the industry as it existed at the time. The jobs available for entry level designers were less than glamorous and often hardly creative and my vision of a small scale handmade label seemed a little ridiculous in a world without marketplaces like ETSY where most clothing was mass produced overseas.

So for the next 15 years, I worked at corporate jobs, kept sewing as a hobby and branched out into things like dollmaking and art quilting where I could freely explore textiles and surface design. I also continued to shop, A LOT, thrifting and bargain hunting. I occasionally made clothing for myself, but only a small percentage of my closet was actually handmade. My focus was more on quantity than quality with very little wardrobe planning…I was a slave to fast fashion without realizing that was even a thing. Later in my early 30’s, I had a little more money to work with and was able see the value in investment pieces. I started to plan more, buy a little less and focus on quality over quantity but I wasn’t considering where, how and by whom my clothing was made and I was still consuming a lot of clothing, often shopping once or twice a week! Then I discovered Alabama Channin and the term ‘Slow Fashion’ and down the rabbit hole I went, obsessively seeking information and designers leading the movement. This all got me thinking about my college dreams and how now might be the right time to try making them a reality, but first I’ll need to refresh my skills in patternmaking and clothing construction. So, on my birthday in September last year, I made the decision to commit fully to slow style and start developing my skills by making things for my own wardrobe.

So what does this commitment mean for me?

  1. Buying second hand.
  2. Only supporting socially and environmentally ethical companies when I must buy new.
  3. Designing and sewing for myself.
  4. Carefully considering any addition to my wardrobe or fabric stash, limiting purchases to things I truly need, absolutely love and that work with what I have and my lifestyle.

When I first got inspired to join this movement I searched for blogs about slow fashion, developing personal style, sewing and curating wardrobes. I tapped into the whole minimalist trend, and while I see how it goes hand in hand, I have a more eclectic colorful approach to fashion and can’t relate to a minimalist aesthetic. I wanted to read a blog about someones slow style journey from beginning to end. See what they owned, what they bought and where they bought it, how they put it together, what they were sewing…and I wanted them to have a style I could relate to with more than black and white with a pop of a trending color. I discovered lots of great sites, some of which I’m still reading, but none that truly blended all of these things together into one story. I decided to write the blog I’ve been wanting to read with my own unique voice and style. My hope is that in time others seeking this information will find me and be inspired like I was by those who paved the way before me.

Since the key word here is slow, I won’t be pumping  out content like a typical style blog, but do hope to share my journey with some consistency. Hope you enjoy reading!