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Here’s How Mama Taught Me The Concept Of Body Positivity

Circa 1976

Long before Body Positivity was a movement or even a concept, I believe that Mama was teaching it to me and my siblings. In her wisdom and experience she realized early on that the best sermon is the one that you live and not just preach.

2002 – Me & Rae

Mama’s approach has really been helping me to see my aging body more positively as it changes and it’s also been helping me to raise my own daughter to be more positive about her own developing body.

Because I know that I am not the only one fighting to stay positive about my body image or trying to raise a daughter with a positive body image, I wanted to share with you guys 3 practical approaches that my mom took that have really helped me.

2004 – Me & Rae

This will be the 1st of 3 posts that will focus on Body Positivity. In the second post, I will be sharing my own body image hack that has totally re-framed how I see my body. In the meantime, I hope that this post is helpful to you guys.

I’d love to hear what you are thinking on the subject. What are you doing to encourage and maintain a positive body image? Please share in the comments below.

So, without further ado. Here it goes …….

Focus more attention on being the best person that you can be on the inside because this is what truly makes you uniquely beautiful. This is the kind of beauty that doesn’t fade.

As I think back to conversations with Mama as a child and even as an adult, I can’t remember a single time that she obsessed over what she looked like, what we looked like or even what anybody else looked like. She was very genuine and never pretentious.

Her focus was always towards building up the kind of person that she was on the inside and not what other people saw on the outside.

She worked extremely hard to raise us to do the same.

Be kind and considerate to your body and accept the things about it that you can’t change. Celebrate it and be proud

Mama grew up on a farm in a small rural town in South GA. By the time she was a teen she was already wearing a size 12 shoe. Finding shoes in her size was often times impossible and when she couldn’t she would either have to cram her feet into a pair of smaller sized ladies’ shoe or she’d have to wear a pair of men’s shoes.

Eventually mama married and moved to a larger city where she was able to find a shoe store that carried her size. My siblings and I would go there with her sometimes.

I remember that the shoes in her size were never really that pretty, they all seemed to be boring flats that were rather plain looking. On top of all that they cost a lot of money; however, she was never put off by this because her biggest concern was always how they fit her feet. She’d never buy a pair without first trying them on and testing them out in the store and I suspect that she was more than willing to pay more for a comfortable pair of plain ladies’ shoes even if it meant having to buy them on layaway.

Because her feet were larger than any of the other females in our family it would have been understandable if she were a little self-conscious of them, but she wasn’t. Mama was never ashamed of her feet and she never tried to hide them. At this point in her life she was most likely thankful that she no longer had to stuff them into a smaller size or into a pair of men’s shoes. So, when the spring and summers rolled around, she always polished up her toenails and proudly put them on display in a pair of open sandals.

Take care of yourself physically and otherwise.

Last but not least, Mama took really good care of herself. She loved drinking water, eating homegrown, and exercising regularly. If she wasn’t dancing to one of her favorite aerobic cassette tapes, she was up early walking around the neighborhood.

In addition to eating well and exercising regularly and getting her rest, she never shied away from getting regular checkups and when she found herself feeling that she needed additional care for her mental and emotional well-being, she did what she could to get it.

Unfortunately, we lost mama 3 years ago due to complications related to Scleroderma. I am extremely grateful to have had her as my mom. She wasn’t perfect but she always did her best to set a good example for us kids.

Angie H.

2015 – Mama Me & Rae
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5 LESSONS I LEARNED FROM MY RECENT ATTEMPTS AT REFASHIONING (Pt. 2)

So it’s been 3 months since I started venturing into the world of refashioning and let me tell you it’s been a frustrating journey.

My frustration probably stems largely from my approach.

My brain is weirdly wired to always want to make or do the thing that no one else has done before.

I’ve always been this way. WHY? I don’t know. Some times it works and sometimes it doesn’t. What can I say.

Today, I wanted to share pictures of my latest refashion along with some of the lessons that I have learned along the way.
LESSON 1: THE BIGGER THE BETTER

When you are looking for a piece to refashion, it is probably best to buy larger sizes and fuller cut styles. By fuller cut, I am referencing gathered skirts and dresses where the fullness starts at the waistline. Essentially these are usually rectangular shapes that gathers have been added to. Using skirts or dresses with skirts like this will give you more fabric to work with and also increase the options of what you can make. Beware of using Aline and Circle cut styles, these styles have some volume but they will not have as much useable yardage because the upper portion from the waistline to the hip is narrow.

Remember the Teal Evening gown that I was working on, well the bodice was strapless and corseted and the skirt was a half circle. To top that off, the dress was a size 12 (Which I had previously altered to a size 8/10). Additionally, my objective was to transform it from an evening gown into a day dress. Since my idea of a day dress does not include a strapless or back laced corset, I decided against using the existing bodice as the bodice of my new dress.

All this considered, I would be pulling the yardage for my day dress from the skirt which was not a lot of yardage.
LESSON 2: GO WITH WHAT YOU KNOW

Because your yardage is limited and you can’t just run out and pick up a couple of extra yards of fabric, it’s best to go with what you know works when choosing a style.

For my Evening gown project, I decided that it was best for me to use a bodice that fit me well and looked good on me, so I chose to use Simplicity 1873. This decision worked out great! It turned out perfectly.

The skirt however was a different story. I initially went with a pleated skirt, which was NOT the best idea. The pleats were pretty and the dress looked great on my assistant … but I hated it on me. It fit okay, but the style was a little more serious than I wanted it to be.

In the end, I decided to go with a more fitted skirt. I made it using a self-drafted pattern.

The only thing that I don’t really love about the finished product is the length of the skirth. It’s about 3-4 inches outside of my comfort zone.
LESSON 3: TRY SOMETHING NEW

Refashioning often allows you to work with more expensive fabrics on the cheap. My last refashion project was a pair of vintage leather pants that I found at the thrift store for less than $2. I could probably NEVER find leather this cheap shopping retail.

And even if I did find it at a reasonable price, I would be afraid that I would mess it up.

Using a thrifted piece eliminated this fear and allowed me to gain confidence and knowledge that I would need to work with leather in the future.
LESSION 4: USE YOUR RESOURCES

Refashioning projects do not come with written instructions but if you are fortunate, you may be able to find a refashion project similar to yours out on the internet. Google, Facebook Groups, Pinterest, and Instagram can be your best friends when working on a refashioning project. Using these resources can connect you to Blog Posts and knowledgeable and experienced sewists within the Online sewing community.
LESSION 5: BE FLEXIBLE

Keep yourself open. Sometimes what you envision is so much better in your mind than it is in real life. If you don’t love what you’ve made, you don’t have to live with it. You can change it.

I didn’t love the first versions of either of my projects, but I didn’t give up. I pulled out my seam ripper and headed back to the drawing board.
CONCLUSION

I am still not 100% happy with my Teal evening gown remake but I am pumped to report that I picked up up some new skills.

I learned how to create pleats using a dinner fork. How cool is that?. I learned this technique on Instagram.

On the other hand I am totally thrilled with my leather pants turned pencil skirt.

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The Swing Dress

Hey Y’all,

Dropping in to share my latest make. I am calling this one a swing dress but I guess it could also be considered a Trapeze or Tent dress.

By now you have probably noticed that I really, really love dresses. Besides a loose and comfy pair of sweats, I’d have to say that they are my favorite pieces to wear. Some days, I’ve been known to even combine the two. A maxi dress layered over sweat pants and worn with my favorite plushy house slippers is the most comfy Work From Home uniform!

Business on the top, party on the bottom….. Hey! No judgement. Don’t knock it until you try it. LOL.

Getting back to the subject. My latest make is a fusion of style elements taken from the 1500s and 1960s.

The dress has the tentlike shape of the 60s and the neckline is inspired by the removable ruffs worn during the 1500s.

Twiggy meets Queen of Elizabeth I. A little crazy and a tad bit over the top, I’ll admit.

PATTERN MODIFICATIONS

So I used McCalls 6102 for this dress. I really loved that this pattern was simple and only had 4 pieces (two of which I cut but didn’t use). I knew that it could be used as the perfect building block for my latest design. So here is what I did:

  • I added additional flare right below the bust line by drawing one line up to the bust dart tip and a perpendicular line from that point over to the edge. This allowed me to swing the pattern out so that I could add about 5 inches across the bottom, which really added about 10 inches because the pattern piece is placed and cut on the fold.
  • I made the same adjustments to the back piece as I did the front piece.
  • I added a slit facing In the back.
  • I cut the shoulder in and lowered the sleeve opening.
  • I added a grosgrain ribbon to the neckline to use as a closure to the back.
  • I added gathers to the front and back neckline to draw in the neckline.
  • I roll hemmed the arm hole and the bottom of the dress with my serger.
  • I created and added 2 rows of stacked ruffles around the neckline.
  • I added 2 inseam pockets.

FABRIC

I am using another African Wax Print from my stash that I purchased online from Ghana last year.

I found this particular fabric to be pretty stiff even after a wash.

The stiffness was great for the ruffles but it did make the skirt of the dress stand out quite a bit.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Did I hit or miss with my Swing? (Pun intended) I guess it depends on the purpose of the dress. This dress was intended as a cute transitional piece that can be worn while I lose weight and afterwards.

On that note, this dress is a hit. I found this dress to be both cute and comfortable.

My only downside is the ruffle accented neckline. It just felt a bit too much for a day dress.

While I enjoyed seeing my vision come to life, I wasn’t super comfortable wearing it out. I felt like all eyes were on me and that’s not really how I like to feel on the regular. Maybe it was all in my head, but even so, I choose to honor my feelings because they count.

If I were to make this again, I would explore making the collar detachable, just as ruffs were back in the 1500s. That way I would have the option to dial back the wow factor at will.

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Pattern Play – Simplicity 1873

Hey Y’all,

Let me start off by saying that I am sooooo sorry for not posting my refashion as planned last month. The truth is, this is my first legit re-fashion and I really want it to turn out well so I am not rushing it. My rushed projects don’t usually turn out so good. Hopefully you guys understand and will pardon me this time. It shouldn’t be long before it’s finished.

In the meantime, let me tell you about my latest make using Simplicity 1873. To date, I have made a total of 6 dresses using the bodice from this pattern including this dress and my current refashion project. When I purchased this pattern a few years back, I was in search of a pattern with a darted bodice and not princess seams which was rare to find at the time.

I really enjoy using the bodice from this pattern because it’s fairly quick and easy to whip up and it fits me perfectly in the bust … no F.B.A. required!

Pattern Modifications

This time around, I made the following changes

  • Changed the neckline from jewel to v-neckline
  • Cut in the shoulder line by 2 inches
  • Added ruffes to the bodice around the neckline
  • Swapped the patterns pleated skirt for a self-drafted half circle skirt
  • 1.75″ Short waist adjustment

When I initially started making this dress, it was mean to be a muslin to test my modified neckline and cut in shoulder line. I purchased this fabric from Ghana over the internet and the colors were not at all what I was expecting. In fact, I was so disappointed that, I even tried to give it away to a friend…. but that didn’t work out.

In the end, I am so glad that it didn’t. I absolutely love this fabric and what it has become.

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Teal Evening Gown – Refashion (Pt.1)

Thankfully sewing and this blog are both creative outlets for me and not sources of income. Because honestly if they were, I’d be in a world of trouble as I don’t have too many followers. 😀

When it comes to sewing and writing, I realized that I don’t perform so well under pressure, I’ve also realized that my best work usually only comes about when the project is inspired, unforced, organic, and allowed to come in it’s own time.

I’ve also discovered that the words and thoughts only flow easily and freely when they come from my ❤. Which leads me into the subject of today’s post.

My heart is just not into sewing, buying, or pushing the latest fashion craze just for the sake of gaining followers or sponsors.

Sure I’ve tried to be a part of that game but I just couldn’t build up the heart or the momentum required to keep up.

Yesterday I was reading a post on Apartment Therapy Blog entitled “The Most Important Elements of a Creative Space according to Author Elizabeth Gilbert”. In the the post she says that you should furnish your space with pieces that remind you of who you are. She goes on to mention objects in her office that reminded her to be free, vulnerable, brave, and alive.

I really loved this because I feel like the contents of a person’s closet should also do the same thing…remind them of who they are and also who they want to be.

Upon careful reflection, I can say at least these 3 things about myself:

1) I care about others. I will no longer run out and purchase “bargain pieces ” with out giving consideration to where they are sourced. It’s really not a bargain to me if the person who made it had to give up precious time with their family, risked their lives or their health by working under dangerous and poor conditions, or settled for low wages because they needed work and had no other choices available to them.

2) I honor my body, my time, and myself so I no longer run out to purchase that cheap hot new sewing pattern , that really doesn’t flatter my body or fit my lifestyle just so that I can be a part of the “in crowd” or gain more followers. I now realize just how much time, money, energy, and space that I have wasted over the years collecting patterns that I don’t love enough to tackle. And if some how they do get made up, they are rarely worn beyond the photo shoot.

3) I care about the environment so I no longer run to Good Will with a bag full off unwanted fabric or “disposable” clothing because I have learned that only 10% of items donated actually get sold. Most ends up in landfills (giving off toxic gasses) or 3rd World Countries.

And at the end of each and every day, I just want to be the girl with a blog who creates and purchases stylish pieces in a more considerate and responsible way.

When I started the blog back in 2016, I had a goal to feature Refashions. But I’ll be honest, I got distracted watching what others were doing. I am back on track now. I am refocusing, refining and resetting my blog.

The dress that i am wearing in today’s post was purchased last year for an Anniversary Party. It is the color Teal, which represents Scleroderma, the disease that my mom passed away from back in 2015.

Since June is Scleroderma Awareness month, I decided last year to post outfits that featured this color. Unfortunately, this dress did not get posted to the blog because the pictures didn’t turn out so good. So we decided to give it another go before I pulled the dress apart for the refashion project.

I actually love how I styled the dress in these photos much better than how I styled it for the party last year.

Because this dress has special meaning to me, I plan to refashion it into a style that can be worn more often. So far I have removed the chiffon from the bodice and detached the bodice from the skirt.

I hope to post the final project some time next month.

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Featured Look – Boss Babe

Hello Guys,

I am back after a bit of a break. I’ve been off the scene for a while trying to work some things out personally and professionally.

Almost a year ago my company called a big town hall meeting and to let us know that they would be going virtual and that our office would be closing by the summer of 2018.

This change would impact everyone from the top of the food chain down to the bottom.

To some the impact was relatively minor but to others it was major.

I was part of the latter group. Unfortunately, the members of my group were working positions that were not able to go work from home. We were told by upper management not to worry because we would all be placed into new WFH positions. Some would be placed into new positions within the same department and others would be placed into new positions within different departments

Of course, despite assurances from upper management we all worried. For those who were already working from home, the worries stemmed from the high probability of being placed under new management.

For those who weren’t already working from home but whose positions would transfer to WFH(like it or not), there was also the added worries of having to find a space in their homes suitable for a home office, along with the fear and possibility that working from home might not work out for them

And finally for the rest of us with out a WFH position, we were faced with all of the above worries along with the burden of not knowing for sure where we would land or even if we would land at all within the company.

I am happy to say that all ended well. The company came through and everyone was placed in a WFH position…including myself.

So now that I am WFH again, I am overjoyed because I love working from home and I love what I do!

While working from home definitely has a huge impact on my work wardrobe, it doesn’t eliminate my need for a dedicated work wardrobe.

Because my WFH position requires daily scheduled and unscheduled video conferencing, working in my robe and Pjs is not an option.

In addition to eliminating a few pieces that I no longer need or want to wear in my current setting, I have been incorporating a few new pieces that I would probably have never worn to my former brick and mortar office.

Which leads me to the featured look of this post. I call this look “Boss Babe”.

To achieve this look, I combined a pair of Teal colored skinny jeans that I grabbed on sale, a fitted tank top and a white thrifted Tahari blazer.

I love this outfit because it can easily go from day to night by throwing on a pair of heels and letting the hair down.

Accessories

  • Black and white animal print skinny belt
  • Black and white Jessica Simpson pumps
  • A pair of my moms Teal dangle earrings
  • Silver tone statement watch
  • Mustard Gold purse
  • Aviator Sunglasses (Of Course!)

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The Little Red Dress

I started this dress back in October but didn’t finish it until today.  Sure it’s a simple design but the process of sewing is anything but simple for me for a whole lot of different reasons. (More about that another time)

I purchased this fabric from Fine Fabrics (my favorite fabric spot of the moment).  It is a huge warehouse filled with any and every color and type of fabric that you can imagine. Unfortunately, the fabrics are not labeled and I am not absolutely sure what fabric type this is beyond knit.  I am guessing that it is probably a double knit, possibly a medium weight Ponte?

I purchased this fabric in the color red because it was one of the 2017 fashion trends that I knew that I could wear now and years later without really dating myself.  In my opinion the color red is more of a classic than a trend.

I also knew that I wanted to use Mccall’s 6886 as the base for my design.  My 1st idea was to make another turtleneck dress with bishop sleeves but somehow the turtleneck design didn’t feel quite right for the weight of my chosen fabric. And besides that, I really wanted to do something different, something more along the lines of a cocktail dress that could be worn on a night out with my husband.

Basically, I was stalled over the next two months until two days ago when I decided to go with an off the shoulder neckline.  I really love this look on me because it draws attention to my neck, shoulders and decollete which are slimmer parts of my body.

Although this is usually a quick and easy pattern to sew, this version was not so quick and easy because of the design changes that I made and also because of the weight that I have lost since the last time that I used my altered copy of Mccalls 6886.

Design Alterations

  • Only used the back and sleeve pattern pieces for this dress version
  • Removed 6 inches from the top of the bodice
  • Adjusted sleeve to match modified bodice top
  • Added width to bottom of sleeve by slashing and spreading pattern piece
  • Added 2.5 inch cuff to each finished sleeve to create bishop sleeves
  • Added 1″ deep 5.5 inch long inverted pleat to top of the sleeve for a snugger fit
  • Added 2″ fabric encased elastic about an inch less than the width of my shoulders to the top edge of the bodice
  • Added 2 darts at neckline for better fit
  • Pegged the skirt hemline
  • Added a seam to the back of the dress for a better fit

    Style Details

    I wanted this look to be retro, edgy and cool. To add the cool retro edge I borrowed from a couple of 80’s music videos when choosing my hairstyle and shades.

    I have always loved that model girl from George Micheal’s Father Figure video. She was fierce, powerful, and HOT! I so wanted to be that girl with the dark baby banged bob. Wearing this baby banged bob unit (wig), I got to be this girl for a day.

    No need to even discuss the Aviators that George Micheal wore in his video for Faith. Pairing them with that black leather jacket really added a cool factor that was beyond words.

    To round out my look, I added a long goldtoned chain and my favorite gold toned hoops. 

    Because red and black are made for each other, I slipped on a pair of black fishnet stockings and heels

     

     

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    The Amazing 2-Piece Dress

    When it comes to wardrobe pieces there is probably nothing better than a dress. They are both easy and practical. No having to decide what to wear on the top or bottom.  Choose your dress, add shoes, accessories, and you are ready to go.

    One of my favorite dress styles is the 2-piece dress which is actually nothing more than a matching top and skirt.

    My latest sewing project is this two piece dress comprised of a matching moss green velvet sweatshirt and pencil skirt. 

    Although these pieces were made for one another, they are strong enough to stand alone.

    This color is really striking in person. My pictures don’t do it justice.

    The Sweat Shirt

    For the Sweatshirt I used It’s always Autumn’s Perfect Slouchy Sweatshirt Pattern found Here.  When conceiving this look, I wanted a slouchy sweater look with dropped shoulders.  After a couple of days of searching through my pattern stash, pattern books, and offerings from online pattern sellers I came up empty handed.

    I can’t remember how I stumbled on Autumn’s site but I was glad that I did.  When I saw her version of the sweatshirt, I knew it would be perfect for creating the look that I had in mind.

    The pdf pattern consists of 2 main pieces (1 front, 1 back). After assembled, both pieces are cut on the fold.  Measurements are given for the neckband, cuffs, and waistband.

    The pattern  went together very easily.  I made two minor modifications to the neckband and cuffs.  I subtracted 2 inches off the suggested cuff height and cut the neckband  27″ x 2″. I made no changes to the waistband.  (Not Shown)

    I really love this pattern and I will be using it again.

    2017-10-15-20-35-09-0621279475752.jpg

    The Pencil Skirt

    The skirt is Erica by Sinclair Patterns.  I purchased it back in July customized to my measurements. With only 2 pattern pieces, (1 front/back, 1 waistband). After the pieces are assembled, they are both cut on the fold. This skirt was a breeze to cut out and put together.

    The instructions for this skirt are very good.  I would highly recommend it for a beginner.

    Because I was able to customize it, the fit is perfect.

      Style Details

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    The Little Gray Dress – Another Version of M6886 

    A couple years ago my husband surprised me and the kids with a trip to NYC. It was my family’s second trip there within a 2 year span.

    My family loves NYC.

    On our second trip there I took a solo trip into the Garment District. My initial plan was to  only visit Mood Fabrics but when I did my research I discovered that there were several other Fabric stores in the area.

    The Gray Knit Ponte that I used for this version of McCalls 6886 was purchased in one of those other small NYC fabric shops.  I only purchased 2.5  yards so, I have been holding on to it for the past 2 years waiting for the right project.

    I wanted a simple dress with a voluminous statement sleeve but with my limited yardage I didn’t have enough fabric to make what I had in mind.

    So I decided that instead of making a set in sleeve, I would make the dress sleeveless and add a Statement Sleeve overlay at the shoulder right above the top of the arm opening.

    I love how it turned out. This dress is so comfy that I’m actually lounging in it right now.

    I decided to go with black and gold accessories for this look.

    I have one more version of M6886 planned for later this month. I plan to update my next version with another Fall 2017 trend. 

    Thanks for stopping by. Please come and visit again soon.

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    Mccalls 6886 – Review

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    Pattern Description: close-fitting pullover dresses with neckline variations

    Pattern Sizing: I sewed a size 14. 

    Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? from the shoulders down

    Were the instructions easy to follow? I didn’t use them

    What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? #1 Quick & Easy. #2 All the positive reviews and great results on PR made me feel like I was guaranteed to be successful with this one.

    Fabric Used: Honestly I am not sure. I think a textured jersey with shimmer. 

    Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I removed 2 inches from the back and front waist length. I used the pivot and slide method to add 4 inches at the hip. I added a turtleneck. I added two inches to each sleeve. I decided to do a raw finish on the edges.

    Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes. This is actually my 2nd time sewing 6886. I already have a second version cut out and a 3rd one planned.

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    M6886 – Date Night Look
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    M6886 – Casual Look