Create / Enjoy

Friday, March 27, 2015

2015 white dress inspiration

I have a thing for white dresses. Have for a long time, really! I wore one to my high school graduation at my mom's insistence, and since then have bought or made lots and lots of others, and always feel fresh and easygoing in them in the summer.

I've seriously made 1-2 white, off-white, or mostly dresses a year for the past few years! White lace is the best.


It's not summer yet, but the magazines are lightyears ahead of the weather as usual, and I found these inspirations for 2015! So many ideas and options, all in one magazine issue. I'm so drawn to the white and lace and texture, would love to make one of my own once I find the right fabrics.

All from my March 2015 InStyle...



So many ideas, right! (Some more wearable than others.) Tunic shifts, swingy tops, fit-and-flare full-skirted dresses, some very cool maxi dresses, drop-waist swingy skirts...

(I ran into Old Navy the other day and was overwhelmed by the cute springy and summery cotton dresses in fresh blues and whites. They have a ton of cute white cotton dresses, but I know I can make myself something that's better quality and in a better fit.)

Don't you think some white cotton eyelet, maybe mixed with a plain cotton, would be fun in one of these patterns?

McCall's M7080
McCall's M7088
McCall's M7083

Or a textured white knit?
Simplicity 1801

I think I need to go fabric shopping for spring and summer!

What white dresses have you been draw to this year?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Trying to fight stress with relaxation - Long Beach, Washington

It's been a rough few months over here, but we took a few days off this past weekend and got a mini-break in. Husband's spring break is this week, so I took a long weekend and we celebrated his A's and hard work. But it was hard to get away mentally from the stressful term and winter it's been for us, and it took us quite a while to feel good about our hiatus!

We love the Oregon coast, so we started with some time at Ecola State Park south of Cannon Beach and Seaside, Oregon. It's whale watching season, and a great place for it! But it was cold and windy, and we forgot our jackets at home so we were cold and wet and mostly wanted to get back in the car.

Then we went to Astoria, Oregon, which has recently become a new favorite getaway for us. It's less tourist trap-ey than Seaside, since there's not much of a sandy beach, but there are great restaurants (we had an awesome grain-free, real food dinner at Fort George Brewery) and bookstores and things to explore.

Then we went up to Long Beach, Washington and stayed that night at Adrift Hotel, where we've been a couple times before - in summer heat and in middle of winter when there was ice on the puddles in the sand.

This time it was some rain, some sun but plenty of wind! We wanted to get out on the bikes the hotel has for borrowing and riding around town. But we didn't this time.

We did enjoy the funky, modern vibe of the hotel, including the lobby and DVDs and games to borrow. And we played shuffleboard and ping pong in the common area on the floor where our room was.

Sipping locally roasted coffee, listening to a calm Pandora station, and reading interesting books has become one of our favorite vacation morning activities. We've done this three times now at Adrift.

We wanted to get out and ride the bikes, but the wind and occasional rain led us to a long walk along the Discovery Trail and boardwalk instead.

And watching the waves from our room.

We did get some sun on Monday and got a good hike in at Cape Disappointment State Park. Super interesting place! At the very edge of the join of the Columbia River and the ocean, and home to active Coast Guard station and training facility. And historic Army barracks and the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center. Lots of hiking trails connecting everything, too.

Here's the interpretive center from the lighthouse!

And the lighthouse, tiny and built in 1850-something.

We felt better after our hike than we had all weekend. I wish I could say we had a great time despite the rain and forgetting our jackets, but honestly the sun was important in improving our moods! It really is beautiful in this part of the world, and I'm grateful all these cool natural and historical sights are just a couple hours away.

Friday, March 20, 2015

5 low-stress ideas for when you feel too busy to sew!

Sometimes life gets busy and we all get into a dry spell, right?? I sometimes go a month without touching the sewing machine or flipping through my pattern collection. As I've shared in some of my other sewing inspiration posts, there are ways to get out of a rut or feel energized again about a hobby like sewing! And sometimes, it's even better to take it easy and let the dry spell run its course.

5 Low-Stress Ideas for When You Feel "Too Busy to Sew"

(or craft, or paint, or cook, or whatever your art is!)


These tips have helped me when I don't have time for hours and hours of uninterrupted design-cut-sew-press-photograph-ing! These principles can translate to other creative tasks that take time, supplies, energy, and confidence.


1. Look at your favorite inspiration sources. I like to look at the magazines piling up on my coffee table, or J.Crew Factory's new dresses, or Kendi Everyday. Work up some inspiration pins to look back at next time you're ready to cut something out.

2. Clean your sewing area. When things pile up, it's no fun to sew at your sewing desk. I tend to collect papers and mending projects on mine! So even if I don't have time to sit down and sew at the same time, just chipping away at the access barriers helps. The other day I vacuumed the office/sewing room and felt so much better about it!

3. Take a bigger-picture look at the calendar. Are there holidays or big events coming up, occasions for a new dress or outfit? Maybe you don't have time to sew this week, but you can plan ahead and carve out some time here and there if you're motivated for an upcoming reason to wear something new!

4. Go fabric shopping. In person or online! If you're out running errands and have a few extra minutes, stop by the fabric store and look around. If you're really way too busy, maybe only buy one thing. One new piece of fabric you love, inspired by a pin or magazine page or whatever. Having a manageable exciting new supply may motivate you to do one step at a time and plan a pattern cutting-out session!

5. Do something else creative. Like, for example, something less time-consuming than making a new dress from scratch. Sewing is a time-consuming hobby, compared to some, like cooking or even some jewelry-making. I love it because it lets me be creative and make something useful and beautiful, but... so does trying a new recipe or cleaning off my dresser, or sometimes even working out! Go easy on yourself, you'll still have the skills and creativity when you get back to it.


Hope those help! What gives you motivation or forgiveness in the busy times?

(Check out my other sewing inspiration posts here!)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

How to hem IKEA curtains! Essential tutorial

This is a super useful tutorial! I'm excited to share it, and proud of myself for nailing down my method and using it on a pair of curtains last weekend!

Curtains can be such a pain to get right. Store-bought panels can be really expensive, but so are the yards and yards of fabric you need to make them at home--and then you have to do the work of laying the fabric out on the floor and putting them together! I've done it before and created some really nice lined curtains, but it is quite a lot of work. And if you change your mind about decor as much as I do... it doesn't always make sense. (If you do want to make some simple ones, check out my easy curtain method tutorial here for measurements on ideal hems and top edges.) 

I made these lovely pale lined curtains for our living room, and I love them. I also made the faux double rod and sheer curtains for our dining room, but I wanted more neutral curtains on top of the sheers and I wound up spotting these super long IKEA linen curtains at Goodwill.

Target makes some very cute curtains but they're all 84" long, which is too short for my windows (I put the rods near the ceiling since we don't have window frames). But IKEA's curtains are typically 98" long (also too short for my dining and living room but long enough for the bedrooms), and they make a few styles in 118" long. That's what I needed.

As you may know, IKEA's curtains come un-hemmed. The raw edge is finished with the serger, and you can cut off and/or hem as needed to the right length. They sell no-sew iron-on hem tape, but I've never had much luck with that stuff and I know a seam will be more durable in the long run. What's probably a cost saver for IKEA is also a benefit to us, in that we can have custom length curtains--but the problem is, you do have to knuckle down and do the work some Saturday afternoon.

I confess, after I took these new curtains home they hung way too long, scrunched up by the pullbacks, for several weeks. We've all been there, right? But last weekend I sucked it up and did the work to measure, press, and sew the hems into them, and put together this tutorial for you so you can do the same!

How to Hem IKEA (or any) Curtains!


You will need:


  • Unhemmed IKEA curtains (or any brand, or homemade!)
  • Metal tape measure
  • Standard sewing supplies
  • Recommended: big quilting ruler and fabric pen


1. Prewash curtains. If they're a natural fiber and will shrink in length with washing and drying.

2. Iron or steam curtains. Actually, you should do this step whether you're hemming them or not. So often I see people hanging curtains or shower curtains with the rectangular folds from the package still on them. Why do people do that?? They won't flatten out much, really... take the time to iron or steam them. *Rant over.*

3. Hang curtains and measure to just above the floor. It would be nice if you could start at the bottom edge of the curtain and measure up a few inches, but IKEA curtains are not consistent lengths. You need to start at the top edge of the curtain and measure down. Have someone help hold the tape measure in place if you need. Don't pull on the fabric as you measure--you could end up stretching the fabric more than its own gravity will, and your curtains will end up too short.

As to the perfect length, that's up to you--these are on our dining room sliding doors, so I didn't want them dragging at all. Generally 1/2" to 1" above the floor is safe. On mine, this was 105".

Measure this length on the left and right sides of each curtain panel, and in the centers. If your curtain rod is hung straight and your tension is the same with each measurement, you should get the same length (i.e. 105") on all three spots on each panel.

4. Take curtains down, fold, compare. Here are my two panels folded lengthwise in quarters and lined up perfectly at the top edge. As you can see, one is more than 1" longer than the other, and my pins didn't line up perfectly.

I split the difference between my supposedly-all-105" measurements and rearranged so the pins were in the same place.

5. Connect the pins. Using a big quilting ruler or other straightedge, use more pins or a fabric pen to form a straight line from one edge pin to the center pin. Repeat to reach the other side and on both panels.

Ideally this would follow the grain, but again, IKEA curtains... not necessarily cut perfectly straight.

6. Iron bottom edge. Fold the curtain along the fabric pen or pin line.

7. Turn under raw/serged edge and measure hem. As you can see, with these very long curtains, I had a lot of extra fabric. If you had to buy 118" long ones and your windows were only 85" or 90", you'd have too much excess and I recommend cutting or tearing to leave enough room for a 4"-6" hem. On mine, however, I was able to turn under the raw edge to allow a 7" deep hem all the way across both panels.

(7" is probably the deepest you'd want a curtain hem, just for looks and weight--depending on how heavy the fabric is.)

8. Pin in place.

9. Sew hem. At the machine, sew the hem in place, 1/4" or less from the edge.

10. Hang proudly! Pat yourself on the back! You finally got that checked off the to-do list!

That wasn't so bad, right?? I think I sometimes hesitate because I want things to be perfect. I want both panels to be exactly the same lengths with the same hem depth and turn-under. That may not be possible unless you cut the edges before ironing... but, with this method you can get pretty darn close!

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for shopping with the companies that support this blog!!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

DIY All-Natural, Sensitive Skin Essential Oil Deodorant Recipe

At long last! As I mentioned in this post, this is a project I've been thinking about for a long time. Well, I've finally figured out my homemade deodorant recipe, a combination of lots of versions I studied. It took some trouble-shooting! I melted it down twice and added more ingredients to get a better mix. The first batch was too solid so I couldn't get enough on; the second batch was a little better but still not enough scent from the essential oils, and I was trying it without any baking soda so the odor-fighting properties were not strong enough!! ;) Now I feel good about this combination.

I think there are really thousands of combinations for effective homemade all natural deodorant, but I was always stumped by the confusing ingredients I didn't have on hand and the tons of variations out there. How could I know what was best??! So I've read a LOT of recipes, revisited many of them the several times I've made DIY deodorant, tried variations... and they were all a great foundation for my own variation. I was particularly helped and inspired by these:


I switched to all natural deodorant a while ago now because I don't want to use harsh chemicals on an area as sensitive as my underarms, but in one of my attempts my natural stuff was actually a little harsh, too, because of the several tablespoons of baking soda. I wanted to try a baking soda-free DIY deodorant recipe, but that didn't work out. But this one has worked well (after several attempts) thanks to the moisturizing oils and shea butter, as well as the aloe, and very small amount of baking soda.


Another barrier to my making my own deodorant regularly was I twice had to borrow my friend's homemade lotion/body product pan to melt things. I finally realized I needed to get my own, so I bought a teeny tiny saucepan at Goodwill exclusively for this use for $1.50. It even has a small pour spout.

DIY All-Natural, Sensitive Skin Essential Oil Deodorant Recipe

Ingredients:


    Instructions:


    1. Melt the coconut oil, shea butter, and beeswax in a small saucepan with the glycerin and aloe vera gel.
    2. In a separate container, mix together the arrowroot powder and baking soda and break up any chunks in the baking soda.
    3. Combine the oil mixture, powder mixture, and essential oils in the saucepan. Pour into silicon baking cups or jar, although with this texture the solid stick form works a lot better. Or, wait till the mixture is cooler and thick like peanut butter, and push into an old deodorant stick.
    I've found the cupcake shape bars work great! I get some deodorant on my fingers from grabbing it, but I just rub it into my hands--it has a lot of the same ingredients as a hand salve, really.

    It looks nice in the jar but I melted it out during my first recipe re-do, and it was too solid to get out, anyway. If you want to use a jar version, use about half as much arrowroot powder and it will be softer.

    I haven't had any problems with irritation using this stuff! And now that I've tried and tested three versions, it really works!

    This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for shopping with the companies that support this blog!!

    Friday, March 6, 2015

    Surprising new hobby: Hiking - wishlist

    Husband and I have a new hobby as of mid-last summer, and it's embarrassing that we've both lived in Oregon for most of our lives and it's taken us this long to get into it.

    It may seem early in the year for me to be excited about it, but we've had temps in the 60's and full sun the past three weekends and husband and I have been out every Saturday for our first hikes of the year! It's been so great, it's got us thinking, we've got to do this every weekend!

    So, I'm so excited for nice hiking weather whenever I can get it and really looking forward to going out a lot this year and trying some new hikes.

    But, still being newbies, we don't have any actual hiking gear and we've ended up carrying our water bottles, packing our keys awkwardly, and sometimes struggling in the totally wrong shoes. I've actually never bought hiking gear or much outdoor gear at all, so it's new to me to shop around for specific items for which I didn't have a use before!

    Side note: shoe problems


    The shoes have been a real issue. I've done our hikes in flat, rigid Converse (they give me blisters after a few miles and have no traction), super structured ancient trail running shoes (the arches are so high and supportive, they make my feet hurt), and Nike Free running shoes (even these had too much arch support, and not much traction).

    I've had back and neck problems for ages, and I once years ago got custom orthotics that to raise my arches and supposedly help my back. Well, after a couple years of functional movement training (and after reading Katy Bowman's blog posts about feet and footwear and listening to her on lots of podcasts), my back is much better with more muscle and my feet are most comfortable barefoot or in minimal shoes. I wear flats to work every day, and usually wear canvas slip-ons on the weekends, but now that I go hiking sometimes, I want something with laces and traction! But not as much support as my old running shoes or a thick leather hiking boot. So I've been doing my research. (I found these tips in this post on minimalist footwear for backpackers (and part 2, with some elements to look for) and those, plus Amazon reviews from die-hard minimalist shoe wearers on hiking shoes, have been helpful.)

    My hiking wishlist!


    It's hard to bite the bullet and just order the stuff already!! so I welcome your tips or recommendations on hiking shoes, packs, etc. and how to find hikes!

    Here are some goods I have my eye on!

    1. Vivobarefoot Women's Neo Trail Running Shoe. I think I've seen these on two or three other hikers in Forest Park! They look like a great balance between hiking/grip-heavy shoe and a minimalist, easy movement shoe.
    2. New Balance Women's WX20v3 Minimus Cross-Training Shoe. For drier days or flatter hikes/walks, these look great.
    3. Forest Park (image source). We hiked up to the Pittock Mansion from the Hoyt Arboretum and from the 29th Avenue entrance to Forest Park.
    4. My homemade sunflower seed/cashew nut butter. While I don't feel hungry while hiking (sympathetic nervous system response), I noticed when I had a couple tablespoons of this stuff before our hike one weekend, I felt much more satiated/stable blood sugar after! Very tasty protein and fat, great for pre-hike fuel!
    5. Hydration Pack Water Backpack + 2L Hydration Bladder. Thinking about ordering this one.
    6. The Wildwood Trail (image source). We want to explore this 30.2-mile trail all the way up north, in pieces! So far we've seen a lot of the southern parts.
    7. VIVO Hydration Water Pack Bag 2L Bladder Backpack in woodland camo. Another bladder backpack option, more storage capacity.
    8. Oregon State Parks--hiking around the rest of the state! One of my favorites was Saddle Mountain on the way to the coast.


    Even as I write this, I'm so excited for the weekend when it's supposed to be sunny yet again and I hope we get out on another great hike!

    This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for shopping with the companies that support this blog!!

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